FANDOM: TRON: Legacy
SUMMARY: Cycles pass and Tron worries that Flynn has lost his mind.
PAIRINGS: Tron/Kevin Flynn slash, Sam/Quorra
WARNINGS: Some slashy adult situations, language.
SPOILERS: Um, for Tron and Tron: Legacy
FEEDBACK: Would be appreciated
THANKS: To amet because she encourages me way too much & for beta-ing.
Author's Notes: And then there were two. I started writing this fic almost as soon as I finished the prequel. There's going to be another story with Sam, Quorra, Alan and the outer world crew (with some Kevin) that will run concurrently to what's going on in this fic and then hopefully everyone will meet back up because again, the end here? Total set up. Hopefully this will not be me getting ahead of myself. In the meantime, er, I'm enjoying the productivity.
Cycles pass and Tron worries that Flynn has lost his mind.
The former User’s mood is manic these days, flitting from one inch of their slowly forming landscape to another, taking his time as Flynn likes to say. This seems to mean spending inordinate amounts of care what certain rocks look like, sometimes whole attoseconds passing on the tiniest pebble. Tron supposes he should feel awed, humbled to witness wholesale creation, something that is beyond his orderly protocols. Instead, Tron finds himself pondering the inherent wrongness in this situation.
His first thought had been that he would have to restrain Flynn from rushing about to create other denizens for their new world, to remind him that shelter would have to be built, and the landscape made more habitable. Flynn is what Users would term ‘gregarious,’ a word he now knows thanks to the ever evolving set of improvements Sam seems bent on giving him, even as he tried to explain to the boy that as a security program, he had no need for such things as a dictionary sub-routine. Sam just laughs, says it will help him with his father though as far as Tron can see all it does is giving him a bigger vocabulary with which to fret. He likes that word in particular, the short, practical sound of it and the preciseness of its meaning.
Tron is fretting now, watching Flynn frown at a particular mound of dirt, programming it to rise up taller than his head before causing it to sink back down. Flynn sits down hard, crossing his arms and legs, staring at the now smooth ground as if it has done something to personally offend him. Checking his internal clock, he is startled to find that Flynn hasn’t made a sound in cycles, perhaps too intent on the work being done and Tron too occupied worrying about Flynn to strike up a conversation.
That is … not good. Gregarious (and he sounds that out silently) former Users need conversation and company. This is not a task Tron feels himself to be wholly suited to, already antsy because he has yet to make a run of the perimeter, to reassure his code that they are secure. They are, of course, as Sam has yet to hook them up to anything beyond a power source, boxed in as Flynn likes to say but there are other issues, bugs or fractured codes to worry about. Things unexpected and unseen, like viruses though Quorra is exceptional in her care to make sure everything is scanned and scanned again before it enters their world.
“Right,” Flynn is up again, circling his mound and crossing his arms, still glaring down as if he would like nothing more than to obliterate the entire thing.
Perhaps he will. Sam has made such things within his father’s power, has assured Tron that there is nothing to hold Flynn back from peopling this place. Quorra has and continues to study the information disc they used to retrieve and rebuild Kevin, all those unique signatures that made Flynn himself added back strand by strand. Tron believes there is more to it than that, having met more evolved programs before, through Alan1 and none of them can do anything like Kevin Flynn. None of them could bring life to a virtual desert through sheer force of will; that’s always be the province of the Users and it humbles him that somehow in this lessened state, Flynn has maintained that grace.
“Is there a problem?” Tron asks, sidles over to stand next to Flynn, running a quick scan of his own but – no, it’s just a normal bit of data, a bland pixel.
“You bet there’s a problem. This dirt isn’t lumpy enough.”
“I – Pardon?”
“My dirt. It lacks lumps. Too uniform. Too dry. I was thinking about carving a replica of the Grand Canyon but this whole sector is full of subpar dirt. You think I can make the Grand Canyon out of this –“
“Hell, no,” Flynn grumbles then stubs his toe in the offending mass. “It’d look shoddy. Can’t have shoddy workmanship. I mean, can you imagine trying to troubleshoot a collapsing canyon?”
Tron cannot but it’s evident Flynn can and it makes him peevish (Tron makes a mental note to disable that aggressive word select function as it’s starting to irritate him).
