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The Matrix: Redux

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Three Hours

It had been three hours since he had died. Three hours since Trinity had breathed life back into him. Three hours since he escaped from the Matrix. Three hours since the sentinel attack that had nearly killed them all.

And three hours since he had kissed her.

Three of the longest hours of his life.

He had opened his eyes to hers as she stared at him worriedly. Her touch on his cheek was soft and hesitant, as if she was assuring herself that he was there. In front of her. Safe.

And he couldn’t help himself but to kiss her. To wrap his hand around the back of her neck and tangle his fingers in her short, messy hair. He brought her head down and kissed her, desperately.

And then, all too soon, Morpheus had cleared his throat and brought them back. An SOS needed to be sent immediately. The sentinels needed to be cleaned up and thrown out. And Trinity was the only one who had survived the ordeal without injury (save some scratches and bruises from jumping out of the helicopter).

Trinity had jumped into action, sending all three down to the med bay and harboring no room for arguments.

Tank went in first, needing help to get down to the med bay as his adrenaline wore off. Trinity had worked on him for more than two hours before requesting Neo to get Tank back to his bunk.

When he came back, Morpheus was inside getting his wrists treated and wounds cleaned.

Time ticked on and on for what seemed like an eternity while Neo sat in the hall. The clock on the wall, however, revealed that it had only been three hours.

It had been three hours since he had died. Three hours since Trinity had breathed life back into him. Three hours since he escaped from the Matrix. Three hours since the sentinel attack that had nearly killed them all.

And three hours since he had kissed her.

Three of the longest hours of his life.

The door opened and Morpheus stepped out, his hands bandaged.

Neo rose to his feet, hastily as Morpheus directed him to go inside. He wasted no time stepping into the med bay.

Trinity’s back was to him as she scribbled notes on a pad of paper. Records, probably.

“Sit down on the table.” She said without turning.

Neo obliged, casually admitting, “I’m not really injured.”

“You died.” She replied. “You’re getting looked at.”

She finished her notes quickly and turned to Neo, not meeting his eyes.

“Shirt off.”

Neo pulled off the ripped blue sweater, feeling a chill. There were multiple stains of dried blood scattered across his chest but all of the wounds had closed. In fact, all of the scars and scrapes he had received in the Matrix were gone.

Trinity narrowed her eyes but didn’t speak as she took a nearby basin and filled it with water. She took a tattered cloth and dipped it in before wringing out all the excess water.

Neo tensed as the cold water hit his skin.

Wordlessly, Trinity cleaned the blood away, her fingers lightly tracing the places that the bullets had entered.

“You’re not even bruised.” She murmured, shaking her head in awe.

Neo caught her hand with his own, placing his thumb against her palm and brought her curved fingers to his mouth. Her hand was shaking, he noted as he gently placed a kiss above her knuckle.

Trinity’s breathing had become shallow as Neo lowered her hand without losing his grip on her. He started to lean forward and, without a thought, Trinity met him halfway.

The world seemed to explode with warmth as their lips collided. Neo felt Trinity gasp into his mouth and released her hand in order to lift her from the floor to the table with him. Her knees found a place on either side of his hips.

Neo placed one hand at the small of her back, the other on the nape of her neck just above the port. Trinity’s arms were in a chain around his torso, pulling him as tight to her as she could. Every move was an effort to get closer to each other. To become one.

Their bodies separated enough for Trinity’s shirts to come off before Neo rolled her onto her back. A shiver went down her body as her back came in contact with the metal table.

Of course, the cold was quickly forgotten as Neo laid on top of her, running his hands along her sides, desperately pulling her tighter to him.

A hand slid between Trinity and the table and she arched her back to allow him access to the clasp of her bra. Fiercely, she slid the straps down her arms and pulled the scrap of fabric from between them and flung it across the room.

Trinity shuddered as their chests made contact.

They were getting closer together, tighter together. There was no air between them but it still wasn’t close enough.

Neo’s mouth left hers to trail across her jaw and down towards her neck. He quickly found where her rapid pulse was beating and sucked on it. Hard.

Trinity moaned, squirming beneath him, her legs wrapping around his own.

He grazed the spot with his teeth, nipping along her exposed skin.

Closer. Closer.

“Neo…” She exhaled, pulling his head tighter to her neck.

Just a little bit closer…

The door to the med bay opened, “The Osiris should be here by… oh! I, um…”

Morpheus flustered was a rare thing to be seen. Awkwardly, he turned his back while Neo picked up his shirt off the floor and handed it to Trinity. Her own clothes had been thrown out of reach.

Trinity cleared her throat, “By when, Morpheus?”

“By noon tomorrow. We’ll be up early so I suggest you get some rest.”

Neo averted his gaze, awkwardly staring at the floor at the comment.

“Alright.” Trinity agreed, “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” Morpheus replied, gruffly before exiting the med bay quickly.

Neo glanced up to look at Trinity. Her lips, which had been set in a grim line, twitched upward.

Neo felt himself smile as he stepped towards her and placed a gentle kiss to her lips.

“Come on.” She whispered, taking Neo by the hand and leading him down to the crew quarters. They stopped at her door and Trinity undid the latch before stepping inside, still holding his hand.

Trinity kicked off her boots by the door, Neo copying her actions before she led him to the bed. Trinity climbed in first, settling on her side before Neo lay down next to her, slipping an arm under her head and pulling her to his chest.

Trinity breathed out a sigh as Neo stroked her hair.

“Goodnight, Neo.” She murmured, her eyes closing in contented exhaustion.

“Goodnight.” He paused, not wanting to shut his eyes yet. Trinity was lying in his arms. What had seemed like an impossible dream yesterday was now coming true.

He thought back to what the Oracle had told him, hours before. “Cute, too. I can see why she likes you.”

“Who?”

It had to Switch or Trinity—the only two girls he had met in the real world. But Switch was with Apoc. And that just left Trinity. But that seemed even more impossible.

She was kind to him, very polite. But she kept her distance. And no matter how many conversations he tried to strike up with her, she always would disappear.

“Not too bright, though.”

He certainly wasn’t.

And then he had died. He had felt it, the moment the first bullet entered his chest. It was the end. He was so close but there was no way he could ever survive.

With every shot Smith had fired, he was more and more aware of his death. He had faded from his body, become nothing but a shell.

And then he heard her voice. “Neo, I’m not afraid anymore. The Oracle told me that I would fall in love and that that man… the man that I loved would be the One. So you see, you can’t be dead. You can’t be… because I love you. You hear me? I love you.”

And through the Matrix Neo had felt her lips on his own, breathing into him.

“Now get up.”

So bossy but he didn’t care. She loved him.

The real world wasn’t perfect.

Four good people had been killed because of Cypher. Morpheus had been held captive and tortured by agents. Machines were keeping millions of people as slaves and, even if they were to be freed, there was no place for them to go. And on top of that, all Neo had eaten since waking up was goop.

But maybe it would be okay.

“Trinity?”

“Hmmm?” She mumbled sleepily.

“I love you.”

Chapter Text

“Rise and shine, freaks of nature!” Tank yelled, pounding on the door to Trinity’s room.

Trinity opened her eyes, slightly. She hated mornings. She hated having to get out of a warm bed and travel around the cold ship. She hated eating goop for breakfast. Even worse was that she would have to leave the warm pillow that was Neo.

Still, Trinity was nothing if not determined.

She let out a sigh and frowned slightly when she could see her breath on the air. Of course, the heating on the ship had been knocked out by the EMP. Usually, she would have woken up freezing but with Neo she had an extra source of heat.

“Neo.” She said aloud, stroking his face as she moved up on her elbow

“I know.” He opened his eyes and found her face. “I wish we could stay in this bed all day.”

“Me too.” She confessed. Sighing, Trinity rolled over Neo and set her feet down on the cold floor. Before she could stand up, however, Neo wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her back on top of him.

Neo pressed a kiss to her lips.

Trinity pursed her lips, fighting a smile.

“Hello.” Neo said, moving to kiss her jaw.

“Hello.”

His mouth moved across her jawline, kissing every inch he could reach before he gently caught her earlobe with his teeth.

Her breath caught in her throat as she moaned his name. “Neo… Oh, god. We have to get up…”

“No.” He moved down and nipped at her neck.

“We do…” the last syllable stretched out. “We still have to… clear the sentinels and… the bodies and Tank will need more painkillers…”

Neo grimaced empathetically. She was right, of course.

Forcing a smile, he placed a gentle kiss on her lips before letting her move to stand up. He followed suit quickly.

“Gonna run to the wash.” He told her.

“Alright. You might want to grab an extra sweater. It’ll be cold, today.”

It was always cold, Neo thought, but he understood what she meant.

After washing up, Neo returned to his own room. A shelf held four sweaters, all variations of greys and blues. He chose the darker of the two grey and pulled it down over his head before sliding the lighter of the two on top.

As he turned to leave, he noticed that Morpheus was waiting, respectively, outside his door.

“Morpheus.” Neo said in acknowledgement.

“Neo. How are you feeling today?”

“Never better.”

It wasn’t a lie or even a stretching of the truth.

Despite all of the hell that had occurred in the past twenty-four hours, Neo felt stronger than ever before. His wounds had healed completely. And after spending the night with Trinity wrapped in his arms, he felt energized in a way he had yet to feel in the real world.

“Good. We’ll be docking with the Osiris sooner than expected. Once there, I would like you to go back into the Matrix to… test your new abilities.”

“Alright.” Neo said, with a nod. Before, respectively asking, “Is that all, sir?”

“For now. As soon as you have breakfast, I’ll need assistance from both you and Trinity taking care of the sentinels. I don’t want Tank doing any heavy lifting until he sees a medic.”

Neo nodded again before crossing the hall to Trinity’s room.

It was larger than his, he noted as he entered it for the second time. He had been too distracted by Trinity the previous night to notice but it was around twice the size. A shelf next to her bed held a few tattered books and an open bureau revealed many knit sweaters.

Trinity, herself, was staring at her reflection in the mirror.

She was still wearing the blue sweater that Neo had handed her after being caught in the med bay by Morpheus. Her small frame was swimming in it but the only thing Trinity was paying attention to were the red-stains.

Neo quietly walked up behind her and slipped his arms around her waist. He pulled her against him and inhaled the scent that was so very Trinity. Smoke and dust.

Not the kind of dust that was found in old books and under beds but the kind that coated the skin after a hard day’s work.

On her, it was perfect.

“You died.” She said in a voice of steadfast logic.

“I did.”

“Don’t do it again.”

Neo smiled and pressed a kiss to her temple. “Yes, ma’am.”

 

Three minutes later, they were sitting across from Tank and Morpheus in the kitchen (if it could be called a kitchen).

Four plates were loaded up with white goop that Neo found sickening just to look at.

“The biggest problem will be the metal…” Morpheus was saying. “The sentinels destroyed a good part of the hull and I want it to be completely closed by the time we leave here.”

“But we shouldn’t have to worry about sentinel attacks.” Trinity commented, “As long as we stay below broadcast level, we should be safe until we reach Zion. We’re only a few days out.”

Morpheus shook his head, “I want Neo to go back in the Matrix before we leave for Zion.”

Trinity glanced to Neo then Morpheus then Neo again. “You’re alright with this?”

Neo nodded.

Trinity nodded. “Alright.”

They finished eating, both Tank and Morpheus avoiding the topic that under the table Neo and Trinity were holding hands.

As soon as the plates were washed, everyone but Tank went to the core. The sentinel was on the floor, legs splayed in every which way. It had stopped just short of the chair that he had been sitting in, with Trinity protecting his body with her own.

Trinity handed him a pair of thick, canvas gloves that were a bit large but would have to do. “So, um, how does this work?”

Trinity walked over to the dead sentinel and pointed to a small opening in the middle. “Well, all we have to do is move it down near the loading dock. When we get to Zion, we’ll pass it off to the mechanics. They’ll strip it for parts, meltdown the metal. Reuse it for ships or weapons or whatever’s need.”

As she spoke, Trinity moved the legs out behind the body, piling them the best she could.

When they were gathered together, tightly, Neo walked over to the body. Wordlessly, they both lifted at the same time and maneuvered the sentinel around the chairs and to the ladder. Trinity placed her end on the ground before crawling on her stomach to look down the hole.

“We’re good.” She said, moving to her feet.

Together, they pushed the sentinel through the hole.

For the next hour, they wordlessly repeated the same actions with the other four sentinels before moving the pile so that it was next to the door in the docking bay.

“Trinity?” Neo asked as she took off her gloves.

“Hmm?”

“When will we get to Zion?”

Trinity shrugged, shaking her head. “We’re only a few days away, logistically. But Morpheus wants to put you back in the Matrix before then and the closest broadcasting depth is a day away from the city.”

Her tone was that of distaste.

“You don’t think I should go back in the Matrix?”

Trinity turned her head to look at him. She had believed that he saw more than he let on. Now she was sure of it.

Sliding around the question, Trinity answered, “There are a lot of things to be taken into account.”

“Such as?”

“Such as the timing.” Trinity stopped walking and turned to face Neo. “The Agents will want you dead and, despite being the One, you still don’t know your limitations. That’s a very dangerous place to be. But, if we go to Zion, the Council might not be ready to let you go back into the Matrix. Which is why, I think, Morpheus is pushing to put you in sooner.”

“The Council?”

“The closest thing Zion has to a government. A group of elders who control the military and, through them, us. They’re going to want to control your actions. Use you as a symbol.”

That wouldn’t go well. A somewhat clumsy, socially awkward ex-computer programmer being used as a symbol of hope? Peace? An end to the war?

“We won’t let that happen.” Trinity told him, understanding the flash of fear on his face. “That’s why Morpheus is putting you back in right away. To send a message.”

“A message saying what?”

“That you’re the One.”

Neo still wasn’t sure how he felt about being the One. Sure, he could stop bullets and move faster than anyone else. But to be the savior of Zion?

It was a lot of pressure to put on anyone.

Trinity took his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.

She didn’t try to assure him of things she couldn’t possibly know or tell him that things would be okay. Instead, she just reminded him that he wasn’t alone.

“Come on.” She said, tugging on his hand. “There’s still work to be done.”

 

Halfway through the welding tutorial Trinity was giving him, Morpheus showed up to take Neo away. Although Morpheus had seen the coding from the Matrix while Neo was inside, he wanted to know exactly what happened.

Neo, reluctantly, left Trinity to finish the work.

“What happened, exactly, once you got to the hotel?” Morpheus asked as they sat down in the bridge.

“I, uh, heard the phone ringing. In room 303. I opened the door, thinking I was seconds away from coming back and Smith was there. Shot me in the chest, emptied his gun into me.”

“You died.”

“Yes.”

“And then you came back.”

“Yes.” Neo paused, “Although that was all Trinity.”

“Her love.”

Neo nodded. “I was dead, Morpheus. I still don’t understand how I came back. But Trinity saved me. And, when I stood up, I just… it was like I didn’t want to deal with the Agents. All I could think about was getting back to her.”

“You stopped bullets in the air.”

Another nod. “I could see the coding. It was like looking at the computer and seeing the Matrix but I was in the Matrix. Everything I saw was little symbols, little codes. And I could read it, all of it.

“Then, Smith came at me. Furious, which I didn’t think a program could be. But he just screamed and attacked me. And, I could just see every move he was going to make. It was in his coding, you just had to look deeper.”

“And then you killed him.”

“Deleted would be a better word.” He paused, “And then, I heard Trinity scream for me. Got to the phone, woke up here.”

Morpheus sat with his hands folded in thought. Both index fingers reached upward as he asked, “Do you think you would come back again? If you were to be killed?”

“I don’t know.” Neo answered honestly. “It’s not something that I think we should test.”

“Hmm.” Morpheus paused, “And, you saw everything in code?”

Neo nodded.

“Interesting. When we board the Osiris, I’d like you to take a look at their computers. See if you can still read everything in the real world.”

“Alright.”

“Back in the Matrix, do you think you’ll be able to read it again? Or will everything be normal?”

Neo shrugged his shoulders as he shook his head. “I honestly don’t know. This is completely new to me.”

A beep echoed through the bridge and the radio crackled, “Osiris to Nebuchadnezzar.”

“Nebuchadnezzar here.” Morpheus answered, leaning forward to a microphone.

“We’re a couple miles out, should be there in thirty minutes.”

“Understood. See you soon.” Morpheus looked back over to Neo. “We’ll put you back in the Matrix as soon as we can. You’re free to go.”

Neo nodded and stood up, quickly heading down the ladder to find Trinity. He had left her near the core, welding together an interior wall that had been slashed at by the sentinels.

But as soon as his feet hit the floor, he knew she wasn’t where he had left her.

Gentle sobbing could be heard throughout the core floor. As quietly as he could, as not to disturb her, Neo made his way to where the bodies of their four fallen comrades lay. Cypher’s body had been moved across the room.

The four faces had been uncovered.

Trinity knelt in between Switch and Apoc, holding the cold hand of Switch. Her body was shaking as she cried.

Neo swallowed the lump forming in his own throat.

Four members of the Neb’s crew were dead because of Cypher. Trinity was crying because of Cypher.

“Why, oh why, didn’t I take the blue pill?” Cypher had asked him.

Neo had thought he was commenting on the difficulties of life in the real world. It had never occurred to him that Cypher was actually serious. But he was.

Neo had never been a vengeful man. Neither had Thomas Anderson for that matter. But Neo wished that he had been the one to end Cypher’s life. Make him pay for the four lives that Cypher had taken, meaninglessly. Four lives just so he could be comfortable.

But none of that mattered, not with Trinity crying.

So Neo crossed the room and knelt down behind her, wrapping his arms around her.

Trinity leaned into him, still sobbing, as she let go of Switch and brought her arms up to where Neo’s wrapped around her and squeezed them tighter.

Neo rocked her back and forth, wishing for something to say. But the truth of the matter were that there were no words that could help her.

Switch was dead.

Apoc was dead.

Dozer was dead.

Mouse was dead.

No words could take that pain away.

So he held her.

“It’s not fair.” She gasped out.

“No, it’s not.” Neo agreed.

“He just pulled the plug. He didn’t even care. It didn’t even phase him! And now…” She choked on a sob as she turned to bury her face in the crook of Neo’s neck.

Trinity tried to get her breathing under control. A shudder went through her body as she exhaled. “She’s gone. They’re gone.”

She wiped the tears away. “We always thought we’d go out fighting, you know. We used to joke about it over cards—would we be killed by an Agent? A sentinel?”

Neo remembered the fear in Switch’s eyes as she looked up from Apoc’s body to Trinity, and whispered, begged “Not like this.”

“She was my best friend.” Her voice was barely a whisper.

“Oh, Trin.” Neo pressed a kiss to the top of her head.

Several minutes passed in silence while Trinity stayed nestled in Neo’s arms.

Finally, Trinity took a deep breath and moved forward, out of his arms. “Goodbye.” She whispered before covering Switch with the sheet, yet again.

Neo leaned forward and proceeded to cover Apoc and Mouse, letting Trin cover up Dozer.

They stood up together, Neo taking her hand and gently leading her away from death.

“Morpheus said that the Osiris will be here soon. Probably ten, fifteen minutes.”

“Already?” She asked in surprise, checking her face for tears.

“Yeah.”

Trinity straightened her shirt and let out a breath. “How do I look?”

Neo smiled, “Beautiful.”

She rolled her eyes, good naturedly. “That’s not what I meant.”

“But you do.” Neo insisted, backing her up towards one of the chairs used for jacking in. “You look gorgeous. Most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

“More beautiful than the woman in red?”

Neo let out a bark of laughter, “No contest, love.”

Trinity felt her heart flutter at the endearment.

“The woman in red could distract a guy for a few seconds but you? You could distract a man for the rest of his life.”

He successfully backed her up to the chair. Trinity felt her knees bend and let herself fall back, smiling as she sat back in the chair. Her hand slid around Neo’s neck, moving up to cup the base of his head, her fingers getting lost in his hair.

Neo slid a leg in between Trinity’s and used it to hoist himself into the chair, leaning just over her. But Trinity quickly closed the distance, pulling him tighter to her.

Neo grazed her lower lip with his teeth before letting it go and diving straight back in to kiss her.

Frantically, their heads’ moved in and out, tilting form side to side, desperately trying to get closer and closer together.

“Trinity.” He whispered before getting his fingers lost in her silky hair and tugging her head to the side, and going to her neck.

She was on fire, writhing beneath him as a leg wrapped around Neo’s hips.

His mouth was exploring the exposed flesh, from her collarbone up, alternatively kissing, licking, sucking and biting. Whatever he could think of. As fast as he could think.

Trinity moaned, closing her eyes, as Neo continued his attack on her neck.

 “Oh, fuck!” A voice sounded from the entrance of the core.

“I knew we should have warned him.” Tank’s voice came from below.

Neo glanced up, before letting out a long sigh. “Every damn time.”

 Trinity gave a half-hearted attempt at a smile. “No privacy on a hovercraft.”

“What about Zion?”

Trin shrugged, giving Neo a slight nudge to get off of her.

Tank reached the top the ladder, slower than usual, but with a wide grin on his face.

“Were they shirtless again?”

“Again?” The new comer asked.

“Dude, I shit you not. Morpheus caught these two half-naked in the med bay last night when she was supposed to be giving him,” Tank let his voice go breathy, “A physical. Speaking of which, your bra is still hanging on the oxygen tank, Trinity.”

“Thanks.” Said Trinity, dryly.

“And Neo, man. Nice work on that hickey.”

Trinity’s hand automatically flew to her throat as she felt around for the rough patch of skin that was turning purple. “Really?” She asked, sending a soft glare in Neo’s direction.

He grinned, “I like it.”

“I’ll bet.”

Neo looped his hand around Trinity’s waist, murmuring, “I like you.”

Robbie’s eyes widened and his jaw dropped open when Trinity didn’t kill him. Or even kick him in the balls.

Instead, she shook her head and casually told him to, “Shut up.”

Tank pressed forward, leaving a dazed Robbie confused at the top of the ladder. “You guys can head over to the Osiris whenever you want. They have heat, and everything. Of course, you two have been making your own heat so…”

“Shut up, Tank.” Trinity said as she swung herself onto the ladder.

She led Neo through the rest of the Neb, where the majority of the Osiris’s crew were at work. Morpheus was standing at the open door, next to Thadeus, the captain of the Osiris.

“Trinity.” He said with a nod.

“Captain.”

Morpheus was just short of beaming as Neo followed her over. “Thadeus, I’d like to introduce you to Neo, the—”

“Perhaps this conversation would be better on board the Osiris.” Trinity interrupted, knowing that half the Osiris crew were in the loading bay.

Morpheus raised an eyebrow in her direction before agreeing. “Yes, perhaps it would. Captain? Could we meet in your core?”

Captain Thadeus gave a short nod before leading the way onto his ship.

Trinity grabbed Neo’s wrist and leaned in to whisper, “When we get to their core, go over to look at the computers. See what you can read.”

Neo nodded and Trinity let go of him, quickening her pace to catch up with Morpheus and Thadeus through the Osiris and up to their Core.

Thadeus and Morpheus were idly chatting about the damage done to the Neb as Neo casually moved over to the computers filled with Matrix coding.

He saw the coding as it was—the little green symbols, falling down the screen but there was more to it. His eyes narrowed as he started to see patterns. Man, woman, girl, boy. Blond, Brunette, redhead. Tall, short. IQs, blood types and ages danced along the screen.

Neo shut his eyes tight before slowly opening them.

And then he saw them. People.

He turned around to where the other three were and gave a nod to Trinity. She nodded back, before glancing to Morpheus who was not unaware of what they were doing.

“You can read it then?”

Neo nodded, “Clear as day.”

“Good.” Morpheus said. “Captain Thadeus, I’d like to introduce you to Neo. The One.”

Chapter Text

Thadeus sighed, “Oh Christ, Morpheus. Just because the boy can read the code doesn’t mean he’s the One. He’s probably just a fast learner.”

“He’s the One, Thadeus. The Oracle…”

“He’s the One? Trinity, what does that make him? The fifth ‘One’ you’ve found?”

“The sixth.” Trinity corrected, “However, Morpheus is right. Neo is the One.”

Thadeus’s eyes widened. It was common knowledge that, although she was second-in-command aboard the Nebuchadnezzar, Trinity was skeptical about the existence of the One.

“Since when have you been a believer?”

“Since yesterday.” She snapped.

“Why?”

“You mean besides defeating an Agent?” Morpheus asked.

“No one can defeat an Agent. That’s impossible.”

“It happened.” Trinity said.

Thadeus let out a long sigh. “Why don’t you start from the beginning and explain this to me.”

“Alright. We found Neo…”

Trinity wondered how many times they were going to have to explain everything. Probably the rest of the Osiris crew, definitely to the Council. The Council would hopefully let the rest of Zion know and so there would be little need for questions except from those closest to them.

Ghost would certainly want to know the whole story.

Trinity watched as Neo slowly moved across the room before taking his place next to her. The Captains were distracted while Morpheus explained about Cypher’s betrayal and being captured by the Agents. Neither noticed as Neo slid a hand onto Trinity’s back, idly tracing her spine.

He could feel the plugs through both her shirts.

Trinity smiled, resting her head on his shoulder, letting a sigh escape.

Neo smiled, bending down to whisper in her ear, “Think they’ll notice if we leave?”

Trinity bit back a laugh. “Where would we go?”

A shrug. “It’s a big ship. I’m sure we can find someplace… unoccupied.”

“…But Agent Smith was waiting for him. He emptied his gun into Neo’s chest and Neo died.”

“And, now you’ve lost me.” Thadeus said.

“From what I understand, and please correct me if I’m wrong,” Morpheus said, glancing to Neo and Trinity, “But,” Morpheus coughed, slightly. “Uhm, Trinity’s love saved him.”

“Oh god.” Trinity murmured, wanting so desperately to be anywhere but the core.

Thadeus dropped his jaw and turned to find Trinity leaning into Neo, his arm tightly wound around her. He turned back to Morpheus. “I—what?”

“Neo died. Trinity told him that she loved him. He came back to life.”

“That’s impossible.”

“I don’t understand it either.” Morpheus said with a smile and a nod. “But I watched as his body was laden with bullets and he flat-lined. And then, a kiss from Trinity and he was back up, stronger than before.
“It was like nothing you’ve ever seen, Thadeus. The code was moving so fast, it was impossible to read. And then, Neo took over Smith’s coding and destroyed him.”

“Again, impossible!”

“It’s not. He is the—”

“There is no such thing as the One! It is a legend, Morpheus. A fairytale! Nothing more.”

And so it went on, Thadeus would protest. Morpheus would insist that Neo was the One and that the impossible had happened. Back and forth.

“Like watching a tennis game.”

“You’ve never watched a tennis game.” Trinity commented.

Neo shrugged, “You know what I mean.”

She did. The captains were so focused on their argument that they weren’t even paying attention to the One they were speaking about. And Neo was growing more tense by the second.

“Go back to the Neb,” She told him. “Get either Tank or Robbie to come back over here with you.”

Neo gave a nod and quietly left the room. When he was finally down the ladder, Trinity walked forward to the two captains. “Stop.”

They both ceased their arguments and immediately looked to her.

“Where’s Neo?” Morpheus asked.

“He went to get to get an operator. We’re going into the Matrix.”

Captain Thadeus crossed his arms and glared down at her. “Excuse me?”

“There are more pressing matters at hand than who is right and who is wrong. Right now, Neo feels the weight of the world on his shoulders because he knows that he is the One and that he’s expected save everyone.  Your arguing helps no one. So, we’ll show you proof and you either believe it or you won’t. Simple as that.”

Trinity held an even glare with Thadeus, not giving a damn about the fact that he outranked her.

Finally, he gave a nod. “Fine.”

“There are conditions.”

“Jesus Chri—”

“One: I’m going into the Matrix with him. Despite the fact that he’s the One, he’s still only been unplugged for a matter of weeks and he’s been the One for less than a day. Two: I want an exit ready at all times. The second I say that Neo and I are out of there, we are out.”

“Agreed.” Said Morpheus.

“I’m serious.” Trinity said, catching his eyes. “. No bullshit about keeping him in and testing his abilities for longer than necessary.”

“Eventually he’ll have to—”

“We’ll deal with eventually when it comes.” Trinity cut him off. “For now, I just need your word.”

“You have it.”

 

When Neo returned, with Tank just behind him, Trinity was sitting at the operator’s chair, typing. The two captains had ceased arguing but were still regarding each other with a hint of animosity.

“We’re back.” Neo announced.

Trinity glanced in their direction to see which operator he had brought with him. “Tank, I want you to set us up in Capital City. We’re going to need a crotch-rocket and handguns.”

Tank nodded, dropping into the chair as Trinity stood. In a matter of minutes, they were loaded into the Matrix, dressed in all black. The phone on the street corner rang and Trinity went over to it, picking it up long enough to confirm, “We’re in.”

It was strange, seeing her code. The symbols that made up her body swirling around, constantly moving with every motion that Trinity made.

“What?” Trinity asked, noticing that he was watching her intently.

“I see your coding.” He moved closer to her, holding out his hand to touch the symbols.

“What does it look like?”

“Beautiful.”

The coding moved and he could tell that she was rolling her eyes. “I’m serious.”

So was Neo but he answered, “Like what you see on the computer except it’s in three dimensions.”

He took a step back and started walking around her. He knew how to alter her coding to change her hair, her outfit, her size. He knew exactly which glyphs to take away to delete her from the Matrix completely. She was entirely too breakable.

Was this how the Agent’s saw her? Saw him?

Probably not. They’d just alter the coding if they could instead of shooting at her.

Neo closed his eyes, willing them to only see the Matrix. As he opened them, he took in their location. They were on a side street, illuminated only by two lampposts and the light from nearby windows. The motorcycle Trinity had requested was next to the phone booth, key in the ignition.

“Ready?” Trinity asked as his eyes hit the bike.

Neo nodded, “What, exactly, is the plan?”

“We’re going to get the attention of some cops.” Trinity swung a leg over the bike and brought it off the kickstand before starting the engine. She then nodded to Neo, that he could indeed get on behind her.

“And how are we going to do that?” He asked while climbing on.

She kicked the bike down into first gear and leaned slightly back into him. “Hold on.”

With that, she let go of the clutch and started moving forward. Quickly, Trinity shifted through all five gears of the bike with a practiced foot and, before he knew it, they were speeding along the road, going speeds he had never attempted in a car. And on the motorcycle, it was so much more. The wind in his face made it feel like he was fucking flying.

And then came the sirens.

A police car that had been on a street corner took off behind them.

Trinity was clearly adept at defensive driving, Neo noted, as they weaved around cars and turned into side streets with grace. He glanced behind them to where the police were, finally starting to catch up. Trin must have noticed as well as she gave the bike more gas, successfully causing them to fly forward.

Another car joined the chase, then a third. Cars pulled off to the side of the road to avoid the rushing vehicles, making it easier for Trinity to see where they were going.

“How many?” Trinity shouted to Neo.

He glanced behind them. “Four!”

She was weighing the options, he knew, before she swerved into the right line position. As they came up on a side street, she turned quickly, leaning the bike nearly to the ground. At the end of the street was a dead end.

Trinity started shifting down as she turned the bike in a tight 180 so that they were facing the cops, now blocking the only exit from the alley.at him.

Neo spun off the bike, the coattail was billowing out behind him.

Eight cops spilled from the car, screaming loudly for them to get down on the ground. Neo glanced backwards to Trinity, wordlessly asking her if he could take them out.

She responded with a look that clearly said, “Why do you think we’re here?”

He raised his eyebrows once before turning back to the cops. Casually, he held his hands up in a pseudo-surrender and began slowly walking to the police.

“Get down on the fucking ground!”

Neo closed his eyes, willing the world around him to go back to coding. When he opened them, he was surrounded by green glyphs, constantly turning and moving around the body they encompassed.

And all he had to do was look at the symbol resembling an ‘M’ with a horizontal line slashing through it horizontally. All he had to do was stare at it, willing it to disappear for an instant and let the walls of the Matrix flex around him. In one step, he was behind all of the police.

The world faded back to normal.

“What the—”

Neo threw out a punch that sent the officer all the way to the wall behind Trinity. Another punch and a kick sent another crashing into a car. He leapt into the air, spinning in circles as a leg extended to successfully send three more cops flying.

Five down. Three to go.

An elbow to the chest and a fist to the face took out the sixth while a twist to the head broke the neck of a seventh. The eighth was taken out by a stumbling punch before Neo scythed his legs out from under him.

Neo looked around. All the officers were dead or unconscious on the ground.

He looked ahead where Trinity sat, still straddling the motorcycle.

“Was that it?” He asked.

“It was something.” She replied, sounding mildly impressed. “How did you get behind them so fast? One moment you were there,” She indicated a spot on the ground, “And the next you were over there.”

“I, um…” Neo paused, searching for a way to explain it. “When I can see the code, all I really need to do is think about it changing. And it does. I took out a piece of the coding and it allowed me to bend the world slightly, so that I could get behind them… It’s hard to explain.”

Her phone started ringing. Trinity reached into her pocket. “Tank… Yeah… I’m not sure that’s the best idea… Or I could just shoot at him… Fine, I’ll see what I can do.”

Trinity hung up the phone with a deep sigh. “They want us to get a cop to shoot at you.”

“And you’re disappointed that you don’t get to shoot me?”

A hint of a smile appeared on her lips. “You just took out eight guys. If Agents aren’t aware that you’re here, they will be soon. Getting more guys after us might not be the best idea.”

“Well, we don’t know how the Agent’s will react to me being back. I highly doubt that they’ll come after us today. Not without an idea of how to defeat me.”

“It might not be that simple.” Trinity argued, “Logically, what you’re saying makes sense but these are programs. They’re told what to do and how to do it. And they’ve been told to kill you.”

Neo walked over the bodies to where Trinity sat on the bike. “It’ll be okay, Trin.”

She gave him a half-hearted attempt at a smile. “I know.”

He leaned down to press a kiss to her lips but she held up a hand, stopping him. “Not here.” She murmured, shaking her head. “Not in the Matrix, where it isn’t real.”

“Okay.”

She was right, when he thought about it. Everything about Trinity was passionate and fiery and undeniably real. And though Neo was desperate to touch her, to kiss her he knew that it wasn’t Trinity he was looking at. She was just symbols grouped together based on the real Trinity’s thoughts.

“Do we have a plan?” He asked, casually.

“Find someone to shoot at us.”

“Oh, and uh, how do we do that?”

Trinity leaned back, slightly, allowing her to access the holster at her hip. She took out a hand gun and pointed it straight into the air. She fired off a round before sliding the gun back.

“That should do the trick.”

“Subtle.” He replied with a smile.

“There’s a time and a place for subtlety. And right now we’re 0 for 2.” Sirens started ringing in the background. Trinity tilted her head to the side, proving her point. “This time, though, let them shoot at you before you take them all out.”

“Should I dodge them or stop them?”

“Stop them. Then you can take them out.”

Trinity took out her second gun and fired another shot into the air, letting the police know exactly where they were. Then she put the safety on and tossed the gun to Neo. He caught it, perfectly.

“What, exactly, am I supposed to do with this?”

Trin swung a leg over the bike and replied, “Act like you’re going to shoot me.”

“You can’t be serious.”

She responded with a look. She wasn’t kidding.

Behind them, two cop cars skidded to a halt behind the first four. Opening doors, the cops jumped out and Trinity let out a scream.

“No, please don’t kill me!” She cried, giving an heir of hysterics as she held her hands up and pleaded. “Please, no!”

“Drop the gun!” One of the officers shouted.

Neo turned, aiming the gun at the cop who had just spoken and made a move as if he was about to shoot. All of the sudden, bullets started firing from the officer’s guns.

Neo calmly held up a hand, making the bullets slow down until they stopped. He glanced to Trinity who was back to her stoic demeanor. She nodded and he let the bullets fall to the ground.

“Holy shit!” One of the cops shouted as Neo turned around and shot four shots, straight to the head of each officer.

It all happened so fast, Trinity didn’t even see it. One moment they were all standing, ready to shoot at Neo and the next they were on the ground. Dead.

“Christ.” Trinity said, taking out her phone and dialing Tank. “Hey, you guys see that?”

Neo stepped closer so that he could hear Tank’s response.

“Yup, Captain Thadeus is still doing his ‘that’s impossible’ thing. Think you could… oh shit.”

Trinity’s face took on a sour expression. “Agents?”

“A block away.”

She tilted her face to the side and gave Neo a dirty-look that her heart clearly wasn’t in. Still, her message was clear. I told you so. “Nearest exit?”

“On your left, there should be a fire escape. Climb up to the top and face north. From there, it will be six blocks down, one block over. You got that?”

Six blocks down, one block over. “Got it.”

“Go ahead of me.” Neo ordered.

Trinity nodded, rushing to the ladder that led to safety. They were two flights up when Neo saw them, walking calmly into the alley. Agents Brown and Jones.

“They’re here.” He said and Trinity picked up her pace, leaping from step to step.

The Agents shot at them but it did no good. Neo stopped the bullets before they even got close, letting them turn and fall back to the earth. The Agents made quick work of the ladder and were soon climbing the steps behind them.

A question preyed on Neo’s mind. Could he kill Agent Brown and Agent Jones?

It hadn’t been easy, deleting Agent Smith, no matter how quickly he had done it. It was taxing, draining even. Not to mention the fact that the Agent’s had undoubtedly upgraded since the previous day, now knowing their weakness.

It would probably take longer than it had to kill Smith but there was no doubt in his mind that he could erase them from the Matrix if he had to.

The biggest problem, of course, was right in front of him. Trinity.

Neo had absolutely no intention of fighting the Agents anywhere where Trinity could get caught in the crossfire or used against him.

She was strong in the Matrix. Mouse had told him she was one of the best soldiers Zion had and he believed the kid. She was quick and smart and savvy but, at the end of the day, she was his weakness. Even the idea of her getting hurt shook him to his core.

There would be time to fight and delete the other Agents. Time when Trinity was in the real world and safe.

Neo glanced down as they reached the top of the escape and were at the roof. One of the Agents was a level and a half down but the he couldn’t see the second.

“Trinity…” he started to warn as they started running across the roof but it was too late. The roof-access door sprang open and Agent Jones flew out, diving straight for Trinity.

Chapter Text

Everything happened in a matter of seconds. Neo and Trinity had hit the roof of an old apartment complex, barely ahead of the Agents. Or, at least one of the Agents. The other had disappeared somewhere between the fifith and eighth floors only to reappear atop the building.

Agent Jones had gone straight for Trinity, knocking her out of the way and leaving room for Agent Brown to head for Neo.

Neo held out an arm to block the first punch, dividing his attention between Agent Brown and Trinity. She had taken a hard hit from Jones, landing flat on her back but she was already rolling back to her feet and taking off at a run.

Neo felt the tension escape from his body knowing that Trinity wasn’t going to try to fight the Agents. He pulled a gun from his belt, faster than the Agent could process, and aimed it straight for the heart.

Two shots and the Agent was down on the ground, crackling and morphing back into a regular man.

 

The Agent had come out of nowhere, tackling her to the ground. It hurt landing straight on her back on the concrete roof. She knew when she got back to the real world, there would be a bruise but she would worry about that later.

Now, she just needed to get up.

Trinity rolled to her side and up to her feet with a grace that could only come from computer animation. Agent Jones sent a wave of punches towards her the moment she was upright. She dodged them, leaning backwards and around before breaking into a sprint.

Was Neo behind her? They hadn’t actually discussed what to do if an Agent showed up but he knew that she didn’t want him fighting yet. Would he try anyway now that he was confident in his abilities? Or was those his footsteps gaining ground behind her?

She spared a glance and a foot connected, hard, with her shoulder. Trinity flew, backwards through the air until she wasn’t flying. She was falling.

 

When Neo looked up, Trinity was halfway across the roof. Jones was gaining serious ground behind her, desperate to take her out and prove his worth. As she neared the end of the roof, Trinity turned to spare a glance behind her.

Jones leapt at the opportunity, jumping into the air and kicking her hard in the shoulder. Trinity was airborne, flying across the roof until she was falling over nothingness.

Neo didn’t think, just ran straight for the edge of the roof before diving over the edge.

Neo flew downwards, towards the falling body. Just a little bit closer…

He stretched an arm out to grab her around the waist before flinging her legs upwards to catch with his other hand. Trinity turned her head sharply to stare at him, her eyes filled with a mixture of fear and shock.

It was only then that Neo realized where they were.

He pulled up out of the dive, somewhat amazed that they didn’t fall. But there wasn’t time to question it. Not yet.

Six blocks down, one block over.

Faster than he thought possible, he flew down the streets until he could hear the all too familiar ringing. He dove down toward the street, slowing down and preparing his legs to land. Neo hit the ground at a run, letting the momentum he had built up in his descent run out before setting Trinity down.

“Fuck.” She said, breathing hard. “Neo, that was…”

“Later.” He said, taking her hand and starting to run again. “We need to get the hell out of here.”

They ran to the phone box down the street.

“You first.” Neo said as they slipped into the box.

She didn’t argue, picking up the phone before her body shimmered out of the Matrix.

Neo hung up the phone and waited. The moment he heard the sound, he picked it up and opened his eyes in the real world.

Morpheus was standing next to him. He pulled the jack out of Neo’s head and began to speak. Neo didn’t hear a word though, jumping out of his chair and moving over to Trinity.

She had been unplugged and was sitting on the chair sideways, her legs dangling over the side. Neo stepped between them and cupped her face in his hands.

“Are you hurt?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I’m fine.”

“Good.” He bent down and kissed her, hard, on the lips before moving his hands down to hug her to him. “I thought I lost you.”

 “How the hell did you do that?” Thadeus asked before Trinity could reply.

Neo looked up from Trinity but didn’t loosen his grip. “I’m not entirely sure how. I wasn’t exactly thinking when I saw Trin falling.”

“You didn’t know that was going to work?” Trinity asked, pulling back from him.

“Not really, I guess. There wasn’t time to think about it.”

Her relaxed features changed into a scowl. “You could have been killed.”

“So could you.”

That answer, Neo realized as Trinity’s expression darkened and her arms folded over her chest, did nothing to help his case.

“Neo, that was reckless. Just because you’re the One doesn’t mean that you won’t get hit by a bus if you walk into traffic.”

He considered pointing out that he hadn’t walked into traffic—he had jumped off a building. Somehow, though, he had a feeling that it wouldn’t help.

She was scared, he realized. As scared as he’d been in the split second when the Agent had kicked her off the roof. Scared of the asphalt beneath her that wouldn’t stretch and bend like in the jump program. Scared that he would lose her after having her for less than a day.

And he had put his life in danger.

“I’m sorry for scaring you.” He said, quietly. “But I would do it again.”

Her expression softened. She wanted to say more but Thadeus, Tank and Morpheus were still standing there, gaping. Instead, she took his hand and intertwined their fingers.

“Do you think you understood what you did enough to do it again?”

Neo nodded, “Probably.”

“We could test it in the Construct.” She offered as a compromise. “Load the jump program and just have you practice before you go back into the Matrix.”

“Sure.”

“You wanna do that now?” Tank asked, looking between the two.

Neo glanced to Trinity. They had both been shaken by how close a call they had in the Matrix and if she wasn’t comfortable with him going back in right off, he would understand. She gave him a small smile, unspoken permission.

“Yeah, okay.” Neo said.

“I’m going to stay on this side.” Trinity told him, “And watch the computers. See if we can figure out how you do what you do.”

“Sounds good.”

He walked back to his chair, not letting go of her hand. She pulled the lever and inserted the wiring into his head. And then he was on a roof in the middle of an empty city.

It had only been a few days since the last time he entered the jump program, being drilled by Morpheus to jump greater distances each time. He told Neo that he had done well with that confident smile. And Neo had smiled back, uncertain if he was really everything Morpheus thought he was.

But he was.

He took a running start before leaping off of the building. He pulled his arms tight against his body to become as aerodynamic as possible and felt the air rushing all around him as he flew downard.

Neo pulled up his body hard, almost so that he was leaning backwards and began to soar up. He bent his body slightly to the right and turned in a wide circle before heading back upwards, to the clouds.

 

Trinity stood over the operator’s chair, her hands on resting on the back as she watched the screen intently. Neo had spent ten minutes in the air before landing on the ground below. Immediately, he had crouched down low before moving to jump and began to fly again.

The next time he landed, he ran up a wall. In theory, it was easy enough to do. Trinity had done it, herself, many times.

But Neo was running up six story buildings.

At the moment, he was practicing walking over nothing. He was hovering a few feet above the ground, looking dead ahead while he moved forward.

Somewhere behind her, she knew that Morpheus was beaming. After years of searching, he’d finally found the One.

Thadeus, on the other hand, was shaking his head in amazement. The things that Neo could do seemed impossible but the evidence was right in front of his eyes.

“Damn!” Tank said as Neo forced a tree to bend sideways. “That shit’s impossible.”

“Not anymore.” Trinity said glancing from the falling code to the screen that made it possible to see what was going on in the Construct.

“The Neb’s ready for a jumpstart.” Jue, first mate on the Osiris, called as she climbed up the ladder.

“Shhh!” Morpheus shushed, staring intently at the screen as Neo attempted to do to a building what he had done with the tree.

“What the hell?” She asked moving to stand next to Thadeus.

“They did it.” He responded, still in a daze. “They found the One.”

“He’s bending a skyscraper!”

“Fuck yeah, he is.” Tank said, grinning.

“Tank, could you load some weights into the program? Starting at one pound, five pounds, ten and then increasing by ten pound increments up to a hundred?” Trinity asked without taking her eyes off of Neo.

“Sure.”

She leaned over to the microphone and hit a button to enable her to speak into the Construct. “Neo, we’re loading in a set of weights. I want to see if you can pick them up without being near them.”

“Like telekinesis?”

“Exactly.”

A set of weights shimmered into the Construct a few feet away from Neo. He took a step back and raised his hand, a random weight moving up with it.

“Guess he’s not paying attention to weight.” Tank said, that’s the thirty pounder.

A small smile played on Trinity’s lips. He had developed a confidence in both the Construct and the Matrix that hadn’t been there before. In fact, Neo was practically glowing in his newfound role.

“That’s amazing!” Jue gasped as Neo started picking up multiple weights at once and let them orbit him.

“This is nothing.” Tank bragged, “yesterday, this guy defeated an Agent.”

“That’s impossible.”

“That word seems to come up a lot when dealing with Neo.” Trinity commented without looking away from the screen. He was now using the weights as projectiles.

After a few minutes, Neo spoke up. “Hey Tank? Could you pull me out of here?”

Trinity left the moniter and went over to Neo’s chair, arriving just as his eyes opened.

“Hey.” He said.

“Hey.” She pulled out the jack, “Did you have fun?”

Neo grinned, sitting up, “Yeah. Is it possible for me to get a readout of the codes from when I was in there?”

Trinity nodded, “We can have the transcripts sent to the Neb.”

“That’d be great.”

“Tank—”

“Done and done.” Tank replied.

“Thanks.” Neo said moving to his feet. “So, uh, now what?”

“Now,” Said Morpheus, “We fix our ship and prepare for Zion.”       

Chapter Text

It had taken six tries to jumpstart the Neb before the engine finally purred to life. The crews went back to their respective ships, the Osiris agreeing to give the Nebuchanezzar an escort to Zion seeing as it still wasn’t in perfect shape. There were still patches missing from the hull and, although they had been covered minimally by tarps, it was not enough to keep the ship safe from new attacks.

It also made it cold, despite the working heat that just seemed to seep out into the tunnels. For that reason, goop was being served hot. It didn’t help the flavor. Or the texture.

The best way he could describe it was like eating runny, scrambled eggs without flavor. Every day, meal after meal, since he had woken up from the Matrix.

And when he brought a bowl to Trinity, who was currently flying the Neb, he almost felt guilty.

“Hey.” He said, walking into the bridge.

Trinity turned and gave a small smile. “Hey.”

“I brought you dinner.” He offered the tray to her. “Sorry.”

She laughed, taking the tray and setting it on the console, “You’ll get used to it.”

“Really?”

Trinity shrugged, “After a while, you don’t even remember the taste of Matrix food.”

“Even coffee?”

“I wouldn’t know. I was barely fifteen when I got pulled out. I’d never even tried coffee.”

“You were only fifteen?”

A smile played on her lips, “That’s about average, actually. The youngest anyone’s ever been unplugged is nine and the oldest, who survived, was twenty-two. Most people, though, are unplugged between thirteen and seventeen.”

“Morpheus mentioned something about that when I first woke up—that minds aren’t freed after a certain age.”

“And that age is twenty. It has to do with brain development and whether or not the person is still growing. You’re the oldest anyone has ever been pulled out of the Matrix who has survived.”

At twenty-seven, Neo didn’t feel old. Everyone had always said that his twenties would be the time of his life. Strange how, in this world, he was old.

But, then again, he was in a world at war. He was a soldier. Soldiers died young.

He glanced to Trinity, “How long ago were you unplugged.”

She quriked an eyebrow. “Is that a polite way of asking me how old I am?”

Neo considered lying but decided against it. “Yeah.”

“Same as you. Twenty-seven.”

“How’d you know I’m twenty-seven?”

“Same way I know that your birthday is September 13 and that your middle name is Ashley.”

Neo winced, “Tell me that’s the worst thing you know.”

“Depends on your definition of worst.”

“Most embarassing.”

A smile spread across Trinity’s face, “Hey, hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring you down.”

Neo’s mouth dropped open and he gaped as she continued, “But these awesome disillusions sometimes find a new way out.”

“Please stop.”

You think I’m speaking, what I’m feeling is it rage? You say I read it like a novelists unfinished page but…”

“Nope.” Neo reached forward and grabbed Trinity’s wrists before pulling her out of her own chair and into his. She shrieked, laughing as she landed on his lap. Neo sighed, “I can’t believe you know about Dogstar.”

“I know a lot of things about you.”

“But how do you know? We were literally a three-person, high school rock band.”

“I have my ways.” She replied, coyly, while running a hand over his cropped hair.

(A/N: Dogstar is Keanu Reeves’s real life band where he plays the bass. Trinity’s lines above are the first two verses to their song Enchanted).

“This is so unfair.” Neo commented as Trinity readjusted herself so that one arm was wrapped around his neck but her body was still angled to see where auto-pilot was taking them. “You know all about me but I don’t know the first thing about you.”

“What do you want to know?”                           

“What do you do when you aren’t on duty on the Neb? Or when you’re in Zion? And…”

“Slow down!”

When I’m on the Neb, I usually work around the ship.”

“When you’re not on duty.”

Trinity shrugged, “I work around the ship when I’m not on duty. There’s a lot to be done. She’s an old girl. But, when I’m not working I read some. Go into the construct and spar. I occasionally do Tai Chi.”

“And in Zion?”

She shrugged, “Depends on what ships are docked. Most of the people I went to the Academy with, that’s the school where most unplugged kids go, joined crews after graduation so most of my friends are on various ships. There are different parties you can go to or we just sit around and play cards. I hang out with my brother, Ghost, whenever I can.”

“You have a brother?” Neo asked in confusion. “Like, from the Matrix or…”

“When two people are unplugged on the same day, they’re considered siblings. Ghost and I were unplugged by the same crew and we went through a lot together. We’re really close.”

“What’s he like?”

“Annoying.” She smiled, “Nah, he’s great. Very smart, very philosophical. Made adjusting to life outside of the Matrix a million times better.”

She smiled, idly using her free hand to play with Neo’s.

“Were you afraid? When you were first unplugged?”

She paused, pondering the question. “Not really. I mean, when I first woke up in that pod, I was scared out of my mind but once I found out the truth… it wasn’t that hard for me to believe. I’d always known there was something wrong with the world. Morpheus explaining it was like a burden was being lifted off my chest. I wasn’t crazy.”

“I’m not sure I’d go that far.” Neo said with a grin. “If I recall correctly, you jumped out of a helicopter yesterday.”

“And yet I wasn’t the one who died.”

His face softened as he watched her. She was shifting her attention between making sure the Neb wasn’t going to crash and him. She leaned forward and typed something on the controls. Immediately, a computer to their left did a search for sentinals, coming up blank.

“I never did thank you for that.” Neo commented.

“For what?” She asked, turning back to him.

“For saving me.”

Her cheeks flushed as she looked down. “I didn’t save you. You’re the One, Neo. You were never supposed to die.”

“I was ready to.” He contradicted, tilting her face to look at him. “I was heading for that light until I heard your voice. You gave me something to fight for, a reason to come back… I love you, Trin.”

“I love you.” She responded, wanting nothing more than to kiss him. But she was on duty and she knew that if she started to kiss him, she’d never want to stop. Instead, she leaned into his embrace and breathed in the scent that was Neo. “I love you so much.”

“Moment you walked in that club I was a goner.”

“You didn’t see me when I walked into the club.” Trintiy argued, “You were too busy wondering what the fuck you were doing there.”

“I was waiting for you.”

Trinity pursed her lips, trying to fight a smile. “Don’t be corny.”

“I’m serious.” He argued, “I’ve always been waiting for you. When I first woke up, I didn’t think I had a shot in hell with you but I was more than prepared to live a life of unrequited love.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“No, you are. Ridiculously beautiful, ridiculously smart and kind and…”

“I’m really not. I hate most people as a rule.”

“Then why’d you bring me dinner after my first night in the construct?”

“How do you know it was me?” She questioned, an eyebrow raised.

Neo grinned, looking way too proud of himself. “I was awake.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Yup. Keeping my eyes shut was literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life but I did it.”

“You’re an idiot.”

He smiled at that, silently amazed that Trinity was sitting in his lap. One of her hands was at the base of his neck, playing with his hair while their fingers were intertwined in his. “You’re mine.”

Trinity shook her head, “No. You’re mine.”

“Oh, is that how this is going to work?”

“Mhmm.”

“Mhmm.” He repeated, pressing a kiss to her neck.

“Neo,” She sighed, “We can’t do this here. I’m on duty.”

“Multitasking. It’s an important skill. You work on it, I’ll help.”

He bent his head back down. There was already a purple bruise forming on her collarbone from earlier and Neo intended to continue his artwork. Just below her ear.

“Conta—oh Christ.” Morpheus said, walking into the bridge. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Neo picked up his head and they both turned to face Morpheus.

“Multitasking?” Trinity said.

Neo tried to contain a laugh but it came out as a snort. Trinity gave him a half-hearted glare.

“We’ll argue about this later.” Morpheus said, shaking his head. “Contact the Osiris. We need to get Tank to their medic.”

Immediately, Trinity was out of Neo’s lap, pulling on a headset. “Osiris, this is the Nebachadnezzar. We need to get Tank to your medbay ASAP.”

“Roger that. We’ll head down for a landing.”

Trinity took the ship off autopilot and into manual as she steered the ship downward.

“Is he okay?” Neo asked, also standing up.

“Idiot’s been giving himself shots of pure adreneline so that he can walk and work.”

“Where is he now?” Trin asked, setting the Neb gently on the ground.

“Outside the medbay. He collapsed before he could get in.” She turned to go get him but Morpheus stopped her. “Neo and I will get him. You stay on the com.”

She gave a breif nod. “We’ll be down to two.”

Morpheus nodded back, “We’ll grab a third.”

“I can work.” Neo said, looking between them.

“More complicated than that.” Trin explained, “Zion Protical says that we have to have three fully-trained members of crew at all times.”

Morpheus ushered him out of the room and back to the hall where Tank was sleeping, already on a stretcher. Luckily, medbay was on the same level as the loading dock and they just had to move him down a ramp and into the Osiris.

“He passed out?” The medic asked, falling into pace along the stretcher.

“Yes. He had said he was fine, that the injuries weren’t as bad as they looked but…”

They set the stretcher on a metal table in the infirmary. Morpheus lifted Tank’s shirt to show the medic the damage.

“Damn it.” She said, “These burns are deep into the skin. If they’ve hit any organs… we need to get to Zion as soon as possible. We’ll have to increase speed—will the Neb be able to keep up?”

A nod from Morpheus, “Yes, but we’ll need to borrow a crew member.”

“Right.” She went over to the intercom, “Thadeus? Neb needs to borrow someone.”

“Already talked to Trinity, I just sent Portland over.”

Upon arriving back at the Neb, Morpheus gave instructions to Portland to take over for Trinity and have her go down to the mess.

“It will just be for a little while. I need to speak with Trinity and Neo and then she will return for her shift.”

Neo and Morpheus then proceded down to the mess hall, where they took seats on either side of the table.

Neo cleared his throat, “If this is about earlier, I take full responsibility for—”

Morpheus shook his head, “Relax Neo. Neither of you are in trouble.”

Neo felt the tension leave his body and his shoulders slumped into a more relaxed position.

“Like I said earlier, I think some ground rules need to be set. I had the same discussion with Switch and Apoc when they first joined the crew.”

 Trinity came in a moment later, looking wary. She glanced at both men, ascessing the situation before sitting next to Neo. Under the table, he reached for her hand and linked their fingers together.

Morpheus smiled, softly. “In light of recent events, I think it’s best that we talk and set some ground rules before we reach Zion.”

“Alright.”

They sat in silence, all three, for about a minute. None of them really knew where to begin. With Switch and Apoc it had been easier—the two had already been together since the Academy. They knew the ins and outs of their relationship aleady. Neo and Trinity had only hours together.

And yet, in those hours, most of which had been spent asleep, they had developed a bond unlike anything Morpheus had ever seen before. The blatent affection on both their faces was undeniable and he wasn’t going to think about commenting on the hickeys that graced Trinity’s neck.

Hours ago, he had seen Neo practically leap across a room to make sure that Trinity was alright after jumping off of a goddamn building to save her.

He had seen them the previous night when he walked in on them in the med bay. Kissing, touching. Hell, they were halfway home when he opened the door and stuttered to a stop.

Trinity’s love had brought Neo back from the dead.

A relationship like that, a love like that was unprecedented.

And it was sitting across from him, trying to hide the fact that they were sitting as close to each other as they could manage without Trinity climbing on top of Neo.

“I know this is all…” Morpheus struggled to find the right word, “new. I’m going to try to keep from prohibiting you to do things but I ask you to remember that this is a military vessel. It would be a good idea for clothes to only come off in the privacy of your room.”

Trinity could feel her cheeks flushing, something that rarely happened. But this? This was not fun. It was like talking about sex with your dad.

“That sounds… fair.” Neo agreed, “But I don’t want our relationship to be confined to a room.”

“No, and although that is typically what we try to do, I don’t believe it would help anyone. I just ask that you use your descretion and your best judgement on when and where. Perhaps the bridge is not the best place to be, what is it, multitasking?”

“And what about Zion?” Trinity asked, softly. “We should figure out how we’re going to play this out before we get there.”

Neo turned to watch her. Her tone had been regretful, yet resigned. “What do you mean?”

Trinity squeezed his hand, “They might try to use our relationship as an excuse to take you away.”

“They can do that?”

“Lock will insist on it. He’s in charge of defense for Zion.”

“I thought relationships were allowed on ships. Switch and Apoc…”

“Relationships are allowed but frowned upon.” Trinity explained, “But you’re going to be the exception to everything. They’ll say that I’ll be a distraction to you and they’ll either try to keep you in Zion or put you on another ship.”

“Perhaps it would be beneficial to pretend that there is nothing between the two of you.”

Neo’s body stiffened at the same moment Trinity winced, shutting her eyes.

“I know it’s not ideal but it needs to be considered.”

Neo shook his head and tightened his grip on Trinity’s hand. “I’m not going to hide what we have. We’ll fight the Council, whatever it takes but I’m not going to pretend that I’m not in love with Trinity.”

Morpheus looked to Trinity. She would back him up, he was sure of it. As much as she loved Neo and wanted to be with him, she knew the truth. The Council and the rest of the military in Zion liked to think they were doing just fine even if the people lived in constant fear of attack from the machines.

So, the Council would embrace Neo as a symbol and use him to control the public. But they wouldn’t believe he was the One, despite what he could do in the Matrix.

It was going to take everything they had, already, just to keep Neo on the Nebuchadnezzar. And even then, the Council would try to steal him away. His relationship with Trinity would give the Council even more reason to take him away.

Trinity wouldn’t help the symbol they intended to create.

And those who believed him to be the One would be afraid. If he loved her, which Neo did, he was likely to be distracted or worse—he would be willing to die for her.

No, the Council would do everything they could to separate Neo and Trinity if they knew of the love they shared.

Morpheus knew this. Trinity knew this.

And that was why Morpheus was shocked with Trinity said, “He’s right.”

“Trinity…” Morpheus said, hoping to appeal to her sense of reason.

“No,” She said, shaking her head before Morpheus could begin, “I didn’t leave the Matrix to live a life of pretending.”

“And what happens when the Council takes Neo away?”

“We won’t let that happen.” Trinity said, so sure of herself. Of them.

Morpheus let out a long sigh, “I can’t tell you what to do with your lives. But I ask you to really think about this. The Council won’t care that you’re in love. If anything, they’ll use that to keep you apart.” He stood up, “Trinity, go releive Portland. I’ll take over for you in a couple hours. I suggest you two use those next few hours to figure out if you’re really ready to risk everything.”

With that, he left the room.

Sighing, Trinity stood up to go take over for Portland. Neo kept his grip on her hand and pulled Trinity back towards him.

He could see the uncertainty in her eyes. She was afraid. So was he.

“I’ll be okay.” He reassured her.

She bit her lip and shook her head, “You don’t know that.”

“Hey,” Neo caught her other hand and pulled them against his chest. She stepped forward to close the distance between them and settled her head just above the hands.

“You feel this?” Neo whispered, tightening his grip. “I’m never letting go.”

(A/N: There are two dates listed for Neo’s birthdate. One on his criminal record (March 11, 1962) and one on his passport (September 13, 1971). I found it more likely that Neo would hack his criminal record than create a new identity with the same name and just change the birth year.)

Chapter Text

It was late the next afternoon when they arrived in Zion. Tank was rushed off to the infirmary immediately. Zion had been radioed already and knew of Cypher’s treason and the four other lives it had cost. For that reason, both a herse and a military escort were waiting for the Neb when they docked.

“Fuck.” Trinity said, simply, as she stepped off the docks.

“The Council has requested your presence.” The head guard said, his voice flat as he nodded to Morpheus and Trinity.

“We have a newbie.” Trinity said, coolly. “Can we settle him in first?”

“The Council has requested your presence immediately, ma’am.”

She sighed, shaking her head. “Can we at least call someone to get him settled?”

The guard thought it over before giving a nod. “Quickly.”

Trinity handed Neo her bag before jumping off the ramp and jogging to one of the engineers on the level. “Is the Logos docked?” She asked.

“Yes, ma’am. They pulled in…”

“I need you to go find Ghost. And hurry.”

“Yes ma’am.”

She walked back to Neo. “Ghost is on his way. He’ll probably introduce you to some people. If you meet a guy named Sparks, do not take anything he offers you to drink. And tell Ghost you’ll probably have to speak to the Council tomorrow. And—just don’t drink anything but water. I can’t emphasize that enough…”

“I’ll be okay.” Neo said, offering a small smile. “Good luck.”

She grimaced, not wanting to leave. Trinity stood on her tiptoes and pressed a quick kiss to his lips. “I love you.”

“I love you.”

It took all the willpower she had but Trinity managed to move away from Neo and follow Morpheus down to the Council Chambers. The arched table was filled with the elder members of the Council and another table had been set up across from it. Two chairs.

Trinity took the one on the right, Morpheus on the left and prepared for the worst.

“Morpheus.” Councilor Dillard spoke first, “Trinity. First of all, I wish to offer my condolences for the losses that you have suffered.”

“Thank you, Councilor.”

“But such a loss in unprecedented. We need to know exactly what happened on board. Starting from the beginning.”

“We found the One.” Morpheus said simply.

Trinity took a deep breath. That might not have been the best place to start.

“Morpheus, need I remind you that you have found six individuals you have believed to be the One.” Councillor West broke in.

Other Councilors offered similar sentiments. There was no such thing as the One. It was a fairytale. If there was a One, he would not come for years.

Finally, Couniclor Hamann spoke, directing his attention to Trinity. “And what do you think?”

She met his eyes and nodded, “We’ve found the One.”

Again, the Councilors erupted in arguments aimed at no one in particualar.

Trinity leaned back in her seat. She hated politics. She hate the sitting around and talking about things without doing anything.

“Why don’t we hear their story before we start to make judgements?” Hamann suggested, urging the others to listen.

A deep breath and Morpheus began. “Myself, Trinity, Switch, Apoc, Mouse and Cypher took the One to see the Oracle. Routine visit, everything was fine. We were returning to the warehouse that we entered the Matrix in, preparing to leave when Neo, the One, mentioned that he had a case of déjà vu.

“The design to the building we were in changed so that there was no exit and a SWAT team had entered the building, along with three Agents. Mouse was killed by the SWAT team. It was later realized that our presence and location had been given to them by Cypher.

“We attempted to move through spaces between the walls to reach the ground floor when Cypher alerted them to our presence. I gave Trinity orders to get everyone back to the ship and I stayed behind to distract the Agents as much as I could. I was then captured.”

A murmur went up, around the members of the Council. They looked back and forth between each other and Morpheus.

Trinity cleared her throat and then took over, “We were seperated from Cypher when we reached the ground. I didn’t think he was alive but he reached the exit minutes before the rest of us. When we got there, the phone was ringing and I ordered Neo to go first. He picked it up but there was no one on the other side.

“During this time, Cypher had killed Dozer and attempted to kill Tank. He then called us back, at the exit, and informed us that he was going to kill us all. In return, the Agents had agreed to put him back in the Matrix. He pulled the plug on Apoc first. Then Switch. He was about to on Neo when Tank killed Cypher.

“Tank brought Neo and I back into the Neb. We were prepared to pull the plug on Morpheus when Neo said that the Oracle told him that he could save Morpheus’s life. He insisted upon being plugged in and going after Morpheus. I went with him.”

“Neo and Trinity managed to get me out fairly quickly.” Morpheus said, taking over. “The Agents were not expecting them to try to take me and were caught unaware. We escaped the scene and made it to an exit. I got through, then Trinity. An Agent destroyed the phone before Neo could use it.

“Neo then proceeded to fight the Agent. He was fast, faster than any human I’ve ever seen and managed to block every move that Agent Smith made against him. Neo managed to take Agent Smith out long enough to escape and contact us. Tank set up an exit for him across town.

“When Neo reached it, Agent Smith was waiting for him. He proceeded to shoot Neo in the chest ten times. And Neo died.”

Trinity lifted her head, holding it evenly, knowing what was about to come.

“You’re saying the One is dead?” Asked Councilor Dillard.

“No.” Morpheus said, “He died. And then he came back.”

“He was resuscitated?”

“Not exactly, no. Resurrected. Trinity brought him back.”

“How?”

Morpheus glanced to Trinity before looking back at the Council. “Her love brought him back from the dead.”

If anything, the answer left them more confused than ever.

Trinity’s love? Trinity? One of the most talented hackers ever found? Who’s skills in the Matrix were unparalleled? Who quietly watched the world go by, content with her life in the military? In love?

“How is that possible?” Dillard asked.

“Ten years ago, I was sent to see the Oracle.” Trinity said, carefully. “I didn’t want to go but she had requested my presence and it would be rude to ignore her. So I went. And she told me that I would play a very important part in the life of the One. That we would love each other and that the love we shared would save each other time and time again.

“I can’t explain how it saved him. I don’t completely understand it myself. But Neo had flatlined. He was dead. And I told him I loved him and he came back. He fought Agent Smith and won, deleting him from the Matrix. And then he ran to exit. The moment he was back, we blew the EMP.”

She stopped. The Counilors were all staring at her, disbelief etched on almost every face. Truthfully, she didn’t blame them. Had someone told her the story, she wouldn’t believe it. But she had seen Neo do the impossible repeatedly and so she did.

“I would like to meet this Neo.” Councilor Hamann said, smiling.

“Yes, perhaps a demonstrations of his skills would help us to determine whether or not he is the One. Where is he, now?”

Trinity shook her head, “Neo barely just arrived in Zion. He hasn’t even been to his room yet. Perhaps this demonstration could wait until he’s had some time to settle in.”

“But if he’s the One,” Councilor Dillard said, “Then it would be most beneficial to us to know now.”

It took quite a bit of self-control for Trinity not to start shouting. “I would ask the Council to consider it from a different perspective. While Neo is most certainly the One, he is still human. He is not a weapon to be fired off at anyone’s request. Perhaps, we shouldn’t treat him as one.”

The Council was stunned into almost complete silence, save Councilor Hamann who laughed.

“Alright, Trinity. Would tomorrow morning be convenient or is that too soon?”

“That would be fine.” Trinity said, keeping her face blank.

“Good. Then we will see the three of you tomorrow morning.”

 

Neo had been waiting by the Neb entrance for nearly fifteen minutes. He knew Zion was a big city. Perhaps the engineer Trinity had sent to find Ghost hadn’t found him yet. Or perhaps he had and they were just taking a while to get back.

He tried concentrating on his surroundings. Everyone on the dock seemed to know exactly what to do and where to go. Everyone was moving.

Neo alone was standing still.

He had both his and Trinity’s bags over his shoulder and he looked around. There were two other ships plus the Osiris docked nearby.

Finally, the guard who Trinity had sent was returning, along with a tall brown haired man. He was smiling, goofily while he made his way to the Neb.

“Hey,” He said to Neo, “Is Trinity on board?”

“She went to a meeting with the Council. Are you Ghost?”

“Nah, Ghost is sleeping off quite a bit of booze right now. I’m Sparks.”

“Neo.” He replied, holding out his hand. “Trinity warned me about you.”

Sparks grinned, “Oh yeah? What’d she say?”

“Not to accept any drinks from you.”

Sparks full out laughed at that. “I love that girl. Anyway, you know what she wanted?”

Neo shrugged shaking his head, “I think she wanted me to wait for her with Ghost.”

“Well, like I said, Ghosty’s passed out on the floor right now but you can come hang out with me. The docked crews are all getting sloshed down at Tuck’s. It’s a crappy bar but it’s the only place you can get drunk at this time of day.”

“Yeah,” Neo said, readjusting the bags. “Sure.”

He followed Sparks out of the docking area and to an elevator. He hit a button that didn’t seem to be assigned to any alphabetical or numerical value and the elevator began to move downwards.

“How long you been unplugged?” Sparks asked.

“A couple weeks.” Neo replied, “I don’t really keep track of time much.”

“You look old.” Sparks said, casually.

“I’m twenty-seven.”

“No shit? How the hell’d you survive?”

Neo shrugged, not wanting to even mention the fact that he was the One. He didn’t know what kind of reaction it would get him but based on what Trinity had said, it would be more attention than he wanted or was ever used to.

The elevator doors opened and Neo stepped out, stunned by the circular architecture of Zion. He followed Sparks around the deck and into the bar. A group of tables had been pulled off to the side and thrown together chaotically.

A long-legged Asian man was slumped against a pillar. “Ghost?” Neo guessed.

Sparks nodded, “Man doesn’t drink often but when he does… whoo! Alright, this Vector, Binary, Axel, Corrupt and Jake. Guys, this is Neo. He’s a newbie.”

“Hey Neo,” Corrupt said, “Want a drink?”

“I’m good, thanks.” He said, remembering Trinity’s earlier words. They were going to have to deal with the Council, probably. He wasn’t looking forward to being asked to speak in front of other people.

It then occurred to Neo that he would probably have to speak in front of, or at least to, people more than he wanted. If the prophecy was right, than Neo was supposed to end the war between Zion and the machines. He was supposed to become the savior of these people.

He felt his back stiffen and wished that Trinity was with him.

“You look old.” Jake commented.

Sparks spoke up before Neo could, “Get this, this dude’s fucking twenty-seven.”

“Seriously?”

Neo nodded, “Yeah.”

“Who the hell would be crazy enough to unplug a twenty-seven year old coppertop?”

“Who do you think?” Sparks asked, taking a swig from a large bottle.

“Morpheus and Trinity.” Vector guessed easily. “Probably think he’s the One.”

Sparks shook his head, “Morpheus maybe. But Trinity’s smart. She’s never bought into that ‘the One’ garbage. So,” Sparks asked, “Does Morpheus think you’re the all-powerful One?”

“Yes.” Lying never occurred to Neo. Of course, neither did revealing that Trinity thought he was the One. If they had asked, he wouldn’t have lied. But Neo had never been much of a conversationalist.

 “So the Neb’s back and Ghost is passed out. He’ll be pissed when he wakes up.”

“Speaking of which, how is the Heartbreaker?”

“I’m sorry?” Neo said, not understanding the question.

“Trinity.” Axel explained, holding up a hand in the air, “About yea high, generally pissed off, kicks total ass. Never gives anyone the time of day.”

“Seriously,” Vector added with a grin, “She’s turned down, like, every guy at this table.”

“Every guy in the fleet.” Axel added.

“Not me.” Jake said, “But I can’t handle rejection so I never asked her out.”

“She’s turned me down eighty-four times.” Sparks mentioned, casually. “And I’ve only asked her out seventy-eight.”

Neo glanced around before admitting, “I can’t tell if you’re kidding.”

“I’m not.” Sparks said. “And that’s not including our days at the Academy. Add that and it’s more than double. On both parts. But she’s married to her work and all that.”

Hmm. It certainly hadn’t felt like she was married to her work when halfway through teaching Neo how to weld, she had jumped him. They had ended up making out on the floor for god knew how long. Again, that was information Neo didn’t feel the need to share so he simply gave a nod, as if he understood.

It didn’t surprise him that all the guys were attracted to Trinity. She was beautiful. Not to mention, she had a confidence, a self-assurance that Neo found undeniably sexy.

“Speak of the devil.” Sparks said, looking behind Neo.

Neo turned abruptly to see Trinity walking in the pub. He immediately got to his feet and crossed the room to her. His arms opened slightly and she gratefully stepped into them as she threw her arms around his neck, pulling his head down to hers.

It wasn’t a long kiss or a particularly hard kiss but everyone in the pub, including those not at Sparks’s table, noticed.

“How did it go?” Neo asked, loosening his grip without letting her go.

“They wanted to meet with you today but we convinced them to give you time to settle in. First thing tomorrow, though, we have to go in front of the Council.”

“Can’t say I’m looking forward to that.”

“Me neither.” She agreed, looking down. “God, what are we going to do if they try to separate us?”

“Fight it.” Neo said simply, “With everything we have. I’m never letting you go, Trin. Best get used to that idea now.”

She smiled, softly, glancing around Neo before her eyes narrowed. “Why is Ghost sleeping?”

“He’s passed out.” Neo told her, “Too much to drink, I guess. Sparks came and got me instead.”

“Christ. I shudder to think what he’s told you.”

Neo shrugged, “Not much, Heartbreaker.”

Trinity stared at him blankly before bursting out laughing. “Great. What else did you learn?”

“Looks like the table’s turned.” Neo grinned, “But honestly? Not too much. Just that you don’t believe in the whole ‘the One’ nonsense and that you’ve turned down Sparks eighty-something times.”

“He’s persistent.” She stared up into his beautiful, brown eyes. “Do you want to get out of here?”

Neo nodded, “So bad.”

She smiled, reaching up to press a quick kiss to his lips before walking over to the table and grabbing her bag. Neo followed quickly behind, taking his own.

Trinity motioned to Ghost, “When he wakes up, tell him I’m home.”

And without another word, they left.

“Did that just happen?” Axel asked the table at large.

“Shit.” Said Sparks, “Maybe the bastard is the One.”

 

Trinity’s room was beautiful. It was set deep into a cave, the rock adjusted to have shelves built in here and there. Mostly, they were filled with books or interesting trinkets. A table in the corner had a book lying open, face down with a few sets of dishes on a shelf just next to it. There were two chairs at the table, both made of metal and neither looking particularly comfortable.

There was a door that led off into a bathroom. It consisted of a shower, a toilet and a sink.

At the far end of the room, there was a bed carved into the stone.

A flat base at the bottom, covered with a thin mattress and layers and layers of blankets. Above the bed was curved into an arc with shelves lined throughout it.

“What do you think?” Trinity asked, almost nervously.

 “It’s great.” Neo said with a smile.

“You could move in, if you want. There are rooms for new arrivals set aside if you want your own space, though. Don’t feel that you have to…”

Neo closed the distance between them and bent over to kiss her. Frantically, they moved their mouths around, vying for the best angle.

“Is that a yes?” She murmured against his mouth.

“Yes.”

She wrapped an around him, tightly holding onto Neo as he backed her up across the room. Her other hand pressed hard into the skin at his hip and trailed upward, feeling every bit of muscle and skin she could get her hands on.

As the hand reached the top, she handed the fabric to Neo, who ripped it off his head and tossed it away before assisting Trinity with the same.

Boots were kicked off, socks pulled off, pants pealed off and underwear lost somewhere in the chaotic mess that was now Trinity and Neo’s room.

He backed her up so that her knees hit the edge of the bed and he guided her down before climbing between her legs. Neo pushed up on his elbows and just looked at her.

Trin’s hair was deshevled, her skin already flushed and starting to glisten with sweat. She was breathing heavily as she reached an arm up and used it to pull Neo down to her.

She moved her hands down to his hips so that were flush together. She began to writhe, beneath him. Kissing him, holding him.

Neo’s mouth left hers and began a trail of kisses along her jaw. “We have… all the time… in the world.”

“Mhmm. Fast now. Slow later.”

“Slow now.” Neo argued as he moved down her body to press kisses to her breasts. “I want to get to know you.”

She took her her hand and placed it over one of Neo’s, slowly bringing it down to the apex of her thighs. God, she was soaked to the core… “I’ve waited for you for so long.” She whispered, “Don’t make me wait any longer.”

And with that, what little self-control possessed by Neo shattered. He shot back up her body, weaving a hand into her hair and slamming their mouths together. Their tongues danced around each other, desperate to feel every bit of one another.

With his other hand, Neo directed his cock into Trinity. Slowly, he pushed further into her until he was buried to the hilt.

Nothing had ever felt so good in his life. Not in the real world, not in the Matrix. No where, no how.

He deepened the kiss even more as he pulled out almost all the way before slamming back home. Trinity gasped into his mouth, the exhale shuddering.

Her nails raked down his back, leaving faint red trails behind them.

He was pumping in and out of her while she moved her hips in a circular motion. Their heart rates increased, beating together as they made their way closer and closer…

“Neo,” She cried, breathing heavily against his mouth before reaching up for another kiss. Her teeth skimmed his lower lip. It was burning him, slightly, just like the friction marks her fingernails had left behind but it made it so much more.

How long had he waited for this moment? For her?

He was ready, he was more than ready as he held himself together. She would come first. She would always come first.

Neo lined himself up carefully before driving home once more and Trinity threw her head back hoarsly screamed his name.

She spasmed around him, the aftershocks still pulling him in until he came. Finally, he collapsed on top of her.

Trinity let out a shaky laugh. “That was…”

Neo nodded, his head buried in the crook of her neck. “Perfect.”

She glanced down without moving her head. Neo’s eyes were closed but he was no where near asleep. His fingers lazily tracing patterns over her exposed breast was proof of that.

