Even with the metal grabber locked around her and dirty water stinging her eyes, Switch tries to fight. She bites a chunk out of Mouse’s arm and he dances away, screeching in pain. Morpheus yells his usual platitudes, but she’s not having any of it. They end up strapping her to a table, too busy dragging the other person out of the water to deal with her at the moment. She thrashes and screams, the shrill noise making Trinity’s head ring:
What did you do to me where am I did you fucking drug me what the hell? Tell me what’s going on who are you bastards tell me what’s going on!
They bring the second person up, he’s a lot more sedate. He twitches, but doesn’t lash out at them.
Yet. Her mind reminds her, always the pessimist.
Surprisingly, the appearance of the man shuts the woman up.
“Finally” whispers Mouse, pressing a rag to his bleeding arm.
Then she starts screaming again, this time just one word:
Apoch, Apoch, Apoch, Apoch, Apoch!
Her screaming jolts the man to awareness, his eyes snapping open. Trinity, caught leaning over him as she tries to undo the grabber, freezes. They share a moment of startled eye contact, his dark eyes drilling into hers.
Then he lashes out and punches her, missing her nose but hitting her square in the mouth. Her teeth bury themselves in her bottom lip and she tastes blood as she stumbles back. As she shakes the stars out of her vision, Mouse and Morpheus wrestle the man onto the table next to the woman and strap him down as well. He screams too, matching the woman’s shriek:
He looks at the woman and she looks back, and goes quiet. Then, they turn in an eerily smooth unison and just stare at their captors. Mouse hisses at them, unsettled and hurting. Morpheus, however, smiles.
“We’ve got a pair of fighters this time.”
Switch and Apoch were interconnected even before they came out of the matrix. They worked as a mixture of bodyguard and hitman, acting as muscle for anyone who’d pay. Morpheus is delighted when he learns this, and watches them tear through the gun room with a greedy glint in his eyes. They pour bullets into the targets and spar until they’re both bloody and bruised, proving to be the most proficient fighters in the group so far. Morpheus pats Trinity on the back and tells her:
“Good picks, Trin.”
Then he tests them with the jump. And they fail. But that’s expected.
Their matrix manipulation never gets any better. They train and train, but never manage more than some slightly exaggerated jumps. Morpheus sighs in disappointment, but reassures them their physical fighting skills make up for it.
They look disappointed for a moment, having become as attached to Morpheus as the rest of the crew, but quickly go back to beating the shit out of each other. Trintiy and Mouse watch them on the screens with a mixture of admiration and sympathetic pain. Mouse winces as Switch throws Apoch over her shoulder and to the ground, drawing a scream out of him. Mouse turns to her and manages a wobbly smile. He speaks:
“Maybe this is their version of stress relief?”
Trinity gives him a gentle smile and steers him away from the fight, where Apoch is bending Switch’s fingers back until she admits defeat.
“We all deal with the truth our world in different ways, Mouse. But that doesn’t mean you need to watch something that makes you uncomfortable.”
She’s in a grey fog on the walk from the oracle’s to the exit. The world around has ceased to exist, the whirlwind of thoughts in her head too loud to ignore. She waves Morpeus into the phone booth, letting him go first in hopes of a rare moment of privacy.
As he fades away, she steps into the booth and leans her head against the wall. The phone rings and rings, she’s only got a little while before they wonder why she hasn’t picked up, but that’s enough for her to bury her face in her arm and sob the tears out of her system.
You'll fall in love with a deadman and the one.
She wipes her face off, knowing full well that her eyes will still be a telltale red, but she doesn’t have time to worry about it. She picks up the phone and reappears in the real world. She’s out of the chair as quickly as possible, head ducked low to hide her face, and rushing down the hallway to Switch and Apoch’s room.
When she comes crashing through the door, they both look up and instantly take in her reddened eyes and shaking hands.
Apoch sets the chunk of machinery he’s working on down and whispers:
Trinity nods, the motion harsh, as if she’s a machine beginning to break down, it’s gears grinding together instead of running smoothly.
Switch gets up and wraps their blanket around her shoulders, pulling it tight like a shawl. She leads Trinity to sit down on the edge of the bed while Apoch carefully makes up a precious cup of tea. He’d had to build a small water heater, and spends an indulgent amount of his pay in the tea markets when they visit Zion. She’d found it irritating at first, the wastefulness of it, but he had just grinned at her and told her she needed to learn to enjoy the small things in life.