“Perhaps Sam could provide you reference material for what would be suitable dirt for such an endeavor?”
The response is immediate, Flynn’s mouth drooping further and Tron has come to recognize the obstinate (/cease dictionary function) set of his features. “Nah. Nah. Can’t have him think his old man’s going soft. It’s just frustrating, yanno? Because we – I did this before and this time I can’t seem to get my act together.”
Thinking about this for a nanosecond, Tron offers a tentative thought, “Perhaps you are uninspired.”
It’s the wrong thing to say, Flynn straightening with a laugh, slapping Tron’s arm in a way that lacks comfort. “Oh please. Even snoozing I’m inspired. I’m just – having an off day. With subpar dirt.”
His thoughts must show on his face, Flynn scrunching his nose and grabbing Tron’s arm, using it to pull him close and cling in that odd manner the former User seems prone to now. “Don’t gimme that look, man. I’ll figure it out. In the meantime – dirt! Away!”
It’s disconcerting to watch part of the landscape fade, with nothing left behind but blank space, dark and misty around the edges, as if someone had torn a chunk out of the world which is roughly what Flynn has done. Stranger still to find himself standing in a gauzy hole, the ground Flynn had built for them no match for his whims.
Those whims are what worry him the most. They worry Sam as well and he thinks this is why his User is now tinkering with his protocols again, boosting him with more upgrades. This system responds to Kevin Flynn, coded to his thoughts and desires. He can do as he likes with it so long as it remains benign and Tron – Tron is the safeguard in case it doesn’t. Neither of them speak of it, Flynn as aware as Tron is that it is within the security program’s power to end everything here, to pull the so-called plug on all these things if it looks as if Flynn is losing his way. If – if it looks like he might go the way of Clu and Tron feels so disloyal at the thought, disgruntled with Sam Flynn for having put the worry there in the first place.
Can’t be too careful, wasn’t that the User saying? Tron thought he might have been happier with the illusion such things were unnecessary but then perhaps that was where things had gone wrong last time.
Looking over his friend, Tron pats the hand hooked in his elbow, gratified when Flynn seems to snap out of it, grinning again and dragging him along as they went haring off towards another patch of space, babbling out multiple ideas, each more grandiose than the last. It’s a shadow of Flynn’s old energy and Tron is grateful for it even as he’s seized by the notion that it won’t last.
A fraction of the city has been carved out, rising spires of pulsing blue light and airy wire, their design more fanciful than practical but with Flynn, Tron has learned to appreciate the beauty of such things. Frames without solid form, translucent unfinished coding visible when they draw near, a few domiciles and buildings so close to completion that Tron can finds himself hypothesizing on how it will look when Flynn adds that one last algorithm or three and – somehow Flynn always does the most unexpected thing of all, some detail that changes the entire configuration of the work without lessening it. This is Flynn’s gift, the traces of his User heritage that make him so much more than what any of them expect.
The I/O tower looms equidistant to where they are standing, the beacon glowing in the dim horizon. Were Sam arriving, their sky would reflect that change, trickling with the raw power and energy of the User’s transformation. The light shadows oddly on Flynn’s features in those moments, his expression always unreadable and Tron – He finds it frustrating that he is so bad at this. Unable to make the proper correlations of mood and behavior when Flynn is quieter, almost relieved when the humor starts because he can recognize that smokescreen for what it is.
Sam is not coming this evening; he tries to visit as often as possible, sometimes consecutive nights when he can make it but his life is out there in the User world. With Quorra and Alan1, with ENCOM which surely needs his guiding hand and though it pains Sam, pains Flynn, their time is stolen. Neither speak of it when together, Tron always finding something else to occupy himself, watching them at a distance. Both are subdued after such visits and sometimes – sometimes they argue. About things that don’t matter, about things that can’t be changed, wrangling and wrangling until Quorra herself will send Tron messages about Sam being impossible, as if she expects he can empathize, will want share his experiences with Flynn. He tries to offer her clumsy consolation but he keeps his side of the experience to himself, feeling an intense loyalty to Flynn, not wishing to say or do something that would cause Flynn distress if he were to find out.