Trinity moved her left hand and ran her fingers along the edge of his hair.

“I’m torn.” Neo said after a few minutes of just holding each other.

“Between?”

“Staying like this forever or doing it again.”

“Again?” Trinity asked, glancing to Neo. “Already?”

Neo opened his eyes and smiled, “I think we have our answer.”

And he kissed her.

Chapter Text

“If we don’t show up, do you think they’ll come look for us?” Neo asked Trinity, who was lying propped on his chest with her eyes still filled with sleep.

“Most definitely.”

“Could we bribe them?”

“With what?” Trinity asked, yawning.

“Gratitude?”

“Probably not.”

“I’m so fucking sore. Jesus, I didn’t think that happened to guys.”

“You used muscles you’d never used before.” Trin explained, pushing herself up to a sitting position and taking the blanket with her.

“Noooo.” Neo moaned, trying to pull her back down into his arms. “You’re warm.”

“We have to get going.” Trinity said, crawling over Neo. “We won’t have time to eat if we don’t get up now.”

“And that’s a problem how?”

She rolled her eyes, “You need to keep up your strength. The Council will probably make you do some crazy-ass tests that will confirm with absolute certainly that you may be the One.”

“Christ.”

“Yup. Now come on, we need to get moving.”

Neo rolled over to his side before pushing himself up to a sitting position. “I don’t like mornings.”

“You don’t like mornings, you don’t like breakfast. What do you like?”

“You.” Neo replied, smiling as Trinity dropped the blanket to put on real clothes.

She laughed, tugging on a fresh pair of pants. “Get dressed.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He crossed the room to where his bag from the Neb was and pulled out a clean uniform. He glanced to Trinity and saw her pulling on a blue sweater. Quietly, he found the matching one of his and pulled it on over his head.

He wanted the Council to see him and Trinity together and to tell them, without a doubt, that there was no way in hell he was going anywhere without her.

She passed by him and grabbed to bowls before pouring goop into them. She set them at the table, along with silverware before filling two glasses with water. Neo grabbed two spoons and set them next to the bowls and waited for her to return before he sat down to eat, laughing at the absurdity.

“What?” Trinity asked.

“I feel so… domestic.” Neo said, “I never thought it would be a good feeling but… It feels right. With you.”

She smiled and looked back at her food, if it could be called that. And yet all too soon they finished eating and combed her hair back. She was perfectly put together and ready to face the world.

Neo wasn’t but he didn’t have a choice.

So he took her hand and hoped for the best as she lead him through the maze that was Zion, promising that he would be able to navigate the city in no time.

Morpheus was already outside the Chamber doors when Neo and Trinity made it.

“They made it an open session.” Morpheus told them, disapproval dripping from his voice.

“What does that mean?” Neo asked, glancing between an annoyed Morpheus and an angry Trinity.

“It means that any member of the military or fleet is allowed to attend and listen. To whatever they ask us and we have to tell the truth.”

Neo’s stomach started to feel queasy. Maybe his initial thoughts about eating the goop had been right.

Trinity squeezed his hand as Morpheus opened the door and walked inside.

“It’ll be fine.” Trinity reassured him, although her tone indicated that she clearly wasn’t happy with the turn of events.

“Right.” Neo said and took a deep breath.

The Council was directly in front of him—a panel of elder people in long robes. Their attention was completely on him.

And so was the attention of the people to the side, sitting on what looked to be bleachers in various uniforms. He recognized Sparks from the day before, as well as Axel and Corrupt as well as most of the crew from the Osiris. But there were tens of people he didn’t know, all watching him.

He tightened his grasp on Trinity’s hand. She moved her thumb and ran careful, calming circles over his wrist as they moved to the table.

Three chairs had been set up. Morpheus immediately took his place on the left with Neo and the middle and Trinity on the right. He didn’t let go of her hand even as they moved their chairs to sit down. Her hand was the only thing keeping him from losing his mind.

“Good morning Captain Morpheus, Trinity.” The woman sitting in the center said, “And you must be Neo.”

“Yes ma’am.” He replied.

“The two people on either side of you have both claimed that you are the One. Do you understand what that means?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Would you explain it to me?”

He glanced to Trinity who gave him a soft smile. “It means,” He said, looking back at the Councilor, “That I will play a crucial part in ending the war with the machines and destroying the Matrix.”

It was an interesting choice in words, Trinity noted. Playing a crucial part rather than leading or doing it himself. He was so humble but, although she would normally find it a good thing, perhaps it wasn’t the right time to be humble.

“And you believe that you are the One.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“May I ask why?”

“It’s… difficult to explain. It’s ingrained into me, being the One, it’s a part of me.”

“Hmm. It has also been suggested that you killed an Agent.”

“No. Killing would suggest that the Agent was a lifeform. I merely deleted him.”

Trinity bit back a smile. Councilor Dillard didn’t know what hit her.

“You deleted an Agent.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“How?”

“When I’m in the Matrix, I can see things one of two ways. Normal vision where everything is three dimensional or I can see it in code. When I look at it in code, I can change things. Manipulate the system like the Agents do. I altered the coding on Agent Smith and it destroyed him.”

A murmur went up from the crowd behind him.

“And you saw this happen?” She asked Morpheus and Trinity.

“Yes.” And a nod were given as answers.

The Councilor stopped for a second, concentrating of a spot behind them. “Yes, Commander Lock?”

“Where did the two of you witness these events from?” Lock asked.

“From the screens onboard the Nebuchadnezzar.” Morpheus told him.

“So, you didn’t actually see this boy defeat an Agent?”

“Not directly but…”

“But you didn’t see it. I would argue that their testimonies are not enough to back up Mister Neo’s.”

Trinity raised her hand, looking vaguely annoyed but so composed it was hard to tell.

“Yes, Trinity?” Councilor Dillard asked.

“Commander Lock is right in that we did not directly see Neo delete the Agent, however, I was with Neo the next time he entered the Matrix when he altered the molecular form of a building, stopped a rain of bullets in middair and flew.”

“I’m sorry, what was the last one?”

“Flew.” Trinity repeated.

“As in flying?”

“Yes, Councilor.”

Another wave of murmurs took over the Council Chambers.

“That’s impossible!” One of the Captains watching the proceedings called out. “It was probably just a long jump.”

“A long jump off a ten story building, down eight floors then across the city?” Trinity replied.

“Yes, Commander Lock?” Councilor Dillard sighed.

Commander Lock stood up again, “Councilor, I want to know what they were doing back in the Matrix after nearly destroying their ship and while a member of their crew was critically injured.”

Morpheus took that question, “Neo and Trinity went into the Matrix while repairs were being done to the Nebuchadnezzar. It was, in part, a way to test out Neo’s abilities and also to prove to Captain Thadeus that we had, indeed, found the One.”

“And what happened while in the Matrix?” Councilor West asked.

Neo glanced to Trinity who gave him a short nod. “We attracted the attention of eight policemen. I changed the molecular structure of the Matrix for a few seconds, allowing the buildings to bend and for me to get behind the officers. I then proceeded to take them out, at which time more cops showed up.

“I was instructed to allow them to fire their weapons at me. I stopped the bullets middair and let them fall to the ground. At that point, Tank alerted us to the fact that Agents were coming. Trinity and I climbed up to the roof to get to the exit. One of them was waiting for us at the top and tackled Trinity while the other one went after me.

“Trinity attempted to run from the Agent but he was very fast and managed to land a kick to her shoulder, pushing her off the roof. I jumped off after her and managed to swoop down and catch her before flying us the rest of the way to the exit.”

Silence, for the first time, took over the hall. Finally, Dillard spoke, “This is all true, Trinity?”

“Yes, Councilor.”

“And Captain Thadeus, you saw this as well?”

“Yes, Councilor. All that he said and more.”

“More?”

Neo cleared his throat, “After the run in with the Agents, we decided it might not be the safest idea to go back into the Matrix so I went in the Construct. I practiced flying again and telekinesis.”

“What, exactly, do you mean by ‘telekinesis?’”

“I, uh, weights were loaded into the construct. And I practiced lifting them without touching them. I was probably, what? Twenty feet away?”

“At least.” Trinity confirmed. “We have a transcripts of the coding from both his time in the Matrix and in the Construct.”

“Good.” The Councilor said, “Neo, we’re going to put you back in the Construct and have you show us what you can do. Are you prepared to do that now?”

“Um, yeah. Sure.”

“Then the official Council will resume in a few hours. Captains, Commander, if you’ll follow me.” Councilor Dillard stood up, along with the other members of the Council and the captains in the room. Neo stood up, still holding onto Trinity’s hand.

“Come on.” He said, starting to feel nervous.

“I can’t.” Trinity said. “They said ‘captains.’”

Neo looked between Morpheus and Dillard, who was waiting for him to follow her. “Can’t Trinity come?”

“I’m afraid not.” Dillard said, “Protocol insists that only captains and council members can be present for such demonstations.”

“But what difference does it make?”

“It’s not worth it.” Trinity said, “They’re making a statement. But I’ll be here as soon as you get back.”

He squeezed her hand tightly. “I love you.”

“I love you.” She replied. “Good luck.”

Regretfully, he let go of her hand and turned to follow the Councilors, an army of red shirts following him. This was ridiculous. They wanted to watch him like he was some kind of exhibit and they wouldn’t let him take the one thing that kept him grounded?

And for what? What were they even trying to say by not letting her go with him? What difference could it possibly make?

Neo stopped dead in his tracks.

The door in the back of the hall was opened by two gaurds and the Councilors started to go through.

“Go on, Neo.” Morpheus told him.

Without a word, Neo turned on his heels and walked back across the room. Trinity was on her feet, as was everyone else, preparing to leave the Chambers until they reconviened.

“What are you doing?” She whispered as he moved in front of her.

“Making a statement.” Neo replied, putting a hand on either side of her jaw and kissing her. Within an instant, Trinity felt her eyes flutter shut and she moaned into his mouth as their tongues tangled and danced. Too short a time later, Neo pulled away.

“Nice statement.” Trinity commented, composing herself. “What exactly did it say?”

“That I belong to you, not them.”

Her composure vanished and she broke into a big smile. “Go kick ass.”

Neo smiled back, “Yes ma’am.”

 

Trinity watched Neo walked back to the backroom, his confidence much more visible. He was going to be fine. He was going to be great—he’d blow their minds.

“So, he’s the One.” Ghost said, coming up behind her.

“Yes.” She turned, smiling. “You look like Hell.”

“I visited it last night. But I made my bed so I won’t complain. How are you doing?”

“I’ll be doing a lot better once this is all over.”

Ghost nodded, sadly. “I’m sure he’ll do fine.”

“He’ll do amazing.” Trinity corrected casting a longing look back towards the exit. “I just don’t like him being on display like this.”

“If he’s the One,”

“He is.”

“Then he’ll have to get used to it. You both will.”

She looked down and sighed, “I don’t like people.”

“You seem to like him.”

“I love him. But then, he’s not so big on people, either.”

Ghost paused, looking over Trinity. She had cut her hair since the last time he’d seen her. Before, it had been long enough that she could hide behind it, no problem. Now, he could see the heavy weight that was set in her eyes.

“How are you really doing?”

Her eyes met his and she forced a smile, “It’s been a… very, very hard week. I watched Morpheus be taken by Agents, Switch and Apoc die and Neo… and now, we’re front and center in Zion with what’s left of the world watching. And all I really want to do is just disappear. Just find someplace where Neo and I can be alone. Just for a week, hell, just for a day. No worries, no duties. Just us.”

They both knew it would never happen. Not with a war going on and certainly not with Neo being the One.

“Maybe someday.” Ghost told her. Her eyes lit up and her lips twitched. The reaction he had hoped for.

“Maybe.” A sigh. “But right now? I’ll settle for getting through the day.”

 

In the back was a room like on the Core of the Neb. Ten chairs were lined up in a large circle.

“Neo.” Councilor Dillard said, indicating a chair for him.

“What happens now?” Neo asked Morpheus as he sat down in the chair.

“Tests in the Construct with five of the Councilors, Lock and the Triad—the three ship’s captains who directly govern the rest of us. Good luck.”

And the plug was slammed in.

When Neo opened his eyes, he was on the roof of a building. He was back in his black slacks and black shirt, a holster attached to his suspenders. Everything he had worn to rescue Morpheus, sans the coat. The jump program, he recognized easily. Around him, the other nine members materialized.

In Councilor Dillard’s hand was a Rubik’s Cube, mixed up. “Do you know what this is?”

“A Rubik’s Cube.”

“Have you ever solved one?”

“All the time.”

“Then this should be no problem.”

Neo took it from her hand and examined it, twirling it around in his hand. Fifty-four blocks. Nine blue, nine red, nine green, nine white—stop. Eight orange, ten yellow.

A test. Not the one he had signed up for, but there nonetheless.

With a flourish, he started spinning around the cube. Neo casually changed one of the yellows into an orange, turning it perfectly back to how it was supposed to be. He handed it back to Councilor, holding his head up straight.

She looked down at it, confusion etched on her face as she checked it. “It’s solved.” She said, looking back up at Neo.

“Did you give him the right one?” Lock asked, quietly.

Neo raised an eyebrow. Did Lock think he couldn’t hear?

“Yes.” She replied. “Perhaps you could show us a jump.”

“A jump? Just an ordinary jump?” Neo asked, glancing to the building next door.

“Yes.”

Neo turned and took a running start before jumping into the air. He was perfectly coordinated, preparing to land on the other building when, suddenly, the other building disappeared. He pulled upwards from his jump and turned, hovering in middair to look at the Councilors.

Another test.

He flew back to the Councilor, easily landing on his feet, and continued walking. He wanted to get angry. Twice now, he had been given tests with no plausable solution but failure. Was that what they were trying to do? Make him fail?

Neo thought of Trinity, her face blank as she dealt with the Council. Calm, serene Trinity.

And taking a page out of her book, he calmly asked Councilor Dillard, “What next?”

Chapter Text

Back in the real world, Trinity was finding it nearly impossible to sit still. Ghost had been in and out of the Chambers all day, keeping her company and bringing her food that she hardly touched.

She doubted they had fed Neo.

What she thought would be maybe an hour or so of testing had gone on for almost nine hours.

Since declaring her love for Neo, she hadn’t spent more than a couple of hours away from him. She believed it was because she simply didn’t want to be away from him. But as her skin crawled and she she shifted uncomfortably, Trinity realized that the want might have upgraded to a need.

Finally, the doors opened and everyone began filing out.

Trinity immediately climbed to her feet as she searched the crowd for Neo. Their eyes locked the second Neo stepped through the doorway. He was exhaustwd, she noted, although he was doing a good job of hiding it. He quickly crossed the room, heading straight to Trinity.

He reached out a hand and cupped the back of her head, angling her face up for a kiss. It was pure desperation, having been apart for too long. They pulled apart, long enough to switch angles. And they dove back in, needing to feel each other.

Finally, Trinity broke off the kiss, breathing heavily and placing her forehead against Neo’s. “How did it go?”

Neo closed his eyes tight before replying, “Later. We need to get out of here.”

“Of course.” She stood on tiptoes and whispered into his ear, “Put your arm around my waist and lean as on me.”

“Trin…”

“You look like you’re about to collapse, Neo. Don’t argue.”

Ignoring the looks they were getting from everyone around them, Trinity looped her arm behind Neo as he did the same. Although he stood up straight, his weight had shifted so that Trinity was bearing part of him without the Council knowing.

They made their way back to their apartment slower than usual. The moment the door was closed Neo slumped against Trinity completely. “Chair.” He whispered, his eyelids becoming heavy.

Trinity easily guided Neo into a chair. He leaned to the side, using the table to keep himself upright.

Trinity knelt in front of him. “What do you need?”

A weak smile appeared on his exhausted face. “You.”

“You have me.” She whispered, pushing his hair out of his face. He was so pale. “Did they feed you?”

Neo shook his head. “They wouldn’t. Said it would interfer with the blood tests.”

“Blood tests?”

“Saw what I could do. Wanted to…” He shrugged, his head rolling around, “see if answers in my blood or… Sleep…”

“No, Neo. I need you to stay awake. You need to eat something.”

“Don’t wanna.”

“I know, but you have to.” Trinity rose to her feet, quickly filling a glass with water and setting it down in front of him. “Drink this.”

He moaned, clearly not fond of the idea. Still, he reached out his hand and carefully picked up the cup, taking a sip.

Trinity poured him a bowl of goop and set it in front of him.

“I know you don’t like it but I want you to eat at least half of it.”

He did as she instructed, making a face as he swallowed the goop.

“How much blood did they take?”

“Lots.”

Someone knocked on the door. Trinity sighed, touching Neo’s shoulder efore she turned to answer it.

Morpheus was on the other side. “Morpheus.”

“Trinity. How is he?”

She glanced to the side, where Neo was sitting sluggishly. He was attempting to get the goop from the bowl to his both but he wasn’t having much luck.

“Not great.” She replied, looking back.

“Heard that.” Neo muttered.

Trinity ignored him, asking  Morpheus “What the hell did they do to him?”

“Heard that.”

“Tests.”

“No shit, Morpheus. Neo said they did blood work?”

“Yes.” Trintiy stepped to the side, allowing Morpheus to enter the apartment. “Quite a bit of it. The Doctor said he might be a little woozy but that he seemed fine when he left…”

“Had to.” Neo said, “Can’t exactly show weakness in front of the Council.”

“But what the hell took nine hours?”

“Tests. Agent Simulation. Fighting Lock., captains, everyone. Puzzles. Puzzles with no solution. Flying. Mind… thing.” He waved a hand in the air without shifting in his seat. “What’s’it called?”

“Telekinesis?” Trinity asked.

“That’s the thing.” A nod. “You’re smart.”

“How long has he been like this?” Morpheus asked.

“Since we got back here. Did he actually fight Lock?”

“Guy said I cheated Agent sims. So, I fought him. Then everyone wanted to fight me.” He looked up at Trinity and shook his head, “They’re not very good.”

“He sounds like he’s drunk.”

“’m not drunk.” Neo slurred, “Sleep deprived. She’s insatiable.”

“Really?” Trinity asked, “I’m insatiable? Mister-why-don’t-we…”

“I don’t want to hear this.” Morpheus said, visibly wincing.

“Sorry.” Trinity sighed, leaning against Neo’s chair. “Alright. Has the Council figured out their stance yet?”

“At this point, most of the Council is convinced that Neo is the One. Lock accepts Neo’s skill but doesn’t believe he’s the One. The captains split about half and half, by the end. They’ll dileberate tomorrow morning and then… who knows.”

“Trinity?”

“Yes?”

“Half?”

Trinity looked down at Neo’s bowl. He had indeed eaten just over half of goop. “Two more spoonfuls.” She said, anyway. “Morpheus, perhaps we can talk tomorrow?”

“Of course. Goodnight, Neo.”

Neo mumbled in response, taking his last bite. “Good?”

“Very good.” Trinity told him, taking his arm and sliding it around her shoulders. “Come on, let’s get you to bed.”

Neo stood up, shakily. He took a step forward and almost brought them both down as his leg gave out. “Christ.”

“It’s okay.” Trinity told him. “Just put your weight on me.”

Trinity pulled Neo across the room, slowly, before depositing him on the bed. She covered him with a blanket before going to turn off the lights. When the room was in darkness, she felt her way around back to the bed.

Neo held an arm out and she climbed into it, resting her head on his shoulder.

 “Trin?”

“Yes?”

“Did you eat?”

She smiled, “Yes, Neo. Ghost brought me something to eat around lunch.”

“Good guy.”

“Yes. Now go to sleep.”

“I love you.”

And he was asleep.

 

Trinity opened her eyes slowly. Neo was already awake, still in bed beneath her.

“Good morning.”

“Morning.” She mumbled, sleepily. “Are you feeling any better?”

Neo nodded, “I think so.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

“I trusted the Council to take care of you, to not push you too far. Clearly, that was a mistake.”

“I don’t think the Council planned on keeping me as long as they did. They thought it would be easy to prove that I wasn’t the One.”

“What happened once you went into that room?”

“They put me in the Construct. I had to solve a Rubik’s Cube that was disportionate.”

“I had to do that at the Academy. Did you tell them it was impossible?”

Neo shook his head. “Nah. I changed the color that was wrong and solved it.”

She smiled, tracing patterns on his chest idly. “Of course you did.”

“Pissed Lock off. Then, I did the jump program but they deleted the building I was supposed to land on after I was in the air. So I flew back. Then, I had to solve a three-dimensional Matrix coding puzzle. I liked that one—it actually had a solution. Then I did the Agent Simulation. Won. Lock accused me of cheating.”

“How?”

“I don’t even know. Said something about corrupting the simulation files. Morpheus suggested Lock fight me if he was so sure I was a fake. So, I kicked his ass.”

Trinity laughed. “Then what?”

“Then, all these different captains wanted to fight me. They were convinced they had more practice than Lock. So, I kicked their asses. More strategy puzzles, then there were hacking simulations. Demonstrations of my flying, again. Then the telekinesis. Then they started doing physical tests. I had to give blood samples, dna samples…”

“And today, they determine your future in Zion.” Trinity sighed, “God, this place is so messed up.”

“Least you’re here.”

Trinity reached up and planted a soft kiss on his lips. “Come on. We need to get more food into you.”

“Do we really, though?”

“Yes.” She pushed herself up and glanced at the clock on the wall. “Its earlier than I expected.”

“We went to bed pretty early.” Neo commented.

“Well, I was thinking, it’ll take forever for the Council to officially make a choice. Especially since it’s a military matter, which means that three ship’s captains and Lock have a say in the final decision. We could always go out for breakfast and I could show you around Zion.”

Neo grinned, sitting up. “That’d be awesome!”

Once both were dressed in fresh clothes—a perk of being in Zion and not on a ship—they took off to a different section of Zion. Trinity led Neo along the twisted deck of their floor, past dozens of red doors until they were at the elevator.

“Is there any order, at all, to this city?” Neo asked as Trinity selected an unlabeled button.

“When Zion started, there was only one section, just a couple floors. As minds started to be freed and kids were born, they needed to expand. There’s construction going down and out. There wasn’t much design at first but now everything’s regulated.”

“But how do you find anything?”

“You’ll figure it out eventually but I’m not going to lie. You’ll get used to certain routes right off but, after living here twelve years, I still don’t know it all. But then, I don’t spend too much time in Zion.”

“What about when you were at the Academy?”

Trinity shrugged, taking his hand as the elevator doors opened and they began a trek along another set of hallways and decks. “Between classes and studying, I didn’t have much time for fun. The courses were rigourous and I wanted to get on a ship right after graduation.”

“And you did?”

She smiled, fondly. “Morpheus wanted me on the Neb so he convinced the headmaster to let me graduate early. Here we are.”

She pushed open a door to a small restaurant. A few patrons that Neo didn’t recognize were already seated and he felt oddly thankful that no one from the military seemed to be there. He wasn’t quite ready to share Trinity with anyone after all that had happened yesterday.

She lead him to a booth in the corner where they booth squeezed into one side. Trinity took a menu standing at the side of a table and laid it out in front of them, watch Neo as he looked down and his face lit up with a boyish innocence.

“It’s not goop!”

She bit her lip, trying to downplay her smile.

Originally, she had planned to save the surprise of other foods for a while. Trinity rarely indulged in the different flavors offered in Zion simply because she didn’t need it and it cost money. Not necessarily a lot but she was frugal.

And, when Trinity did spend money, it was on clothes to keep warm on the Neb or homespun yarn to create new sweaters. Occasionally, she would buy a book. Everything she bought would last. But goop flavored with herbs, spices and legumes grown in the greenhouses would only last minutes.

But his smile as he perused the menu, looking up with excitement as he exclaimed, “Trinity, there’s peanut butter” was enough for Trinity to know that it would change. So what that she considered it to be a luxury? Trinity would do anything to keep that smile on his face forever.

There was the Council, of course. And the fact that Neo was the One and, soon, everyone in Zion would know who he was. She could already see the weight he was carrying on his shoulders.

A waiter came over to take their orders of hibiscus teas, which Trinity assured him were delicious, and two peanut butter goops.

When he left, they adjusted their positions so that Trinity had her back to the wall as she sat sideways in the booth. Her legs were draped over Neo and his arm encircled her waist. Had the table been higher, she would have been sitting in his lap.

“Do you remember when we were in the car, on the way to see the Oracle? And I saw that old noodle place?”

“Yes.”

“I know that it wasn’t real.” Neo said, “Electrical impulses and whatnot but does it make me a bad person for… I don’t know…”

“Missing things from the Matrix?” Trinity finished.

“Yeah.”

She shook her head. “Of course not. You know how in the Matrix you felt things you couldn’t explain? Like displacement and that there was something wrong with the world?”

Neo nodded.

“That’s because even though the Matrix can make you think things and alter your perceptions, it has no control over what you feel. It’s alright to miss things, people. Everyone does.”

The waiter walked back over with two large mugs steaming. “I’ll be back in just a few minutes with your breakfast.”

“Thanks.” Neo said, briefly glancing away from Trinity. When he looked back, Trinity was reaching for a mug. “What do you miss?”

Nothing. Everything. Both answers would be correct in their own ways but it wasn’t what Neo was asking. He wanted to know about her. See who she was as a kid.

She took a sip of the tea before replying. “Nature. I used to love to go hiking in the middle of nowhere, build forts in the woods. Swim anywhere. Just being able to get away from civilization and people for any amount of time.”

“Is that why you wanted to be on a hovercraft so badly? To get away from all this?”

Trinity smiled, “In part. I also wanted to save people from the machines because, at the end of the day, no amount of comfort or ease will make up for freedom.”

There was nothing he could say to that. She was right, of course. She always was. They had both given up everything they had to start a new life. At first, he had wondered if it was worth it.

Now, he knew it was.

It was strange how quickly they had come together as a couple. Not even a week has passed sinced the first time he kissed her and they were already living together.

It was like he had known her forever and yet like they just met. The excitement and desperation of a new relationship teamed with love and a level of comfort with each other that most people only dreamed of was more than he could process.

“I love you.”

“I love you.” She replied, leaning forward to give him a kiss. Soft, gentle. Words few people would use to describe Trinity.

Her eyes fluttered shut as his tongue swept into her mouth, swirling around her own. They pulled back ever so slightly to adjust position, heads tilting to the side while Neo’s teeth scraped against her lip.

“Ah-hem.” The waiter coughed, politely interupting their display of affection. “Two peanut butter specials.”

And two bowls were placed in front of them, each filled with a genrous helping of peanut butter mixed with the proteins of goop and little pieces of tortillas on the side.

Neo’s eyes widened in excitement as Trinity moved her legs down from his lap and settle next to him. She dug her spoon into the tan cream and brought it to her mouth. It was of a much thicker consistency than the goop and she could feel it start to stick to the roof of her mouth.

She glanced at Neo who was still staring at it, his head tilted in wonder.

“Try it.” She told him, handing him his spoon.

He looked at her and smiled. “Peanut butter.”

“I know. Try it.”

Neo took the spoon and slid it across the top, a thin layer coming apart. Hoping that it would be good, that it would taste real, Neo put his mouth around the spoon and pulled it out. He let out a moan, groaning in unexpected delight.

The first food he had eaten ever that had flavor. And it wasn’t runny as it rested on his tongue. It was wonderful, delicious. He was going to savor it as long as he could.

Well, it was a nice thought, Neo noted as he scraped against the bottom of his bowl trying to pick up the last remenets of the peanut butter. The tortillas were long gone, not even crumbs remained.

Neo sighed, sinking back in to his seat while Trinity finished the last of her tortillas.

“I’m going to take a wild guess and say you like it?”

Neo flashed her a smile, “It was great.”

She pushed the rest of her bowl between them. “Good. You can help me finish.”

“No, Trin. That’s yours.”

“There’s a lot left and I’m almost full.”

He looked at her, catching her gaze before finally agreeing, “Alright, I’ll steal a little bit.”

Switching the hand for his spoon he wrapped the other arm around Trinity. He didn’t take much, wanting to make sure she got all the energy she’d need for the day and what he took, he did savor. Before long, both bowls were void of all food and the teas drunk in their entirety.

The waiter came by, casually dropping off the black envelope the bill was in. Trinity took it, glancing at it quickly before signing a slip and inserting a small chip into the provided pocket.

“I didn’t even think about that.” Neo said, glancing to her. “How does money even work in Zion?”

“Every citizen gets a monthly stipend to use. Since I’m part of the resistance, I get hazard pay. That can be used on luxury items like certain foods, clothing that aren’t uniforms, books, equipment, art…”

“So, I’ll get a monthly stipend?”

“Eventually. Technically, as first officer, I was supposed to register you when we first got to Zion but given the circumstances, I found it best to wait. Plus, I didn’t want to deal with the paperwork.”

Neo let out a short laugh, “I’m not a citizen of Zion because you didn’t want to deal with paperwork?”

“I had more important things on my mind.”

“Like what?”

“Like getting you into my bed.”

Helpless to do anything else, Neo bent his head down to hers and kissed her lightly, the taste of peanut butter still lingering on her lips and tongue.

The check was dropped back off and Trinity signed a slip of paper, taking the small chip back. “Ready to go?”

They climbed out of the booth and Neo took Trin’s hand. “What’s your favorite spot in the entire city?”

Trinity paused. There were many places that she loved. The library was up high on the list. When in Zion her free time was divided between the library and the gym but they weren’t particularly special. There was the classroom that she had spent so much time in while at the Academy—even a decade later, she still knew her seat. First row, halfway down.

Or…

Trinity smiled, leading Neo back to the elevators before going up as high as the elevator would take them. She pulled him behind her, bordering on excited as she led him to the end of the hall.

Trinity let go of Neo’s hand, searching the walls for a switch. She flicked it and in front of them a series of lights turned on.

“Caves?” Neo asked, walking forward to examine.

“When Zion was built, it was critical for us to stay near the cities so that we could still use the sewage lines for piloting hovercrafts. People moved into a set of underground caverns just outside of the city, eventually managing to connect to the sewage lines. From there, Zion was just built down but the caves are still there—they just aren’t really used because it gets warmer the further down you go.”

“And it’s no longer used? At all?”

“Occasionally kids’ll come up here exploring but its usually empty. I used to come up here whenever I needed to get away from Zion, before I was allowed on the hovercraft.”

They started walking down the path that wound upwards. The cave halls practically glittered, the lights reflecting on every surface. Suddenly, they turned a corner and the cave opened into a wide room, miles by miles across.

“Shit.” Neo muttered in amazement.

“It was the biggest cave they could find.” Trinity told him, “They used dynamite to make it even bigger. But this isn’t what I wanted to show you.”

“There’s more?” They took off walking again, Neo hurrying to keep up with Trinity. “Where are we going?”

“You’ll see.”

“Trinity!”

“You’ll see!”

Neo leapt behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, picking her up to his chest. Trinity let out a short scream that morphed into a laugh as she brought her legs up. Neo continued running, tightening his grip.

“Put me down!” She ordered, still laughing.

“Where are we going?”

“You’ll see!”

“Where are we going?”

You’ll see.”

But he heard it first. The rush of water moving across the ground, the sound echoing between the walls.

Neo set Trinity down but didn’t let go of her, keeping his arms around her waist. They walked in together slowly, Trinity glancing behind her to see his reaction.

In front of them was a small river, a few feet across. It fell from a waterfall fifteen feet up and was caught in a small pool beneath it.

“It’s beautiful.” Neo said, kissing her hair.

“Like I said earlier, I miss nature the most. This is as close as I’ll ever get.”

She pulled out of his arms, kicking off her shoes and lifting her sweater over her head.

Neo’s eyes widened. “What are you doing?”

“You’re a smart guy.” Trinity said, glancing back as she dropped her pants. “I’m sure you can figure it out.”

“But what if someone…”

“No one comes up here except for kids. And the kids who come up here always explore the old ruins of the original Zion. They don’t really care about this— it just doesn’t interest them.” She undid the clasp of her bra and let that fall to the floor. “Now are you coming or what?” She pushed down her panties, completely naked.

And then she jumped into the water.

There was no way in hell that he was going to miss out on that. Neo made quick work of his boots before stripping down to nothing and following her lead.

The air had already been cold so he shouldn’t have been surprised that the water was freezing. But he was. He pushed up from the bottom of the pool and shot his way to the top where Trinity was treading water.

“Jesus Christ, that’s cold.”

“Wimp.”

He quirked a smile, swimming towards Trinity.

She took a deep breath as she brought her body up, as far out of the water as it would go,  before letting it sink down below the surface.

“Well, that’s just cheating.” He muttered, trying to see through the water to find her.

He felt a tickle on his feet as Trinity grabbed his ankle and yanked him back under.

He had been expecting it and had taken a deep breath before being submersed in the water. The moment she let go of his foot, he flipped forward and snatched her. His arms were tight around, yet again.

Kicking the water, he brought them back up to the surface.

“That wasn’t nice.” Neo murmured against her neck.

“Who said I was nice?” She replied, pressing further into his body as they floated in the middle of the pool.

Neo didn’t answer, just moved a hand up slowly from her middle to her breast. She shuddered in his arms, turning her head back to try and kiss him.

“Uh-uh.” Neo said with a shake of his head, “We played it your way, now it’s my turn.”

She clenched her teeth, glaring at him. “Let me fucking kiss you.”

“In a bit.” His second hand drifted south, parting her folds and rubbing against her clit.

Her back arched against him, a moan leaving her mouth. She tried to turn to face him but Neo tightened his grip, holding her firmly in place while he played with her most delicate parts.

“Neo, please…”

“Soon.” He promised.

“Now.”

He ignored her, switching his top hand to give her other breast more attention. She sagged against him, waiting for him to loosen his grip and… there. Trinity grabbed both of his hands and held them in the air, twisting herself in the water as if she were dancing before dropping his hands and wrapping her own around Neo.

Every time they had made love, Neo noted, it was with an urgency he had never felt before. She was desperate for his touch as he was with hers. But still, he wanted to learn every inch of her body. Figure out what places would make her moan and which ones would make her writhe.

But all thoughts and plans disapeared as her legs wrapped around his waist and she started moving against him as she nibbled on his lip.

Neo propelled them towards the edge of the pool, pressing Trinity against the rocky side gently. She reached a hand down and angled him towards her before she sank down onto him.

Neo kept one hand at her back but moved the other to the back of her head, kissing her with all that he had. A suck on her tongue before a bite on her lip as their bodies moved together.

“Neo!” She gasped as he moved his mouth down to her neck. She was so sensitive there, so perfect. In every way.

She could feel it starting the moment his teeth grazed her neck. The influx of emotions and endorphins and everything else that flooded the system. Her heart was racing so fast she could no longer feel the space between the beats.

And then there it was—the magic of the body releasing all the tensions in favor of pleasure.

She bit down on Neo’s neck to keep from screaming as he spilled into her, moving furiously. Desperately. Never wanting to stop.

Finally, Trinity slumped in his arms, panting.

He cradled her body with one hand while he used the other to pull them both out of the water. Neo collapsed onto his back, keeping Trinity on top of him. Her eyes had closed and she looked as she did as she was sleeping, although her erratic breathing told him otherwise.

“I love you.” He told her, stroking her wet hair.

She smiled against his chest. “I love you.”

They lay in silence, the minutes passing by as they cuddled together next to a waterfall. At that moment in time, it seemed almost normal. Like he wasn’t the savior of the human race and she wasn’t a soldier. They were just two people hopelessly and madly in love with each other.

“Trinity?!” A voice echoed down the hall.

Trinity rolled off Neo and scrambled to her feet. “Fuck, it’s Ghost.”

She quickly gathered up her clothes, pulling her pants up and her shirt over her head, not even bothering with the underwear. Neo followed suit, hurrying to get his pants on before Ghost arrived.

Ghost walked into the cavern and looked at the couple, Neo still not fully dressed.

Ghost sighed, looking from Neo to Trinity. “When I imagined meeting the One, I thought he’d be clothed.” The ‘and not just finished screwing my sister’ went unsaid.

“What are you doing here?” Trinity asked, adjusting her shirt.

“The Council is waiting on you two.”

“Already?” She asked, glancing towards Neo. “I thought they didn’t want us till this afternoon.”

“They finished up an hour ago, we’ve been looking you ever since.”

“Fuck.” She ran a hand through her hair. Although enough time had passed that she was mostly dry, her hair was still sopping. So was Neo’s. “What did they decide?”

“You’re officially the One.” Ghost told Neo. “Congratulations.”

“That’s not what I meant.” Trinity said, picking up her bra and panties from the ground.

“I know and I’m going to pretend I didn’t just see that. They’re not making any decisions until you two get there.”

“Okay.” She nodded, “That’s a good sign. Probably. Maybe.”

“It’ll be fine.” Neo told her.

“You really don’t know that.”

Neo took both her hands and held them to his chest. Lowering his voice to a whisper he asked, “What did I tell you?”

She dropped her gaze to her hands and then back up to his face. “We’re never letting go.”

Chapter Text

The idle chatter that could be heard from outside the Council Hall stopped the moment Neo and Trinity walked in, flanked by Ghost.

While the most of the captains returned to the tables that had  been set up on either side of the Council, with a space for Lock, Morpheus walked over and said in a low, annoyed voice, “Where the hell were you two?”

“Council wasn’t supposed to start until this afternoon.” Trinity replied, eyeing the captains and Lock warily.

“That’s not what I asked.”

“I took him to the ruins of the old Zion.”

“And you went for a swim?”

“Yes.” Her answer was calm despite his suggestive tone.

“If you would all have a seat, please.” Councillor Dillard’s voice cut in. “We would like to start the session.”

As Morpheus left to sit with the other captains, Neo noticed that there was only one chair at the table he sat at yesterday. The other two had vanished.

“Are you kidding me?” He asked, quietly.

“This meeting is to determine your fate. I’m just another crew member.”

“This is…”

“Politics.” She interrupted. “They made a statement. You made a statement. And now, they’re countering that.”

“I’m not going to let them separate us already.”

“We don’t have a lot of—”

Councilor Dillard cleared her throat, “We really must get started. Please have a seat.”

Trinity squeezed Neo’s hand in commiseration before turning to walk to the stands. Neo, however, refused to let go of her hand, tugging her back to his side.

“There’s only one chair.” Neo told the Council in a calm and clear voice, acting as if it had been a simple mistake.

“There is only need for one chair. Trinity can sit in the stands with the other members of the fleet.” Dillard replied, not unkindly.

A pause as Neo stared at the Council and the Council stared back at him. Finally, his features relaxed and he slid an arm around Trinity, guiding her towards the the benches where the rest of the crews were sitting.

“This might not be a good idea.” Trinity whispered under her breath.

“I’m not going to compromise when it comes to you.” Neo replied as he turned them around and sat down with the rest of the crews.

His action was met with complete silence as the captains looked between each other, Lock glared and the Council simply stared.

Neo arched a brow, challenging any of them to say anything.

Finally, Dillard sighed, “Soldier,” She said indicating one of the guards at the door, “Please find an extra chair for Trinity.”

The hall erupted in whispers and shocked exclamations.

“I can’t believe that worked.” Trinity whispered, angling her head towards Neo without moving her eyes from the Council.

“We’re not done yet.” Neo replied softly.

The guard returned with the chair and set it at the table. Dillard waved a hand at the table and Neo nodded, standing up next to Trinity and walking over.

When they were both settled in their new seats, Councillor Dillard began.

“It has been determined by the Council that Neo is, indeed, the One. Of course, this does leave us with many choices with how to proceed. Almost unanimously it was decided that an official announcement will be made to Zion on the One’s existence among us. A temple gathering is being arranged as we speak for tonight but more decisions need to be made by that time. This is an open forum so anyone may contribute—the floor is open.”

Not surprisingly, Lock’s hand was up first as he spoke directly to the Councilors. “Given Neo’s advanced skills when it comes to fighting, I would suggest we put him on the Mjoliner where he could learn under the direct leadership of Captain Roland.”

“I thought you didn't believe in the One.” Morpheus said coolly.

“I don’t.” Lock replied, “However, Neo is skilled and would be an asset on the flagship of Zion.”

“Captain Roland, how do you feel about this?”

Roland nodded, “Well, I have to say I agree. Captain Morpheus certainly deserves a lot of the credit for finding Neo but I believe that his time will be better spent on the Hammer.”

“Not to mention the fact that the Hammer hasn't had a death in the Matrix or otherwise in more than four years.”

“So, you’d put him on a ship that rarely leaves port and the crew almost never has to jack into the Matrix?” Trinity asked with an arched brow.

“It would also ensure his safety.” Roland commented, “And give the people who actually believe in the prophecy hope, having him in Zion.”

“Not to mention,” Lock added, “There would be less… distractions aboard Mjoliner.”

Trinity laughed, humorlessly. “That’s fucking bullshit.”

“Trinity!” Dillard warned.

“Sorry.” She said before turning back to Lock. “That’s fucking bullshit, sir.”

Morpheus dropped his head into his hand and Neo tried to keep from laughing.

Still, she continued, now talking directly to the Council. “Putting Neo on a ship where he won’t be able to improve his skill or even enter the Matrix will help no one. And Zion won’t believe in the One if he just sits around and does nothing.”

“What do you propose, then, Trinity?” Councilor West asked.

“I propose you ask him.” She replied coolly, “Since it’s his life you’re all trying to determine.”

Silence followed, no one wanting to be the first to have to speak in case they further angered Trinity. Finally, Dillard nodded.

“Alright, Neo, what do you think?”

Neo glanced to Trinity and then back to the Council. “Keep me on the Nebuchadnezzar. I already know the routines so I won’t have to waste time becoming familiar with different rules and a new crew. I’ll have the opportunity to jack into the Matrix whenever needed and I can pick up where I left off with my training.”

“Well, then Trinity will have to be removed from the Nebuchadnezzar.” Lock said, addressing the Council.

“On what grounds?” Neo asked, narrowing his eyes.

“She’s clearly a distraction for you. Need I remind the Council that you were more than an hour late to this session…”

“Which is irrelevant because we were under the impression that the Council wouldn't need us until later in the day.” Neo cut in.

“And what about the last time you were in the Matrix? We all saw the transcripts—Trinity fell off the roof and you jumped off after her without a single thought. She makes you reckless.”

“She makes me the One.” He argued, “Trinity and I are staying together.”

“You don’t get to decide this, boy. It’s a matter of the Council.”

“No. It’s my life.” Neo argued, “Look, I didn't ask to be the One. And I’m not going to ask for special treatment on the ship or in Zion. I’m not going to ask for money or power or anything. I’ll work for Zion and do whatever it is that the Council asks of me. But Trinity and I stay together.”

“This is exactly the reason why they need to be separated, Council.” Lock interrupted, “They’re too co-dependent. He wouldn't agree to sit without her. He’s making demands that he has no right to on the basis of love. How can he be expected to fight Agents when he’s too busy concentrating on her?”

“Relationships have always been allowed on ships.” One of the other captain’s spoke up.

“This isn't an ordinary relationship.” Another pointed out. “We certainly don’t want to lose the One because he got reckless.”

“But what if he dies again? Is it possible that Trinity could bring him back?”

“Doubtful.” Another one replied, “What she did was a miracle, a once in a lifetime occurrence.”

“And if Neo’s the One, it is very unlikely that he would die before completing the prophecy.”

“But can we take that risk?” Councilor Grace asked.

“It would be a greater risk to his safety to keep them together.” Lock said looking awfully confident for a man who had no idea what he was talking about.

“We are asking a lot of this young man,” Hamann pointed out, “Perhaps it would be best to allow this small thing.”

“With all due respect, Councilor,” Captain Roland, “It won’t be a small thing if he turns up dead. The citizens would panic if they thought the One was dead.”

“Well, then should we even tell the public that we think we’ve found the One?” Yet another captain asked.

“No, we shouldn’t.” Lock said clearly, “It would give the people of Zion false hope.”

“Commander Lock.” Councillor West warned, “We have discussed this. It is in the best interest of everyone to not keep this a secret.”

“What if we sent two ships out together?” Councillor Grace suggested, “Keep Neo on the Nebuchadnezzar and put Trinity on the Icarus. That way if anything happens to Neo, Trinity is there to revive him without being a distraction.”

“Oh, hell no.” Trinity muttered.

Neo glanced to Trinity. Her hair was mostly dry, softly falling in waves without being gelled back. She was pissed but trying to stay in control. Her face was blank to anyone who didn’t know her but the flare in her eyes and the pulse in her throat beating rapidly made it obvious that she was close to losing it.

He smiled, remembering the last time she had lost control not even an hour ago. He still had the teeth marks on his shoulder to prove just how beautiful and wild she was when she let go.

And for some strange, miraculous reason Trinity loved him. Trinity, whose grace and skills surpassed nearly everyone in Zion. She had hacked the IRS database as a teenager and had only grown in intellegence since. Whose quiet demeanor and extraordinary beauty attracted the attention of more than half the fleet.

And she chose him. She loved him.

He didn’t have time for the Council and their bullshit. Not when there were more important things to be done. Not when Trinity was so close to the edge of losing control.

Finally, he spoke, quietly. “Want to get out of here?”

She looked at him incredulously. “We have to stay here till it’s over.”

Neo shrugged before raising his hand, offering a blatant grin in her direction.

“Yes, Neo?” Councilor Dillard asked.

Neo looked away from Trinity and pushed away from the table, the sharp scrapes echoing throughout the hall. He stood up and walked around his chair before pushing it in. He took the one step needed to reach Trinity and stood behind her, hands on her shoulders.

“I understand the concerns of the Council and I won’t lie. Trinity is my top priority. She’ll always come first. But you’re not going to use that as a reason to separate us.”

“And why not?” Lock asked, glaring.

Neo kept his attention on the Council, ignoring Lock.

“I don’t believe you understood me when I spoke earlier so I’ll make it clear. When everything has settled down, I’ll be going back to the Nebuchadnezzar—as will Trinity.You will not try to separate us. You will not try to interfere with our lives. This is not up for debate.” He tugged Trinity’s chair backward and taking her arm.

Her eyes were wide, in shock, as he pulled her too her feet before turning back to the Council. “If you need us, we’ll be in our apartment.”

Neo led them out of the room, back straight and head held high. They were silent as Neo held open the door and he and Trinity exited the hall.

“I can’t believe you did that.” She said the moment the doors had closed behind him.

“Come on.” He said, speeding up his steps until they were at the elevator. He hit the button to call it while Trinity tried to process what Neo had just done.

“That’s going to piss off a lot of people.”

“I know.”

“Then why did you do it?”

The doors opened and Neo walked in quickly, tugging on Trinity’s arm. “Which button?”

She hit the correct button to their floor and turned back, “Neo, they’re…mmm.”

Neo took hold of either side of her face and kissed her, backing her into the elevator wall. Her arms immediately circled around him, pulling him against her. She twisted a leg around his, desperately trying to do the impossible and touch every inch of him at once.

The elevator slowed to a stop and they broke apart just as the doors opened and a man walked on.

“Could you hit the library level for me?” He asked Trinity, who was closest to the panel.

She nodded, and hit the button before turning to face forward, not looking at Neo.

They traveled just a few more floors before the doors opened again and they scurried off, hurrying to get to their room. Trinity took the key to their door out of her pocket and forced it into the lock.

Finally, the door opened and they rushed inside.

Immediately, Neo picked her up and began kissing her again as she placed a knee on either side of him, digging into his hips.

“Neo.” She whispered between kisses, holding onto him tightly.

He groaned as she moved her hips in a circle against him. He crossed the room to where their bed was and deposited Trinity on the mattress. He started to climb on top of her but she rolled him, flipping Neo onto his back.

She ran her hands over his chest and back before pulling his head up to kiss him. Slowly, she moved away from his lips as her mouth trailed over his neck.

“This is called revenge.” She whispered, licking a spot beneath his jaw.

“What?” Neo replied, his voice husky. “The bite mark wasn’t enough?”

“Nope.”

Trinity sucked on the spot before pressing a tender kiss over it. She sucked again, grazing it with her teeth as she pulled away. She moved up his body again to kiss his mouth. Their tongues tangled around each other and they broke apart, breathing hard as someone began pounding on the door.

“Fuck.” Trinity said, rolling off of Neo.

Neo sat up, running a hand through his hair. “And I thought being in Zion meant we would have more privacy.”

“Well, we did just get up and leave the Council. That’s got to be unprecedented.”

Neo shrugged, “You looked hot.”

She turned to him, an eyebrow arched. “You mean we walked out of a Council meeting because you were horny?”

“Um… yes?”

She stared at him for a few more seconds before bursting out with laughter. “You’re insane.” She told him as she went to open the door. “Morpheus.”

He held up the key which, in their hurry to get inside, had been left in the lock. Trinity reached forward and took it. “Thanks.”

“Mhmm. May I come in.”

She took a step back and motioned for him to enter. Neo was standing off to side, a few feet behind her.

Morpheus looked at Neo and shook his head. “That was a big risk, Neo.”

Neo shook his head, “Yesterday, they kept me in testing for nine hours. When they were done with me, I couldn’t walk to my own bed from that table. Trinity had to practically drag me because I could barely move and today they wanted to try and separate us? I’m not going to let that happen so why should everyone have to waste their time on it?”

“You made a lot of people very angry.”

“You know what?” Neo said, almost surprised by his own reaction. “I don’t care. I’m not going to debate this with them, I’m not going to compromise. Trinity and I are staying together—end of story.”

“You’re lucky that the Council decided to let you—they voted just after you pulled that stunt.”

A wave of relief flew through Trinity as she let out a long breath. Knowing that the Council was, at least, sort of on their side would make life so much easier. “Thank god.”

Neo’s arm encircled her, his hand resting on her rib cage. He pressed a kiss to the top of her head, gently offering comfort.

“They want you at the temple at six tonight.”

“So early?” Trinity asked.

Morpheus nodded, “Unfortunately, yes.”

Trinity sighed, “I’ll go call Ghost. See if he has anything you can wear tonight.”

“Not uniforms, then?” Neo asked as Trinity disappeared into their small kitchen.

“No.” Morpheus replied, “Temple gatherings are celebrations. Tonight, we’ll be celebrating the One.”

Neo shifted uncomfortably, wishing that Trinity was still wrapped in his arm. “I’m not sure how I feel about that.”

Morpheus offered him a smile. “The fact that you have been found, Neo, is of great comfort to many people. You’ll probably be asked to give a speech and then you just have to mingle. Talk to people.”

Giving a speech and interacting with people. Literally, his worst nightmare.

“Alright.” Neo said with a sigh. “I’ll do my best.”

“I know you will.” Morpheus responded. “Don’t worry so much. You were born to do this.”

No pressure.

“Yeah.”

Morpheus gave a nod. “I will see you tonight, then.”

Neo nodded his goodbye before going to the kitchen to find Trinity. She was on the phone, “Mhmm… Okay, we’ll see you then.”

Trinity hung up the phone and smiled, spotting Neo stalking towards her.

“Ghost will be here in an hour to drop off something for you to wear tonight.”

“An hour, huh?” His fingers clasped, behind her back, locking her inside his arms. “There’s a lot we can do in an hour.”

“Oh yeah?” She slid her arms up his chest and wound them around his neck. “Like what?”

Neo smiled, releasing one of his hands to move under her legs as he scooped her up, into his arms. He carried her back into their bedroom before gently setting her on the mattress. Trinity reached up to cup his head and bring him down for a kiss, but Neo pulled back, shaking his head.

“Do you trust me?”

A nod. “Yes.”

“Stay still.” He ordered, going to the end of the bed and taking a seat.

Neo reached for her foot, untying the straps on her boots. He pulled it off, gently holding her leg up before depositing the first boot on the floor. He repeated his actions with the second boot before setting it on the ground, just next to the first boot. The socks came off next, slowly, one at a time before Neo folded them and placed them on the floor.

He crawled up her body and grabbed the hem of her shirt, pushing it up slowly as he pressed kisses to her belly. Neo wrapped an arm around her back, under her shirt and helped pull her off the mattress to get her shirt off.

He placed her back down and then folded her sweater.

“You don’t have to fold everything.” Trinity told him.

He smiled but didn’t reply as he made his way back down to her pants. Again, he reached around her and lifted her hips off the mattress before sliding down the black pants until they were completely off her legs. And then, he folded them.

He had barely touched her and she was already breathing heavy. When he set her pants aside Neo propped himself over her and gave her a gentle kiss.

Soft, slow.

Trinity tried to deepen the kiss, to make him move faster but he pulled away, kneeling between her legs. He tugged his sweater off, folding it and setting it aside. Slowly.

Too fucking slowly.

Trinity sat up, trying to follow Neo and make him make love to her. He caught her hands as she was about to throw them around him.

Neo gently pushed her back to the bed, holding her hands on either side of her head, pinning her to the bed. “Am I going to have to tie you down?” He asked, his voice low and gravely.

Trinity swallowed, shaking her head.

“Good.” He smiled, releasing her. “Now stay still.”

He undid her bra, not breaking eye contact as her breasts came in contact with the cold air. She shivered, involuntarily. It took everything she had not to move, not to reach out and touch him.

Neo folded the bra in half before setting it with the other clothes.

He placed his hands on her hips and ran them up her torso as he dragged his mouth along her belly, her ribs and between her breasts. He stopped just short of her throat before moving back down to press a dozen kisses to her breast.

She shuddered as he sucked a nipple into his mouth, grazing her with his teeth. He use one hand to support himself just above her while the other played with her other breast—rubbing, tweaking and massaging with an expertise he never knew he had.

He switched hands and moved his mouth to share the attention with her other breast as he took his spare hand and slipped it down into her panties. With a single finger, he felt along her folds. Soaking. Practically dripping.

A smile appeared on his face as Trinity’s breath hitched and she arched up into his hand.

“Stay still, Trin.” He warned, removing his hand.

She whimpered, “Please.”

“Soon.” He promised, returning attention to her breasts.

“I need you.” She moaned.

“You have me,” He replied, blowing on her breast.

Another whimper as her hands curled into the mattress, trying so hard not to touch him. Trinity bit her lip and tipped her head back, hoping if she couldn’t see it would help alleviate the need to touch him. It didn’t.

Finally, Neo made his way back down her body, sliding her panties off. He smiled at what he saw. She was so wet, so ready for him.

He folded her panties, the smile widening as he looked at the sight before him.

Trinity’s head was thrown back, her throat on display, covered with the purple marks he had given her that now resided on her breasts as well. Her legs were spread as tried so hard not to move. Her slick core begging for attention.

He set the panties aside before crawling between her legs, pressing kisses on the insides of her thighs. He repeated the action with the other side. It was only fair—he decided. He didn’t want her to have the impression that he liked one part of her better than the other. She was perfect in every way. Neo just wanted to convey that.

She was shaking, now, with need and desire.

Finally, he moved his mouth to her center. He placed a kiss to her clit before licking along her folds. Her body was rigid, trying so hard not to move. It wouldn’t work, though, and Neo knew it. She was so close to the edge. So close to letting it all go and losing control.

With this thought in mind, Neo dove in. He kissed and sucked. He bit and licked, his tongue diving in and out of her.

She arched up to him, trying to keep still. Her hold on the bed hadn’t loosened and her eyes were closed tight. She was right on the edge. Right where he wanted her.

Moving his tongue up to her clitoris, Neo inserted a finger inside of her. She jumped at the contact, moaning as he curved his finger to touch her inner walls. Christ, she was perfect.

He nipped at her as he inserted a second finger, moving them in and out as he nibbled on her.

Neo looked up without moving his head from her center. Her knuckles were white, her lower lip raw from where her teeth had sunk into it. She was quivering—trying so very hard to stay in control.

Carefully, he took her clit into his mouth and sucked, his fingers still pumping in and out.

And then, she lost it.

Trinity’s hands released their grips on the sheets as she cried out, writhing beneath him. She arched up further, desperate for him to continue and he did, not once slowing down. Trinity thrashed on the bed, crying out without the ability to speak coherently anymore.

One Neo thought.

But he didn’t stop there, as Trinity reached the peak and started to come down, Neo moved his thumb up to her clit, keeping his two fingers inside her, violently bringing her back up. A sudden jolt went through her and she continued to writhe in pleasure.

Back down he went, desperately lapping at her core. He was already addicted to her. His hands held her hips in place, keeping her center pinned to the bed as the rest of her moved uncontrollably. He planted a series of kisses before grazing his teeth along her folds.

And then again—a kiss, a bite all along the most sensitive parts of her.

Suddenly, she threw her head back and screamed out, her body completely arched. And then she collapsed, eyes closed.

Neo pushed up onto his arms. He smiled softly as he looked at the unconscious Trinity. He reached down and grabbed a blanket from the end of the bed. Carefully, he slipped an arm behind Trin’s back and curled her up to him. He tossed the blanket down, over both of them and let out a content sigh.

Neo was sure that he was the One. Trinity wouldn’t let anyone less see her that way— completely out of control, unable to speak as her body thrashed atop the mattress.

And she loved him.

He would never be able to get over that fact. Up until he had died, he had been nothing out of the ordinary. He was just a regular guy, getting by day to day. Even as Neo, he had never hacked anything as difficult as the IRS database. Shit, mostly all he did was create contraband programming and searched the internet for anything related to the Matrix.

And Trinity loved him.

He pulled her closer and pressed a kiss to her head. Neo knew he would do whatever it took to be worthy of her. If that meant he had to give a speech and converse with hundreds of people, he would do it. If it meant spending the rest of his life freeing minds and working to destroy the Matrix, he would do it. Gladly.

Her eyes fluttered open, blinking in the light before looking up to Neo.

“I pass out?”

The corner of his mouth turned up in a smile. “Yup.”

“You’re pretty proud of yourself, aren’t you?”

“Yup.”

She smiled, sleepily. “I been out long?”

“Few minutes.”

Her smiled faded into a look of concern. “Did you…?”

He shook his head.

“Neo—”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“But—”

Neo bent his head down pressed soft, tender kiss to her lips. “I got to watch you, to touch you, as you went over the edge. I got to feel you lose control and then I got to see you faint from pleasure. Quite frankly, this is probably the best day of my life.”

Trinity cracked a grin, laughing as she reached up to caress his cheek.

“I love you.” She said, suddenly serious. “So much.”

Neo nodded, “I know. It feels like I can’t breathe right when you aren’t here. Those nine hours yesterday were…”

“Horrible. I felt sick, I could barely eat.” She quietly told him. “It was like there was a permanent shiver trapped in my spine.” A sigh, “And it was only nine hours. That’s barely anytime at all. How are we supposed to get work done, go into the Matrix, live our lives…”

Neo took her hand and offered a slight smile, “We’ll figure it out. We’ve got our whole lives ahead of us and I have no intention of ever letting you go.”

“Do you—” She stopped, looking away from him.

Neo lifted up her chin so that she was looking back up. “Do I what?”

A long pause filled the air between them as an expression akin to regret became visible. “Do you really think we’ll survive the war?”

He nodded, “We have to. You see, I have plans for us.”

“Oh really?”

“Mhmm.”

“What kind of plans?”

Neo smiled at her while he played with her hair. “I love being on the Neb, don’t get me wrong but I want to be here. In this apartment, with you. Having dinner with our neighbors, going out on dates. Shopping for furniture… do they even do that here?”

She laughed, nodding. “Yeah. I’ve actually been thinking about getting a couch but I’m never here long enough for it to matter.”

“Exactly!” He exclaimed. “I want to be here long enough for this to become our home. To know that you’ll be in my bed all night, not getting up at three AM to do a shift on the bridge or watching the Matrix. I want to settle down with you, have kids…”

He trailed off, looking down to gauge her reaction. A small smile was on her face as she quietly asked, “How many?”

“Oh, at least a dozen.”

“Ha!” She laughed, “Sure, but they’re coming out of your vagina.”

He grinned, “Fine. I’ll compromise. How about three?”

She considered it before nodding, “Three is definitely a possibility.”

“Okay. Two girls, one boy. We’ll have the boy first,” He said matter-of-factly. “That way his sisters will be less likely to beat him up.”

“Uh-huh. And what if the boy tries to beat them up?”

“Oh, he won’t. He’ll have my passive demeanor. The girls, on the other hand, will have your devastatingly good looks and your ‘devil-may-care, kick-ass attitude.”

“And what if we have three boys? Or three girls?”

He hesitated, taking the time to consider that possibility. “Well, I suppose we’ll love them anyway. But, I’m not sure I can handle the three girls.”

“Why’s that?”

“Well,” Neo replied, meeting her eyes. “If they look anything like you, I’ll have to beat the boys off with a stick.”

“And if they look like you?” She asked with a grin.

He visibly winced, “Ooh, poor girls.”

Trinity burst out laughing, curling up tighter to him. “Have you already picked out the names?”

Neo shook his head, “Nah. That’s something we’ll fight over for months because you just don’t think ‘Ada’ fits the idea of what our daughter will look like. Then you’ll suggest another name and it won’t be terrible but it won’t be right. And we’ll spend all nine months trying to figure out what to name her. And when she’s born we’ll know right off the perfect name. It was probably staring us in the face the whole time.”

“You’ve really got this all figured out.”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“Well, you’re right about the ‘Ada’ thing. It really doesn’t fit. And aren’t we having the boy first?”

“Mhmm. Now, do we give him a Matrix-esque name or a hacker name?”

“Well, the hacker name is definitely cooler.”

“No doubt.”

“But it would limit our selection by a lot. Matrix names aren’t as great but it leaves the possibility for him to pick out his own alias when the time comes.”

“Yeah, but what if he picks a really dumb name? Like Archimedes?”

“Well, as his parents, we’ll have to accept his decision and respect it. No matter how horrible it is.”

Neo smiled, “You’re going to make a much better mom than me.”

“Yeah. You’d definitely have problems with the breast feeding.”

“You know what I mean.” He said with a laugh, gently shaking her back and forth. “What was your name? Before you were Trinity.”

“Amanda.”

“Amanda what?”

“Amanda Tyson.”

“No middle name?”

“It’s embarrassing.”

“More embarrassing than ‘Ashley?’”

“In it’s own way.”

“I won’t tell anyone.”

She let out an amused sigh, knowing that Neo would never give up. “Amanda Hope Tyson.”

“Amanda Hope Tyson.” Neo repeated, testing the name on his tongue. “Hmm. Tyson has possibilities.”

“For a name?”

“Yeah, for the boy.”

She shook her head, “No, I never liked my last name.”

“What about Hope? For one of the girls?”

Again, Trinity shook her head. “Name the child of the One: Hope? Yeah, that’d be a great idea.”

“Yeah.” Neo said, realizing the potential that carried. “Okay, what about ‘Tertitus?’”

“Tertius?”

“It’s Latin.” Neo said with a grin, happy to remember something from high school. “It means ‘third.’”

“No.”

“Glyph?”

“Hell no.”

“Linus?”

“Stop while you’re this far behind.”

“Oh my god, I’ve got it.”

“Don’t say it.”

“Qwerty.”

Trinity burst out laughing, turning away her head away from Neo as her body shook.

“Do we have a winner?”

It was answered with more laughter.

Smiling, Neo took her chin in his hand and turned her to face him. He kissed her once, gently on the lips before pulling away to look at her. She was just too goddamn beautiful.

Again, he kissed her, this time choosing to linger on her the lower lip that constantly held his attention. He grazed it with his teeth, nibbling on her while she sucked on his upper lip. And then, the kiss deepened. Their mouths opened wider to accept the other as tongue ventured into foreign, but familiar, mouths.

And, while he hoped for everything they had discussed about their future children, Neo decided that the family would definitely wait for a long time. Sharing Trinity was going to be difficult and he was a selfish man. He wanted her to himself for as long as  he could have her.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. They broke apart, Trinity smiling sadly. “That’ll be Ghost.”

“We should get up.”

“Neo, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to stand.”

“Good.” He replied, pressing another kiss to her lips.

“Neo!”

“Alright, alright.” He pushed himself into a sitting position and grabbed the pile of her clothes off the floor. “See, isn’t this nice? No searching for a shirt halfway across the med bay.”

“Uh-huh.” She said dryly as Neo handed her the pile before standing up and putting on his own shirt.

Another series of knocks. “Just a minute!” Neo called over his shoulder, taking both Trinity’s hands and helping her to her feet. “How’s that standing thing working?”

“Eh. Now I just have to do that walking thing.”

She picked up the clothes and hurried to the bathroom, limping slightly. Neo smiled, watching her go. As soon as the door was shut, he crossed the room and opened the door. Sure enough, there was Ghost.

“Hey man, come in.”

“Thanks.” Ghost glanced around the apartment. “Where’s Trinity?”

“Uh, bathroom.” Neo said, “Look, thanks for letting me borrow your clothes. Trin said this,” He indicated his own shirt, “Would be out of place.”

“Just a bit. Here, the pants might be a little on the short side but the rest should fit.”

“Wonderful, you are a god send.” Neo took the clothes, “I’ll be right back.”

He walked over to the bathroom and knocked, “Trin, can I come in?”

“Mhmm.”

He opened the door and slipped inside. Trinity was running a brush over the back of her head.

“I have horrible sex hair.” She commented.

“I like it.”

“I’ll bet.”

She met his eyes in the mirror. “You got the clothes?”

“Yup.” He held them up before placing them on the shelf. He took off his sweater and dropped it in the hamper before picking up the silvery-gray vest. “But I think it’s missing a shirt.”

Trinity smiled, “That’s your shirt.”

Neo looked at the scrap of fabric in front of him. “This? I have to give a speech to Zion wearing this?”

“What?” Trinity said, smiling as she turned around. “I like it.”

Neo snorted, slipping it over his arms. “Will what you’re going to wear be this revealing?”

“Not quite.” She replied, leaning against the sink while she watched Neo change out of his pants and into Ghost’s dark slacks. “What do you think?”

A shrug. “I don’t know. It fits but I still feel like I’m not wearing enough.”

“Temple will be overflowing tonight. Lots of people, lots of dancing. It’ll get hot very quickly. Chances are that you’ll lose the vest by the end of the night.”

“You gonna lose your shirt?”

A smile. “Maybe. But it won’t be before we get back here.”

Neo hooked his fingers into the top of her pants and pulled her to him, giving her a quick kiss. “I love you.”

“And I love you. Now change back into your regular clothes so you don’t get those dirty before your speech.” She said as she backed away to the door, leaving to join Ghost in their bedroom-dining room- and living room.

“Trinity.” Ghost said, a small smile on his lips. “I should warn you that Sparks is going to have a field day with that stunt your boyfriend pulled.”

She hesitated at the use of the word boyfriend. It didn’t seem to fit Neo. It was too mild of a word to describe their passion and too juvenile of a word to describe their love.

“I’m not sure ‘boyfriend’ is the correct word.”

“What is?”

A shrug. “I don’t know. There might not be a word that fits what we are.”

“You love him.”

She nodded, sucking in her lips. “Yes.”

“He’s treating you alright?”

She nodded again. “He’s wonderful.”

“Good.” He crossed over to Trinity and kissed her forehead. “I’m happy for you.”

Chapter Text

Trinity leaned a rock pillar near the front of the Temple, impatiently. It was nearly nine—the time the gathering was suppose to start and she had seen no sign of Neo or any of the Councilors. They were probably still out back.

“Here.” Kali, captain of the Brahma, said handing Trinity a small glass filled with an amber liquid.

Trinity shook her head, “No, I need to be sober right now.”

“Suit yourself.” Kali tipped the glass back and took the shot.  “How’s Tank doing?”

“I visited him this afternoon. There’s been lot of internal damage but the doctor’s are hopeful.”

“How are you doing?”

A small smile graced Trinity’s lips. “Am I a terrible person if I said that I’ve never been better?”

“It’s war, Trinity.” Kali commented, “And life sucks most of the time. If you can find any reason to be happy, then fucking take it. Switch would want you to take it. So would Apoc and Dozer and, probably, even Mouse.”

Trin turned her head to look at her friend. “How pissed was the Council when we left?”

“They were too shocked to be pissed. I mean, apart from his… display of affection yesterday, everyone kind of thought he was a pushover.”

“He’s quiet but he knows what he wants and he knows how to get it.”

“You speaking from experience?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Did you know he was going to do all that at Council?”

Trinity laughed, “Not a fucking clue. It was a… spur of the moment decision on his part.”

“That was one risky spur of the moment decision.”

“Yeah, well he got impatient.”

“Everyone gets impatient with the Council. You still don’t just get up and leave.”

Trinity fought a smile, remembering their exit. Him, steadfast and sure. Her, confused as fuck. And the moment the elevator door had closed, everything had been made clear.

“Ooh, I know that look.” Kali said, shimmying her shoulders. “Good sex?”

Trinity looked at her friend dead in the eye and replied in a low voice, “I came three times before I passed out.”

“Shut up. Seriously?”

Trinity nodded, “Yeah. And he didn’t expect anything after. He just held me and we talked.”

“Oh my god, how is it possible that he’s so adorable and so hot at the same time?”

“I know! I mean, one minute he’s sweet and innocent and getting excited over the littlest things and the next, I’m flat on my back while he’s threatening to tie me down if I don’t stop moving.”

“Jesus.”

“Yeah.”

“Does he have a brother plugged in anywhere?”

Trinity smirked, “Only child.”

“Damn it. Does he—”

“Well, there she is. The object of my affection!”

“Go away, Sparks!” Kali groaned as Sparks and Ghost walked over, “We’re having girl-talk.”

“I could have girl-talk!” Sparks retorted, almost offended. “I talk to girls all the time.”

“That’s great, Sparks. But right now, I need serious details.”

“I gave you details.”

“You gave me numbers.” Kali corrected. “I want the freaking details. Full on descriptions, leaving nothing out.”

“Heartbreaker, you dirty girl!” Sparks put his arm around Trinity’s shoulders and grinned. “Do I get details?”

“Absolutely not.”

“What about numbers?”

“Walk away while you still can, Sparks.” Ghost warned.

“No, seriously. Were we talking? Times? Orgasms? Ratio between the amount of times you’ve had sex and the number of orgasms you’ve had? Inches? Feet? Nah, that’s impossible. Then again, he is the One…”

Trinity rolled her eyes before sharply jamming her elbow directly into Sparks’s stomach. He let out a groan as a gust of air left his lungs and Sparks doubled over in pain, releasing his hold on Trinity.

“Did Neo finish his speech?” Ghost asked, ignoring Sparks.

“Not before he left. And I doubt the Council has given him anytime.”

“I’m sure he’ll do fine.”

“Yeah, I know.” She smiled softly. “But he doesn’t.”

Neo would get up there, on the podium, and he would talk and Zion would fall at his feet. But that didn’t mean that he wasn’t worried about screwing up or saying the wrong thing. She knew he felt uncomfortable about telling people who had been fighting for much longer than he had been that the war was going to end soon. And that he, a newly unplugged who hadn’t even had to have a haircut, was going to save them.

Trinity did not envy him that task.

And where the fuck was he? Where was the Council?

It was after nine by then and the crowd was starting to get anxious. Rumors had circulated, of course, but after so many reports of potential Ones few believed the rumors anymore.

“Is no one going to ask how I’m doing?” Sparks asked, still bent over but with his ability to breathe back.

“No.” The three said together.

“What’s taking so long?” Trinity muttered, looking around the room.

“It’s politics.” Ghost replied simply.

“Trinny misses her booooy-friend.” Kali sang.

Trinity gave them a droll look. “I don’t like not knowing what’s going on.”

Sparks looked at Kali. “She didn’t deny it.”

“Nope.”

“Lock wasn’t kidding when he said that you guys were co-dependent, was he?”

But Trinity was no longer listening. Her heart stuttered in her chest and she turn back to the Council entrance to the Temple, just off the dais. They locked eyes the second Neo walked through the door and a breath of relief flowed through her body.

Neo grimaced, a look of apologetic commiseration. I hate that I’m not with you right now.

Trinity offered a small smile, knowing that it wasn’t his fault. I know. Soon.

Councillor Dillard walked to Neo and started talking. Trinity wished she could get closer but she was as close as she would get to the dais without having to touch people.

Neo nodded at whatever she was saying. She touched his arm in a motherly fashion before walking up to edge of the rocks. Dillard’s hands were in the air as a sign to settle down and immediately, the Temple was filled with silence.

“I know that you have been wondering if the rumors are true, if the One has truly been found. I am both pleased, and surprised, to admit that he has. The One walks among us now…”

Trinity visibly winced as the words left the Councilor’s mouth. He wasn’t just the One, he was Neo. A living, breathing human who didn’t want any of the attention he was receiving.

Still, she couldn’t help but at how he was rocking back and forth from foot to foot.

Neo caught her eyes and smiled. Then he gently, so that only somebody looking for it would see, tapped his middle finger against his leg. Fuck you.

Trinity smirked and suggestively moved her eyebrows up. Maybe later.

Neo’s lips tightened into a line and he tried to keep from laughing, throwing a wink at her.

Trinity kissed the air in his direction and Neo grinned, glancing back to Dillard who was raving about what his presence would mean for Zion.

It was all bullshit, of course. Neo was a symbol to Zion, to the Council. At the end of the day, everything Neo did to end the war would be done without the help of either. But they would use him as he would use them.

Neo would give a speech and mingle with the crowds and the Council would keep him and Trinity together, on the Neb.

Finally, Dillard introduced him and Neo stepped up to the platform. The audience erupted in cheers and stomping.

He gave a half-smile and waited for the excitement to slim to a murmur. “Zion,” He projected in a clear, strong voice. “I’m not one for making speeches so, for all our sakes, I’ll keep this short. Right now, it seems like the machines have the upper-hand. They certainly have the numbers but at the end of the day, they are only machines—scraps of metal thrown together. They only do what they are programmed to do.

 “The odds may be against us but we have something the machines do not. We are not driven by programs, not anymore. Instead, we have all found our reasons for fighting— for Zion, to free the slaves, for our families and the people we love,” His eyes lingered on Trinity before moving back to the masses. “to make a better future. To make a better now!”

 

The crowd erupted in cheers and Neo stood tall, trying not to let the awkwardness that he was feeling show. He turned his head and glanced back at Dillard who gave him a nod.

Neo stepped off the platform and moved towards the back, where the members of the Council waited. Dillard returned to the podium and offered a closing prayer before instructing the drummers to begin. A loud, rythmatic pulsing began to fill the large Temple, bouncing off of the cave walls.

Neo waited for Councillor Dillard to walk by. “Am I free to go?”

“Not yet.” She said. “We think it would be best that you spent some time getting to know your peo ple.”

“They’re not my people.”

“And yet, they are prepared to follow you wherever you lead them.” She replied, “I know this situation is not what you want but it is what you have. As the One, you’ll be expected to be a leader.”

Neo nodded, not liking the answer but not expecting anything different.

“Come on,” Hamann told Neo, leading him own to the floor where many of the people not dancing were congregated to see him. “Talk for an hour or so and then you can go see her.”

Neo allowed himself to glance at Trinity. She and one of the captains Neo had to fight in the Construct—Kali, were talking. He saw Trinity’s jaw drop at whatever Kali said, a mixture of shock and amusement on her face.

An hour wasn’t so long, not in the big scheme of things. And then he could go to her and remind himself that she was real and she did love him.

Neo forced himself to look away and focus on the crowd that had gathered to meet him.

“Neo, I’d like to introduce you Captain Mifune. He works in Zion under Commander Lock to keep this city protected from the sentinels.”

“Good to meet you.” Mifune said, holding out his hand. “Having you around will definitely improve morale around here.”

“Thank you.”

“Have you started formulating a plan to destroy the Matrix?”

Straight to business. Neo was slightly taken aback but replied, “To be honest, sir, I’ve been the One for a week yet. I’m still trying to find my bearings.”

Mifune nodded with a half smile. “That’s good, too. You can’t take care of us if you don’t take care of yourself.”

Neo nodded back, grateful that Mifune actually understood that this was new to him as well. He didn’t know what he could and could not do yet. He had only been back in the Matrix once since he was resurrected.

And then came the next.

“Neo, this is Tobias.” Hamann introduced an aging gentleman with a long grey beard and rounnd cheeks. “He’s the Head City Planner in Zion—in charge of all the expansion. A top geologist.”

“Nice to meet you.” Neo said, holding out his hand.

“Oh, you too, my boy. I never thought I’d live to see the One in Zion! I suppose I’ll have to add more apartments with all the freed that you’ll bring in.”

A forced smile. “I’m sure they’ll be wonderful.”

“They put you in a nice place?”

“I’m sorry?” Neo asked, not understanding.

“Your apartment. Did they put you in a good place?”

“Uh, well I wasn’t, technically, assigned a room but—”

“You weren’t assigned to a room! They didn’t give the One a room?”

“Well, I’m staying with someone…”

“You have to share your room? No, I can fix this! You will have a room to yourself by tonight. The best room in Zion!”

“No, no.” Said Neo holding up his hands, “I don’t need a room—I’m staying with my girlfriend.”

Tobias was taken aback for a moment before he started laughing. “You certainly move quickly, my boy. Tell me—who’s the lucky lady?”

“I’m the lucky one.” Neo corrected with a smile. “Her name is Trinity.”

“Oh-ho-ho, you landed yourself a pretty one, didn’t you? Are you looking to upgrade your apartment?”

“No,” Neo shook his head, “We’re really comfortable where we are. Thank you, though.”

“It was nice seeing you, Tobias.” Hamann said, indicating that it was time for the city planner to move along. “I hope you know,” He told Neo casually, “That all of Zion will know that you’re together by the end of tonight.”

Neo grimaced. “I know. I guess privacy isn’t one of the perks of being the One.”

“No, it isn’t. The two of you will live in the limelight for the rest of your lives. Ah—Maria! Neo, this is Maria. She is one of the elected liaisons to the Council. A direct representative of the people.”

Neo made small talk, smiling and nodding where he had to until he could speak to Hamann again.

“It won’t really be for the rest of our lives, will it?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Being center of attention. I mean, once the Matrix is destroyed it will all go back to normal, right? No one will care about what I do once the machines are destroyed.”

Hamann offered a sympathetic smile. “I’m afraid not. When this is over, you’ll be the hero of Zion. You are our savior and that isn’t something that will ever be forgotten.” Another woman stepped up. “Neo, this is Quasar. She’s is the President of the Board of Education.”

“Nice to meet you.”

“You as well. Perhaps we can have you come down to the Academy and give a talk?”

“Uh, maybe.” He replied, non-noncommittally. The truth was he really did not want to give a talk but he also didn’t want to be rude. “I don’t imagine I’ll be in Zion too often.”

“You’re on the Nebuchadnezzar, correct?”

Neo nodded.

“Well, perhaps we can schedule a talk for you on the same day as Trinity.”

A grin spread over his face, “Trinity gives talks?”

“Oh yes. She also does demonstrations in martial arts.”

“That is something I would love to see.”

Quasar beamed at him. “Wonderful! I’ll talk to Morpheus to find out when you’ll be back in the city and we can find the time for you to both talk.”

“It was wonderful to see you, Quasar.” Hamann said, excusing her.

“Is this how it’s going to be?” Neo asked him. “Small talk with important people for an hour.”

“Yes. I know it seems trivial but you are the One, Neo. Your people want to meet you.”

“They aren’t my people.” Neo said for the second time that evening.

Hamann offered a smile. “They think they are.”