Having tried it multiple times, usually sharing it with them in times of stress, she must admit it’s very good at calming you down.
When Morpheus tells her he's found the one, she has to excuse herself. She stumbles away from him, away from his overjoyed smile and his expectation that he’ll share her joy, and flees to their room.
Apoch and Switch are out, working like they should be, and she desperately wishes they were here. She knows she can't go out to get them, not with the weakness plain on her face. She will have to make do with the sheets still rumpled in the shape of their bodies. She curls up on the bunk and buries her face in the pillow, desperately trying to breathe in some of her lover’s scent. There’s only the permeating smell of charred metal that fills the ship and, to some extent, the air outside.
The only fresh air they breathe is in the Matrix, and she tries not to miss it.
She’s keeping the tears back, but the urge to break down is only getting stronger. She lets out a keen noise, like she’s already mourning Apoch, and makes sure the pillow absorbs her tears. By dinner time, there so sign she was in their room, let alone crying.
She ignores their attempts to talk to her at dinner, making them look hurt and confused. Only once Morpeus stands up and announces the good news do they understand. They both pale and look at each other, a half realized fear blooming into full terror. They flee to their room, leaving the door open for her.
She doesn’t join them, she spends the night dozing in an alcove on the other side of the ship. She’s not trying to hurt them, but she’s having an uncontrollable knee-jerk reaction: the part of her mind that can’t bear to lose Apoch is gibbering maybe if I stay away maybe if I pretend I don’t love them it won’t happen maybe maybe maybe…
She knows, of course, that she cannot fool the universe.
She comes out in early in the morning and ghosts her way into their room. They’re curled up together, as closely as they possibly can. Apoch’s hair is down and tangled---switch always played with it when she’s stressed----and the dark strands spill across the pillow like oil. As Trinity stands over them, Switch shifts and lets out a soft snore. Trinity gives her an affectionate smile and sits down, moving slowly so she doesn’t wake them.
She slides herself into the arch of Apoch’s side and, almost instantly, one of Switch’s arms flops over her. She smiles wider at that; Switch has always been the most violent sleeper among them. She tries to focus on that thought, tries to keep hold of how much she loves them, rather than let herself be washed away by despair.
She’s wakes with Apoch’s face buried in her neck and Switch leaning over her, pressing their noses together in her favorite gesture of affection. Once she’s opened her eyes, Apoch hums a greeting and presses a soft kiss to her collarbone. Switch smiles at her rolls off, pressing herself against Trinity’s other side. They both throw their arm over her stomach and hug her close, enclosing her in their warmth.
She hears his approaching footsteps even over the pounding of the club’s music. She wonders if she shouldn’t have worn the strapless shirt when she feels his eyes run over the exposed skin of her back. She can’t hate him for that, even if she has trouble pushing down a swell of bitterness.
She turns to meet him and thinks damn, he is pretty .
He’s got doe eyes and the air of a knife that hasn’t been sharpened yet but still knows it should be able to cut.
She leans in close when she speaks to him, whispering in his ear so he can hear her clearly. She doesn't let her lips touch the curve of skin, even if she wants to. And she does want to, there’s the tug of attraction in her stomach and the music is thrumming through her blood, making her want to dance and see his body twisting in time with hers.
She consoles herself with a simple defense.
Just because I want to fuck him doesn’t mean I’ll love him.
She delivers her message and pulls away, taking in his pink, parted lips and the fearful exhilaration on his face. She’s seen that look on so many faces, on every person they’d offered to bring out of the matrix. She’s seen it in the harsh lines of Switch’s scowl and in the sharp jut of Apoch’s jaw as they had considered the offer. That memory makes the bitterness peak again and she makes sure to step on Neo’s foot as she strides away.
Then they get him out and he’s a monolith; a silent, foreboding body lying on a medical bed. She almost wishes he wouldn’t wake up.
Then he’s up and Morpues is introducing him to the crew and she tenses when he says Switch and Apoch . They give him calm nods but she can see the flash of fear in their faces: so this is the man Apoch will die for. So this is the man who’s doomed us.
She grits her teeth and focuses on not screaming.
