FANDOM: TRON: Legacy
SUMMARY: From the look on Alan’s face, Sam can tell his old guardian is intrigued...
PAIRINGS: some light Tron/Kevin Flynn slash, Sam/Quorra
WARNINGS: Light slash, language
SPOILERS: Um, for Tron and Tron: Legacy
FEEDBACK: Would be appreciated
THANKS: To amet because she encourages me way too much.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This was totally unexpected, if not enjoyable. I'm already at work on the next story because the end of this one sort of demands it. XD;; All I can say is GO SEE THE MOVIE and again because it was fantastic and I am enjoying how much writing it's causing me to do. Also, any mistakes? Entirely my own.
Scattered Algorithms & Second Chances
From the look on Alan’s face, Sam can tell his old guardian is intrigued, adjusting then taking off his glasses as he swivels around in his chair. Alan swipes at them with a nearby tissue, lost in thought and for a second, Sam is able to deconstruct, to see past the crow’s feet and laugh lines painting Alan’s face, past the graying brown hair and the suit that’s a little too big for him. Can see past it and for just a second, Alan is /young/, younger maybe than Sam has ever seen him, hesitant and boyish, almost embarrassed.
“Tron? Are we talking about the game? You don’t have to ask me for the original of that. There’s a copy or three of it in the ENCOM vault. It and Space Paranoids. Seeing as they’re the cornerstones this company was built on, someone thought it might be a good idea they didn’t get lost.”
There’s amusement in that, Alan falling so easily from seriousness to smiling, as if reliving a private joke, one told ceaseless times and still finding it too funny for words.
“The program,” Sam corrects him, “Your old one? The one Dad based the game on.”
He says it with as much casual carelessness as he can muster, can never be too sure how much Dad told Alan about what really happened or about how close to the truth the Tron game really was. Alan’s never volunteered any information either, playing things close to the chest and whether that’s out of loyalty to his father or simply because he doesn’t know and wants to appear to have more information, is anyone’s guess.
Were Quorra here, she would point out he could simply ask. Alan had become a surrogate father after his father’s disappearance, he and Lora caring for Sam in that way only a childless but wanting couple could. They spent time regaling him with stories of his father when he asked, being there for all the important events in his life (including some he would just as soon forget), and sometimes acting as scolding parental figures when he really screwed up. Sam could ask and Alan might tell him but there’s a line there and Sam almost prefers the mystery of it, of wondering what gem about his father might come out of Alan Bradley’s mouth next.
Alan eases back in his chair, blue-grey eyes edging more towards steel as he peers over the top of his glasses at Sam. “That old thing? Now, why would you be interested in that? I’d ask how you knew about it but I can guess who told you. Most people don’t even have a clue about the game’s shady origins.”
A lesser man would have been angry, perhaps jealous of that. A lesser man might have demanded recompense or denounced Kevin Flynn for ripping them off, much in the same way Edward Dillinger ripped his father off. Not Alan though. Alan took things in stride, proud of Kevin, still believing in him and his son when most of the world had written them off.
“Interest for one. I’d love to take a look at the program that started it all. Dad said you were the best coder he ever met – outside of himself.”
Too sharp Alan, hearing reasons unspoken, Sam grinning a little wider, that charming smile his father had given him. “I might have a project I’m working on.”
“And it needs my old security program?”
“I need things to be very /secure/,” Sam thumped his chest, fingers passing over the tiny jump disk around his neck, watching Alan’s eyes fall there, alight with open curiosity now.
“Care to share the details?”
“Not yet. When it’s ready –“
Alan snorted, waved him off. “I’ve heard that one before. From your father about seventeen years ago, standing just as you are now, shifty and nearly bursting with excitement.”
That was a little surprising, that Dad had asked and not simply hacked Alan’s systems, downloading the program for his own.
“Shifty?” Sam contrived to look hurt.
“Uh huh, family trait,” There’s no bite to Alan’s words, they’re almost kind. “As it happens, I /do/ have the original program. Still runs the security on my private server. Can’t be too careful around this place. It’s been updated a time or three since your father last asked and the coding is a little … idiosyncratic these days. Totally jury-rigged or so I’m told by the programmer I let take a peek at it last year. It wouldn’t pass the muster for use with some of these modern browsers. Coding’s not neat enough anymore.”
There’s a touch of pride in Alan’s voice as he continues, “Still runs though. More powerful than most of the security programs out there even if my programming skills are ‘antiquated’ these days.”