“I’m not a leader, Councilor. I never had any intentions of becoming one. I’m just a guy.”

“I know it may feel that way to you, but you are the man who was prophesized to bring about the end of the war that these people have spent their entire lives in. You offer them hope and, for that, they will follow you into the depths of Hell.”

“I don’t want them to follow me into Hell. I don’t want them to follow me anywhere. I just want—” Neo let out a breath as he smiled sadly. “She didn’t sign up for this.”

“Yes, she did. As soon as Trinity told you that she loved you, she did. She accepted the fact that you’ll be hiding from the gossipmongers for the rest of your lives and that everywhere you go, you’ll be hounded for autographs and stories. She’s accepted the fact that people will talk about her and you, not always in the most positive ways. Trinity is a smart girl, Neo. She knew the risks. And she took them.”

Neo back over to where Trinity was standing, a few of the guys he had sat with the first night in Zion had joined her, along with other people he vaguely recognized from from Council meetings. How many more nights did she have of freedom before she started being hounded?

“Neo, this is Oliver. He runs the library…”

And so on it went.

 

His hand was numb, Neo noted, as Hamann released him from his duties. He had shaken hands with hundreds of people for nearly two hours. He could barely find his way around Zion and now he was supposed to remember all these high-ranking officials who the city ‘couldn’t run without.’

Hamann’s words.

And god, his legs hurt from standing in one position for so long. Still, it didn’t stop him walking as fast as he could through the crowd. There were whispers and excited mentions of ‘that’s the One.’ A few people even tried to talk to him but he pretended he couldn’t hear.

It had been five fucking hours.

He weaved in and out of dancers until he was nearly at the column that Trinity and other soliders had had claimed for their own. Most of the other soldiers, however, were lost in the middle of the dance floor.

She looked up as he broke through the crowd, knowing that he was nearby. She started walking towards him before speeding up and throwing her arms around him.

Neo picked her up off the ground and held onto her, tightly.

“I thought they’d never let you go.” Trinity told him in a low voice.

“I know.” Neo chuckled at the absurdity of it all. “Five fucking hours.”

Trinity picked her head up off his shoulder so that their faces were level—a feat that rarely happened in a vertical manor. She smiled at him before leaning in and pressing a kiss to his lips.

It was soft and gentle. A simple meeting and parting of lips. And it wasn’t going to do.

Neo pressed his lips to her own, this time sliding his tongue across the crevice to her mouth. Her lips parted, allowing him access while they deepened the kiss. He pulled her tighter to him, if possible, before hoisting her up so that she was just a bit above him.

One of her legs wrapped around his hips, desperately drawing him closer.

People were staring. Of course they were. The Savior of Zion holding on to the living legend that was Trinity like a lifeline. And, perhaps, it wasn’t the best time or the best place to be kissing so intimately but fuck it. It wasn’t like the Council would let them leave.

Trinity pulled back before they went too far and completely forgot about their surroundings. Their foreheads rested against each others as they breathed in the same air.

“How long do we have to stay?” She asked, her eyes still closed.

“I have to stay until two am but you can leave if you get tired or anything.”

A short laugh. “As if I could fall asleep without you.”

Neo opened his eyes, smiling before he pressed another kiss to her lips. “I love you.”

“I love you.” She replied, opening her own eyes.

“I love that dress, too.”

“I bet.”

The dress in question was of the same silvery-gray material of his pseudo-shirt. The dress was draped over her body loosely and was long enough that it covered all the essential parts in the position that they were in.. It was held up by two strips of fabric that went from her breasts to being tied around her neck.

One tug and it would all come tumbling down.

And he had to stay there, in the Temple, until the Council told him he could go.

But at least he got to hold her.

He smiled softly, getting lost in her eyes. “I never want to put you down.”

“You’ll have to eventually. I know that you've gotten stronger since becoming the One but you haven’t built up an endurance yet.”

“No endurance, huh?” Neo asked before tilting his head to kiss her before moving his mouth towards her ear so only she could hear, “Says the woman who passed out after only three orgasms.”

“Only three? You think you can do better than that?”

“Absolutely.” He replied, confidently. “I just worry that you might not be able to handle it. We’ll definitely have to work on your endurance.”

Her eyes widened as her face broke into a smile. “You are so full of yourself.”

“And later,” His voice lowered again, “You’ll be full of me.”

Her tongue darted out to moisten her lower lip. It was too tempting to resist and, again, Neo kissed her. He didn't care that people were pointing. He didn't care that people were talking and speculating about their relationship.

All that mattered was her. All that ever would matter was her.

“Yo, Neo!” Kali called, dragging both Neo and Trinity out of the world that consisted of only them. “You gonna bring my girl back here?”

Your girl?” Neo replied, a touch of amusement laced in his voice before looking back at Trinity. “You stepping out on me?”

She gave him a look somewhere between what do you think? and are you kidding me?

Neo sighed and pressed a kiss to her forehead before setting her on her feet. The moment he let go of her hips, he found both her hands and twisted her around so that they were walking back to front, her left hand in his, her right hand in his.

“You’re going to have to learn to share.” Kali told him with a click of her tongue.

Neo smiled, planting another kiss on Trinity’s head. “You've had her for two hours. I haven’t seen her in five. I’m done sharing—she’s all mine.”

Sparks froze, half expecting Trinity to spin out of Neo’s arms and kick him in the balls before she punched him in the face, knocking him out. (As such had been her signature move with unwanted suitors). How dare he try and dictate her life?

Ghost and Kali, however, weren’t at all surprised when Trinity stood on her tiptoes and leaned to the side so that she could kiss him. But what Ghost and Kali saw that Sparks couldn't was that Trinity had no plans of sharing him, either.

He wasn’t trying to take control of her. The decision had been made together, the moment their eyes met as he walked to her. In the middle of Zion, with the weight of the world on their shoulders, they could be free as long as they were together.

“Jeez, Trinity.” Sparks commented while Neo and Trinity dove in and out of kisses. “You’ve never kissed me like that.”

“She’s never kissed you, period, pervert.” Kali said before Trinity could respond. Or even break off the kiss.

“That could change.”

Trinity shook her head, in too good of a mood to glare. “Ghost, hit him for me.”

Ghost held up his hands. “I’m staying out of this.”

Without a word, Neo let go of Trinity’s hands and wrapped them around her middle before lifting her up and lunging across the small circle. Laughing, and leaning her head on Neo’s shoulder, she kicked Sparks right where it would hurt and, for the second time that night, he doubled over in pain.

“Thank you.” She said as she gave Neo a quick kiss.

“You’re welcome.” He replied, mimicking her actions.

“That was fucking priceless. I wish I got it on film!” Kali laughed.

“I’m sure someone watching got it.” Trinity commented.

“What do you mean?” Neo asked.

“I mean that we’re being watched by a couple hundred people right now.”

Neo looked around, the shock evident on his face as he realized that she was right. Everyone in their general vicinity was watching them. Even the dancers were watching as they grinded against their partners.

“Fuck.” Neo swore.

“You’ll have to get used to it.” Kali told him, not unkindly. “People born in Zion have literally been told about you since birth. There are books written about your coming. I mean, we had to learn about you at the Academy.”

“You did?” Neo asked, looking at Trinity.

She smiled, turning around in his arms so that they were face to face. “I played hookey that day.”

“The only assignment Trinity ever failed was a speculative essay about what your arrival in Zion would mean.”

“I refused to do it.” Trinity said by way of explination.

“Didn’t take what the Oracle said well?”

“I was fifteen.” Trinity said dryly although her eyes were smiling, “One minute I was free, for the first time in my life, and the next I was shackled to some guy in the Matrix.”

“Sorry.” Neo said apologetically.

“No, you aren't.”

“Yeah, I’m really not.”

She laughed, inclining her head so that he could see the purple marks that decorated her neck. God, how he wanted to add more. Her neck was so sensitive and soft. Alluring. And he knew just how she would moan if he kissed her on her collar bone and just how she would writhe when he sucked on her pulse.

Neo released one of his hands from her waist and settled it on the back of her head, fingers curling into her hair. He watched as her lips parted expectantly and he leaned down and kissed her. It was no where as deep or as passionate as Neo would have liked but he didn’t want to do anymore with so many people watching.

“Screw the Council.” Neo said as they broke apart. Kali, Sparks and Ghost appeared to be giving them some privacy although sparks was watching with interest. “Let’s just go.”

“We can’t. We used eight of our nine lives today. We need to make nice.”

“I don’t want to make nice.” Neo told her, nipping at her ear. “I want that dress on my floor.”

“What?” Trinity asked, breathing slightly ragged. “Not going to fold it?”

She could feel his mouth curl into a grin before he whispered, “Can you handle it if I fold it?”

“You’re never going to let me forget about that, are you?”

“Never.” He confirmed, pressing a kiss on the edge of her jaw. “Watching you lose control was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Christ, Trin, you have no idea what you do to me.”

A smile blossomed on her face while she wound her arms around his neck and moved flush against him. “I have some idea.”

Neo groaned, “I’m not sure I can—”

“Excuse me, Mister Neo?”

Neo turned his head away from Trinity’s, looking down on an elderly woman. He loosened his grip on Trinity, allowing her to slip from his arms although he didn’t let go of her hand. “Yes?”

The woman smiled, her wrinkles beginning to multiply. “Oh, I never thought I would get to see the One in my lifetime. But here you are!”

Neo didn’t know how to respond to that so he smiled and gave a brief nod.

“Will you watch over my grandchildren? Make sure they survive the war?”

Again, Neo was struck speechless. What the hell was he supposed to say to that? Offer a promise he didn’t know he could keep or tell the woman ‘no, I won’t let your grandkids survive the war.’

“I’ll do what I can.”

She beamed at him. “Thank you, Savior.”

“I, uh, just Neo is fine.”

“Thank you, Neo.” She reached forward and up, cupping Neo’s cheeks in her hand before pulling his head down and planting a kiss on his forehead.

And with that, she left.

Neo looked at Trinity, unnerved. She was biting her lip, smiling, as she tried not to laugh.

“You should see your face.” She told him, letting out a soft laugh. “That was beautiful!”

“You’re beautiful.” And again, he wrapped her in his arms. He let out a sigh and asked, “Is this how it’s going to be? People asking things of me that I’m not sure I can give? Treating me like I’m somehow above them?”

Trinity nodded against his chest. “Yes.”

A throat was cleared and they both looked up.

“Malachi.” Trinity said, stepping back so that only one of Neo’s arms was wrapped around her as they stood side by side.

“Trinity.” He replied with a nod. He then held out his hand to Neo. “I’m Malachi, first mate aboard the Caucedues.”

“I’m Neo.”

“Yeah, I know. Good speech up there. Nice and short.”

“Thanks.”

“Well, I just wanted to introduce myself since we’ll probably be working together at some time or another. I’ll let you get back to your…” He gestured vaguely behind him where a small crowd of people were gathering, each waiting to talk to the One.

He kept his face stoic but his grip on Trinity tightened.

Keep me grounded. He prayed to her silently before forcing a smile as the next citizen approached.

Chapter Text

Neo opened his eyes as soon as the alarm started blaring, fumbling to turn it off before it woke up Trinity. He noticed her eyes fluttered open and then closed before her head lolled to the side, unconscious.

Eight in the morning.

Fuck that.

At two, the Council had dismissed him. If only it were that simple. Lines of people were gathered to talk to Neo, stretching farther than he could see. He didn’t want to talk to any of them but felt an obligation to do so. They had been waiting so long to talk to him, how could he just leave?

Around three, Trinity was having trouble staying awake. Neo was having to support her to keep her upright. He didn’t mind doing it but she was just so tired. He had pleaded with her to go back to the room and sleep but she refused to without him.

Neo had called Ghost over to try and talk some sense into Trinity but that hadn’t worked. Even dead on her feet, Trinity was stubborn as hell.

Reluctant and relieved at the same time, Neo apologized to the remaining people and pulled Trinity out of there. It had taken quite a bit of effort to maneuver through the crowds of his followers and the dancers. And when they finally cleared the Temple,  they met the lines of the people trying to return home.

When they reached their floor, and Neo no longer needed her guidance to get them through Zion, he scooped her up in his arms. She had complained, said that she could walk just fine but he carried her anyway. By the time they reached their door, Trinity was asleep.

It was strange in a way, Neo mused as he stroked her hair. By him taking care of her, he was taking care of himself.

Maybe that had been her plan all along.

It wouldn’t surprise him.

He leaned forward and planted a kiss on her head before settling back down to go to sleep.

 

Three succinct knocks woke Neo up for the second time. He pulled his arm out from under Trinity, jostling her slightly.

“Hmm?” Her eyes fluttered open.

Neo kissed her nose. “Go back to sleep.”

“’kay.”

He smiled as he climbed out of the bed and hurried to the door before anyone could knock again. Morpheus, arms crossed behind his back. Neo held up his fingers to his lips as he reached for the key and went into the hallway.

“Is she sleeping?” Morpheus asked.

A nod. “It was a late night. We ended up having to stay at the gathering longer than we had anticipated.”

“You did well. The Council was very impressed, as was Zion.”

Neo smiled, awkwardly, not knowing what he was supposed to say to that without sounding rude and ungrateful. “That’s not why you’re here though, is it?”

“No.” Morpheus shifted uncomfortably. “Tank had a very rough night.”

Neo let out a long breath, “How bad?”

“Very bad. The doctors aren’t as confident as they were yesterday,” A sigh, “when Trinity wakes up, you might want to get down to the infirmary.”

“Yeah, of course. I’ll get her up in a few minutes and… we’ll be down there as soon as we can.”

Morpheus nodded and put a hand on Neo’s shoulder. “Take care of her.”

“I will.” For the rest of my life.

They parted, Morpheus heading off to see Tank and Neo going in to wake Trinity. He postponed waking her for as long as he could. He changed into his regular clothes, pulled out an outfit for Trinity. He had even set the table for breakfast, but soon he was without a task.

Neo walked over to the bed and knelt down next to it, gently caressing her face. “Trinity.”

“Hmm?”

“You need to get up.”

Her face scrunched up in displeasure although her eyes were still shut. “Mm.”

“I know, honey, but we need to get going.”

She opened her eyes and sleepily asked “Where?”

“The infirmary. Tank’s not doing too great right now.”

Trinity blinked the sleep away from her eyes and pushed herself up to a sitting position. “What happened?”

He climbed up to sit across from her on the bed. “It was a rough night and the doctors are… uncertain.”

A flash of fear, panic and despair crossed her face. Trinity let out a shaky breath before moving to her feet. “We have to go.”

“I know. Breakfast is on the table, there’s an outfit in the bathroom that you can change into.”

“No.” Trinity said, moving straight for the door. “We need to go now.”

Fuck. “Trinity!” Neo said, hurrying across the room so that he could get his arms around her and stop her from leaving. “We’ll go soon. I promise but you need—”

“We need to go now!” She insisted, trying to pull his arms away from her.

“You need to eat, Trinity!”

“I”ll eat later!”

“Just a couple bites, Trin.” He tried to say in a soothing voice. “Just a couple of bites and we can go.”

“No!”

“Damn it, Trinity! You haven’t eaten in sixteen hours!”

“I don’t care!” She screamed back “We need to go! We need to go now!” Her voice broke and a sob escaped. She slowly stopped struggling to escape from his grasp as she leaned back into Neo, biting the inside of her lips so she wouldn’t cry. “He’s the only friend I have left.”

Neo shut his eyes, her pain becoming his. It hurt to see her so upset and know that there was absolutely nothing he could do about it.

“I know.” He whispered.

“Dozer and Apoc were on the crew that pulled me out of the Matrix. I’ve literally known them my whole life. I pulled Mouse out of the Matrix. I went to the Academy with Switch. I lived with her for a year and now she’s gone. They’re all gone!” She sagged against him, trying so hard not to cry. "He's all that's left."

“Trinity, I swear we will go see Tank the moment you finish eating. But you need to take care of yourself first. Okay?”

There was a moment of hesitation before she finally nodded.

“I’m going to let go of you now. Promise you won’t make a break for it?”

“I promise.”

Neo gently kissed the top of her head before letting her slide from his arms.

She walked over to the table, collapsing into a chair in a state of shock. Trinity regarded her food with a look of distaste but picked up her spoon nonetheless.

“Ten bites.” Neo said, knowing that she probably couldn’t handle more.

She nodded and he disappeared into the bathroom only to return with her clothes. He knelt down next to her and said, “You don’t have change if you don’t want to but I think you’ll be more comfortable in this.”

Another nod and he set the clothes down on the chair, taking the pants and unfolding them. Snapping out of her daze, Trinity lifted her feet so he could slide them up. She stood, pulling the band to her hips before undoing the ties that held up her dress.

She took it off her head and folded it haphazardly before Neo handed her a sweater.

“Thanks.” Trinity told him weakly.

“No problem. A few more bites and we can go.”

“You need to eat, too.”

Neo nodded, moving his own bowl to the edge of the table so that he could stay close to her.

She took a few more bites before looking down at Neo. “I don’t think I can eat anymore.”

She hadn’t eaten much to begin with. “Is there a container we could pack it in for later?”

Trinity nodded and indicated the cabinet above the table. Second shelf. There should be some flat bread in their too but it might be past the expiration date.”

He nodded, grabbing his empty bag off a hook and filling it with food for later. “Is there anything else we might need?”

“Um, the bookcase. There should be a book of fairytales. Leather bound, brown… There should also be a couple of coins on one of the shelves.”

“How many do you want?”

“All of them.”

Although Neo was curious, he didn’t question her. He found the book and the coins and dropped them into the bag as well.

They both put on their shoes and locked up their apartment. Trinity took his hand, holding it tightly. Neo desperately wanted to tell her that everything was going to be okay but he didn’t know that.

She led them through the maze of halls that was Zion, down through the elevator. Across another hall and “we’re here.”

Trinity went up to the woman at the front desk. “We’re here to see Tank Dumas.”

Neo was taken aback at that. Tank had a last name? He had kind of assumed that no one had a last name since they were never mentioned. He wanted to ask Trinity if she had one but it wasn’t the right time.

“Please sign in.”

They hastily scribbled down their names before Trinity, again, led Neo down the halls. From what he could see, it looked like a normal hospital. Pictures by kids on the wall. Equipment and carts were lining the walls, waiting to be used. The rooms that they passed were filled with the elderly and kids with broken limbs.

Ahead was a sign for the Soldier’s Ward. Trinity pushed one of the double doors opened and the décor immediately changed. Cute pictures were replaced with the crest of Zion. A flag hung on either side of the door. At the end of the hall was a huge plaque with names of all the Zion soldiers who had died.

Hundreds. Maybe even thousands. And those were just from the handfuls of crews that entered the Matrix.

I’m supposed to end the war that they died for.

His thoughts were interrupted by excited shrieks of “Aunt Trinity! Aunt Trinity!”

Trinity let go of his hand and she knelt down to catch the two kids who were practically flying towards her.

“Hey monsters.” She said, hugging them.

“Can you do the coin trick?” The little girl asked as she pulled back slightly.

“What makes you think I brought a coin?”

And, suddenly, Neo understood why Trinity had asked for the coins and the fairy-tale book to be placed in the bag.

He knew that Dozer had twin children but that information had slipped his mind. He had only been thinking about how Tank would deal with Dozer’s death not even remembering that he left behind a wife and two kids.

The little boy smiled, “You always have a coin.”

“Hmm.” She turned and looked up at Neo, who handed her the bag.

“Who’s he?” the boy asked, still clutching at Trinity.

“This is my friend Neo. Neo, this is Triton and Hazel.”

“Hi, guys.” Neo said.

“Hi!” Hazel said.

Triton was to busy watching Trinity go through the bag. She grabbed one of the small, silver disks that resembled a quarter from the Matrix and placed it on her thumb.

“Ready?”

The twins nodded eagerly.

She pushed the coin against her index finger and it began flipping from finger to finger until it started at the beginning again.

“Whoa!” Neo said, kneeling down as well. “How did you get it back to the beginning.”

“Magic.”

“Can I try?” Hazel asked.

“Of course.” Trinity handed her the coin she was using before reaching back into the bag to pull out another. She handed it to Triton, who beamed at her. “I’m going to go talk to your mom and Morpheus. You guys keep practicing.”

They nodded, no longer paying attention to the grown ups. There were much more interesting things to do.

Trinity and Neo stood up and walked over to Morpheus and the woman that Neo could only guess was Dozer’s widow.

Cass pulled Trinity into her arms the moment they were in reach. “I’m glad you’re alright.”

Trinity nodded her thanks, “How is he?”

“It—it doesn’t look good, Trinity.” Morpheus said.

She nodded, expecting as much. “How long?”

“Hours.”

Another nod, “Is he conscious?”

“For now—he’s been in and out all day.”

“Can we go in?”

“Yes.”

Trinity glanced to Neo, uneasy but doing a good job of hiding it. He put his hand on the small of her back and led her to the room marked DUMAS.

Tank was lying in the bed, his face pale and sweat lining his brows. Zee was sitting on the edge of his bed, Link standing behind her.

Tank looked up as they came in, and smiled. “What took you so long?”

“Traffic was hell.” Trinity replied walking over to the edge of his bed. “How are you feeling?”

“Been better.”

A tight smile appeared on her face. “You’ve looked better.”

Tank snorted, reaching for her hand. “Our deal…”

“Consider it done.”

“And you’ll take care of the ship?”

“Mhmm.”

“And give Sparks hell for me?”

“You know it.”

“The, um, thermo couplings need to be replaced in the engine room. You need to make sure…”

“It’s the iridium alloy, I know.”

“Pretty and smart.” He said, squeezing her hand. “You be good now, you hear? I don’t want to see you wherever the hell I’m going. You stay right here.”

“That’s the plan.”

Tank nodded, closing his eyes for a moment. He looked exhausted and it was clear he was in the final stretch.

He let out a long breath and opened his eyes back up again, “Think I can have a moment alone with the Messiah?”

Neo made a face at the name but Trinity nodded, leaving the room followed by Zee and Link. When the door was shut, Tank looked up at Neo.

“You know, when Morpheus first told you about being the One… you just looked like you wanted him to be wrong.”

“I did.” Neo admitted, “I didn’t want the responsibility of the entire human weight on my shoulders.”

“You’ll still end it?”

“Of course. I don’t like the job but it comes with amazing benefits.”

“The end of the war.”

“That, too.”

“Trinity?”

“Most notably.”

Tank smiled softly, “She’ll keep you on the right track, I have no doubt.” Tank looked towards the door, suddenly solemn. “You see my niece and nephew out there?”

Neo nodded.

“Don’t let this war go on so long that they have to be soldiers.”

“I won’t.” Neo told him. “I’m going to do everything in my power to end it as soon as possible.”

Tank nodded, gritting his teeth to keep himself from getting too emotional. “Thank you.”

Neo held out a hand, “Thank you, Mister Wizard.”

Chapter Text

Not mine. Wish it was.

xoxo

Trinity stepped back out into the hallway, a feeling of melancholy creeping into her system. Tank was going to die and he knew it. He was using his last hours to get his affairs in order and say goodbye.

Zee was a wreck, struggling to hold it together. Link was at a complete loss of what to do, as they all were.

Cass had already fallen apart but was trying not to show it in front of her kids.

Morpheus was feeling incredibly guilty now that the high of finding the One was wearing off and he could see all the damage that had been caused. The room was filled with people who were going to be devastated with Tank’s death.

And then there were Hazel and Triton. They didn’t get that their dad was dead—he was always away for long periods of time. It was a foreign and confusing idea for the four-year-old's. But seeing their Uncle Tank dead would just make matters worse.

Trinity walked over to where Cass was standing, talking to Triton.

“But I don’t wanna stay here.”

“It isn’t a choice.” Cass replied, “I told you this morning that we would be here all day. You chose not to pack the coloring books.”

“There’s nothing to do!” He whined.

“Triton, you need to listen to my words! We are—”

“Hey Triton,” Trinity interrupted. “Can I borrow your Mom for a minute?”

Triton nodded and went back over to his sister, who was still trying to master the coin trick.

Trinity stepped forward and hugged Cass. “What can I do to help?”

Cass shook her head. “Nothing. I just… I need about six of me right now and…” Her voice broke and she visibly struggled to hold back the tears. “There’s just so much….”

“I know.” Trinity ran her hand down Cass’s back, soothingly. “But we’re all here for you. And the little monsters.” Cass let out a short laugh at that and Trinity pulled back so that they were facing each other. “What needs to be done?”

“Everything. I need to arrange the funeral before his body… I need to fill out paperwork since we’re now a one-income household. And the kids… I don’t even know what to do about the kids. They don’t understand, they just want to play and there isn’t nearly enough here to keep them occupied and…”

“Do you want me to take the kids for the day?”

“I can’t ask you to do that.” Cass said, shaking her head.

“You’re not asking. I’m offering. Do you want me to take them? That way they can, at the very least, get out of this hospital.”

“I…” Cass nodded. “Yes. Please.”

“Okay.” Trinity said with a nod of her own. “Triton, Hazel?” The kids looked up. “How would you like to come spend the day with me?”

“Yay!” They said, getting up and running to hug her.

The door to Tank’s room opened and Neo stepped out, leaving the door open behind him. He crossed to Trinity who was standing with a child wrapped around each leg.

“Did everything go okay?” She asked.

A nod, “Just wanted to settle some things.”

Trinity nodded, “I’m now on babysitting duty. So you can either stay here with Morpheus and Tank or you can come hang with me and the two monsters.”

“Hmm.” Neo said with a smile, glancing from the kids to Trinity, “Monsters can be dangerous.”

“They can.” She replied, running a hand over Hazel’s hair.

“And you’re clearly outnumbered. Maybe it would be best if I came. You know, just in case.”

She smirked, stepping out of the twin’s grips. “Watch them for a minute? I need to say goodbye.”

Neo nodded and she walked to Tank’s room, posture perfect and face impassive before she slipped through the door.

Tank smiled when he saw her. “Missed me?”

“Desperately.” She replied dryly. “I’ve got to go. Neo and I are taking the twins for the rest of the day.”

Tank shook his head and patted a spot on the edge of his bed. She took his cue and sat down. “Selfless Trinity.” He reached up and bopped her nose. “I’m going to miss you most of all, Scarecrow.”

Her eyes started watering. “I’m going to miss you, too.”

“Oh, don’t you do it, girl. Cause if you start, than I’ll start. And that won’t be pretty.”

She laughed, or sobbed, Tank couldn’t tell.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.” He took her hand, “I’ll see you on the flipside.”

She nodded.

“Not to soon, though.” He ordered.

Again, she nodded. “It’ll be a while.”

“Good. Now get out of here. I’m sure my niece and nephew are getting restless.”

She smiled, gently reaching forward and hugging him, careful to avoid his injuries. “Goodbye, Tank.”

“Take care of yourself, Trinity.”

She stood up with a shaky breath. With a final squeeze of his hand, she turned and left the room. Her throat seemed to be closing up, ready to start crying. But the tears could wait until she was alone. Or with Neo.

Trinity was ready to force a smile the moment she hit the waiting area but ended up not having to. Neo had each twin sitting on one foot, holding on to his legs, as he took wide steps around the hall.

Shaking her head, she walked over to them. “Hey troublemakers.”

Neo turned his head back to here. “You’re referring to them, right?”

She gave him a pointed look. “What do you think?”

He grinned in response. “Alright guys, you all set?”

“Yes!” Triton said, standing up and grabbing Trinity’s hand. “Let’s go!”

“You got someplace to be?” Trinity asked, amused.

“Yes.”

“Ooo.” Neo said, “You just got told what’s what.”

Trinity threw him a look over her shoulder. Mostly amused but part are-you-kidding-me?

“So, where exactly are we going?” Trinity asked Triton.

“I don’t know.”

She rolled her eyes and they continued on their path out of the hospital. When they reached the exit that led back to the elevators, Trinity squatted down between the kids.

“You know,” She told them with a devilish glint in her eyes. “Neo has never been to Zion before.”

“Ever?” Asked Hazel.

“Ever. Where do you think we should take him?”

“Market!” Triton shouted.

“The park!” Hazel chimed in.

“Alright, how about we go to the park first. And then we go to the market, have lunch and walk around a bit?”

Satisfied with the solution, Trinity guided them through the chaos of Zion, still holding Triton’s hand while Neo walked behind her, holding onto Hazel’s. Neither adult was oblivious to the stares directed at them but both chose to ignore it.

Eventually, the air started to smell almost fresh—or what had been fresh in the Matrix. Up ahead were two glass doors that led to the park.

And it actually was a park, Neo noted. Grass, tree, flowers, benches, play structures.

Trinity opened one of the doors, “Alright guys, go ahead.”

Immediately, the children let go of their hands and rushed towards a play structure complete with slides, fireman poles, monkey bars. It even had a mini-zip line.

Neo held the top of the door, just above Trinity’s head and let her walk in first. When the door closed behind them, he wrapped an arm around her waist. “Is this real grass?” He asked, squinting at the ground.

Trinity nodded. “All the plants in here are real. The sky’s fake.”

Neo glanced up. The “sky” had been painted a light blue with little fluffs of white randomly spread throughout it. And the paint was chipped and cracked everywhere, pieces of metal and rock poking through.

“No shit.” He looked back at the ground, “How, though?”

“Up until about twenty years ago, there were teams that would be sent to the surface to do reconnaissance and the like. You know, old warehouses with light bulbs or canned foods. Scrap metal. And back when there was still a bit of plant life, the teams grabbed what they could. A few saplings, grass seeds. Vegetable seeds. Even some fruit.”

“But how are they sustained? There’s no sun.”

“Heat lamps. Plus, they’re watered a couple times a week.”

They sat down together on an empty bench where they could see the kids playing. Trinity let out a sigh and leaned into Neo’s side, her head resting on his shoulder. “We’re being watched.”

Without moving his head, he glanced around the park. Parents and guardians of all the kids, joggers and people just out for a stroll were starting to congregate in little groups. A few fingers were pointed and he was sure questions were being asked.

“Don’t they have anything better to do.” He asked, placing a kiss on the top of her head.

“Probably.”

“Are we ever going to be able to go out in public without this?”

A shrug. “I don’t know. But for now, this is something we’ll just have to put up with.”

Again, Neo was faced with the concern for her. She didn’t want the attention of Zion on her. They couldn’t even go to the park without people pointing at them, couldn’t walk down the hall without stares.

“I’m sorry.” Neo said.

“For what?” She looked up at him, confused.

“For all this. For the people who are watching every fucking move we make.”

“Hey.” She said, taking his hand, “It’s not your fault. They’re… enamoured. They want to know about you because, as much as you dislike the fact, you are a legend. Not to mention you’re very pretty.”

“Oh really?”

“Mm. I catch myself staring at you all the time.”

He laughed at that, “God, I wish I could kiss you right now.”

“Just pretend like they’re not there. It’s just you and me.”

“If it was just you and me, you would be on your back right now.”

“No, no.” She corrected, “I think you meant that you would be on your back.”

“We’ll wrestle for it.” He murmured just above her ear.

“You’ll lose.”

“I’m pretty sure I win either way.”

Trinity moved up to kiss him but was interrupted by the cries of “Neo!” that were coming from Hazel’s mouth as she ran over to them. “Will you push me on the swing?”

“Sure.” He said with a smile before giving Trinity a quick kiss on the lips.

“EW!”

They broke apart, smiling at the little girl.

“What?” Neo asked.

“You were kissing her!”

“I was.”

“But kissing is icky!”

“Well, sometimes you do icky things for the people you love.”

Trinity snorted as she tried to contain her laughter, burying her head into Neo’s side as she shook. He pressed a kiss to the top of her head.

“I’ll be back.”

She nodded, smirking as he stood up. Hazel took his hand immediately and dragged him over to the swing set. “I want high pushes. Don’t worry, I can handle it.”

“I have no doubt.” He lifted her over the swing so that she was facing the same direction. “Hold on with both hands.”

He pulled back the swing and let her go, flying through the air. It didn’t take much effort to keep her going as fast and as high as she wanted.

Keeping one hand available to push every time Hazel swung back, he looked over to the bench that he had just vacated. Trinity was no longer there. He glanced around and found her waiting for Triton at the bottom of the slide.

She got down on his level and started talking with him. After a few seconds, she stood back up and walked over with him to the monkey bars. She picked him up around his middle and held onto him as he moved from bar to bar.

Neo chuckled, turning his attention back to Hazel. “Having fun?”

“Yes!” She yelled back. “I’m like a hovercraft!” She blew out loudly, imitating the engines.

“You’re pretty good at that.”

“When I grow up, I’m going to learn to drive a hovercraft, just like my Daddy.”

The smiled faded from his face and Neo was glad that she couldn’t see him. “That’s a big job.” He said, finally.

“I’m a big girl.” She replied, “And Aunt Trinity says she’ll teach me to drive it when I’m older.”

Of course she did. Again, he glanced back to Trinity. They were no longer at the monkey bars but on a patch of open grass just off the playground. She was running backwards with Triton trying to keep up, reaching out his hand to touch her.

“Looks like Aunt Trinity is playing tag with your brother. Want to join?”

Hazel looked back and then nodded. “Yes, please.”

Neo grabbed the base of the seat and anchored his feet to the ground as he slowly set her swing down in the middle.

Hazel was off like a rocket, running towards her brother screaming that she wanted to play. Triton turned from chasing Trinity and ran after his sister instead.

Trinity slowed down, stopping and watching the twins run across the field. Yeah, being out of the hospital was good for them. Having room to run was even better.

Eventually, Triton caught up with Hazel and tagged her, screaming “no tag backs!” and running off.

Hazel pouted until she spotted Neo still walking over to them, then she took off running full force.

“Crap.” He muttered, turning and running past her in the opposite direction. He jogged around the area of grass that they had claimed as their own, slowing down each time he turned. Eventually, he doubled over and pretended to be out of breath, allowing Hazel crashed into him.

“No tag backs!” She told him, laughing.

Neo looked around, glancing between Triton and Trinity.

She raised an eyebrow, her arms folded against her chest. Really? She taunted with her pose. I’d like to see you try.

How could he resist that?

He walked towards her, slowly picking up pace.

Trinity shook her head as a final warning. Neo broke into a sprint and Trinity turned on her heel, running. Both Triton and Hazel were laughing as Trinity managed to avoid every lunge for her that Neo made. She ran all around their space, at one point picking up Triton and putting him on the path Neo was running. Neo, of course, sidestepped out of the way and continued towards Trinity.

Eventually, he realized there was no way he would be able to beat her at running so he slowed his pace and waited for her to set a new course. She turned a corner, heading back towards the kids. Neo cut across the circle and grabbed her around the middle, turning in midair. Tackling her but landing on his back.

“Gotcha.” He murmured, planting a kiss to the back of her neck.

Hazel and Triton were roaring with laughter.

“Hold up, there’s no tackling in tag. Illegal move.”

“There are no rules in tag.”

“There are so rules in tag.”

“Guys,” Neo called to the twins. “Is tackling aloud in tag?”

“Yes!”

“You’re letting the four year olds decide if it’s allowed?” She asked, sitting up.

“Hey, majority rules.”

Hazel ran to her, jumping into Trinity’s arms and hugging her. “I love you, Aunt Trin.”

“I love you, too.” Trinity replied as she tickled Hazel’s stomach.

Hazel writhed with laughter in Trinity’s lap.

Neo sat up and watched them, imagining that it was their own daughter that Trinity was tickling as they sat in the park. He glanced over to Triton and motioned for the little boy to come over. He sat down in Neo’s lap just as Trinity ceased her tickling.

“Do you want to stay here longer to go to the market?”

“Can we stay a little longer?” Triton asked.

Trinity nodded, “Of course.”

“Come on.” Triton said, getting off of Neo’s lap and running to the play structure with his sister.

Neo moved behind Trinity so that she was sitting between his legs as they watched the kids, fingers entwined. She leaned back into his embrace, wrapping their conjoined hands around her middle. She sighed, feeling content for the first time that morning.

“I could get used to this.” Neo told her.

“We’ll be back on the Neb soon. Don’t get too attached.”

“I know. Just… someday. I can picture us sitting here, just like this. Little Qwerty running around.”

Trinity snorted and shook her head. “We are not naming a child Qwerty.”

“It’s clever!”

“All of the other kids will make fun of him.”

At that he sighed, slumping his shoulders. All the other kids would make fun of him. Suddenly, he popped back up. “I’ve got it!”

Trinity smiled, looking back at him. “I can guarantee you don’t.”

“Are you ready for this?”

“Not even a little bit.”

“Firewall.”

“Hell no.” She replied with a single shake of her head.

“Why not? We could nickname him Fire. Or her—it works for both genders.”

“Absolutely not. I’m vetoing Firewall.”

“You know, I’m noticing that you aren’t actually coming up with any names—just vetoing mine.”

She leaned back against Neo’s chest as she thought. She had formulated a list in her head already but none of them felt right to say aloud. Finally, she decided on a boy’s name.

“What about Alexander?”

“Not cool enough.”

“Alexander the Great was the most brilliant tactition the world has ever known. People still study his battle formations.”

Neo tilted his head from side to side, “It’s not a bad name it’s just… too common.”

“Alright. What about Draco?”

“Eh.”

“Artemis?”

“For a boy or a girl?”

“Either but probably a girl.”

Neo pondered it for a minute before shaking his head. “I like the name itself but the only nickname possibility is Artie. I don’t want to subject a child to that.”

“Fair point.”

Simultaneously, they both turned to look at the twins. Triton was chasing his sister around as she shrieked with laughter, running up to the top of the play structure and taking the slide down. Triton followed her path, running around with a grin on his face.

Neo pressed a kiss to her ear and whispered, “Someday.”

Trinity could only hope that he was right.

 

The marketplace was incredible. All sorts of wares were out on tables set up along the wall, separated by store doors to restaurants, cafes and even a bookstore. “Can we go there?” Neo asked, pointing at the bookstore.

“Sure.”

Neo had to duck to fit under the door with Triton on his shoulders. Hazel, on the other hand, was resting comfortably on Trinity’s hip with her head on her shoulder. “You guys want to look around?” Trinity asked them.

Hazel nodded, sleepily and Trinity set her on the ground. She rubbed at her eyes. It was not yet noon and Hazel was ready for bed already. Neo knelt down on the floor and Trinity picked Triton up off his shoulders and put him next to his sister.

“I’m going to take them to the children’s section.” She told Neo, “Why don’t you look around and catch up with us whenever you’re ready to check out.”

Neo nodded, bending down to give her a quick kiss. “Sounds good.” Another kiss. “I’ll see you soon.” A final kiss and Trinity lead the twins to the back of the store. He watched them until they disappeared behind a bookcase.

Smiling, he started to look around. The books were all old, many of them tattered and taped back together. It made sense—Morpheus had said that Zion had been around for more than a hundred years and Neo highly doubted that they had printing presses.

Neo pulled a random book of the shelf and opened the inside cover, flipping to the publication information. 2019.

He flipped the book over to read the description before putting it back on the shelf, uninterested. He walked down the shelf, his fingers skimming over the book’s edges, idly perusing the various titles. Some books he recognized, others he did not.

Struck with the urge for something familiar, Neo walked over to a store employee who was restocking the shelves.

“Excuse me,” Neo said, “Do you have anything by JRR Tolkien?”

The boy looked up from his crouched position, ready to stand up when he dropped the stack of books he was holding.

Immediately, Neo bent down to help pick up the books and handed them back. The kid was still staring up at him, open mouthed but managed to stutter out his thanks.

“So, uh, do you know if you have any Tolkien?”

The kid nodded, “I, uh, we, yeah. It’s, uh, I can show you?”

“That would be great.” Neo replied awkwardly, uncomfortable with the amount of scrutiny he was under.

The kid fumbled to put the books on the shelf before he started walking, incredibly tense, down a few rows of cases. He turned before pointing to the books, wordlessly on the shelf.

“Thanks.” Neo picked up a copy of The Two Towers, his favorite of the Lord of the Rings. Rather than the paintings of the towers, however, there was a blond man, aiming a bow.

There had been rumors that it would be made into a movie but that wasn’t supposed to happen until the early 2000’s. It must have happened in the real early 2000’s.

Perhaps there was a copy of it somewhere that he could watch. He knew from Tank that a lot of movies had been saved and downloaded to the computers in Zion. He made a mental note to ask Trinity about it later.

“You’re Him, aren’t you?”

Neo looked up from the book over to a young woman at the end of the aisle.

“I’m sorry?”

“You’re the One. I saw you last night, at the Temple.”

Neo nodded uncomfortably. “Yeah, I am.”

She looked him up and down, walking towards him slowly. “Everyone was expecting the Savior to be a kid. But, you’re all grown up, aren’t you?”

Discomfort intensifying.

“Uh, yeah.” Neo said, looking down at his book. Maybe if he ignored her, she would go away.

“And yet, still so young.”

But then, when had that ever worked.

“I bet there’s a lot that you don’t know about the real world. Maybe you someone to show you around…” She reached out to touch his arm but he side-stepped out of her reach.

“I’m all set, thanks.”

“But it must be so overwhelming. To know that you’re the only one who can save us. How do you release all that pressure?”

“I’m, uh, doing just fine.”

“Just fine? I’m sure you can do so much better.” Her gaze dropped to his pants before raising back up to his eyes, smirking.

“I’m not interested.” Neo said, setting the book back on the shelf and turning to leave.

She grabbed his arm, “Give me five minutes and I’m sure I can change your mind.”

Neo wrenched his arm back. “I’m not interested.”

“Right,” She said clearly not believing him, “I’m not interested either.”

“I’m with someone.”

Again, she moved forward to touch him. “They don’t have to know. It could be our secret.”

Neo shook his head, “I am not interested. I don’t know how else to say it so that you will understand.”

“Mhmm. Your mouth says no, but your eyes…”

“Also say no. Back off.”

“I like it when you order me around.”

Neo opened his mouth, completely confused about what to do. It wasn’t like he could hit her. And she clearly wasn’t taking no for an answer. Christ, he’d never had to deal with anyone hitting on him in the Matrix.

Jesus Christ.

“Okay,” He said, knowing that his approach of direct refusal wasn’t going to work. “Meet me in the bathroom in five minutes.”

She smiled, coyly. “I’ll see you there.” And then she walked down the isle and went out of sight.

Immediately, Neo started moving as fast as he could without running. He followed signs that led to the Children’s Books in the back of the store. Trinity was sitting on the floor, the twins in her lap, reading aloud.

If he wasn’t in such a hurry to get the hell out of dodge he would have watched.

Instead, he walked right up to them and picked Triton up off her lap.

“Hey—”

“We need to go.” Neo told her seriously.

She looked at him questioningly but stood up, Hazel in her arms, nonetheless. The book she had been reading was dropped on the floor and she followed Neo out of the store.

“So, where’s a good place for lunch?”

“Arbo’s!” Hazel shouted, pointing at a restaurant across the way.

“Great.” Neo murmured, weaving through the crowd to the restaurant, quickly shuffling them through the door.

“Welcome to Arbo’s. How many in your part…” The hostesses question stopped as she took in Neo’s appearance.

“Four.” Trinity said, loudly enough to snap her out of it without getting attention from the other patrons. “And could we get a booth?”

“Yeah, uh, follow me.” She led them through the dining room and to a booth in the back. Trinity sat Hazel down on one side before taking Triton from Neo and placing him next to his sister.

“Um, Aspen will be your server. He’ll be out in a few… minutes.” She nodded before turning on her heel and walking away.

“Christ.” Neo said, sitting on the bench seat and scooting down to make room for Trinity.

“What happened?” She asked Neo quietly as the twins played one of the games on back of the menu.

“I, uh, there was a, and then, I, um…”

“How are those words working for you?”

“Not well.” Neo sighed, “There… when I was looking through the books, a woman came up and tried to hit on me.”

“Were you interested?” Trinity dead panned.

“What! No! Of course not!”

Trinity laughed, no longer able to keep up her stoic expression. “You should see your face.”

“Ha ha.” Neo said sliding an arm around her waist and pulling her up against him, “Very funny.”

“I’m sorry.” She said, still smiling. “You just looked so terrified.”

“I was terrified. She did not take no for an answer!”

“So, how’d you get away?”

Neo glanced to the twins to make sure they weren’t listening. “I, uh, might have told her to meet me in the bathroom in five minutes.”

Trinity tried to fight the laughter, she really did. Instead, however, she fell into hysterics, keeping a hand over her mouth to keep quiet.

“It’s not funny!” Neo insisted, “That girl was fuc—really crazy. I am legitimately afraid of her.”

Trinity leaned into him, her head resting on his shoulder. “Don’t worry.” Her arms slipped around him, “I’ll protect you.”

Neo smiled, tightening his grip on her. They were always trying to get closer. Touching and leaning against each other was never enough. With his spare hand, he caught her chin and angled her face up so that he could kiss her.

“EW!” Hazel and Triton complained causing the couple to break apart, smiling.

“You two are no fun.” Neo told them with a mock glare.

The twins giggled at that.

 “Do you two know what you want?” She asked the twins.

“Macaroni and cheese.” Hazel said, very confident with her decision.

“Me, too.”

“There’s mac and cheese?” Neo said, perusing the menu with a new purpose.

“You don’t want it.” Trinity said quietly.

“Why not?”

Trinity paused, trying to find the words to phrase the issue with macaroni and cheese. He looked so forlorn when she told him he didn’t want it, she almost considered just letting him and dealing with the consequences later.

“There’s no livestock in Zion.”

“So?” He didn’t get it.

“So, there are no cows or goats or any animals to produce milk.”

His face scrunched up in confusion. “How do they make it, then?”

“By using the only thing in Zion that can make milk.”

“But you said there was no livestock.”

“There isn’t.”

“Then what produces it?”

“Please don’t make me say it out loud.”

He gazed at nothing, trying to make sense of what she was saying. He looked back at her, shaking his head. “I got nothing.”

“Jesus Christ.” She held his gaze before, very purposely, dropping it to her chest.

Neo followed her gaze, still confused until… there it was. He stared at her, mouth agape. “No.”

“Yup.”

“No.”

Trinity nodded. “It’s a high paying profession. Wet nurses for the Age of Zion.”

“And they make cheese out of it?”

“Mhmm.”

Neo looked back at the menu, disgusted. “That’s not right.”

It was a little thing, really. Such a small thing, that he didn’t want to eat cheese that came from breast milk. But adding the attention that followed him everywhere, adding the fact that he couldn’t go to the park with Trinity without having people pointing, adding the fact that Tank was down to his last hours… it was too much.

Neo took a deep breath. They’d eat and then he’d see if they could just take the twins back to their place. They could at least breathe if they went home.

 

Neo was wrong. Very, very wrong.

Trinity and the kids, both getting tired, had no problem with heading back to the apartment. Stares had stuck to them until they reached the elevators.

And then they hit their level.

At least a hundred citizens of Zion were waiting for him on the deck, holding baskets and calling out his name.

“Oh hell.” Trinity muttered, “Neo, pick-up Triton. Stay close to me.”

She, herself, picked up Hazel.

“Why are there so many people, Aunt Trinity?”

“I’ll tell you in a minute, honey.”

Trinity walked out of the elevator, quickly, holding Hazel’s head against her neck so that the girl could see much. Carrying Triton in a similar manner, Neo stayed directly behind her, ignoring the requests for his presence or offering quick apologies as he rushed to his room.

Trinity squeezed through to the door and set Hazel on the ground, unlocking the door and pushing it open. She made sure the kids and Neo were in the room first before going in herself and locking the door behind them.

“Dammit.” Neo leaned against the door, pale.

“Aunt Trinity, why were…”

“Later, Hazel.” She said walking over to a desk and pulling a small tablet off it. She handed it to the little girl. “Why don’t you find something to watch? Neo and I will be over in a little bit.”

Hazel and Triton ran over to the bed while Trinity led Neo into the kitchen, holding onto his hand. He ran his spare through his cropped hair. “Jesus, Trin.”

“I know.”

“Outside of our apartment? How—how are we supposed to leave?”

She grimaced, “We’ll figure it out.”

“We shouldn’t have to figure it out! We should be able to walked down the street without being stared at. We should be able to eat out without the staff freaking out. We should be able to walk to our goddamn apartment without having to fight our way through a crowd!”

“You’re right, we should. But, unfortunately, this is the reality that we’re facing right now. So we need to find a way to deal with it.”

“I’m good with not leaving the apartment again.”

Trinity smiled, shaking her head. “You know that we’ll have to.”

“Not really. We have food and running water. Theoretically, we could stay in here forever.”

Trinity crossed over to where Neo said and slid her arms around his middle. He copied her motions, holding her against him tightly. “This is fucked up.”

“I know.”

“What am supposed to do?”

She pulled back slightly so that she could see his face. “You’re going to get on with your life. Push through the crowds when you have to, talk to them when you have time. Do your job. And then come home to me.”

The corner of his mouth twitched. “That doesn’t sound too bad.”

“It won’t be.” She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him, sucking his lower lip into her mouth. “We’re going to be okay.”

“That much I know.” He pushed a lock of hair out of her face, watching her with a smile. “I could stare at you forever.”

The shrill ring of the phone filled the air and Neo sighed, “Or I could answer the phone.”

“I’ve got it.” Trinity said, giving him a quick kiss on the lips. “Can you check on the kids?”

Neo nodded and left the kitchen.

The kids were sitting on their bed, the flat computer playing a cartoon in front of them. He crossed the room and sat on the edge of the bed, next to Triton. “What is that?”

He asked, pointing at it.

“Its Carnival Town.” Hazel told him.

“But what’s it playing on?”

“Tablet.” Answered Triton, without taking his eyes away from the show.

“It’s so small.” He reached out and touched the edge of the screen and the show stopped, pause lines appearing over the images. “Whoa!”

“Hey!” Hazel said, “We were watching that!”

“Sorry. I've never seen one of these before.”

“You don’t have one?”

Neo shook his head, “I’ve only been in Zion for a few days.”

“Did Aunt Trinity take you out of the computer?” Triton asked.

“The Matrix? Yeah, she did.”

“Is that why your hair is so fuzzy?” Hazel asked, crawling over to Neo’s lap and petting his hair.

“Fuzzy?”

The little girl nodded, “It’s fuzzy. Like a teddy bear.”

“I’m not fuzzy.”

“Uh huh.”

“Uh uh.”

“Uh huh.”

“Uh uh.”

“Uh huh!”

“Uh uh!”

Trinity cleared her throat from behind them. Neo turned, holding Hazel steady. Trinity gestured with her head back to the kitchen.

Neo set Hazel down. “I’ll be back in a bit.”

They started their show back up as Neo went into the kitchen. She closed the curtain behind him.

“He’s dead.” Trinity said flatly, not making eye contact.

Neo let out a long breath, closing the distance between them. She wasn’t moving so he just wrapped his arms around her and held her. She was shaking, trying to keep it together.

“Let it out.” He whispered.

Trinity shook her head and whispered, “I can’t” even as her voice broke.

Neo ran a steady hand up and down her back. “The kids are watching their show, they won’t even notice we’re gone. It’s just us.”

A sob broke lose and she started to cry, her hands grasping at his shirt for support. Neo adjusted his arms so that they were lower on her body, giving him access to pick her up. Slowly, he moved to one of the two chairs at the counter.

Sitting down, he moved her slightly so that he was better able to cradle her body. Her head rested on his shoulder and he could already feel his shirt growing damp with her tears.

Again, he cursed Cypher. For killing half the crew in one go, for hurting Tank so badly that he suffered for days, fighting before he finally succumbed to the same fate as his brother. But, as horrible as it sounded, he hated Cypher most for making Trinity cry.

He had taken away her friends, taunting her while he did it. Even from the dead, he was still taking away the people that she loved.

It didn’t take too long for the tears to subside and after just a few minutes her breathing was under control.

She lifted her head, slightly, before pressing an open mouthed kiss to Neo’s neck.

“Trinity…” he whispered, uncertain.

She didn’t respond verbally as she kissed him, her tongue quickly found its way into his mouth. She gripped both arms of the chair before pushing herself up into the air, spreading her legs to straddle Neo. Her hips began moving against him in all the right ways and it was all he could do not the moan.

“Trin…” He repeated, “We can’t.”

“We can.” She insisted.

“You’re vulnerable right now. It would be taking advantage...”

She shook her head, “I’m not a child, I’m not inebriated. I am perfectly capable of making decisions. Now fuck me!”

“The kids could come in any minute…”

“The kids are watching their show.” She reminded him, diving into kiss him. When he didn’t kiss back, she pulled away to look into his eyes to plead with him, “Please Neo. I need this.” She shifted her hips again, rocking into him, “I need you.”

He swallowed, trying to stop himself from rutting against her. “You’re sure?”

“Yes!”

“You’ll have to be quiet.”

“Fine.”

Neo set a hand under both her thighs before hiking Trinity up to his hips so that he could stand. He set her on the edge of the counter, slightly above him.

Trinity leaned forward, undoing the rope belt and pushing his pants down.

“Hands on my shoulders.” Neo ordered, lifting her up slightly so that he could yank off her bottoms, letting both pants and underwear drop to the floor.

She reached for his face, pulling his head up to kiss her. When his tongue hit hers, she wrapped one arm around his neck and let the other one drift south. Trinity’s hand wrapped around his cock, gently stroking it before wrapping her legs loosely around his hips and angling him towards her core.

Christ, she wasn’t messing around. Neo pulled her off the counter and onto him, leaning her lower back against the counter. Slowly, he rocked against her, diving in and out.

“Faster.” Trinity commanded, using her legs to pull him closer.

He increased his speed, tightening his grip on her. Neo reached up for her mouth with his own and frantically kissed her. Everything was so desperate, so fast that they could barely keep their heads in one place for long before angling in another direction.

Moans were suppressed with the knowledge that they weren’t as alone as they’d like to be at that moment in time. Trinity was forced to swallow a gasp as Neo changed the trajectory of his hips ever so slightly, causing her to tighten around him.

Her arms moved up around his neck, pulling them as close as they could get with their sweaters still on. She felt herself spasm against him, groaning quietly into his mouth as she came. Neo followed suit as she contracted around him, heels digging into his thighs.

Trinity kept rocking against him, riding out the aftershocks.

She opened her eyes, the lids hooded, and smiled. Her breathing was heavy but she didn’t care, kissing Neo gently before unwrapping her legs from him and setting them on the ground.

“Thank you.” She whispered.

He kissed her in response. “We should get dressed.”

She laughed softly, taking her teeth and grazing them along his lower lip. “I love you.”

“I love you.” He whispered, “Now get dressed. I’ll check on the kids.”

He tugged his own pants back up and grabbed the belt off the counter, threading it through the loops as he walked back through the curtains that separated the kitchen from the rest of the apartment.

As he had suspected, the kids were still watching their cartoon. For them, everything was still right in the world even as it was collapsing around their loved ones.

He didn’t envy Cass the days to come when the kids finally understood that Daddy wasn’t coming home and that Uncle Tank hadn’t lasted a week after Cypher’s attack.

Watching from a short distance, Neo reaffirmed his promise to Tank. Hazel and Triton would never see the war. He was going to fucking end it.

Chapter Text

Evening Out

Trinity sat at the table, a coin dancing across her knuckles as she had done for the twins earlier that day.

"Where'd you learn it?" Neo asked quietly, taking a seat next to her.

It was just after eight and they had settled the twins down for bed. Cass would be by to pick them up later but she was still making arrangements, along with Zee.

They wanted the funeral held the next afternoon before Dozer's body started to decompose.

"When are the other funerals?" Neo had asked trying to sound as gentle as possible.

"The others won't have funerals."

"What?"

Trinity shrugged, face blank. "It's how it is in Zion. Most soldiers are pod-borns fresh from the Academy. They stay on one ship, maybe two until they die. They don't have families or friends apart from those they serve with."

"What happens to them?"

"Cremation. Ashes are recycled however Zion see fit."

Trinity smiled, "Apoc. He always carried coins in his pockets, they were all over his room. It used to drive Switch nuts." She laughed, softly, before looking back at Neo. "The first time I went into the Matrix, on a mission, it was a disaster. We were collecting a drop from the Vigilant—they had left a package at a random post office in Chicago. Agents got wind of it, set up a sting."

She paused, looking down."Eight fucking SWAT teams— it was a bloodbath. Six went in, three came out. Morpheus, Apoc and I were the only ones who survived. There were just so many of them, there was nothing we could do. But I was so calm. Unbelievably calm—I had never felt so relaxed and in control than I did with a dead man's MP5 in my hand.

"When we got back to the ship, Morpheus and Dodson—she was the Operator before Tank—started telling me how great I did. That I handled the situation calmly, rationally and without error." She paused again, watching the coin roll across her knuckles. "I was afraid that I was becoming a machine. I was born from one, I had eletrical plugs all over my body and I could be inserted into a computer. I just—I didn't feel human.

"Apoc, he knew. Saw it in my face, I guess, and showed up to my cabin later with a small bag filled with these coins. And showed me the coin trick and told me I was going to learn it. He told me that he knew how I felt and that, when he was first unplugged, he felt the same way. And he said that the fact I was worried about it was as much proof as I needed to being human.

"He handed me one of the disks and said, 'Machines don't feel. Not the cold metal against their skin or the anger and frustration that will come every time you drop it. They don't feel the excitement when you start to get it and the pride when you realize that you learned something yourself.'"

The coin reached her pinky and she let it slip through her fingers, catching it immediately. "Just a coin—a thin scrap of metal welded down to a circle. But it keeps me human."

Neo reached for the hand not holding the coin. How was it that she could be so perfect?

She was level-headed and down-to-earth without sacrificing idealism. She had a gentle wisdom about her. He could see it every time he looked in her bright blue eyes. Her patience with the kids, hell—her patience with him was extraordinary.

That was as far as he got before he felt the overwhelming urge to kiss her. And there was so much more to her—her intellect, her ability to take control of a situation, her dry sense of humor and the strange things that would make her laugh. Her fucking looks. Christ, Trinity was gorgeous.

And she was his.

Or he was hers.

He liked to think it was a bit off both. They belonged to each other.

Neo edged his chair closer to hers, leaning forward to kiss her and…

Three succinct knocks echoed on their metal door. Trinity fought a sigh. There was no way it was Cass, not yet. And frankly, there was no one else she wanted to see.

She squeezed Neo's hand before standing up and going to the door and peaking through the peephole. Ghost and Sparks. The crowd from earlier in the day had mostly dissipated.

She undid the lock and opened it, just as Sparks was about to start knocking again.

She opened her mouth to tell them to keep it down, that the twins were asleep just a few yards off but she was unable to speak at the sight that greeted her.

Yes, most of the crowd had vanished although a few stragglers were still waiting patiently outside their door. But the floor all the way around their apartment was stacked with baskets upon baskets. Food, cloths, trinkets.

"Oh fuck."

"Can I steal some of that bread?" Sparks asked, gesturing at one of the closest baskets, stacked at waist level.

"Fuck!" She repeated.

"What?" Neo asked from the table.

"Trust me. You don't want to know."

He stood up and walked over to her, looping an arm around her waist and, "Jesus Christ. What the… how…?"

Trinity shook her head and moved to the side, "We'll deal with it later. Come on in."

"I wasn't kidding about the bread." Sparks commented, stepping into the apartment.

Trinity shushed him, "We just go the twins down to sleep."

"Hazel and Triton?" Ghost asked.

She nodded, "Cass is pretty swamped right now so we took them for the day."

"Playing house?" Sparks asked, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

She rolled her eyes and led them into the kitchen, smiling to herself as she glanced at the counter. She could feel Neo's smirk behind so she walked up to it, turned to face the guys and used her arms to hike herself to sit on top of the counter.

"How long do you have the kids?" Ghost asked, staring directly at her.

"Don't know. Cass said she'd get here when she could but it would probably be later. Why?"

"Because we are going to get fucking trashed!" He sang the last part, "Wanted to see if you guys wanted to come with us."

"I need to stay here with the kids but," She looked to Neo, "Why don't you go?"

He narrowed his eyes slightly, cocking his head to the side, "I don't mind staying here with the kids."

"They're asleep. Both of us don't need to be here."

It wasn't a suggestion, Neo noted looking into her eyes. It was a request. Go out with the guys, get drunk with my brother. Bond.

Despite wanting to stay with her, Neo nodded, "Alright. That sounds great."

She rewarded him with a soft smile. Thank you.

"Good." Sparks said with a nod, "Trinity, where do you keep your liquor?"

Trinity tilted her head in exasperation. "You don't have alcohol?"

"I have plenty of alcohol. Mostly cheap shit. I know you got some good stuff up in here."

Trinity slid off the counter, rolling her eyes. She went to a cabinet across the way. "Scotch, vodka or whiskey?"

"How old's the whiskey?"

"Older than you."

"Sold!"

Trinity grabbed a large bottle of whiskey and handed it to Sparks. Reaching up on her tiptoes, she gave Neo a short kiss. "Have fun."

"I will." He promised, giving her another quick kiss.

"Ewww." Sparks stretched out. "Don't be mushy."

Trinity rolled her eyes, giving Neo a slight nudge to follow Ghost and Sparks. Neo quickly threw on his too-big boots and, with a final kiss goodbye, left the apartment. He visibly stiffened as the few stragglers vied for his attention and he walked around the piles of goods left for him.

"Has it been like this all day?"

"Yeah," Neo sighed out.

"Must piss Trinity off." Ghost commented.

"She deals with better than I do, to be honest. She's much more patient."

"Perhaps, but I don't imagine she's happy with it."

Neo glanced down at the ground as they walked towards the elevators. He already knew that their situation in Zion wasn't ideal. They had to fight for just a few hours of time, had to fight to be together. And now they were the focus of the entire city, it seemed.

"No." Neo agreed, "Not happy. We can't eat out or sit in the park without being stared at. We had to fight through crowds to get home today. But she's very understanding—to me, to the people staring. Hell, to the woman who tried to molest me."

"Wait, what?" Sparks asked, suddenly finding the conversation interesting again.

"Uh, earlier today we took the kids to the Market. We went to this bookstore and Trin took the kids to the back to look at the children's books. And, while I was looking around this woman, she—uh, kept trying to hit on me."

"And Trinity was understanding?"

Neo nodded, "I mean, she thought it was hilarious but yeah."

"Hilarious?"

They reached the elevator door and Ghost hit the button calling it to their level.

"Yeah. Laughed about it for a good ten minutes."

"She wasn't pissed?" Sparks asked, growing more surprised by the second.

Neo shrugged as the door opened and they stepped inside, "Why would she be? She knows that I love her. That I don't want to be with anyone but her."

"So, all the girls in Zion want you and you don't care?"

"Not all the girls in Zion…"

"Last night, I had girls coming up to me asking if I could introduce them to you." Sparks face lit up as an idea popped into his head, "You could send all the girls you reject to me!"

Neo paused, thinking that out. "You want me to pimp out girls to you?"

"You'll learn very quickly that Sparks lacks class." Ghost casually commented as the doors opened on a new level and they exited.

"Hey, I'm deployed for months at a time and the only woman I get to see is Niobe. I need to take what I can get when I can fucking get it."

"That's gross, Sparks."

"I am what I am and I do who I can."

They stopped in front of a metal door that Sparks opened with a key.

The apartment was similar to his and Trinity's. There was a table on the same wall as the door, pushed into the corner. It was pulled out slightly to accommodate four chairs. A tower of various alcohols were in the middle of the table and four shot glasses were stationed at each seat.

"Make yourselves at home." Sparks said, plopping down in one of the chairs and setting the bottle of whiskey on the table. "What a fucking day."

"Everyone has their time." Ghost said, sitting next to him.

"That's bullshit." Sparks said shaking his head. "He didn't deserve to die. None of them did."

He opened the whiskey and began to fill the shot glasses. Neo walked over and took a seat next to Ghost, across from Sparks.

"Who died first?" Sparks asked after filling all their glasses.

"Mouse." Neo said, remembering the screams and the gunfire.

"To Mouse." Sparks and Ghost said together, raising their glasses.

Neo hurried to catch up with a delayed, "To Mouse" before downing the glass. It scorched his throat. Mouse hadn't even been old enough to drink, by Matrix standards.

"I'm going to miss that little pervert." Sparks said with a bittersweet smile and a sigh. "Alright. Who was next?"

"Dozer."

"To Dozer!" The three said, lifting their glasses. Another shot down. Was the room getting warmer? Jesus, that stuff worked fast.

"Apoc." Neo said without being asked. Apoc's death had been one of the worst. Trinity had been trying to talk down Cypher when all of the sudden she turned to look at Apoc, fear visible in eyes. Neo had been so confused, barely understanding what was going on. And then the plug was pulled and he was dead.

"To Apoc!"

"Switch." Her death tied with Apoc's for the worst. Kneeling next to her dead lover's body, knowing that she was about to meet the same fate. Begging for another ending, to have her death mean something.

"To Switch!"

Neo felt his shoulders slump as he reached for the last glass. He raised it slowly as they solemnly said their goodbyes to Tank.

"To Tank."

The glasses chinked and they downed the last shot.

"Trinity nearly died." Neo commented as Sparks poured out another round. "When Cypher gave us up. He got back to the Neb and pulled the plug on everyone else." He swallowed the first shot before Sparks had finished filling Neo's next glass. "She jumped out a freaking helicopter!"

"For real?" Sparks asked, words starting to slur.

Neo nodded starting to feel the effects of the shots kicking in, "Yeah. And then, an Agent shot at her just as she picked up the phone. And then," Neo informed them, "The sentinels attacked us. It was this close," He held out his hands about eighteen inches apart. "Could have killed her."

"It didn't." Ghost said.

"But it could have. I don't want to lose her."

"Yeah. Trinity's fucking hot."

"B-be respectful! That's my-my… what's'it called?"

"Girlfriend."

"No." Neo shook his head, "That's not it. She's more 'en that."

"Lover?"

Again, he shook his head and slurred out, "Not enough. Know what she is? She's everything." He banged the table with his fist. "Tomorrow we've been together a week."

"You should get her a present. Chicks dig that shit, when you do the thing… the remembering."

Neo gasped in surprise, "That's a goood idea. What do girls like?"

"Jewelry?"

"Wouldn't wear it. Would get in the way of work."

"Flowers?"

"Flowers die." Neo explained, solemnly. "S'gotta be better than that."

"Well, wha'does she like?" Sparks asked, taking a swig from the bottle to finish it.

"Weapons." Ghost mumbled, sipping at his latest shot. "She likes sharp things. 'Nd loud things."

Neo shook his head, "Weapons don't say I love you." He turned to look at Sparks, "I think I might throw up."

Sparks tossed his arm in the air and pointed at the door to the bathroom. "Toilet."

Neo nodded and rose to his feet, feeling a little unsteady. He stumbled his way to the bathroom before falling to his knees and losing the contents of his stomach.

He wiped his mouth with his sleeve, sure that he was done throwing up. He used the sink to gain some leverage standing up and he made his way back to the table. Sparks was on his third line of shots.

"Can't hold your liquor, Messiah?"

Neo collapsed back into his chair, "Haven't exactly had the time to build a tolerance."

"Cause you've been busy with Trin-i-ty." Sparks sang, "Neo and Trinity, sitting in a tree. K-i-s-s-i… what comes after I?"

"J." Said Ghost, knowingly.

"That can't be right. There's no juh in kissing."

"H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P."

"He can still say the alphabet!" Sparks cried, opening one of his own bottles of whiskey. "We need more alcohol!"

"S'a bad idea." Neo commented.

"Prob-ley." Sparks agreed. "Here's t'bad ideas."

He raised his glass in toast. Neo and Ghost copied his motions and they all downed the shot. It burned on Neo's throat after vomiting but he was getting to the point where he didn't care.

"Another!"

Neo shook his head. "Don't want to go home too-too drunk."

"She'll make you sleep on the couch?"

"Don't have a couch. Think we're going shopping for one soon." Neo sat up a little straighter, "I could get her a couch for our week-iversery."

Sparks scrunched up his face and shook his head. "No good. Women… they like to make those kinds of d-decisions. Pick the wrong pattern, you'll never hear the end o' it."

Neo nodded, solemnly. "I don't want that." He sighed, "This is hard. Nothin' seems good enough."

"Okay." Sparks sat up straighter. "What's the cry-cri-cra-cry…"

"Criteria." Ghost mumbled.

"Cry-tear-ee-ah." Sparks repeated.

"Somethin' to tell her that I love her. That she's everything to me." He paused, another idea popping into his mind. "I've got a really good idea!"

Neo woke up wincing. Jesus Christ, his head hurt. He reached up to rub his temples, hoping it would ease the pounding in his head. It didn't.

"Morning." Trinity said, sitting on the opposite side of the bed, leaning against the curved wall with a book in her hands.

Neo groaned as he pulled himself up to a sitting position. "Fucking hell."

"Did you at least have fun?" She asked, grinning as she set down the book.

"I…" He stopped, wracking his memory. "I don't remember much. Jesus, I hurt everywhere."

"How much did you drink?"

"A lot. When did I get home?"

She tried to contain a smile at that before replying, "You and Spark stumbled in a little after three, completely wasted. You proceeded to sing "The Unicorn Song." Twice. At that point, I called Niobe to come and deal with Sparks."

"Tell me, at least, the kids weren't there."

"Cass picked them up around ten."

"Thank god."

She was grinning, now, "I'm not even done yet."

"Jesus."

"While waiting for Niobe, you two decided to have a contest on who was stronger. You two attempted to do push-ups but were both so inebriated you kept landing on the floor. You, then, tried to convince me to let you bench press me. I told you that I'd let you try if you could walk in a straight line. You took two steps and fell over. At that point, Niobe got here and took Sparks back to his apartment."

"Fuck."

"Still not done." She said with a smirk. "It was then that you decided we should get a puppy. I told you that we couldn't have animals on hovercrafts. That was when you entered the five stages of grief. Denial: You insisted that I had to be wrong, that maybe an exception could be made because we really, really wanted a dog. Anger: You said that the Council should go fuck themselves. That a dog isn't too much to ask for. Bargaining: You tried to convince me that we could keep the dog in secret and that no one would ever know we had it. Depression: You sank down onto the floor and pouted for about five minutes, mumbling about how all you wanted was a dog. And Acceptance: You, grudgingly said 'fine' and that we could wait to get a dog until the war was over. Then you climbed on to the bed and passed out."

Neo let out a long breath, still feeling a bit sick to his stomach. And he hurt all over, especially his chest.

"I'm never getting drunk again."

Trinity closed her lips, tightly, trying hard not to laugh.

"What?" He asked, "That was it, right?"

"Oh, you wish."

"What does that mean?"

Trinity swung her legs off the bed and walked over to a brown paper bag on the table.

"You guys showed up with this. I figured it was Sparks replacing the whiskey he took because of the bag so I went to put it away after you fell asleep."

"What is it?"

She pulled a bottle out of the bag that was filled with a translucent liquid. "It's an ointment that, apparently, should be applied to your new tattoo every four to six hours for the next week."

His mouth dropped open at the news. He started searching his mind for any memories from the night before. They had toasted their fallen comrades. They talked about Trinity. He threw up. They talked about Trinity some more.

Had he almost bought a couch?

No, that couldn't be right.

Wait. He had been trying to think of a present to get her for their first week together.

"Something to tell her that I love her. That she's everything to me… I've got a really good idea!"

"What?"

"Do they have those places in Zion… with the," He pounded on his arm with the opposite hand, "The ink, tattoos!"

Sparks had lit up with excitement. "Yes!"

"We need to go t'one." He had slurred out, rising to his feet.

Neo's eyes widened at the memory. That couldn't have happened, right?

But even as he thought it, he could feel the soreness and dull ache on his chest. Slowly, he reached for his collar and pulled the shirt forward so that he could peak down.

And there it was.

He let go of the fabric, letting it rebound before looking back at Trinity.

"Funny story…"

"I'll bet."

"It seemed like a really good idea at the time."

"Jesus, how bad is it?"

"Come here." He replied, gesturing for her to come back to bed.

She walked over, warily, and threw a leg over his to straddle him. Trinity reached for the hem of his sweater, "Let me see it."

He caught her hand. "I feel like there should be some kind of explanation."

"What is it?" She asked, dropping the ointment and using her other hand to try and get his sweater off. He caught that one as well, intertwining both their fingers together. She laughed pushing his hands back. "Come on! It can't be that bad."

"Not bad, per se. Just… an idea that seemed genius last night… well, I realize now that it might now have the desired effect."

"The desired effect being…?"

He opened his mouth but was at a loss for words. The desired effect had been to show her how much he loved her, how much she meant to him. But what if she took it the wrong way? Thought he was going overboard or that he went too far, too soon?

Neo looked at her, positioned slightly above him. Her hair was brushed away from her gorgeous blue eyes. She was wearing her devil-may-care smile as his thumbs ran across hers.

"Do you know how much I love you?" He asked softly, staring up at her.

Her tongue darted out across her lower lip and she nodded, "Yes."

"I want you to keep that in mind when I show you this."

She laughed, letting go of his hands so that he could pull the sweater and undershirt off with one go.

He set them to the side, gauging her reaction as she saw the large triquetra tattooed just above his heart. The corner of her mouth quirked up in a smile before she forced it back down in a straight line again, blinking furiously. She shook her head and looked back up at him.

"You know you're an idiot." She whispered.

He nodded, "Oh, yeah. That's been established."

She laughed shakily. Neo leaned forward and kissed her, slipping his tongue between her lips, fighting a groan at the taste of her. How was it possible for someone to be so perfect?

Trinity moved up his legs until she was pressed against him, careful to lean just right of his tattoo as an arm wrapped around his neck. She grazed her teeth along his tongue as he pulled out of her mouth to nibble on her lips.

Trinity's mouth slid over to his jaw, pressing kisses until she reached the end. Her mouth slid to his neck while a hand held his head in place as she grazed the tender skin with her teeth. Neo groaned, tilting his head to the side, both to give her better access and to reach her neck.

Like a couple of fucking teenagers… Neo thought as they necked. Except he'd never actually done anything like this as a teenager. He chuckled at the absurdity, the cool air on Trinity's wet skin made her shiver.

He grasped the back of her head and angled her mouth to his own. An orally fixated attack that only ended when the fear of asphyxiation took over. They broke apart, breathing heavily. Their noses were touching, neither willing to pull away from the other.

"You taste like cheap whiskey." Trinity informed him, her voice low.

"You taste like heaven." He replied, nipping at her lips.

He could feel her lips turn in a smile against his.

Is this real? Neo wondered. Was this magnificent woman really sitting in his lap, kissing his lips, breathing his air?

Every sense he had told her she was. He could see her in front of him. Could feel her arms around his neck. He could smell the scent of smoke and dust that was so very Trinity, with a hint of a sweet soap on her skin. Her could hear every breath she took and damned if he could still taste her on his tongue.

She was the only thing that felt real, both in the Zion and in the Matrix.

Neo smiled, kissing her again. Because he could. Because she was real and she was right in front of him.

Trinity pulled away with a sigh, "We should really get up."

"Should we really, though? There's still a lot to be done in this bed."

"Like what?"

"If you're honestly asking me that question, we need to work on your creativity."

Trinity rolled her eyes and climbed off of his lap. "Come on."

Grudgingly he did so, taking the bottle of ointment with him. "I'm going to wash up."

"I'll get lunch ready."

"Lunch?"

"It's nearly noon."

"Seriously?"

"Mhmm."

He groaned, heading towards the bathroom. His stomach was feeling much less queasy although his head still hurt a bit.

Neo showered quickly, desperate to feel somewhat human again after his mad night out. The water pressure made his tattoo sting but he couldn't bring himself to care after the reaction he had gotten from Trinity.

Smiling to himself, he shut the water off and reached for his towel. He wrapped it around his hips and went to brush his teeth.

There was a knock on the door and then Trinity pushed it open. "I grabbed some dark clothes for you. For the," She shifted uncomfortably.

"The funeral." Neo finished.

She nodded, handing him the clothes. He took them, setting them on the counter before pulling her fully into the room to hug her.

"Neo, no!" She complained, although a smile was on her face, 'You're going to get me wet!"

"That's usually the idea."

Trinity laughed, reaching up to give him a kiss. "Get dressed."

"That seems less than productive."

She rolled her eyes and left the room, closing the door behind him.

Neo quickly applied the ointment to the tattoo before quickly throwing some clothes on. He checked the mirror quickly before heading out to get food.

As promised, it was already on the table. Trinity was playing with her spoon, not really interested in the food in front of her.

He took her spare hand, which was resting on the table, and sat down next to her. She looked up, meeting his steady gaze.

It'll be okay.

Trinity gave a half-hearted attempt at a smile. I know.

Neo let go of her hand and moved his chair so that it was pressed against Trinity's. He moved his bowl over, slightly, and had a seat next to her. He wrapped an arm around her and she relaxed into him, letting out a long breath.

"We're going to end this, Trinity. I swear."

A small smile appeared but at least this one was real.

Chapter Text

They arrived half an hour early. The room itself resembled a small church. There were ten sets of pews on either side of an aisle. An overwhelming scent of flowers filled the air to cover the stench of the two bodies covered by black sheets in the front of the room.

Zee, Link, Cass, the kids and an elderly woman who strongly resembled both Tank and Dozer were in to the side of the tables.

Hazel let go of Cass’s hand the second they entered the door, screaming, “Neo!” and rushing towards them.

Neo bent down and caught her just as she jumped for him. “Hey trouble.”

“I missed you, Neo.”

“What about me?” Trinity asked, pretending to be hurt. “Yesterday, I was the favorite.”

“Neo’s taller.” Hazel explained.

Neo let out a laugh as he stood up, still holding on to Hazel. “She’s got you there.”

“It’s okay, Auntie Trin. You can still grow.”

Neo smirked but Trinity missed it. Morpheus was across the room, purposefully catching her gaze and motioning for her to come over.

“I need to talk to Morpheus.” Trinity told Neo, “You’ve got her?”

Neo glanced to Hazel. “What do you think, kid? I got you?”

“Nuh-uh.”

“Yeah huh.”

“Nuh-uh.”

“Yeah huh.”

Trinity smiled, giving Neo a quick kiss before walking over to her Captain.

“Morpheus.”

“We’re experiencing some difficulties getting the Nebuchadnezzar cleared.”

“The Council?”

“Lock. He’s currently refusing to give us an Operator. Apparently, we’re the most reckless crew in Zion.”

“You don’t win wars by playing it safe.” She paused, “Is this going to be a long term problem?”

“I don’t know. I’m hoping to talk to the Council and see if we can’t use Neo as leverage for us to have a new Operator as soon as possible.”

“He’s not a bargaining chip, Morpheus.”

“No. He’s the One.” Morpheus said as if it was all so simple. “The most important man in all of existence and the savior of humanity.”

“That’s his job. It isn't who he is.”

“Trinity, look around you. Did you notice how many people are here?”

She looked around the room. She expected to see their family and friends. Possibly even other soldiers of the same position, out of respect. They were all there, of course. As were tens of others. Probably even a hundred. And was that Councilor Dillard talking to Cass? And Hamann and West speaking with Link? None of them knew any of the Dumas’s.

The funeral wasn’t even supposed to start for twenty some-odd minutes.

“They’re here for Neo.” He told her. “Because they all believe that he will save us.”