Flynn is working again; apparently towers are easier to manage than canyons, long fingers working, weaving glowing code through the air and the light bends to the former User’s will, twists into the shapes he desires. It’s obvious that Flynn is not working on a plan that he is creating through feeling, thought taking him where it will. It makes for interesting buildings, some low to the ground, exploding in different directions like the representations of chrysanthemums Quorra sent through, Flynn making an off-hand comment about how they were his favorite. Others rise and rise, to thin spires that then tendril, weaving into the air, finding connection to other buildings or clawing at the nothing skies. The air sings with redirected energy, warming around them and it’s fresh. New. It leaves Tron silent, overawed as he takes it all in and at the same time, proud. So immeasurably proud of Flynn, of the wonders he has wrought and will continue to create. Humbled that he is privy to the process.
A little bewildered too, in those moments when Flynn will look up and wink at him, as if he senses what’s going through Tron’s mind. Perhaps he does. He has long learned not to put anything past Kevin Flynn.
Tron cannot help but worry again, at what it means that Kevin will raise buildings, will pause in the shaping of a window to twirl fingers over the ground and bring glistening flowers to fruition but these towers are empty, devoid of anything except the low hum of energy. Devoid of life except in those hushed moments when they speak. Flynn must want company; he clings and prattles at Tron easily enough, Tron learning to recognize what ‘neediness’ looks like and selfish as it is, Tron enjoys the attention. Enjoys it while fretting and castigating himself for not pushing the subject, one of his logic subroutines positing that once there are more programs about, Flynn will not need to cling so hard to him.
It’s a subroutine he has learned to despise and yet somehow it has become louder over time.
It takes time and more coaxing than even Tron is willing to admit that he’s capable of before he convinces Flynn to retire, to pretend he will rest. Their abode is the only place on the landscape in this sector that’s fully realized, away from the glowing city they spend so much of their time raising. Flynn is continually tinkering with it but there are walls to shelter them from the sudden weather that sparks outside, more of a reflection of Flynn’s mood than his friend would admit. There are walls and furniture, a chess board in front of a simulated fire, Tron finding the game pleasing in its logic even if Flynn has bested him as often as he has the former User.
“It’s not all logic,” Flynn would laugh and waggle a finger at him, “Sometimes it’s about sheer, dumb luck and intuition.”
“Those are User qualities I am not endowed with.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I mean, how do you know something is a threat to the system? What makes you check things out?”
“I have a list of protocols and commands that ensure that I can identify such issues.”
Flynn would roll his eyes in those moments, leaning forward as if he were trying to impart a secret. “Yeah. Those things tell you how to deal with the problem but what makes you /look/ in the first place?”
Tron has yet to find a suitable answer to that, at least one that Flynn cannot poke hole in.
Chess is not an option this evening. Nor is meditation, an exercise that seems to jar with the things he knew about Kevin Flynn, the stillness with which he can sit for hours, cross-legged and withdrawn seem at odds with the boundless energy, the ferocity which Flynn approaches every task, every obstacle. Those moments of serenity are trials of reassessment for Tron, falling into a trance of his own as he studies these moods, learns the set of Flynn’s back and the way his hands rest against his thighs just so, head held straight. Flynn breathes in those moments, an impossible improbability, forced and when Tron asks about it, he is given a shrug, almost sheepish.
“Helps me center, I guess. I haven’t exactly got a heartbeat anymore to listen to. I can still force the action of breathing so long as I’m not thinking too hard on it,” Flynn had scratched the side of his nose, making a face and then changed the subject before Tron could continue the discussion.
It’s a marking, one of those things like Sam, that Tron never got to witness, is only now learning, each little detail Flynn reveals of himself leaving the program yearning for more, unsettled that there are things he doesn’t know, things that don’t match up with the irrepressible picture he’s always had of Kevin Flynn. Like the way Flynn’s eyes darken at random moments, unfocused and withdrawn, searching within, seeing something he can’t or won’t share with Tron, expression as old, weighted as Dumont’s had been back in the old Mainframe.
Now Flynn is restless as he walks around their living space, the walls changing color as he passes by, black to white to a lighter shade that might be pink if Flynn weren’t already telling Tron it wasn’t pink, reacting to an answer Tron hasn’t given and the walls go dull brown again. The former User then flits to the shelves, looking over the library Sam is continually updating for them, frowning and his fingers drift over the spine of books before even that too seems to pale.