“It’s for more of a personal project than something public. Might one day go that route but for now, I’m uh – wanting to tinker.”
“Tinker? And you need a security system for that?”
Sam raised his arms, shrugged and gave Alan a bland look. “Can’t be too careful around this place.”
He’s not surprised when Alan laughs, still obviously amused and very interested but not saying yes. Sam hopes he does because the idea of stealing from Alan leaves him uneasy, makes him feel almost like a criminal and that’s laughable considering all the shit he’s pulled in his life. This is different though than fucking over his own company; Alan’s family. Alan’s here and has always been there for him whether Sam wanted the man around or not. Sam really needed Alan to say yes because otherwise he was going to need to figure out a hell of an apology gift to ease his own conscience.
The chair crackles, old leather that’s creased and worn, that’s weathered a lot, just like Alan himself, badly in need of replacing (the way some of the board like to complain that Alan with his lofty ideals and eye on the public need rather than the bottom line needs to go) and Sam doesn’t even consider it, knowing Alan would turn him down anyway. He waits, forces himself to be still as Alan gives him another once over before reaching up to pass his fingers along a wall of jump drives, finding one and swiveling around to insert it into the laptop behind him.
“All right, all right. I never could stand that look. Your Dad used it as well. Fine. Keep me in the dark but only for a little while and Sam –“
Alan half-turns, levels a finger at him, serious now, “If this in anyway results in your disappearing for seventeen years, understand I will find a way to stay alive long enough to make your life hell when I track you down.”
Sam salutes, tries not to feel the lump forming in his throat, grateful and wishing again, as he does so many times a day whenever he crosses Alan’s path, that he could just tell Alan what happened to Dad, for all those moments Alan mentions him and then drifts, looking out a window or towards a door as if he expects Kevin Flynn to come walking back in.
It won’t happen. At least not in this level of reality. Somewhere else –
Well, Quorra’s working on that part of the equation. All those scattered algorithms and smashed code are hard to track down, even harder to sift through.
There’s a light in the distance, a still silence where there should be movement and the pulse of information. It’s different than his User’s server, a cozy confined space of reports and half-finished projects, programs that were completed but never released, Tron working as best as he could to keep those hidden secrets safe. He’s not sure what to make of this, subroutines performing a quick scan that tells him he’s been downloaded onto a hard drive, this one fresh, empty aside from a compressed archive file, locked information hidden beneath the frozen frame of a city, lacking speed and movement, an echo of what might have been.
It spooks him to see it, to feel a tinge of familiarity though his memory produces nothing. He takes a step, then pauses, realizes he can’t open it or wander through, no more than a User might walk through a painting. It needs a User to spark life into it, to give command and code, to open it so that it would thrive.
His peripheral scanners tell him, nonetheless, that he is not alone and Tron is not as surprised as he should be when he cranes his head, finds a young man sitting on a bit of upraised code, hands clasped loosely between his legs, waiting. That he is a User is immediately apparent; there’s no code or electronic pulse to give him away as a program and the structure of his face is achingly familiar, another internal scan finding similarities to –
“Flynn,” Tron frowns, goes through his memory banks and finds another picture, of a younger boy, followed by other pictures of the same child at different stages. “Sam Flynn.”
“Wow, that sounds so much less cool than I thought it might,” Sam Flynn complains, face stretching into a grin, shaking his head. “Guess I’ll have to leave off the martini, huh?”
Tron does not understand the reference, tries to search his subroutines for a correlation and comes up with nothing, the information not something Alan1 had considered vital. There is information about Sam though things that tell him this sort of flippancy is normal and even without that information, simply knowing that this is Flynn’s son would be enough. He internally scans the listing of facts he has for Sam, from birth to the most recent data about his more hands on approach in regards to ENCOM, promoting Alan1 to chairman of the board. It’s all there, including the little sub-folders regarding Kevin Flynn, the small private investigating Tron tried do on his own, discreetly and without interfering with his assigned protocols. Even with the limited access to the internet granted to him by his User, those searches invariably ended in frustration, with the realization that for better or worse, Flynn had, inexplicably, vanished.
Meeting Flynn’s son is an unlooked for quandary, Tron studying him and very certain that he will no more understand Sam Flynn than he did Kevin Flynn, admiration aside. What he really doesn’t understand is to what purpose and why they are meeting at all.
