The old woman turns her head, smiling at the figure in the doorway. Dark hair threaded with silver, a form still lithe after a life of work, and brown eyes that still catch the light like they used to.
"BC," Nanu shifts on the bed. "Hey sis."
The younger woman enters, her hands empty and tucked into the back of her belt. It's a habit, not her father's, but Gavin's.
"Still miss him, don't you?"
"Still read minds," Nanu tilts her head, "don't you?"
A shrug. "I dreamt about him last night."
BC sits beside Nanu on the bunk, carefully moving aside a tattered copy of Neuromancer. Nanu shifts, making room.
"I always dream. And I always remember. Only the people change." Light brown eyes meet, the two women rest as equals, and something like sisters. "Did you know that Pirate went on?"
"I know. At the Last Day, I knew he would. He's not the kind to wait."
"The others are still waiting."
Nanu looks away. She leans her head back, the grey hair looped at the nape of her neck brushing against her plug.
"I remember," she murmurs, studying the rock ceiling. "I remember what Trinity said to me that day."
Silence, from the other. Beyond the door, Zion hums on. Footsteps, voices, a faint snatch of song.
"I remember you growing up."
A flow of thought then, images and raw emotion beyond the grasp of words.
A girl, with a child tied to her back. The child, searching through the rubble of minds for those left alive. Towers, immense and dead.
A young man, with the same dark haired child at his side. The older girl with them, these three like a family of lost children, lost without the chance of the never-never dream.
A landscape, horizon to horizon littered with ruin, garbage and refuse and metal and flesh. So hard, to stand at the top of that hill, searching the clouds for a glimpse of sky, trying to grasp victory.
"It never felt like victory."
"It was. In the simplest way," Nanu lifts a hand, thin skin and blue veins. BC takes it. "We lived."
"Even though we lost everything."
Sleeves too long, excess material sewn into extra pockets, one a pouch just the right size for a small cloth doll. In the hollow of a waist, this last gift nestles, warm.
Nanu tenses her fingers. "Not quite everything."
A shout, from outside. A young voice, laughing, light feet running and tumbling just beyond the edge of this room.
BC smiles. "It's a kind of victory, isn't it." An affirmation, not a question.
They remain in silence then, sharing a kind of peace, and listening to the sound of the city, a pulse echoing through the rock around them.
A pulse that will continue, with or without the two women in this room.
"You did what you promised her."
Nanu smiles, faintly, a silent reply.
"All things considered," BC continues. "You've done more than even Trinity could have hoped."
"I can guess where you're going with this."
"So," smooth fingers hold her own, carefully. Knuckles swollen from arthritis hurt when Nanu grips BC's hand. Who would have thought that she'd live long enough to grow old? "Sis. What are you waiting for?"
Nanu turns her head to look at the other woman. BC is still smiling a little, sadly. There are no tears, not even the want for them. But there's a sound, beyond hearing, a sound like the song of Fate. After all this time, the memory of the Last Day is still fresh in both their minds.
"What was the way of it?" BC asked, prompted. "What Morph told you . . . "
"A search word. A name."
The singing voice beyond the door draws nearer, and words form.
Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk to you again . . .
She whispers it, letting her head lean back and her hand relax in BC's.
A deep, unreal breath. Standing in a place without walls, all white, the construct? She hasn't been in a construct in years.
But there, figures, shadows in the space, darkness in the white, and a young man running toward her, snatching her up by her waist, spinning her. She wraps her arms around his neck, laughing and feeling her hair tumble down her shoulders. Long and dark. It tangles as the man sets her back on the ground, holding her close and kissing her.
"Gavin," she sighs into his mouth.
"I've missed you."
"We wouldn't have guessed," a dry voice behind her. She turns in his arms, smiling at Trinity and Neo. They're not as she last saw them, not slicked in leather and gel. Trinity's hair is loose, almost curling, and she's in dark blue with an arm looped in Neo's. He's grinning at her, an incongruous little-boy smile.
"How long has it been?" Trinity asks.
"Seventy seven years. About."
There's an angle to Trinity's head that she can read as clear as words.
"Bobcat's good. She grew up well." She winds her fingers through Gavin's where they rest on her hips. "You waited all this time?"
"We wanted to thank you," Neo speaks. "For everything you went through that day. And the days that followed."
And it is. Just seeing the two of them there, just standing this close to Gavin, such simple things that she's missed so much, they're enough to make her fly inside.
"We can't stay here forever, as much as we'd like to," Gavin says, over her shoulder.
"So," she speaks to Neo and Trinity. "I s'pose this is goodbye again."
Trinity shakes her head. "It's never really goodbye. You know that."
She remembers what she said to Pirate, the Last Day.
"Until next time, then."
Neo raises a hand to wave. Then, with a last smile, the two of them turn their backs, walking through the white. Their joined hands swing between them.
"Same for us, then?" Gavin asks. Nanu moves to face him, raising a hand to run through his hair. It's as long as she remembers. His finger trail down her spine, rest in the small of her back.
"In a minute."
"Love you, Nanu."
She grins, "Ditto."
Would you believe that I began writing this story in the February of 2001? That's almost three years ago.
I wrote 271 pages on paper before I came to my senses and typed the rest up as I wrote. It's taken me all this time to type and post those piles of loose leaf paper and two exercise books, and I still don't deem this work finished. Going back to read the first few chapters, I have to cringe. My style is totally different, and the story seems so stilted back then. Now I'm finally at the end, I think I might even be stupid enough to rewrite the whole thing from that start.
Over 300 A4 pages of fic (not counting side stories), and I want to go back and start again? Somebody get me a straightjacket, now.
For all those people who have read this from start to finish, even if you didn't review, I'd like to say a massive big Thankyou. I'm surprised you ever made it past the shonky first chapter, not to mention the long periods of Not Very Much Happening.
I'd like to wave to the Hardline crowd sitting up the gallery, especially the oldschool girls who were there in the geocities days. I consider you lot some of my closest friends. All those discussions and mind-digging of the original movie were absolutely priceless in writing this story. Thankyou to Centaur, Rae and MTS for establishing the site, and thanks MTS for being our pseudo-mother and worrying about us when we didn't post.
And I could never have done all this without Qi. She managed to read my handwriting for about the first 200 pages, after which I moved schools. Her honest enjoyment of and speculation about the story encouraged me to keep going, even though she wasn't a Matrix fan. Plus the little genius figured out an ending for me. Which let me give the plot an actual direction. She was my first beta, and she never even realised.
Qi-chen, thankyou and a hug from me. Helping me spot Nanu and Gavin look-alikes for two years was lots of fun.
And to my second beta, words aren't enough. :: hugs ::
After spending such an exorbitant amount of time on this story, which I can't even make money from, one would think I'd realise that fanfiction doesn't pay. But bull to that. It's fun, and very very rewarding.
But only because of the people who have taken the time to read it. So again, thankyou everyone. And thanks too for bothering to read through this whole page of Gushy!Blake. I must sound like some teary actress at the Oscars.
Now let us never speak of it again.
:: ducks as the Hardliners throw wet rags ::