This behavior is erratic, almost rampantly so and given that Flynn’s default state is more contained chaos, it speaks volumes for the state of his agitation, Tron giving up and catching his wrist. That seems to startle Flynn, causes him to lean over the chair Tron is occupying, sheepish.
“I’m not great company tonight, am I?” Flynn says, rubbing the back of his neck and sitting on the arm of the chair.
“You are stressed.” Tron does not say it in a way that leaves room for argument; it’s a tactic he has learned to use sparingly with Flynn.
“That’s one way of putting it. I guess. Or yanno, maybe going a little crazy right now.”
That is not something Tron wants to hear, immediate in his response as he launches a deep scan, still startled that he can do this now with Flynn. That he can feel Flynn integrated into the rhythms of the datastream and code around them, feel him and recognize him in a way that’s alien. It’s because Flynn died as a User, his spirit now a literal ghost in the machine, preserved by the skill and luck of the User deities and Sam Flynn’s own determination. Flynn is as much a program as Tron now but it’s not something that sits well with Tron, his reverence for the man too ingrained.
No. No, that’s not right either. Flynn is a program but he is also something else, something Other and whether that’s simply misfiring preceptors or affection on his own part, Tron cannot decide.
“Incorrect,” Tron replies, straightening in his seat, the book in his lap forgotten. “Your systems are functioning within acceptable parameters –“
“Joke. Joke, Tron. Me, Kevin. Friend,” Flynn shakes his head then tilts it, “So should I ask how many times you’ve done that today? Don’t think I haven’t seen the lemon sucking face, man.”
“Lemon? It’s a fruit out in the User world –“
“I understand what a lemon is,” Tron interrupts and that still leaves him a little uneasy, Kevin so much more and it doesn’t feel right to presume.
“What? The face? Your face gets all scrunchy and frowny when you’re worried,” Flynn draws in the air above Tron’s face, scrunching his own features up helpfully. “Or overthinking or – well, you are Mr. Frowny Pants most of the time anyway but there’s a – worried thing. That you do. When you’re, you know, worried.”
It is, Tron supposes, an opening and one he’s both long for and dreaded, seeing in it so many volatile possibilities.
He closes the book, sets it aside and turns, Flynn adjusting for that, peering down at him and the angle is close, intimate or so that infernal subroutine suggests despite all efforts to shush it. Tron worries for Flynn because they are friends, because there is a bond between them that cannot be broken or diminished having faced down so many obstacles between them. It is natural to study and meditate on Flynn, who he has been given charge of by the former User’s own son. It is natural to be hyper-focused when there is no one and nothing else to watch over in this burgeoning Grid.
Lie, says the subroutine and Tron tries not to despair over that function, more insidious than that dictionary script.
“We have been building for cycles,” Tron begins, at the beginning which is the most logical, stalling place, “Building and tearing down. Then building anew. You’ve created marvels.”
“You’re gonna make me blush, you keep this up.”
“Do you not wish to share it with someone?” Tron asks.
It’s the wrong thing to say, he can see it. Can see it in the darkening of Flynn’s features, in the stiffness that creeps in, and Tron casts about for what untoward word he uttered.
“Kind of thought I was,” Flynn says stiffly, shifting, easing away a fraction. “Hey, if you’re getting tired of hanging out, it’s not like I’m trying to keep you from whatever those security things are you do. Patrolling. Stuff.”
“Flynn,” Tron tries, “I am not bored. I could not be bored with you but I fear that you need more suitable company than a security program.”
He’s done it again, said something else to affect Flynn’s mercurial mood though this time the expression is less damaged and more – open. Almost hungry and Tron’s seen that look slanted at him before, when Flynn thinks he is not looking. Tried to decipher it, ignored that particular logic subroutine, and puzzled over it more.
“Yanno, you need to make up your mind,” Flynn shakes his head. “You’re either sweet-talking or slamming me. Is this a security program thing? Playing all hard to get to see if I’ll chase you down?”
Tron opens his mouth, closes it. Stares. “I beg your pardon.”
“Or you could be a little dumb,” Flynn concedes. “I mean, Alan created you and he’s got all the emotional sensibility of a stone sometimes. Always kind of wondered if Lora made the first move there.”