Trinity looked away, anger boiling below the surface. She knew that releasing it would only cause a scene—the last thing needed at the funeral of her friends but how fucking dare they? How could these people show up to a funeral because they wanted to catch a glimpse of the One.

“You went to the park yesterday, the one near the gym where you work out. I know this because there are pictures of the two of you sitting on a bench, playing with the kids and sitting on a hill all over the internet. Several of those have already been turned into posters that you are set to be released next Friday.”

Trinity shifted uncomfortably. “We can probably talk to lawyers…”

“You could but it won’t do any good. He’s the One and you’re the woman who brought him back from the dead. I know you don’t like it but that fact can be used to our advantage.”

Trinity felt a hand on her back and she turned her head to Kali. “Sorry for interrupting, but it looks like your boyfriend needs some help.”

Trinity looked around Morpheus to where Neo stood. Hazel was resting on his hip while Neo looked completely uncomfortable. The center of attention to a group of, Trinity counted quickly, eight girls. His eyes were wide and he was leaning away from a girl who had tried to touch his arm.

She took a deep breath and nodded to Morpheus, “Fine. Do whatever the fuck it takes to get us out of here.” She glanced to Kali, rolling her eyes at the girls desperately vying for Neo’s attention.

Christ, it looked like he wanted to bolt but was too polite to do any such thing.

Trinity made her way over, weaving in and out of the growing crowd, to where Neo and Hazel were.

She moved in behind him, placing a hand on his back. He stiffened at first but then relaxed at the familiarity of her touch.

“You’ll have to excuse him, ladies. There are some ship things that need to be discussed. Confidential.” With that, she looped her arm through Neo’s and guided him away from his fan club.

Neo breathed a sigh of relief as they moved over to the wall. “You’re never allowed to leave me alone again.”

“Those ladies talked a lot.” Hazel said with a nod.

“Scared of your groupies?”

Neo visibly winced at the term but replied with a firm, “Yes.”

Trinity smiled slightly and stood on her tiptoes to give him a gentle kiss. “I told you I’d protect you.”

“Stop kissing!” Hazel ordered through a fit of giggles.

“Never.” Neo responded, placing a kiss on Hazel’s forehead.

She wiped it away with a happy scowl. “No kisses!”

Trinity smiled, leaning into Neo’s side while she talked to Hazel. “We should go see your mom.”

“Cause of the funeral?”

“Mhmm.”

“Mommy keeps crying.”

“That’s because Mommy’s sad.”

“But why is she sad? We’ll see Daddy again in heaven.”

With no response to that, Trinity nodded. “I’m sure you will, sweetie.”

“Uncle Tank, too.”

Trinity smiled, bopping Hazel on the nose. “Come on.”

Again, she led them through the crowd, her arm in Neo’s as they made their way to the front. Despite all the people gathered for the funeral, few were paying their respects to the family.

Cass hurried over to them as they hit the line. Her red eyes popped out even more with the dark circles underneath them. “I’m so sorry I couldn't get her when she ran. I had to…”

“No worries.” Neo said, bouncing Hazel on his hip. “You have a wonderful daughter.”

“Thank you. And thank you for taking care of them yesterday.” She reached for Hazel who leaned into her mother’s outstretched arms. “Don’t run off without telling me again, okay?”

“Okay Mommy.”

Cass swallowed back tears, forcing brightness for the sake of her daughter. “Good girl. Did you have fun with Mister Neo?”

Hazel nodded. “He’s very tall.”

Cass successfully managed a smile. “He is. Why don’t you go see Grammy?” She set Hazel on the ground and she ran over to the woman at the end of the line. Triton was already standing with her, holding her hand.

“I won’t ask you how you’re doing because that’s a stupid question. But is there anything else we can do to help?” Trinity asked.

“No, but thank you.”

“You promise you’ll call if that changes?”

Cass nodded, “Promise.”

She gave Trinity a hug and then moved to the next person in line. Zee and Link were next. Condolences were offered, hugs were given. The line moved on. They repeated the actions with Tank and Dozer’s mother.

“He was so proud, you know,” Misses Dumas told Neo as she shook his hand. “To know that he died helping find the One. It meant the world to him.”

Guilt flooded Neo’s system and Trinity quickly interfered, distracting the Dumas matron by saying if the kids got restless, they could take them for a while. Misses Dumas thanked them profusely before they bid their goodbyes.

Trinity took his hand, glancing around at the people still coming in. Although more soldiers had come in, most of the attendees were civilians. It was usual for another’s soldier’s funeral even if they were born in Zion. Even more surprising was the fact that several Councilors were mingling with the guests and mourners.

They walked to the second pew from the front and sat down. Neo let go of her hand to wrap his arm around her, pulling Trinity against him.

She let out a sigh of relief, nuzzling her head against the side of his chest.

“Everything okay with Morpheus?”

She nodded, “There’s just been a bit of trouble trying to find a new Operator.”

“Does he knew when we’ll be leaving?” Neo asked with a hopeful tone.

Trinity was glad that he couldn’t see her face at that angle. He felt so out of place in Zion. Even as they sat at a funeral for their fallen comrades, half the gazes on the room were on them. They wouldn’t just let him be so he was looking forward to being stuck in the middle of cold sewers. At least they could be alone, there.

She was doing everything she could to keep people away from him short of physical violence—getting herself arrested would help no one.

“Soon.” She promised slipping her arms around his middle to hug him closer. A kiss was pressed to the top of her head, making Trinity smile.

“It’s kind of funny. At first I couldn’t wait to get to Zion because I thought it mean that we would have time alone but we’re going to have more luck on the Neb, won’t we?”

A nod. “Probably.”

“I don’t really care where we are.” He continued. “As long as we’re together.”

She looked up at him with a small smile. “I love you.”

“I love you.” He replied, leaning down to kiss her. It was meant to be just a quick peck. Really, it was. Still, Neo found the need to catch her upper lip and bring it into his mouth. He stifled a groan as she did the same with his lower lip. Out and in, diving fluidly from one kiss into the next.

“You are aware that you’re one step away from a full on make-out session at a funeral, right?” Kali asked, taking a seat next to Trinity.

They broke apart, Trinity releasing her arms from Neo so she could turn towards Kali. “Go away.”

“Not if you paid me. These people freak me out. I swear to god, a twenty year old just tried to tell me she went to school with Tank.”

Trinity widened her eyes and gave a slight shake of her head. Don’t go there Kali. Please don’t go there. He doesn’t know and he doesn’t need to know…

“And I was like, seriously? I was in Tank’s class at the Academy and you were in middle school.”

“Not everyone here knows Tank or Dozer?” Neo asked quietly.

“Most of them do.” Trinity lied quickly.

Neo looked at her, eyes narrowed. “You’re lying.”

She looked away before sighing. “Okay, there are a lot of people here who don’t know them but this is an open funeral. Anyone can be here.”

Neo looked around the room, stiffening. “I should leave.” He said, starting to get to his feet only to have Trinity pull him straight down.

“This is not your fault.”

“They’re here because of me.”

“Not all of them.”

“That’s not better, Trin. This is a day for the people who cared about Tank and Dozer to say goodbye. And these people are invading a fucking funeral for a glimpse of the One? I shouldn’t be here!”

“Tank and Dozer would want you here.” She insisted.

“More than they want their family and friends to have privacy?”

“Yes. They would.”

He opened his mouth to respond, shaking his head. “I need to go.”

Trinity wrapped her arm around his, holding him down.

“Stay.” She whispered softly. “For me.”

“That’s not fair.” He replied in the same low tone.

“Please.”

They held eye contact for about eight seconds before Neo gave up, sighing.

“Alright.”

Immediately, Trinity offered a soft smile and leaned into him. Neo opened his arms, accepting her into his embrace. Christ, he couldn’t deny her anything when she said ‘please.’

“Whipped.” Kali coughed into her hand.

“Don’t even care.” Neo replied pressing a kiss to the top of Trinity’s head.

Kali shrugged at that. “Yeah, if I got to see her naked, I wouldn’t care either.”

“Serious question,” Sparks interrupted, walking towards them, Ghost just behind him. He took a seat in the pew just behind them. “What the fuck happened last night?”

Neo shook his head, “I really don’t remember that much of it but apparently we sang.”

“Huh. Were we any good?”

“Nope.” Trinity responded turning to look back at Sparks. Neo readjusted himself so that his back was on the arm of the pew and Trinity was between his legs. She leaned into Neo, careful to place the pressure on the right side of his chest. “I can honestly say that it was the worst rendition of The Unicorn Song that I have ever heard.”

“The Unicorn Song?”

“You know, the ‘green alligators and long-necked geese’ one.”

Sparks gasped in recognition, “The humpy-backed camels and the chimpanzees?”

“That’s the one.”

“And we sucked?”

“It was horrible.” She confirmed.

Sparks opened his mouth and then closed it, trying to decide what to say.

“What?” Asked Kali with a grin. “Wake up in bed with another man?”

“Well, yes, but it was Ghost so that doesn’t count.”

Trinity snorted.

Sparks looked at Neo, “Do you remember going to a tattoo parlor?”

“Remember is a loose term.”

Kali’s mouth dropped open. “Did you get a tattoo?”

Sparks nodded.

“Where is it?” She asked hopping to her feet.

“My back.”

Kali jumped over the pew she was sitting in to Sparks. She spun him on the seat and lifted the back of his shirt before her mouth dropped open and she burst out laughing.

“What?” Trinity asked.

“He… he…” Kali was laughing to hard to continue.

“He got the Matrix coding for ‘sandwich’ tattooed on his back.” Ghost finished for her, dryly.

“Don’t sound so superior.” Sparks said with a hint of distaste. “If you could have held your liquor, chances are you would have ended it up with one, too.”

Ghost shrugged, not seeming to care. Or, perhaps, he was still too hung over to offer a better answer.

“Maybe.” Trinity voiced, “But I’m sure, even drunk, Ghost knows enough not to hit on Niobe.”

Sparks eyes widened in fear while his jaw dropped. “Tell me you’re kidding.”

She blinked once. “Do I ever kid?”

“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!”

“We need to work on your vocabulary.”

“She’s going to kill me. She’s actually going to do it this time. I’m as good as dead. That” He pointed to the two shrouded bodies. “is going to be me by the end of the week, I know it. And Niobe will be here, too! She served with Dozer when she was on the Neb.” He looked at Trinity. “You have to give the eulogy now. I need to run for my life.”

“No. That’s exactly what she’d be expecting.” Trinity almost managed to sound concerned. “You should give the eulogy and then slip out the back after you pay your respects. That way, everyone will be standing and moving around. If you time it right, she won’t see you leave.”

“Yeah.” Sparks agreed, nodding as he looked around the room. “That could work. Is she here yet?”

Trinity shrugged, her usual air of nonchalance gracing her every movement. “I haven’t seen her. Maybe you should walk around, see if you can find her.”

“Good idea.”

Sparks got up and moved around Ghost to the center aisle. He gave them a brief but fearful smile and he began to walk around the room.

As soon as he was out of earshot, Neo wrapped his arms around Trinity. “That was evil.”

“Was I too obvious?” She asked seriously, turning her head to look at him.

“Nah, it was believable.”

“Wait, he didn’t hit on Niobe?” Kali asked, slightly let down with the news.

Trinity shook her head. “He referred to her as his mother when she came to pick him up but no. He didn’t actually hit on her.”

Kali turned to Neo. “How can you tell when she’s lying? That’s the second time you’ve done it in the last ten minutes.”

Neo glanced to Trinity. “Do you want me to tell her or…?”

She nodded, “Yeah. I’m curious as to how you do it, too.”

“Your tone just changes.”

“My tone?”

He nodded, “Normally, when you talk, your voice is relaxed. There’s a… a certain flow to it but, when you lie, you aren’t just talking. You’re really thinking out what you’re going to say. Scripting it in your head, I guess. It just comes out a little more,” Neo shrugged, “Focused would probably be the best way to describe it.”

“Hmm.” She replied, thoughtfully. “I’ll have to work on that.”

It was interesting, Trinity noted to herself, that she hadn’t been angry with him for calling her out on either lie. He was in the right, of course. But she had always hated being called a liar. But she couldn’t seem to get mad at Neo. Or at the very least, stay mad at him.

Maybe it was because they both knew how precious their time was. Both had lost so many years of their lives to a dream world. And neither knew how long they would live, although with everyday that started with her waking up next to him, she wanted to believe more and more that they would survive the war.

We have to, don’t we?  She wondered, He’s the One. And whether I like it or not, he’s always going to put my safety first. He’s said as much. He’s done as much.

Living through the war had gone from being an impossibility to inevitability. The Universe had to let them live after what it was making them do. They wouldn’t have to end the war only to be killed moments later.

They would end the war. Destroy the Matrix. Go back to Zion and let someone else deal with the aftermath. Didn’t they deserve a fucking break?

Trinity wrapped her arms around Neo’s, encircling herself as she searched to find his hands. He found her’s first and clasped them in his own.

Neo bent down to kiss her, lightly, on the lips.

Both Neo and Trinity had always looked away from public displays of affection, both with an air of annoyance. Love was something that should be confined to the bedroom, or at the very least, someplace underpopulated.

Of course, not ten seconds after coming back from the Matrix after dying, they had been kissing in the Core. How many times had they been caught kissing by accident and how many more times had they just stopped caring that they weren’t alone.

It didn’t take long to realize that love couldn’t be confined anywhere. It manifested itself in looks and glances, touches and abrasions. It was consuming and terrifying and utterly perfect all at once.

Trinity sank back into Neo’s embrace as soon as they broke apart, listening to Kali talk about the fact she was leaving that evening. Technically, her ship was supposed to have left the previous day but had changed her flight plan in order to stay for the funeral.

The hall started to quiet down as everyone found their seats. Tank and Dozer’s family sat in the front row, just in front of Neo and Trinity. Triton waved as he took a seat between his mother and his grandmother.

Neo and Trinity rearranged themselves so that they were sitting side by side, feet on the ground rather than up on the pew.

Councilor Marton, who Trinity quietly explained performed the all military funerals, crossed the room to stand at the alter behind the two bodies. He said an opening prayer before introducing Morpheus to the stage.

Morpheus said a few words about each man. How they would be missed and would never be forgotten. Such words were always spoken at funerals but Trinity knew this time they actually applied.

Tank and Dozer never would be forgotten. Nor would Switch or Apoc or Mouse. Even Cypher, the bastard, would be remembered till the end of time.

Because they were the crew that found the One.

A shiver ran down Trinity’s spine with the knowledge that she would never be forgotten, either. What was it Morpheus had said?

He’s the One and you’re the woman who brought him back from the dead.

She looked down at her flat stomach, a wave of fear fluttering through her. Their descendants would be the closest thing to royalty Zion would know. 

Trinity let go of Neo’s hand and leaned forward slightly. He got the idea and move his arm around her, his hand resting on her waist. She let her head drop against his side and took his opposite hand in hers.

Eulogies were read, goodbyes were said and then Councilor Marton was back up, saying the final prayers before the bodies were sent to be incinerated.

He announced that food and drinks were in the next room over and encouraged everyone to convene there in remembrance of their friends and family. And then the world started to move again. People all around Neo and Trinity stood up to either go into the next room or form a line to say goodbye to the bodies.

Neo looked down at her. “What do you want to do?”

She looked at the line, idly considering it although she had already made her choice.

“I’ve said my goodbyes.”

He nodded and they stood up, still holding right hands as they walked together, Trinity just in front of Neo.

“Trinity?” Cass called as they made their way to the end of the pew.

They turned back. Cass pointed at the two children and motioned with her head to the other room. Trinity nodded, “Triton, Hazel. Why don’t you too come get some food with me and Neo?”

The kids nodded, eager to get away from the funeral. Trinity picked Hazel up, balancing the girl on her hip while Neo and Triton walked hand in hand to the next room. Cass mouthed her thanks before going to stand beside her dead husband who would be nothing more than ash in an hour.

“Stay close.” Trinity whispered to Neo as they made their way through the curious crowds and towards the food table. They both grabbed one plate for the kids and placed various cookies and flat-breads and delicacies before heading to an empty table in the corner.

They settled the kids in before Neo took a seat next to Hazel, pulling Trinity down into his lap.

“You’re silly.” Hazel told him as he wrapped his arms around Trin.

“You are.” He responded with all the wiseness of the One.

“She’s an adult.” Hazel continued, “Adults don’t share chairs.”

“Why not?”

“Because.”

“Because why?”

“Because its not what adults do! You get your own chair or you sit with a kid.”

“Oh.” Neo said, looking as if he were deep in thought. “So, Trinity should sit on your lap?”

“No!” The twins chorused with grins on their faces.

“No, what?” Kali asked, plopping down next to Triton.

“Kali, tell Neo that she can’t sit on his lap!”

“Neo, she can’t sit in your lap.” Kali said dryly.

“Where’s Ghost?” Trinity asked.

“Went to find Sparks. He actually did run away as soon as the funeral ended.”

Trinity burst out laughing, “That’s great.”

“Tank’d be laughing his ass off.”

“Language.” Trinity warned with a nod at the kids.

“Potty mouth! Potty mouth!” Triton sang as he danced in his seat, a cookie in each hand.

“Sorry.” She apologized to the twins before turning back to Trinity. “So, did you actually do it?”

“Do what?”

“The deal you and Tank had.”

“About the computers?”

Kali nodded.

“Yup. Hacked into his account last night after the kids went to sleep. Deleted his browser history and his… ‘special’ files.’”

“Wait, was the the deal he was asking you about yesterday?” Neo asked.

She nodded. “He had some… less than pretty things on his personal computer that he wanted deleted. So, I hacked into his account and deleted the files.”

The Trinity? That cracked the IRS D-Base?

That was a long time ago.

Twelve years ago. They were both fifteen but while he was in a garage playing music with his band, she was alone in a room, hacking. He hadn’t picked up any skill with computers until he took a CS course in college on a whim. It turned into his major which turned into his life.

God, he wanted to watch her hack. He wanted to watch as she typed in code, fingers dancing across the keyboard. While he typed with heavy hands and awkward precision, he just knew that she would type with grace. He wanted to watch her face lit up with artificial light from the computer while she ducked around firewalls and remained invisible as she rerouted systems and sent viruses into the Matrix.

“That was nice of you.” He said carefully.

She glanced back at him, grinning.

He strained his neck up to kiss her. Gently, softly. No tongue. They were, after all, babysitting twin children at their father’s funeral.

“Ew.” Kali said, taking a cookie off Triton’s plate and tossing it at Trinity. It hit the side of her head and she turned around, at least somewhat amused as she picked it off the table and chucked it back.

The twins started laughing as the cookie bounced off Kali’s forehead. Neo laughed with them, setting his head on Trinity’s shoulder.

“Uh oh.” Neo said, “Looks like Sparks is back.”

Trinity and Kali turned towards the door. Sparks was heading for them, Ghost walking calmly behind him. The girls looked back at each other and started laughing again. Trinity covered her mouth to try to muffle the sounds.

Sparks took the seat next to Kali. “That wasn’t funny.”

They started laughing harder, Trinity needing Neo to keep her upright.

“I thought she was going to kill me!”

The twins were laughing too, although they had no idea what was going on. Laughter was still contagious at their age.

Ghost took a seat next to Sparks. “He was halfway to the docks when I found him.”

“That’s fu—bleeping hilarious.” Kali informed him, wiping her eyes. “I think I might cry!”

“Am I interrupting anything?” Councilor Dillard asked, coming up behind Ghost.

The laughter subsided as they glanced around at each other.

“No, Councilor.” Kali said, sitting up straight.

“It was a lovely funeral.” She commented.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I was wondering if, perhaps, I could borrow Trinity?”

Trinity felt Neo’s arms tense and she gently rocked against him, letting him know that she didn’t want to leave him. Still, she offered a smile and said, “Of course.”

Neo, reluctantly, released her from his arms, their hands touching until they were too far away to reach each other.

Councilor Dillard led Trinity to the opposite corner of the room, behind the food table. It was uncrowded as opposed to the rest of the hall and no one would overhear them. Dillard smiled in an almost condescending fashion.

“How are you, Trinity?”

“I’m fine, thanks.”

Cut to the chase, Councilor. We both know that you don’t give a damn about how I’m feeling.

“How is Neo adjusting to life in Zion?”

Trinity glanced back to Neo who was watching her, curiously. She offered a smile before turning back to Dillard. “He’s a bit overwhelmed by the attention, to be honest. He can’t go into public without being the center of attention. Not even to the funeral of his friend.”

That includes you. Trinity thought with a touch of anger. You never go to any military funerals unless it’s a Captain being put to rest. You’re only here because of him.

“Yes.” Dillard said slowly, “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, actually. The public sees him as their leader. People look at him and see a light at the end of the tunnel. And, therein, lies the problem.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“He’s a very important man, Trinity. He shouldn’t be seen with hickeys.”

Trinity felt her blank face slide into place. Really? Really?

“With all due respect, Councilor,” She replied coolly, “Are you trying to dictate where I can and where I can’t suck on my boyfriend?”

Dillard flushed, immediately embarrassed but stood her ground. “I know that this is a little out of the ordinary but the fact still remains that he’s a symbol of peace in this city…”

“Bullshit.”

“Trinity!”

“He’s a citizen of Zion, Councilor. The last time I checked, the only law related to consenting sex between two adults is no public indecency.”

“But he is no ordinary citizen of Zion.”

“So, the laws don’t apply to him?”

“They do but…”

“Then the Council doesn’t get to dictate what Neo and I can and can’t do in the privacy of our own bedroom.”

Dillard tried a different approach, her voice softer. “I voted for the two of you to stay together on the Nebuchadnezzar.”

“And I appreciate the support but we both know that if the Council hadn’t sided with Neo, he wasn’t going to help you.”

“He would have. He’s the One. He has to save Zion, it’s his purpose.”

“No. He wouldn’t have. You see, Neo and I made a promise to each other that we wouldn’t compromise when it came to our relationship. That’s why we’re still both on the Neb and that’s why I’m going to walk away from you and pretend that this conversation didn’t happen.”

Councilor Dillard placed a hand on Trinity’s arm as she began to turn away. “Trinity, please. Try to look at this from the point of view of a soldier…”

Trinity stared at the hand gripping her forearm before looking back up to Councilor Dillard. Trinity’s eyes were usually stormy but Dillard could see evidence of the tempest that lurked beneath the surface. The hand was immediately removed.

“I am a soldier.” Trinity told her, “And I can tell you the point of view of a soldier much better than you think you can tell me. Have you ever even been out on a hovercraft, Councilor?”

Dillard shook her head.

“Everything you see is made of metal. It’s always cold. Half the time you can see your breath in the air. The only relief from that coldness comes from being plugged into a disillusioned world where we’re labeled as terrorists, entire governments after us. I’ve been shot twice in the Matrix only to wake up in the real world with a bullet embedded in my leg or my shoulder. I’ve watched my best friends die one by one, seen the man who raised me tortured and watched the man that I love get shot in the chest ten times.

“But every year, when my contract is up, I have the choice to walk away from it all. I can stay in the warmth and safety of Zion. But I don’t. Do you know why?”

Dillard shook her head.

“Because there are millions of people being kept as slaves right now and I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I’m free while doing nothing to help them. So don’t think for one second that I’m not looking at this from the point of view of a soldier. The fact of the matter is Neo’s purity and my loyalty to Zion have nothing to do with each other.”

She paused glancing to Neo. He was watching her, knowing that she was angry with Dillard. He wanted to walk over. She could see it in his eyes but he refrained because he trusted her to deal with the problem. She looked back to Dillard, “I have sacrificed all of my waking-life to Zion. You’re going to give me this and you and the rest of the Council are going to back the fuck off when it comes to my relationship with Neo.”

Having said all that she needed to, Trinity walked back to the table. Neo sat up straighter as soon as she got back and reached for her, guiding Trinity down to his lap.

“What was all that about?” Kali asked, snitching another cookie off Triton’s plate.

“You don’t want to know.” She replied, settling into Neo’s arms and resting her head on his shoulder.

“That bad?” He asked, moving his hands to get the best grip on her.

“I’ll tell you later. Council’s just trying to interfere where they have no rights.”

“That’s the purpose of governments.” Sparks added with a nod. “If they interfere where they don’t belong, they won’t actually accomplish anything, which is what they want. Actually getting stuff done means that somebody’s going to be pissed.”

“What’s pissed mean?” Triton asked with a mouth full of cookie.

“It means ‘upset’ but don’t use it. It’s a grown up word.”

“Sparky used it.” He argued.

“Well, Sparky says a lot of things he shouldn’t.”

“Stop calling me Sparky.” Sparks complained.

“Sparky! Sparky!” Triton and Hazel sang together.

“And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the short version on why I’m not having children.”

“I thought it was because no woman would breed with you.” Kali commented.

“That, too.”

“Can I have more cookies?” Hazel piped up.

Trinity glanced back to Neo. “How many has she had?”

“Five, I think.”

She looked back at Hazel who was, quite purposefully, pouting with the ease of a girl used to getting what she wanted. Five cookies was more than enough and, were it any other day, Trinity would have said too many. Cookies were a luxury.

But Hazel had just lost her father and uncle.

“Screw it.” Trinity said, pushing herself off Neo’s lap and back to a standing position. “You need anything?” She asked him as she took Hazel’s plate and helped the little girl jump out of her chair.

Neo shook his head.

“What about me?” Sparks asked. “Aren’t you going to ask what I need?”

“I know what you need.” She replied dryly. “But I’m not sure that I could afford all that therapy.”

“Ohhhh!” Kali groaned, clapping him on the back. “That had to hurt.”

“AH! That did hurt! Tattoo. Remember?”

Trinity walked away with Hazel, shaking her head as the rest of the table erupted in laughter.

“Trinity?” Hazel asked as they reached the food table.

“Yes?”

“How come people keep looking at us?”

Trinity didn’t bother to look around as she picked up Hazel. “Which cookies do you want?” She asked for the sake of distraction.

“All of them.”

That got a smile out of her. “Try again.”

“Blue sprinkles.”

Trinity began to pick them up as Kali sidled up next to her. “They got any sandwiches? I want to give one to Sparks since we all know how much he loves sandwiches.”

Trinity laughed and picked up a few of the cookies with pink frosting that Hazel pointed to. “I don’t think they do but you can make him a cookie sandwich.”

“That’ll work. I seriously need to go out drinking with your boyfriend. I mean, Sparks and I have done some crazy shi—super fun stuff but I have never convinced him to get a tattoo. And that just makes me sad.” She smirked, “Too bad Neo didn’t get a tattoo. That’d be hot.”

“Who’s saying he didn’t?” Trinity replied, not looking at her friend but rather another plate of cookies with a chocolate frosting.

“Shut up.”

Trinity said nothing.

“Did he really?”

Her mouth quirked into a smile and she bit her lip.

“Seriously? What did he get? And where did he get it?” She gasped, “Did he and Sparks get matching tattoos because if they did then there is a god and he loves me.”

“No, they didn’t get matching tattoos.”

“So, what’d the One get?”

Trinity placed the last few cookies on the growing stack before admiring. “The Irish Trinity Knot.”

Kali set the cookie she was holding down and looked at Trinity. “Shut. Up.”

“I know.”

“Really?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Did you jump him right then and there or…”

“Quite nearly. If we didn’t need to get here, I honestly would have.”

“Where is it?”

“The tat?”

“Mhmm.”

“Oh his chest. A bit to the left.”

“Over his heart?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Marry that man.”

Trinity glanced back at the table where Neo had moved to Hazel’s empty seat and was laughing with Triton. “I just might.”

Chapter Text

It was nearly nine that night when they made it home from the funeral. They had watched over the kids well into the night sending Ghost out to pick up dinner for them. Kali had long since left, needing to prepare her ship for take off.

They reached their level and walked down the path, weaving around the baskets left in honor of the One. Neo looked at them, at a loss of what to do.

“Tomorrow.” Trinity whispered, seeing his expression. “We’ll deal with it tomorrow.”

Neo nodded and followed into their home. Trinity took her sweater off so that she was just wearing her tank top and tossed it to the table. She walked straight to bed and collapsed onto her back.

Neo followed her, sitting at the end of the bed. “Feet.”

Trinity lifted her legs into the air, letting Neo guide them to his lap where he proceeded to untie her laces and toss the boots off.

“What did Dillard want?” He asked as he set her feet back on the bed and kicked his own boots off.

A touch of a smile hit her face as she ran her fingers through her hair. “I’m impressed. You waited almost two full minutes to ask.”

“I don’t trust the Council.” He replied, leaning back to lay next to her.

“I know. They haven’t given you any reason to.”

“So, what did they want?”

Trinity lifted her torso, allowing Neo to get an arm around her. “Well, apparently, you’re the One.”

“Really?”

“Mhmm. And that means that you have to set a good example. And having hickeys interferes with that.”

Neo blinked. “She called you away from Tank and Dozer’s funeral to tell you not to give me hickeys?”

“Yup.”

“What did you say?”

“I told her to go fuck herself.”

“Did you really?”

Trinity shrugged. “Loosely. I told her that the Council didn’t get to dictate where I do and don’t suck on you.”

Neo snorted, rolling onto his side while still keeping his grip on her. “And then what?”

“I told her to tell the Council to back off when it comes to use because we’re not willing to compromise with them.”

He smiled and lifted his arm so that Trinity flipped from her back to her side, using his free arm to pull her closer. He pressed a soft kiss to her lips and whispered, “I love you.”

Trinity smiled and wrapped a leg around his, kissing him once again. Before he knew what was happening he was on his back, pinned to the bed. He fought a groan as Trinity lay flush against him. She pushed her hips forward, gently rocking against him as she let her hands slip under his shirt to pull it over his head.

Neo sat up slightly, helping her tear it away. The skin around his tattoo had lost most of the inflammation making the dark ink stand out against his pale skin.

She pushed him at the shoulders back onto his back before tossing off her own shirt and bra unceremoniously. His pants came next, bunched up around his ankles before he kicked them onto the floor as Trinity finished undressing herself.

He reached up to her head to pull her down for a kiss but Trinity grabbed his wrists, one in each hand and pushed him back to the bed. Slowly, she moved her mouth along his jaw and up to his ear, tugging the lobe with her teeth.

“Am I going to have to tie you down?” She whispered huskily, grinding against him.

“Fuck.” He panted as he pushed his hips up to her.

“Stay still.”

Trinity dragged her open-mouth down Neo’s neck before pressing kisses along his collarbone. She wedged a leg between his, separating them enough for her to crawl in between them. Kisses were planted all along his chest and at the points of the triquetra before she continued down to his stomach and down even further.

She looked up to meet his eyes, offering a smirk as she allowed her fingers to just barely skim over his cock. Again, he thrust his hips up but Trinity set a hand on either side of him and pushed him back down.

“I’ll stop.” She warned, moving up slightly to prove that she was serious.

“Trinity…”

She moved her hands up along the bed, pulling herself above him until their heads were only inches apart. “I want you to know what it feels like to be so fucking close and not be allowed to do anything about it. I want you to ache with the need to move but know that if you do, it all stops. I want you to be patient as I take my precious time loving you and I want to watch you let go of that weight on your shoulders as you come apart.

“Now, are you going to stay still or,” She lowered her head to his ear, “Do I need to tie you down?”

Fuck.

“Still.” He muttered between grinding teeth.

“Good choice.”

Immediately, she climbed back down his body and resumed her position between his legs. She exhaled a warm gust of air onto his cock causing it to twitch.

“Fuck.” He swore as he clenched his hands into fists.

“Eventually.” She replied taking him in hand at the base.

Neo groaned as she tilted her head at a slight angled before sticking out her tongue to run his length. It took every bit of willpower he had not to react, not to thrust his hips up to meet her. Not to reach down for her and pull her up into his arms before flipping her onto her back and going at it like animals.

Her mouth turned at the slit, widening enough to allow him into her mouth. She sucked him in, hungrily taking him deeper. Trinity moved up and down, grazing her teeth along him as she retreated back to the tip. She repeated the actions several times, all while keeping Neo’s hips pinned to the bed with her hands.

“Trinity…” He moaned.

She looked up from her crouched position, letting go of his cock. “Yes?”

“Fuck, don’t stop.”

She tilted her head to the side in mock confusion. “But I thought you wanted to talk?”

Neo gritted his teeth, trying to move his hips but she kept him still. “This isn’t funny.”

“Do you see me laughing?”

He thrust upwards, managing to get several inches off the mattress before she pushed him back down.

“I’ll stop.” She warned.

Neo shook his head. “No, you won’t. Because I’m willing to bet anything that you’re fucking dripping by now.”

A smiled played at her lips as she crawled up his body, pressing her soaking core against his cock as she move her hands to his shoulders. Her tongue darted out to wet her bottom lip before admitting, “You’re right. I’m fucking soaked and I want you inside of me more than anything. But…” she pushed herself up to a sitting position, straddling his hips. “At the end of the day, its not anything I can’t take care of myself.”

Fuck.

Suddenly, Neo was torn between the desire to stay still and let her continue her torment or whether to keep fucking moving so that he could watch her take care of herself.

Trinity smirked, “I know what you’re thinking but I’m not going to let you watch. I’m going to…” Her eyelids fluttered shut and she began rocking against him yet again. “Lock myself in the bathroom… step into the shower. The water will be as hot as I can possibly make it.” She traced his chest with two fingers, “And I’ll lean against the cold wall, the rock chafing against my back but I don’t fucking care.

“And then I’ll reach down, test the waters, see just how fucking wet I am. And then I’ll move up to my breasts. Pretend my hands are yours as you grope at me and pinch my nipples. And I’ll bite my lip, chewing on it until its as red and raw as it is when I’m done kissing you.

“And I’ll go back down, already trembling at the thought of what’s to come. Pretend that it’s you running your finger to my clit. I’ll pinch and I’ll flick and I’ll sag against the wall, barely able to stand. Then, I won’t be able to take it anymore and I’ll grind against my own fucking hand before I slide these,” She displayed her middle and index finger side by side, “Inside me. And I’ll keep my palm angled towards my clit so I can still move against it.” She began pushing harder with her hips as she moved against him.

“But by that point, I won’t even be able to stand. So, I’ll sink down to my knees, using one hand to keep myself steady and the other thrusting inside me, moving against me like you do until I can’t fucking take it anymore.”

She exhaled and opened her eyes, a smile creeping onto her lips as she slowed her hips to a stop. “It doesn’t matter to me whether you comply or not. I’m still going to get off. So are you going to be good, or am I going to get in the shower?”

“I’ll stay still.” He agreed defeated.

“Good. Because I want you inside of me.”

She reached a hand down towards his cock as she moved up to her knees. She ran her hand down his length once before she pointed him towards her center. She sank down on him slowly, letting him in inch by inch before moving her hips away from his and then slamming back down.

Neo grunted, using all of his conscious effort to stay still and not flip her on her back.

She fell into a rhythm, slowly moving up and down his cock twice before she would increase the speed. Then she would slow down and the pattern would start back up again. Shit, if she was going fast the whole time they would be done already.

He felt her hands back on his stomach, tracing up to his chest and he opened his eyes.  She was watching him carefully. He recognized that look in her eyes, hungry and determined.

She was going to be the death of him. And he didn’t care.

Her lips descended on his and it was all Neo could do to not catch the back of her head in his hands and tangle his fingers in her hair. But she was in control of this.

And she knew what she was doing, he was forced to note as she slowed her pace starting to exert more effort into fewer movements. She clenched around him and he groaned. His body was completely tense with the knowledge that he couldn't move if he wanted her to continue and he was so close.

Trinity wrapped her arms under his so that she could grab his shoulders from behind and use him to leverage herself up. She slammed down on his cock even harder and Neo cried out no longer able to stay still. His arms wrapped around her and he began thrusting his hips to meet her with every stroke.

Fuck, Neo thought somewhere in the back of his mind. He wasn’t making any conscious movements, his body just naturally moving along with hers.

She tightened around him,  clenching her muscles to pull him even deeper inside her. And he couldn’t take it anymore. Neo tensed up, still slamming up into her before losing himself inside of her.

Neo gasped for breath, waiting to settle down just a little bit before he reached down for her thighs and pulled them up so that her knees were on either side of his hips before he sat up. Trinity was still wrapped around him, curious as to what he was doing as he stood up.

”What are you doing?”

“We’re going to the bathroom. I’m going to watch you shower.”

.

 

Trinity was on her back, just over half of her supported by the table. Neo stood between her legs, his hands holding her hips in the air as he moved in and out of her.

Trinity moaned, pushing up on her arms until she was high enough to wrap her arms around Neo’s neck. She whispered his name, a hitch in her breath.

“Trinity.” He whispered back, catching her lips in a kiss.

“Harder.” She begged as she pulled him as close to her as possible.He complied immediately, changing the tempo to a shorter speed but with deeper and harder strokes. He slipped a hand between them  and pressed his hand to her hipbone and reaching for her clit with his thumb.

Trinity half-moaned, half-screamed, spasming-around him. “Neo.” She whispered again just before the phone began to ring in the background.

“Ignore it.”

As if she could do anything else with his cock buried deep inside her. Her mind was practically blank of all thoughts except making the feeling of him last forever. She could feel him beginning to tense, feel the desperateness with each of his strokes. He was so close.

Smiling to herself, Trinity placed her mouth against his where his neck met his shoulder and lightly bit down. He growled low in his throat before yanking her head back up so he could kiss her as he came inside her.

They panted together, their foreheads pressed against each other as they breathed the same air. Their hips were still moving, unable to stop the motions until the last of the feelings had run out.

“Where next?” Neo asked as he began to kiss her neck. After all, the Council had said nothing about Neo giving Trinity hickeys.

She glanced around the room, Neo still sucking on her skin.

The bed. Check. The chairs. Check. Bureau. Check. They were on the table.The floor. Check squared. The kitchen floor. Check. The bathroom floor. Check. Shower. Check squared. Kitchen counter. Again. Check.  And, in an incredible display of flexibility on both their parts, the closet.

“I think we’ve literally done it on every available surface.”

Neo came up from her neck. “Huh. Does that mean we start over?”

“I guess so.”

Neo slipped his hands between her thighs and the table, getting a good hold on her before lifting her into the air. Trinity immediately wrapped her legs around his waist as he picked her up to carry her back to the bed.

Again, the phone started ringing.

Neo glanced to the kitchen, where the phone was and let out a sigh as he changed courses.

“Don’t you dare answer that.” Trinity warned.

“Not gonna.” He replied walking into the kitchen and over to the counter. He set her down gently before he turned around and walked over to the phone and yanked the cord out of the wall. The ringing ceased immediately and he was rewarded with a full on smile from Trinity.

“Now,” He asked walking back to her, stepping between her legs. “Do we continue here or do we go for the shower again?”

Trinity smiled, “You just want to see me touch myself.”

He leaned in, pressing a kiss just above her ear. “Uh-huh.”

She laughed aloud, turning her head so that she could kiss along his jaw. Neo pulled her off the counter and spun her around so that her back was to his front. With one hand, he cupped her breast and the other traveled south. He traced along her folds with two fingers causing her to moan.

Trinity tossed her head back onto his shoulder, looking up at him with hooded lids. Her lips were parted and her breaths were heavy as he tweaked her nipple. Her arms shot up to wrap around his neck from behind and she sagged against him as soon as her fingers locked.

Neo slipped a finger inside of her causing her to arch her back against him. He lowered the hand from her breast to her stomach, pulling her tight against him and limiting her ability to move.

She pulled his head down to kiss her desperately as he continued to masturbate her. She moaned into his mouth, unable to contain the tremors drifting through her exhausted body. But despite the exhaustion and the fact that they had been going at each other like animals for hours with only the occasional catnap between sessions, she couldn’t bring herself to stop. Then again, neither could he.

It had almost turned into a competition scored on creativity, endurance and pleasure given and they kept tying up the score.

She ground into him from behind, feeling his hard member against her but knowing that he was winning this match.

He countered her move by biting down on her neck.

“Fuck.” She gasped.

“Patience.” He taunted, flicking his thumb against her clit.

She writhed against him, trying to control her hips so that she could still make him go just as insane as he was making her. Neo counteracted her move, letting go of her breast in order to put his other hand on her hip bone and bent them both forward so that Trinity was leaning against the counter. Her hands fell from his neck to the tile and she gasped at the cold contact.

He continued masturbating her with the one hand while he used the other to line up his cock to her…

Thump, thump, thump. Three knocks at the door.

Neo turned his head away from the Trinity and the counter and out to the main room. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Trinity used the distraction to her advantage, spinning around in his arms and pushing him back to one of the chairs. She quickly climbed onto his lap and ordered, “Ignore it.” Before she started to kiss him, her hands wildly roaming his face.

Thump, thump, thump.

“God, Trin…”

Thump, thump, thump.

Neo broke away from her kiss and sighed. “I’ve got this.” He whispered to her before he turned his head towards the door and shouted, “Go. Away.”

Trinity burst out laughing, covering her mouth with a hand to keep the sounds contained.

“I wouldn’t have come at all if you had answered your phone.” Morpheus called back.

The laughter broke immediately as Trinity’s expression faded to one of duty and regret. She gave Neo a gentle kiss before climbing off of his lap to go in search of clothes.

“Just a minute!” Neo called, following her into the other room.

She was pulling on a pair of pants when he arrived, not bothering with underwear. She found her sweater on the floor and slipped into it quickly before tossing Neo his pants.

He quickly stepped into them and yanked them up as Trinity walked over to the door. She checked to make sure he had the pants on before opening the door and invited Morpheus in.

Morpheus entered in time to see Neo put a shirt on before turning and walking to Trinity. His arm slipped around her with a practiced ease as he nodded to their captain.

“Morpheus.”

Morpheus nodded back before announcing, “We have an Operator.”

“Who?” Trinity asked immediately.

“Link Nolle.”

“Zee’s husband?”

Morpheus nodded.

“Why would Lock put Link with us after everything that just happened to Tank and Dozer?”

“Link volunteered. He made a promise to Dozer to help end the war if anything happened to him or Tank.”

“How’d Zee take it?”

Morpheus winced slightly, “She… wasn’t pleased but she won’t try to deter him. I’m hoping that we can leave by tomorrow but it will be up to the Council, at this point.” He handed Trinity a folder, “If you could get these done by closing time, I would be much obliged.”

Trinity nodded. “Consider it done.”

“Alright, well…” An awkward silence followed and Trinity glanced at the floor. “Carry, um. Carry on.”

He blinked after saying the words, wincing with regret at his words. Morpheus shook his head and turned around, letting himself out of the apartment. The door closed with a resounding bang.

Only then did Trinity glance up to Neo, biting on her lower lip to keep from laughing.

Neo was staring at the door wearing an expression of mortification. “Did that just happen?”

“You mean, Morpheus showing up while we were halfway between third and home or him telling us to ‘carry on’?”

“Yeah, both those things.”

“Uh huh.”

“I feel slightly uncomfortable.”

“What, you mean that didn’t turn you on?”

His head spun around, looking down at her. She was laughing at him, a smile on her face. Neo couldn’t help but to smile back as he turned to face her, catching her chin in one hand and bent down to kiss her.

“No!” She dodged out of his way, catching his wrist with her hand. “We start that, we’ll never get out of here.”

“I don’t have a problem with that.” He used his other hand to wrap around to the back of her neck.

She set both her hands out to hold him back. “We won’t be able to leave until these have been taken care of. There are things to get done.”

“Right now?”

She nodded, “Work now, play later.”

Neo let out a sigh, setting his hands on top of hers and holding them from the back. “Okay. What needs to be done?”

“First, we need to eat. And sleep would be a good idea, too.”

“And then?”

“Paperwork.”

.

Paperwork was ridiculously boring, Neo noted as he twirled a pen around his fingers. He was sitting across from Trinity at the table in the Nebuchadnezzar’s Office at Zion Control. She was filling out forms to clear them for leave and had just finished a personal file for Neo.

Apparently, being First Officer on a ship came with more duties than being Captain. She had to plan out schedules, check on resources for both the crew and the ship, restock the medbay and check the ship for all sorts of safety hazards.

That part hadn’t been fun. They had to go to the crowded docks, dodging glances and stares as she led him back onto the familiar ship. In the engine room she had checked core temperatures, fuel levels and about six other things Neo didn’t understand. Then they had to check the four turret guns for ammunition before going back to the mess hall to make sure they had enough goop.

Neo had tried to argue that they had too much goop causing Trinity to roll her eyes.

“And this is part of your job?” Neo had asked her, somewhat surprised.

Trinity nodded. “Too important for a regular crewman to do it but too much work for a Captain.”

“What do you mean?”

She had shrugged, “It’s kind of a running joke-- Captain’s don’t actually do too much on their ships. Morpheus is one of the few captains who regularly enters the Matrix and even then, he goes in once for every three trips I make. The only hard thing about being a captain is taking the blame when things go to hell. It’s part of the reason turned down the job.”

“They wanted to make you Captain?”

She nodded apathetically. “Of the Brahma. Decent pay increase and better living quarters but it wasn’t really worth it. I joined the army to free slaves, not order other people to.”

He had watched her while she counted boxes of bottled water. “That’s really why you do it, isn’t it?”

“Hmm?”

“Why you fight so hard for the resistance. You want the war over, of course, but you’d still try to free them even if we weren’t at war.”

She had flushed slightly, recognizing his words for praise. “I don’t like seeing people with their humanity stripped away.”

And, if it were possible, Neo fell in love with her just a little bit more.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” He asked as she finished the forms for Zion Control asking for clearance to leave and started triple-checking the requisitions.

Trinity shook her head. “Nah, I’ve got it. There isn’t much work left.”

“I’m surprised there’s this much.”

“It’s not too bad once we leave Zion.” She told him as their feet played together beneath the table. “Then I only have to do routine checks on fuel and food and all those pesky little things we need to keep us alive.”

“Ah, so nothing important.”

She smiled without looking up. “Not really, no.”

Neo, who had kicked off his boots under the table, let his foot creep up along her leg. She used her own leg to spin it off of her before letting her own barefoot rub against his thigh.

“Christ, Trin.” He muttered, shifting as her foot began massaging a bit closer to home.

“Don’t mess with me.” She warned simply, the requisitions being set to the side. “One last packet. Come here.”

Neo moved to the same side of the table as Trin, kneeling down next to her. She ripped off the top page and handed it to Neo. “Fill this out.”

“What is it?”

“Your personal information. You’re finally going to be a legal citizen of Zion.”

He glanced at his sheet. It asked for a lot of ‘Matrix’ information as well as physical description. “I don’t know my blood type.” He commented as he perused the sheet.

“AB Negative.”

Neo smirked, grabbing a pen to write it down. “I keep forgetting that you stalked me.”

“Couldn’t help myself. You were just so damn pretty.”

He filled out the rest of the form, only getting stuck on his name.

“Trinity?”

“Hmm?”

“Do I have a last name?”

She shrugged. “Some pod-borns keep their last name from when they were in the Matrix. Some just go without.”

“What do you do?”

“Go without. I didn’t want the reminder of the life I left in the Matrix.””

Neo left his last name blank as well before filling out his ‘Matrix’ name.

Basic information like height and hair color were pretty simple. Birthday/created-day were the same, apparently. He had to fill out some things about where he lived.

“If someone special needs to be pulled out of the Matrix, they’ll try to send a crew that is at least somewhat familiar with the area.” Trinity explained.

“Where were you from?”

“Northern Vermont, near the Canadian border.”

“Cool. Can you speak French?”

“Oui. Ma mère était de Montréal.”

“All I got out of that was ‘yes’ and ‘Montreal.’”

She smiled, “My Mom was from Montreal. She met my dad at a conference in Boston. He wanted to stay in the US, she wanted to stay in Canada so they made a compromise. They stayed in the US but were closer to Montreal than to Boston.”

“Were you close to them?”

She nodded looking away from her paperwork to him, “Yeah, I was.”

Trinity didn’t add anymore and Neo didn’t push. Instead he took her left hand in his right and started writing, somewhat messily, with his left hand. There wasn’t much left to fill out anyway.

She glanced at Neo, a small smile on her face as she commented, “Last chance to get your own place-- otherwise you’re stuck with me forever.”

“Such a difficult decision.”

“Mmm.” She agreed, already filling out the information for her address.

She flipped to the next page, Banking Information, and elected to conjoin their accounts rather than create a separate one for Neo. It would be easier that way-- much less for the bank to have to manage and they’d only have to fill out paperwork once a year rather than twice. Much more convenient.

Neo finished the the basic information. “Done.”

“Good.” She told him, handing him the next two pages. “Sign the bottom of each of these pages. I just need to finish filling out your work order and we’re good to go.”

“We’re free?” he asked, sounding excited.

“Not quite. We still need to hand these in,” She indicated the forms for the Neb that she had filled out, “And then we need to go to the city offices to get your ‘welcome to Zion’ kit.”

“Is there actually a kit?”

She nodded, “You get an official ID, credit card, an almost new set of clothes and some fruit.”

“Seriously?”

“Courtesy of the greenhouse.”

“Sometimes I really like Zion.”

“And sometimes you don’t.”

“I’m a complicated guy.”

Trinity rolled her eyes and stood up, gathering the paperwork. “Let’s go.”

“No! I’ve been sitting here for an hour fantasizing about taking you on this table. We can’t go yet.”

“Next time we’re in Zion.” She promised, giving him a quick kiss. “But we still have a lot to do. Put your shoes on.”

Neo grumbled out a response doing as she said before he followed her to the main office. She handed the forms to the secretary and let him know that the Nebuchadnezzar would be leaving the following morning.

Then, they left the military offices to go down a floor to the City of Zion offices. An hour waiting in a line with Trinity leaning against Neo’s chest as they rocked side to side and they were able to hand in the paperwork. After that, they took his picture and processed his file.

His ID was quickly printed and his credit card activated before they gave him the small package of clothes and a few apples.

“Do we get to go home now?” Neo asked with a yawn as they hit the elevators.

“No, and you’re not going to like where we have to go.”

“Where?”

“The Market.”

“Please, no.”

“We’re going to be on the Neb for a while. It could be months before we come back to Zion. Believe me when I say, you’re going to want to pick up some non-goop foods, possibly some extra clothes or at least yarn to fix the holes in the ones you have and things to do in the time that you aren’t on duty.”

“Besides you?”

She smirked, playfully slapping his shoulder as they walked into the elevator. “There will be times when I’m on duty and you’re not. You’ll want books, cards... whatever to deal with the boredom.”

He glanced down at her. “You’ll stay with me the entire time?”

She took his hand, weaving their fingers together. “I won’t leave your side.”

Neo pressed a kiss to her head and readied himself for the stares and the pointing and all the other unusual things that Thomas Anderson had never had to deal with. Of course, Thomas Anderson didn’t have time for relationships and never went out drinking with the guys. He certainly couldn’t win any sort of fist fight.

He let out a breath as the doors opened and they walked into the Market. Trinity wasted no time pulling him into the throngs of people walking around. Hiding in plain sight as she moved towards a specific store across path.

If anyone noticed them he couldn’t tell, busy focusing all his attention between Trinity and the destination.

She picked up a basket as soon as they were inside. “We need to get foods that will last. Legumes, dehydrated fruit, pita chips.”

He nodded as they started walking down an aisle with drinks. Bottled waters and tea mostly. He knew that there was already bottled waters on the ship in case of an emergency. It was one of the things Trinity had checked on the Neb.

“Right. What’s a legume?”

“Peanuts, lentils, beans. They’re good to have on a ship in case of protein deficiencies.”

“I thought that the goop could completely supplement food?”

“Most of the time it can but different people need different amounts of protein and vitamins. It’s considered a medical condition, actually, so Zion pays for whatever extra food you need.”

“Does goop prevent scurvy?”

“What?” She asked, looking at him with amused confusion.

“Scurvy. You know, if you don’t eat enough fruit or whatever you get sick and die.”

“I can honestly say that I’ve never heard of anyone in Zion having scurvy.”

“Hmm.” He remarked as if he were filing away the information. “That’s good to know.”

Trinity shook her head, looking at the teas. “Any you want to try?”

Neo shrugged, letting go of her hand to move behind her to wrap his arms around her torso. “What’s good?”

“Pomegranate Cranberry’s pretty good. So’s the Orange Blossom Oolong.”

“Whichever. I’ll leave it to your experience.”

Trinity nodded, stepping forward to picked both off the shelf. Neo hadn’t loosened his grip and took the steps with her. She laughed turning to face him. A quick kiss was exchanged

They continued to the next aisle, Neo constantly questioning everything.

“What are those?”

“Sunflower seeds.”

“There are sunflowers in Zion?”

“Greenhouses. They grow as much as they can.”

“What’s that?”

“That would be granola.”

“Like the bars?”

“Yes, Neo. Like the bars.” She tossed a bag into the basket since it could change the taste and the texture of goop.

“What’s that?”

“Couscous. You do realize that these are all foods that existed in the Matrix, right?”

He shrugged, “I wouldn’t know. I ordered take-out a lot. If it’s not Chinese, Thai or pizza there’s a good chance I don’t know what it is.”

“How is it you’re still alive?”

“I thought you would remember that part.” Neo said, stepping towards her. “You told me  you loved me. And then you kissed me. And then I woke up.”

Her eyes narrowed and she blinked a few times. “Isn’t that the plot to Sleeping Beauty?”

“What?”

“You know, beautiful princess dead and the dashing young hero awakes her with a kiss?”

“Wait, that means I’m Aurora.”

“Uh-huh.” She said turning to walk away, barely able to contain laughter.

“Are you laughing at me?”

“Uh-huh.”

He caught up with her quickly, wrapping his arms around her from behind yet again and walked with her. “You’re laughing at me?” He asked in a voice of mocked hurt. “I thought you loved me!”

She smiled, leaning into his embrace as they took awkward steps. “You also thought the Matrix was real so there’s already some clear gaps in your intelligence.”

“Hey!” Neo gasped, bending down a bit to tickle Trinity. “I take offense to that. Say that you love me.” He told her as she laughed, arching her body to avoid his fingers. The basket of food dropped to the ground as she shook. “Say it, Trin.”

“Neo!” She giggled trying to elbow him away.

“Say it!”

“I lo-ove you.” She choked out.

He stopped trying to tickle her, instead electing to wrap his arms around her and bring his head down to rest on her shoulder. Neo placed a kiss to the side of her neck. “I love you.”

She turned around, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him, gently, on the lips. They were, after all, in public. “Let’s finish up so we can go home.”

“Home sounds good.” He replied, thinking it out. “But then, I’d have to let go of you.”

“If you let go of me now, we’ll have more time later. For things that we can get in trouble doing in a grocery store.”

“Hmm. That does sound appealing. But, I’ve always been very big on instant gratification so right now I’m split 50/50.”

She stood on tiptoes and planted a kiss just below his ear before whispering, “But I can’t touch you here.”

A electrical shock went down his body, filling him with anticipation and need. He felt his pants grow uncomfortably tight and wished for the concealing denim of the Matrix world.

“Christ, Trin…”

She smiled, arching her eyebrows suggestively. “We can always find a bathroom. I could meet you there in, say, five minutes?”

Neo snorted and bent down to give her a quick kiss, a small peck on the lips. “I’m never going to be able to say just how much I love you.”

“That’s because you’d be putting a limit on our love.”

His mouth shifted into a full smile, light up his entire face. His eyes practically twinkled. “How much trouble would we get in if I pushed you up against the shelves and just kissed you right here?”

Trinity shrugged, tilting her head to the side while she thought. “Well, legally Zion couldn’t hold us but the store could kick us out. The Council would be pissed and we really should try to stay on their good side. And there would be more pictures of us kissing all over the internet.”

“Wait, what?”

“What, what?”

“What do you mean there would be more pictures of us kissing on the internet?”

Her eyes widened slightly. “Did I not tell you about that?”

“No.” He said slowly.

“Damn it. I meant to tell you yesterday after the funeral but... “ Her head jostled from side to side. “Well, we didn’t really get to do that much talking. Basically, there are pictures of us from the Temple gathering and from the park online. Apparently, some of them are being released as posters…”

“Posters?”

“Yeah. The kind that go up on the walls of teenagers and Academy students.”

“Of us?”

“Mhmm.”

He paused. “There has to be something we can do about that.”

Trinity shook her head. “It’s like paparazzi in the Matrix. Authorities may frown on it but because of sheer number of pictures and the revenue they’ll bring in, Zion won’t do anything about it.”

“Of course not.” He said, shaking his head. “This probably helps sell their image of the One. The fucking symbol of peace.”

“We’ll be out of here soon.” She promised. “Just a little bit longer and then we’ll be out of the Council’s reach. In a beautiful land where the Council doesn’t harass me for marking you as mine.”

“Bastards.”

A small smile, “I know. Come on.”

Neo grumbled but let her go before he picked up their shopping basket. Leaving his bubble, he noticed that the aisle they were in had become rather crowded as about fifteen people stood reading the labels on different things.

Subtle.

Their hands migrated to each other as they walked. Hardly a minute passed when they were not touching. That would change on the Nebuchadnezzar.

It was cruel, in a way. In Zion, they could be together almost all the time but were under the scrutiny of, well, everyone. There was no privacy unless they were locked in their apartment.

On the Neb, no one would bother them. Hickeys would be the last thing on Morpheus’ mind when they returned to the Matrix. But they wouldn’t be able to be together every minute of every day. They would both have jobs to do and the workload would increase immensely with a smaller crew.

Trinity grabbed a few boxes of crackers and dehydrated fruit. “That should be it, for now. You ready to check out?”

He nodded, readjusting the basket in his hand. “Does this mean we get to go home?”

She smiled, looking up at his hopeful expression. “Yes.”

Neo started walking faster towards the registers, pulling Trinity along with him.

“Neo, slow down!” She laughed.

“Not a chance.”

She planted her feet on the stone ground, “We have time.”

He turned to her, his expression quite serious. “I can carry you if you can’t keep up.”

“We still need to check out.”

Neo sighed, shaking his head. “Fine. Quickly.”

There was only one person in front of them and Neo unloaded the basket for the clerk to see everything. The girl was using a calculator, Neo noted, to find the cost rather than a scanner.

A quick glance at their items and she began to add the items together before handing them off to a boy to bag them. The boy was looking at Neo with wide eyes and pure amazement as he fumbled to bag everything.

“Okay, that’ll… be…” The girl looked up, noting Neo for the first time. Her mouth hung open and Trinity held up the small black credit card. The girl took it wordlessly before looking at the credit reader like she had never seen it before.

“The green button.” Trinity said dryly.

“Oh. Right.” The girl set the card down and hit the green button so that it would scan the card and deduct the credits. She handed Trinity back the card and Neo walked over to the kid with their stuff. He picked up the big paper bag, cradling it in one arm as he held his hand out for Trinity.

She took it and he began dragging her out of the store and straight towards the elevator. A few other people were already on when the doors opened and Neo waited impatiently for them to file out before jumping in and immediately hitting their floor.

“You’re starting to find your way around.” She commented.

“Uh-huh.” He agreed lowering the paper bag before dropping it to the floor. “Learning new things everyday.” His hands immediately went to the underside of her jaw, cupping her head while he bent down to kiss her.

Neo pushed her up against the wall, pinning her in place. Trinity looped one hand up to his head, the other wrapped around his middle to hold him closer.

Neo bit her lip and Trinity let out a gasp.

His teeth scraped, gently, down her jaw and to her ear. “The moment we get home, the moment the door closes…” He whispered, Neo’s breath warm on her ear.

She wasn’t listening as she grabbed what she could of his short hair and forced his mouth back to hers. The ding that meant that the doors went open sounded and they broke apart, breathing heavily. Neo picked up the brown bag, holding it in one arm while he cupped the other behind her head, walking her backwards out of the elevator and into the hall.

Neo’s looked ahead, ready to steer her around any obstacles when he saw the soldier standing outside their door.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Trinity turned around and let out a sigh. “We don’t know what he wants. It might just be a message from Morpheus.”

“We aren’t that lucky.”

She smiled sadly, taking his hand as they walked back to their door.

“Mister Neo. Officer Trinity. Councilor Dillard would like to see you right away.”

Neo glanced down at Trinity, a new set of fantasies in his mind with ‘Officer Trinity.’ “We’ll see her in an hour.”

“W-with, all due respect, Sir, she’s been waiting for you for almost two hours.”

“Then she should have made an appointment.”

Trinity squeezed his hand, still looking at the kid. “Give us a minute to put this away and we’ll be ready.”

“Um, yes, ma’am.”

She unlocked their door and turned on the light.

“Do we really have to go?” Neo asked as he set the groceries on the table.

A nod. “Let’s just get it out of the way.”

“Nooo.” Neo said, shaking his head. “We’ve talked about this: Instant gratification.”

“There’ll be time later.”

“Ah, see that’s the problem. You’re looking at this in terms of now or later. I’m looking at this in terms of both.”

“Mmm.” She tilted her head to the side, walking over to him and placing her arms around his neck. “But you’ll be even more desperate then. And I like you desperate.”

“You like me suffering?”

“I like you thinking about me. And I like knowing that the moment we’re alone, you’re just going to lose it. All that control and patience you have as the One just gone. Just you and me. Abandoning everything else.”

“Okay, you talking like that is just making me want to slam you into that goddamn door and take you now.”

She reached up on her tiptoes and pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth. “Soon.”

Chapter Text

I don't own anything. Hope everyone enjoys :)

xoxo

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Trinity was surprised when they were led downstairs rather than up towards Dillard's office.

Although their fingers were intertwined, Neo slipped his thumb between their palms getting her attention. His eyes were narrowed in question.

Where are we going?

Not having an answer, Trinity shrugged. It didn't take her too long to figure out, however, as the smell of disinfectant filled the air.

"The hospital?" She asked the kid.

"Yes, ma'am."

"Why?"

"I don't know, ma'am. I was just told to bring you here."

"This is the hospital, too?" Neo asked quietly.

A nod before she responded in the same low voice, "Yes, but this is used for more basic things. Colds, mild infections, mental illnesses."

"So, like a doctor's office."

The soldier held open the door for them before he circumnavigated the receptionists table, heading straight for a door in the back. Down a long hallway, where Neo peaked into the open rooms that looked somewhat similar to a Matrix doctor's office, just without the comfort.

Finally, the kid stopped at a door and nodded to them.

Neo squeezed Trinity's hand before opening the door and walking in.

Councilor Dillard and West were there, speaking with Morpheus and a man Neo didn't recognize. All four looked up at their entrance, Dillard looking at them disapprovingly.

"Where have you been?"

"Out." Trinity said coolly, "We weren't aware that we were confined to our quarters."

Morpheus shook his head, knowing that Trinity was playing a dangerous game with the Council and had been since their arrival in Zion.

Dillard chose to ignore the remark, probably a better decision than trying to argue with Trinity. "We need to run more tests on the One before the Nebuchadnezzar can be cleared to leave."

"What tests?"

"This and that. Just things to gauge his real world abilities."

"What tests?" Trinity asked again, more forcefully.

"A full brain scan, more blood tests, DNA testing, CSF…"

"Why, exactly, does he need a CSF test done? Are you concerned about meningitis?"

"We believe it would be beneficial to have his levels on record in case anything happens to him."

"It's completely unnecessary."

Dillard smiled tightly. "That is your opinion. It is, however, not your decision."

"You're right." Trinity said, voice unwavering. "It's his."

Dillard clearly hadn't thought of that. She hadn't just been playing dumb. Legally, as long as Neo was conscious, he was the only one who could make decisions about his medical care. And even unconscious. Morpheus would come before the Council.

None of this, of course, had been explained to Neo. It was easier for the Council when he didn't know the laws and what they could and couldn't make him do.

The Councilor inhaled before saying, "Neo, I would highly recommend allowing this procedure. It only takes about twenty minutes"

He wasn't going to do the test. Neo was at a complete loss when it came to the do's and don't's of Zion but Trinity had been unplugged for twelve years. And he knew that, when it came to him, Trinity was going to do whatever was in his favor.

If she said it wasn't necessary, it wasn't necessary.

Of course, he didn't get a chance to say as much before Trinity started to tear Dillard apart.

"That, of course, isn't including the time spent recovering." She looked at the Doctor, "He'll be, what? On bedrest for a few days and extreme headaches following another week, maybe two?"

"Well, there are side effects but not all of them are so extreme. The spinal fluid will replenish itself in a couple of hours."

Trinity stared at the Doctor, eyebrows raised. Neo didn't quite get what was going on but Trinity looked pissed. Morpheus and West were smart enough to just stay out of it, watching from the sides while Trinity asked, "You want to try that again, Doctor?"

"Um, well, for most people, the effects aren't so severe because the spinal fluid replenishes itself fairly quickly."

"And, would you like to define most people?"

"The majority of the patients we test."

"Okay." Trinity said with a nod, "We're leaving."

"Wait!" West said, "What if we forgo the CSF?"

"It's a start." She said, her voice unwavering. "Why do you need to do the brain scan?"

"We want to see if any of his abilities of the One have transferred into the real world."

It was a definite possibility. Trinity glanced to Neo's arms. His strength had increased immensely since becoming the One, even in the real world. He was faster and lighter on his feet than he had been before.

"Alright, that's fine. You've already taken blood and DNA. Why do you need more?"

"We want more tests run to see if we can pinpoint any physical difference that made him the One- especially since he was a pod-born."

"Fine." Trinity agreed before looking at the Doctor, "But I want him gone."

"What! Why?"

Trinity stared at her incredulously. "Really? You lied about the risks of a procedure."

"I did not lie."

"You willingly mislead to him to the fact that the majority of your patients were born in Zion and that it takes longer for the spinal fluid to replenish if if you plugs in bedded in your spine."

"That's not the same as lying!"

"Really?" Trinity asked, "Because we both know which would hold up in a court of law."

He pursed her lips, glaring at Trinity. "I know how to do my job."

Trinity ignored the look, choosing again to speak to the two Councilors. "He's gone or we walk."

"Agreed." Dillard said, "We'll find someone else."

"I did what you wanted." The Doctor hissed at her.

"Doctor Holland, if you'll come with me."

She led him out of the room, the two arguing under their breaths.

West glanced to Trinity, nervously. "Is that all you'll require?"

"For now. But if I say he's done for the day, then he's done. No arguments."

Another nod and Trinity, grudgingly, thanked him before he left.

Morpheus shook his head at the pair. "If you keep taking chances like this, your luck will eventually run out."

"It's not luck." Neo commented, letting go of Trinity's hand in favor of wrapping his arms around her from behind. "It's pure stubbornness."

"You're playing a dangerous game."

"We're not playing anything." Trinity said, shaking her head. "We're just tired of the Council constantly bothering us. The only day, since we've been in Zion, that they haven't bothered us was the day that Tank died. But the next day, they were back in full force. Didn't let us get through the fucking funeral without bothering us."

Morpheus narrowed his eyes, looking at Neo. "I didn't see any of them bothering you."

"That's because they went after Trin."

"They did?" His eyes moving down the half-foot to Trinity's eyes.

"Mhmm. Because the funeral of one of my best friends is the best place to tell me not to give the One any more hickies."

"What?" Morpheus said, his voice low and angry.

"At the reception, Dillard pulled me aside to discuss this while we were watching Hazel and Triton- we've been fed up with the bullshit since day one, Morpheus, but we are done. This is, at the very least, somewhat reasonable. Intrusive. Exploitive. But reasonable."

"Are we going to be able to leave tomorrow?" Neo asked.

He looked at Neo, really looked at the man beneath the calm exterior. The man who was wrapped around his first officer, holding onto her like she was a lifeline. And Trinity. He had pulled her from the Matrix and had pulled her from the Academy after only a year of training.

For twelve years he had known her had spent nearly every day in the past ten years in her company. She would take extra shifts so that others could sleep after she had worked a double. She took the hardest, the messiest of all the jobs without complaint.

And she was done. All of her energy was spent, Morpheus realized as she leaned into Neo's embrace while he leaned into her… they were completely supporting each other.

"Yes." Morpheus said, sure of his conviction. "I'll make sure of it."

"Thank you." Trinity said, closing her eyes briefly.

He nodded to the couple, preparing to take his leave. "I'll see you both in the morning. Can you be ready by ten?"

"Definitely."

"Alright. Good luck to you both."

They nodded their thanks as Morpheus left.

Trinity tipped her head back against his chest, arching her back so that she looked up at him. "Hi."

"Hi." Neo replied, bending down to giver her a kiss.

"Neo, if it starts to be too much, I need you to tell me right away. I don't want a repeat of what happened last time they took blood from you."

He smiled, pressing a kiss to her neck as Trinity straightened her head. They were facing the same way, rocking from side to side , "I like it when you're protective."

"I'm serious." She said, voice filled with concern as she turned around. "No trying to prove how much you can take or trying to be strong in front of the Council. The moment you start to feel off, you need to tell me."

"Alright." He promised.

"Thank you."

Neo nodded, "How long do you think this'll take?"

"Hour at least. Two at the most."

A sigh, "I suppose it could be worse."

"When we get home, we're going to have a lot of stuff to do."

"Packing won't take too long."

"No, it won't but..." A sigh, "We still need to figure out what to do with the baskets."

Neo closed his eyes, placing his hands on her hip and pulling her against him. "Fuck. I forgot all about that."

"I know. I wish I didn't have to remind you but we're down to hours to deal with it."

"The very idea of taking it feels wrong," He shook his head, "But..."

"People might be insulted if it's just left there."

"Are there any other options?"

"Only if we get very creative. Very quickly."

"What was in most of the baskets? From what you saw."

"Foods, mostly bread. Blankets. Trinkets."

"Is there a place that needs those things? That we could, like, donate it to?"

She blinked, a thought popping in her head. "Actually, there might be..." She glanced up to Neo, explaining, "Kids aren't excepted into the Academy until they're fifteen. Some exceptions will be made for fourteen year olds but rarely.

"Pretty much all kids pulled from the Matrix who are under fifteen go into the regular school system but, unlike the Academy, there isn't living quarters for kids that age. They're too young to be left alone so they go to the Orphanage. They're given necessities but, literally, that's it."

"And they'd accept everything?"

"I can't imagine them saying no. The only issue is going to be timing but if we can move everything tonight..." She looked around the room, slipping her hand between his and her hip, entwining their fingers before pulling him over to the actual doctor's station.

Stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs, the weird device they used to look in ears and tongue depressors. Wads of cotton and strips of cloth.

Trinity went to the phone, fingers flying over the numbers as she held it to her ear. Neo sat on the corner of the desk, setting a leg on either side of Trinity so that she was within his reach.

"Hey, it's me... I need a favor, actually... I need you to call Jenga at the Orphanage and see if they'd take all of the... offerings, I guess, that have been left for Neo... No, the Council's being stupid again. We're stuck at the doctor's for the next few hours. I just need you to check and see if they'll take it and if we can drop it all off tonight." She smiled, "Thank you. Mhmm. You, too. Bye."

She put phone down. "All set."

Neo took her hand and turned her towards him. "If they don't take it, do you think we can find someplace else that will?"

"We'll see. But I really think they'll take it. Around the New Year, they always take up collections and donations for things like this."

The corner of his mouth twitched into a small smile. "We get to leave tomorrow."

"Mhmm." She set her hands on his shoulders. "You should take a look at the bookcase when we get home. See if there's anything you want to take with us."

"Stop it." Trinity replied, glancing to the side.

Neo caught her jaw in his hand, turning her head back towards him. "Never."

Her gaze drifted towards his lips before back to his eyes. He tilted his head as he pulled her forward and the door opened.

Neo let go of Trinity's face, his arm dropping to his side as the doctor walked in, flanked by both Councilor's.

The new doctor smiled at Neo, "Hello, I'm Doctor Molex. I'm going to be taking care of you for the rest of the afternoon."

Neo forced a smile back while he rubbed his thumb over Trinity's wrist, the subtle motion and her pulse beating beneath keeping him calm. "Hi."

"What needs to be done today?" She asked, looking between Neo and the Councilors.

"A full-brain scan, focusing on his activity levels. Particularly in the Parietal Lobe and the Cerebellum. We'll also need blood drawn and a DNA test administered."

"Of course. Now," she indicated the two Councilor's and Trinity, "You three are welcome to go out to the waiting room or go wherever. This should only take an hour."

Neo's hand unconsciously tightened on Trinity's. She squeezed back, trying to let him know that she wasn't going anywhere.

Doctor Molex forced a smile as she noticed Trinity not moving, "Don't worry. I'll take care of him. Why don't you go have a seat outside?"

"I'm staying." Trinity said shortly.

"I'm afraid that's not allowed." She said, ever so sweetly.

A shrug, "I couldn't care less about what's allowed."

"It has to do with Doctor/Patient confidentiality."

Trinity said nothing.

"I'll need to ask him some preliminary questions that he might not want anyone to hear."

"I want her to stay." Neo told the Doctor.

"Legally, she cannot be present for the test…"

"Just let her stay." Dillard sighed, "You won't get anything done, otherwise."

The Doctor looked at the couple one more time, "I would ask you to reconsider..."

"I'm not going anywhere."

"Alright." She sighed, giving a slight glare to Trinity. "If you'll please have seat." She indicated the chair in front of the desk he sat on. Neo hopped down and walked with Trinity over to the chair, tugging her onto his knee.

Molex clearly wasn't impressed as she took her own seat, bringing up her laptop.

"Alright, Neo. What's your date of birth?"

"Uh, September 13, 1971."

"2171." Trinity corrected quietly.

"Oh." Neo said, just remembering, "Right."

"And how long have you been unplugged?"

He looked at Trinity, uncertain of the exact number. "Twenty-eight days." She answered.

"And you've been conscious for…?"

Again, he looked to Trinity who answered for him, "Twenty days."

"Have you consumed any medications, prescription or not prescription in the past two days?"

"No."

"Have you consumed any alcohol in the past two days?

"Yes, the night before last."

"Enough to become inebriated?"

"Yeah."

She nodded, pushing her chair back and walking over to the counter that lined the wall. She opened a top drawer and pulled out a small, plastic device. She typed in a few details using her thumbs before walking over to Neo.

"Put your finger on this dot."

"What is it?" He asked, surveying the device with uncertainty.

"It measures the alcohol content in your blood."

"How?"

Molex inhaled as she tilted her head to the side, clearly getting annoyed. "You put your finger on the dot and a small needle will prick you. The machine will tell us if there's any alcohol left in your system, which will interfere with the tests that need to be run on your blood."

Neo put his finger on the dot, wincing when a sharp pain cut into his finger.

"Alright." Doctor Molex pressed a series of keys before looking up, "Your blood is free of alcohol. Is there anything else that may interfere with your blood tests?"

"Uh… I got a tattoo the other day."

"Was it administered at a licensed facility?"

"I think so…?"

"It was." Trinity said.

"Then it won't be a problem. Have you suffered any concussions since waking up?"

"No."

"And you've developed no colds or viruses?"

"No."

She nodded, finishing her notes. "Good. Now, if either of you has anything metal on you, pleased leave it here. Jewelry, piercings, barrettes. Also, if either of you has your credit card on you, leave it on the table as the scanner uses magnetic fields to test your brain and the magnet is strong enough to wipe them clean."

Both Neo and Trinity emptied their pockets, cards going on the table along with a few metal coins. When they were done, Doctor Molex instructed them to follow her as they left the room and started walking up the hall.

"Do you get what's happening?" Neo asked Trinity as they walked behind the doctor.

She nodded, "Do you know what an MRI is?"

"Yeah."

"Think of it as an advanced version of that where the machine is able to pick up on brainwaves."

They entered a room near the end of the hall, a large metal contraption was against one wall. Aside from that, the room hosted a row of wooden cabinets and a large window that went into the next room where he could see computer equipment.

Doctor Molex went over to the cabinets and dug inside for a johnny gown. She tossed it to Neo before turning back to search for more equipment. "Strip down to your underwear."

Awkwardly, Neo pulled his shirt over his head. Trinity leaned against a wall, watching him strip.

Enjoying the show?

Her gaze trailed the length of his body and then back up to his eyes. Mhmm.

He smiled, keeping eye contact with her as he undid the rope belt around his waist. Slowly, he let the pants drop to the ground and stepped out of them before sliding the johnny on.

"Have a seat on the table." Molex said, not missing the silent exchange between the two.

He nodded, wincing as he sat down on the cold metal. Molex walked over with cords to stick to his temples and chest. When they were all placed, she gave him a hospital gown to put over his chest.

She walked back over to the table and grabbed a blanket that had probably been white at some point. Molex tossed the blanket over his legs.

"Are you claustrophobic?"

"No."

"Good, that'll make this much easier. You're going to lie down on this table and I'm going to hit a button that will move the table back. You'll be completely in the machine and you're going to need to keep your head completely still. You can wiggle your fingers and toes but no big movements.

"When you're in there, I'm going to ask you a series of questions and measure the levels of chemicals in your brain and your reaction speed. Are you ready?"

"Um... yes?"

"Lie down."

Neo took Trinity's hand as he moved onto his back. There was a slight groove in the metal for his head to fit into and he settled down into it.

"Ready?" Molex asked.

Neo nodded without removing his gaze from Trinity. "I love you."

"I love you. I'll see you in thirty minutes."

He squeezed her hand one last time before looking at Molex. She pushed a button on the edge of the machine and the table started moving backwards.

Trinity followed Doctor Molex to the viewing room next door where they could see the edge of his blanket sticking out from machine. She noticed that her hands were clenched, not entirely comfortable with the proceedings.

Molex started turning monitors on, hitting various switches before tugging a microphone forward. She tapped a red button in front of it and it lit up. "Neo, how are you feeling?"

"Fine, I guess."

"No anxiety?"

"Nope."

"Alright. I'm going to start with some math problems. What's 96 divided by 12?"

"Eight

"144 divided by 9?"

"16."

"224 divided by 7?"

"32."

"41 times 53?"

"2173."

"13 times 379?"

"4927."

She took her hand off the intercom, checking off the questions on her clipboard. "There's no delay time- he's fast." Molex commented to Trinity.

"He's incredibly smart."

"Was he before he was the One?"

Trinity nodded, "Just as smart, maybe not as fast. Or focused."

Molex nodded, hitting the button to turn on the mic. "What prime number follows 1327?"

"1361."

"If 10=2x-4, what is the quantity of x?"

"Seven."

"If 5x-6 is equal to 3x-8, what is x?"

"-1."

"Good. Terra makes chairs that she sells for $50 each. In one month, she sells 40 chairs. If she offered a ten percent discount to the price of the chairs, she would sell 50 chairs a month. Would Terra make more or less money with the discount and by how much?"

"She'd make an extra $250 if she uses the discount."

"How many people do you need for the odds to be in the favor of two people having the same birthday?"

"23."

"A man is having a party with his friends. The first friend asks him for half a cup of water to drink. The second friend asks him for a quarter cup of water, the third asks for an eighth. Were it to continue with this sequences, how many cups of water would he serve?"

"The fuck is wrong with his friends?" Trinity muttered.

"Just under one." Neo replied. She could practically hear his smile.

Doctor Molex narrowed her eyes, letting go of the button to adjust the settings on one of machines. She looked at the device monitoring Neo's heart rate and then

"Is everything okay?" Trinity asked, concerned.

"Can you keep talking to him?"