But then he’s coming out of the chair in a panic, gasping for air and collapsing onto his knees and crying stay away! And she can’t help but worry, she just cares too damn much. Then he vomits and collapses, unconscious, lying on the grate flooring like an exhausted child.
It’s like a kick in the gut and she gasps with it.
He’s just a man. He’s not a god, he’s just as afraid and confused as we are.
That’s the beginning of her fall.
She’s hiding in Switch’s embrace when the pale woman speaks, her voice wobbling:
“He’s cute, at least.”
She’s trying to make a joke, lighten the mood, but the guilt hits Trinity like a tidal wave. Neo is cute, he is, she’s even attracted to him, but she has switch and apoc and the attraction feels like a betrayal. She can’t help it, she lets out a sob and buries her face deeper into switch’s chest.
Switch instantly apologizes, even though she doesn’t know what she’s apologizing for.
Trinity pulls herself away, shaking her head.
“No, no, It’s my fault. You don’t need to apologize.”
Switch’s brow furrows with concern and Apoch steps up from the wall he’s leaning against to catch Trinity’s hand. He interlocks their fingers, silently trying to steady her. Switch regains her words and speaks, frowning:
“What’s your fault?”
Trinity sags, holding tighter to Apoch, the weight of her guilt and despair hitting her like a ton of bricks.
“He is cute, and I like him. I just can’t hate him, even though I should.”
Switch’s face relaxes and she gives Trinity a sad smile.
“Trin, you like who you like. Don’t try to stop being yourself just because of this stupid prophecy.”
Apoch says her name like a prayer. He says it like it’ll save him. He says it the way he says I love you.
It doesn't save him.
Switch cries out as Apoch crumples to the floor, a doll with it’s strings cut, unplugged on a ship somewhere far away:
And Trinity agrees with her: no, not him, not now, just a little longer—
Switch runs her hands over the fabric of his suit jacket, pulled tight over his shoulder blades. She doesn't say despairing for long, she looks up with a empty rage inside her pale eyes.
They both knew Apoch was a dead end. But they loved him anyways, maybe because they were in denial, maybe because they thought their love would be enough to save him.
She looks up with a burning hatred, the way she looks at the agents, the way she looked when they pulled her out of the disposal pool, the anger that made her snarl and spit dirty water even with her muscles atrophied and her skin filled with aching ports.
“Not like this. Not like this.”
Cipher hisses in her ear, the hiss of a punctured air tank or a failing electrical wire. Hisses like a danger you don't notice until too late.
“If there's anything urgent to say to Switch, say it now.”
She wants to say the I love you she didn't get to say to Apoch. She wants to say I'm sorry because wasn't it her love, her prophecy, that doomed them to this pointless death?
Were they pointless? How could she love them so much if they were? How could she feel so much for them if they were just an and ? Just a stepping stone to Neo, to the chosen one? Why didn't her feelings for them matter? Is her love for the chosen one the only thing about her that matters?
You'll fall in love with a deadman and the one.
It echoes through her head, and in the end, she doesn't say anything. Switch collapses, her body falling onto Apoch’s, the pair as close in death as they were in life. For a moment she wishes she could join them.
Then Cipher turns his traitorous attention to Neo, Neo who’s looking at her with half formed fear, not quite sure what’s happening but knowing it’s bad. Neo, with his doe eyes afraid and aching with sadness as they flit to Switch and Apoch’s bodies.
Not him too.
Then there’s a shout on the line and it goes dead. The phone on the table rings, as if nothing unusual had happened, and Trinity reaches out to pick it up.
It’s only after everything has happened, Morpheus captured and tortured and then rescued, Neo dead and then alive again, her love confessed as he flatlined, that she sits in her and Apoch’s and Switch’s room. Or now, just her room.
There’s a quiet knock and she sits one more moment in silence before calling out:
The door swings open gently, and Neo peers in, face unsure. She smiles weakly at him but gestures him inside. He comes inside slowly and and takes a seat next to her on the bed. His hand inches towards hers, hesitatingly, and she lets him take her hand, drawing comfort from the warmth of his touch. After a long moment of silence he speaks softly:
“Will you tell me about them?”
Trinity gasps out, then chokes on a sob. She hadn’t realized he even knew whose room this was. But he was more observant then she had thought. She smiles through her tears, glad that he doesn’t want them to be forgotten ethier.
“Yes, I’ll tell you about them.”