Flynn is trying to distract him, to possibly annoy him by making cutting comments about Alan1 and for once, Tron refuses to rise to the bait. “I fail to see how my asking if you desired more company leads into a discussion of my User’s romantic entanglements.”
“Is that a ‘I see what you did there, Kevin Flynn, knock it off’ moment?”
Flynn chuckles, reaching up to rub the back of his neck. “You’ve been spending too much time talking to Quorra.”
There’s a pause and then –
“I’m afraid. I mean, that’s part of the reason I haven’t bothered to try writing programs yet. Afraid I won’t be able to do it. Or what it’ll mean if I can’t, of who that makes me now. Afraid I’ll fuck up and we’ll have Clu the Sequel running around if it I can. You weren’t around for the first act of My Royal Screwing Up but it was pretty epic. I didn’t just fail, I bombed, man. Innocent lives were lost because I was too blinded by my own greatness to see what was happening around me.”
Tron considers this, considers the things he knows and the beliefs he has always held in regard to Users. Flynn has shattered quite of few of those misconceptions while still managing to make Tron maintain faith in him.
“And because you failed the once – you no longer wish to try again? Then to what purpose are we doing all this?”
“Hell, if I know,” Flynn admits. “I mean, I thought about it. Adding more people. Still do but then I get – I don’t know. I get a little freaked out by it. “
He offers Tron a crooked smile. “Maybe I just don’t want to share you.”
As a security program, Tron has a basic skill set, one that can be reconfigured and upgraded but his primary focus has always been on the protection of his system and carrying out the will of the Users. The enormity of Flynn’s statement, coupled with all those little looks and bits of conversation that he has been previously (ignoring, says that pert subroutine) unable to decipher hits. It hits and sinks in, blinking as the pieces line up, start to make sense with the kind of logic only a User would appreciate, eyes widening.
“Now you’re catching on,” Flynn murmurs.
Before Tron can think of anything else to say, there are hands on his shoulders and Flynn’s face is close, close enough to bring to the forefront that fierce ache, Tron tilting his face and it’s not electric when their mouths connect. Its better, wet and hungry, a hint of tongue that probes his upper lip, drawing a shiver from him and a chuckle from Flynn, balanced as precariously as he is on the chair arm. The angle is perfect but his protocols worry that Flynn will slip, perhaps land wrong and as it is his duty to protect his companion, Tron makes the necessary decision.
That it ends with him pulling Flynn off the chair arm and into his lap is a moot point.
Once there, it’s hard to make up his mind what to do with a lapful of Flynn, the other making a noise of surprise before snickering, pushing his advantage when Tron doesn’t resist, tongue sliding into the seam of the security program’s lips, pushing inward. This is a kiss, a custom of affection shared amongst Users. Yori had shown him such a long time ago, before their duties pulled them in different directions but Yori’s kiss had been sweet, almost innocent. It lacked the raw, aggression of the way Flynn’s mouth moved over his, pleasure sparking in a cascade over his circuits. Yori had been soft, supple where Flynn was solid muscle and angles, his warmth seeming to soak into Tron, a palpable thing. There had never been this depth of response with Yori, no desire to worship and possess as he felt so strongly in his code at this moment. Kevin Flynn was infuriating but some stray script within recognized him as Tron’s, his deep-seated need to protect now focused in a different way.
It’s over sooner than Tron would like, Flynn catching his bottom lip with sharp teeth, drawing another shuddery quiver from his circuits before Flynn eases back, taking a moment to make himself more comfortable as he curls closer, Tron adjusting without thought.
“So,” Flynn smiles, eyes brighter than they have been in cycles, almost mischevious. “I want to say it took you long enough but then I’d have to throw that at myself because I was a damn fool for even longer than you’ve been. Worth it though. Definitely worth it.”
“Yes,” Tron agrees, addled subroutines and protocols scrambling, trying to make sense of this and when that fails, reverting back to the primary directive and there’s not much safer Kevin can be pressed against him like this. “You make a convincing argument, Kevin Flynn, for solitude but –“
There’s a groan and Tron smoothes his hand over Flynn’s spine, paying attention to the way the muscles jump then shift under his thought, the little stutter of sound that wrings from the former User. Pays attention and catalogues it for further use later.
“It does not change the fact that you need company other than myself as you are not the type of User who thrives on his own.”