"Okay. About what?"

"Doesn't matter."

Trinity moved the microphone closer to her mouth and hit the button to turn it on. "Neo?"

"Trinity."

"You having fun in there?"

"Oh yeah, it's a real blast. I imagine this is what it's like to be a caterpillar."

Trinity laughed softly, "A caterpillar?"

"Yeah. Stuck in a tight space, can't move. My eyes are open but I literally can't see a thing. When I get out of here, and back into the Matrix, I'll be able to fly."

"Whatever you say but you'll always be Aurora to me."

Silence. "You're never going to let that go, are you?"

"Nope."

"You realize that makes you Phillip?"

"I think I'm more confident in my masculine traits than you are with your feminine."

"Point taken." Neo paused. "You know, as far as the name goes, Aurora has possibilities…"

"Not a chance. You're the only Sleeping Beauty I can handle."

"Well, I thought of one that might be better than Qwerty."

"Anything is better than Qwerty." She replied dryly.

"Chevron."

"Nope."

"Toggle?"

"Uh-uh."

"Surge?"

"How is it that you manage to think of so many horrible names? I mean, statistically one should be at least somewhat decent."

"It's a gift." Neo sighed, "How long have I been in here?"

Trinity glanced to the Doctor. "About eight minutes."

Trinity relaid the information.

"Boo." He responded. "When we get out of here…"

"When we get out of here, you're going to rest. They'll be taking about ten percent of your body's blood."

"Actually, a bit more than that. The Council wants two pints."

"What?" Trinity asked, her voice lowering.

"I was instructed to take two pints of his blood… for… the testing… I'm only getting one, aren't I?"

"Yeah. You're only getting one." Trinity said thankful, at the very least, for the Doctor not putting up a big a fight as earlier.

"Good to know." She said with a sigh. "Alright, keep talking." She waved her hand in a circular motion.

"Uh, okay. I have absolutely no idea what to talk about."

"I know. It's easier talking to you when I can see you, touch you."

"If you were touching me, we wouldn't be talking." Trinity replied dryly.

"Dear god, Trin, don't say things like that when I'm not allowed to move."

"Jesus Christ."

Trinity's head swung around, forgetting that they weren't alone as she tended to do when she and Neo were talking. She was surprised, however, to see that Doctor Molex was actually reading a complicated chart that Trinity didn't understand.

"What?" She took her hand off the microphone as she looked over at the readings.

"His neurological activity level just spiked. And that's saying something because I had to alter the scale we're using to check his levels because they were already so high when we first started."

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

"It can be either. He's definitely faster than most of his peers but I'm worried that he might be over-stimulating his brain."

"Which means what, exactly?"

"Hello?" Neo's voice came from the intercom.

Trinity hit the button on the mic. "Still here. Just going over your records." She looked back at the Doctor, expectantly.

"Okay," Molex said as she placed her finger on the touch screen and scrolled back to earlier. "You see these two lines in the middle?"

"Mhmm."

"Anywhere between that is considered the normal amount of brain fluctuations and the like. He was practically on the top line before we even began and the moment I started asking him questions, it jumped up. And it stayed up." She ran her finger over the line as it spiked slightly with each question. "Here," She said, pointing to a particularly big spike that could only be seen when Molex extended the box, "Is where you started talking to him."

"Natural sciences aren't my specialty. What's the point?"

"The point is… are you familiar with the limbic system of the brain?"

"Is that thinking?"

"Emotion, amongst other things but, basically, he's reading like someone who's high. Every time you talked to him, he spiked and that last time he actually went off the chart." She looked at Trinity. "My biggest concern is that he may crash and burn. He has so much dopamine and endorphins being released right now, even hitting the average for most people will be a low for him."

"So, he'll be cranky?"

"Cranky, irritable, restless. He may have trouble sleeping. Heightened pulse rate. He might even get physically ill but it's so hard to tell. Everything about him is unprecedented." Molex paused, not looking away from the screen that was measuring Neo's vitals. They had calmed slightly, from what Trinity could understand. "People are saying that he died."

Trinity felt her chest contract at the memory. He had actually managed to win a fight with an Agent. He had gotten his hands on a phone and arranged an Agent and it was like she could breathe for the first time since awaking from the Matrix.

And then she had heard Tank swear, fear evident in his voice. She only had a split second for confusion to take over. Why was he scared? Neo had to be nearing the exit and then he would be back and everything would be okay.

The confusion didn't last long, however, as Neo's body started to spasm with pain. She had watched as bullets riddled his body, blood spouting from newly created orifices. And then he had flat-lined.

"Yes."

"And then he came back?"

"Yes."

"People are saying a lot of different things about that."

"I'm sure they are."

"Councillor Grace was quoted in The Daily Tribunal saying that you brought him back to life."

"Hmm."

"Is it true?"

"Yes."

"How?"

A shrug. "If you're looking for a logical, scientific reason on how he survived getting shot ten times at close range and came out of it unscarred, there isn't one."

"Is there an illogical reason?"

Trinity took a deep breath, "I kissed him."

"What?"

"He was dead. I told him that I loved him and I kissed him. And, all of the sudden, his heart started beating again. The wounds healed themselves. When I got him to the infirmary, the only proof that he had even been shot was the blood and the bullet holes in his sweater."

Molex regarded Trinity carefully. "Does that mean the connection goes both ways?"

"I'm sorry?"

"When you talk to him his pulse rate, blood pressure and the activity in his brain spikes like crazy. Does that go both ways?"

"I don't know." She said, uncomfortably. "It's not like I'm keeping track of those things when we're talking."

"And I don't suppose I could get you to go in there..."

"Not a chance."

"Right." Molex sighed, "Then I'll caution you to be careful. Like I said earlier, he's already high above the average and, while I think that can be accounted for by the fact he's the One, there's no precedence for this."

"But is he safe?"

"The increased levels won't be a problem unless, for whatever reason, he doesn't get enough stimulation. Then, there'll be a good chance that he'll crash."

"And what do we do to prevent that?"

A shrug, "Again, this is unprecedented but I would just keep him active. Put him in the construct a lot, the Matrix when you can. And, I would suggest, that the two of you don't spend that much time apart."

Trinity nodded, looking through the glass window to where Neo was. She couldn't see him, inside the cocoon but she could still feel his presence. "If we did..." She started, "Would the side effects include being dizzy and a bit light headed?"

"It's happened already, hasn't it?"

"Just once. Uh, the last time the Council had him tested I wasn't allowed to go with him. We were apart for about nine hours. And, we were both fine... I mean, he was a little worse for wear but that was because the Council had taken so much blood."

"But you felt dizzy?"

"And a little sick to my stomach. It was bearable- don't get me wrong. It was just agitating to be away from each other."

"And when did you start feeling out of it?"

She shrugged, "Probably eight hours in."

Molex started scribbling away on her clipboard, flipping the sheet to its back to continue. "I can't give you much information but, for safety's sake, try not to be apart for more than eight hours." She grabbed the mic and pulled it in between herself and Trinity. Hitting the on button, she asked, "Neo, how are you doing?"

"Bored." Came the monotone reply. You should invest on putting some lighting in this thing. Maybe some art."

"That would be superfluous spending, I'm afraid."

"I'm just saying, if the Council is going to pull me away from an exciting afternoon, the least they can do is give me something to look at that isn't dark."

"Aesthetics aren't important to the Council."

He made a noise of disapproval low in his throat. "I'd like to stick everyone on the Council in here. See how restless they get before they decide what is and what isn't superfluous spending."

"I can't even begin to tell you how much that is not going to happen." Trinity commented.

"I can dream. How long do I have left?"

"Not too much. I have some super fun riddles for you and then I'll let you out."

"Can we start those now?"

"Not quite yet. I want you to try and relax." 

"Relax? I'm stuck inside a machine that's measuring my brainwaves. I can't move without the risk of screwing up the procedure and then I'd have to start all over again."

Molex looked at Trinity, shrugging helplessly.

Trinity took over the microphone, "Neo, first of all, unclench your hands."

"How did you... never mind."

"I know that it seems that tomorrow's a long way away but this time tomorrow, we'll be back on the Neb. And we'll travel towards the pods, days away from Zion. Out of the Council's reach."

"Can we leave Morpheus and Link in Zion?"

"Well, yes but then Zion will send ships to come after us."

"We can take 'em."

Molex waved her hand in a circle as a sign to continue.

Trinity nodded, asking "And if they try to shoot us down?"

"They won't. They want us alive."

"That's comforting."

"And, you know, that way we can get a dog."

"Very funny."

"Hey, drunk-me had some pretty good ideas." A pause, "And I'm only half-kidding about the dog thing."

"There's no way in hell that Lock will let you have a dog on the hovercraft."

"No, but think about it: people wake up from the Matrix. They're scared. They freak out but there's a nice, sweet dog waiting to comfort them."

"And where's this nice, sweet dog supposed to go to the bathroom?"

Silence. "Fuck, I forgot about that. We could try to make, like, a litter box...?"

"If you can convince Commander Lock that having dogs on the ship would be beneficial then I'll help you make some kind of litter box."

"Really?"

"Mhmm. But you should know now that it isn't going to work."

"Oh, ye of little faith."

"Oh, ye who has never had the wonderful opportunity of trying to convince Lock that sixty degrees should not be as high as the thermostats on the Neb is allowed to go."

Neo paused again. "Why does he hate people?"

"Well, he doesn't hate everyone. Just most people. And he hates everyone on the Neb just a little bit more everyone else."

"Why?"

"We're more reckless than most crews. Some ships can go months without seeing an Agent. On average, we can go two trips. And that's when we're being careful."

Doctor Molex tapped Trinity on the arm letting her know that the conversation was done. Trinity nodded as the doctor pulled the microphone closer to herself.

"Alright, Neo. Are you ready?"

"Hit me."

"Sixteen hundred people stand in a circle. The first person stabs the second person before handing the knife to the third person. The third person kills the fourth person and then passes the knife to person five. If this pattern continues, who would be the last person standing?"

"Person 1153."

"What is shorter when you add two letters to it?"

A slight pause. "Short."

"You're walking down the street when you find a single piece of newspaper. The numbers on the pages read eight and twenty-one. How many pages were in the original newspaper?"

"Twenty-eight."

"Forward, I am heavy, backwards I am not. What am I?"

"A ton. Ton."

"There are three people: person a, person b and person c. One of them is a knight, one is a knave and one is a spy. The knight always tells the truth and the knave always lies. The spy can do either.

"Person a says that person c is a knave

"Person b says person a is a knight

"Person C says that he is the spy. Who is the knave, the knight and the spy?"

"Person a is the knight. Person b is the spy. And person c is the knave."

Molex droned on, question after question until Trinity thought her head was going to explode. The doctor would ask a question and before Trinity had time to process it, Neo was spitting out the answer. He was on top of the mathematical question, an answer ready the moment Molex stopped speaking.

Even on the word problems, which took him a bit longer, he was never more than three seconds behind.

After nearly ten minutes of question after question, riddle after riddle she stopped. "Perfect." Molex said, "And that should be more than enough for Zion."

"Does that mean I can go?"

"It means you get out but we still have to get a DNA swab and your blood."

Neo groaned, "Can I at least move my head?"

"To your heart's content. I'll be out in just a moment to let you out."

Neo made an affirming noise and Molex started printing the documentations of his brain waves and vital signs.

"This will make the Council happy." She said as she took the paper off the printer.

"Does anything make the Council happy?" Trinity muttered, rising to her feet.

"It's a difficult time. Sentinel activity has increased two times in the last year, Agents are somehow getting better and more people have died in the last year than in the five before it combined. And now they have hope so they're going to do everything they can to keep it."

"He's a man. Not an idea, not a symbol and not a fucking weapon."

Molex shrugged, "It's not my call. I just work here." She opened the door to the other room and stepped through, Trinity close behind her as she hit the button to get Neo out.

Slowly, the table made it's way back into the light, Neo holding up a hand to keep from hurting his eyes.

"Christ, that's bright." He muttered, sitting up.

"How do you feel?" Trinity asked gently.

"Alright, I think." Neo moved his shoulders around, "It's like I've got a shiver trapped in my spine though."

"You're probably agitated from the stillness. Try walking around a bit." She offered her hand and he took it, still uncomfortable as he moved to his feet. Rather than walk around, he pulled Trinity into his arms and held onto her, placing a kiss to the top of her head. "This isn't walking around." Trinity said despite the smile on her face.

"This is better."

"We can head back to the room now." Molex told them, opening the door.

They walked back to the room, a wave of exhaustion finally hitting Neo. He fought back a yawn as they returned to the first room.

"Have a seat on the table." Molex said as she indicated a padded-table. "Have you had anything to eat or drink in the last hour other than water?"

"No."

"And have you, I do not believe I actually have to ask this, but have you two… made out in the last hour?"

Neo glanced to Trinity, unsure if he should reveal that to the doctor.

"Yes." Trinity said.

"Okay, we're not going to take a saliva sample, then. I'm going to need a few strands of hair, follicles still attached and a piece of your fingernail."

"For the DNA?" Neo asked, reaching up to try and pull two of the short strands out. It was harder than it appeared but he managed to get a few out and placed them in the small packet Molex offered him.

"Yes." She handed him a pair of nail clippers.

"Just a bit will suffice."

Neo nodded and clipped the index finger, catching the falling bit of nail in his palm. Again, he handed it to the Doctor who deposited it in another packet.

"Simple enough. Now just twenty more minutes and you'll be able to go."

She walked over to the counters and started pulling things out while Trinity moved to stand next to Neo at the table. He reached for her hand, entwining their fingers. She squeezed gently and he got her unspoken message. Soon.

He could only hope.

After setting up all the supplies, Molex made her way over to the table with a small tray and with everything necessary to draw blood.

"Lay down. Which arm?"

Neo sighed, slowly falling back onto the table. He offered his right arm, pulling up the sleeve to his bicep. A band of rubber was tied just above his elbow.

"Make a fist with your hand."

He did, looking at Trinity rather than at the needle being pushed into his veins. He didn't care what anyone said, it fucking hurt. It was bearable but it hurt. Trin winced in sympathy, taking his left hand in hers.

Molex finished attaching the blood bag to the IV pole and stood up. "I'll be back in two minutes. The Council will want an update.

The door closed behind her and Neo lowered their conjoined hands so that it was against her waist. His fingers played with the hem of her shirt.

"In fifteen minutes, this is going to be on the floor."

Trinity shook her head. "No rigorous activity after giving blood."

"Tell me you're kidding."

"Nope. We're going back to the room and you're going to rest.."

"No-oh."

"Yes."

"No."

"Mhmm."

Neo pouted, "I hate everything that happened after eleven today."

"I know." She sunk down so that her head was level with the table. "But it's just for tonight."

They would never have days. Most of the time they wouldn't even have a day. At least until the war was over. For now, though, they had to be content with the minutes and the hours, savoring every moment because neither knew when they would get to touch again.

It wasn't ideal but nothing real was. That was what made it special. That was what made it theirs.

Chapter Text

 

Hey! Sorry it took so long to update. Lost my muse for a couple of days and just couldn't figure out a good direction to go. Thanks to Trinneo for giving me the bit of motivation I needed to power through it :)

Disclaimer: Still not mine.

Hope you enjoy

xoxo

 

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Trinity hadn’t been kidding when she said that he would rest. The moment they walked in through the door, she ordered him to bed. He had argued. She had glared.

Finally, Neo agreed to lie down as long as she went to rest with him.

“Five minutes.” She had sighed out, going to find the phone and get an update from Ghost about all the offerings left outside their door. He had made all the necessary arrangements already-- a group of kids would be coming to help at seven to carry everything down.

She had thanked him, relieved.

Of course, it was no problem. Both he and Sparks would be up a little before seven to assist with directing and carrying some of the larger offerings.

And then, she had crawled into bed with Neo, a wave of exhaustion hitting her. It had been such a long day and she had powered through it beautifully but now she couldn’t help but close her eyes and drift off.

It wasn’t until she woke up that she realized Neo had purposefully coerced her to go to bed for that reason. Exhaustion that she was numb to he could see.

And she had never slept better than when she was in Neo’s arms. It was the only time she truly felt safe from the machines, safe from other people. He held her and she was home, no matter if they were in Zion or on the Neb.

When he gently shook her awake, she was still nestled in his arms. Her head was resting on his chest and their legs were tangled beneath three layers of blankets.

Warm.

Safe.

Home.

How long had it been since she had felt any of those things?

“Trin?” He whispered, running a hand down her spine. “We need to get up.”

Her eyes fluttered open, “Wha’ time is it?”

“About six-thirty. Ghost and Sparks will be here soon.”

“Mmm.” Taking more effort than it should have, Trinity managed to push herself up to a sitting position. “How are you feeling?”

Neo shrugged, sitting up next to her. “Not that bad. They didn’t take as much blood this time.”

“I still don’t want you to do any heavy lifting.”

“Trin…”

“I’m serious.” She looked up at him, her blue eyes filled with concern. “I don’t want to see you hurt.”

He reached a hand for hers, lifting it up to kiss her knuckles. “I’m fine.”

“Please?”

And just like that, he lost the ability to deny her anything. With a sigh, he nodded. “Alright. I’ll take it easy.”

She smiled. “Thank you.”

He nodded, pressing a kiss to her nose. “Come on. Let’s get some food into you before they get here.”

“Aren’t I supposed to be taking care of you?” Trinity asked as he pulled her to her feet.

“We take care of each other.” He corrected as they walked hand in hand to the table.

She smiled, taking two bowls of the shelf.

Neo took them from her so that she could grab utensils while he filled each with goop. “Is this actually called goop? Like officially?” He asked as he set the first bowl down.

“Technically, it’s referred to as ‘nutritional supplements.’ Most people just call it goop, though.”

He took a seat next to her with the second bowl of goop. “Fitting.”

“You really do get used to it.” She said taking a spoonful. “I remember feeling sick every time I ate for the first month or so. Real or not, your mind is still used to Matrix food and the texture, the lack of flavor, the lack of smell… it’s weird.”

“Did you react like I did?”

“I didn’t freak out, if that’s what you mean. Of course, I didn’t go through it alone. When Morpheus gave me the ‘desert of the real’ speech, I was with Ghost." Trinity smiled, " He freaked out.”

“Really?”

She laughed softly, “Mhmm. It took a while for it to sink in with him-- he just didn’t want to believe it.” A sad smile graced her features, “I didn’t want to either but… no matter what I left behind in the Matrix, I needed to be real.”

“You said that you were close to your family.”

She nodded, “Shockingly close for a teenager. We used to watch baseball together, like, every night. My mom was very focused-- she’d just stare at the TV so intently, analyzing the game like it was chess. My dad, on the other hand, got way too into it. Argue calls with the TV, scream at it. I swear, I lost my hearing on game six of the 1986 world series.”

“What happened?”

Her smile was bittersweet as she explained, “Sox were on top. One game away from winning the world series for the first time since 1918. Routine ground ball rolled to first base and Bill Buckner fucking missed it and the guy on second managed to get home on the error. Scored the winning run. My dad just flipped shit.

“Mom kept saying there was still game seven. All that the Mets winning game six meant was that we were tied. There was still one game left where we could make a comeback but my dad was just like, ‘nope. It’s over.’ Game seven was a Monday night. Sox lost. Dad was so upset that he let us stay home from school the next day.”

“Us?” Neo prompted, watching her face intently.

She nodded, shakily. “Me and my sister. Taylor.” Her voice softened halfway through the name and she closed her eyes. “Mom and Dad took the day off, too, and the four of us went hiking. Got to the top of a mountain and just screamed. And, even though it sucked that our team got so close just to lose, it was just a great day.” She cleared her throat, “And, uh, two months later I was gone.”

Neo reached for her hand, rubbing his thumb across hers.

“I don’t remember the last time I talked about this.” She whispered.

“It’s okay. Take your time.”

Trin nodded, her eyes watering. “After I cracked the IRS, there were Agents following me. I knew I was being followed but I convinced myself it was okay. And then, one day, Taylor and I were walking home from school, they confronted me. Tried to convince me to go with them.” Her eyes closed as she exhaled, “I told Taylor to run. I went in the opposite direction, leading them away from her. That’s how Morpheus found me, running for my life from Agents.

“I knew who he was right away and I didn’t hesitate to go with him. Took me to a secure location. Red pill, blue pill. But he never really explained the consequences of either. I took red and... “ A tear slipped down her cheek, “I never got to say ‘goodbye.’ To any of them. All they knew was that some men in suits tried to convince me and Tay to go with them and we had run in opposite directions.

“Police spent about six months looking for me before informing my parents that I was most likely dead. They refused to believe it at first. Hired private detectives to find me but there was nothing to find. Took four years of therapy for my sister to finally accept that it wasn’t her fault that I was gone and after that,” She shrugged, at a loss, “They just knew I wasn’t coming back. There’s a gravestone at the local cemetery with my name on it. A box buried in my place filled with my favorite books, movies. Toys from when I was a kid. Letters written by friends and family.”

“Trinity…” He whispered, “Honey, you were just a kid. It wasn’t your fault.”

“They wasted so much time, so much money looking for me when I practically ran away. Every Christmas, they still hang my fucking stocking up by the chimney. The missing posters might have been taken down but my mom still looks for me in every stranger on the street. Taylor had always wanted to be a chef. She would spend hours in the kitchen with mom or dad, helping them cook everything. Last year, she got her Master’s in social work so that she could to become a councilor for families, particularly in crises. And dad looks for me at the bottom of every shot glass.”

“And that’s terrible.” Neo said, moving out of his chair to kneel next to her. “I can’t imagine what it feels like to have all that weight on your shoulders but, Trin, I need you to look at me.” He waited until her solemn face was gazing at his. “It wasn’t your fault.”

“They almost left me there. In the Matrix. Zion tries to free kids who are young enough to make the adjustment and have no real attachments, both for the kid and for the kid’s family, friends. That way no one actually notices how many of these kids go missing.” She sighed, her breath shuddering, “They were halfway through pulling out Ghost when they realized that the Agents were after me. Morpheus separated from everyone else and went to get me out-- he had wanted to pull me ever since the IRS but I had too many attachments.

“You know the rest. Red pill/ blue pill. Curiosity beat out fear and the next thing I knew I was in the pod, tubes and wires everywhere. So surreal. I remember, after joining the Neb, getting the list of potentials and just hoping against hope that Taylor’s name would pop up. Never did.”

“Come here.” He whispered, wrapping his arms around her middle and pulling her off the chair and into his lap while he rocked backwards.

“I just miss her. Them.”

“You’re allowed to.”

There were no more words to say, at least none that would offer her comfort. He pressed his lips to her temple.

She was no longer crying but she still clung to him.

We take care of each other his mind echoed.

A knock at the door brought them both back to the real world, where they would have to let go of each other.

Neo pulled back to look at her. Her eyes were will a bit red but she offered a smile, calling out, “It’s open!”

The middle door creaked and Ghost stepped in, followed by Sparks.

Ghost noted them sitting on the floor, looking between the  couple. “Is everything okay?”

Trin nodded before standing up. “Yeah. How long do we have?”

“About ten minutes. What needs to be done?”

She ran a hand through her hair. “Everything. I just barely woke up. Do we need to pick the kids up?”

Ghost shook his head. “They’re being brought up by their instructors.”

"Okay.” She let out a long  breath. “We need to organize the baskets by weight and size so we can be sure the smaller kids can still carry them.”

“Why am I here?” Sparks asked, “I hate kids.”

“Because i’d kick your ass if you weren’t.”

“Yeah, cause you're working so hard, napping the day away and getting ready.”

“Sparks, it’s been a long fucking day. I won’t hesitate to make you cry in front of the kids.”

“Zion is supposed to be a vacation. A beautiful, four to five day vacation where I don’t have to work.”

“Don’t care.” She said, walking towards the hall, grabbing and dragging Sparks by the shirt behind her.

Both Neo and Ghost watched as she started directing and organizing everything before Ghost turned back to him. “Is she alright?”

Neo nodded, “Yeah, she’s fine.”

“She’s been crying.”

“Yes.”

Neo could tell that Ghost wanted him to say more but it wasn’t his call. He followed his love into the hallway which, thankfully, was empty of his followers who had finally gotten the hint that he wasn’t going to talk to anyone outside his apartment. It crossed the line of bringing work home with him.

“No, stack the food separate.” She told Sparks as he went to place a basket of bread on top of one with blankets.

“I thought you wanted it by weight!”

“Keep the heavier baskets on that side, the lighter ones on this side.” She told him, gesturing with her heads. “You can put them next to each other but I don’t want to get the clothes and blankets dirty crumbs all over them.”

“You sound like my mother.”

“Keep back-talking me and I’ll smack you like your mother should have. No!” She said, catching Neo moving one of the baskets, “No, we’ve discussed this. You aren’t allowed to pick anything up!”

“You said no heavy lifting. This weighs five pounds, maximum.”

“So I have to move this stuff but he doesn’t?” Sparks complained.

“Have you had blood taken today?”

“No.”

“Then get to work and shut up .” She looked back at Neo, ignoring Sparks’ grumbles. “You promise that you won’t overdo this?”

“I promise.” He replied, moving the basket to rest against his hip so that nothing was between them as he stepped closer.

A small sigh escaped her as she shook her head, “The moment you start to feel tired--”

“I’ll find you.”

The corner of Trinity’s mouth tipped up. “Thank you.”

A nod and a kiss acknowledged her thanks before they both started moving baskets.

“I can’t believe you guys are giving this all up. This is real honey!”

“Is it dear?” Ghost responded.

“And cookies! And I don’t even know what this is but it looks cool! Can I keep it?”

“No.” Ghost and Trinity answered together without looking over at whatever ‘it’ was.

The four of them continued moving the baskets and boxes, not even getting half of the offerings sorted, until a dozen kids showed up with several teachers. The kids were excitedly looking around at all the different things that they would be getting.

Trin gathered them all around her and started handing out instructions. Half the kids would continue to sort baskets with Neo and Sparks while the other half would carry the baskets down with Ghost. Trinity, herself, would be going back and forth between the different floors.

She divided the kids into two groups, calling them each by name. It amazed Neo. She must have pulled some of them out of the Matrix but all twelve of them? But either way, she knew who they all were and sent most of the older kids to carry the baskets downstairs but leaving a couple to help move the heavier baskets around.

She and Ghost took the first group down, each carrying one of the heavier baskets.

“She knows them all by name.” Neo commented, quietly to Sparks as some of the children looked at him in awe.

“The Neb brings the most new people in. It’s kind of all or nothing on that ship. They take bigger risks than the rest of us. Some may even say reckless. And I am part of the some.”

Neo smirked, moving two of the smaller baskets across to where the youngest kids were. Eight, he would guess. Maybe nine. He knelt down to rearrange the baskets so that nothing would fall over when he noticed a little boy was staring at him, wide-eyed.

“Hi.”

It then appeared that his eyes would pop out of his head.

“Theysaythatyoucanfly!”

Neo blinked, “What?”

“The-the grownups. They say that you c-c-can fly.”

“Sometimes.” Neo told him. “But only in the Matrix.”

“What happens if you fall?” A little girl asked him. Her hair was about as short as his-- she must have been freed around the same time.

Neo opened his mouth to reply before closing it, head tilting to the side. “I don’t actually know.” He told her. “I’ve never fallen.”

“Do you have superhuman speed?”

“I can move pretty fast, yeah.”

“Do you have X-Ray vision?” The boy chimed in.

“I wish.” Neo muttered, thinking of the possibilities that would present themselves when he and Trin were in the Matrix. “Well, sort of, actually. I can see things in a special code so I can see through people.”

“Do you have superhuman strength?”

“In the Matrix, I do. Not here, though.”

“Do you have superhuman breath?”

“What?” Neo asked, taken aback. “I don’t think I know what that is.”

“It’s another one of superman’s powers.” The girl explained like she was talking to an idiot. “He can take deep breaths that can put out fires, move stuff and change the temperature.”

“Superman can do all that?”

“Uh huh.” She sang.

“Well, I’ve never tried. Can I get back to you on that?”

“Okay.” There was a pause, “Is it true that you’re going to save everyone from the Matrix?”

“I’m going to try.” Neo told them.

“Even my mom and dad?”

His heart stuttered. Fucking hell. What was he supposed to say to that? It was a thousand times worse than old ladies asking for their kids and grandkids to be protected, worse than the people who asked him to bless them.

Neo nodded, “I’m going to do whatever I can.”

She smiled, “You’re like Santa.”

That eased the tension. “Santa? I look like Santa?”

“Noooo. You’re like Santa. You bring lots of presents.”

“And you can fly!”

“Santa can’t fly. Reindeer can fly!”

“Neo!” Sparks called, interrupting the giggles. “Can you come here for a sec?”

He nodded before telling the kids, “I’ll be back. Keep working.”

Neo stood up and jogged over to Sparks and one of the young teens.

“Is the stuff for Trinity going down as well?”

“There’s stuff for Trin?”

“I’ve found two baskets so far.” The kid told him, indicating what he was carrying.

“I’ll take a look at it.” Neo replied taking the basket, “Thanks, uh…”

“Bender.”

“Thanks, Bender.” He said with a nod before setting the baskets on the floor. Both baskets were lined with a soft, crinkly material that strongly resembled tissue paper.

He knelt down next to the first one and opened it carefully, pulling out a small, bronze statue that was corroded with green and white. It’s wide head and circular ears off to the side resembled a monkey but he knew it wasn’t. He tilted his head to the side, trying to figure out what it could possibly be with its… were those paws or claws?

“The fuck is this?” Neo asked, showing it to Sparks.

Sparks glanced down before bursting into laughter, falling backwards against the wall. The kids were all staring as Sparks just cackled.

“What is it?” Neo asked again, slightly worried.

“That… oh my god… That is…” He kept laughing, unable to stop. “Trinity’s gonna…” And again, he lost it.

“What’s wrong with him?” Trinity asked as she walked back with the other kids and two of the teachers. She quickly instructed them to go without her as she walked over to where the guys were.

“There were some baskets left for you and this was inside one of them,” He held up the statue, “And now Sparks can’t stop laughing.”

Trinity thumb and index finger swept across her closed eyes before gripping the bridge of her nose. “Subtle, Zion. Very subtle.”

“What is it?” Neo asked, while Sparks panted.

“A fertility statue.”

And Sparks snorted, falling back into a fit of giggles.

"A-a fertility statue?"

"Yup."

Neo’s face scrunched up in discomfort. “Who the hell would send that? I just… how can anyone think that's appropriate to send to someone you don't know?"

"Who would send it to someone they did know?" She countered with a shrug, "People are crazy."

"It's just so..."

"It crosses a line."

"I mean, the pictures are fucking insane to begin with."

"Language." She indicated the nearby kids.

"Right. " He sighed, placing his head against her leg. Her hand gently ran across his cropped hair. He missed  the length he had in the Matrix but knew it wouldn't take to long to grow back out.

"Hey Trin."

She glanced to the side. "Hey Ben."

"Another one for you."

"Thanks." She said dryly, taking it out of his hands.

"What is it?" Sparks asked, getting over his giggles for the sake of what could be new humiliation.

She lifted the small blanket off the top. "Bread. This can go with everything else." She shook her head at the statue. "I don't know what we're supposed to do with that. We can't exactly donate a fertility statue to an orphanage."

"Sure you could."

"Sparks."

"I know, I know. Shutting up."

"Where the hell could we donate it to?"

"The elderly center is the only place other than this that really takes charity. And I highly doubt they'll want it."

No one in their right mind is going to want it.” He paused, “Sparks, do you want it?”

Trinity laughed, relaxing slightly as she pushed him, rocking him back.

“No, I do not want it. Getting anybody pregnant is the last thing on my mind.”

“Would,” Neo looked up at Trinity, raising his eyes without moving his head. “Would it be bad if we threw it away? Or would that be rude?”

“No, it’s not like anyone will know.”

“But I’d know. And… I don’t want to be insulting but…”

“Neo, this was sent to us by complete strangers for the sole purpose of getting me pregnant. That’s the epitome of creepy. I don’t think we have to be nice about it.”

“True, but I think the intent was good-hearted.”

“Okay, let’s put it this way-- what if you were still living in the Matrix and a package was placed in front of your door. There’s no return address and no indication of who it’s from. You find a bottle of pills to increase your sperm count. Are you really going to keep it?”

Sparks snorted, “You said ‘sperm.’”

“Sparks…”

“Shutting up.”

“No.” Neo said with a shake of his head. “That’s just weird.”

That is the same intent of whoever sent that statue”.

“Yeah, we’re throwing this away.”

“Mhmm.”

“What about the other one?” Sparks asked, indicating the first basket. “Because I’m praying that it isn’t bread.”

Neo tugged the basket in front of him and lifted up the lid before his mouth dropping open in surprise. “Oh my god, we’re keeping it.”

Trinity stared down at the basket. Baby clothes.

An infant-sized grey dress and a knit sweater were on top of a pile that appeared to go much deeper.

“What is it?” Sparks asked dropping down to look before scowling with disinterest. “Ew.”

“Look how small it is, though.” Neo said, picking up the dress to look at it. There were buttons sewn on as decoration in the front along with a strip of black ribbon running around the middle. The dress was, indeed, small. No baby would get more than two weeks wear out of it before it was outgrown.

But it was sweet. A dark yet feminine outfit for the child of the One.

A small part of Trinity wanted to keep it, too.

“We decided that we weren’t going to keep anything.” She reasoned aloud.

“But you said yourself that the Orphanage is for kids pulled out of the Matrix too young to attend the Academy. There’d be no newborns pulled out of the Matrix so it would never get used. And besides, think about how cute Qwerty would look in this. Please?”

“I find this tedious to repeat we’re not naming our child Qwerty.”

“That’s not a ‘no.’”

“It’s also not a ‘yes.’”

“Trin, look at it. Somebody made this by hand. We can’t just let it go to waste!”

Sparks held up a hand, “Am I allowed to talk?”

“No.” Trinity replied.

He continued anyway, “You think a fertility statue is weird to give someone you don’t know but you don’t think baby clothes are?”

“Actually a fair point.”

Neo shrugged, “I get what you’re saying but that statue looks like a deformed monkey. This is adorable.” He looked up to Trinity, smiling hopefully as he asked, “Can we just keep this one thing? Please?”

She shook her head and, against her judgement, “fine. Go put it inside. And throw that statue out while you’re there.”

Neo nodded, rising to his feet with the basket of clothes and the statue from hell. He placed a quick kiss on Trin’s lips before heading back inside.

“Baby clothes, Trinity?” Sparks asked as Neo went back inside.

“Yes.”

“Since when have you wanted kids?”

“Don’t act like you know my life, Sparks.”

“I’ve known you since the first day you set foot in Zion. In those twelve years you have never, once, mentioned having kids one day.”

“And did you ever hear me say that I didn’t want to have kids?”

“Well, no, but…”

“There isn’t any ‘but,’ Sparks. I always wanted kids when I was living in the Matrix. Then I got to the real world and my perspective changed.” A small laugh, “We both work on hovercrafts, Sparks. We both know how it goes.

“We pull out kid after kid from the Matrix and train them to be the best possible soldiers they can be so that we can increase our population and try to find new ways to beat the machines. And I shouldn’t complain-- I was one of those kids. Having a kid of my own, in a world where we’re losing a war just felt selfish. But now? The war’s going to end. The first generation in more than a century to live in a time of peace.”

“You sentimental fool.”

“Tell anyone and I’ll cut off your balls.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Chapter Text

A/N: Hey guys, sorry it's been so long without an update but I've been swamped with essays and research projects at school. Thanks for all the reviews. They always make my day :)

Disclaimer: Characters, universe and song used not mine

xoxo,

Trin303

 

Neo watched from across the room as Trinity sat against the far wall, braiding the hair of one of the orphans. Balaur, he thought her name was. The rest of the kids were running around the auditorium wearing over-sized clothes either made for the One or Trinity. It didn’t matter which-- the children swam in both. Blankets were tied around necks like capes and food was being passed around by the instructors.

Some of the food, particularly the ones with longer shelf lives were brought to the kitchen to be stored but bread and honey had been left for the kids to snack on.

The Headmistress of the orphanage was trying to tell Neo about the issues they had experienced getting more funding. He was only half-listening. It was hard to devote any more of his attention when Trin was in the vicinity.

Although it was a pleasure to see the children getting use out of their donations, he still wished that they could be back home. The door closed, locked and bolted. Lights off but candles lit. A trail of clothes from the door to their bed, blankets tossed carelessly to the floor.

“I just worry that the Council is spending too much time training this children to be soldiers and not allowing for them to actually be kids.”

“And there’s no reasoning with the Council.” Neo commented.

“I think the biggest problem is that they’re being segregated from the Zion-born kids. All these kids know is the Orphanage and the Matrix so when they’re finally old enough to decide what to do with their lives, they don’t know anything else.”

“Destined to be soldiers.”

“Exactly.” She sighed, “I’m all for rescuing as many people from the Matrix as possible but it isn’t fair to send these kids from one prison to another. At least, in the Matrix, they had the illusion of security.”

Neo heard the unasked question. She thought he had some control, some pull over the Council when, in reality, he had been screwed over as much as the next guy. Still, his position as the One could become a bargaining tool in certain situations.

It was like the night at the Temple. The last thing Neo wanted to do was stand up in front of thousands and give a speech. He didn’t want to spend the evening shaking hands and trying to remember a few hundred different names. But, by doing that, he and Trinity were able to stay together without much hassle from the Council.

“Our crew heads back out tomorrow but, when I get back, I’ll talk to the Council. See if anything can be done.”

“Oh, would you?”

Had he not just said that?

Still, Neo nodded. “I’ll do what I can.”

She gushed, thanking him profusely and he stiffened, uncomfortable with the praise and thanks.

“Of course.” He said, finally cutting her off. “Would you excuse me for a minute?”

Before she could say anything, Neo took off towards Trinity. He touched her hair from above before sitting on the ground next to her.

“How are you feeling?” She asked, tying off the second braid before the little girl scurried off to join her friends.

“Never better. In fact…”

“Not going to happen.”

“But I feel better!”

She smiled, leaning to the side to bump into him. “And I want you to stay feeling better. You’re taking it easy tonight.”

“You used to be more fun.”

“Yeah, when was that?”

“Last night.”

“Mm.” She hummed, “Last night was fun.”

“Well, if you’re still against getting physical we could just,” He gave a soft shrug, “take a shower.”

She laughed as her face broke into a smile. Just when he thought she couldn’t get anymore beautiful…

Neo leaned down to kiss her.

“Keep it PG.” She warned an instant before his lips landed on hers.

And he did, only tugging her lips into his mouth and nothing more than a brief swipe of tongue but it wasn’t enough. Granted, it was never enough. She was a habit he didn’t want to quit. He knew with every second, however, it would become harder to stop so he mustered up his self-control and pulled away from her, keeping her top lip between his until the last possible second.

“I love you.” He whispered, snaking an arm around her and pulling her onto his lap.

“Neo!”

“Just let me hold you. I’m not moving, I’m not straining myself.” He placed his forehead against hers, closing his eyes and breathing out, “I need you.”

It was a plea that she couldn’t deny, her heart clenching at the pain in his voice.

Between the Council and the military trying to run tests on him, the Zionites constantly bombarding him with questions and prayers and autographs and the harassment that made him uncomfortable leaving his apartment.. it was all so much. And all he had asked from Zion in return for saving everyone’s lives was to keep Trinity with him.

To let him have the opportunity to hold her.

Because at the end of the day, she was what put the world into perspective. Neo had never been, nor had he ever wanted to be, a hero, a savior. And he still didn’t but he knew that the only chance he had for a future with Trinity was to end the godforsaken war.

And so she nodded, resting her head against his shoulder. “I love you.”

“Promise me that won’t ever change.”

“Never.”

Neo exhaled, “I’m scared, Trin.”

“I know.”

“All these people are expecting me to save the world but I’m still new at this. I don’t know what I’m doing and these kids ask me if I’m going to save their parents from the Matrix and I just… what do I even say to that?”

“You say that you’ll do whatever you can.” She said, stroking his hair. “And then that’s what you do.”

He nodded, pressing a kiss to her temple. “What would I do without you?”

“My guess? You’d eat crap, not take care of yourself and masturbate a lot.”

“That’s…” He nodded, “probably accurate.”

“Mmm.” She hummed in agreement, glancing around the room at the playing children, “Alright, ten minutes more of socializing and we can go home.”

“Really?” He brightened considerably.

“Don’t get too excited.” She warned, “We’re going to have to pack and get ready for tomorrow.”

“I’m okay with that.”

And he was, walking around and talking to the kids. Answering all their questions about whether or not he could really fly. He really was a superhero to them but, more importantly to Neo, so was Trinity.

A lot of the kids she had pulled out or assisted other ships with saving. And even the ones she hadn’t taken out either knew her or knew about her. He had heard a little girl with a practically bald head turn to one of the older kids as she pointed to Trinity and whispered, “Is that her?”

The woman who had escaped the Agent’s clutches so many times that no one bothered to count? Who they said had nine lives until all nine had been used and she was still going strong? The most skilled fighter in the fleet.

Neo knew without a doubt that he was paying more attention to her than to anyone else. He would be asked a question and he’d answer it but never letting her out of his sight.

“It’s going to be different from here on out.”

Neo turned to look at Ghost, standing a few feet behind him. “What is?”

“The Matrix. Agents will be upgraded, new ones designed. They’ll come back harder than ever.” He paused, looking over at Trinity. “And they’re not stupid. They’ll know better than to go after you directly.”

“Trinity.”

“I won’t under-credit her. She’s the best Zion has but she won’t stand a chance if the Agents go at her with everything they’ve got. And they’ll spare nothing if they think they can bring you down through her.”

“They won’t touch her.”

“Can you make that promise?”

He looked at Ghost, a few inches shorter than himself. It wasn’t a brotherly concern that was pushing for her safety. The same expression graced Neo’s face ever since he met Trinity.

Ghost was in love with her.

The realization hit him like a truck.

Did Trinity know?

No, of course she didn’t. Trin would have been completely uncomfortable around Ghost if she knew. And she loved Ghost. Clearly not the same way but Ghost had been with her since the start of her life sans the Matrix.

And he couldn’t tell her. Ghost was one of the few people in her life that she really loved. He had been her rock all through the Academy, had helped her when Neo had been a fucking battery. He owed Ghost. Trinity loved him, and Neo owed him.

Telling her would only hurt them both.

“Yeah.” Said Neo, “I won’t let anything hurt her.”

“She’ll be stubborn.” Ghost warned.

“So will I-- I promise you, her safety will always come first.”

Ghost nodded in recognition of the mutual love they shared for Trinity. The mutual knowledge, despite Ghost being one of the most thoughtful and considerate men alive and Neo being the goddamn savior of the human race, that Trinity was a better person than each of them.

“Thank you.”

He walked away from Neo then and Neo was relieved. He wasn’t sure of how to react around Ghost when the conversation strayed from Trinity and even on her, they had to be so very careful.

Neo didn’t pity him but felt empathy for the man who was living the life that so easily could have been his own. Unrequited love for the rest of his life

It was hard to stay away from her with that thought in his mind. He crossed the room to where she was talking with Bender. She saw him before he reached her and held out her hand while she listened to the kid talk in French.

“Hi Neo.” Ben said, switch to English.

“Hi. Hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

“Nah, we’re just talking about hockey.”

“Hockey?” Neo repeated, glancing at Trin.

“I’m Canadian, dear.” She said dryly. “My family was very sporty.”

“We’re trying to get a street hockey league going here at the Orphanage. We’re just having some trouble getting all the materials. Wood can be hard to come by.”

“What about metal? There seems to be an excess of that.”

“Neo, have you ever played a full-contact sport?”

“I never really played any sports.”

“Yeah, I got that idea. In an aggressive game, you really don’t want to arm the players with metal sticks. And as far as metal goes, there is a lot but it all gets used eventually for the military or infrastructure for city expansion and development.”

“What about plastic?”

“Rarer than wood.”

“This place is weird.”

“We’re a couple miles below ground but we aren’t exactly near any oil composites.”

He looked at her face, the humor in her blue eyes reflecting the smirk on her face. He smiled at her, letting go of her hand in favor of wrapping an arm around her. “I don’t know Zion geography.”

“I’ll get you a map.” Pure sarcasm, he knew. She turned to Bender, “I think we’re going to be heading out. We had a pretty long day.”

Ben nodded, “A bientot.”

Jusqu'à la prochaine fois.”

“Huh?” Neo asked.

“Until next time.” Ben translated for him before he told Trinity, “Bon chance.”

“Et toi.” She stepped out of Neo’s arm to kiss Ben on both cheeks.

Taking Neo’s hand again, she led them out of the room and back to the hall. “I like listening to you speak French.”

“Do you?”

He nodded, “Mhmm. Very… tres sexy.”

“Tres sexy?”

“That’s the right word, right?”

“For very? Yes.”

“How do you say ‘sexy’ in French?”

“Just ‘sexy.’”

“How do you say ‘I love you?’”

“Je t’aime.”

“Je t’aime.” He repeated, “And how do you say ‘the moment we get home, your clothes are coming off.’”

“You don’t because they won’t be. You need to rest.”

“I can rest with you walking around naked.”

“No, you can’t.”

That much was true but he wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of admission. “Should I just pack all of the clothes?”

“Pretty much. You can leave most of the thinner shirts since you really won’t need those.”

“Gotta get used to the cold again.”

“Good reason to cuddle.”

Neo snorted, “Like we need a reason.”

They hit a staircase and started upwards, Trinity taking the steps just above him as he followed her home.

Hours left in Zion, the only remaining city for humans. The only open space he would ever be able to explore, a place where he would spend the rest of his life.

Funny, how leaving didn’t even phase him. Sure, he wasn’t used to his new home but he wasn’t used to the Neb yet, either.

They arrived on their level and Neo couldn’t help but grin over the fact that there was nothing blocking the way to their apartment.

He could have freaking skipped.

Trinity unlocked their door, stepping inside with an audible yawn. “Alright, let’s get this over with.”

She walked over to the closet and tossed him a bag. “We’ll use that bag for our clothes.” She told him, pulling out a second, “And this for everything else. Do you want to take a look at the bookshelf?”

“Probably.” He replied, passing by her and depositing a kiss on her head. Mostly, it was filled with older books. EM Forster, Vonnegut, Orwell and, god bless her soul, Tolkien. He grabbed the five books she had and set them aside while he continued to peruse the shelves.

“Anything you want?” He asked, pulling off a worn copy of Cryptonomicon.

“No, thanks. I’ve already got books on the ship.”

He found a small black and silver rectangle with buttons on it like a remote but a small display screen at the top.

“Trin?”

“Hmm?”

“What’s this?”

She walked over to see what he was pointing to. “That’s an I-Pod. It holds music.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know how, when you first woke up, Morpheus explained that technology got smaller and smaller?

“Yeah?”

“This is kind of like a multi-disk CD player only it can hold tens of thousands of songs.”

“On that little thing?” He asked in disbelief. “No way.”

“Yup.” She turned it upside down. “See that? Headphone or speaker jack. Plug it in here,” She handed the device back to Neo before walking over to the closet, pulling out a pair of small speakers, “And turn it on…” She plugged the two together before hitting shuffle and a techno song Neo didn’t know started playing.

“What?” Neo said, taking the I-Pod back. “How do you get to the songs?”

“Hit home. Now hit home again. Now scroll down to…”

“How do you scroll?”

“Place your finger on the circle and trace the pattern.”

“Whoa!”

She smiled, “Now go to ‘songs.’ And there’s the music you can choose from.”

“Can we take this with us?” He asked.

“No need. All the computers on the Neb having these song files on them. We can listen to this music and more at anytime.”

“This is fucking crazy.”

Trinity smiled as he scrolled through the music. “And do you just…?” The song playing stopped abruptly and the slow strums of a guitar filled up the room. “Okay.” He said, nodding as he set down the I-Pod and reached for Trinity’s hand.

“What?”

“Come here.”

She took a hesitant step forward as a male voice started singing Maybe it’s intuition. Somethings you just don’t question…

He continued holding her hand while slipping his arm around her waist.

“Neo…”

“Dance with me.” He whispered as the voice continued.

Like in your eyes, I see my future in an instant.

And there it goes

“Please.”

I think I’ve found my best friend

Letting her tongue out to swipe her lip, Trinity lifted her arm to Neo’s shoulder, sliding it around to his neck.

He beamed at her, taking a step forward while leading her back.

I know that it might sound more than a little

Trin smiled back, letting out half a laugh as they moved together.

Crazy but I believe

I knew I loved you before I met you

“Ready?” He whispered letting go of her waist and holding his arm up for her to spin under.

I think I dreamed you into life

He caught her in his arm, dipping her down. She arched her head back and Neo placed a kiss to the hollow of her throat.

I knew I loved you before I met you

He pulled her back up into his arms, holding her flush against him. Trinity smiled, closing her eyes as she buried her face into the crook of his neck.

I have been waiting all my life

There’s just no rhyme or reason

Only the sense of completion

and in your eyes

I see the missing pieces

I’m searching for

I think I’ve found my way home

They dropped the hands that they held clasped together and Trinity moved hers up around his neck while he dropped the other to her waist. They weren’t moving across the floor anymore, just swaying side to side.

I know that it might sound more than a little

Crazy but I believe

Neo nudged his face against the top of Trinity’s, making her tilt her head back.

I knew I loved you before I met you

He bent down and kissed her.

I think I dreamed you into life

Softly, slowly.

I knew I loved you before I met you

Truer words had never been spoken. How many nights had she stayed up watching his code falling against the screen?

I have been waiting all my life

How many years had she been waiting half-afraid and half-excited at the very idea of him. It never mattered that he was the One. Never. All that mattered was that he was hers but more and more each day she was discovering that it was equal. She was his, too.

I knew I loved you before I met you

Damn right she did.

I think I dreamed you into life

Too much irony there...

I knew I loved you before I met you

I have been waiting all my life

They parted, eyes closed on both ends while they breathed each other in as the music faded out.

“I love you.” Trinity whispered.

“I love you more.”

“Not possible.”

“Not the way I figure it.”

“And how’s that?”

“We love each other completely, with every fiber of our being, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I’m bigger than you. That means my body has more fibers, therefore, I love you more because there’s more of me to love you.”

Trinity blinked. “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard you say.”

He grinned, “Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Neo, whose arms were still around Trinity’s waist, tightened his grip and lifted her off the ground.

“Neo!” She shrieked, “Put me down!”

“Nope.” He said, rocking her body in his arms so that he could swing her legs up to catch. He adjusted his grip before holding her bridal style.

“Neo!” She moved against him trying to get down.

“Hey! Be careful. The doctor said I shouldn’t strain myself.”

“Then put me down!”

“But that would be an emotional strain.”

“The doctor wasn’t talking about emotional strains.” She replied through gritted teeth.

“Well, did you ever actually hear her say that it would be a physical strain? I mean, who are we to make those kinds of assumptions?”

“Neo, you are going to hurt yourself!”

“Trin.” He said, gently. “Look at me.” Neo waited for her to look up at him. “Do you trust me?”

“You know I do.”

“Then trust me when I say that I know my own body. I’m feeling perfectly fine and I want to hold you.”

She started to respond before she closed her mouth, shaking her head. “I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

“Then don’t make me put you down.”

The corner of her mouth tipped up in a smile. “We still need to pack.”

A kiss to her temple. “Nah. All I need is you. And you’re a carry-on.”

She snorted, resting her head on his shoulder. “Will you at least sit down?”

He obliged walking over to the bed and taking a seat against the cave wall. He adjusted Trinity so that she was better situated on his lap. “We need to figure out all the places we can have sex on the Nebuchadnezzar.”

She turned her head, looking at him incredulously. “ Really ?”

“Oh, definitely. I figure we need to make a list and we’ll just check off every place we’ve done it.”

“You’re insane.”

“And you’re beautiful. Your looks and my insanity lead to the same conclusion every time.”

“Sex?”

“Most definitely.”

Trin kissed his shoulder. “You’re insatiable.”

“Only for you.”

"Think you'll still be like this once you're used to me?"

Neo pulled away slightly so they he could look her in the eyes. "There is nothing in this world, Trin, that will ever change how I feel about you. I swear that I am never going to forget how lucky I am to have you.”

She smiled, slightly, glancing up at him. “I won’t forget, either. Sometimes, I wonder if you’re really here or…” She shrugged. “Or if I really am just dreaming it.”

“No such luck.” Neo said, “I’ll still be here when you wake up. You’re pretty much stuck with me.”

“Yeah?”

“Mhmm. You see, I love you too much to ever let you go.”

She kissed him, gently tilting her head to the side.

Fuck it. They could pack in the morning.

Chapter Text

A/N: All I Want for Christmas is a beta. Seriously. So if anyone is interested in beta-ing this story or the Matrix College AU I'm working on, please let me know.

Happy Holidays.

XOXO

~Trin303

 

 

Punctuality had always been very important to Trinity, especially when it came to her job as first officer aboard the Nebuchadnezzar. She was always the first one up and on ship, hours before anyone even had to be there.

Even before her promotion, when she had just been a regular crew member, she was on ship and ready to go before anyone else.

She had never, ever, had to have someone go to collect her. That was supposed to be her job.

Every time she prepared to leave Zion, she would have to go wake up Mouse or find a drunken Cypher.

Having Morpheus banging on their door was the closest to embarrassed as she’d been in a long time.

It was all Neo’s fault.

Neo, with those big brown eyes and soft smile, promising her that they would only kiss for a few minutes longer. Then they would pack.

Well, that kiss had turned into an explosion of passion that resulted in the loss of clothing and an increase in heat.

When they had finished, and Trinity had regained control of her mind, she realized just how late it had gotten. Clothes and books and food were tossed into bags before she herded him out of their apartment.

Morpheus was standing on the dock to the ship, talking with one of the soldiers as they hurried towards him. He raised his eyebrows in Trinity’s direction as the couple wordlessly walked passed him and onto the ship. She handed him her two bags.

“Put these away while I get her ready to go?”

Neo nodded, giving her a quick kiss before she took off in direction of the core. Link was sitting at the computers, typing with a practiced ease. She nodded to him before taking the ladder up to the cockpit.

The ship was already on, just put into a sleep-like mode. She hit a random key on the keyboard, causing it to wake. The screen lit up in front of her and she typed in the necessary information to be allowed access to the controls.

Heavy steps sounded on the ladder. She didn’t need to look to know that it was Morpheus.

“I noticed all the offerings were gone this morning.” He said as he reached the top.

“Donated them to the Orphanage.” She replied without looking up as the ship started to power up around her.

A moment of silence as Morpheus pondered that decision. “Clever. You didn’t reject or accept the gifts.”

“That was the idea.”

More silence. “I feel,” Morpheus ran a hand over his bald head as he sat next to Trinity, “No, I don’t feel. I know I owe you an apology.”

“For what?” Although she already knew the answer.

“For every time I thought I found the One. For every time I made you stay up all night watching the Matrix, watching them. Unplugging them. Seeing them grow stronger and then watching them die.” He shook his head, looking at her with regret. “You must have been going through hell.”

Trinity shrugged, “Don’t worry about it.”

“I hurt you.”

“No,” She insisted, “You didn’t.”

“I didn’t protect you.”

“I’m a soldier, Morpheus. I signed up for this life,” She gestured around the sparse chamber, “And all the hell and confusion and frustration that comes with it.”

“You signed up for terrible food and uncomfortable beds. You signed up for long hours and wearing three layers to stay warm. You didn’t sign up to get your heart played with.”

“I went to the Oracle, Morpheus. I knew what I was in for.”

Morpheus looked away. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I thought what the Oracle said was for me and me alone.”

“But I tortured you.”

“At the most, you annoyed me. I knew none of them were the One and it was frustrating listening to you go on and one about what they would do.”

“Why didn’t you just tell me that you knew they weren’t the One?”

“Would you have believed me? If I had told you that they weren’t?”

“If you had explained…”

“If I had explained, I would have become a tool to find him. My every move would have been watched every time we pulled someone out of the Matrix.... And I wouldn’t have blamed you, I knew it was your job.”

Morpheus closed his eyes, briefly, a breath escaping his chest. “My job.” He repeated. “Do you remember waking up that first day? On the Nebuchadnezzar.”

“Yes.”

“Do you remember what you asked me?”

“I asked you… if my family was safe. You said they were but that it wasn’t safe for me to see them.”

“I have pulled nearly a hundred children from of the Matrix. But never one quite like you.” He smiled slightly. “And I promised myself, since I took you away from your family, I would take care of you. But it seems I always fail in that respect.”

“You don’t.”

“How many times have you almost died?”

“It’s not good to dwell in the past…”

“67-- not including anything since we found Neo. You’ve come out of the Matrix with 11 wounds that have put you in the infirmary.”

“I’m a soldier. It’s what I do.”

“No. A soldier is someone who goes out to make their living fighting the battles of others. You are a warrior-- when a battle is not your own, you make it your own. You don’t fight because you’re good at it or because it’s a decent job. You fight because you care.” Morpheus turned his gaze to look at her, barely moving his head. “I should never have been surprised that you would fall for the One. He might just be the only man worthy of you-- he’s certainly the only one I would trust with you.”

Trinity smiled, not looking at the man she considered to be a second father. “Does that mean I have your approval?”

“My approval, my love and if and when it comes up, my blessing.” He held out a hand, stopping her from programming directions into the ship by placing it on top of hers. “Go be with him. Get settled.”

Out of habit, she almost insisted that she was fine to continue with her work but she caught herself. If she wanted to spend time with Neo, she had to take every moment offered.

“Thank you.”

Morpheus nodded and Trinity excused herself, hurrying towards their room.

Their room. The room that they shared, together.

Never again would she sleep alone on the Nebuchadnezzar.

That was an amazing feeling.

Trinity reached their door which was already opened, just a crack. She pushed it further to find Neo unpacking both of their bags onto the bed, piling stuff up according to garment.

She stepped down into the room, gently shutting the door. Neo turned at the noise, smiling at her. “I missed you.”

“I was gone for a few minutes.”

“Mhmm.” He nodded in agreement, crossing to her. “But I missed you. I always miss you when you’re not here.” Neo bent his head to offer her a small kiss.

She smiled against his lips. “I love you.”

“I love you.” He replied..

Trinity glanced up, meeting his eyes before moving to her tip-toes to reach his lips while her arms slid around his neck.

It was different from the way they usually kiss and it reminded him of their first kiss that happened on the very ship they stood on. Her soft lips barely moved, lingering on his for as long as possible before beginning a new kiss.

Unlike their first kiss, however, it was not tentative. Neither was exploring the other to learn their taste, their touch. Neither was testing boundaries while filled with nerves. Were there butterflies?

That was putting it mildly.

New love was thrilling. Completely terrifying in all the right ways. It gave off a pain, a gentle ache so bad that it was good.

But solidified love was even better. Love where two people knew each other in every sense of the word, knew their partner’s faults and still chose them everyday was magical.

And she could feel the magic flowing through them while they kissed.

She stopped to steady her breathing, burying her head in Neo’s chest. “We should get settled.”

“Probably.”

“I don’t want to move.”

“Me, neither.”

Trinity smiled, pushing back. “We can do this.”

“No, we can’t.” He argued, catching her with his arm and pulling her back against him. “We’re very weak. No will power whatsoever.”

“Well, if we put everything away then the bed will be cleared.”

Neo dropped his arms and turned to start putting away clothes. Trinity laughed, pulling out the books Neo picked and putting them on her shelves.

Unpacking together, sorting together. Making a home that was truly theirs .

She smiled to herself, actually excited to be on the Neb.

“We should get some pictures.” Neo commented, looking around the room. Where the walls were not covered with shelves or coat hooks, they were empty. Cold.

“Pictures?”

“Yeah. You see, I kind of like seeing you a little bit.”

“Oh really?”

“Mhmm. I’ve got a thing for dark-haired, bright-eyed, Canadian-American, prodigy hackers with advanced weapons training and a small tolerance for bullshit.”

“That’s very specific.”

“She’s a very special girl.” He closed the drawer, watching as she organized the books according to author and year published. Neo moved to stand behind her, his arms wrapping around her waist. “One of a kind.”

She smiled, standing on her tiptoes  and angling to the side to give him a kiss before she sighed. “There’s time for that later. Back to work.”

“No.”He pressed a kiss to her shoulder.

“Don’t make me pull rank on you.”

A moment of silence followed and she felt him harden against her backside, “Dear god, please pull rank on me.”

Trinity rolled her eyes. “Insatiable.”

“In love.” He corrected. “Hopelessly and irrevocably. Head over heels. And god only knows how long I have you for.”

She turned in his arms, slipping her own around his neck. “Not much longer. Morpheus gave us this time to get settled in. Pretty soon, we’ll have to get to work. We’ll be at broadcast depth in a day or so. Then we’ll be back into the Matrix and god only knows how that will go.”

“What exactly happens now? We go in and pull people out?”

“Were it only that simple. We watched you for about a solid four months before I made contact. And we’d watched you on and off before that.”

“So, what? We’ll be out here for four plus months before we go back to Zion?”

“Usually, that’s how it works. Pick a few people, watch them. Figure out if they have what it takes to last in the real world. And its harder than with you because these are kids. Kids we’re taking away from their families.”

“To give them a shot at a real life.”

“Yes. But the Matrix is real to them. Until we bring them here, its all they know. And some react better than others. Some are fine with it. And some beg us to put them back in-- to let them see their families. Every once in a while we have a kid who acts totally fine and then, the first time they go back in the Matrix, lose it.”

“So, how do you figure out which kid to pull?”

“Hundreds of different factors. Mostly the wisdom to figure out that something is wrong with their world, the intelligence to do something with it and the stability for them not to go homicidal and try to kill us.”

“Has that happened?”

“Eleven times since I’ve joined this ship. Twelve, if you count Cypher.” She paused, shaking her head. “And now, we’ll be even more screwed. In the past, if any kid gets violent, we had a medical officer who could talk them down. And, Christ, Dozer was good at it. About half of the kids get violent when we first pull them out. I was one of them. But without Dozer, we’re going to have to deal with it.”

“Like, psychologically?”

“Yup.”

“Have you ever had to do it before?”

“I’ve helped. A lot of the kids, particularly the young girls, try to latch onto the first woman they can find. As one of the two women on this ship, I’ve supported a good many. But there’s a difference between mentoring and preventing a nervous breakdown.”

“And there are only four of us. Christ.”

“It can be done with smaller crews. The Logos, where Ghost is, only has three crew members. And they try to keep Sparks away from the kids as much as possible so Niobe and Ghost do all the work, pretty much.”

“We’re going to be busy.”

“Very.”

Neo looked thoughtful. “It could be pretty fun. Kind of like when we were babysitting Hazel and Triton.”

“They’ll be a bit older than that but, yes. And for the most part, they’re all prodigies.”

“When do we get to start?”

She smiled at the start of his excitement. “Once we leave the dock, Link will hack into the Matrix. Unless you’d like to give it a try--”

“Yes.”

“So, you’ll hack into the Matrix and, while Morpheus is piloting, I can show you the potentials we’ve started tracking.”

“When are we leaving the docks?”

It was amazing how quickly his mind shifted gears. Hadn’t he not, just a few minutes earlier, been trying to get her clothes off? She would have been insulted if not for the knowledge that all she had to do was smile at him and he would be back on her like a lifeline.

“Any minute, really. We’re all aboard so it just depends on when Zion control lets us go.”

Neo took her hand and pulled her across the room and out the door. “Then let’s get ready.”

She rolled her eyes in response but followed anyway until they reached the core.

“Link?” Trinity said as they made their way into the room. “We’re going to have Neo try to hack into the Matrix.”

A shrug in response. “Sure thing. Has he had the training program run yet?”

“No, but I’d like to see if he can do it without it.”

“It’s very complicated.” Link said doubtfully.

“Humor me.”

“Yes, ma’am.” With that, Link vacated his chair for Neo.

She directed their new Operator to go help Morpheus while she stood just behind Neo, hands on his shoulders. She waited until Link had left the room to lean down, wrapping her arms around Neo’s shoulders and supporting her upper body on him.

“Am I ever going to get to see you hack?” Neo asked.

“You’ve seen me hack.”

“No, I haven’t.”

“You have.” She insisted, placing a kiss to the edge of his ear. “Knock knock, Neo.”

“Oh, come on. That doesn’t count!” He argued, “I was on the other side of that.”

“I’m sure you’ll see me hack soon enough. It’s kind of my job.”

“Really?”

“Mhmm. I’m a professional stalker slash wanted terrorist.”

Very wanted terrorist.”

“By you?” She guessed.

“Always.”

He turned into a kiss, a smile lingering on her lips.

“How would you feel about sparring a little later on?”

“With you?” He asked in surprise.

“Yeah.”

He was silent for a moment. “I know that you’re incredibly strong but…”

“You’re afraid you’ll hurt me.” She finished for him.

“I’m not doubting your abilities--”

“I know. You just don’t know yours yet. I’m not going to be mad if you say no, Neo. But I do feel that I should warn you,” She lowered her voice until it dripped of sex, “I have no intentions of fighting fair.”

He liked the way that sounded and was about to say as much when the ship started moving.

“It’ll be nice not being the newbie.” Neo commented as Trinity gave him the password for entering the computer.

“See the icon with the with the green glyph?”

“I’m still liking the sound of Glyph.” He said while clicking it open. “Good name. Strong name.”

“Glyph is the Matrix equivalent of Gertrude. Now, the file you just opened leads you directly to source code of the Matrix so from there…”

“Edit the code to match our frequency.”

Trinity smiled, “You can’t actually edit the code…”

He edited the code quickly, fingers flying across the keyboard. His face never once left the screen.

“Well, apparently you can.” She sighed.

“It’s just like in the Matrix. The code is all there and it can all be changed. Here I just have to do it manually.”

“How do you do it manually!?”

“Type in the binary coding of each glyph.”

Silence. “You know the binary coding of the glyphs.”

He stopped typing, looking up confused. “I guess so.”

“Show off.”

Neo grinned up at her. “But this is good, right?”

She smiled back. “Yes, it’s very good.”

He turned back to the computer, finishing the endless streams of ones and zeros. “That should do it.” He said, “So, I’m in the Matrix. Now what?”

“Narrow the search parameters.” She grabbed a file on top of a computer and strummed through it, pulling out a paper with a picture and several lines of coding. “Input this information and it will take you to him.”

Neo nodded, typing with a machine-like precision. Trinity rolled her eyes, setting her hands on the back of his chair.

It took him a matter of seconds to locate the kid.

“Steven Russo. Alias: Panther. He’s almost seventeen.”

“We can’t pull him out.”

“Excuse me?”

“We can’t pull him out of the Matrix.” Neo said with a shake of his head, zooming into the code. “See this strand here? This indicates his neuroticism. See the glyph that looks like the backwards F next to the weird…” He indicated it with a short wave of his hand. “thingy… it shows an overabundance of noradrenaline.”

“I never took biology, Neo.”

“Basically, he has a permanent adrenaline rush. Gives him intense focus which is why he’s probably accomplished so much so young. I mean, Christ, the kid is a genius but… it’s like his mind is permanently stuck on a fight-or-flight mode and you never know what he’s going to chose.” He looked up to Trinity, “He’s too unbalanced.”

Trinity blinked but kept up with Neo, pulling out the next file.

“What about her?”

Neo input the girl’s code.

“Kelsey Manning, aka Tempest. Thirteen years old. Nice looking brain.” Neo scrolled along her code faster than Trin could process but he seemed to be reading it fine. “A bit of emotional scarring, it seems, but she wants out. And she’s practically ready.”

“Neo, we generally watch these kids for weeks…”

“I can see everything.” He said quietly. “Every movement, every emotion. Every goddamn memory that hasn’t been deleted because of storage issues. I can see it all, Trinity.”

“And you think she’s ready?”

“I think she’s desperate.”

Trinity crossed her arms. “When did you become an expert on the subject?”

“That would probably be when you brought me back to life.” He continued typing, a smile playing on his face.

“Don’t be smart with me. I still outrank you.”

“Gonna fire me?”

“I just might. It’s in your best interest to remember that I brought you to life and I can send your right back.”

“And who would keep you warm at night?” Neo joked.

“I’m sure I could find someone.”

Neo’s face lost all humor and he stopped typing, mid-code. He turned in the chair, standing up.

“Oh, come on! I’m kidding!” Trinity told him taking a short step back.

He put his hands on her hips, guiding her back against metal wall before tangling himself in her. Was he kissing her? She wondered. Or was he trying to brand her?

She could feel his erection pressing into her stomach. “Neo…”

“No one.” Neo said. “No one else.”

She reached her hand up to cup his face. “Never.”

“I need you.”

“You have me.”

“Forever?”

Trinity nodded, looking into his deep brown eyes. “I’ve been yours since the first time I laid eyes on you.”

Neo leaned forward and kissed her, roughly. Trinity sighed against him, her hands tracing up his stomach and to his chest when she gently pushed him back.

His eyes snapped open.

“Back to work.”

Neo snorted and challenged, “Yeah?” His breath was against her ear as he spoke to her in a hushed zone. “Pull rank on me.”

“Back to work, soldier.” Her voice was just as low, “Or deal with the consequences.”

“And, uh… what might those consequences entail, First Officer?”

“You sleeping alone tonight, for a start.”

“You don’t play fair.”

Trinity stood on her tiptoes, pressing a gentle kiss to his lips. “Afraid not.”

 

Chapter Text

Hey guys. Sorry for the long wait-- I'll try to keep it from happening again but it's been a very hectic month for me. Thanks to everyone who reviewed (particularly jessy who's review gave me the kick in the butt to start writing again :) Still searching for my Beta so let me know if you're interested.

 

 

 

 

“He’s not the right choice.”

“He’s been under surveillance for a long time, Neo.”

“He’s unstable. His mind can’t decide whether its coming or going.”

“Because he’s confused.”

“Because he has a brain imbalance… Look, I’ll I’m trying to do is find people to free from the Matrix. People who need to be freed, people who can help the resistance. But I’m telling you that this kid isn’t right. Please listen to me. You can’t just say that I’m the One and put all this weight on me if you won’t even listen to what I have to say.

Morpheus had seceded.

Neo had slept better that night knowing that he and Trinity were safe.

Were he being completely honest, he feared of what that imbalance could do so far away from civilization. Cypher had killed four and fell minutes short of killing them all. The anxiety he felt with Panther was similar to when he first met Cypher.

He had chalked it up to paranoia but it was beyond time to trust his instincts.

They would be at broadcast level in the morning Link had told him before switching duties. Neo was now sitting at the helm next to Morpheus, learning the controls for piloting the Neb.

They had sat in a compatible silence, the controls being simple to learn, until creaking came from the ladder.

He recognized the steps as hers instantly.

He wondered, somewhere in the back of his mind, if that was part of his instincts, part of being the One-- feeling and sensing her.

But he stopped caring as Trinity entered the cockpit, speaking to Morpheus. “Link wants to know when we’ll hit broadcast.”

She stopped behind Neo’s chair, resting her hands on his shoulders.

“Not long.”

“Are you still up for making first contact?”

Neo nodded, “You’re still going with me?”

“Of course.”

“Wonderful.” Neo slipped his hand up and around to reach the back of Trinity’s neck. He rubbed it softly, pulling her head down to his.

“Good grief.” Morpheus muttered as Neo kissed her from below.

“Sorry.” Neo said completely unapologetically.

“No, you’re not.”

“Yeah, I’m really not.” He agreed, still looking at Trinity upside down.

“I’ll see you later.” She told him with a smile, giving his shoulders a final squeeze.

“I love you.”

“I love you more.”

“Somebody shoot me.”

Trinity smirked, “I’d apologize if I gave a damn, Morpheus, but we both know I don’t.”

“I just want you to remember that somewhere in this great big universe, Switch is laughing hysterically at you.”

“Like I care.” She replied dryly as she slipped down the ladder and back to the Core.

Neo watched her go, feeling the loss immediately.

“Go on.” Morpheus sighed. “It’s not like you’ll get anything done now.”

“Thank you.” Neo wasted no time in getting up and striding towards the exit. He grabbed either side of the ladder’s edges and slid down, quickly catching up to Trinity.

He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. “Gotcha.” He whispered into her ear.

Trinity smiled, walking while her body stayed flush against his, a smile on her face. “Dad let you go early?”

“Uh-huh.” He nipped at her ear. “Probably wanted us to… get ready.”

“And,” She coughed gently, “How do you suggest we get ready?”

Neo slipped his arms around her waist before quickly spinning her around to face him. He reached for her face, kissing her while he backed Trinity into a wall. She moaned as her body made contact with the cold wall, grasping at his shirt.

She wrapped a leg around his thigh and placed a hand on each of his shoulders in order to pull herself up. Neo dropped his hands to cradle her ass and keep her elevated.

He moaned into her mouth, “Do you know how long its been since I’ve kissed you?”

“Too fucking long.” She slipped her tongue into his mouth, sweeping at his parted lips. They pulled each other closer, tearing at the clothes.

“You know,” He whispered between kisses, “We don’t really have... to see the Oracle. We could stay… here longer… less clothes.”

“She… asked for us… to see her, Neo.” She scraped his lower lip with her teeth. “We can’t… exactly… say no.”

“Watch me.”

Trinity kissed his nose before unwrapping herself from him and letting her legs fall towards the floor. With a long sigh, Neo set her on her feet.

“Let’s go.”

 

“The Oracle will see you now.”

Neo looked up from the hushed conversations of nothing that he had been having with Trinity and to the… well, what was she? The Oracle’s secretary? Assistant? Lady-in- waiting?

“Thank you, Cassandra.” Trinity said taking Neo’s hand and leading him back into the familiar kitchen.

The first thing Neo noticed was that the vase he had broken was back and repaired, sitting on the counter. The second was that an array of cookies decorated the table. He switched his vision with a simple blink, green code pouring through his vision. They weren’t real cookies but he could see every pseudo-ingredient and the clouds of aroma drifting through the air.

Christ, they smelled good.

“Help yourself.” The Oracle said, sitting at the tab.

Trinity took the seat across from the Oracle while Neo stood behind her. Despite the wonderful smell he didn’t touch the cookies.

Trinity did, taking an oatmeal raisin cookie and nibbling on it. He set his hands on her shoulders. He kept his face free of expression as he watched the Oracle.

“Usually I inisist on meeting people one-on-one but I figured everything I told you,” She looked from Neo to Trinity, “you would tell her. I thought I’d make it easier for you

Enough time had passed that Neo knew that everything the Oracle had told him had been true but she had purposely mislead him. He didn’t appreciate that in the slightest.

The Oracle watched Neo back, a small smile on her face.

“You’re angry with me.” She said simply.

“I’m not exactly pleased with what you told me last time we met.”

“I told you the truth.”

“You told me a truth.”

“That’s all there ever is. Few things in this world a certain and, it was possible, that you never would have become the One.”

“But I did.”

“But it wasn’t set in stone. A thousand things could have changed the course of events.”

“But you told Morpheus he would find the One. You told Trinity that we were supposed to be together.”

“Yes. I couldn’t guarantee that either of those things would happen but I felt it best to help… guide the situation.”

“But you couldn’t guide me?”

“Oh, but I did guide you. Right where you needed to go-- back into the Matrix to rescue Morpheus.”

“Back into the Matrix to die.”

“Worth it, wasn’t it?”

He looked at the raven hair beneath him and the pale skin, untouched by the sun. When had life become so simple? When had Trinity become everything?

The answer, of course, was she had always been his everything. He just hadn’t known it.

“I get your point.” He said coolly.

“Trinity.” The Oracle said, switching her attention. “More than anyone else, my dear, you’ll have to watch your back.”

That was not new information but what followed was.

“I don’t know how but they know it was you who brought him back to life.”

“The Agents?” Neo felt the need to clarify.

A nod. “Amongst others. There are programs out there more dangerous than the Agents.”

“Like what?”

“Rogues.” Trinity told him. “Programs that used to be part of the system until they became conscious. Agents have rules, systems that they have to follow but Rogue programs can do whatever they want.”

“And they won’t want the Matrix shut down, that’s for sure.” The Oracle said with a nod. “If I were you,” She pointed at Neo, “I’d send a message. Make it loud and clear that this is your world now.”

Neo nodded, “And then what?”

“What do you mean?”

“And then what happens? I’m supposed to destroy the Matrix but I don’t have the slightest idea how or even where to start.”

“You don’t.”

“I don’t?”

“You don’t start. You’ve already started. From here on out, its only a matter of time.”

“But how…?”

“Just stay alive. You’ll figure the rest out with time.”

 

“Sagely advice.” Neo commented to Trinity as they were pulled back into the Construct. Trinity pulled out a small tablet and quickly changed her apparel to something less aggressive. He did the same, reverting to black jeans and a button down shirt. Trin was wearing jeans and a black shirt.

He loved her in leather but there was something so quasi-normal in her new choice in clothing.

It was less conspicuous, she had said. She had worn leather to the club because… well, it was a club. It was the best place to meet him but it was unprecedented considering everyone else they had rescued from the Matrix was under twenty.

First contact with Tempest would, hopefully, take place in the park. Leather and PVC didn’t have a place there and they wanted to blend.

“Ready?” She asked him.

A nod.

She snapped open her phone and relaid instructions to Link. In an instant, they were in a phone box just inside an alley.

“Let’s go.”

She set the pace as they walked to the nearby park.

“What do you say if she asks what the Matrix is?”

“Avoid answering directly.”

After being on the Neb for so long, he had finally got the courage to start asking questions. One of the first of which was simple: why not tell people what the Matrix was? Sure, not everyone would believe or want to believe but some would have to.

The reason, Trinity had told him, was that Agents killed off anyone who talked about the Matrix with any real knowledge.

“If she wants to know who you are?”

“Name, rank and serial number only?” At the bland look on her face he amended his answer, “Or just my name.”

“And if she tries to run?”

“Let her. Avoid causing unnecessary attention to be brought to ourselves.”

“Your signal for help?”

“Hand at my side, three fingers out.” He took a long stride, getting just ahead of her before spinning in front of her so that they stood face to face. “It’ll be fine, Trin.”

She offered half a smile. “I know.”

Knowing her feelings towards kissing in the Matrix he simply pressed his lips to her forehead. “I love you.”

“And I love you. Which is why I’m worried.”

“I know. Trust me, I know. And after what the Oracle said, I don’t blame you for wanting to get back home as soon as possible and…”

Her face scrunched up in confusion. “What?”

“The Agents coming after you. But I promise that this will go well. I want to get you out of here, too, and I’ll do everything in my power to make this go as quickly as possible.”

“Stop.” She took his free hand so that she held both. “Neo, I’m not afraid of the Agents coming after me.”

“You’re not?”

She shook her head. “No. I’ve been expecting it. You’re practically invincible. I’m not. Logically, it makes the most sense.”

“And you’re not scared?”

She raised an eyebrow. “Should I be?”

“No!” He said immediately. “Of course not, they won’t get anywhere near you, I swear!”

“I know.” She reached up and placed her hand on his cheek. “It’s going to be okay, Neo.”

“I need you.”

“You have me. And when we finish up here and go home, I’ll show you that I’m yours.”

Neo grinned, “We better hurry up here, then.”

“We better.” She agreed, “Especially because I think that’s Tempest.”

Neo turned to where she indicated and, sure enough, there she was running full speed along the jogging trail with two cops on her tail.

“I’ve got the cops.” Trinity sighed, “You get the girl.”

“Not necessary.” Neo said, squeezing her hand as he blinked and opened his eyes to the world as it was in code. He zoomed in on the two officers and quickly rewrote their intention of catching the little thief and changed it to the first thing that came to mind: donuts. The cops stopped running and, almost zombie like, turned around and went the opposite direction.

“Neo?”

“Yeah?”

“You ever mess with my head like that, you’ll be sleeping alone.”

“Wouldn’t even consider it.”

“Good.”

Tempest was confusingly glancing over her shoulder, slowing down to a job as she watched the cops leave.

He figured manipulating Tempest’s mind, though a neat party trick, probably wasn’t the best idea.

“Fuck!” Trinity swore and he swung his gaze to wear she was looking. The two cops previously chasing Tempest had turned into Agents.

“Get to Tempest.” Neo said. “Take her to the hotel.”

“What about you?”

“I’ll deal with them and join you.”

“Be careful.”

“You, too.”

They separated, Trinity breaking into a sprint towards the wide-eyed Tempest. She leapt into the air, tackling the girl to the ground as one of the Agents shot at them.

Neo pulled a gun from the back of his pants firing shots at the Agent in question, distracting him by making him bend to avoid the bullets. The second Agent ran at him, ready to strike. Neo waited until the last moment to pull away, looking between the Agents and not where his eyes itched to check on Trinity and Tempest.

He had to trust her to get the girl out of there.

He kicked the legs out from underneath the second Agent before shooting at the ankle of the first. Real or not, the computer’s laws of physics dictated that the Agent must fall and he did as such.

He ran full force at the fallen Agent and dove into him, just as he had done with Smith.

Delete. Delete. Delete.

A flash of light spread with him as the epicenter as the Agent burst into nothing. A wave of exhaustion hit him but he did not falter, repeating the action with the second Agent.

He paused, reminding himself that it was all in his mind. He had to work through the tiredness.

Neo bent down low, his eyes closed but his face pointing towards the sky and jumped. He opened his eyes again on his ascent, searching for the green glyphs that he knew better than any other.

Her hand was clutching at anothers, Tempest’s.

Down he went, landing on his feet a few yards ahead of her.

Trinity slowed to a walk, never stopping as she lead a shell-shocked Tempest down the street.

“Agents?”

“Taken care of.”

“You?”

“I’m fine.”

She checked out of the corner of her eyes. “Injuries?”

“Just the other guys.”

Trinity nodded, quickening their pace and approaching the hotel.

“I don’t understand what’s happening.” The girl told them, shakily.

“You will soon.” Trinity assured her as she stepped through the doorway. She turned her attention to Neo. “Want me to take lead?”

“I can do it.” The started climbing the first long staircase, up to the room where he had met Morpheus not so long ago. The two red chairs were already set up and Morpheus was waiting by the window.

Trinity slipped a small box into his hand. One pill, two pill. Red pill, blue pill.

With a nod of her head, she and Morpheus disappeared into the back room leaving him alone with the storm.

“Who are you?” She asked him, as if suddenly aware of how strange and dangerous it was to follow a strange man and woman across a city.

“My name is Neo.” He told her, falling back into the chair.

“Neo.” She repeated. “The Neo all the feds are after?”

“Yes.”

“What the hell did you do? I’d never heard of you and then all of the sudden you become number one on the FBI’s most wanted. How the hell does that work?”

“I learned too much. And they’re afraid of what I can do with that knowledge.”

Tempest’s eyes widened ever so slightly before she took a seat across from him. “The Matrix.”

A nod.

“What is the Matrix?”

 

Chapter Text

What? Two chapters in one day? Someone must love you! (Or is feeling guilty about being gone for a month. Or both. Both is good.)

 

<3 Trin303

 

 

 

Time didn’t have quite the same meaning in the real world as it did on the Matrix. Without the sun, there was no natural source of light and heat telling them when to work and, while with larger crews schedules were important, a crew of four didn’t require such strict dictation.

Which was the real reason everyone was awake at three in the morning five days after pulling Tempest out of the Matrix.

Morpheus was sitting at the monitors, watching a new kid that Neo had found and wanted to release.

Link was repairing damaged wires after Neo’s intense hacking had overloaded the system.

Neo was with Trinity in the infirmary, watching as she pulled the long needles out of Tempest’s body.

He winced as she dropped yet another in a bin filled with alcohol and the blood started to diffuse. “This is disgusting.”

“Yes.”

“You did this with me?”

“Uh-huh.”

“So…”

She glanced up. “So what?”

“So you saw…” His gaze dropped down to his crotch.

Trinity smirked. “Uh-huh.”

“Wonderful.” Neo sighed. “I remember a bit of it. I remember waking up and seeing your face.”

“And asking if you were dead.” She smiled, pulling out another needle.

“For all I knew, you could have been an angel.”

She arched an eyebrow. “As far as lines go, that was weak.”

“Good thing I already have you. Goddamn it!”

“What?” Trinity asked with a grin.

“I dropped another fucking stitch.”

“Give me a second…” She told him, taking out the last few needles before rinsing her hands under water.

She walked over to Neo, who sat on the movable gurney with a dorky expression of pure confusion.

“It’s pointless, anyway. I mean, no one even wears scarves.”

“Knitting a scarf will teach you the basic stitches you’ll need to make everything else.”

“But I can’t even knit the fucking scarf.”

“Let me see.”

She took the two needles in hand and examined his stitching. She reached down and tugged the small stitch back up and slipped into onto the needle.

“See? No big deal.” She handed it back to him.

“Knitting’s hard.”

“Yeah but, from what I hear, freezing to death is worse.”

“i’m not concerned with freezing to death. I have you to keep me warm.”

“And while I appreciate the sentiment, you’ve never been on this ship without power for more than a few minutes.”

“That happens?”

“Yes. It’s an old ship. Sometimes the power doesn’t come back on immediately just by hitting the button. Sometimes we have to hide from sentinels for hours at a time, days even. And sometimes, rarely, it just gives out.”

“And let me guess: Zion doesn’t see it as a priority that needs to be fixed?”

“It’s never actually killed anyone so they don’t view it as anything more than a mild annoyance.”

“How annoying.” He took the knitting and set it aside before taking her hand, remembering their second kiss (that he was conscious) for. Their third kiss overall.

He brought it to his lips and kissed it just above the knuckles.

“How are you so perfect?”

“Created by a machine. No room for human error.”

“They must have slaved over you.”

“I’m still making you finish the scarf.”

He made a face. “I’ll do all the cooking and cleaning in this relationship if you do the sewing.”

“This isn’t sewing. This is knitting.”

“Why do I need to knit?”

“Neo, literally everyone in the army can knit. Morpheus can knit, Link can knit, Ghost, even Sparks can knit.”

“I’ve dropped more stitches than I’ve made and this fucking scarf is taking forever. It’s been four days and it isn’t even long enough to fully wrap around a neck.”

“It takes time to learn.” She said gently. “You’ll be a pro in no time.”

He grumbled in response.

“I’ll tell you what.” Trinity wrapped her arms around his neck and lowered her voice to a sexy drawl. “For every row you finish, I’ll give you a kiss. And when the scarf is done, I’ll let you use it to tie me up and have your way with me.”

He felt himself harden immediately and fought back the urge to swear.

“Where the fuck are my needles?” He said, a new found interest in the craft growing.

“Mhmm.”

Trinity backed out of his embrace and returned to her patient. Tempest had been healing at an average rate, muscle spasming right on track. Plus, between the acupuncture and the machine created muscles and joints the girl would be walking and talking in now time.

She had been administered her last dose of tranquilizers just before Trinity began taking the needles out.

Trin picked up the clipboard she was using to monitor Tempest with and recorded the girl’s vitals.

“Row.” Neo told her.

She glanced up. “Already?”

“I”m determined.”

Her lips twitched in response and she put aside the notes before crossing the room. “I knew you could do it.” She told him, arms reaching around his neck.

Neo’s hands found their way to her waist before hiking her up, like he had just weeks before, and onto his lap. Her knees found a place on either side of him and he took advantage of her slight disorientation to kiss her.

“Nnn!” She moaned into his mouth as her eyes fluttered shut and grip tightened, keeping her stabilized.

He slid a hand from her waist to the hem of her sweater, sneaking it just under. Anything to feel her soft skin.

“For the love of god, there is a teenage girl right next to you!” Morpheus sounded from the door.

The kiss broke apart but Neo did nothing to loosen his grip, keeping her on his lap. “More like adjacent. And she’s sedated.”

“Do neither of you have self-control?” He asked, more amused than annoyed.

“Morpheus, I’m literally supposed save seven billion people from an army of machines. I have an entire government on my back and Agents at every goddamn turn in the Matrix. Life is short. Self-control is over-rated. If I want to kiss my woman, I’m going to kiss my woman.”

“Didn’t we determine that I’m not yours, you’re mine?”

“DIdn’t you ever learn to share?” Neo countered, kissing the tip of her nose.

“I share. I share my expertise, my knowledge, my bed … What more do you want?”

“Your heart.”

“It’s already yours.”

“You’re both disgusting.”

Neo made a face at his commanding officer. “Please. We’re adorable.”

“You’re making out in what was a sanitary infirmary next to a borderline comatose teenage girl.”

“You’re making it sound a lot worse than it is.”

“That’s exactly how it is.”

“To be fair, we work eighteen hours a day. We have a free two minutes, there’s a ninety percent chance that we’re going to be all over each other.”

“Only ninety?” Trinity asked, a smirk gracing her perfect lips.

“We need to eat sometime. Of course, you’re much more delectable.” Neo pressed a kiss to her jaw, just underneath her ear.

Morpheus rolled his eyes. “I’m going to bed. Can one of you take over monitoring Havana?”

Havana was Neo’s second find. A sixteen year old boy who had recently gone on a what-is-the-Matrix binge, going into the deep, dark web for answers and coming up with theories that weren’t far from the truth.

Normally, Trinity had told him, the crew would try and get two or three kids at a time to bring back to Zion. He, yet again, had been an exception.

“I’ll go.” Neo said, wrappings his arms underneath Trin’s legs so that he could hold her up as he stood up. “I love you.”

“I love you.” She told him, giving him a long, soft kiss before extending her feet towards the ground.

“I’ll miss you.”

“Mmm, I’ll miss you, too.”

“Focus.” Morpheus told them, unable to stop a smile at their affection.

“Bye.” Trinity said, stepping out of his embrace and turning her focus to Tempest. Someone would need to stay with the girl until she woke up. And for a while after, probably.

Babysitting was definitely going to cut into her time with Neo but it was, at least, not a chore.

She glanced up, noticing that Morpheus was still standing in the doorway. “Shouldn’t you be off to bed?”

“Probably.” he agreed. “I just... I want you to know that I'm proud of you."

"Morpheus, I do this every time we have a newbie." She said indicating the records in her hands.

"You know that isn't what I mean. You've grown up so fast. It seems like just yesterday it was you lying there and now... you're one of the best pilots, most talented fighters I've ever seen. You're in love. Talking about starting a family..."

"That's a ways off."

"Yes. It is. But I'm proud of you. And I love you."

She offered him a small smile. "I love you, too, Morpheus."

 

 

Chapter Text

Hey all, sorry it took so long to update. I have a few chapters lined up that need a bit more work before they get published. Thanks to all who reviewed and a huge thanks to Trineo for agreeing to be my beta :) Your support and help means the world to me :)

Until next time,

xoxo

Trin303

 

A loud beep from the com system pulled both Neo and Trinity out of sleep.

"I got it." Trin muttered.

He didn't bother to argue- she had fallen asleep draped on his chest and, although he'd like to let her sleep, she'd need to get up for him to get the com.

She climbed off him as Neo moved to a sitting position, letting the blankets drop to his lap.

"Yeah?"

"Tempest's awake." There was a loud crash, "And she's throwing things."

"On my way."

She discommunicated and rummaged through the bureau, grabbing a pair of pants and yanking them up. She didn't bother taking off her soft, black tank top but threw a sweater on top of it.

Neo recognized the sweater immediately as the one he had worn when he had been killed. It had since been washed but stains of red were still visible.

"I'll meet you down there." Neo said, not quite awake and not recognizing the raspiness of his own voice.

She gave him a quick nod and departed down the hall, her footsteps echoing in the metal corridor.

Neo dressed swiftly, sleep still lingering in his eyes as he made his way to the infirmary. He could hardly recognize the man he had been in the Matrix, who fell asleep at his computer instead of in bed with his woman and slept until his alarm blared so loud that he could not ignore it any longer and would rush to work.

In the span of a few short weeks, he had ceased to be Thomas Anderson, program, and had become Neo, man.

It almost seemed humorous, he mused to himself. Just weeks ago he had worked and ate and hacked and slept and that had been his life.

Now, he still worked and ate and hacked and slept but the cloudiness had vanished. The meaninglessness was gone with the wind and, most importantly, he wasn't alone.

He rounded the corner and entered the sterile room with glass shattered across the floor. Link was standing awkwardly in a corner while Trinity stood ten feet off from the girl, trying to coax her down.

"It will grow back."

"Grow back?" The girl shrieked, "Before I went with you I had all my hair, now it's gone! What did you do to it?"

"Technically, nothing. It was a side effect of the blue pill."

"And what? You're boyfriend didn't think that the effects were important enough to mention."

Trinity shrugged, "He's a guy. He doesn't always think."

"It's true." Neo said, coming up behind Trinity. "But is losing your hair that big of a price to pay to know what the Matrix is?"

"I don't know what the Matrix is! You wouldn't-"

"Would you like to?"

Tempest's face relaxed slightly. "Now?"

"If you're willing to calm down, I don't see why not."

The girl nodded. "Alright. Fine. What is the Matrix?"

Neo held out his hand, nearing Tempest. She took the step necessary to take his hand.

"I'll go set up the Construct." Trinity said, "Link, get Morpheus."

She jogged ahead of Neo and Tempest, trusting him to keep the girl calm while she quickly typed in the controls for the desert of the real.

She could hear Neo telling her that the plugs were okay, "Look, I have them, too."

"But why? I don't understand."

"You will." Neo said leading her into the room. "Trin?"

"It's ready." She pulled a second screen down, starting to add to the settings. "Are you going in or is Morpheus?"

"Morpheus, probably. He'll be able to answer the harder questions better."

"You'll have to do it eventually." She warned.

"Why don't you do it, then?"

"I do, occasionally. Depends on the kid."

"I'm a teenager." Tempest corrected.

"And that's why I'm not going in." Trinity said without looking away from the screen.

"Here." Neo told Tempest, "have a seat here."

"Why are there straps on the chair?"

"For your protection."

"What the hell does that mean? I'm not getting in that fucking chair."

"It's just safer for you if you're strapped in. It'll keep you from falling."

"This is bullshit!"

"Tempest, look…"

"No! I'm not-"

Neo felt Trinity's hand touch his back. "Let me handle this." She looked at the kid. "You want to know what the Matrix is?"

"Yes."

"Then you're going to sit your ass in that chair and let yourself get strapped in."

Tempest glared at Trinity, who held her stare with a practiced gaze.

"Fine." Tempest spit out, stomping over to the chair and falling back into it.

Neo exchanged a glance with Trinity before going over and pulling the straps over her wrists and ankles before holding her head, as if to strap it, and slamming the plug in.

Tempest's eyes widened in shock before her eyes fluttered shut.

"Keeping her in limbo till Morpheus gets here."

"I'm here." Morpheus said, walking over to his own chair and settling in. "Go."

They got him plugged in as Link took over position of Operator and handled the computers.

"If she listens to you so well, why didn't you go with her?"

"I speak irrational teenage girl but I don't get along with it."

"Ah."

He followed her footsteps as she walked over to the console, watching on the monitor as Morpheus introduced Tempest to the computer simulated reality.

"She seems calmer than I was."

"Yeah, you were strange." Trin commented not looking away from the screen.

"What do you mean?"

"You were pretty compliant up until the point when we got you into the Construct. Most of the time, it's the other way around. We fight with them literally until they get in and then they calm down. You were no trouble at all until you got into the chair."

"To be fair, though, I had you telling me what to do and I was pretty much willing to do whatever you said."

She smirked, leaning over into his embrace, watching together as the construct shifted from desert to blank, white space.

"Having a teenager's going to suck, isn't it?" Neo asked, looking at Tempest.

"Oh, most definitely. That's why we're going to space the kids out so that we either have one over eighteen or under ten at all times."

"Or, we could just have more than three kids."

"Don't push your luck."

He pressed a kiss to the top of her head and continued to watch Morpheus unleash the secrets of the Matrix.

When Tempest awoke from the Construct, she immediately asked for privacy. Morpheus had led her to what would be her room until they got back to Zion.

She didn't throw up, Neo noted, a slight wave of embarrassment coming over him. The worst part was that Trinity seemed to know exactly what he was thinking and offered him a smirk as she unstrapped Tempest from the chair.

"It went well, at least." Link said, "When do you plan on going after the boy?"

Trinity shrugged, "Don't know. Normally, we'd be out here for weeks, maybe months monitoring him but we don't have to do that anymore. Theoretically, we could go after him at any time. I think it will depend on how Tempest adjusts." Trinity took a seat at the console, changing the data from Construct to Matrix. "You two should go to bed. I'll take over for now."

Link nodded, "Thanks."

Neo waited until he had left the core to make his way to Trinity.

"Sleep well." She told him, craning her neck up for a kiss.

Neo accepted the kiss but, instead, took a seat on the floor next to her.

"Neo, you need to sleep." She sighed.

"So do you."

"I'll find time later."

"So will I."

"Neo!"

"You're pretty when you're mad."

She glared in his direction. "For god's sake, at least get a chair."

"Well, I don't really care about God." Neo said, getting to his feet. "But for you, my love? The moon, the sky, the stars that shine."

"You're obnoxious." She commented, searching the Matrix for Havana and finding him at home and on his computer. That came as no surprise to Trinity. They were almost always on their computers.

She glanced back at Neo. She couldn't count the nights that she had watched him fall asleep at his computer.

He moved to sit next to her, moving his chair as close as humanly possible to hers. He wrapped an arm around her waist. As if choreographed, Trinity leaned into him, resting her head against his shoulder.

"Was I this boring to watch?"

She smiled in response. "Switch once accused you of being the lamest person in the world."

"Really?"

"Mhmm. I used to take some of her shifts because she, and I quote, 'Would die if she had to watch another minute of your mundane existence.'"

"Ouch."

"Apoc, Morpheus and I were the only ones who didn't find you entirely boring. Though Morpheus did fall asleep watching you, once."

"Did he really?"

Trinity nodded. "Though, to be fair, you didn't do much. At all. Never left your apartment, except for work. The only person you spoke to on a regular basis was your landlady. You literally lived on Chinese food deliveries. No close friends, no real enemies."

"I was kind of boring, wasn't I?"

"I didn't think so."

"Yeah?"

"Still waters run deep. You might not have been very active but there was a lot going on under the surface." She laughed to herself. "I won fifty credits off of Tank the night you went to the club. He didn't think I'd be able to get you out of the apartment."

"The White Rabbit thing was clever."

"You were going to go where the answers were. Tank didn't get that. He thought it was a homebody type thing."

"My apartment was never really home." Neo concurred. "It was just where my computer was."

"You fell asleep more often in that desk chair than you did in your bed. Headphones blaring. Searches running. Only waking up when your alarm clock pierced through the music."

Neo laughed, "Christ, I nearly got fired my last day in the Matrix because I slept through it."

"I remember." She said with a nod, "I was waiting for you on my bike outside your office to take you to the meeting point. But you got spooked and walked straight into Smith's trap."

"I was young and naive then."

"That was literally five weeks ago."

"Details, details." He pressed a kiss to her temple. Another to her cheek, making a trail to her delectable mouth. He kissed her, eyes closing as her sweet taste flooded his system. "Mmm." He moaned, "How long do we have to watch him?"

"You can go back at any time." She commented between kisses.

"Twenty-four hour surveillance is so dumb!"

"First of all, this isn't real twenty-four hour surveillance. We're just watching him while he's awake. And, be thankful we're only doing it for a few days. With you, we had two months of twenty-four hour surveillance."

"Seriously?"

"Uh-huh."

"But…"

"But what?"

"But even when I was sleeping? And showering and eating?"

Trinity nodded, "And jacking off in the shower."

His face turned pale. "No."

"Yup."

"No."

"Technically, we're supposed to look away when things like that are happening."

"Technically?"

She turned her gaze to the monitor, a smirk on her face.

"Technically?"

She was fighting laughter.

"Technically!" He said again, tickling her sides.

"I was curious." She giggled, "I didn't know for sure but… you were the first person I ever wanted to be the One. I kept playing out all these scenarios in my head and, well, I wanted them to be accurate."

"Sexy scenarios?" Neo asked, very interested in the change in conversation.

"Sometimes."

"And, did I, uh, meet your expectations?"

"Fishing for compliments?"

"Just interested in your review."

"Uh-huh." A hint of disbelief in her voice.

"So? Did I?"

Trinity rolled her eyes. "Isn't your head big enough, Mister-Savior-of-Zion?"

"Yeah, but this actually matters!"

"And the rest of the free world doesn't?"

"Well… I mean, I like Zion and everything. But I love you. I'll do whatever it takes to save Zion but… it's always going to be you, Trinity. Making you happy is all I want. So yeah, knowing that I can do that would make me ecstatic Like I could fly. In the real world."

Trinity turned slightly in her seat. She reached a hand up to his cheek. "Very happy. Ridiculously happy. Pinch-myself-to-see-if-I'm-dreaming happy. Wondering if I'm still in the Matrix because how could this, how could you, possibly be real?"

Neo kissed her, fire flowing through his body by way of his blood. Everything burned and he didn't care.

Her hands were on his chest, moving along his sweater, feeling the growing muscle beneath it. She was constantly being overwhelmed by how much she loved him and it was no exception as he pulled her onto his lap, wanting her to get as close as humanly possible.

"Wanna get out of here?" He asked, his hands digging into the flesh at her waist.

Trinity glanced back to the screen. "He's probably going to be going to bed soon."

"It is a school night."

"We won't miss anything if we leave a bit early."

"Just a bit." Neo repeated, slipping his hands under her thighs and hoisting her up so that he could stand.

The world could wait for a bit longer.

Chapter Text

“How is she doing?” Trinity asked, walking up behind Link.

“She’s had about thirty minutes of training. Handling pretty well.”

“Make her take a break soon. I don’t want her to overload her systems.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Link? If you’re planning on staying aboard the Neb for a while, I suggest you drop the formalities.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Link.”

“Trinity.”

She smiled. “No more than fifteen minutes before you make her rest. If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen with Morpheus going over Havana’s file.”

“And Neo?”

“Sleeping. God knows he needs it.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Trinity glared at him.

“Trinity.”

Satisfied, she left the Core and made her way down to the kitchen. Morpheus was already there, file spread out on the table.

“I remember when you used to be the first to every meeting.”

“I have a minute to spare.”

“Seconds, more like.” He looked up. “Is Neo still asleep?”

“I’m not his keeper.”

“No.” Morpheus agreed, a smile preying on his lips. “I still can’t believe we’ve found him.”

“Try to remember that he is still human.”

“Yes, but look at this! We’re already to go after Havana and its only been a few days since we’ve unplugged Tempest and we already have this whole list,” he pushed the paper towards Trinity, “Of new recruits. I mean, can you imagine what it will mean for Zion? It changes everything.”

Trinity sat still, watching her commanding officer. “I would caution you, Morpheus, your choice of words.”

“Pardon?”

“He changes everything. Neo’s not a weapon or a tool. He’s a person.”

“Of course, I only meant…”

“I know what you meant.” She assured him. “But using words to turn him into an object is the first step towards forgetting his own humanity.”

Morpheus stared at her before offering a small smile. “The Oracle was right. He’s hopeless without you.”

“An extreme exaggeration. As his  girlfriend, I’m supposed to brag about his talents and prowess when, in reality, I spend most of my time trying to convince other people that he is totally, one hundred percent normal.”

“Well, you do see a side to him that no one else does.”

“To be fair, sir, does Link not see in Zee what no one else does? And Zee in Link?  Dozer in Cass? You in Niobe?” A low blow but one deserved. “Just… try not to idolize him. It makes him uncomfortable.”

She looked down at the table and the various papers and maps spread around. “Now, if we’re dropped at the exit at the abandoned blockbuster, we’re only two blocks away from the bookstore.”

“Where he works?”

“Yes. Now, his shift is from four to eight. I could go in at any point, buy a book, drop a few words to make him curious. The next day, I wait for him at the bus stop. Walk with him. Give him some options.”

“And if Agents show up? They’ve been extra vigilant lately.”

“Neo’s planning on going in, anyway. He can do his superman thing and follow. Out of sight. I get him drop. Red pill, blue pill. Go from there.”

“We have six empty rooms.”

“I wouldn’t try to bring in too many at once, sir.”

“How many is too many?”

“They’re teenagers. I’d argue that one is too many.” But she shrugged. “I don’t know. I’d stay stick with three or four for now. The last thing we want is drama on the Neb.”

“True.” The idea did seem to set him back. “Let’s try four, though.”

“Trying to impress the Council?”

“Trying to prove a point-- I know. He’s not a machine but Neo seems to have no problems just looking at a kid once and knowing whether or not they’ll be a good fit. If he could identify these kids early on, think of the time it would save us!”

She ignored his comment. “What’s our time table with Havana?”

Morpheus shrugged, “The sooner, the better.”

“And Tempest?”

“What about her?”

“Should we not mention the fact that she isn’t about to be alone?”

“Ah, yes. Of course. I’ll speak to her after her training. This might be good timing, actually. We can show her you going into the Matrix this afternoon since, I imagine, she won’t be up for more programming.”

A nod. “I can go in just after nightfall. Drop the bait and leave.”

“Back up?”

“It’s a simple mission. I think I’ll be fine.”

 

“What do you mean I’m not going in?” Neo asked Trinity programmed the Construct to match her needs before delving back into the Matrix.

“It’s a simple mission. I’ll be in and out in ten minutes.”

“But there could be complications. What if Agents show up?”

“Neo, I’ve been doing this for years. I get that you’re concerned and I appreciate it. But this is my job and I’m good at it.”

“You’re amazing.” Neo agreed. “Just be careful.”

“Always am.” She stood on her tiptoes and gave him a kiss. “Now hook me up.”

He smiled, scooping her up in his arms and carried her bridal style across the room.

“This isn’t what I meant.” She giggled.

“Mmm, but it seemed like such a good idea.”

“But I won’t be able to see her? Just her code?” A small voice asked from the hall.

“Exactly.”

“But how will I--”

“What are you two doing?” Morpheus asked as he rounded the corner with Tempest.

“Plugging Trinity into the Matrix.”

“That doesn’t look like what you’re doing.”

“Got sidetracked.” Neo replied, walking over to the chair and gently placing her down. “You’ve got pretty shitty timing, Morpheus.”

“I’ve noticed.” He replied dryly before turning to Tempest. “You’ll have to excuse them. No self-control.”

“I’ve got self-control.” Trinity argued. “I just don’t care.”

“Are you guys married?” Tempest asked, following Morpheus to the Core monitors.

“Not yet.” Neo said, giving the girl a wink.

“Awfully sure of yourself.” Trinity commented as Neo knelt by her feet, hooking her boots into the chair.

“You gonna say no?”

“It might be good to throw you a curve ball.”

“I’d disagree.”

“I’m sure you would.”

Tempest looked at Morpheus who smiled. “I give it a month before she caves.”

“Please. I can hold out for longer than a month.” Trinity argued.

“Can I be in your wedding?”

“Sure, why not?” Neo answered. “First kid we unplugged together.” He said, raising his hand for Trinity to high five, which she did half-heartedly.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go after the second.”

“As you wish..” Neo bent down and gave her a quick kiss before jamming the plug into her spine.

Her body relaxed as her consciousness disappeared into the Construct, showing up on a white screen at the Core computer.

“Weapons?” Morpheus asked.

“All set. Picked them out earlier.”

“On you?”

“Beretta and a few knives. I’m good to go.”

“Good luck.”

 

Trinity opened her eyes on the, the air feeling so different in the Matrix than in the real world. It felt more real in the Matrix, with currents blowing the breezes every which way. But it wasn’t.

She exhaled a breath and picked up the ringing phone. “I’m in.” She said, hanging it back on the receiver without thought.

This was what she was good at. Best at, even.

Apoc had claimed she had a certain allure but Trin had written it off as Apoc just not wanting actual human interaction. But numbers didn’t lie.

She convinced more people than anyone. No one ever ran from her like they had when Morpheus or Apoc or, god forbid, Cypher had attempted to approach them. And Switch had her charms but lacked any subtlety.

When Tank eventually joined the crew, he would joke it was because of her looks.

Trinity knew she was beautiful but refused to believe that people were so shallow.

No, it was because Trinity was subtle and quiet. For someone who could be incredibly blunt, she could carry herself so softly. She could fall to the floor and shatter and no one would know. Not unless she wanted them to.

She crossed the street to the bookstore, carefully checking around for any signs of Agents. Sensing none, she slipped into the store without notice. He wasn’t at the register so she continued on, scanning ahead for her target.

There. She caught sight of him at the end of an aisle, setting up a display.

She went to the opposite end and crossed into the aisle, walking down towards Havana slowly.

She pretended to pay interest to the books, caressing the spines with her finger tips.

Trinity looked in his direction willing him to look up. He did, making eye contact.

He gave her an appreciative smile once over and it took a lot not to just roll her eyes.

“Can I help you?” He asked with a grin.

“Probably not.” She dropped her hand from the books. “But I can help you.”

“I’m… sorry?” He answered taken aback.

“I said that I can help you, Havana.”

“How do you know that name?”

“I know a lot about you.” She said with a slight smile.

“You a cop?”

“Do I look like a cop?”

He looked her over again. “No. A black hat, then?”

“The government seems to think so but I see myself as more of a hacktivist.”

“Who are you?”

“My name is Trinity.”

Havana’s eyes widened. “Like the Trinity who cracked the IRS D-Base and was never heard from again?”

“I learned to be more subtle in my hacks after the IRS. The government wasn’t too happy with me.”

“What’d they do to you?”

“Nothing. They never caught me. But from that I learned to work quietly. Something you might want to learn.”

“You know something?”

“More than you can possibly imagine. And I bet you’ve imagined a lot.”

He caught on to her meaning. “The Matrix?”

She nodded. “The answers are out there. And they’ll find you, if you let them.”

Do it, Neo. She thought to herself and, sure enough, an announcement came from above for Tony, Havana’s given name, to come to the front desk. He looked away for a second before turning back to tell her he had to go.

But she was already gone.

 

Neo pulled the plug out of Trinity’s head. “Perfect.”

“Yes.” A short nod. “I should have piqued his interests.”

“Please-- that boy was putty in your hands.” He said kneeling to unclamp her feet.

“Looks like you have something in common.”

Neo stood up with a smile, taking her hands and pulling her to her feet. “Can I buy you dinner?”

She let go of his hands, slipping her arms around his neck. “I could go for dinner.”

“Goop al a mode?”

“Do you know what al a mode means?”

“It’s, like, how you eat food… I don’t know. Not all of us were brought up duolingo.”

“It means ‘on the side.’ As in having ice cream on the side. Or having french fries on the side. Dressing on the side.”

“Who has ice cream on the side?”

“When you’re having apple pie. You can have the ice cream on top of the pie or next to it. Al a mode.”

“They don’t even know we’re here, do they?” Tempest asked Morpheus.

“We know you’re here.” Neo said, drawing back but not letting Trinity out of his grips. “What do you say Tempest? Up for dinner?”

“Is it goop?”

“It’s always goop.” Neo confirmed. “Until we get to Zion. Then you can have something with taste.”

“Really? What’s Zion like?”

And Neo launched into explaining the high points of Zion-- mostly the food, from his perspective.

Trinity smiled, walking with nearly the whole crew (Link was sleeping, preparing for a late night shift) to the kitchen.

She filled her plate quickly and grabbed her odd shaped spoon from its hook.

She took her seat at the table, idly rubbing the back of her neck until Neo’s hand replaced hers as he sat down next to her. He squeezed gently as her head turned to face his.

“Hey.”

“Hey” She replied, smiling at him.

“Jesus, you guys are like lovesick puppies.” Tempest commented as she sat across from them.

“It’s hard being on the Neb.” Neo explained. “We don’t get to spend as much time together.”

“You’re literally together half the day.”

“She was just in the Matrix!”

“And you stood next to her chair, holding her hand, the entire time.”

“Aw.” Trinity said, face brightening. “You did?”

“Yeah. I missed you.”

“I missed you, too.” She leaned in to kiss him but Morpheus broke them apart with a cough.

“What have I said about kissing during meal times?”

“It makes you sick.” Trinity said with a roll of her eyes. Instead, she leaned into Neo while she started to eat. “What do you think about Havana?” She asked of Tempest.

The teenager shrugged. “He seems okay. It’ll be nice to have another kid around here. Someone more clueless than me.”

“You’ll adjust.” Trinity promised. “We’ve all been there.”

“Except for Link.”

“Except for Link. But, in Zion, the majority of the kids you meet will be like you.”

“Will I be able to get some art supplies?”

“Charcoals are cheap. Same with pencils. Good paints are expensive.”

“And bad paints?”

“Not worth your money.”

A fireball of questions followed, keeping the three adults, albeit mostly Morpheus and Trinity, busy. When they had all finished eating, he took Trin by the hand, telling their leader that they were going to turn in early.

No one believed it but no one was going to bring up the alternative.

They were quiet, hurrying back to their room before closing the door. And locking it.

Neo pushed Trinity against the door, a hand on either side of her cheeks. He kissed her, desperately. The real reason for their constant touching and displays of affection.

“Six days.”

“I know.”

“Christ, Trin.”

Her hands roamed his chest, fingers curling into his sweater.

They hadn’t made love since the night Tempest awoke. There hadn’t been time. Working until they were so exhausted that they had no other choice but to sleep. Trinity was constantly making repairs and fixing small breakdowns, in and out of training with Tempest whenever the girl could handle it.

And Neo. Constantly at a computer, finding dozens of potentials each day so that Morpheus could present a list to Zion.

But no more excuses.

Neo took a step away from her. “On the bed.”

She didn’t hesitate, feeling warmth spread through her body.

Neo yanked off his own shirt and tossed it aside before straddling Trinity on the bed. He quickly pulled off hers and undid her bra. He balled up her clothes and set them down on the ground beside the bed.

His hand came up, carefully grabbing the item he had tucked away the night before.

Neo brought it up in front of her, showing the completed scarf.

She licked her lips, staring at the strap of fabric in front of her. Fuck.

She had been teasing at first when she suggested he tie her up but god, did she want it. Neo taking control, his brown eyes darkening with lust. Rendering her incapable of movement and just letting Neo worship her body and letting the world fall away.

She could feel her underwear grow wet.

Neo caught a wrist in each hand and slowly, deliberately, dragged them up the bed, as far as her arms would extend.

He took the cloth and wound it around her wrists, binding them together gently but firmly. He took the two remaining ends and tied them around a post near the head of their bed.

He tugged on it, checking that it was secure before looking down at Trinity.

Her mouth was open and she was breathing hard, her chest rising and falling with each gasp.

He smiled, softly, crawling back down her body only bypassing her mouth. The first kiss he placed was at her throat, just above her collarbone. He continued down in a straight line until he reached her breasts.

Kisses and nips were rained down upon her while one of his hands slid between their bodies and into her pants  . A moan escaped her lips as he felt down to her core.

“Neo…”

Soaked.

He continued his descent down her body, stopping at her feet where he quickly took her boots off and chucked them behind him before yanking off her socks and sliding her pants and underwear down until she was naked before him.

“You’re beautiful.” He told her, crawling up her body and straddling her waist.  “Perfection.”

“I’m not.”

“You are.”

She looked like she wanted to argue but instead said, “Are you going to sit there or are you going to touch me?”

“Hmm. Both have its perks.”

“What’s the perk... of just sitting there?”

“Watching you.” He bent forward, placing a hand on either side of her head and extending his legs backwards until he was lying just over her. “The anticipation on your face. The way you squirm. The way you look at me. With love and desire. Makes me feel like a fucking god.” He smiled as lowered himself further onto her and kissed her earlobe. “I could get high off of you watching me.”

She moaned softly, arching her hips against his. “Why… are you still--ah!” Her thoughts were interrupted as Neo grazed her neck with his teeth. “Why… clothes. Take your clothes off.”

“Soon.” He promised before kissing the top of her breasts. Her skin was unbelievably smooth he noted as his tongue trailed down to her nipple. He sucked it into his mouth while bringing his left hand up to play with her other breast.

Were she free from her binds, now would have been the time that Trinity grabbed Neo’s head and kept him in place, holding him tight against her. But, as it were, she could only arc up as much as Neo’s body allowed her to.

She whimpered.

He pushed further down her body, growing impatient himself.

He dipped a finger inside of her, gently rubbing her clit with his thumb before pulling out. He examined the nearly clear substance before placing it on his tongue and lying back on top of her.

With his free hand, he cupped the back of her head and brought it up to kiss her, finding her tongue and stroking it with his own until he had to pull back for sake of breath.

“That’s what you taste like.” He told her, pressing a kiss to the corner of her mouth. “Tangy smoke. I could get drunk off of you.” He kissed her nose. “Do you know what it does to me? Knowing that only I get to see you like this? To taste you? To feel you writhe underneath me? No one man should have this kind of power but I would kill anyone who tried to take it away from me. You’re mine.”

She moved her arms as if to wrap them around him but it was pulled back by her restraints.

Neo smirked down at her. “Not yet.”

“Neo, please…”

He kissed her again, winding his hand down to her core. She moaned as he rubbed against her, arching into his hand.

“Tell me you love me.” He ordered, kissing her neck.

“I love you.” She cried. “God, I love you so much.”

“Again.” He slipped two fingers inside of her causing her to whimper, biting her lip to keep her volume reasonable.

“I love you!” She insisted. “Neo, I love you. I love you.”

“I read the monitors when you were in the Matrix and that boy was reading pure lust. But he’s never going to get to touch you. No one is. Do you know why?”

“I’m yours.” She whispered.

“You’re mine.” He said repeating the sentiment. “And I’m yours.” He removed his hand causing her to whimper in despair.

Quickly, he shed himself of his pants and underwear, kicking them off the bed. He lay between her legs and took himself by hand, guiding himself inside her.

Her body fought to move as she writhed up against him.

He caught her lips with his own, pinning her completely to the bed, save her legs which were wrapping themselves around his hips, pulling him deeper inside her.

Somehow, the restricted movements just made everything so much more intense. Every caress Neo made against her made her burn. She moaned into his mouth, pushing up with her hips. Her entire body was tense and taut, as if it were waiting to be allowed release.

Neo’s armed circled her body, pulling her to him with every thrust he made into her.

Orgasm rushed through her body, faster than usual, and she would have screamed if not for Neo’s lips and tongue caressing and kissing her own. Her body convulsed with tremors and she successfully raised them both off the bed slightly.

At that moment, Neo followed her into her descent. She was contracting around him while he came, whispering declarations of love.

Finally, she fell back, sinking into the mattress, eyes closing while she calmed her breathing.

Neo reached above her for the scarf that kept her hands bound. He untied it and checked her wrists. Red. A little irritated but no worse for ware.

He kissed them both before settling back into his lover. She wrapped her arms around his neck before he flipped them both over so that Neo was on his back, Trinity lying on top of him.

“I love you, Neo.” She whispered, hoarsely.

He smiled, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “I love you, Trinity.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Don't own anything. Except a bunch of books and a kickass motorcycle (which I named Trinity, btw).

Thank you to my lovely beta, Trineo.

xoxo

"Why is it so cold?" Havana asked, sitting on his cot.

Morpheus had just taken him through the the Construct for the first time. He had awoken from it shaken and had run off to the room designated as his.

"Like Morpheus said, the sun was blocked. We moved underground to be closer to the core but, in order to free people, we have to go to the surface."

"The pods."

"Exactly. They're above ground ergo, we must go above ground. When we get to Zion, it will be warmer."

"When will that be?"

"A week, maybe. The boy you saw next to you, when you first woke up, needs to wake up himself."

"Why did he have all the needles in him?"

"Stimulate muscles and nerve endings. It will help him heal faster. We did the same to you."

"Damn."

Neo smiled softly. "Tell me about it."

"And I can't go back."

"Would you really want to? Knowing what the world is? And what it isn't?"

"Yeah. No. No. I don't know." Havana leaned back against the metal wall, wincing at the cold. "I think I might hurl."

"I did first time I went into the Construct."

"Yeah?"

That seemed to lift the boy's spirits.

"It's not an easy transition. I know I dealt with it horribly but this place grows on you. And Zion's amazing."

Havana nodded. "The little kid I saw. She's like me?"

"We pulled her out of the Matrix about a week before you."

"And the other guy?"

"The day after you. His name is Bind."

"And hers?"

"Tempest." Neo paused, not wanting to push the kid too fast. "Want to meet her?"

A thoughtful silence followed by a nod. "Yeah, I think so."

Neo led him through the corridor, checking the kitchen as they passed. Morpheus was inside. "Hey," Neo said. "You seen Tempest?"

"She and Trinity just entered the dojo."

Neo nodded and led the boy to the Core for the second time that day.

Both Trinity and Tempest were laying down on the chairs, plugged in. Neo walked up to the computer and pointed to the screen, showing Havana the girls.

"Holy shit! Where the hell did they learn to fight like that?"

"Here." Neo said. "In the Construct."

"The desert?"

"The Construct can be programmed to be anything." Neo explained. "Morpheus just chooses the desert for his initiation speech."

"Can you fight like that?"

Neo nodded. "Cool thing about being born with plugs," He said indicating his own. "We get plugged into the construct, we can have programs uploaded into ourselves. Takes about three seconds to learn every move and counter move to karate. Takes about a minute to become an expert in martial arts."

"No way."

"Yup. And you can be trained in anything. Weapons, operating machinery. Few weeks ago, Trinity had to learn to pilot a helicopter. Took two seconds. Medical knowledge, books, how to solve mathematical equations… Two, three seconds and you're an expert."

"Could I, like, learn to play guitar?"

"You certainly can." Link answered. "We have instructional programs on every instrument known to man. I wish I had plugs, sometimes."

"You don't have plugs?"

"Nope. I was born in Zion. Natural born people don't come with accessories."

Neo rolled his eyes, smiling at the screen. Trinity was half-assing it and Tempest still couldn't keep up.

With a sweeping leg, Trinity took out Tempest. She spun around so that she stood next to the girl and placed a foot on her chest.

"How did I beat you?"

"You're stronger than I am."

Trinity glanced down at her bare arms before looking back at her opponent. "This?" She said, indicating said arm, "This is RSI, sweetie. In here, I have no muscles." She moved her foot. "Get up."

"She's tough." Havana noted.

"Best fighter in the fleet." Link told him. "Holds the record for escaping most Agents- most people got two, maybe three on their files and that's if they're good... but she's escaped more than twenty times."

"Agents?"

Neo thought of how to best explain the Agents. "If the Matrix is a system, then we're a virus. We go in and disrupt the natural order. Take people like you- parts of the equation- away. Think of Agents as the software to destroy a virus. Their purpose is only to combat us. We go into the Matrix, they generally follow."

"What happens if they get you?"

"You die."

"In the Matrix?"

"Body can't live without the mind. You die in the Matrix, you die in real life."

"Oh."

Neo smiled, "It's why we don't get to save as many people as we want. Every trip into the Matrix is a danger." He looked down at Havana. "What do you think, kid? Feel like going in?"

"Can I learn to fight like her?"

"Most certainly." Link said. "Need help loading up?"

"I got it." Neo said, putting a hand on Havana's shoulder and leading the boy to be strapped into a chair. "Ready?" He asked, before slamming the plug in place.

Neo took the seat next to Trinity and strapped in his own feet. He pulled the lever that would allow him to plug himself in and opened his eyes in the Construct.

Trinity and Tempest had stopped fighting, distracted by the new arrivals.

"Havana, you remember Trinity."

Trinity nodded to the kid.

"And this is Tempest."

"Hey." Havana said.

"Hi."

"Link," Neo called out, "Give Havana the basic martial arts rundown."

Havana's eyes fluttered shut and his head moved shakily for several seconds until he fell back into his consciousness, gasping.

"Holy shit!"

"Language." Trinity warned.

"That was… that was…"

"Freaking awesome!" Tempest finished. "It's like getting high!"

"And what would you know about getting high?" Trinity asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Well, it's what I think getting high would feel like."

Trinity rolled her eyes good-naturedly. "You two want to test out your new skills?"

"Yeah!"

"Go easy on him." She warned Tempest.

"Nah, I got this down!" Havana said, shaking his head. "Come at me."

She saw Neo smile at the boy's hubris before looking to her. She motioned with her head for them to move to the side.

He walked towards the back, mentally programming a blue, velvet couch that appeared before them.

"Impressive." Trinity said dryly.

"Thanks." He sat down near an edge, opening his arm for Trinity to crawl into. She moved up against him with a smile.

"He's doing okay?"

"Seems to be. They're both doing better than I did."

"It's easier to adjust when you're younger." She defended. "You did a fine job."

"I threw up after my first time in the Construct."

"I know. I cleaned it up."

"You didn't."

"Uh huh."

"I am so sorry."

"Yeah, well, fell for you anyway so no harm done."

"Hmm." He closed his eyes and rested his head on top of hers. "I'll make it up to you sometime."

And he was surprised to find that he actually wanted to. Not that he ever wanted her to get sick but she inevitably would. A cold, the flu. Morning sickness. All three filled him with a domestic yearning. To wrap Trin in a blanket and hold her, to bring her soup and take care of her.

Back when he was Thomas Anderson he had spent a lot of time dreaming. Mostly about any life other than the one he had. 9 to 5 at work and 5 to 9 searching for answers on the web.

He'd imagined, of course, falling in love. He'd imagined it a thousand times, in a thousand places. How she would feel and sound and smell.

Walking up and down the streets with a smaller hand wrapped in his. Ordering take out before curling up on the couch and watching crap television.

It hurt, in a way, knowing that life was never going to be so simple for him and Trinity. He was never going to be able to go to museums with her or spend a day at the beach, lounging in the sun. No camping trips or making out in the back of a movie theater. No taking her to an amusement park and holding hands on the rides and eating junk food. No wasting money trying to win a bear for her.

"Neo?"

"Hmmm?" He replied without opening his eyes.

"Why am I holding a teddy bear?"

A beat passed and he opened his eyes.

"And why does it smell like cotton candy?" She asked.

"Oh fuck." Neo replied, concentrating on trying to remove the aspects from the fair that had emerged in the Construct. All he succeeded in doing, however, was make the dojo disappear and turn into a carnival. "Fuck!" He repeated.

"Neo…"

"Whoa, cool!" Havana exclaimed having ceased fighting when the dojo disappeared.

"Neo, what's happening?"

"I-I was thinking about the fair I used to go to when I was a kid but I didn't program it. I just thought about it and it… it's here! I didn't… I didn't code or program or..."

"Can you get rid of it?"

"I'm trying!" He put his hand on his forehead, trying to concentrate. "It's not going away! Why won't it go away?"

"It's okay!" Trinity told him, putting a hand on each of his arms. "Just take a deep breath. Nothing bad is going to happen."

A rumbling growl resounded through the fairgrounds and Trinity, reluctantly, turned to look at it. A tiger. A motherfucking tiger was standing in the middle of the grounds, stalking towards them.

"Oh god." Tempest said backing away.

"It's okay." Trinity told her. "The Construct has…." safety settings. But if he had overridden everything then… "Fuck! Link! Clear the Construct, now!"

Link's voice sounded over the speaker. "I cant! He's over-ridden it the program."

"Can you hack it?"

"I've never seen codes like this!"

"Fuck!" She swore again. She reached up and grabbed Neo's stunned face and angled it towards her own. "Neo, look at me!"

He turned his head, blinking at her in confusion. "I swear, I didn't…"

"Look at me." She said again. "Clear your mind and look at me."

He swallowed, holding her gaze. He exhaled slowly and fairgrounds disappeared along with the rides and games, even the smells.

Trinity let go of her breath. "Link? Can you pull us out?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Havana disappeared first, followed by Tempest. Neo still hadn't looked away from Trinity when he was pulled back into the real world.

When she opened her eyes, Neo was still sitting in his chair. Link had unplugged him, along with the kids, and was working on her.

"Are you okay?" She asked, moving to her feet the moment she was able.

"What the hell was that?" Tempest asked, pissed off.

"Link."

"Got them." Link guided the kids away.

She waited until they were out of earshot. "Neo…"

"I swear I didn't program it. I don't know how-"

"You're the One. Your powers are probably still growing."

"So, now I just think of something and it appears? Thank god I didn't think about Agents…"

"No, you thought about a tiger." She took his hand and sat next to him, sideways, on his chair. "Want to talk about it?"

He looked away, not sure of what to say.

"I was thinking about you. And the Matrix."

"Mhmm." Her thumb stroked his hand gently.

"And about all the things that we'll never get to do. And I started thinking about this carnival I used to go to as a kid. And I imagined going there with you. An actual, real date. And then you asked about the bear and I tried to make the bear and the smells go away but, instead, the whole goddamn fair showed up?"

"And the tiger?"

"You said nothing bad was going to happen. Tiger was the first bad thing to come to mind."

She blinked. "Okay."

"Okay?"

"Well, not perfectly okay. We're going to have to figure out exactly how you're doing what you did. It could be dangerous for all of us if you don't."

"Jesus."

"Come here." She wrapped her arms around his waist and leaned against him. "It's okay, Neo."

"If you had gotten hurt… if the kids had gotten hurt…"

"We didn't." She promised.

"You could have."

"So, we put you back in Construct. Give you time and space to practice."

He was quiet, angry with himself. Frustrated with the situation, tired from the hours he worked. Furious that he had put Trinity and the kids in danger and couldn't fix it.

"Hey." She whispered, looking back up at him. "It's going to be okay."

Neo took a deep breath and smiled. He believed her.

Chapter Text

I own nothing.

Thanks to all who reviewed, faved and followed-- it means the world and always helps make me want to write more-- and thank you to my lovely beta, Trineo.

xoxo

.

The door to their quarters shook as the operator knocked from the other side.

Neo groaned, glaring at the door, as he was pulled from sleep.

Trinity forced herself to sit up, pulling the covers with her. “Yeah?”

“Emergency. Ajax needs backup now.”

Trinity crawled over Neo, dressing quickly before slipping on her boots and running to the Core before Neo even had his shirt on. He increased his speed and followed just as Link plugged her in. Morpheus was already inside.

“Load me up.” Neo said moving over to his chair.

“Can’t, man. I’m sorry.” Link said running over to his chair, slipping his headset on. “Morpheus’s orders. Doesn’t want you in until you get your thinking thing under control.”

“He said it was an emergency!”

“It is. Icarus crew went in for a routine mission. Got ambushed, locked in the basement of the school they were at, trying to pull out a girl. Morpheus and Trinity needs to distract the Agents long enough to get the girl and the crew out.”

Neo could see the school on the screen, the coding turning into pictures in his head. Trinity was armed to the teeth, carrying a heavy power machine gun in one hand and setting off a flash grenade with the other before running to get cover.

“Link, you need to send me in there.”

“I told you. Morpheus said no.”

Trinity had rounded a corner but didn’t stop moving. She was right not to-- both of the Agents were in pursuit of her.

It was a diversionary tactic, he knew. The Agents wanted Trinity more than anyone else and she and Morpheus were using it to their advantage. The Agents concentrated on Trinity while Morpheus helped the crew of the Icarus to escape, along with their coppertop recruit.

It was just a diversionary tactic. But that didn’t stop his hands from clenching into fists at his side.

She hit a staircase and leapt upwards, taking them three at a time. She glanced down the hall quickly before deciding that it was too narrow a path and far too long for her to escape unscathed.

Still, the Agents hadn’t even removed their guns from their belts.

They didn’t want Trinity dead. What good would she be then?

She reached the roof and found the access door locked. One kick near the lock broke it open and she ran across before jumping off the ledge.

She landed gracefully in a tight roll, swinging to her feet. Trinity took off in a run, bounding across the concrete, turning to run back towards the school.

One of the Agents, Jones, was starting to gain ground on her.

“Link, I’m begging you…”

“Wait, man.”

Just as Trinity reached the end of the building, Morpheus stepped out and fired a single shot at Jones’ head. There wasn’t enough time for him to morph and the bullet killed the host.

That just left Brown.

He fired a shot at Morpheus who jumped out of the way as two men came from behind Morpheus with machine guns, firing a spread of bullets at Brown. The Agent dodged them all.

Moving forward at an incredible speed, Brown sent powerful punches first to Morpheus and the first man, kicking the third man squarely in the chest and sending him flying backwards.

As soon as each man lay on the ground, Brown continued to run after Trinity. Never fucking wavering.

“I’m going in.” Neo said, turning and walking towards a chair, “And don’t you dare try and pull me out.”

“Neo, Morpheus said--”

“Link, that is the woman that I love who the Agents are after. Mine . Don’t try and fucking stop me.”

.

“He’s not stopping!” Shroud screamed at Morpheus. She was right. They had emptied their weapons and Brown hadn’t paid them the slightest attention. He hadn’t so much as glanced in their direction.

“Fuck.” Ajax swore.

Morpheus looked in the direction he indicated. “Oh hell.”

Jones had found another host. He was back-- coming up from behind Trinity.

She emptied a clip at the Brown, not noticing Jones, before chucking the gun away from her as the Agent advanced. She blocked the first punch that Brown sent at her but missed his lower hand coming for her stomach.

The punch had knocked the wind out of Trinity, giving the Agent the advantage to throwing another at her jaw.

Jones grabbed her from behind, wrapping his arms around her shoulder to keep her in place while giving Brown the opportunity to inflict pain.

Morpheus took off at a run but slowed to a halt as the very essence of the Matrix changed around him.

And suddenly Neo was there, coming up behind Brown and snapping his neck before the Agent could register Neo’s appearance.

Jones pulled out a gun and held it to Trinity’s head. “I would think about your options very carefully, Mister Anderson.” Jones directed. “I would hate to have to kill her for your insolence.”

.

“Who the hell is that guy?” Sim asked, looking between the two captains.

“He’s the One.” Morpheus answered simply.

.

Neo looked to Trinity whose face was schooled with the utmost calm. The world seemed to slow as they stared at each other.

.

“Morpheus…” Ajax said with a slight annoyance.

“He is.” Morpheus insisted. “Council cleared him and everything. Killed an Agent a few weeks back.”

“Is that why Smith is gone?” Shroud asked.

“Yes.”

.

“Put down your weapons.” The Agent ordered as if Neo couldn’t just create one with a single thought.

Reluctantly, still, Neo did as he said. He unstrapped the holster at his thigh and pulled the guns in his shoulder holster out, tossing them at the ground.

“The knives, too.”

He was about to bend down to take the knife out of his boot when Trinity, almost forgotten by the Agent, jumped off the ground.

Surprised by the sudden weight on his arm, Jones dropped her giving Neo the opportunity to fly across the space and tackled the Agent to the ground. He punched with everything he had, hearing the crack of Jones’ jaw breaking before materializing a gun into his hand and firing at the Agent’s head.

Once. Twice. Three, four, five, six, seven-- a hand hit his shoulder and gently squeezed.

He looked up at Trinity, the anger that had driven him slipping away as he climbed to his feet. Wordlessly, he wrapped her in his arms and held her tightly.

“You’re shaking.” She whispered, drawing back slightly.

Neo shook his head, not caring, “You’re okay? Injuries?”

She shook her head. “I’m fine.”

“Your jaw is turning blue.”

Trinity shrugged. “I’ve had worse. I’ll be okay.”

Neo placed a hand on the side of her face, touching her to make sure that everything really was okay. When he assured himself that she was, he pulled her against him.

“Should I even comment on the fact you weren’t supposed to enter the Matrix?” Morpheus asked, walking up with the rest of the Icarus’ crew that had not fled.

Neo looked up, a flash of fire behind his eyes that Morpheus had never seen. “The Agents are willing to do anything to get me. Perhaps using Trinity as bait wasn’t the best idea.” He replied coolly.

Morpheus sighed regretfully, “It’s part of the job, Neo.”

“Morpheus.” Trinity interrupted with a shake of her head. “Not now.”

And she was right. Neo was tense, shaking slightly and holding onto Trinity as if she were a lifeline.“You got the girl out?” Trinity asked, turning in Neo’s arms so that she could face the rest.

Ajax nodded. “Thanks to you. Duke should be taking her to the warehouse.” The Captain looked at Neo and held out his hand. “I’m Ajax, Captain of the Icarus.”

Neo hesitated before releasing one of the arms around Trinity and holding out his own hand. “Neo.”

“I’ve never seen someone take out an Agent with their bare hands. Very impressive.”

Neo nodded, not wanting to talk about, or even think about, the programs that had just attacked Trinity. That had singled her out for the sole purpose of effecting him.

He further tensed.

“Do you need any help getting your girl out?” Trinity asked Ajax, sensing Neo’s discomfort and placing it above her own pain.

“No, thank you. We couldn’t have made it this far without you.”

She nodded, pulling her cell phone from her belt and dialing the number for Link. “Exit.” She said, simply. “Right.” She hung up. “Same place as we went in, the old gas station. We’ll meet you back home?” She asked of Morpheus.

He nodded and she took Neo by the hand, ushering him in the direction of the exit.

Neo walked with her, eyes searching all around for any new bodies the Agent's might have taken over.

"They're gone." She told him.

"For how long?"

"Come on."

That was answer enough. Neo increased his speed, practically dragging Trinity with him.

“Neo, it’s okay…”

“It’s not.” He said looking at her before looking away, never slowing, “I was on the other side of that computer. I watched as the Agents chased you through the school, as Morpheus and the others shot at them but they didn’t pay them the slightest attention. Two fleet captains, two opportunities for the codes to Zion’s mainframe and all they cared about was getting to you. And for Morpheus to put you in that position…”

“It’s my job.”

“I know. And I’m not going to try and stop you from doing it but using you as bait…”

“Wasn’t the best idea but you know how it is. When you’re given an order in the Matrix, you can’t stop and think about it. You have to just do it if you want to save lives. And so I did.”

The phone was just ahead and Neo could see it ringing.

“You first.” He said, edging her towards the phone.

She didn’t argue, taking the receiver off the hook and putting it to her ear before disappearing. He hung up the phone and waited before feeling that familiar sensation pull him back into the real world.

Opening his eyes, he yanked the cord out of his own head and moved to his feet. Trinity was still on her chair, Link unplugging her.

Neo examined her face, touching her on the cheek, just above the growing bruise. “How much pain are you in?”

“I’ve had worse.”

“That’s not what I asked.” Neo reached for the hem of her shirt and brought it up to uncover her stomach, a purple welt just above her belly button. “Link, if Morpheus asks,” He scooped Trinity up into his arms, “We’ll be in the infirmary.”

“Neo, I’m fine.”

“Humor me.” He said, voice void of emotion.

She rolled her eyes but wrapped an arm around his neck, helping him keep her balanced as he walked down the hall to the med bay. He pushed the door open with his foot and went inside, setting Trin down on the table.

He silently helped her take her sweater off so that she was left in her black undershirt. He lifted it up to just under her bra. The bruise was dark against her pale skin and he didn’t know what the hell to do to make it better.

“Painkillers are on the first shelf of that cabinet.”

He nodded, turning to find it. A box filled with small jars of clear liquid were on the shelf. “This?”

“Yeah. There are needles in the third drawer to the left.”

He found one and opened the pack. “Now what?”

“Fill it up to the 10 ML mark.” She rolled up her sleeve, “And put it in this plug.”

Shakily, he opened the bottle of medicine, spilling a bit over the side and onto his hand.

“It’s okay.” Trinity said calmly. “10 milliliters.”

Neo nodded and filled up the syringe. He walked over to where she lay and put a hand on her forearm while slipping the syringe into one of her plugs.

“Neo, you know I’m okay, right?” She asked quietly.

He looked away. “Your jaw--”

She pushed herself up onto her arms. “Hurts like hell, but it will heal. Talk to me, Neo.”

“I don’t…. I don’t like seeing you hurt.”

“Neo, you defied your orders and had a bit of a freak out in the Matrix. I saw your face when you were hitting the Agent. I saw you practically bash his skull in. Talk to me.”

“You’re all I have.” Neo said quietly. “I don’t have any real friends. No family. Aside from a few outfits, I don’t own anything. Don’t have a computer or books. No home without you. And I saw you in there. Agent’s chasing you, knowing they could take you away from me so easily. I’ve seen your coding, I know just how fragile you really are. And if they took you away… I can’t be without you. I can’t lose you.”

“I’m not going to disappear. No one is going to take me away. And you do have friends. People who care about you.”

“They care about the One-- not me.”

“Neo, that’s not true.”

“Morpheus only cares about me because I’m the One. And do you really think Ghost and Sparks would hang out with me if it wasn’t for you?”

“They would.”

“Maybe. But I doubt it. The One’s special but Neo… I’m just Neo.”

“I happen to love just Neo. The One or not, I love you.”

“And I love you. This is why I can’t lose you. Even the thought makes me feel sick.”

“You’re not going to lose me.” She promised, swinging her legs off the side of the table and slipping to the floor. “I’m never letting go of this; of you.”

Trinity stood on tiptoe and gently kissed Neo. Her arms slid up and around his neck, pulling him to her as she slowly backed out of the infirmary. Down the short hall, diving in and out of kisses while his hands crept under her sweater. He kept his hands to her sides, afraid to hurt her by touching her bruise.

Fed up with his gentle, fearful touches, Trinity backed herself into their door, pulling Neo against her hard. His cock was straining against his pants, she could feel it against her stomach. Contentedly unable to move, she moved a hand to his lower back and started rocking him against her.

Neo reached around and fumbled with their door, pushing it open and letting the door swing wide, keeping Trinity pinned to it.

“Neo.” She moaned, “Please.”

“What?” He asked, his mouth trailing to her neck.

Trinity threw her head back, slamming it against the door, but truly not caring. “Neo!”

“Quiet.” He ordered, wrapping his hands under her ass and lifting her up, “You’ll wake the kids.”

He kicked the door closed before pushing her against its inside, his mouth gravitating towards her neck yet again.

She whimpered as he bit down, enough to leave red marks but not enough to draw blood. He sucked along her throat, desperately trying to mark her.

Two Agents had touched her, had put their virtual hands on her with the intent of pain.

Never again . He vowed silently. Never again would an Agent touch her. He was going to destroy them both.

Trinity’s hands slipped to his rope belt, fumbling with the not while he leaned over her, sucking at the hollow of her throat.

Yeah, he was going to destroy them.

 

Later.

 

Chapter Text

Short chapter but I'll post more soon. Thanks to my wonderful beta Trinneo for all her help and reminders to post!

xoxo

Neo opened his eyes, glancing down at the woman buried against him. Trinity's had one arm behind his head, the other across his stomach while she, herself, was draped across his chest. Both of his arms around her, holding her tight against him.

He placed a kiss to the top of her head before carefully untangling himself from her.

Despite time ceasing to exist in their room, it went on elsewhere. He tugged on his pants, quickly dressing and slipping out of their room before she could wake. He walked down to the Core where Morpheus was sitting, watching the Matrix.

Neo came up behind him, looking at the newest recruit Morpheus was looking at. "Who's that?"

Morpheus looked up in surprise. "Anomaly." He said, "Trinity found her a few months before we found you but she's too young to be unplugged."

"Than why are you looking at her?"

"Because she doesn't belong in the Matrix." Morpheus typed something into the computer and the coding changed. "WE need to talk."

"We do." Neo agreed.

"I gave you an order."

"I considered following it."

"Did you?"

"I would have stayed out. Up until the moment I realized that the Agents were targeting Trinity."

"She's a grown woman."

"I'm not belittling her independence or her ability, Morpheus. She makes her own decisions and I will back her up every time but the Agents were after her because of me. Our relationship puts her in danger and there isn't much I can do about that. Except protecting her whenever I can."

"We still don't know your powers, Neo. You could have gotten hurt, could have hurt others."

"I'm not trying to make excuses, Morpheus. I'm just trying to explain my reasons. And to tell you that I'm going back in."

"Into the Construct?" Morpheus asked although they both knew that wasn't what Neo meant.

"Into the Matrix. There are things I need to do."

"Like what?" A sudden flash of interest in his voice.

"Send a warning. And a message."

"To who?"

"To whatever goddamn machine controls the system."

"Can't it wait?"

Neo ignored the question, moving to sit down in one of the chairs.

Morpheus sighed, "Where do I drop you off?"

"Capital City." Neo said. "There's a phone box off of Biddeford Street you can drop me in."

Neo pushed the plug into his own head and felt the jolt go through his body. His eyes opened and he was standing in a phone box, dressed in all black. The phone rang and he looked to it, almost bored as he answered it. "I'm in."

With that, he put the phone back on the receiver before staring at it. The code changed slightly and it no longer was a link between people but to all the Matrix. The machines would all get it and maybe a few hackers would find it, but that didn't matter yet.

He picked up the device and held it to his own virtual ear. "I know you're out there." He said carefully. "I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid… you're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I"m going to hang up this phone and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you."

Neo put the phone back on its hook and opened the glass door to the virtual street.

A virtual street in a virtual city in a virtual state in a virtual country. Nothing was real.

Except somewhere, in each walking avatar, there was a bit of humanity. A part of them that hadn't been lost to machine.

But now wasn't the time to worry about them. He had sent his warning. Now it was time for the message.

Trinity woke up to the bed growing cold. Neo was no longer with her and a quick glance to the floor revealed that his discarded clothes had been picked up and his shoes were missing.

She rolled to her back, tugging the blankets up to cover her naked body. She, briefly, closed her eyes. Considering the bruises that the Agents had left on her body, she felt freaking might be due to the bruises left by Neo across her breasts, up her throat and down her stomach.

Shit she thought, is there any part of me he hasn't marked?

With a sigh and a smile, she pushed herself into a sitting position, reaching for her fallen clothes from the night before.

She dressed and left the room, stomach growling for something to eat.

LInk was at the table, eating his breakfast. "Morning, sunshine." He joked.

"Morning." Trinity mumbled, grabbing a tray from the shelf and filling it with goop. "Seen Neo?"

"Just got up. Crashed as soon as you guys came back. I, uh, I did try to keep him out of the Matrix but he-"

"You're not in trouble." Trinity told him with a yawn. "Neo's a stubborn SOB."

"Takes one to know one."

She smiled, "I suppose it does. Morpheus got back okay?"

"He was a bit pissed at your boyfriend."

"My boyfriend was a bit pissed at him."

"And here we are. In the middle."

"God knows it feels that way." She moved her spoon around in the mush, "He feels so trapped. Everyone expects so much out of him and I don't know how to help him."

"You can never take away what someone feels. When Dozer died, then Tank… Zee, she was a wreck. And nothing I do or say was going to make her feel better, was going to change any of what she was going through. But she didn't need me to change it. She just needed me to be there. Remind her that she wasn't alone and someone loved her. You know?"

"Yeah. Just doesn't feel like enough."

"Never does." Link looked her over. "How are you, by the way?"

"Me? I'm fine."

"Got grabbed by Agents."

She shrugged. "It's always a risk."

Link snorted, looking at his goop.

"What?"

"Tank was right." Link said with a smile. "Said you were the craziest chick he ever met. Most people I know who even encountered Agents come out shaking, scared. You came out calm, like nothing happened."

She smiled back. "Tank said that?"

"Yes, ma'am. He thought you were fearless."

"Really? He always told me that he thought I was reckless."

"Said that, too."

A slight static filled the air before Morpheus's voice boomed on the intercom. "Trinity to the Core, now!"

She stood up, glancing to Link.

"I'll take care of your stuff. Go."

"Thanks." She said, jogging down the corridor and to the Core. She momentarily slowed as she crossed into the room but then started moving again when she saw a very pale Neo sitting on the chair. He was no longer plugged in and his eyes were open but blank. "What happened?" She asked, sitting on the edge of his chair, putting a hand on either side of his jaw.

"He went into the Matrix."

"Neo?" She said, scanning his body for any wounds. Not that she expected any but she had to rule out any possibilities of physical injury.

He said nothing.

"What happened? Long version."

Morpheus was at a loss. "He went into the Matrix to send a message to the machines. Got it in his head that now would be a good time to kill the other two Agents from Smith's pack."

"Delete." Neo said, still not blinking and staring dead ahead. "They're not 'live."

"Neo," Trinity said, angling his face to look at hers. "Look at me."

His eyes moved to her face and he blinked. Once. "You're safe."

A flood of recognition hit her. "Oh, Neo." She said, stroking the side of his face. "You shouldn't have done that."

He smiled, eyes drifting shut. "Can't hurt anybody. Not anymore. Trinity?"

"Hmm?"

"I'm tired."

She laughed softly, standing up next to him. "Alright. Let's get you to bed."

"Trinity?"

"Yes?"

"You're no' mad?"

"Oh, I'm furious. And when you're no longer dead on your feet, I'm going to kick your ass."

"at's my girl."

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Many thanks to my beta Trinneo.

xoxo


 

Neo woke up in bed. Alone.

That was the first thing that he noticed. Everything felt lighter and colder than it should be. There was no pressure of Trinity half on top of him. His arm wasn’t tingling after falling asleep with her weight on top of it.

He sat up, swinging his legs off the side of the bed.

Vaguely, Neo remembered going back into the Matrix. Deleting the Agents. Trinity taking care of him but promising to retaliate later for scaring her.

He tugged on his boots and stood up. Not one to run from his destiny, he sought her out.

He didn’t run into anyone until he reached the Core. Link was sitting at his chair showing the kids the ins and outs of the Matrix.

“You seen Trinity?” He asked.

Link looked up. “You might not want to see her, Messiah. She’s pissed as hell.”

“Figured. Where is she?”

“Engine room.”

“Thanks.”

Neo walked down the hall, unsure of what he would say when he caught up with her. He wasn’t sorry and he wouldn’t insult her with false apologies. And she wasn’t stupid. She understood why he did it so explaining his actions would be meaningless.

He walked into the engine room with no words to say prepared and found her hanging from a pipe, doing chin ups.

Her senses were trained so that she would hear him come in so he quietly moved to the side, leaning near the door, watching as her muscles tightened with every pull. In just a few minutes she was done, dropping the distance to the floor and grabbing a cloth to wipe off the sweat.

Only then did Trinity turn to face him.

He offered a half-smile. “Hi.”

She didn’t return the expression, instead meeting his eyes with an ounce of hurt that burned straight to his core. The smile dropped away and he whispered her name, “Trinity…”

“Twenty push-ups.”

“What?” Neo asked, completely taken aback.

“Twenty. Push-ups. I need to see where you’re at physically.” Her tone was no nonsense so he wasted no time in complying. In just seconds he was in position and pressing his body weight up on his arms.

He made it to eight without wavering and to fifteen without a mistake when his knee touched the ground in need of support. Trinity noticed but coolly told him to continue. Sixteen. Seventeen. Eighteen. Nineteen. Twenty.

He prepared to stand, rising to his knees when she stopped him. “Sit ups. As many as you can do in sixty seconds. Go.”

When her stopwatch reached the one minute mark she stopped him. “Thirty two. Not terrible. Not optimal. Chin ups.”

“How many?”

“However many you can manage.”

He nodded, forcing back a sigh, and jumped up to the pipe that she had used earlier. Christ, Neo thought. He hadn’t had to do a pull up since high school. He had sucked at them, then, only able to do a couple before letting go of the bar.

Neo could definitely feel the strain on his arms but his muscles had been taken care of after he came out of the Matrix and between his real world body adjusting to being the One and carrying Trinity all over the place, he had gained a bit of strength. He wasn’t about to be bursting with muscles anytime soon but he easily did ten pull ups.

Neo was no match for Trinity in the real world. It was probably what she was trying to tell him. They were on her turf now, her home. In a battle of wits, strength or general prowess, he would never beat her. Not without his personal set of cheat codes that came with the Matrix.

He dropped down from the bar and looked at her for guidance of what to do next but he was caught by her expression. Hurt mingled in her blue eyes though her face was impassive. Betrayal, confusion.

“Trin.” He whispered, taking a step towards her.

She took a step back.

“Trin.” He repeated.

“This is a partnership.” She said. “You want to go nutso in the Matrix, fine. I won’t like it. I’ll do everything in my power to prevent it and keep you safe but I won’t stop you, Neo. This… us… we won’t work if you can’t trust me.”

“I didn’t want to worry you…”

“Don’t pull that fucking bullshit on me.”

He inhaled sharply. “I’m sorry.”

“Are you? Are you actually or are you doing whatever it takes to end this fight?”

“Fight? This… this isn’t a fight… is it?”

“Yes, Neo. Couples fight. Apparently, its healthy.” She looked to the side, “IT just doesn’t feel healthy.”

Neo had to agree, having felt slightly sick since she really started talking to him again.

“What can I do?” He asked.

“I don’t know! I just… talk to me. I know that everyone is making you feel like you have the whole world on your shoulders and I know it must feel like you do. Just remember that I want to help you. You’re not alone anymore.”

Neo nodded, reaching out and trailing his fingers across her jaw. “Next time I’ll talk to you.”

“Promise?”

“I swear.” He assured her. “I love you too much to let anything come between us.”

 

 

Chapter Text

T-Minus one hour. Forty-five minutes. Thirty. Twenty. Ten. Head to loading dock.

Neo shifted his weight back and forth between his feet.

Trinity looked at him with a smirk. He was adorably impatient.

“Do you remember the way home?” She asked him, quietly.

Neo narrowed his eyes. ‘You aren’t coming with me?”

“First Officer.” Trinity said. “I have to get them checked in, sent to the Academy and then do paperwork.”

“Want me to come with you?”

She shook her head. “No, it’ll be boring.”

“I don’t mind.” Neo placed a hand at the small of her back. “It’ll give me a chance to learn what you do.”

“If you want.” Trin smiled softly. “But you’re really just afraid you’ll be mobbed by your fanclub, aren’t you?”

He smiled back. “They are quite terrifying.”

“Alright, just this once.” She smirked in his direction. “But I won’t always be around to guard your body.”

“Lies and slander! You don’t want anyone else to be getting their hands on all of this.” He declared, using a hand to fall aside his torso like a beauty queen.

“Come on.” She ordered the three new Zionites as the ramp lowered, “I’ll try to make this as quick as possible.”

“Holy shit...” Tempest muttered, walking down into technical heaven.

“Language.”

“Neo!” A voice shouted in surprised.

Murmurs started to travel. “He’s back.” “...back, the One is back.” “He’s here.” “Neo.”

Trinity glanced in his direction, not wavering in her step, as she regarded her significant other.

He was reverting. Neo had taken a step backwards the moment he stepped into Zion. He had shrunk down a bit, slouching his shoulders arching his neck to look down. He look small, Trinity noted, not an easy feat for someone as tall and broad as Neo.

To phrase it simply, he looked like Thomas Anderson.

“What’s going on?” Havana asked quietly.

“Nothing you need to worry about.” Trinity said. “Neo has somewhat of a celebrity status here in Zion so we’re going to try and get out of the public’s eyes ASAP.”

Her pace quickened as she led them into the immigration office.

The receptionist raised his eyebrows. “Three, Trinity?”

“Seemed like a good idea at the time. Two Academy bound, one sent to the Orphanage, fast track for Academy.”

“Orphanage?” Tempest said, looking between the two.

"It's more of a boarding primary school. It started out as an Orphanage for kids who lost their parents in the Matrix. Now it's for anyone under fifteen pulled out of the Matrix." Neo recounted.

“You’re still young, Tempest.” Trinity said, “You deserve to be young for as long as you can.”

The receptionist handed Trinity three clipboards filled with blank paperwork to be filled out.

Neo grimaced, just looking at it. “Want me to help?”

She looked up, almost surprised before a smile spread across her face. “Take Tempest’s. She can help you fill it out. Come to me if you have any problems.”

He answered with a nod, motioning for Tempest to take a seat next to him. He flipped through the paperwork. Zion wanted a ton of information. Where they found her, when they found her. Her description. A personality assessment. A summary of skills.

It made sense but, Jesus… Trin had to do this with every new recruit?

He bit back a complaint, in case she thought that he didn’t want to help and filled it out.

When they had both finished they said their goodbyes. Trinity gave them each cards with hers and Morpheus’ contact information in case they needed anything.

“The first few days are the hardest.” She told them. “But everyone’s been there and they’ll do their best to make the transition easy.”

“Thanks Trin.” Tempest said, moving forward to hug her.

She waited for the representatives from the school to come and collect the children, seeing them off.

Finally, Neo slipped his hand in hers. “Let’s go home.”

 

News had spread that the Nebuchadnezzar had landed and the landing to their apartment was filled.

Neo heard a small sigh from Trinity as she took his hand in hers and pushed her way through the crowd of people calling his name. She had her key out when they reached the door and quickly unlocked it, making Neo enter before her and then locking the door behind them.

“Jesus.” Neo muttered, sinking into a chair.

“Are you okay?”

A shrug. “I love this apartment. And I love the city. And the parks. I even love sitting here and eating goop. There are some places in Zion that could easily make me forget there’s a war going on. But then all this responsibility comes back into play and I… I don’t know if I can do it.”

Trinity walked over to him, dropping into his lap and sliding an arm around his back. She rested her head against his. “Try not to think about it in such big terms. You’ll go mad if you try to save the whole world.”

“But that’s my job.” He didn’t mean to sound bitter.

“I’ve been doing this for ten years, Neo. If you try to look at the big picture, you’ll overwhelm yourself.”

“Morpheus does it.”

“And Morpheus drove a lot of people who loved him out of his life. I love Morpheus dearly but some days it isn’t easy to.” She pressed a kiss to his temple. “Just do what you can. Work as hard as you can. Everyday.  And then you come to bed with me. Just make it to night, to bed, and everything will be okay.

 

Chapter Text

Neo made it to bed immediately after Trinity finished talking. They had both managed to strip down to their underwear before giving up.

The poundings on their door and screams and pleas for Neo’s help were killing the mood.

“I’ll call the security guards.” Trinity muttered, climbing out of bed, disgruntled.

Two hours and four calls for reinforcement later the hallway was cleared of non-residents.

Lock, himself, was particularly passionate about keeping the followers away from Neo and had set up monitors to make sure that non-residents weren’t allowed on the landing.

Only then did they made it back to bed. Trinity was leaning with her back against the arch. Neo climbed next to her and rested his head on her chest, letting her idly trace designs in his hair and down his neck.

“It’s a little disconcerting knowing that there are guards literally standing outside our door.”

Trinity gave a small nod. “Not much we can do about it, I’m afraid.”

She was content, although not too pleased. They had only been in Zion a handful of hours and they had been exposed to nothing but stress.