Tron presses his lips against Kevin’s chin, up to the corner of his mouth taking advantage of the tacit permission he’s been given, before he murmurs, “Your creation comes from interaction, from the joy of being with others. In seeing what they will do and what could happen. If there is nothing else I have learned, it is this much about you, Kevin Flynn.”
“And if I make another really big screw up?”
“Then we will find a way around it. We defeated the MCP and according to Sam, in the end all our efforts defeated Clu. Together, with purpose, there is nothing we cannot achieve.”
“Very inspirational. Been reading the Boy Scouts handbook, have we?”
“Negative. What I know of Users – of human beings, I have learned from you. If creating your own programs is too daunting then why not ask Quorra or Sam Flynn for help in this task?”
They would help, Tron is certain of that but he can see the denial, the refusal in Flynn’s features, shutting down even as he lowers his face to bump against Tron’s shoulder before shifting to straddle Tron, inquisitive fingers sliding over his armor. He can feel the manipulation there, the way Flynn is reaching deeper within him, reshaping the information being fed to him bringing the first stirrings of heat and pleasure in each pulse of his circuits, code reacting to whatever it is Flynn is doing to him. It brings sensation into sharp focus, distracted and pleasantly so by the way his scripts seize up, little shivers of heat that following the wake of feather light touch, aware of Flynn on a different level now. Aware of how close they are, sitting like this, Flynn watching his reactions in fascination before his hand slips again, finds a new spot to caress, to nudge the coding of Tron’s circuits into reaction. Aware of the way the former User’s hips are pressed against his, knees on either side of Tron’s legs, his own hand slipping, drawn to the hollow he can feel beneath Flynn’s clothing, spine tapering off and he can appreciate the flimsy User garments his companion favors in a way he never has before.
“Flynn –“Amazing that his voice can sound so high, so unsteady. As if his voice modulation is failing, diverting as little energy into investigating that as Tron can manage.
“Can we table this for now?” Flynn sounds breathless, Tron wondering if it is simply ingrained memory that causes that, his hands finding the former User’s hips as they lift up, almost afraid Flynn is preparing to pull himself away –
Tron doesn’t know what to call it when Flynn does no such thing, when he instead settles more firmly against the program, fingers behind his neck, playing with the hairs there, sending another shudder through his circuits, sensors going unsteady, teased into distraction. They just manage to keep up with the fact Flynn is still moving in short breaks against him, even as Flynn continues his shameless tweaking, yanking reactions through the sure tap of his fingers at the right clusters of code, little explosions of color and sound dampening Tron’s perceptions. His responses and the pressure between them when Flynn tries to keep up with that, wrings little frustrated noises from Flynn and Tron doesn’t know where to put his hands, petting and feeling clumsy, a little panicked because this is beyond his script, the language unknown.
“Relax,” Flynn purrs, nuzzling into his throat before his face is close – so close again, mouths grazing, almost there and this User custom is something Tron is eager to adopt. “This is probably a little more organic than you’re used to, certainly a little more technical than I’m used to but I bet the steps are pretty easy once we get the hang of it.”
Tron is used to evasion and pursuit tactics; they are part of his programming but it occurs to him that the more he pursues this topic, the more Flynn will feint his efforts, unwilling or perhaps unready for this conversation, smiling with everything but his eyes, clinging still but … If this is a battle, something he desires to win, to prove to his companion, forcing the issue will not win the day. It will only serve to push Flynn away and that’s not something he desires in this microsecond.
“I waited a long time for this,” Flynn leans over him, Tron’s hands finding his hips, trying to steady him and the former User smirks at him. “I figure we’ll try it my way and you can show me yours and then ... Then we’ll see if we can’t make them come together. That work?”
“Yes,” Tron manages before Flynn retakes his mouth, organic passion that makes his visual receptors spark and sensors shudder.
Discussion becomes the farthest thing from his thoughts.