Eventually, Neo fell asleep and Trinity slid down the bed, readjusting them both to a more comfortable position before she, too, fell asleep.

When morning came, they were awakened by a banging on the door.

“Fangirls?” Trinity mumbled, not opening her eyes.

“Doubtful. Guards now, remember?”

He gave her a quick peck on the forehead and climbed out of bed to answer the door. Remembering that he only wore his boxers, he quickly threw on a pair of pants before letting the door open.

Trinity forced herself awake, scooching up in the bed, taking the covers with her to cover her near-naked form. Neo was being quiet, needlessly, although she appreciated the effort to let her sleep. She couldn’t quite make out the words but she could see his head nodding along.

Finally, Neo closed the door and turned back towards her. An envelope was in his hands.

“Everything okay?”

“I’ve been officially summoned by the Council. Three counts of reckless endangerment.”

“Must have come out in the official captain’s report.” Then she paused. “First count was going into the Matrix to save me when we were helping Ajax. Second was your stunt with the Agents. What was the first?”

“When I deleted the Agent when we rescued Tempest. Apparently, I should have asked permission from my superior first.”

“That’s some major bullshit. When do they want to talk to you?”

“Ten o’clock.”

“What time is it now?”

“Eight-thirty.”

Trinity’s face broke into a smile. “An hour and a half. A lot we can do in that amount of time.”

Neo grinned, taking long strides back to the bed and letting the rest of the world fade away.

.

“...Put his crew in danger on multiple occasions. This kind of reckless endangerment of his ship, crew and self would not be tolerated were he anyone else.” Lock finished.

Neo glanced back at Trinity. She was sitting with Morpheus, Link and the crew of the Icarus. She was rolling her eyes while he stood in front of the Council, next to Commander Lock.

“Commander Lock,” Councilor Dillard said, “Are you seriously suggesting that we put the One on trial?”

“If he were not the One, you would not question it.”

“If I weren’t the One, I wouldn’t be able to even do the things that got me on trial in the first place.” Neo said, dryly. He turned his head towards Lock. “I’ll admit to doing everything you said. But isn’t this why I was brought here? To destroy Agents and rescue slaves? I can’t do that if I’m not allowed to use my powers.”

“No one is saying you aren’t allowed to use your powers but you are putting yourself and others around you in danger.” Lock said in a patronizing tone.

“Everything I’m doing is to protect people! How is that putting them in danger?”

“Take destroying Agent Johnson.”

Neo was at a loss to which one that was.

“What should have been a simple retrieval became chaos when two Agents morphed in. Neo decided to fight them with First Officer Trinity and thirteen year old Tempest nearby.”

Neo glanced to Trinity again, seeing that she immediately reacted. “In that specific instance, Neo and I decided to separate so that I took Tempest away from the Agents while Neo dealt with them.”

“But you were in the area as he fought.” Lock protested.

“And what would you suggest we do, Commander? Hide and hope for the best?”

Lock didn’t have a response so Dillard gave a nod, “Then that’s settled. Neo is cleared of charges concerning the destruction of Agent Johnson.”

“And what about his reckless confrontation of Agents’ Brown and Jones when he was told not to assist the Icarus and its crew.”

“I felt that my presence could be an asset.”

“But you were ordered to stay out of the Matrix. You defied a direct order.”

“Fine. I defied an order. I don’t regret it. I’d do it again.”

“And we can’t have that kind of disobedience onboard our ships! Defiance like that could get himself and his entire crew killed.” Lock insisted.

“I was watching the events unfold on the screen from the Nebuchadnezzar. Trinity was up against two Agents by herself while Morpheus and the crew of the Icarus worked on freeing their charge. I put myself into the Matrix to help my crew.”

“Your crew or your girlfriend?” Lock taunted.

For a third time, Neo looked to Trinity. She gave him an encouraging nod, answering his unasked question. He had free will to go up against Lock. That was all it was, anyway. The Council didn’t seem upset in the least.

Lock was the one with the problem.

“Alright,” Said Neo with a sigh, “You want to bring Trinity into this? Fine. Let’s bring Trinity into this. What, exactly, are you concerned about regarding our relationship?”

“Shipboard romances are incredibly difficult to maintain and cause strife, recklessness and allow emotions to get involved with this war.”

“‘Allow emotions to get involved?’” Neo echoed before any Councilor could get a word in edgewise. “Isn’t that what we’re all fighting for? The right to experience reality, to see and hear and touch in a real world?”

“But you seem to be ignoring how reckless Trinity makes you. You disobeyed orders because you feared for her safety. Then, only hours later, you reentered the Matrix in order to kill the Agents that were after her.”

“So, you’re suggesting that Trinity gives me the motivation to destroy Agents and, in turn, make life in the Matrix a little easier and a little safer for all involved?”

Lock glared.

“Look," Neo relented, feeling almost sorry for the Commander. "I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little over-protective when it comes to Trinity but you have to understand that she brought me back from the dead. I love her so yes, sometimes I might go a little overboard when she is concerned. And as for whether or not it makes me reckless…” Neo shrugged, “It does, a little. But I can guarantee you any lecture or punishment you decide to give me will be nothing compared to what Trinity has already put me through.”

Several Councilors chuckled and even Dillard cracked a smile.

Dillard looked around at her fellow Councilors, looking for a simple nod from each. When each had give. Their acknowledgement she turned back to Neo and Lock.

"We cannot ask more of Neo than everyone else and then refuse to support him when he gives more, Commander. Admittedly, Neo, we would appreciate you trying to be as careful as you can but I think you are safe to continue as is."

"But what about his issues in the construct when he accidentally over rode the safety codes!"

"From the reports I read, forwarded by you, Morpheus and Trinity are working with him on that."

"Thank you, Councilor." Neo said with a nod, turning back towards his crew while ignoring Lock's protest.

He moved quickly, looking at the three members of his crew. “That went well, right?”

“You’re lucky you’re charming.” Trinity said dryly.

“I’m charming?” Neo said flashing a smile.

“Don’t push it.”

“Hey, it worked. That’s all that mattered, right?” Link added.

“It worked for now.” Trinity said with a shake of her head. “But we can’t keep pushing our luck with Lock.”

“Are you worried about your proposal?” Morpheus asked.

“I sent him the rewrite two weeks before we unplugged Neo and I haven't heard anything from him. I haven't exactly had the time to push it but I doubt this will make him amicable. I've honest been wondering if it's a lost cause.”

Neo looked between his love and his captain, unsure of what they were speaking about.

“Over-ride him. Go straight to the Council.” Morpheus suggested.

“And be accused of using my position to get ahead? Not a chance. I’ve worked too long and too hard to be accused of nepotism.”

And it didn’t take guess to figure out what her ‘position’ was. Neo looked down slightly, feeling guilty despite not knowing what was going on.

“I can try to talk to him.”

“No offense, Morpheus, but that will cause more harm then good. I’ll schedule an appointment with him before we leave, see if I can convince him-- I just won’t get my hopes up.”

“You better schedule it quickly. We leave tomorrow.”

Neo’s head popped up at that. “Already?”

“We rarely get to stay long.”

“And on that note,” Link interrupted, “I’m going to see my wife.”

They said quick goodbyes before Trinity turned to Neo. “Want to head home?”

He nodded, shook Morpheus’ hand and followed Trinity back through the mazed-hallways and back to their quarters.

“I’m sorry.” Neo said when they were inside.

“For what?” Trin asked as she made her way into the kitchen, grabbing a glass for water. “You did brilliantly.”

“For putting you in a bad position, career wise.”

Trinity looked a bit confused. “What are you talking about?”

“You and Morpheus were talking about Lock and nepotism and…”

“Oh.” She waved a hand, “That’s not your fault, Neo. I just don’t want to take advantage of my relationship with you to get what I want. Unfortunately, Lock is just being a dick right now and so neither of us are winning.”

“What is it you want?” Neo asked, “Can I help?”

Trinity smiled at him fondly, taking his hand in hers. “Not this time. I'm just stuck in a losing battle with Lock.”

“What is it?”

She leaned against the counter. “You know how most kids are unplugged between thirteen and seventeen? But the youngest anybody has ever been unplugged is nine?”

“Yeah.”

She bit her lip and gestured slightly with her hand. “About eight months ago, I came across a girl. A prodigy hacker who has actually figured out what the Matrix is. But she’s only six.”

“Six?” Neo questioned, taken aback.

“Six.” Trinity confirmed. “She doesn’t belong in the Matrix but we need special permission to unplug anyone under twelve. And I know there’s no way Lock will give his permission and maybe he’s right not to but… Anomaly, that’s her name, is just in a really bad place. Practically ignored by her parents, digging into things that she could get killed and it just seems like we can't help her.”

“And you need Lock’s permission?”

She nodded, setting down the glass. “Actually, I should contact his office now. Make sure I can get an appointment.”

She pushed the curtain aside and went back into the bedroom/dining room area where the computer was. She pulled the monitor down to where she could see it.

Neo couldn’t see what she was typing but she was faster than he was pre-One. He watched as she tucked a loose piece of hair back, her entire posture revealing her concentration.

“I love you.”

She turned her head, looking back at him. “And I love you.” She motioned for him to come over.

He did, stepping right behind her and wrapping his arms around her middle, resting his head on hers.

“How are you doing?” She asked, “I know Zion can be stressful for you.”

“I’m okay. I think I just need to accept the fact that many people are going to… well…”

“Worship you?”

“I don’t like saying it. I don’t like thinking it. But I need to accept that it’s going to happen and just try to be as kind and gracious as I can.”

She smiled approvingly, hitting send on her request before turning around in his arms.

“You’re amazing.” She whispered, kissing up his jawline to his ear. She sucked his earlobe into her mouth before scraping it gently with her teeth. “Damn near perfect.”

Neo kissed her nose. “I just want to make you happy.”

“You do.” She promised him. “You make me so happy. And I am so proud of you.”

He felt like he was soaring. Flying in the Matrix was nothing compared to this-- to the feeling of Trinity in his arms, loving him.

She loves me so much that her kiss brought me back from the dead, he thought to himself. She is what makes me fly. She gives me the strength and the power to be the One.

And no one knows. No one realizes that she’s the reason that this war will end. She’s the reason that I get up each day, that I do what I do. Neo almost laughed, Zion worships me and I worship her.

What would the Council say to that?

Truthfully, he didn’t give a damn about the Council. For the first time in his life, he was happy. Nothing could take that away-- not the Matrix, Agents, Council or Lock.

He had found his happiness, his passion, his love.

And he was never letting go.

.

“How do I look?”

“Sexy.”

“Neo!” Trinity scowled, “I’m about to have a meeting with the Commander of our fleet! I’m not going for sexy.”

“I don’t think you can help it.” He quipped, “You’re just naturally sexy.” When she didn’t smile, Neo took pity on her. “You look very professional.”

“I hate these meetings.” She commented. “I just know he’s going to turn me down, the bastard.”

“You don’t know for sure.”

Trinity took a deep breath. “I just need to stay calm. Collected.”

“We’ve been over what you’ll say six times. You have this down pat, Trin.”

A small smile appeared. “I know. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” He gave her a soft kiss, “Now go get him.”

“I love you.” Another quick kiss and she was gone.

It was the first time he’d really been alone in the apartment, he realized. He walked over to the bookshelf and explored the titles, not rushing as he had last time. He picked up a worn copy of Trinity by Leon Uris and wondered if she had picked her name from that book or if she simply had it because she was amused by it.

But either way, it was a part of her history, her humor. These trinkets and books were part of her life before him. She had lived in the apartment for years, collected knick knacks and created a life for herself while he had been stuck in the Matrix.

This was the life, not just of Trinity the Hacker but also of Trinity the woman, the sister, the lonely girl who missed her family and the determined woman who devoted her life to the freedom of others.

This was the Trinity that no one really got to see. His Trinity. His Trin.

His thoughts were interrupted as a knock came to the door. Setting down the book, Neo went to look out the peephole. Morpheus.

He opened the door. “Hello.”

“Hello.” Morpheus greeted. “I ran into Trinity on her way to see Lock. She said you were alone here and I wondered if you might like to join me and some other crews in the Officer’s Club.”

“The Officer’s Club?” Neo asked.

“Only active members of the military and their spouses are allowed in so you won’t get too much attention.” At Neo’s hesitation, Morpheus added, “I think it would be good for you to get out.”

He nodded. “Alright.” And he followed Morpheus to said Officer’s Club.

It was set up kind of like a bar. Not like the sleazy drug-den where he had first met Trinity-- more like a pub where people would gather to discuss sports and play pool. A noisy yet oddly calm environment.

“Come.” Morpheus instructed, “I’ll introduce you to some people.”

Neo visibly winced, wishing that he had stayed home as Morpheus led him through a small crowd of young officers and over to a table in the back.

“Gentlemen.” Morpheus said, approaching them confidently. “I’d like to introduce you to Neo. Neo, this is Captain Mifune of Zion’s Defensive Administration; Archer, first Officer on the Anubis; Kallen, Operator on the Anubis; Micah, medic; Jewel, Captain; Polaris, who was the Captain of the Hathor until a few months ago when she was transferred to help manage Zion Control and Captain Monroe, also of Zion Control. And, of course, you remember Captain Roland of the Hammer and Captain Ajax and Crewmen Duke from the Icarus.”

“How much of that do you remember?” Captain Mifune asked with a smile.

“Almost none of it.” Neo answered honestly.

“Pull up a chair.” The Captain invited, “Not every day we get to meet the Savior of Zion.”

“Especially when he’s not attached to your First Officer.” Captain Roland added.

“Oh, leave him alone.” One of the Zion Control Captains-- Polaris? Neo wondered-- said, waving a hand to make him Roland hush. “I think it’s sweet that love can flourish even in these dark times.”

Neo gave her a brief nod, thankful for her input, before pulling up a chair next to… shit, what was the Crewmen from the Icarus named? And across from Mifune.

Morpheus pulled a chair over, holding his hand to signal the wait staff and after ordering two drinks, he settled into the conversation.

After a few rounds of “so is it true that you can…” with Neo, the attention on him lessened and he was able to sit and listen to Morpheus and Mifune discuss the increase in sentinel attacks over the past two years.

“My greatest concern,” Mifune said, “Is that the machines have an infinite supply of parts. Theoretically, they could easily create an entire army of sentinels.”

“The numbers don’t matter.” Neo said, breaking into the conversation for the first time that night.

“No?” Mifune asked.

“Not so much. From what I understand, the Sentinels are just pawns.”

“Explain.”

“Well, it’s a killing machine, right? They only have one mission: to find and destroy ships. So that’s their programming; their purpose, if you will. Sure, sentinels are a problem but destroying them won’t bring us any closer to an end to this war. No, we’d have to go for the machines with the real knowledge-- the ones that have the ability to make choices and program and create. They’re the ones we need to be afraid of.”

“So you don’t think we should spend as much of our efforts on Zion defense?”

“I didn’t say that-- Sentinels are still a risk and we’d be naive to ignore them but they shouldn’t be our main focus or our greatest fear.”

“In that case, what would-- oh, hello Trinity.”

Neo turned in time to see Trinity take the last few steps to get to him before she sat down on his lap. She reached out and took the shot that Morpheus had ordered for him and downed it like a professional.

“That bad?” Neo asked, placing a hand on Trin’s lower back.

“Bastard didn’t even show up. He went home early because he was feeling ‘sick.'"

"You're kidding?"

Trin shook her head. "Didn't even tell me no to my face. Just avoids me till I go back out."

He found her hand and gave it a small squeeze. "I'm sorry, love. Want me to find him so you can beat him up?”

That caused his intended reaction as Trinity let out a small laugh. “No… I’m just stressed. And pissed."

Neo kissed her cheek. "Next time we're in town, we'll track him down."

Trinity nodded, clearly disappointed.

"Who's this?" Mifune asked. "Most intelligent men know not to cross your path."

That made her mouth twitch up in a grin. "Commander Lock. I'm trying to get permission to get a little girl freed."

"How young?"

"Six."

Mifune whistled. "That young has never been attempted."

"I can do it."

"No doubt." He assured her, "All right. Let’s hear your pitch.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Your pitch. If I’m going to allow this girl to be unplugged so young, I need some more information.”

“You can do that?” Trinity asked.

“I don’t see why not. I’m in charge of Zion Defense. Tell me how she could, theoretically, help the cause and I can get the paperwork filed by tomorrow.”

“Her name is Anomaly.” Trinity said, standing up and grabbing a chair from a nearby table and squeezing it in at the corner between Neo and Morpheus. “Six years old. Has been hacking less than two years and already has managed to hack into NASA on three separate occasions when her Kindergarten class was  studying the solar system. After that, she got involved with the deep web. Some questionable sites and got involved trying to research the Matrix and hacked into the FBI. Downloaded all the information she could on missing hackers, including me.

“That’s how I knew about her. I get an alert anytime someone requests, hacks or gets access to any of my files at the CIA and the FBI… Six years old. No training and she’s doing things half the fleet can’t do.

“She lives with her parents-- a real estate agent in New York for a Dad and her mom works on Wall Street. She’s taken care of by an apathetic nanny who barely pays the kid any attention. Without sounding cruel, no one will care if she goes missing.

“We bring her to Zion, get her formally trained, she’ll be an asset…”

Neo zoned out, listening to the soft but excited tone of Trinity’s words. She had Mifune’s attention-- he was going to give his permission.

It was almost funny-- Trinity had refused to go to the Council because she didn’t want to go over Lock’s head. Now, she was going to a man under him in Zion’s hierarchy and was going to get exactly what she wanted.

Mifune started to ask her questions and she was ready with an answer every time.

Sharp as a tack. Unwavering in her demands.

Lock wasn't going to know what hit him when Trinity came back with a six year old. And, honestly, Neo couldn't wait to see his reaction.

“Alright,” Mifune said, “A few conditions, for safety’s sake… one, I want at least one week observation. I know the all powerful Messiah,” He indicated Neo, “Can apparently sense who is ready to be pulled out but I want you to observe her for a week anyway. And then I want you to go inside the Matrix and make contact. Don’t pull her out yet. I know you want to but let her get used to you so she feels safer when you take her aboard the Neb.”

“Done and done.” Trinity agreed quickly. “I won’t pull her out until I am one hundred percent sure that she can handle it. We’ll give her extra attention and help her adapt to the new environment.”

Mifune nodded, “Good. I look forward to meeting her.”

“Thank you, sir.” Trinity said gratefully.

He gave her a little smile and stood up. “I’ll forward you the paperwork tomorrow. Goodnight.”

“Oh my god.” Trinity said as soon as Mifune had left. “We’re pulling her out.”

“Congratulations.”

"I don't believe it. I sent my first proposal in seven months ago. I've rewritten it four times and had it rejected four times." She laughed to herself, "Lock is going to lose his shit."

She leaned sideways into Neo, still a little stunned.

"Can I buy you a drink?" He asked, kissing her ear.

"Hnnn." She sounded before leaning to the right so she could see Neo. "Did I down your drink?"

"Yup."

"Sorry."

"No worries. It was actually kind of sexy."

"Me stealing your drink or me being pissed as hell?"

"Both."

"Good to know."

.

Morpheus had watched the evening unfold quietly. From Neo humbly answering questions about his abilities and Trinity’s entrance where she had climbed onto the One’s lap so casually that it had startled the whole bar.

He watched as Neo calmed her and made her laugh after she'd been shut down and ignored by Lock. He had watched Trinity then convince Mifune and everyone else at the table who had been listening in that not only was it possible but it was necessary to free a six year old girl.

He'd watched as Mifune walked away and Trinity and Neo, again, found happiness in each other. Their banter had nearly everyone at the table captivated.

This was the ONE. This was Trinity.

The most perfect match that Zion had never seen coming. That he had never seen coming.

And Morpheus wasn't an idiot. He had noticed that Trinity was spending even more time watching the Matrix than usual but he thought she was finally coming around to the idea of the One.

And when Neo had come aboard the Neb it was obvious that he was taken with her but that wasn't uncommon for new unplugs. They would often try to ground themselves with emotional connections and Trinity was the first person he had met from Zion. He had acknowledged the feelings without even considering that they would last.

As for Trinity... she had been quieter than usual. He had caught her watching him early on, studying his face. And again, he had assumed that she was considering that Neo could be the One. And other then that, she had been distant. In hindsight, she had been avoiding Neo. Probably trying to figure out her emotions.

All these emotions going on right under his nose and he hadn't even noticed.

But now he couldn't help but smile as Neo slipped an arm around Trinity and pulled her closer to him.

Trinity smiled reciprocated the motions, wrapping her arms around his middle and hugging him, a smile on her face. After a moment, she lifted her head up and caught his lips in a slow kiss.

Morpheus looked around the table, noticing that conversation had pretty much stopped as they all watched the Savior of Zion lose himself to Trinity. He didn't blame them for watching. It was captivating.

Trinity pulled apart first, more aware of their audience, and rested her forehead against his.

After a moment’s pause, Neo said, "So, is that a yes or no towards the drink?"

"That would be a no to the drink but a yes to you taking me home."

"That's a much better idea."

"I know. I'm much smarter than you."

Neo grinned, adjusting his grip on Trinity so that they could stand.

"See you in the morning." He said to Morpheus, wrapping an arm around Trinity's waist so that he could pull her closer.

 

Morpheus nodded his acknowledgement. "In the morning." He repeated, watching as the couple left the Officer's Club either not noticing or not caring that they were the center of attention. His money was on the latter.

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: Not mine

A huge thank you to my wonderful beta Trinneo.

xoxo Trin303 (And if you have time, check out my new one-shot 'Almost.' R&R xoxo

.

"I don't think I'm ready to go back to sharing you." Neo commented the next morning as he lay in bed watching Trinity shuffle around their apartment.

"And what do you propose we do?"

"End the war?"

She smirked, opening the closet door. "Believe it or not but I think your fan club will increase when you end the war."

"When we end the war." He corrected, "And once the war ends, we're running away."

"Where to?"

"I figure we steal the Neb or some other ship and just take off. At least for a couple months. No clothes allowed."

Trin let out a little laugh. "Glad to know you've thought this through."

"Oh, I've given this lots of thought."

"Mhmm. I can tell."

Neo watched her move around wearing only his bullethole ridden sweater, reaching nearly all the way to her knees.

"Come back to bed."

She glanced back to him. "I really... should pack. Finish... packing."

Neo smiled broadly, amazed that someone like him could have such an effect on someone like her. "Convincing."

"Shut up." She ordered, ignoring her search and walking back to the bed.

He gripped her hips as she threw one leg over his torso so that she straddled him. She set her arms out straight and fell so that one rested on either side of his head. Slowly, Trin brought her body down against his, kissing her lover good morning.

Neo groaned as she ground herself against him, igniting the fire in his blood.

Trinity grinned into his mouth as she felt his growing erection. Again, pushed her hips against his, reveling in his immediate reactions.

Neo felt around for the bottom of her sweater and pushed it over her body so that she was naked again. A hand tangled into her hair while the other ran a path down her spine, caressing her back gently.

Trin pushed herself off him just enough to grip his cock and angle him against her before sinking down onto him.

Neo let out a loud moan as a high pitched sigh escaped her lips.

Trinity twisted her hips, moaning at the perfect sensation of him inside her. Neo bucked against her, filling her completely. He angled her head in for a kiss, desperate to touch her everywhere. To feel everything.

They rocked against each other, desperately wanting to maintain the feelings of elation forever but both so close to completion that they knew it could never last.

Their movements quickened and Trinity broke apart from the kiss, her head lolling in pleasure.

"Mm, Trin…" He groaned, a hand at the base of her neck, pulling her closer so that he could kiss the skin there.

His mouth found her pulse point and he devoured her as only he could. Licking, kissing, sucking and biting… marking her completely as his own.

Thoughts of 'mine. mine. mine.' echoing constantly in his head as she came undone around him, screaming out his name.

Only then did Neo let go, spilling himself inside her as they clawed at each other, desperate to feel every part of the other until they were both panting messes, heaped together.

"I love you." Neo told her when he had caught his breath.

She kissed him in response, desperate to love him with all they had before she, too, had to go back to sharing her love with the world.

.

"Shit!" Trinity said, pushing herself off Neo as she noticed the clock. "We're late!"

She was out of bed like a shot, searching for clean clothes and dressing quickly.

"What time is it?"

"7:55."

"We have five minutes." Neo commented, stretching as he sat up.

"Five minutes to get to the dock and be on the ship! Hurry up!"

"Relax, Trin. They won't leave without us."

She didn't even stop to give him a look. "Neo, I'm never late. Ever. In ten years, I have never been late."

"Impressive record."

"Neo!" She grabbed his pants off the floor and threw them at him. "Get dressed!"

Neo smiled at her, tugging the pants on and tying the rope belt as he walked towards her, putting a hand on each of her hips. "Trin. Breathe."

"I don't like being late."

"I can tell, but babe?"

"What?" She asked, slipping out of his grip to find her boots.

"We're going to be late."

"I know!" She yanked her second boot up before going over to the bookshelf and running a finger over the titles as she quickly searched.

Neo grabbed his shirt and pulled it, listening to Trinity mutter to herself.

"What are you looking for?"

"The Old World fairytale book."

"Kitchen. Hanging in the bag we took the day we had Hazel and Triton."

She turned on her heel, heading towards the kitchen and calling, "Thanks," over her shoulder.

Neo finished dressing and found his duffle. Neither had gotten around to doing laundry so he dumped it on the ground out of the way and stuffed it with the remainder of his clean clothes.

Trin came back in with the book in hand. "You're ready?"

"I'm ready." He confirmed.

"Goo- you haven't eaten."

"Neither have you."

"I'm older than you."

"Are you?"

"In Zion years. My body is able to handle it better than yours." She looked torn before she shook her head. "We can eat on the Neb." She decided, shouldering her own bag. At least she had the foresight to pack it ahead of time. "Let's go."

Trinity grabbed his hand and practically dragged him out of the apartment. Offerings had been left over night but she pulled him along, "no time!"

It was almost funny, Neo thought. And she was adorable when she was so serious.

This was the Trinity he first fell in love with. The no-nonsense first officer. His commanding officer who he had no business even looking at.

She was the same now, the only difference being that her hand was in his as they hurried into the elevator.

And what a difference it made.

Suddenly, Neo was jerked forward as the doors opened and Trinity yanked him out of the elevator, walking as fast as she could towards the ship.

Morpheus and Link stood on the ramp both looking highly amused.

Link crossed his arms and tutted, "You're late."

"My fault." Neo said. Despite the fact that Morpheus and Link were only joking, he knew that Trinity felt guilty. "I tried to convince her to run away with me."

"Did it work?" Link asked.

"We're here, aren't we?"

They laughed as Trinity went through her flight preparation checklist with Morpheus, double checking that he had done everything he needed to do.

Neo took her bag and made his way down to their quarters. He sighed as he opened the door. It was so much smaller than their Zion apartment. But at least it was theirs, he thought, setting the bags on the bed so that he could sort through the clothes.

Once everything was put away, he went to look for Trin and Morpheus.

As suspected, he found them in the cockpit. Trinity was in the pilot's seat. He nodded to Morpheus before moving to stand behind Trinity, hands on her shoulders.

"What needs to be done?" He asked.

"You need to eat." Trinity said.

"So do you."

She turned her head to glare at him. "I will kick your ass."

"Kinky."

"Okay!" Morpheus interrupted. "Neo, bring Trinity a tray and then go eat."

A nod to his commander and a kiss to his love later and he was gone.

When his footsteps had receded, Morpheus spoke up, "It's hard to remember who he was just a month ago. That boy wouldn't have even questioned orders let alone backtalk a superior officer."

"A lot has changed in a month."

"That it has. The entire course of the war."

She glanced away from the front window and in Morpheus' direction. "What will you do?" She asked for the first time, "What will you do when the war is over?"

Morpheus laughed quietly. "You know, I really don't know. I've been fighting this war for so long… I think I've grown dependent on it.. When the war is over, I'll probably still be here, on this ship, dealing with the aftermath."

Trinity observed her commanding officer. "Then what are you fighting for? If not for a better life, for a future, then what?"

Morpheus smiled, "I'm fighting for a future, for the future. Just not mine." He reached for Trinity's hand. "You're still young. You have your whole life ahead of you."

"You're not ancient, Morpheus."

"No, but I'm old. Too old to go searching for love and passion and far too old to have children. Honestly, it will be a miracle if I survive this war-"

"Don't talk like that."

"It's the truth and I accept it. But you? You, Trinity, will have a life. Where you will know peace and love and passion. You'll have children who won't remember the war and will know nothing but peace."

She shook her head. "It sounds wonderful. But you'll be there. You'll survive, Morpheus. We all will."

"Love has turned you into an optimist. It's a good look for you, happiness."

"You'll be there." Trinity said, sounding quite sure of herself. "You have to be. Neo and I won't be able to handle the Council or Lock or the general population when this is all over. We need you so don't go doing anything stupid."

Morpheus laughed, softly, "I'll do my best."

"Now that we've got that settled, we need to talk about Anomaly. Mifune said to observe her for a week. I'm thinking that we start with twenty-four hours surveillance and adjust to less once we get a grip on her schedule."

"Agreed." Morpheus said with a nod. "Get a feel of when she's the most active… when we should monitor her for the rest of the time. We just need to remember that there are only four of us now."

"How could I forget?" Trinity asked stoically before abruptly changing subjects. She and Morpheus had still not discussed Cypher and she intended to keep it that way. "My previous monitorings do indicate that she does most of her work between four and seven in the morning, when she leaves for school and three until her parents come home for dinner... usually six or seven."

"And who watches her then?"

"No one. She takes the bus to and from school, left alone the rest of the day."

"Convenient."

"More like careless." Neo said, climbing up the ladder with a tray in one hand.

"Agreed." Said Trinity, "On both counts."

"Do you think she's being watched by Agents?" Neo asked handing Trinity her breakfast. "It would give them more opportunities to grab her."

Trin reached backwards and grabbed the collar of his shirt, pulling him down for a quick thank you kiss.

"No." Said Morpheus, ignoring the display. "Agents almost never grab civilians. The only reason they even knew about you was because Cypher let the line be traced back to you."

"Oh. Just… with the way you handled the bugging situation, I thought it was a common occurrence."

"Second time I'd had to debug somebody."

"That's… comforting."

"You're alive, aren't you? Now go eat."

"Ma'am, yes ma'am!" He said with a salute, clicking his heels together.

"Smartass!" She replied to his retreating figure. Still, Trin smiled before taking a bite of her own food. "Do you have a piece of paper?" She asked Morpheus.

When he took one out she dictated, "Alright, I'll take the first shift. We'll start at six in the morning. You can take over at lunch, Link can take over around dinner time and Neo can take the graveyard."

"Is that a punishment of some kind?"

Trinity gave him one of her patented look of disapproval. "No. I just think that he has enough on his mind right now. A shift where he can multitask might be good for him. If it doesn't work out, he can switch with one of us." She paused, "But, then again, once we figure out her sleeping schedule, we'll only track when she's awake."

"You want us watching her even while she's in school?"

A nod. "I know we usually only watch the hacking and search process but we need to figure out where she is developmentally. I know it seems like extra work but when Lock eventually contests this, I want to be able to prove that this has been thought out and that we've planned for every possibility."

Morpheus smiled, "You could have made a hell of a Captain."

"Maybe." Trinity admitted, "But we both know I don't belong anywhere but here."

Chapter Text

I'm back! Sorry it's been so long since I last updated but I'm actually going to be moving to Vietnam for six months pretty soon so I've been incredibly busy getting all my paperwork and research done. Things have settled down a bit and I'm back on track so I should be posting a lot more soon.

This chapter is mostly porn so if that isn't your thing, feel free to skip to the next chapter!

Thanks to my lovely beta, Trinneo for her never ending patience and timely reminders that I need to write :)

xoxoxoxo trin303

Neo stared blankly at the sheet of metal in front of him. He was supposed to cut it down "in fourths" and then "use one of the pieces to mend the crack in the hull" that had emerged due to the "thermodynamics of metal."

At least, that was what he remembered. Trinity had spent ten minutes giving him in depth instructions on what he was supposed to do. It was just that somewhere along the lines, he had zoned out when he noticed just how beautiful her shoulders were.

Pale, shapely, muscular shoulders.

He imagined running his hands along them and then down her arms as he kissed his way down her neck and across that beautiful expanse of skin. Lowering the thin straps that held her tank top up and pushing it down while he kissed every inch he could reach.

And oh! Her arms moving to wrap around him as her shoulders tilted forward in an embrace before…

"...Make sure to use the sealant and not the oil…. similar bottles… mass explosion… careful…"

Mmmm, Neo thought. Oil. Massaging her shoulders, her breasts and stomach… His hands gliding down her thighs, touching her everywhere except where she needed him most. He would tease her, caressing her until she was dripping for him, until she was begging for his touch and then…

"...Adjusts the flame… do not… got it?"

Neo had nodded before taking the blow torch from her hands, suddenly completely lost. Trin gave him a quick kiss goodbye before going back to watch Anomaly.

And then he was alone with a piece of sheet metal and no idea how the hell he was supposed to fix the hull.

Footsteps echoed in the hall and Neo turned quickly to see who would pass the door.

"Link!" He called as the operator walked by.

Link took a step back, poking his head in the door. "Neo, what's up?"

Neo indicated the blow torch in his hand and the nearby piece of sheet metal. "What am I supposed to do?"

"No one gave you directions?"

"They did. I just wasn't listening."

"Wow. And you're going to save the human race?"

"That's what they tell me."

Link nodded, "That's a bit scary."

"You're telling me." Neo muttered. "But do you have any idea how to fix this?"

Link shrugged helplessly. "I usually only do electrical repairs. I've only helped with hull repairs once."

"That's more than I've done."

A nod. "Okay, um, there should be some kind of paste."

"Sealant?"

"Probably." Link scratched his head, "We use that to keep the metal in place and then weld a plank over it, completely sealing off the crack. After it cools down, someone usually has to go outside and melt down the crack until the metal is all attached."

"I don't think Trinity mentioned that."

"Meaning you don't remember?"

Neo tilted his head in acknowledgement. "In the snippets I do remember she never mentioned going outside."

"Then she's probably planning on doing that later. Thank god. I'm used to working with much bigger crews and never having to do this shit."

"I don't think Morpheus and Trinity are ready for a big crew again." Neo commented carefully.

"Don't blame them. It just makes things a little more difficult with just the four of us. Take this." He handed Neo a mask before grabbing one for himself.

"Okay, so I think we need to cut it down into quarters."

Link nodded, "Alright. I'll hold it, you cut it."

Neo flipped his mask down before kneeling before the metal. Carefully, he adjusted the flame until it was at its hottest setting. It took a bit but eventually Neo managed to cut the sheet in half.

"Do we have to cut all of it into fourths or just cut one of the halves in half?"

Neo shrugged. "I'd say just cut one of the halves. Just in case. We can always cut the rest of it later."

Link dropped one of the pieces to the side before holding the other up for Neo to cut. When the task was done, they both stared at the final product. A small rectangle of metal that had to be attached to a giant crack above them.

"We're going to need a ladder."

"We got one of them." Link said with a nod. "It's down in the loading bay. I'll grab it, you put the sealant on the sheet."

Neo opened the bottle of sealant. It reminded him of one of those large containers that pills and vitamins came in where you had to push down the top and twist.

There was no brush supplied so Neo just trickled the glue around the edges and a small bit here and there in the middle. He looked up at wall where the crack was and made a face. Even with a ladder, it wasn't going to be an easy fix.

He heard footsteps and turned, seeing Link walk in with a folded ladder. "Let's do this." The operator said, flipping the parts into place before lining it up against the wall.

"You hold it steady, I'll climb up?" Neo asked.

"Sounds good."

After putting the mask on his head and clipping the blowtorch to his belt, Neo grabbed the sheet of metal and carefully began ascending the ladder. It was difficult, one handed- especially since his dominant hand was busy balancing the non-sticky side of the metal.

After carefully reaching the top, Neo let go of the ladder, careful of his balance and used both hands to stick the metal over the crack. He smoothed it out before calling down to Link, "Okay, I'm taking out the blowtorch."

"Be careful, man."

"You, too." Neo said, thinking of the sparks that might fall down.

He slid the mask over his face and turned the torch back on, starting at the top corner and slowly working his way down.

It didn't take long for him to get into the zone and he was soon making decent progress.

Until "What the hell are you idiots doing?" broke through the loud hum of the torch.

Neo took his hand off the trigger, both he and Link turning to look at Trinity. She stood in the doorway, a hand on her hip as she assessed the situation.

"Fixing the crack?" Neo replied, more of a question than an answer.

"I see." Trinity said, a hint of a smirk on her lips. "So, did you listen at all to what I said or did you just decide to try and wing it?"

"I listened…"

Link snorted.

"... a bit. I just missed a couple of things."

"Clearly." Replied Trinity. "Did you miss the part about me coming back to fix the crack?"

Neo gave a slow nod. "Yup. That must not have stuck in the brain."

"Savior of our freaking race." Link muttered. "We're doomed."

Trinity smiled at that, "And he pulled you into this?"

"Said he needed help. Guess I just didn't realize how much."

"Hey!" Neo called as he started his descent.

She walked into the room, shaking her head. "Can't leave you alone for five minutes."

Trinity found a switch a few feet away from the base of the ladder and a loud whirring noise filled the room. A thick line descended from the ceiling as Trinity walked away to a cabinet. She opened it and pulled out a smaller pair of safety gloves.

"You're kidding me." Link moaned, "You guys have a track system?"

"We're the third biggest ship in the fleet." She replied dryly.

"What's a track system?"

"What it sounds like. There's a track attached to the ceiling that goes all around this room, built so we can get on top of the engines without getting electrocuted if they need repairs. But the track extends around the room as well so it can be used to do hull repairs."

She moved to the ropes hanging down and clipped the harness around her waist and both thighs. Then moved the line across said track system until it was in front of the crack, just to the side of the ladder. "Torch and mask."

Neo handed her the tools and watched as she ascended upwards with a hit of a button.

"This is what you get for not listening to your girlfriend." Link said, watching Trinity assess their work.

"This could have been a lot worse." She called down. "I mean, you did a crappy job but it's nothing I can't fix."

"We're idiots." Link stated.

"If you're looking for me to deny it, I won't." Slipping the mask over her face, Trinity began fixing Neo's attempt at welding the hill back together. "You two can leave if you want."

Link gave her a nod and a quick clap to Neo's back before he exited the engine room.

Neo, instead, decided to wait while Trinity finished her work.

She was much less awkward in her movements then he was and vaguely wondered if it was because she had been unplugged so much longer or simply because she was Trinity.

Her head tilted to the side as she continued her work.

So graceful.

In another life she could be a dancer.

Not for the first time, he wondered what her life would be like if everything had been normal- if she really had been born in the twentieth century in a life where machines were only machines and where the mystery of the Matrix wouldn't look over her.

But she would never be a dancer- not with her ambition. In another world, like the real world, she would save her grace and flowing movements for the bedroom while devoting her time to others.

More social worker than soldier, he thought with a smile.

A job where she would save hundreds of lives and receive little glory or recognition.

But that was her- his Trinity.

"Neo." Her voice broke into his thoughts.

"Hm?"

"You're staring."

He looked up at her with a soft smile. "You're beautiful."

She blushed, going back to examining her own work. "It's distracting."

"So are you." He countered, "it's only fair."

Trinity flipped the mask back down so that she was hidden from him yet again.

Aggressive and shy, ambitious and selfless. All perfect ways to describe her.

Still, his favorite description was mine.

And her in that harness, hanging from the ceiling... Oh, did it give him some ideas. Lots of fucking brilliant ideas...

He licked his lips.

Neo looked around the room. One door. Lockable? He would have to check. The room? Echoey. They'd have to be quiet but there were ways to ensure that.

His pants seemed to tighten as his cock strained against the thin material.

Smirking to himself, his head alive with fantasies, Neo moved towards the door. His eyes never wavered more than a few seconds from his love as he closed them inside the engine room. There was no lock, he was disappointed to find out.

Instead, he grabbed a nearby bench and after removing the contents to the floor, he put it in front of the door so as to bar any others from entering.

"What are you doing?" Trinity asked him, lowering herself down to the floor.

He waited until her feet had touched the ground to stalk over to her and gently tossed her tools to the side.

"Seriously, what are you doing?" She asked as she went to unstrap her harness.

Neo put a hand over hers, stopping her from doing such and murmured, "Leave it."

"Neo…" She looked around, "Link and Morpheus are around here somewhere!"

"Then," Neo twisted a hand into her short hair before pulling it backwards, exposing her neck, "We'll have to be very…" He kissed the hollow of her throat, "Quiet."

Trinity exhaled sharply. "This is… a very bad idea."

"Tell me to stop." He dared her, his tongue tracing patterns while his mouth traveled up her neck.

She moaned, "Neo…"

"Quiet." He repeated, letting his hands travel down her lithe torso, digging his fingers into her waist and relishing in every new sound she expressed. A little further until he reached the harness, his fingers dancing over it until he reached the two parts strapped to her thighs. Unsnapping them, he regained access to her pants.

He nipped at her lip victoriously while his hands tugged her pants down.

Trin's hands moved to his belt, quickly undoing the knot in order to free him from his confines.

"Lean back." Neo ordered, helping her to do as he instructed so that her weight rested on the harness belt. He pushed his own pants down before telling her to "Legs around my hips."

Trinity rushed to comply, bracing her hands on his shoulders while she pushed off the ground. She sought out his lips while her body complied with his request and kissed him, hard.

Neo kissed her back, one arm holding her mouth to his while his free hand traveled down between them. She moaned as Neo made contact with her soft flesh.

Every sound she made as he gently played with her clitoris was immediately swallowed but Neo's kiss. Even through his shirt, her nails raked down his back.

Trinity pulled back, sucking on his lower lip and letting it scrape through her teeth. She quickly moved her head to the side, repeating the motions with his ear.

"Why," she asked, "aren't you inside me?"

Almost immediately, he complied to her wish, rocking against her until every inch of his cock was within her. Neo pushed her back and then used the momentum of the swing to bring her right back to him. Her weight added to the force with which she crashed into him, biting her lip to keep from moaning.

His movements were more hurried than usual and he wished that they had the assurance of being alone. Moments when he was inside of her, he wished would last forever.

Later, he determined, he would lay her down on their bed and take his sweet time worshiping her body like it deserved.

But now?

Now, he would let pleasure take over as one hand guided her repeatedly back and forth on his length while his other played with her clit.

He could feel her tighten around him as she started to convulse.

Neo reached for her mouth, catching any sound that threatened to escape while he came inside her.

The rocking slowed as the pair floated on their personal highs.

Trinity exhaled a soft laugh, "That was… a very good idea."

"Ten out of ten? Would do again?"

She snorted, planting a kiss on his lips before they both redressed. "I'm suddenly worried about when the last time that swing was cleaned but…" She drifted off. "Eh, there's still work to be done."

"There always is."

Chapter Text

In the four hours Neo had spent sitting alone in the Core, he had discovered that he had several freckles on the back of his hands and his fingers. He discovered that all his fingers but his thumb could fit into the opening crevice of the plugs on his arms.

He hummed a tune, watching Anomaly dream. 24 hour surveillance sucked.

Of course, it was only the second day of surveillance.

Trinity, Morpheus and Link had done it 'a thousand times, Neo. You'll get used to it. Really.'

Not bloody likely. At least while he was running hacks he could goof off on the deep web or read. And sleeping was completely out of the question.

He glared at the screen.

Anomaly's head lolled.

Neo sighed.

It wasn't her fault. The kid needed to sleep. And she had, granted, had a long day.

Trin's shift had been exciting, starting early in the morning when Anomaly had first woken up. She was a natural when it came to hacking, seeing patterns and taking them apart like it was nothing.

Link's laughter had interrupted everyone else's lunch as he witnessed Anomaly sass her teachers.

By the time Morpheus had started his shift, Anomaly was back at her computer watching the little girl scroll through a forum with men and women so much older than her while discussing the hundreds of theories that surrounded the Matrix.

And then there was Neo, watching a kid asleep at her computer. Her parents or someone should have moved her hours ago, after she first drifted in her chair but they hadn't. And he couldn't.

Neo rubbed his eyes, forcing himself to stay awake. He watched as she jostled every now and again, her head resting on her arm, her arm on the keyboard, endlessly typing the number six.

"I used to watch you do that." Trinity's soft voice murmured from not far behind him.

Neo smiled, slowly turning the chair to face her. "Was I that adorable?" He gestured back at Anomaly.

"Very nearly." She closed the distance between them, climbing onto his lap. "You drooled more, though."

Neo smirked, spinning the chair back to the monitor as Trinity rested her head on his shoulder. He placed a gentle kiss to her head."You should be asleep."

"I got a little, I think." She glanced up, almost embarrassed, "I don't like sleeping without you."

He caught her drift. It was nearly impossible to sleep without her, he had noted after he woke up the previous morning almost immediately after she had left the room. "Me either." He kissed her nose.

She hummed her approval. "This time last year, I didn't even know your name and now it never seems to leave my mind."

"A year ago, I thought you were a guy."

Trinity gave him a sleepy glare. "Sexist."

"I'll try and do better in the future."

"Good. 'Cause in the real world, I can kick your ass."

"I have no doubt." He gave her another kiss. "Go to sleep. I'll wake you when it's time for your shift."

Trinity yawned and nodded, snuggling further into him. "I love you, Neo."

"I love you more." He whispered.

She mumbled a response incoherently.

An hour passed in what seemed to be minutes. Then two. Neo noted that his shift was over but did nothing to move. Touching her, holding her was charging him like sleep never could. While only hours before, he had been keeping himself awake by poking at his plugs, he was now wide awake, watching the monitor with a renewed vigor.

Six am passed and he let her sleep.

Anomaly woke up and he let her sleep.

Neo continued to watch the screen, taking note of Anomaly's skills and smiling at her lack of patience.

It wasn't until eight that Trinity even stirred when Morpheus entered the room.

"Is that anyway to-" Morpheus started, despite the smile on his face.

"Shh!" Neo whispered. "She's asleep."

"I thought she took over at six." Morpheus said in a gentler tone.

"She was here. Sleeping."

Trinity stirred, her head lolling forward before popping up, her eyes still closed. She hummed, softly, inhaling deeply before her blue eyes popped open.

"Hmmm? What time is it?" She yawned.

"It's nearly eight."

Her eyes widened and she sat up, quickly "Why didn't you wake me?"

"Relax," He said soothingly. "You were tired and I was wide awake. Besides," Neo gave a small shrug, "She finally woke up and I was looking forward to doing something other than watching her sleep."

"I don't think all my threats about kicking your ass have been getting through to you."

"I have been accused of being clueless."

"Inattentive."

"I can be very attentive."

"Thick."

"Oblivious."

"Unobservant."

"Yours."

Morpheus rolled his eyes.

"Most definitely." She agreed, kissing the corner of his mouth.

"You know," Morpheus interrupted, "I must have imagined and envisioned finding the One in a thousand different ways but never, in the craziest of my delusions, did I imagine so much flirting."

"Best perk of being the One." Neo said, tapping her nose lightly.

Trinity smiled and tried to climb off his lap. Upon finding him unwilling to let her go, she turned her head towards him. "You need to go to bed."

"Actually," Neo commented, "I feel more rested than I have in weeks."

"It's been at least twenty hours since you slept."

He responded with a shrug. "Yeah, I know. But I feel wide awake. Is there anything that needs doing?"

"No!" Trinity said at the same time as Morpheus offered "Want a turn at flying the ship."

"Hell yes."

"Neo…"

"I'm wide awake." He said, squeezing Trinity's shoulder. "I swear."

She rolled her eyes in response, and looked back at the screen as footsteps retreated. Anomaly was sitting with a group of her schoolmates on the playground. Her long, dark hair fell around her face messily.

I wonder if she'll miss it when it's gone.

Most girls did and a few guys, too.

It was typically harder for the girls, losing their hair. Oh, they could adjust to life in Zion and aboard ship just fine but the loss of hair was too much to handle. Whereas the boys could care less about the hair but start to tell them about the Matrix, and they would lose their shit.

Anomaly… Anomaly was her namesake. Trinity didn't know quite how the girl would react. In so many respects, Anomaly was a normal girl. She played with her friends, did all her school work- albeit a little faster than the other kids but every class had at least one kid a little bit ahead of the rest.

At school, she was just a first grader who liked playing on the swings and reading newspapers during recess. At home, she was an Anomaly, her small hands bouncing all over the keyboard as she tried to type quickly.

At home, she was looking for something.

What is the Matrix?

Well, kid, you're about to find out.

.

"How often do you run into sentinels?" Neo asked as Morpheus sat next to him, checking the scanner for the machines.

"Every few weeks. It'll help now that we won't be out for months at a time."

Neo nodded, eyes moving between the dashboard telling him where the tunnel led and the headlights that gave him a narrow view of what was ahead. Having the operations manual for the hovercraft uploaded into his brain had made life much easier.

"Once things with Anomaly settle down," Morpheus began, "I would like to work with you on finding more potentials."

"We do have at least thirty queued. Even if we take six, seven, even eight each time it'll take us at least four trips back to Zion. Probably more."

"For one crew, yes. But if we divide the work between the different crews, we could have all thirty pulled in a week."

Neo considered that. It would save a lot of time and as long as Zion had the capabilities to support those numbers, there was no reason not to. Except "Would taking that many kids from the Matrix at once have any consequences of the people still trapped?"

"They'd certainly notice. But I don't see how that's a bad thing."

"People tend to be protective of their kids- whether enslaved or not."

"Yes, but I think in this instance we must rely strictly on priorities. We must decide on what is the greater good."

The motives worried Neo, if only a little bit. Truth be told, the entire situation was complicated. To leave the children in the Matrix was to condemn them to a life of slavery, to take them out quickly became an issue of kidnapping and- what concerned Neo the most- recruiting an army.

Trinity, Ghost, Apoc and Switch… the orphans of the Matrix suddenly very alone in Zion and having nothing else to turn to but the military.

It was wrong in many ways. But it was also necessary. For survival, for freedom.

"Yeah." Neo said with a nod, "I can do that. I'll try and figure out which kids are compatible to be aboard ship at the same time and who needs to be prioritized. I don't think it'll take more than a couple of days to organize it."

"We already have a list of potentials that I would appreciate you running through."

"Yeah, no problem. Are we going to start going after these kids soon or wait till after Anomaly?"

"I'll leave that up to Trinity since she'll be taking the lead on this but I'm assuming after."

He nodded again, devoting his attention back to steering. The controls were easy to master after being uploaded into his head and it took less concentration that driving a car. All he really had to do was not hit the sides of the sewer walls.

"Neo?" Morpheus asked.

"Hmmm?" He looked up again.

"How are you doing?"

"Sir?"

"How are you doing? I realize we haven't had much of an opportunity to talk."

"To talk?" Neo repeated, hoping the conversation wasn't going where he thought it was going.

"Well, yes." Morpheus said, "I haven't been around much since we discovered that you were the One. To be honest, I haven't really known what to do- I spent so much time looking for you, I never truly planned for what would happen when I did find you."

Neo smiled, looking down, lost in his own thoughts. "It's almost funny." He said, looking back over at Morpheus, "I honestly have no idea what I'm doing or how I'm going to even begin to destroy the Matrix. But I'm not concerned."

"At all?"

He shrugged, looking back towards the tunnel, "I'm going to destroy it. There's no doubt in my mind about that. Any chance for a future is dependent on the Matrix ceasing to exist. I'm not concerned because I know that there is nothing that can stop me. I mean, it's not going to happen overnight- it'll take time. But we have time."

"But you said yourself that you don't know how to destroy it."

"Not yet."

"And that doesn't worry you?" Morpheus asked in surprise.

"It probably should." Neo admitted. "But it's probably four or five on my list of priorities right now."

Morpheus' mouth fell open. He closed it and then opened it again, searching for the words. "Neo, I realize you're still adjusting to the real world but shouldn't destroying the Matrix- the thing that took twenty-seven years from your life- be your main priority?"

He didn't answer for a moment, caught up in his own thoughts. "I spent twenty-seven years in the Matrix doing what others wanted me to do. I went to school, got decent enough grades to get into a good college. Got a degree. A job at a major software company. Made enough money to support myself, pay off my loans. But none of it was real. Not the grades, the degree, the job. I didn't even have a real loan to pay off- it was just another system of control.

"For the first time in my life, I've escaped that control. And to a certain extent I get to make my own choices. I'm not going to let the Council replace the Matrix in telling me what to do and when to do it. Otherwise, what the hell am I trying to save?"

Neo looked to Morpheus- his hero. The man was a fucking legend, constantly evading the police (that Neo now recognized as Agents) and stirring things up with mentions of the Matrix. Leaving nothing but questions in his path.

He didn't want to disappoint Morpheus but was surprised to find, for the first time, that he felt no anxiety over the chance of being a disappointment. He wasn't apathetic- he had finally just accepted that he couldn't please everyone and, while Morpheus was high up on the list of people Neo wanted to please, he fell just a little short of Neo caring.

"I'm not some selfless hero." Neo said, with a bit of a smile. "I'm an incredibly selfish man."

And for the first time, Morpheus realized there was nothing wrong with being so.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

It's a fairly long chapter but I couldn't figure out where to break it up.

I apologize for the delay and thank everyone who reviewed, followed and favorited during by absence. I will, unfortunately, be slow with posting over the next few months but will try to post once every two weeks or so (And reviews do help motivate me so...). In just two short weeks, I will be moving from the USA to Vietnam so please try to be patient with me.

A special thanks to my beta Trinneo who is absolutely wonderful.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Trin303


 

A banging knock on the metal door made both Neo and Trinity startle out of sleep. “We got a problem in Matrix.” Link bellowed, “Get up and get going.”

Neo groaned, rolling onto his back. “I don’t wanna.”

Trinity exhaled slowly and regretfully. Stifling a yawn, she called back, “We’re up.”

“Speak for yourself.” Neo tossed an arm over his eyes as Trinity reached above them to snap the lamp on.

“Rise and shine.” She told him, already on her feet. Dressed in only one of his shirts, she tugged on pants before slipping her feet into her boots. “We got a world to save.”

“Can’t we save it tomorrow?”

“‘fraid not.”

The bed dipped as she put a knee next to his hip before swinging herself over to straddle him. She leaned forward, pushing his arm away from his face, before she kissed him fully awake.

His eyes flickered open in surprise but then drifted shut yet again. Oh yes, he was awake, but he closed his eyes to lose himself in his other senses.

She tasted smoky and sweet all at once, her weight against him was a relief. He snaked his arms around her and she pulled back, keeping her lips against his. Like a child to the piper, he followed her thoughtlessly until he was fully sitting up.

And then she pulled back entirely.

“Let’s go.”

Neo’s eyes snapped open, realizing what she had done. “Oh, that just isn’t fair.”

“I’ll let you have your wicked way with me when we’re done with whatever new hell this is.”

“Promise?”

She leaned down once more, kissing his lips before sucking his lower lip into her mouth. She pulled back, letting it slip between her teeth. “Promise.” She moved to the door, calling back for him to get dressed before hurrying to the Core.

“Situation?”

“We just got a call from Ballard.” Morpheus explained, not taking his eyes away from the screens in front of them. “Caduceus lost three of their own while trying to get a coppertop out.”

Three. It wasn’t unheard of but it sure as hell wasn’t commonplace. Maybe one accident in ten years got three killed in one blow.

“Who?”

“Skip, Cal, and Ultima.”

The sting of their loss cut straight to her core but it wasn’t time to grieve.

“A malfunction of some kind or Agents?”

“Agents-- it was an ambush.”

“They usually don’t take the initiative on being aggressive. They’re supposed to be reactive to the system.”

“They are reactive to the system.” Neo agreed, walking across the main deck and into the Core, itself. “But the system is changing. They took an active role in the ambush?” He asked Morpheus as he came to a stop just behind Trinity.

“Yes.”

Neo hummed in thought.

“What is it?” Trinity asked over her shoulder.

“Well, Agent’s are sentient, right?”

“To a degree.”

“Enough of a degree that they could upgrade themselves?”

“Theoretically. But why now? They’ve always had the ability to kill us. Most of the time, it just isn’t worth the effort to chase us down.”’

“Because they weren’t being destroyed in the past.” Morpheus answered in understanding. “Whether or not they recognize you as the One, they see you as a threat to their existence.”

Neo nodded, “Have warnings been sent out to all the ships in the vicinity?”

“Yes. And Ballard is turning back to Zion so they’ll warn everyone else. He’s recommending that no one goes into the Matrix without word from Zion.” Morpheus was clearly displeased with the knowledge.

“Or,” Neo said carefully, “We take this time to send another message.

“What do you mean?” Trinity asked.

“How many ships are out right now?”

“Besides us? The Hathor, Brahma, Icarus. Uh, Osiris, the Logos, Vishnu. At least six. Seven, including us. Probably more.”

“Can we meet up with them? Undetected?”

Morpheus nodded, “If we all use the same building as an entry, the Agents won’t even know we’re in the system.”

Neo nodded, “Can you make the call while I go in the Construct?”

“I-- yes, but why?”

“I think it’s about time we stage our own ambush.”

--

There were eleven ships in total. Eleven captains, eleven first officers all dressed to the nines in an empty auditorium of a rundown theater. And Neo.

Eleven ships. An average crew, not including the Zion-born operators, medics, and pilots, of three. Some with more, only a few with less.

He did the math in his head as Trinity gave him the information for each crew as they filed in.

A hum of conversation buzzed through the air while the last of the crews arrived. Neo, who had been viewing the world in as it appeared to everyone else, blinked. Green code began pouring down and it made speaking in front of them seem like a less daunting task.

He was, without a doubt, the youngest in the room in terms of years unplugged but he also understood the Matrix in ways they never would.

Looking around the room, he caught Morpheus’ eye and nodded. With nothing more than a nod a clearing of his throat, Morpheus began the meeting.

“I’d like to thank all of you for coming on such short notice.” Morpheus began, “But it is imperative that we meet as soon as possible. I am sure that you are all aware of the happenings today on the Caduceus.”

Hums and murmurs answered in the affirmative.

“We have reason to believe that the Agents have been updated to deal with their latest threat: the One.”

Neo held back a wince that threatened to make an appearance. It really wasn’t necessary for Morpheus to inform them all that he was the change; they already knew.

He avoided the looks thrown in his direction while Morpheus continued.

“I think it is safe to say that most of us are sufficiently… intimidated by this new turn of events, if not scared. The Agents are counting on that. It is likely that they do not expect any of our people to enter the Matrix at all within the next few days, let alone the next few hours.”

“Few hours?” Tirant, the Captain of the Novalis, asked glancing around. “What do you mean, ‘the next few hours?’”

“He means that, however soon you can rouse all your crews and prepare your ships, we’re all going into the Matrix.” Neo didn’t give anyone time to think about the implications of that statement before he burst into the next one. “As soon as everyone is ready to move, we’re going to mobilize a mass exodus from the Matrix. In teams of twos, everyone here will be sent out to find one specific coppertop to pull out. Crews with uneven numbers, namely the Mariner, Avatar, Osiris, and Hathor will each leave one person here, where they will set up bases and exits for each individual ship.”

“Surely the Agents will notice our presence.” Thaddeus spoke up.

“They won’t.” Neo assured him, “They’ll be distracted.”

“Distracted?” Another voice popped up.

“Yes.” Neo had replied. “I’ll be going in first.”

His boots making thuds that resounded off the concrete beneath him. The concrete which was, in essence, only a few strands of code.

“How do you know you’ll catch their attention?”

Ahead of Neo stood a bascule bridge, stretching all the way across the Marin River. A loud siren warned off cars and red lights prevented them from driving forward as the two sides were drawn up to let the boats pass through.

“I don’t plan on giving them any other option than to focus on me.”

Neo blinked, vision overcome by code. Just a small adjustment there and a few new glyphs inserted throughout and…

And then it was gone. A loud explosion sounded to catch the attention of the people nearby but there was no fire, no smoke or burnt pieces of concrete. The bridge was simply gone.

He could feel the codes around him begin to sizzle. He knew from experience that one corrupt code could break a system if it was placed correctly. This one wouldn’t go that far but it sure as hell would catch the attention of any and every sentient program.

The corner of his mouth tipped up in a grin. Few to no casualties but a shit ton of chaos. Screams, panic. Sirens sounded as both police and firemen made their way to the scene. He watched and waited until…

There. The black cars pulled up. Three Agents got out.

Neo dug his phone out of his pocket and quickly dialed.

“Yeah?” Trinity’s voice asked.

“They’re here.”

“Mobilize!” He heard her call out to someone else before putting her mouth back to the speaker. “Understood. Stay safe.”

She hung up and he pocketed the phone.

Two hours, he had promised the crews. Two hours distracting the Agents.

It wouldn’t be easy, he thought as he advanced upon the Agents. But it sure as hell was going to be fun.

.

“Do you really think this is going to work?” Kali asked. She was sitting on the desk that Trinity was occupying, eyes narrowed as she navigated her way through the internet and into Anomaly’s computer.

“I tend to apply Pascal’s Wager to situations such as these.” Ghost replied.

Kali rolled her eyes, “Let’s assume for a moment that I’m a normal person who spends their free time in the company of others and not up to my nose in books. What the fuck does that mean?”

“Pascal was a philosopher...”

“Shocker.” Kali said it lovingly so Trinity didn’t comment.

“... who doubted the existence of God. He determined that there were two options: either God was or God was not. Therefore, man has to make a decision about what to believe. A wager. If you wager that there is a God, you stand to lose nothing and gain everything. If you wager that there is no God, you could be eternally damned.”

“Okay. So what’s the point? To believe in God since there is no risk?”

“What you do is up to you. My point is, simply, that you can choose to believe that everything will work out or you can choose not to. It is beyond your control. When, personally, faced with these situations, I choose to see the best possible outcome.”

“And believe that this will work?”

“When given the choice, why would I choose to believe otherwise?”

“Bloody optimist.”

“Do neither of you have work to be doing?” Trinity asked, leaning back in her chair.

“I got a crew to do that kind of shit. I’m just supervising.” Kali answered.

Trinity looked at her brother, who shrugged, “I have a Captain who is a control freak.”

“Wonderful.” She glanced between them, wanting to seem irritable but to amused to be entirely so. “Do you think you could continue this conversation elsewhere? I have to initiate a conversation with the Neb’s charge.”

Kali snorted, “Your kid’s, what? Six? Just offer her candy and tell her to get in the van.”

Trinity gave a mock-glare in the direction of her friend before focusing back on her computer. With a single command, she minimizes all of anomaly’s work, bringing a chat screen before Trinity types:

RedQueen: Hello, Anomaly.

A minute passed and Trinity could imagine the young girl trying to figure out how someone bypassed all her security.

The girl was good, Trinity would give her that. At the end of the day, though, she was still beginning. A bit of formal training and she could only imagine how far Anomaly would go.

Anomaly: Who is this?

RedQueen: Don’t worry—I’m a friend.

Another pause, and then:

Anomaly: Are you really the Red Queen?

RedQueen: In a manner of speaking. The Red Queen is one of the many aliases I use to protect my identity.

Anomaly: Why are you here?

RedQueen: I’m here because you have questions that, no matter how hard you search or however many people  you ask, you can never find the answer to. But first I need to know: how far are you willing to go to have your questions answered?

Anomaly: This is about the Matrix.

A loud explosion caused the building to shake. Steadying herself, Trinity replied:

RedQueen: Yes.

A few seconds passed as she waited for a response.

Her phone started to ring and she picked it up immediately. “Yeah?”

“They’re here.” Neo’s voice told her. He sounded distant-- not quite her Neo. This was the One, in position and ready to attack.

Trinity lowered the phone, turning to the room. All eyes were on her from the moment her phone had begun ringing. “Mobilize!” She ordered them, before putting her mouth back to the speaker. “Understood. Stay safe.”

She looked back at her computer screen. A new message from Anomaly had appeared.

Anomaly: I’ll go as far as I have to.

RedQueen: Then let me formally introduce myself.

Trinity stood up, not bothering to push in her chair as she started walking towards the exit.

“Are you sure you’ve got this alone?” Morpheus asked.

“Yes.” Trinity grabbed her jacket off a hook on the wall. It was much shorter and less shiny than her usual coat. It prevented her from hiding more weapons but it was most definitely less intimidating. “But I’ll call if I need back-up. For now, we just need as many people here as we can and hearing your name might ease any fears or tensions that arise.”

She gave him a smile, which he returned, before she left after her own charge.

Her bike was out front, key in the ignition and ready to go just as she had requested. She turned the key before swinging a leg over the bike and hitting the ignition with a practiced ease.

Kicking the bike into gear, she took off. It was imperative that everything was done quickly. Neo promised two hours. He could stretch it if he needed to, eventually, his body would get tired from the effort that his mind was exerting. Eventually, he would have to exit.

Two hours.

It was, supposedly, a six minute drive from the hotel to Anomaly’s home. It was less, Trinity determined, when she ignored speed limits and stops signs and weaved around cars.

The building that Anomaly lived in was quite modern. From the outside, it was nearly all glass and chrome.

She parked the bike in a nearby alley and climbed off the bike, reaching in her pocket for her phone.

Link picked up on the first ring. “Operator.”

“I need locations on the target and the nanny.” Trinity told him, yanking open the door to the apartment building and walking right in.

“Roger that.” The sound from the keyboard clicked in her ear as she waited, turning a corner and arriving at the stairs. “Your girl is in her room, nanny is in the kitchen.”

“How is she positioned?”

“Right now, she’s facing the stove.”

First flight of stairs.

“Does she have a view of the door?”

“Negative. Wait… she’s moving.”

Second flight.

“She’s got her head in the fridge. If you quicken your pace…”

“Got it.” Trinity hung up and opened the apartment door. What I wouldn’t give to have Neo’s powers… she thought as she moved as quickly and as quietly as she could into the kitchen and right behind the nanny.

With a practiced ease, she reached a hand around the woman’s mouth and an arm around the neck. The nanny struggled but Trinity held fast, waiting until enough oxygen had be deprived to render the woman unconscious.

From there, she moved the body out of sight.

She checked her watch. An hour and forty minutes to convince a six year old girl to run away from home.

Trinity walked through the apartment to Anomaly’s door. She knocked once and waited for the small voice to say, “Come in.”

Trinity opened the door, examining the room with a quick sweep before focusing on Anomaly.

Lilac purple walls were accented with pink and baby blue furniture. An abundance of toys in perfect condition were shelved around the room. Her desk, which hosted her computer as well as two monitors.

“Who are you?” She asked, tilting her head.

“As I mentioned earlier, I have many names. While you know me as the Red Queen,” brown eyes widened, “most people call me Trinity.”

You’re Trinity?”

“Yes.”

“That was you, earlier. You opened that chat.”

“You had questions that needed to be answered.”

“The Matrix.” Anomaly breathed.

Trinity nodded. “You know that something isn’t right. You’ve always known that something, somewhere- somehow, is off. As if this world, this life, is just a game. And I know that you want answers--”

“What is the Matrix?” Anomaly cut her off, desperately.

“I can’t tell you that. I can only show you.”

It was only then that Anomaly realized what Trinity’s presence must mean. “Where’s Laura?”

“Sleeping.”

“You knocked her out?”

“Yes.”

“To talk to me?”

“Yes.”

“Wow.”

Trinity bit back a smile, remembering how serious the entire process needed to be. Despite everything, it wasn’t a game. And, at six years old, Anomaly was going to have to make a choice. A choice that would be very easy to coerce a decision from but one that couldn’t be: it had to be Anomaly’s choice.

Remember Cypher. She told herself, She has to know that the stakes are high even if she can’t understand them.

“Anomaly,” She said, carefully, “Do not make the mistake of thinking that your life will be better by knowing what the Matrix is. It doesn’t solve your problems; it just gives you a hundred more. All I can offer you is the truth.”

“I want the truth.”

Trinity nodded, “I know. But you have to understand the consequences. If I tell you the truth, you won’t be able to stay here with your family. You won’t be able to see your friends or your teachers ever again.”

Anomaly finally looked frightened.

Good. That meant she was taking it seriously.

“What about my bear?”

She pointed at her bed, where a honey-colored bear rested next to her pillow.

“I’m afraid you wouldn’t be able to take your bear.”

“Oh.” Anomaly blinked. She was frowning, more in thought than disappointment.

“And what happens if I stay?”

It was a question that she was expecting, one that nearly everyone asked. It usually meant nothing and it certainly wasn’t indicative of an answer. Nonetheless, she felt a pang of melancholy at the thought of leaving the Matrix without Anomaly.

Trinity lowered herself so that she was at eye level with the child. Her paleness was complemented by the dark curls and wide young eyes. All of it reminiscent of the sister she couldn’t save.

A heartbreaking but necessary truth echoed in her mind attached to Morpheus’ voice. “You cannot save everyone.”

“Your life will go on.” She answered softly, “This will all be nothing more than a dream. You’ll, maybe, have a ghost of a memory of meeting me that you’ll never fully be able to recall. And the harder you try, the more it will fade from your mind.”

“But I won’t find anything, will I?”

“No. There will be theories but there is no way to explain the Matrix. You have to see it for yourself.”

Anomaly nodded, sucking in a quiet breath as she looked around her room.

“I won’t get to say goodbye, will I?”

“No, honey. Not if you come with me.”

Squaring her shoulders and straightening her spine, Anomaly nodded. “That’s alright. I can be brave.”

Trinity kept her face serious. “Are you sure, Anomaly?”

The girl nodded firmly. “Yes.”

Trinity held out her hand. “Let’s go.”

--

Neo stood back, unmoving, while he watched the Agents futilely try to cross his forcefield. With a thought he pushed the forcefield further, pushing the Agents further back before forcing it smaller again until it only encased him.

As he watched the first Agent bounding towards him, he pushed the shield out just a tiny bit but forcefully enough that the Agent was shot a good fifteen feet back before he crashed into a bench.

Smirking, Neo was certainly aware that he was more amused than he should have been but damn… He could push them away or keep them prisoner in their own bubble, unable to escape to attack him. Their threats were meaningless, their fighting was minimally improved from the last time.

A slight increase in speed but it was a simple adjustment in his own skillset. Almost , he thought, like playing Mortal Kombat. A game he had played so many times that he didn’t have to think as he thoughtlessly proceeded through every level.

It was nearly relaxing.

With a flick of his hand, Neo sent Brock-- the name which he had given to the biggest Agent-- flying backwards, over the guardrail and into the river.

He was sure these new Agents had perfectly generic ‘names’ to give to coppertops who inquired but learning them was unimportant. Instead, he just named them himself. Although they were practically indistinguishable, especially by code, they each had a few differences in size and shape. One was fairer than the others (Warren). One had pitch black hair while the others had varying shades of brown (Devlin).

Neo eased up on the force field, allowing the remaining Agents to advance.

With more grace than Thomas Anderson could have ever mustered, Neo swiped his arm across his body and pushed outwards, palm first and into the chest of ‘Warren.’ The Agent went flying backwards, only stopping when he crashed into a parked car.

Neo had sent most of the civilians walking home with a single thought, not particularly fond of having an audience. Besides, he didn’t need an audience-- people all over the Matrix would hear about the disappearing bridge within hours. Questions would be asked. Kids would become curious.

And Zion would reap the benefits.

Neo turned on the ball of his foot, his hands parallel to each other as if he were doing tai chi until he reached the head of ‘Devlin’ and snapped the neck.

The Agent fell to the ground, sizzling as green electricity ran through him as the body assumed its original form.

He had only a moment of peace before ‘Warren’ returned.

Neo allowed the Agent to get a few through in, which he dodged, before taking the gun strapped in the Agent’s holster and shooting him once in the head.

His natural response was to yawn, but he fought against it. He had destroyed two hosts and temporarily disabled another. But they would be back.

A never ending cycle of bullshit that left him with only two options.

Either he kill the Agents one by one by one and let them come back again and again… or, he deleted the Agents while simultaneously draining his own energy and hoping that no new Agents were programmed in the time that it would take him to recharge.

And there was the water-logged Brock, running down the sidewalk.

And Devlin, with the same appearance in a new host, walking out of a nearby apartment building.

Warren wouldn’t be far behind, either.

Brock got there first, trying to charge him.

Neo winced at the thought of being tackled by a soaking wet Agent and side-stepped out of the way. The Agent ran past and Neo fired a single shot into the back of his skull.

He turned around and, sure enough, Warren and Devlin were fast approaching.

Neo holstered the gun and held up his forearm to block the first set of hits that Devlin through at him.

He counted them as they were thrown, faster and faster at an unbelievable pace.

And then Neo heard his phone ring.

He turned to the side, using just one hand to fight Devlin as he answered the phone.

“Hello?”

“It’s done.”

“I’ll be there in five.”

.

“He’s coming.” Trinity said, hanging up her phone.

"Who's coming?" Anomaly asked, looking between Morpheus and Trinity.

Over the past hour, she had seen people rushing all over the place. Adults would show up with a teenager, check in with Morpheus (yes, the Morpheus) and then disappear into rooms never to come out.

Indeed, Anomaly had peaked in a room after she had seen at least twenty people go in (it had to be getting crowded in there) but, when she looked, she found no one. The room was nearly empty, save one or two stragglers and a variety of technical equipment that she did not  

"A friend of ours." Trinity answered. Her hand rested over her pocket and she offered Anomaly a smile. "Come with me."

Trinity turned and led Anomaly to the room where everyone disappeared.

A row of monitors were set up on an extra long table. Morpheus pushed passed Anomaly and walked over, immediately beginning to type. Trinity walked over to a smaller table, next to a large chair.

An empty glass sat on the table next to a pitcher of water. Trinity poured the water.

"Have a seat." She told the child and Anomaly sat in the much too big chair. Trinity knelt down next to her. "This is your last chance to turn back." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a silver case. When she flipped open the lid, there were two pills. "If you take the blue pill, you'll go back to your home and this will all be over. You'll never have to think about the Matrix again. If you take the red pill, you'll come with me and I will show you the world as it is. No more lies-- but a very ugly truth."

"I want to go with you." Anomaly answered timidly.

Trinity held out the case and Anomaly took the red pill and placed it on her tongue. She took the cup and swallowed it down.

Trin gave the girl a smile.

"Make the call." She said to Morpheus, while she reached around and grabbed the sticky patches that would track Anomaly's vitals.

Morpheus nodded, dialing the number and then ordering, “Officially red-pilled. Start the trace program search.”

He left the phone off the hook, placing it on its side as Morpheus, himself, started to track Anomaly’s vitals.

The door to the room opened and Neo stepped in.

Trinity looked up from the girl, looking over Neo for any signs of damage. "You alright?"

He nodded, "I only managed to delete Warren and Devlin. I was too tired to deal with the third."

"Warren and Devlin?" Morpheus asked.

"He has atrocious taste in names." Trinity explained, "What did you name the third Agent?"

"Brock." He smiled at the kid, "You must be Anomaly. My name is Neo."

She looked him over, shyly. "The Neo that the FBI is after?”

“That’s me.”

“Wow!” She said, quietly, “What’d you do?”

“I hacked into some unhackable files and then deleted a couple important programs. Caused quite the upset. Got some people got very mad at me.”

“People being a loose term.” Trinity murmured, scanning one of the screens.

“We’ve got a trace.” Said Morpheus.

“What does that mean?” Anomaly asked, looking between Neo and Trinity.

“Too long to explain.” Neo answered, “But do yourself a favor. When you feel a pull at the back of your neck, hold your breath.”

Anomaly opened her mouth to reply, but before the little girl could say anything, she was gone.

Somewhere in the room, a phone began to ring.

Chapter Text

I own nothing, I make no profit.

Beta'd by Trinneo

.

Neo opened his eyes, jolting awake. Reaching back, he twisted and tugged on the cord attached to his head. Trinity and Morpheus were both gone already. The Captain, who was pulled out first, would be at the helm a floor above them. Trinity, he imagined, was already on her way the lowest deck, getting ready to open the belly of the ship and drop the crane into the red water.

“Link,” He said, moving behind the Operator as he signed out. “If her RSI is accurate to her height, she’s going to be smaller than we thought. We’re going to have her core temperature as soon as we bring her in.”

“I’ll get a tub started in the infirmary. We’ll take care of her.”

He clapped a hand on Link’s shoulder before turning to head down to Trinity. He practically jumped all the steps on the stairs.

Trinity was at the base of the ship, standing over a monitor, typing furiously.

“Trin?”

“I’m in. Disengaging life support systems… now.” She glanced over her shoulder. “Do you feel comfortable with the crane?”

“Yeah.” He replied, crossing the room to the operating system. “I’ve got it.”

“Draining her pod. She’s coming your way.”

Trinity spun away from her computer and to a lever on the wall. She used both hands to pull as hard as she could and open the door at the belly of the ship. Then, she crossed to the edge and crouched down low, peering into the liquid pool below.

“Start lowering the crane.” She instructed, tracking the girl’s route beneath them. “Left. Little more. A little more… too much. Good.” When Anomaly was just seconds away, she gave the order and Neo dropped the crane into the pit. The metal arms closed around a tiny body.

“Got her.” Trinity told him, hurrying back to the lever so the moment the girl entered she could close it.

Neo nodded as the descended chain wound itself around and around on its spindle. The bulky top of the claw came up, clutching at a small body.

Anomaly was sputtering, eyes wide in fear but too shocked to be screaming or crying out.

The moment the floor closed, Trinity was pulling the girl out of the contraption and wrapping her in a blanket. She murmured encouragements and reassurances, unsure of if it would make a difference.

Easily, Trinity picked the girl up in her arms and motioned for Neo to follow her as they moved through the ship and to the infirmary.

Link, true to his word, had started a bath.

“Draw a sedative.” Trinity told him, lowering the girl in the rising bathwater.

Link nodded, rushing to the cabinet.

Trinity had strapped the girl into a harness that would keep her from sinking or drowning in the water and Link handed her the syringe. Trin administered the sedative in one of the ports before standing up.

Neo looked at his Operator. “Talk to me, Link.”

“You pulled it off,” Link said with a grin, “Twenty-seven successful missions. Twenty-seven kids pulled out, not only in one day, but in the span of two hours. Congratulations.”

Twenty-seven. Twenty-seven kids in the span of two hours.

He laughed aloud, taking the few short steps to Trinity. He wrapped his arms around her middle, lifting her off the ground and spinning her around. Her arms came up around his neck and she hugged him close.

“I’m so proud of you.” She whispered, kissing his ear. Pulling back to look at his face, she said, “You were brilliant.”

“Amazing.” Link added, “Shit, man. That was insane!”

Neo grinned, unable to help himself. Twenty-seven. Damn.

“How are you doing?” Trinity asked him, straightening her legs and dropping to the floor. “You’ve been battling Agents for the past two hours.”

“No worse for ware. A bit tired maybe.”

“You should go rest.” She said, immediately.

“I’m fine.” He promised, keeping one arm around her and kissing her hair.

“You’re on fire.” Link said, shaking his head. “Holy fucking shit. If I hadn’t watched the entire thing, I wouldn’t believe it. Jesus. Can you imagine what’s going to happen when the Agents realize what happened? That you were just messing with them ? And the Council! Damn, they ain’t going to know what hit ‘em.”