The house is quiet when Tron untangles, limb by limb, Kevin taking a care to make that as difficult as possible, the security program easing away with furtive kisses and wandering fingers. Tron learns fast, adapts new knowledge to practical use and he’s ruthless, testing and somehow still able to walk away even after the results please him. He knows better than to protest, rolling onto his side to watch as Tron readies himself, sliding plates of armor into his body suit, checking and then rechecking the disk on his back, darting glances at Kevin during the process. Neither of them says anything and Kevin’s grateful for that reprieve, intent on watching and trying to parse out the thoughts crowding each other. There’s still a system to patrol out there, empty and barren as it is; there is still Tron’s overwhelming drive to protect them – protect him to pull them apart, to drag his lover (and that’s weird just thinking let alone saying) away and there’s as much relief in that as there is annoyance.
There are things he misses, like sweat and the warmth of what a body should feel like next to his, of falling asleep with a heartbeat loud in his ears and the sound of breathing. Tron is cool and perfect; a near silent whir of code interacting, programmed alchemy at its finest and it takes some getting used to. Having sex is now no longer simply a mindless messy experience, the human body working off finely tuned instincts and receptors, the involuntary workings that can’t be catalogued the way Kevin can now, able to analyze and sort out each individual response. There’s thinking now, always thinking even in those moments when he would like nothing more to submerge and escape. The effort is worth it, if only for the way Tron bends to the ministrations of each little tweak to his coding, worth it even as Kevin finds that ability to change the program’s sensations, his reactions, a little overwhelming after the fact. Almost as disturbing as how much he enjoys the challenge, the heady sensation that he could make Tron feel anything, everything, Kevin wants. He could /program/ in the action and reaction that would make him the perfect partner and – Just the realization of that leaves him cold, feeling like a complete bastard.
Tron is a program (hell, he’s one now too, right?) and programs are imparted knowledge through code and design. How many times before had he created so carelessly, changed those things he hadn’t liked or allowed Clu to redesign to his heart’s content, to repurpose and where had that led to? Tron is a program but he’s more than that to Kevin, as much a person, as real as Alan or Sam, just as Kevin had seen, had loved (and did love) Quorra as much as if she had been his own flesh and blood. As proud of her accomplishments, the little strides she took as if he were her father. Alan had given Tron his base code, had shaped his initial configuration but experience had as much to do with that as continual patches and upgrades. Those things hadn’t given Tron his personality, the loyalty and depth of responsibility, the feelings that he inspired in Kevin. It was something else, some touch that was beyond even a washed up, ex-User.
He can’t quite shake the conviction that were he to start fiddling with Tron’s code, changing little things about him to be just right he would be no better than Clu. Better to upgrade himself though that too, leaves him with the quandary of moving even farther away from what he was, becoming less human if any part of him can be thought of as that now.
It’s part of why he can’t bring himself to attempt other programs, not yet. Not until he has this – this fear worked out, put into its proper prospective. Kevin did such a great job last time taking care of those people he created, letting down their faith and hopes in him. Letting Clu destroy something beautiful in all its imperfections because Kevin himself was too narrow to see the whole picture until it was too late. He’s no longer the Creator, careless and so damned all knowing, dancing out of every possible scrape, seeing all the angles, until the one he hadn’t seen had smacked him square in the face. Knocked him out of the game and nearly let the world outside as well as his own be consumed by the taint of passed on ambitions.
He’ll figure it out. He has to. Kevin reaches for his disc and turning it over in his hands as Tron lets himself out. In the outside world, there might have been more of a scene, more reassurances that this isn’t some random one night stand. Promise I’ll be back before you know it. Kevin doesn’t need those reassurances. This is Tron and for him not to come back – it would have to involve derezzing. Or repurposing and Kevin grimaces, throwing his legs over the side and peeling himself off the sofa. He’s sore in all the right places (and a few he’s never dreamed were erogenous zones) feet soundless as he stumbles over to one of the windows. Tron’s a blur of white and blue streaks, the color imprinting on his eye, able to break down now each individual shade and hue of his signature before the security program vanishes.
Rubbing his eye, Kevin leans against one of the walls, fingers pushes against the air, a few quick jabs to recode the window length, as long as he is tall now, angled more towards where Tron’s vehicle vanishes into the darkness. The surrounding windows adjust accordingly, the house shifting shape to accommodate this new alteration. He contemplates for an instant, glass or simply beams of light, the outline of a shape like a fishbowl, exposing the interior to the world, the illusion of being able to see all the angles a tantalizing fiction Kevin then dismisses.
“What are you doing, Flynn?” Kevin mutters, “Do you even know?”