“Are we going straight to Zion?”

“After that mission?” Trinity nodded, “Probably but I’ll have to talk to Morpheus. You should go to bed.”

“Why, my darling Trinity, are you propositioning me?” He teased, putting his other hand on her hip, spinning her in front of him.

“Some other time, dear.” On tiptoe she kissed the corner of his mouth, “But right now, you need some actual rest. And I need to take care of Anomaly.”

He hummed, low in his throat. “Okay.” With another kiss on her lips, “Come join me when you’re done?”

“Of course.”

He left, heading to their room. With every step away from her, he felt the exhaustion consuming him. He barely had the energy to kick off his boots before he laid down on the bed, asleep in an instant.

.

“Link?” Trinity asked, combing her fingers through her hair, pushing it back. “Could you grab a couple towels from the washroom?”

“Two?” He asked, walking towards the door.

She looked down at her own shirt, which was soaking from the splashing water. “Three.”

The door closed behind him and Trinity relaxed her posture. Link was a nice guy and she certainly felt comfortable around him but she certainly wasn’t at ease the way she had been with most of her old crew. But things like that, shipboard compatibility, came with time.

They would all adjust with time.

Trinity looked down at the pale, bald figure before her. Anomaly would probably adjust faster than any of the older teens. Kids tended to spring back quickly.

With a soft smile, Trinity rinsed the area surrounding the little girl’s plugs. Together with Link, they would carefully remove most of the protrusion, only leaving the bare minimum. Most kids disliked their plugs, viewing them as an ugly reminder that they were not natural humans, born from loving parents but artificially created cyborgs.

It certainly didn’t help that many natural Zionites looked down on those of who weren’t created from people. And even worse were the Zionites who completely fetishized the poddies, talking about plugs as if they were erogenous.

“Three towels.” Link announced, walking back in the room.

She straightened her spine. “Thanks. Can you?” She motioned at the girl.

Link nodded, setting the towels on the floor.

Trin grabbed the top one and unfurled it, wrapping the scrap of cloth around her chest. Link draped a towel over Anomaly and pulled the six-year-old out of the water.

Link set the girl on the table.

“What a day.” He murmured, taking the second towel and draping it over Anomaly’s body.

“Indeed.” She replied.

“I honestly didn’t know if it was going to work.”

“You always were a skeptic.”

“And you?”

“An optimist, although I prefer to keep my hope to myself. It does, after all, belong to me.”

“A radical notion in this world. Isn’t the Council big on sharing resources?”

Trinity smirked in his direction. “Do I look old enough to be on the Council?”

“Technically, there’s no age requirement for the Council. We, as a society, just choose to elect the wisest-looking elders of our community.”

“How true.” Trinity motioned towards a tray of instruments near Link. “Can you hand me the pliers?.. Thanks.”

“Would you ever do it?”

“What? Run for Council?”

“Not now, obviously.” Link said, ready with gauze in case Anomaly’s plug leaked any blood. “Council’s a full-time job. But when this is all over, is it something you’d consider?”

She was quiet, actually giving his question true thought. “I’ve honestly never considered it and my first instinct is to say no but… I don’t know. God knows there’s a lot fucked up with the Council but it isn’t like I could fix any of it without joining. But, then again, I don’t want to be elected because of Neo.”

“To be fair,” Link said, “Neo’s going to affect any and every job you ever have.”

“True.” She twisted a secondary-plug, separating it into two distinct pieces and tossing the unnecessary one in a bin of alcohol to be cleaned. “Maybe we’ll just run away. Find a tunnel somewhere far enough away where we won’t be bothered.”

Link smirked, “That’s wishful thinking. Ya know that you’d never actually do that.”

“No.” She agreed, “I suppose not. I keep…” She glanced away from Anomaly and up at Link. She’d known him for quite a while. She’d attended the ceremony when he was bonded to Zee and officially became a member of Tank and Dozer’s family. He was more cousin than brother but a trust was steadily growing between them. She looked back at the body before her. “I keep wondering, if Neo and I have kids, what the hell is their life going to be like? The world will know peace but will they? Or will they live all their lives in his shadow and resent us?”

Silence met her question. She hadn’t really expected an answer and was surprised when Link said, “They’d be loved. It’s more than a lot of kids get.”

A small smile appeared, gracing her face as she continued her work. “You’re a smart man, Link.”

“Just don't tell anybody. Don't know what I'd do if word got out. They might even try to promote me.”

“You're secret's safe with me.”

Exhausted, Trinity made her way to her cabin.

Anomaly had been cleaned, cared for, acupunctured, and sedated again in order to keep her asleep while she healed. Link was going to stay by her bedside throughout the night, the spare cot having been prepared the day before.

A shiver involuntarily moved through her. For a while, she had forgotten just how cold the ship was outside of sickbay.

Reaching her room, Trinity pushed open the door and couldn’t help but smile. Still fully dressed, Neo had clearly just collapsed onto the bed face-first, not even bothering to take off his boots.

She couldn’t blame him. Deleting Agents wasn’t easy, especially from a system as large as the Matrix.

Trinity knelt down at the foot of the bed, for once thankful that the standard issue boots were often too big. They slipped easily off his feet and she let them fall to the floor. Neo stirred as his socks followed.

“Hmmm.” He hummed, his eyelids fluttering.

Trinity moved up to the head of the bed, crouching down again. She put a hand on his forehead and pushed his hair back. “Let’s get you under the covers.”

“You comin’ too?” He slurred, working hard to keep his eyes partially open.

“Mhmm.”

With the assurance, Neo moved up the bed so that Trinity could pull the covers out from under him. Once they were draped on top of him, he held out an arm, creating a space for her to snuggle into. Kicking off her own shoes, she obliged.

“I’m proud of you.” She whispered, her head resting on his shoulder, her body in the crook of his arm.

He hummed again, a sleepy smile appearing. “Love you.” He mumbled before crashing back into sleep.

It was nearly two days before Neo got up. He had stayed in bed not, waking the morning after his excursion in the Matrix. At noon, Trinity had forced him to eat something and, after a quick trip to the washroom, he fell back into bed. They repeated the act with dinner.

He woke up on his own the next morning when the spot beside him grew cold.

Blinking in the dim light, Neo smiled. They’d done it.

Twenty-seven kids in two hours.

A record previously never even thought of. It was brilliant, in its own way. A mass of kids, taken out all at once. The Agents could never possibly stop every single kid from being taken. They couldn’t stop any when sufficiently distracted.

He pushed the covers off, deep in thought.

More pros then he knew what to do with. A few cons, too.

He’d slept at least thirty-six hours and he was willing to wager that it was closer to forty.

The first time he’d ever deleted an Agent, he came out of the Matrix with such an adrenaline high that it hadn’t mattered. With Agent Johnson, he had been pretty damn tired but he hadn’t tried to delete a second. He was exhausted enough with one. Three was out of the question, for a while at the very least.

Other cons?

There would probably be a fallout within the Matrix and most definitely with Lock.

Lock wouldn’t be happy that he didn’t ask permission or whatever it was the commander wanted him to do.

Saving the world would be easier, he mused, if he didn’t have to check in with superior officers.

Luckily, Morpheus was ridiculously trusting of anything Neo came up with. Perks of being the One.

Neo finished getting dressed and made his way out of the cabin. Between her own needs in the kitchen and working with Anomaly in the medbay, Neo figured she would be with the kid. Following his first instinct, he walked down the corridor and peaked in.

Sure enough, she was at Anomaly’s bedside, taking out the long acupuncture needles that would help stimulate the muscles.

Neo leaned in the open doorway, watching her. She was so gentle, graceful. Even when she was using foot long needles to help rebuild atrophied muscles, she was gorgeous. Beautiful.

Sensing his presence, she looked up.

“Hey sleepyhead.”

He answered with a self-deprecating smirk. “Morning.” He stepped down into the room. “How’s she doing?”

“Very well. She had her last dose of sedatives a few hours ago. Hopefully, she’ll be up soon.” Trinity smiled back at him, “I honestly didn’t know which of you was going to wake up first.”

Neo grimaced, “I haven’t been a big help the past few days, have I?”

“Under the circumstances, I think you’re forgiven.”

Moving to stand behind her, he wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his head in the crook of her neck.

He felt her scoff, good-naturedly. “Didn’t we agree that we weren’t going to fool around in here anymore?”

“I made no such promises.” He nipped at her throat.

Trinity indulged him, oddly comfortable with his extroversion. While for so many years she had craved time alone to recharge herself emotionally, she now craved his company. It did not phase her in the least that after he took on the best software protection the Matrix had to offer that he needed hers as well.

So she worked, carefully removing the long needles from the child in front of her, undisturbed by Neo’s touch, until her job was complete.

Turning in his embrace, she stood on tiptoe. After a quick kiss to his lips, she said, “Be a dear and clean her up.”

Neo grabbed a cloth towel from the shelf and soaked it under warm water. “Any word from Zion?”

“Lock was speechless.” She said over her shoulder, “When the news went over com. He held a remote conference with everyone in range. Couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t happy when we told him you couldn’t speak to him because you were dead to the world.”

“You could have gotten me up.” He replied, curious as to why she didn’t.

Trinity snorted, walking over to the empty cot.  “Do you have any recollection of me waking you up for meals?” She placed her hands behind her and hoisted herself up onto it. “I practically had to pull you out of bed and carry you to the mess hall. You barely opened your eyes for that. I could hardly imagine you getting up for the sake of Lock.”

“My best friend, Commander Lock? Are you kidding me?” His voice was one of feigned shock as he walked over to Anomaly.

“Anyway, I made it very clear that you weren’t getting up and anything he wanted to say to you that couldn’t be said to me or Morpheus could wait a day or two.”

“Or three?” He said hopefully.

“Don’t push your luck. But I doubt he’ll have much bite this time around. Dillard wants to give you a commendation.”

Neo made a face. “Am I allowed to decline?”

“Are you asking me as your girlfriend or your superior?”

“Well, both the positions have the privilege of bossing me around so…”

“Then as your superior, you should accept the award. You’ll only feel awkward for a few hours which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that bad. Plus, it’ll grant you some authority when it comes to military tactics. Might even boost morale in Zion.” She stopped to let him mull over the information.

“And as my girlfriend?”

“Fuck ‘em. You don’t want or need anymore attention and you know you’ll get it whether you accept the award or not.”

“Heh.” He breathed, “I like your style.”

“I like yours, too.” She slipped off the table. “That move, it was brilliant.” She said walking into his arms. Her own wound themselves up and around his neck, her fingers playing with  the end of his hair. “Completely unprecedented.”

More awake and cognizant of her words than the last time she had praised him, he looked away. “It wasn’t that complicated. Nothing fancy.”

“No. But it was something that had never been considered, let alone attempted. And without you distracting the Agents, someone probably would have been hurt. Maybe even killed.”

Neo looked away. “You give me too much credit.”

“And you give yourself too little.” Trinity countered. “I know that being the One still scares you. And that's okay. It'll take more than a few months for this to become normal.”

“I don't think it will ever feel normal.”

But,” she continued, ignoring his comment, “it wasn't the One who planned out that mission. Sure, it was the One who fought the Agents and got us all out of there alive. But it wasn't the One. It was Neo. The mortal, human man.

“There are so many different parts of you.” She whispered, “Neo, Thomas, the One… And I love all of them. But Neo… I like that I don't have to share him. Neo is just mine.

“That I am.” He promised, kissing her forehead. “Always and completely.”

Smiling, she stepped backwards. “You should go talk to Morpheus. I need to stay here in case she wakes up.”

“Okay.”

He grabbed her hand as he walked away, holding it aloft until distance forced their hands to break their hold, their hands brushing until the last second.

He closed the door behind him as he left the warmth of the sickbay. After days in bed, he was extra-aware of the chill, extra-aware of the echoes his footsteps made in the empty hall. He stepped off the path to the Core and, instead, diverted to the kitchen.

Trinity was right about hot tea being a godsend when out to broadcast depth.

Sufficiently warmed, he carried his cup back up the the Core. Morpheus was, indeed, watching the green glyphs rain down.

Morpheus turned his head to look at him, smiling in acknowledgement when he realized it was Neo.

“Welcome back to the land of the living.”

“Yeah, sorry about that.”

“Completely understandable after god only knows how many rounds with those Agents.”

“Too many. I heard that Lock wants to speak to me.”

Morpheus smirked, speaking in his lowest timbre, “You should have consulted a superior.”

“Did you tell him bureaucracy takes too long and we wanted to get it done in this century?” Neo winced at his own snark, “Sorry. That was uncalled for.”

“I don’t disagree with the sentiment but you might want to be a little less condescending when you speak to him.”

“I suppose I'm spending too much time with Trin. She usually has some choice words for Lock.” Neo sighed, “I’m going to head up and call Zion.”

Morpheus nodded, gesturing up towards the cockpit.

Neo hiked himself up the ladder, completely energized after his slightly catatonic sleeping. Settling into the bigger of the two chairs, Neo yanked down a monitor. Hacking into the constantly-changing radio waves from Zion was easy but the actual connection took several minutes to load.

He drummed his fingers on the dashboard.

His eyes were closed as he remembered each attack the first Agent had made against him. Guns and bullets were useless against him. Not a single shot had been fired. Instead, the Agents had used movements that Bruce Lee couldn't have pulled off on his best day.

Lock’s face flickered onto the screen, his usual disgruntled expression glaring at the One.

“Commander Lock.” Neo greeted, settling back. “I heard you wished to speak with me.”

“Yes,” Lock drolled. “Your haste in getting back to me has been noted.”

It took a great deal of effort for Neo not to role his eyes at the Commander of Zion military. The boss of his boss.

After a pause, Lock continued. “Regardless, we must discuss your latest transgression.”

This time Neo couldn’t stop himself from rolling his eyes. “How the hell is getting twenty-seven people free a transgression?”

“From what I understand, you led a mission involving twelve crews into the Matrix. What would have happened if you couldn’t have held up your end of the bargain? The Agents would have slaughtered all of them and I would have lost half the goddamn fleet!”

“With all due respect, sir , but the gains being made by the fleet are minimal at best. If we don’t continue to move forward, we’ll be dead.”

“You might have the Council convinced that you’re the One but you forget that you still answer to me. ” Lock shot back. “ Thomas Anderson. ” The face on the monitor smirked, “Yes, I know all about your life in the Matrix. You could barely function on your own. Practically incompetent at your job, friendless. Alone. You were nothing . Worthless then; worthless now”

It surprised Neo that Lock had gotten ahold of his history. It surprised him even more that he didn’t care.

Incompetent. Friendless. Alone.

All by choice, granted.

Thomas Anderson was a smart man. A clueless man but a smart one. And he had devoted himself to an online mystery instead of his actual job. His only hobby was coding and, while he used it to make extra money, that money just sat in a bank account. There were no vacations for Thomas Anderson. No trips or splurges. No dates.

He rarely drank and, even then, only at social gatherings required of him.

He had no friends. Only colleagues. He had fallen out of touch with his family years ago.

Trinity had told him that Morpheus had once fallen asleep on duty when he was supposed to be monitoring Thomas Anderson.

For nearly thirty years, he had lived in that life. He knew, first hand, that Thomas Anderson was incompetent. He was friendless. And he was alone.

And despite all this knowledge, Neo replied, “Not worthless.”

“Oh?”

“I used to think the same thing. Thought that I was broken. I didn’t fit into the system and I didn’t want to. But,” His lips turned up into a smile, “There was something about Thomas Anderson that wasn’t worthless. Something that made him special.”

“And what was that?” Lock spat out, clearly not buying it.

“Hell if I know.” He answered honestly. “You’d have to ask Trinity. But a woman like that doesn’t fall for a guy like me simply because I’m adorable. I’m sure it helped but if you won’t give me the credit, put it where it’s due.

“I’m the One, Commander. Like it or not, you’re going to need to get over it. In case you’ve forgotten, we’re on the same side .”

Lock’s eye twitched, his glare becoming more pronounced. “I’m trying to keep the people on our side alive. Your reckless behavior endangers not only yourself but Zion. Try to remember that next time you feel you have something to prove.”

The monitor went blank and Neo leaned back, relaxing his tense shoulders.

He covered his eyes with his hand, then slowly dragged it down his face. I need a shave , he thought. And then he laughed.

He had been so distracted with the mission and all the duties that had been put on his shoulder that he had forgotten to shave.

No wonder so many heroes had beards. They were too busy trying to save the world to focus on shaving.

Smiling, more at himself than to himself, Neo turned back inside. Morpheus was looking at him expectantly from his seat at the monitors. It was actually surprising that his superior officer had managed not to follow and listen in on his conversation with Deadbolt.

“Nothing unexpected.” Neo said, answering the unasked questions. “I’m being reckless, risking people's lives, I don’t actually have any real authority… same shit, different day.”

“You dealt with it?”

“Yeah. I’m sure the next time I do anything like this, he’ll throw another fit but I think he’s got this one out of his system.”

Morpheus snorted. “Okay. Have you eaten?”

“Not today.”

“Go eat. You need to keep up your strength.”

Neo smirked, “You sound like my girlfriend.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.” Morpheus replied without hesitation. “She’s a smart lady.”

“That she is.” Neo agreed. “I’ll see you later.”

Morpheus hummed his acknowledgement and Neo left the Core.

Despite the fact that he hadn’t eaten much in the past few days, Neo wasn’t hungry. Or maybe he was, ever so slightly, but when the time came to turn into the kitchen, he kept walking.

It was instinct, he decided. A basic, primal instinct that always led him back to her .

He had been telling the truth when he spoke to Lock earlier. He truly had believed that Thomas Anderson was nothing special. Just a regular guy with somewhat sketchy hobbies.

But Trinity fell in love with him. And Trinity was a hell of a lot smarter than him, of that he had no doubt. So if she loved him, there was something about himself he was missing. He had never asked her, simply trusting in her intuition, in her unwavering belief that he was Neo and Neo could do anything.

He turned the corner, now standing in the doorway of the infirmary.

Trin was sitting on a stool, a book in her hand as she waited for Anomaly to wake up. She glanced up from whatever she was reading, turning the page as she said, “Have you eaten?”

“Not yet.” She rolled her eyes, looking back at her book.

“You should.”

“Soon.”

His short answers made her look up again. Her eyes narrowed as she studied his face, searching for whatever distressed him. Whatever made him quiet with her.

“Trin.” Neo breathed her name as if she were the oxygen he needed to stay alive. To keep moving. More than an addiction, she was necessity. She was water and air, meant to be consumed. “Why?” The ‘why’ came out as a plea, sounding weaker and far more desperate than he had intended.

“Why what?”

He exhaled a laugh, “Me. Why me? You could,”  He shook his head, stepping into the room. “You could have had anybody. Literally. Unplugged, yet-to-be unplugged. Man, woman. Doesn’t matter. Anybody. And you chose me . Why?”

Trinity set the book aside, not taking her eyes off him. “What, exactly, did Lock say to you?”

“Nothing.” Neo said quickly, not wanting to put the blame on the Commander. “I just…” He was at a loss, not sure what he could say.

“You just what?” She prompted.

“I was prepared to live a life in the background." Neo confessed, "I would have gladly pined for you from the sidelines, just doing what I could to help. It never occurred to me that you would love me back.

“But God, Trin… you brought me back from the dead. You loved me enough to bring me back from the dead.”

What did you see? He wanted to ask. To collapse on his knees and beg her to explain how she could love someone like him? Someone who saw himself as empty, who had spent years questioning his own worth.

Trinity looked down, as if she were trying to find the words. “When the Oracle told me I was going to fall in love with the One, I was terrified. Not just because it meant my future was set and that I had no control but because I knew what the One meant. Power. A being who would control not only my fate, but the fate of the world. I was terrified that the One was going to be consumed by power. That the One would be egotistical and power hungry.

“And when Morpheus told us we were going to unplug a man who was nearly thirty… well, let’s just say it was the biggest argument Morpheus and I ever had. I was so damn afraid.

“When we were unplugging kids, teenagers, it was easy to feel safe and know that I wasn’t going to fall in love with them. When I was in Zion, I kept to myself most of the time. The only guys I hung out with other than my own crew were Ghost and Sparks and there was no danger of falling for either of them.” She offered him a small smile, “But a thirty year old man from the Matrix… I knew that was dangerous. And so I pushed and pushed. I fought tooth and nail against Morpheus.

“And then it was my turn to monitor you. In two minutes flat, I knew I was fucked. You were in a coffee shop. You bought two coffees and left, walking to work. I thought it was for a coworker. Maybe someone you fancied.” She tucked a loose piece of hair behind her ear, almost embarrassed by her confession. “But you gave it to the homeless man outside your office building. And he called you by name, like it happened every day. Because it did happen every day.

“And then at lunch, you went out and sat with him on the sidewalk. You shared your food. You talked with him, listening to him ramble about his days in the army.”

He stared at her incredulously. “You fell in love with me because I was nice?”

“I fell in love with you,” she said, rising from her seat, moving towards him, “because despite all the pain and confusion that you were facing in the Matrix, you still found it in your heart to help others.” She stopped in front of him, touching his chest with her hand, trailing it up and winding it around his neck, “I fell in love with the man who helped his landlady do repairs because she couldn’t afford actual electricians and who carried out her garbage because it was to heavy. I fell in love with the man who emptied out his wallet on multiple occasions, and gave the money to someone who needed it more.”

“Plenty of people do the same thing.” He argued.

“Not like you. People don’t just buy coffee for the same homeless man everyday. And they certainly don’t share their lunch, sitting next to them on the street.

“I fell in love with the way you treated people. With the way you respected everyone, no matter their circumstances. No matter if they could reciprocate the favors. I fell in love with you because you had the kindest soul I had ever seen.”

He looped an arm around her waist, holding her close without crushing her to him. “You fell in love with me because I was nice.” He said again, this time not as a question. It was with fascination that he repeated his earlier words, as if he was filing the information.

“What better, more deserving quality is there?” Trinity asked him. “And besides, altruism is very sexy.”

“Is it, now?” Neo asked with a smile.

“Mhmm.” She hummed her response, rising onto her toes.

Neo felt his eyes close as she kissed his lower lip. Pleasure and adrenaline rushed through his body as he parted his lips, kissing her back. Now, his grip did tighten around her as he attempted to show her how much he loved her back.

His perception of the outside world faded to everything except the feel of her on his skin, the taste of her on his tongue.

Until cough brought them out of their haze. Morpheus was standing in the doorway, arms folded.

“I thought we’d discussed this.” He said, the twinkle in his eyes betraying his attempt to sound cross.

“It’s not like we planned it.” Trinity replied, moving her hand to his shoulder. “It’s a spur of the moment kind of thing.”

“I suppose we should all be grateful that you managed to keep your clothes on.” Morpheus said dryly. “Can I make a recommendation for the next time such a situation comes up?”

“Close the door?” Neo smirked.

“Make sure the child in the room is actually sleeping.”

The couple spun around to see the girl in question. Sure enough, Anomaly was awake and staring at them with wide eyes.

Chapter Text

First of all, happy 17th birthday to the Matrix! (March 31, 1999). I wore my 'there is no spoon' shirt and classy mirrored shades all day.

I own nothing. 

Beta'd by Trinneo

xoxo Trin303

.....

Neo didn’t have much experience with children. Especially small children.

He was an only child in the Matrix and he wasn’t exactly leading a productive social life when he had been unplugged. But other than an encounter with the lost kid of one of his colleagues and the one time he had helped Trinity babysit Hazel and Triton. But Hazel and Triton, at four, only needed a little bit of guidance. He could play games with them, listen to them ramble about anything and everything.

But Anomaly was six. And a genius. She had hacked NASA and the FBI but he knew from monitoring her that she still slept with a teddy bear.

He didn’t quite know what to make with that information.

His intention was to sit back, let Trinity take the lead. She was always confident around the kids they had on the Neb.

It was a good plan, in theory.

Execution turned out to be more difficult than he had anticipated.

“Can you get yourself strapped in?” Trinity asked him as she led Anomaly through the hall of the main deck.

“Me?” He asked, taken aback.

“Yes, you.” Who else , her tone implied.

“I… but, aren’t you going in with her?”

“Morpheus,” She caught the attention of her superior and motioned at the girl. Get her prepped. Morpheus nodded, putting a hand on Anomaly’s shoulder and walked her into the Core. When their captain and charge were out of earshot, Trinity continued, “It’s time you gave the speech.”

“But what if she reacts badly? I don’t know how to handle an upset six-year-old. Or worse!-- a crying six-year-old.”

“Then you deal with it. If her heart rate gets too high, or we’re worried about her safety, we’ll pull her out.”

“But… but… I can’t, I…” He tried to think of an excuse. “What if I fuck it up?”

“You won’t.”

“You don’t know that. I’m a very awkward guy!”

“You won’t mess it up.” She said again with a confident smile. “Trust me.”

“I trust you implicitly. I don’t trust my ability not to say something insensitive and scar the kid for life.”

“Simple. Don’t be an asshole and everything will be fine. Just be yourself. And relax.”

“I can’t be myself and be relaxed. It’s one or the other.”

Trinity rolled her eyes. “Babe. You’ve got this, okay?”

Looking slightly pained, Neo nodded. “Okay.”

She smiled, standing on her toes to press a quick kiss to the corner of his lips. “Strap yourself in.” She squeezed his hand, “Remember who you are.”

He attempted to smile back as he walked into the Core. Anomaly was sitting on a chair that was far too big for her as Morpheus adjusted its height.

Her feet dangled, too short to reach the straps for her feet. She looked nervous, too, until Trinity squatted down next to her.

“Bit silly, huh?” Trinity asked, “I promise it will all make sense really soon.”

Anomaly nodded, looking somewhat solemn. Her bald head was already covered by the smallest cap they had on board.

“This may feel a bit funny.” Trin said.

She held Anomaly’s small hand in hers as she quickly inserted the plug. Immediately, the girl’s eyes shut as Morpheus entered the commands to keep the girl in a limbo-like sleep.

Neo was already in his chair when she stood up.

“You know,” he said conversationally, “I might have been a little more relaxed my first time in the Construct if you had held my hand.”

She rolled her eyes, not replying verbally but giving him a final kiss before he entered the Construct.

His eyes fluttered shut.

And when he opened them, he was in the base Construct. Nothing but white.

A moment later, Anomaly was there next to him.

“Wow.” She said, turning around to see if the white room was everywhere.

“This is the Construct.” Neo said, trying to remember Morpheus’ script. “It’s our loading program. We can load anything, from clothing to equipment and training simulations. Whatever we need.”

“When you say load… do you mean we’re in a computer?”

“Is that,” Neo struggled to remember, “So hard to believe? Your clothes are different. Your hair has grown back. The plugs on your body are all gone.”

Anomaly examined her new clothes. A simple pink shirt and jeans but they were certainly different than any of the fabrics available in the real world. She ran a hand along the top of her head, down her hair which was pulled back into a ponytail.

She looked up at Neo, a flash of fear entering her eyes. “I don’t understand.”

“It’s called RSI: Residual Self Image. It’s how you picture yourself in your head. A leftover reminiscence from your time in the Matrix.”

She said, touching her arm, “My body isn’t real?”

This body isn’t real. Your real body hasn’t moved since you sat down a minute ago.”

“What happened?” She asked, looking back up at Neo expectantly.

“Sorry?”

“Humans had to have existed as humans at one point. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the technology to become part of a computer system. Unless there were aliens involved.”

Neo thought long and hard about all the conversations he had seen Morpheus or Trinity deliver to the newly unplugged. Including his own, he had seen four. Never had aliens come up.

Remember who you are. He heard Trinity whisper into his head.

At first, he had thought she meant remember that he was the One. Remember that he was capable of so many things and talking to a six-year-old shouldn’t rank on a list of things too difficult.

Now he understood. She hadn’t been talking about the One at all. She had been talking about him. Neo .

“No aliens.” He said, “Do you want to sit down? It’s a long story.”

“There are no chairs.”

Neo pointed behind her to where two arm chairs now sat, a table between.

“What’s this place called again?” She asked, walking over to the new furniture.

“The Construct.”

“Construct.” She repeated, “What else can you make?”

“Practically anything. What do you want?”

“Cocoa.”

Neo smiled, “Marshmallows?”

Anomaly gave him a look that said the marshmallows go without saying .

A mug of cocoa appeared on the table. Happily, Anomaly climbed into the big chair before reaching for the mug.

“Alright Mister FBI’s Most Wanted. Why are people’s minds inside a computer?”

“You want the long story or the short one?”

“I’m a kid. We always want the long story.”

Neo smirked, “Okay, kid. First, I gotta tell you that it isn’t 1999.”

“I figured. I saw a plaque that said this ship was built in 2069.” She gave him a smile, that clearly told him it wasn’t the first time someone had underestimated her skills. “So, what year is it?”

“We don’t know, exactly. It’s probably closer to 2199. We do know that sometime in the early twenty-first century, artificial intelligence was made a reality. Not too long after, something went wrong. The machines were independent.

“We’re really not sure of the circumstances, or even who started it, but war broke out between the machines and the humans. The machines were dependent entirely on solar power and so we scorched the skies until the sun couldn’t possibly reach the earth through the clouds and dust.

“But the machines found a way to survive. They discovered that humans, if installed with the proper equipment, could make great batteries. That’s what the pod you were in was for.”

“Why the Matrix then? Why not just keep us in a stasis?”

“We work best, as batteries, when our minds are active. We generate more power that way. So the Matrix was introduced. A dream world, designed to keep us active.”

“You said it’s been a couple hundred years.” She said, clearly thinking her thoughts aloud. “But I’m only six. So, have I been six for a couple hundred years or are there still babies being born?”

“No, you are really six years old. You were created, your genetics randomized by the same machines that held you a slave.”

Neo sat back and watched as Anomaly mulled over the information, nodding to herself every so often. She scrunched up her nose, every so often.

He considered changing his vision to code, seeing what she was feeling and gain insight to what she was thinking… but that would be too much like spying so he stopped himself.

Finally, Anomaly looked up at him. She watched him as he watched her. Then, with a solemnity far beyond her years, she asked, “Am I a cyborg?”

Neo fought a chuckle. “You’re still human. You just have a bit of machinery inside you that will help you learn things quickly.”

“But I’m both living and machine.”

“Yes and no.” He thought about how best to phrase it. It wasn’t the level of speech that he used, she clearly didn’t need him to dumb it down for her. “You have metal in your body, there’s no doubt about that. And you have outlets within you that can be plugged into things, like the Construct or the Matrix.”

“So, I still have to eat?”

“Yeah. Afraid so.” He actually meant it, too. It would be so much easier if the goop could just go straight into the stomach without the feeling of eating slop.

“Disappointing.” Anomaly chewed on her lower lip before asking, “Can I pretend to be a cyborg?”

“You can pretend to be anything you want to be. Do you have any questions?”

“Lots.” She said, with a nod. “We’ll start here. What is this place right now? You said it’s for loading. Does that mean it's not part of the Matrix?”

“Very good. No, the Construct is all on its own. The bridge between our world and the machine world.”

“How so?”

“It’s machine but we control the parameters. We program it to be whatever we need, to have whatever we need.”

“How do you program it?”

“The same way you’d program anything. Just sit down and type out whatever script you know best to fit within the parameters of the Construct.”

“Do you only use it for Matrix-related stuff?”

Neo blinked, “How do you mean?”

“Like, do you use this place for playing and hanging out?”

Ah. He opened his mouth to reply ‘no.’ The Construct wasn’t used for recreational purposes. Using it to recreate places from the Matrix just seemed unwise. It wasn’t real in the Matrix, nor the Construct, so why pretend?

But even as he said it, he could think of occasions that would render him a hypocrite.

He, himself, often entered the Construct. He played with his surroundings, testing out his powers, as if it were a game.

Trinity and Morpheus used the sparring programs to keep sharp but also because it was fun .

“Sort of.” He decided, “We don’t really use it for anything more than training and practice.”

“Training for what?”

“For the Matrix.” Neo said, “There are millions of people still trapped by in the machine world, being controlled and used by machines. Every single person you met in the Matrix is connected to a body in a field of pods, just like the one you were in.”

“Why haven’t they been saved?”

“Well, that’s complicated. Some people aren’t ready to be unplugged. Others have been a part of the system so long that it might be difficult to accept their new reality. Life in the Matrix is very simple-- most people have homes and families. They have good food and comfortable beds. To give all that up would just make some people resentful.

“So we try to unplug people with less attachments. And we try to unplug people who are more likely to accept their new reality. Often times, that’s people who have already been searching for the Matrix. We tend to unplug a lot of hackers-- partly because they have the knowledge already on how to help the cause and free more people, but partly because they have already been searching for answers.”

“Why do you have to train to get people out? Trinity just came to my house and asked me to go with her.”

“Yeah, but while Trinity was talking to you, I was fighting some programs which we call Agents. They’re kind of an anti-virus protection software. Their job is to destroy anything that messes up the system. We tend to do that a lot, so they try to destroy us.”

“Do you mean kill you?” Her eyes were wide.

“They try. Sometimes they succeed and we lose people. That’s why we’re extra careful and also why we don’t free as many people as we want to. I know that this…”

His phone went off, a shrill ring interrupting his speech. He flipped it open on instinct, “Yeah?”

“Sentinels incoming.” Trinity said, “Can you wrap this up?”

“Understood. Anomaly,” He spoke away from the phone, “I’m going to answer the rest of your questions back in the real world, okay?”

“Okay.” A moment later, she disappeared.

It was only a few seconds before Neo felt the familiar feeling of being tugged back to the real world.

.

Neo opened his eyes, immediately searching out Trinity.

“What do you need me to do?” He asked, standing up.

Link was sitting at the Core now, shutting down the computers with a practiced ease. Morpheus, he could only guess, was in the cockpit.

“Take Anomaly.” She answered, motioning for the girl to go to her. Anomaly jumped off the chair and went to stand next to Trinity. “I don’t think anything will happen--” Trin put a hand on Anomaly’s shoulder, “We have a good half hour to hide before they reach us.”

“Who called it in?”

“The Brahma sent out a warning. Kali said they’re all up and down the south corridors.”

“They’re freakin’ everywhere.” Link called over his shoulder. “They get more dense a bit closer to Zion but their patrols have increased everywhere.”

“Retaliation?”

“Probably.” Trinity was honest in her response. Still, she gently tried to reassure him, “It had to be done.”

Neo nodded, solemnly. He knew she was right. They couldn’t keep using the same tactics against the system. The machines were programmed to adapt. Ergo, Zion had to adapt.

The fact did nothing to ease the guilt.

“Sweetie,” Trinity said, squeezing Anomaly’s shoulder. “Why don’t you go with Neo and see your room for the next few days?”

“You don’t need any help?” Anomaly said, looking up at Trinity hopefully.

“Not this time.” Smiling, Trin directed the girl towards Neo with a small push. “Go on.”

Anomaly reached for Neo’s hand and, with a final look of worry, Neo departed down the corridor.

“Link?” Trinity asked, turning to the Operator. “Do you have things controlled in here?”

“Sure thing.” He said, “I’ll have the EMP set up in minutes.”

“You’re a godsend.”

He inclined his head, “I do what I can.”

She walked to the ladder, a thousand scenarios running through her head. There were a hundred tunnels that could be used to get back to Zion, but only a single gate to the city. The smaller tunnels were harder to navigate but had less sentinels on patrol. Providing they didn’t run into any machines, they could be back to Zion conflict-free in a matter of days.

If they did… well, the EMP became a foregone conclusion-- No one could outfly sentinels in those kinds of places.

Morpheus had changed the controls to manual and was guiding the ship out of the open.

Quietly, she walked over and took the seat next to him. With one hand, she typed the commands for a three dimensional map to appear on the dashboard.

“Where was the Brahma when they sent the call?”

“Near the intersection of 2.24E.”

Arguably the best thing Commander Lock had done was sent a charting crew to map out the tunnel systems. Of the six main tunnels that ran up and down from Zion to the pod fields, four were considered structurally safe enough to be traveled.

The four tunnels led to eleven main sewer lines that traveled around the city. From those eleven sewer lines, there were hundreds upon hundreds of small but maneuverable tangents.

2.24E meant that the last place the crew had passed was tunnel 24, which ran east, along main line 2.

“We need to stay off the main lines.”

“Easier said than done.” Morpheus replied, “it’s far too easy to get cornered elsewhere.”

“It won’t exactly be easy hopping from one hiding point to the next all the way back to Zion.”

Morpheus gave her a smirk that seemed to say, “don’t be obnoxious.” She flashed him a smile, looking back to her map.

“Theoretically, we could take 40E to 11 North. It’s not the main line but it's still maneuverable.”

“11’s far out. How much longer will it take us?”

“Well,” Trinity said, doing the calculations in her head, “If we ran into no sentinels whatsoever on the main path, it would take us maybe 20 hours longer. But,” She glanced at her captain, speaking dryly, “Considering that not meeting any sentinels along the main path is a clear impossibility, taking the long way round might save us days of hiding and, quite possibly, our lives.”

Morpheus smiled, despite himself. “Plot the course.”

Chapter Text

Neo led Anomaly out of the Core.

"So," She said, "What's a sent'nel?"

"A sentinel is a sentient machine that is meant to search out ships like this one. When they find these ships, they try to take us out of the air and then strip the ship for parts."

"And there's no way to fight them?"

"There is." He paused, trying to think of the best and least terrifying way to describe it. "But traditional weapons won't work. So we use a special one called an EMP- an electromagnetic pulse. It sends out a blast of electricity that can disable any machine within a 100 yard radius."

A beat passed as Anomaly processed the information, "This ship is a machine."

"Very good." Neo said, "In order to use the EMP, we have to power down the entire ship. Otherwise, it crashes and we need to jumpstart it. It's not impossible," He said quickly, "But it's tough to do quickly so if there's another wave of Sentinels out there, it isn't good."

Placing a hand on her back, Neo ushered her past the kitchens and infirmary and to the crew quarters.

"This," He said at the very first door, "is where we keep extra blankets and clothes. Then all these rooms," he indicated the doors on the middle of the hall, "Are empty. Morpheus is at the very end of the hall and Trinity and I live right next to him. Link lives next to him on the other side, across from us. You'll live next to me and Trin."

"You and Trinity live together?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

It was a genuine question that may as well have been 'where do babies come from' as far as Neo was concerned. "Well, sometimes when grown-ups love each other, they decide that they want to live their whole lives together."

"Like when you get married."

"Sometimes." Neo said, "And sometimes you want to start your lives together before you get married."

"My Mom and Dad were married and they didn't live in the same room."

And that was one Neo didn't want to touch with a ten foot pole.

"Well, that was their choice. Just like Trinity and I made a choice to spend all the time we could together. Even when we're sleeping."

Anomaly's face scrunched up as she tried to make sense of it. "But are you married?"

"Not yet." He quickly changed the subject, "But you don't want to hear about that. I'm sure you want to get settled in your new room."

He turned the hatch and tugged open the heavy door. Neo was honestly concerned about how Anomaly was going to be able to let herself in and out.

"The room is a little utilitarian." He warned.

"Utilla what?"

"Basic." Neo tried, "It just has the essentials."

He nudged her inside the room. There was a bed that had been made up with several worn blankets. A small stack of appropriate sized clothing was hanging in a net on the back wall. There were a few books on the shelves including the fairy tale book that Trinity owned.

Her desk had a stack of paper being held down with a rock and a small basket of pencils.

Other than that, the room was empty.

She seemed a bit disappointed with its emptiness but she smiled anyway, "What is there to do for fun around here?"

He thoughts shifted quickly to the image of a naked Trinity. Sex was not something he could, in any way, shape or form, recommend to a six year old.

"There's not a lot of free time. There's always something that needs to be fixed on the ship or something to be done in the Matrix. Downtime... we usually just hang out with each other. Or knit."

"You knit?" She asked, looking doubtful.

"Not well." He answered honestly, "Trin is fantastic at it. Morpheus and Link are pretty good, too."

"Is that a skill you can learn in the Construct?"

"No, it..." He trailed off. "Of course it is. Oh my god. Trinity made me learn it the old fashioned way just to mess with me." Oh, he was definitely going to have words with her about that later on.

Anomaly wasn't listening to his personal revelations. She was walking forward and reaching her hand out to touch her new bed. Thin blankets and a barely-there mattress did nothing to conceal the hardness of the metal she would have to sleep on.

His first weeks in the real world, well, his conscious first weeks, he had constantly struggled with feeling uncomfortable. Most of the time, it had been nearly impossible to sleep. His first night that was at all restful was the first night he spent with Trinity.

"Everything is going to change now, isn't it?" Finally, she sounded as small as she looked.

"Yes."

She looked back at Neo. "What's going to happen to me now?"

Neo crossed to the bed in one stride and sat down. He patted a spot next to him and Anomaly crawled up, positioning herself with crossed legs.

"You," Said Neo, taking her hand, "are still very young. And you're going to get the opportunity to have a life—a real life, in Zion." Although Trinity had told him that most kids under eleven were adopted by barren couples or those who, from their time in Matrix captivity, had difficulty reproducing, he did not want to give Anomaly expectations that might not prove to be true. "There's a school for kids like you—kids just pulled out of the Matrix. You'll get to learn about the war with the machines and the history of Zion and you'll learn about your body. What you can use your plugs for, what you can't or shouldn't use your plugs for.

"And, when you get older, you'll make a decision about high school. You can go to a number of vocational schools where you can learn about medicine, or teaching, or mechanics... or you can go to a military school where you get trained to do what we do here and you'd be put on a ship like this one."

"Is that where you went?"

"No, but it's where Trinity went. And Morpheus and Link."

"Why didn't you go there?"

"Well," Neo said with a small smile, "I'm actually the oldest person ever unplugged from the Matrix. Most people aren't unplugged after they turn twenty or so. I was unplugged at twenty-seven. And you," he tapped her nose, "are the youngest person to ever be unplugged."

"I am?"

"Mhmm. Most kids are somewhere between twelve and eighteen but we'll sometimes go as young as ten. Nine is the youngest age on record."

"Wow." She scrunched up her nose, looking at Neo, "Why us?"

"Because, despite our ages, Morpheus and Trinity knew that you and I couldn't be left in the Matrix. So they broke the traditional rules to save us. Makes you and me pretty special."

Anomaly beamed. "I won't let any of you down! When can I start learning the parameters for the Matrix coding? Do you think that the machines would have programmed a failsafe that can be accessed externally or..."

"An, slow down, sweetheart. You," He squeezed her hand, "just worry about being the best Anomaly you can be. You can worry about the Matrix when you get to be my age. There's a whole new world out there for you to find yourself in. Don't waste the time trying to be an adult."

"But I want to help."

"And you will. But first, you need to get your bearings, just like I did."

She pouted. "Can I still start learning a bit of the new code?"

"I can't even imagine trying to stop you."

Her pout switched directions and she jumped up, wrapping her arms around Neo's neck. "Thank you!"

Neo felt his heart stutter at the eerie feeling that seemed to course through his blood. He wrapped an arm around the little girl, hugging her, and was completely overwhelmed.

After twenty-seven years in the Matrix, Thomas Anderson had grown used to the idea that he was empty. He couldn't maintain a relationship with his parents, let alone friends. He was constantly being obstructed by his own nihilistic thoughts.

And then, in the real world, he felt himself starting to feel. Real emotions, however small. It wasn't just emptiness. He actually believed, even if he wasn't sure if he was the One, that he had some sort of purpose. That, just maybe, he had the ability to make the world a better place.

And then there was Trinity. The intense attraction had started to break through to him even within the Matrix but in the real world… he felt drawn to her in ways he couldn't describe. Simply put, he loved her before he even understood what love was.

And love had turned into happiness, and excitement. He had felt passion and unimaginable fear at the prospect of losing her. Anger at those who wanted to hurt her. Sadness and regret when she was upset, She made him feel powerful, she made him feel invincible and vulnerable all at once.

Anomaly was so similar, yet so different- she was so strong but not without weakness.

He felt responsible for her. He felt like he needed to protect her and care for her and make sure that she was happy. With her pale skin and bright eyes, it didn't take much imagination to feel like a guardian.

But mostly, he felt overwhelmed by the future. While the faces were different and the smiles practically polar opposites between Anomaly's toothy grin and Trinity's amused smirk, he could easily imagine holding his own child in such a fashion.

Hope felt tangible.

It was an attainable life. It was a future that he could taste.

Neo craved a life that wasn't so tangled with the Matrix but he knew that it was out of reach.

He could hear the whispers of someday and he smiled, slightly. Pulling back, he looked her over. She was still smiling.

"Trinity made sure that there are a few things for you to do. She brought some books and some coloring stuff for you to use. If you get bored, I'm sure we can find something for you to tinker with."

Anomaly looked back to her desk with the few items that they had been able to provide for her. She looked at the spines of the books, reading the faded letters until she pulled a book from the middle.

"Will you read with me?" She asked.

"Read with you?" Neo repeated.

"Yes, please. I know how to read to myself but there might be some words I need help with."

Neo glanced at the book in her hands. It was a newer book but made with materials that caused him to think that it was not a book that had been saved from the surface. It was a book that had been created and binded in Zion. Sure enough, the title gleamed back to him Zion: A History of Mankind's Last City.

"Are you sure you want to read that one? There's a storybook somewhere…"

"I saw it." She said, "And I'll read it later. Right now, I need to learn about Zion."

Neo blinked. "Okay."

Anomaly climbed up onto the bed and put her back to the wall. Neo scooted so that he was next to her as she opened the book.

She read aloud, "Although scattered records of The Machine War exist, we can no longer…." She looked up at Neo.

"Differentiate."

"We can no longer differentiate between fact and fiction. Various books and records from the early twentieth century, of which only a few dozen made its way to Zion, suggest that the birth of Artificial Intelligence took place in either the second or third decade. There was a period of peace, a moment of silence, and then the world began to burn."

.

Trinity sat with the radio in her hand. The Neb was travelling slowly, down the tunnel. Morpheus was being extra cautious, checking every bi-way before attempting to proceed. He was taking no chances.

So far, there had been nothing. It was quite probable that they made it to safety before the Squids registered them. If that were the case, they were out of danger. If not… well, she was fairly certain that they wouldn't die today. The Matrix, after all, had yet to be destroyed.

She glanced to her left. Morpheus was utterly silent, scanning the horizon.

"Morpheus?" She asked softly. "I think the tunnels should be cleared by now."

He inclined his head, "There is no way to know, for sure. We could wait here forever. Or we could go out and risk having to use the EMP. And endless possibilities between them."

Morpheus had always been incredibly open about his beliefs. He made it no secret that he thought that he would live to see the end of the machines. He openly preached about the return of the One throughout all the years that Trinity had known him. He was, and always had been, proud to be a servant to his cause.

Morpheus wore his religion on his sleeve.

His own emotions and doubts, he kept close. They were personal- the kind of thing that would be shared amongst the closest of friends. Morpheus's friends, however, weren't the kind you used as your confidant. Rather, they were the kind you would swap stories with over a drink in the Officer's Club.

And while Morpheus was more like a father to Trinity than anything else, she made a conscious decision to step out of her role as daughter and Lieutenant.

"Well, yes." Trinity replied, "But that isn't anything new- what's wrong?"

Morpheus smirked, bemused. "Tell me, Trinity… how important is the Matrix to you?"

"I'm not sure I understand the question."

"Priority wise," He clarified. "Where does the destruction of the Matrix fall on your list of priorities?"

She hesitated, "I don't think I've ever taken the time to number the different aspects of my life. But, I suppose, it would easily be top five."

"Top five." Morpheus repeated. "And what comes before it?"

"Neo, obviously. Myself-"

"Yourself?"

"Well, yes." She looked back to her Captain before confessing, "After I first met with the Oracle, I was a wreck. I was just a kid and she had laid out my entire future. I knew that, one day, I would fall in love with the One. And so what did that mean for me? Would he be the only person I ever loved? How long would I have to wait for him? Was I allowed to date? And then the big one: what happened if he didn't love me back?" Trinity smiled a little sadly, "It was terrifying to consider.

"I spent years worrying about what it would mean to love the One. When I joined the Neb, I honestly felt like I was part of a ticking time bomb. But then you, Apoc, and Switch pulled out a twelve year old kid. Caspian. Do you remember?"

Morpheus nodded, "How could I forget? He almost destroyed the ship."

"He was completely terrified when you told him about the Matrix. He lashed out."

"And then you calmed him down." He recalled.

"He was so angry. He was so upset that he lived for twelve years in fake world. He just couldn't fathom it- how could twelve years of love and hugs and kisses from his parents not have been real? How could twelve years of learning to walk and talk and developing his muscles not have been real? How could all that he learned and all that he thought be wrong?

"And I remember sitting down with him, in the infirmary, while he was throwing boxes of instruments and trashing the place until he was too upset to stand. And, I remember just… vivid clarity. For years I had struggled, and then, talking with Cas, it was like an epiphany.

"'The Matrix doesn't define you.'" She said, remembering what she had said to Caspian all those years before, "'Your past doesn't define you. You were a different person then, even if it was only minutes later. All that matters is the choice that you make right now.'" She smiled and shrugged, "The past happened. The future will happen- you can't do anything to change that. You can't do a damn thing except make a choice right now.

"And, in that moment, I realized that loving the One was something that was going to happen to me. And if it really was fate, I couldn't do anything about it. But my future, the things in my life that hadn't happened, did not define me.

"When my life stopped revolving around the One, I was finally able to be happy."

Morpheus appeared genuinely confused, "I see you with Neo, every day. You're happier than I've ever seen you."

"Yes." She agreed, "But my life is still that- mine. Every day, I make the conscious choice to be with Neo- to give him my time and my energy."

"But you love him." Morpheus said, "That isn't a conscious choice."

"No, it isn't. But I choose him every day. You can love somebody with all your heart but still make choices that divide you."

Morpheus gave a humorless chuckle. "You hit the nail on the head."

"Niobe?" Trinity asked gently.

"Yes." A pause, "And no. Me, I suppose. It all comes down to my choices- I let go of so much for the sake of this war. Opportunities seemed to slip left and right. You saw how my relationship with Niobe ended… I loved her. More than I'd ever loved anyone. But…"

He didn't have to finish his thought. Trinity understood. Morpheus loved Niobe dearly but the choices he made had driven them apart. His time and energy had gone into the Matrix… searching for Neo, looking for a way to end the war.

Priority-wise, the Matrix had come first. Niobe had come second.

"Was I wrong to put the Matrix first?" Morpheus asked her.

"No." Trinity said, "You made a choice- you figured out, even if only subconsciously, that the most important thing to you was ending the war. You loved Niobe and she loved you. But love, alone, isn't enough."

"But if I had put less time into the Matrix… More time into my relationship…"

"Morpheus, you care so much about ending this war… about saving people. That isn't a bad thing. It's just who you are." She changed her tone to something gentler, "Now what brought this on?"

Morpheus was looking towards her but his gaze was relaxed, almost hazy. "I've spent the last thirty years working to end this war. I've spent the last ten odd years searching for the One. And now I've found him and… Neo is brilliant. I always knew he would be smart but there's so much more to him than that….

"He's the One." Morpheus said, both awed and confused, "But destroying the Matrix isn't his focus. It's not his priority and… It leaves me confused."

"You always expected the One to be a soldier. A leader." Trinity said with a nod.

"Well, yes! That's his purpose and, hell, I know that he cares. I know that he wants the Matrix gone but it's not his top priority. Nor is it yours."

"We're allowed to have different priorities, Morpheus. We're different people."

"I know." He clarified, "Logically, I know. But I can't help but worry. Is Neo too far from the path? Am I too disconnected from reality? Does my obsession keep me a prisoner of the Matrix?"

"I don't think you're a prisoner. Nor do I think your disconnected from reality. Nor is Neo too far from the path. I believe that, right now, you are both exactly where you need to be." She reached over and placed her hand of her captain's. "Have faith, Morpheus."

Morpheus smirked, "And thus the student becomes the teacher?"

Trinity offered a smirk of her own in return, "Hey, sleeping with the One has its perks."

"Nope." Morpheus pulled his hand back, "Don't want to hear about that, don't want to think about that."

"You know I'm nearly thirty, right?"

"Still don't need to know about your sex life."

"Are you sure? Because I have some stories that would-"

"Leave! Go! We're done here!"

She laughed, standing up and stretching. "You sure?" She asked before leaving.

"Yes. Go. I don't think I'm going to be able to look at you for quite some time."

Trinity laughed again. "Alright, but if you need to talk or anything…"

"It's a small ship. I know where to find you."

She squeezed his shoulder before moving to the back of the cockpit and sliding down the ladder. The Core was empty, which wasn't a surprise. Link was off-duty, which meant he would probably be in either the kitchen or in his room.

She crossed the threshold down to kitchen and poked her head in. The room was empty.

Trinity continued on her way to the crew quarter's. The doors were all shut except the one across from hers and Neo's. Anomaly's room.

A smile dawned on her lips as she walked down and peaked in the room. Anomaly was curled up in Neo's lap, asleep. A thick book was discarded next to the pair and, while Neo had his eyes closed, she could tell by his posture that he wasn't asleep.

She pushed on the door, trying to remain silent so as not to wake the girl. It creaked and Neo opened his eyes.

His eyes flashed with relief and he opened his mouth and whispered, "What do I do with her?"

It took a surprising amount of effort on Trinity's behalf to not burst out into laughter. He seemed so lost.

This is the man who is going to save the world, she thought proudly, the man you have chosen to love. And he's more terrified with a six year old girl asleep in his arms than he is going up against three Agents.

She slipped in and reached down, "Give her here."

Neo seemed unable to move, unwilling to wake the small child. Trin slipped her arms underneath the girl and easily picked her off of Neo's lap.

"Move the blanket back." She kept her voice low and watched as Neo tugged the covers to make room for Anomaly.

Trinity set the girl down on the bed and tucked her in.

Standing up, she indicated the door and they both tiptoed out. The door was closed behind them and Neo wrapped his arms around Trinity. She leaned into his embrace, closing her eyes at the warm, familiar sensation.

"Sentinels?" Neo asked.

"Passed us." She replied and Neo was overcome by how soft her voice was. It was practically a siren's call as she continued, "But we're taking a few back routes back just to be safe."

He hummed, "And how long until we reach Zion?"

"Three days, maybe four depending on how cautious we are."

He kissed her forehead. "I suppose I can share you for another few days."

"How generous of you."

He kissed her nose.

Trinity flashed a smile at him. It was the one reserved for moments when they were alone- not the small twist in her lips that she used when Sparks said something idiotic or when she was amused or happy.

This smile started with closed eyes and a sweet but toothy grin. When they opened, her eyes were bright. Her face was relaxed.

It took his breath away.

Smiling back, he leaned forward and gently kissed her. Her eyes fluttered shut again. He placed a hand under each of her arms and pushed them upwards and around his neck before he settled his hands on her hips.

Wordlessly, Trinity stepped towards their room, pulling Neo along with her. He fumbled with the handle before pushing the door open.

He moved his hands back to her, slipping them under her shirt and against her warm skin. Heaven.

The door closed behind them.

Chapter Text

Trinity was running down a hallway. She glanced behind her as she slowed to a stop. She reached out to touch the down button on the elevator when the doors opened.

An Agent sent a punch forward, catching her unawares. She started to fall back and braced her hands out behind her, turning what should have been a fall into a backwards cartwheel. She continued backwards, down the hall, flipping and tumbling, never landing on her feet but sending herself upwards into the air where she delivered a perfect kick to the Agent. He stumbled backand she took the advantage, going forward, towards her only exit, striking out at the Agent with everything she had.

She managed a blow to the head, knocking him sideways followed by a kick to the side of his head. SHe used her foot to shove his head into the wall, cracking it with her force. The Agent grabbed at her calf and threw her, with a single hand, across the hall.

She hit the opposite wall and fell to the ground.

Trinity pushed herself to her feet as the Agent prepared to stamp his foot down on top of her. She moved towards him, getting in two kicks. Three kicks. She prepared for a fourth but the Agent sent a punch directly to her core. The force of the blow wiped her out and she landed ten feet off on her stomach.

She started to stand but the Agent got to her before she reached her feet, a hand around her throat. He shoved her into the wall and lifted her up.

Trinity kicked at him, slightly weaker than she was moments before. It was obvious that she was feeling the lack of oxygen despite only being in her head.

The Agent smirked at her before sending her heels over head into the ground.

Despite the wince on her face, she put her hands back behind her and flipped back to her feet. She turned towards the Agent. He was blocking her way.

She threw a punch which he returned at a greater speed and strength. The force and angle of the blow sent her back into the wall. His hand shot out at her throat and she tried to claw it away. Realizing she couldn't, she sent a hand flying out at him.

It did nothing.

He punched her in the face before picking her up by the throat and arm and lifting her off the ground. He slammed her into the wall, breaking the plaster. And then again, he threw her back and threw the wall she had been pressed against only moments before.

She hit the ground hard, a tooth breaking in the process. Blood and saliva dripped from her mouth.

The Agent reached for a gun and Trinity copied his motions, taking out both of hers. She was ready to shoot when the door opened and the second Agent stepped out.

There was no way out of the room. She could not defeat the Agents the way that Neo could.

The window was suicide.

But as the Agent prepared to fire, she turned and jumped through anyway. Glass flew everywhere, cutting her face.

She turned while falling, firing back behind her. The Agent followed her and suddenly they were both in freefall, trading bullets.

And then it happened. The Agent fired a shot that flew down, down, down until it pierced into her chest.

Her eyes widened, in both shock and pain.

And there she was. Falling. Falling. Falling...

Neo woke up gasping, loudly. His breathing was heavy, he was nearly hyperventilating.

"Neo?" Trinity's voice came from his right. "Sweetheart, what's wrong?"

Trinity's voice. She was talking to him. Touching him. Her smell surrounded him.

She was there; she was real.

"Trinity." He exhaled her name like a prayer, reaching out and yanking her down on top of him. "Trinity."

If she was surprised at his actions, she recovered quickly. "It's all right. Everything is alright." Her words were soothing. Repetitive. Calming. "You're okay now. I'm here."

I'm here.

It had seemed so real… everything he had dreamed of. Trinity, fighting the Agent. Running and jumping. The bullet that flew at her. That pierced her chest.

Trinity falling.

But she was there, in front of him.

"Did you have a nightmare?" She asked.

He nodded, "Yeah."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"I…" He looked at her, curled against his chest and covered only by a blanket. She blinked up at him, "There was an Agent. And you…" He couldn't bring himself to finish the sentence.

Trinity seemed to understand anyway. "Ah." Her fingers ran circles over his chest and she kissed him, just above the plug nearest his heart. "I've had those dreams."

"You have?"

"Mhmm. Mostly before we were actually together. Some even before you were unplugged. I had a thousand nightmares of you. In some, you were too old to have been unplugged and you died before I could even reach you. Other times, I would dream about you in the Matrix. Cornered by Agents. And I would see it happen but I wouldn't be able to reach you. But they're just dreams, Neo."

He nodded, still feeling sick to his stomach. "I know. It just… it felt so real." Neo fought a wave of nausea.

"Come here."

Trinity wrapped her arms around him and rolled to her back, pulling Neo on top of her. He burrowed his face into her neck and held onto her tightly.

"Do you remember the night we met?" She whispered to him, "In the back of that dirty club? And they were blasting that borderline metal-techno? You were drinking a beer, trying to figure out if you dreamed about the white rabbit or if it was real or not?"

He knew what she was doing- taking his mind away from his nightmares.

Neo closed his eyes and breathed her in. Smoke, dust, and sex.

"I had been waiting for you for so long." She whispered. "And you were right there. In front of me. And I had to remember that stupid script, to warn you. When all I wanted to do was to kiss you." She placed a kiss on top of his head. "And that silly outfit," She laughed, "Tank had a fucking field day with that but I kept telling him that I needed to blend in at the club. Really, I just wanted you to want me. The way I wanted you…"

Neo felt his lips twist up in a grin, "You should have... Just gone up to me and kissed me. Would've been a hell of a story to tell our kids. 'It was love at first sight- you're mother jumped me right then and there.' It would make meeting in a bar sound just a bit classier."

"Really? Because that sounds like the start of a Penthouse letter."

"Mmm." Neo hummed, pushing himself up so that he was just above her. "Dear Penthouse, The most amazing thing happened to me today." He pressed a kiss to her hairline. "I was standing in the back of a bar, alone, getting ready to leave," He kissed her temple, trailing his mouth across her cheek, "when this drop dead gorgeous woman" he kissed her cheek, " in a tight, black leather dress walked straight up to me, pushed me against the wall and had her very wicked way with me."

Neo dipped his head down and kissed her. He pulled back slightly and caught her lower lip between his teeth.

Thoughts of the nightmare were completely gone from his head as Trinity wrapped her arms around his back and pulled him down to her. She kissed him, hard, grinding herself up and against his thigh.

Neo tugged her down the bed so that she was flat against the tatami mat. He could feel her lips turn up into a smile as their kisses grew softer and more languid.

He pushed one hand around her back, pulling her closer as if gravity wasn't a strong enough force. His other hand trailed down her chest, circling her nipple with a single finger, before continuing down and across her stomach. He only stopped when he felt a surge of heat at the apex of her thighs.

Neo nibbled at her neck as he started to circle her clit and waited for the sharp intake of breath that meant he was on the right track. It didn't take long.

He placed palm against her core, rocking it gently as he pushed two fingers inside of her. She moaned, softly.

That was no good, he decided. Moaning quietly meant, despite any pleasure she was receiving, she was still aware of her surroundings.

He pulled the hand that had been around her back out and to her hip, gripping at the flesh there. She always responded so well to things like that. It didn't even take thought anymore to realize what would bring her the most pleasure. Nails digging softly into her hips or thighs. Raking down her back. The light tug on her hair that meant he needed to kiss her. Nips on the neck, the ears, her breasts, stomach and thighs. It was as natural as a kiss.

Neo angled his neck back upwards to look at her face. Her eyes were closed but her mouth was open, her breath coming out in erratic bursts.

"That first night?" Neo whispered, curling his fingers up inside her, "When you pressed yourself against me, and whispered in my ear? Do you know how much effort it took to listen to what you were saying and not just reach out and touch you? The things I wanted to do with you… And the way you said my name… I wanted to make you scream it." he slipped a third finger inside of her. She whimpered in response, biting her lip. "And when we get back in Zion, it'll be the first thing I make you do once we get back home.

"But right now, baby, I need you to be quiet." He kissed her lips, slowing the pace of his hand to drive her crazy but offer no release, "Put your mouth on my shoulder." He waited until she had complied, her wet mouth resting just past the bottom of his neck. Neo let out a soft sigh. "Good." He sped up the rocking of his palm and felt her clench around his fingers. Her body tensed momentarily before a sharp pain came to Neo's attention. Her teeth were just short of breaking the skin as she bit his shoulder, coming undone beneath him. Her hips were pushing upwards, grinding herself harder and harder into him until she hit her high.

Her body relaxed and Trinity sank back down, panting to catch her breath.

Her eyes opened and she looked at him, examining his shoulder. Deciding that he was okay, she reached up and tangled her fingers in his hair. After a brief tug, his mouth was at hers.

Hours later, when Trinity had dressed and left the room to go to get breakfast before going on duty, Neo found himself alone. He was sitting on the bed, tugging on his boots when the image of Trinity, falling, entered his mind.

It's just a dream.

Chapter Text

Chaos was the only way Morpheus could describe the events that were going on in the kitchen when he woke up. Half of the blankets and sheets that belonged to the Neb had to have been up, hanging from every free beam and monitor. It was a monstrous creation that he had not seen since his own childhood days. A carefree past that he barely remembered.

An actual fort that, judging by the height of some of the blankets, had to have been created with help from the adults. Anomaly’s idea or not (and Morpheus realized that the idea truly could have come from one of his crew and not the six year old girl residing with them), the fort was a creation of adults.

Laughter was coming from inside. Link’s he recognized, followed by Trinity voice saying,  “No, no, I agree with Anomaly. You could not pull of the blue the way you are working the grey.”

“Bull--” Neo clearly caught himself, “Th-that’s ridiculous! There’s no life to this grey. I’m the One, aren’t I supposed to be vibrant and full of life?”

“I’m fairly certain that the prophecy said nothing about your personality.”

“Not to mention,” Link added, “I remember Tank and Dozer talking about him after you all first started monitoring him and Dozer definitely said something along the lines of, “Seems like a nice guy but the most boring coppertop I’ve ever had to watch.”

“I don’t think you’re boring.” Anomaly said, “You just aren’t as interesting as everyone else.”

Trinity and Link both burst out laughing and Neo made a cry of mock outrage, “Come here, you!”

Morpheus tugged a sheet off to the side so that he could look in. It was tall enough that, though he’d have to duck to get in, he could stand at the very center while clearing all the blankets.

Link and Neo were both sitting on the same bench while Trinity sat on a blanket on top of the table. Sheets were wrapped like togas around Neo and Link. Link’s was a blue that had somehow maintained its vibrancy while Neo’s was an older, more worn white sheet that had turned grey with age.

Anomaly was sitting between Neo and Trinity, leaning against the latter. Her bald head was covered by a small blue hat that was still at least two sizes too big. Neo tugged Anomaly onto his lap, tickling her as she giggled.

“Are you all having fun?” Morpheus asked, finally drawing attention to himself.

Three out of four faces shot up to look at their commanding officer, with Anomaly still laughing.

Trinity tried to stop, mid-laugh. It came out as a snort.

Neo let out a laugh, “Now that was sexy.”

“What’s sexy mean?” Anomaly asked.

Neo tripped over his words a bit, looking at Trinity briefly for help before realizing that none was coming. “It means… that I find Trinity to be very attractive.”

“Oh.” She paused as if filing the new word away for later use. “I think Trinity is very sexy, too.”

Link, Trinity, and Neo all burst into laughter again. Anomaly’s giggles joined them although it was clear that she was just trying to laugh along.

Link wiped at a watery eye, taking a deep breath in. “Whew. Heh. To answer your question, sir,” he looked to Morpheus, “We are, indeed, having fun.”

“Is anyone flying this ship?”

Link looked a bit guilty, “That should be me. I put the ship down in a cave and came to get something to eat. Got a bit distracted.”

“Finish your breakfast and get back to it.” Morpheus said. “We’re still about fifty hours out.” He turned his gaze to Trinity, “Is anyone monitoring the Matrix?”

“It’s actually monitoring itself.” She explained with a smile, gesturing towards Neo and Anomaly, “The two of them actually set up a program that tracks active processes within the Matrix.”

“It’s specific to our needs.” Neo added, “It shows when Agents become active as well as any of the kids we’re tracking. We even have it set up to tell us if another crew goes into the Matrix.”

“Really?” Morpheus looked at Anomaly, “You helped?”

“It was her idea.” Trinity said, smiling at Anomaly.

“Very impressive.”

Anomaly smiled at him, somewhat shyly.

It was then that Morpheus began to understand Neo’s rationale. Neo took his time. He wasn’t lazy nor did he lag but, at the end of the day, Neo needed to make personal connections. Numbers did nothing-- saving a million people would not be worth Anomaly or, god forbid, Trinity.

Neo was looking at the little picture whereas Morpheus saw the big picture. At the end of the day, they would both reach the same conclusion.

“I’m going to go put us in the air. Link, when you finish eating, please head up to the cockpit..” Morpheus smirked, “As for the rest of you, try not to destroy my ship.”

“No guarantees.” Trinity called in response as Morpheus left the room.

“Why is Zion so far away?” Anomaly asked, “It seems inconvenient.”

“Oh, it is.” Link said. “We spend more time on this hovercraft than we do at home with our families.”

“Unfortunately, Zion needed to be built a couple miles underground so that it would be close to the magma and the Earth’s core. Now that the sun is blocked out, it’s the only source of warmth we have. But being so far underground, we can’t hack into the Matrix. There’s too much interference. And even if we could, the pods are still on the surface so any time we had to free somebody, we’d have to do a run.” Trinity explained.

“What’s magma?”

“Underground lava.”

Her eyes widened, “Isn’t that dangerous?”

Neo looked at Trinity, realizing the implications of being so close to the core for the first time, “Yeah, isn’t that dangerous?”

“Zion is very safe.” She assured them, “Much safer than it would be if we were on the surface.”

“Yeah, but like, are volcanos something that could happen?” Neo was suddenly taking over Anomaly’s questions, seeming genuinely concerned.

“Highly unlikely.” Trinity said dryly.

“Pretty much impossible, actually.” Link commented, taking a spoonful of goop before trying to talk, “Volcanos,” he cleared his throat, “Volcanos form as a result of the Earth’s plates shifting or hotspots. We are, luckily, pretty far from any plate boundaries or hotspots.” 

Neo blinked, “How do you know that?”

“Zion schooling is much different than anything you’ll find in the Matrix. Our history begins with the Great Machine War. Everything else is usually some kind of science course. Mechanics. Engineering. And seeing as how Zion is underground, geology courses are extremely prevalent.”

Neo hummed in understanding and, not for the first time, regretted the fact he had been pulled out of the Matrix so late in life.

Had he been a kid, a teenager he might have been allowed to study for a few years before the whole world got thrust onto his shoulders.

He glanced at Trinity. They were always meant to be together. They were inevitable, that he was sure of. It didn’t matter when he was unplugged or when she was unplugged. It wouldn’t have mattered if they had both been born as Zionites or if they had both been coppertops for all of their lives-- they were always going to be together. But he had to wonder about what life could have been like if he had found her sooner.

A hundred years waking up next to her would never be enough.

He smiled.

Life was good. Better than good. Life was amazing. Visceral.

Under the draped sheets in the Core, he was sitting with the love of his life, a friend, and a smart kid that made him laugh more than he had quite possibly ever.

Anomaly was rambling at Link and Neo caught a few words about Zion and caverns but his attention was elsewhere. He reached up and took Trinity’s hand.

She glanced up at him, the little half-smile making an appearance before she turned back to the conversation.

“Hands down,” Link was saying, “Is the best place in the whole city.”

“It is not .” Trinity said, shaking her head. “No way. It isn’t even best lake.”

“Lake?” Neo asked, snapping back into the conversation.

“Lake Babylon.” Link said. “Has Trin not taken you there?”

“To Lake Babylon? He’d get mobbed if I took him to Lake Babylon! It’s always too crowded, anyway. I prefer hiking out a bit to some of the more private ponds.”

“But those are always so small! Some of them are barely bigger than a room.”

Trinity shrugged, “You keep the venue small and it doesn’t matter.”

“Can I take swim lessons in Zion?” Anomaly asked.

“Most certainly.” Link told her, “I myself learned at the glorious ,” He sent a pointed look at Trinity, Lake Babylon. But, you could also just load a program into your head and become an expert swimmer in seconds.”

“Really?”

“Really really.” Trinity told her. “I can take you to the Core right now if--”

“YES!”

Trinity laughed, hopping off the table and holding her arms outstretched. Neo hoisted Anomaly up so that Trinity could easily just take the girl.

She smiled at him as she settled Anomaly onto her hip, “Would you be a dear and put the blankets away?”

“It’s what I’m here for-- actually, it’s in the prophecy. Savior of the human race and clean-up crew.”

Trinity let out a little laugh and leaned down quickly for a kiss. “I’ll make it up to you. Let’s go, An.” She said as she and Anomaly left the mess behind them.

“What’s a prophecy?”

“It’s when somebody predicts what will happen in the future.”

Anomaly nodded, “I thought it sounded like a fairy-tale word. What does it have to do with Neo?”

“A long time ago there was a newborn inside the Matrix. He could change things, alter reality with just a thought. He freed himself from the Matrix and saved the first Zionites.

“When he died, a very wise, old woman predicted that he would come back. She said that when he returned, he would destroy the Matrix once and for all. And Neo is that man.”

“How?” 

The innocent question made Trinity grimace. “To be honest, I don't really know. Neo doesn't know yet, either. It’s a kind of like… he has to delete all this software but without losing individual programs inside.”

“And it has to be an internal approach.” Anomaly half-asked, half-stated as Trinity sat down at the Core.

“It’s the only way to ensure the safety of everyone still plugged into the system.” She used her free hand, the one that wasn’t holding Anomaly to her side, to access the Construct.

“Is that even possible? To rescue everyone through the system? If you can't even translate the code, how can you use it large scale?”

“Neo… he can't translate the code, exactly-- but he can read it and understand it. When he’s in the Matrix, he can alter it. No one knows how, not even him. But he’s figuring it out. Everyday a little bit more.”

Anomaly’s lips parted in question. She looked up at Trinity, “So he’s the only person who can read the code? In the whole world?”

Trinity nodded.

 “That’s so sad.” She whispered and Trinity was overcome by the sorrow in Anomaly’s voice. “It all depends on him. He must feel…”

The weight of Anomaly’s words suffocated her, as the thought of Neo’s burden always did when it entered her mind. No amounts of scrapes or bruises or even the stray gunshot wound hurt like that morose refrain. She felt nauseous, like a knife was being twisted in her chest. Her throat felt swollen and she knew if she relaxed any that the tears would stream.

Trin ran her hand down Anomaly’s back. “So very scared.” She finished the thought. “It’s a lot of pressure but,” and she felt her own lips twitch, “Neo is so very strong. Stronger than he knows, stronger than anyone knows. He’s going to be okay, An.”

“Are you sure?” Came the soft reply.

“Very. You know why?”

Anomaly shook her head.

“Because I’m not going to let anything happen to him. He’s going to protect the world, and I’m going to protect him.”

“I can help.” Anomaly offered tentatively. “I can protect him, too.”

With no words to answer the offer, Trinity wrapped both arms around Anomaly and hugged her close. She pressed a kiss to her face.

In her mind, she saw Ghost. A younger Ghost, whose face was still soft and hairless. The boy, not much older than her, who made even the worst days in the real world special.

Ghost, she smiled. Who linked arms with her in the halls, who let her rest her head on his shoulder when she was exhausted after a long day of classes and training and all the extra works she put in so that she would move through the ranks quicker. Who would hold her through the bad nights when memories of her family, of her sister prevented her from sleep. He would hold her hand all night and never make a move, even jokingly, like Sparks or Tank would have.

“I hate this place!” That’s what she had told him after returning from her first deployment on the Neb. His door had only cracked open when she started yelling. “All of it! I hate the ships, I hate the city, I hate these small rooms that barely give you the space to breathe! I want out but there’s nowhere to go!”

“What happened?” Ghost had asked as she had pushed into his room.

“What happened is that we take kids away from all that they’ve ever known and then we dump them to get on by themselves. It doesn’t matter if they’re nine or fifteen, they’re still kids. We’re still kids! We’re still kids and, it doesn’t matter what situation we were in, they just take us away and then leave us on our own like it doesn’t fucking matter!”

“You know that the Matrix is a lie…”

“Yes, but it’s a lie they know. It’s a lie we all know. It’s a safe lie. And then we pull them out of it and force them to wake up on a tiny, cold, disgusting ship. Then, when we finally get them someplace warm and safe and away from machines trying to kill them, we abandon them. Drop them off, fill out some paperwork and that’s it. How is that okay, Ghost?”

“It has to be done. We can’t just leave people in the Matrix.”

“Bringing them here and abandoning them isn't a solution, Ghost.”

“There isn't a solution, period. Right now, Zion and everyone… They're just trying to save as many people as they can.”

“What's the point of saving them if they're just going to be abandoned?”

“It's the only shot they've got, Trin.” She had open her mouth to argue when Ghost held up a hand and said, “For now. It won't always be like this. You should know; you spend half your free time pouring over that prophesy.”

She had crossed her arms tightly across her chest, still fuming . “I can't support this, Ghost. Good Intentions or not, it's immoral. It's exactly the kind of thing that we are supposed to be fighting; using people. We traded lives as batteries for lives of soldiers but we still aren't free.”

“You can walk away. You have that option. You can do any number of things in Zion; you don't have to be a soldier. But you want to be one. You chose to be; you're good at it. I've seen you in the Construct. Trin, you're amazing. Its why Morpheus and Ballard and Roland all fought over you.”

Trinity had collapsed onto his bed, resting her elbows on her knees and her head in her hands. “I… I was meant to be a soldier. At least for now but I thought… I thought it would be more fighting in the Matrix and less comforting kids who miss their beds and friends and lives. I didn't think there would be so much pain.”

Ghost had closed his eyes and nodded, suddenly acting as if he understood her, “it isn't your fault,” he had said, “Their pain isn't your fault.”

“I took them out of their homes, away from their lives.”

“To give them a shot at life.”

“To abandon them.”

“Trinity, there's only so much you can do. So you can't ensure that all these kids are going to have perfect lives in the real world but because of you they at least have a legitimate shot.”

“And that’s enough?”

Ghost had sat down next to her. “Of course not. But it’s a start.” His arm had looped over her shoulders, “You’re allowed to take it one day at a time when you’re saving the world.”

And Trinity had let out a humorless laugh and buried her head into Ghost’s shoulder. “I wonder if the One will be offered so much leniency.” And she had sighed, “I feel useless. Helpless, even.”

“You thought you would be doing more.”

“No. Not really. I was a kid in the system; I know how it goes. And I knew that I was going in to help. I just… I didn’t think it would hit me so hard, not being able to help more.”

“You help enough.” When Trinity rolled her eyes, Ghost insisted, “You do. And you’re making a difference, even if it isn’t the difference you’d like to make. You want my advice or the advice of Kant?”

“Yours.”

“Be patient.”

Trinity had snorted in response. “And Kant’s?”

“Look closely. The beautiful may be small.”

A silence fell between them. “I’m sorry, what?”

“What you’re doing for these kids, even if you can’t do everything that you want to do for them, is good. More than that, it’s beautiful. You won’t find perfection in this job but that doesn’t mean that your accomplishments are not remarkable.” He had kissed her forehead. “Maybe one day you’ll even realize that .”

 

Trinity blinked, Anomaly’s offer still lingering between them.

The beautiful was, indeed, small and Trinity was overwhelmed by it.

She had, of course, known that Ghost was right. She had figured out, on her own, that it was important to save as many people as she could even if she could not give them a perfect life. But Anomaly’s words caused her body to become inexplicably cold, so tense that her skin was almost singing. 

And Trinity was overwhelmed. Kindness. It was different from her own brand of kindness-- it wasn’t someone looking at the world and seeing injustice and wanting to fix it. It was on such a smaller scale and yet so much more powerful than her and Morpheus and Link and Tank and Dozer.

Anomaly wasn’t trying to make a better future that would, ultimately, benefit herself.

It was a selfless, sacrificing promise. A promise which wouldn’t create a better future for her; only Neo.

Neo made those kinds of promises.

They were the promises that were meant only for her .

Sure, I’ll save the world. But I’m doing it for you. To make you safe; to make you happy.  Because that was just who Neo was.

And it hit her hard; impossibly hard. The man who had been prophesized to save the world  And it took realizing what Anomaly was prepared to do for Neo to understand what Neo was prepared to do for her .

“Oh, sweet girl.” Trinity wrapped both arms around the little girl. “My darling girl. You don’t need to protect him-- but I’m sure he would appreciate whatever love you can give him.”

Anomaly snuggled into Trinity’s arms. “I can do that.”