It’s hard not to linger on might have been, on the past and the taste of those things threatens to sour his mood completely. Wanting Tron, that’s been something he’s lived with for cycles and cycles, growing older, bent under the grief of so much gone wrong, not the least of which was never telling his best friend that hey, yanno, I kind of dig you. Like a lot. It’s become part of him, a longing nursed and nursed, consigned to never being satisfied because Tron died or so Kevin thought, felled by the hand of his own creation.
Having Tron, this Tron, unsullied by the corruption Kevin unleashed on the Grid, fresh and almost as dewy-eyed as that day he had stolen the other Tron from Alan… He doesn’t deserve it, feels pretty stupid but can’t seem to shake that notion. Or the idea that this is all going to come crashing down on their heads.
But those moments when Tron looks at him, just so and with such faith, Kevin wants things to be different. To prove that he can live up to that trust. He’s not worthy and he’s terrified of where that’s gonna lead them.
Toeing the silver and white Zafu pillow, Kevin drops down into a cross-legged position with a huff, hands clenching around his knees as he straightens his back. Meditation comes more with more difficulty these days, fatalism robbing more hope from him than even his doppelganger had. In some ways things had been easier with Clu, concentrating more on the mistakes of the program’s birth, of his own improper wording, the infantile desires he had gifted Clu with. The aftermath of that, of being dead and then reconstituted, the uncertain state of his being and what it meant for those around him, that’s much harder to unravel.
Trying to carry on as if he didn’t feel or care about the expectations of those closest to him, Kevin is aware that he owes it to them to pull his shit together. Aware that put off or not, last night’s conversation would come again and then again, glib remarks and great sex is only going to go so far before Tron takes it into his head to get an answer.
It is Quorra who intervenes before their discussion can reach its inevitable (to Tron at least) conclusion, the I/O tower crackling as a signal is sent. He receives a private transmission as Flynn straightens from the simulated Zen rock garden he is arranging, lines drawn in perfect white sand that Tron can’t identify but Flynn insists are waves. Flynn is less restless this cycle though they have achieved more exploration with each other than actual building, Tron trying to work out the best strategy for tackling the subject of company, of other programs to populate this world that they’re trying to build, discarding one tactic before moving to weigh another.
’Tell Flynn he can thank me later.’ Quorra’s message says, blazes like quicksilver across his vision before subsiding into ominous silence.
Tron slips off the overhang he’s perched on since he rejoined Flynn after patrolling, concentrating as he launches a scan and finds –
“Life forms,” he cautions Flynn. “Three programs.”
Flynn utters a bitten off User curse, Tron somewhat amused by that, more anxious though about what this means, what it will mean for Flynn. For them.
They make haste to the tower, finding a pair of young programs and one that is little more than a child. The male comes first, hesitant and just ahead of his companions, as if he fears they have encountered a threat. Tron extends his arms, palms held upward in peace, making side calculations about the needed trajectory of his disc and possible take downs should this be some sort of trick. The child peers at him in awe, wide-eyed and clinging to the older female.
Overtly they give no indication of ill-will and there is nothing Tron can discern from them, of possible defenses or offense and he is prepared to welcome them, to question their purpose when –
“Greetings, Programs,” Flynn speaks up, sounds cheerful as he slaps a hand on Tron’s shoulder, squeezing though he detects faint trembling beneath the fingers there. “Welcome to our happy little homestead. I am Flynn and the grumpy one is Tron.”
Flynn eases forward, squats a ways in front of the child and in a loud whisper, “He’s a teddy bear, I promise.”
Tron rolls his eyes, attempting to smile even as he eyes the sudden rise of Flynn’s smile, watches him reach out to tweak the little program’s nose, the tenseness in his shoulders relaxing a fraction when she giggles. Wants to pull him away because what he senses, in that gut Flynn insists he has despite Tron’s arguments that such a thing is a User affectation, just as much dread as there is relief, the decision now taken from them both even if the responsibility is not.
Logic dictates that Flynn will adapt, that his gregarious nature will inevitably lead him to accept and indeed, embrace the newcomers. That it will spark his creativity and perhaps lead him to overcome the sense of fear that shadows his thoughts. Logic dictates but Tron has come to understand that logic does not always rule, not with Users.
And certainly not with Kevin Flynn.