“This is not my server,” Tron observes. He continues scanning, looking at his own time logs, “This system is closed, confined to a 20 petabyte space. Registered to Samuel Kevin Flynn, no pre-existing IP address, internet capacity disabled. Existing programs in range – one, designation Tron , creator Alan Bradley –“
“Let’s skip that part, okay? You’re not in Kansas anymore.”
“Incorrect, original mainframe location ENCOM offices, San Jose, California, United States—“
“Anyone ever tell you you’re a little too literal minded?”
Tron pauses, peers at Sam Flynn watches as the boy squirms. “Yes. Your father did over twenty User years ago.”
This is not news to Sam Flynn; Tron had not expected it to be, not if Samuel Kevin Flynn could be here, in the same space as he, User and Program. It would be illogical to expect that Flynn would not in some way have shared his adventures on the Grid with his son, even as he had not with Alan1. There is still a sense of awe in this, the gravity of being in such proximity to a User (and the son of Kevin Flynn at that), his entire script dedicated to the protection of these strange, capricious beings. Tron conceals it as best as he can, already thrown off by this entire encounter and wondering what in the name of his User he is doing in this forsaken stretch of space with only a closed archive and Sam Flynn for company.
Tron mulls the situation, about what he knows of Users and their customs, hesitating before he offers, “Kevin Flynn was an amazing User. I was – distressed to learn he had disappeared.”
It is what his User would call an understatement, Tron only in this moment understanding what that means, Flynn’s loss magnified once again and he wonders at that, at how cold knowledge that has been stored in his database for so long can still be affecting. It’s harder still to read the expression on Sam’s face, his database struggling to match the interplay of User emotions on Sam Flynn’s face as it tightens then relaxes again. The User pats a patch of earth beside him.
“Siddown and let me tell you a little story. I think it’ll answer some of your questions. Probably open up a million more but we can cross that bridge when we get to it.”
Tron hesitates before accepting the offer, arranging himself as best as he can, aware that he lacks the fluid grace Sam Flynn projects, “Will it be a long story?”
“Long enough. Doesn’t really have an ending yet. That’s where I’m hoping you can help me out.”
Quorra frowns, eyes struggling to keep up with the data streaming across the pad in her lap, aware of how much harder things like this are off the Grid. There’s no instantaneous stream of knowledge for her to directly jack into. No disc that she can update or upgrade to increase her performance. The Real World is about struggling, sometimes plodding action but the reality of this place is that she can only make do with the tools she has been given. In this world, things take /time/ and Quorra finds that has been the hardest adjustment of all, the realization that cycles are simply the blink of an eye in the User world. Days, months, and /years/ had taken so long to comprehend and Quorra is still working on the latter, trying to break down the possibilities of that.
It’s been over six months and she still finds herself excited, taken aback by even the smallest, most insignificant human interactions. The way they measure time, how they treat each other, that so many voices can be both harmonious and out of synch. That there is no connecting data stream to offer comfort, just a sum of knowledge she must pick through rather than feel. It’s fascinating, frustrating, and she is never bored, sometimes at a loss but never bored.
Lately, that feeling of bewilderment has given way to absorption, Sam’s project taking on a life of its own now that he has acquired Tron from Alan Bradley, the program running constant checks in the background, occasionally assisting Quorra as she filters through the shattered data skeleton she’s trying reassemble. It’s a little odd, particularly with the knowledge that Tron – a version of Tron -- had been corrupted once, changed to be a mindless enforcer for Kevin Flynn’s megalomaniacal creation but if she cannot blame Kevin for that, Quorra finds it hypocritical that Tron leaves her a little uneasy, worried, for all that Sam is taking measures to make sure that can never happen again. Working on the security program’s archaic structure, providing patches to fix weak points, trying to make it stronger still and Quorra can only hope Sam is right, that Tron was simply a victim, that the stain will not be there, and that this time things can be righted.
Sam is doing his part and so she tries to do hers, to repay the debt she owes to Kevin Flynn and some days that’s easier than others.
“How’s it going?”
Quorra leans back in her chair, Sam hovering at her shoulder and that feeling is still a good one, a comfortable one, offering him a small smile. “Slowly. Clu’s code is pretty tenacious. I’m having to isolate and pick apart strands of your father’s code, wipe it clean because leaving it all together in the system resulted in strands of Clu’s coding trying to reattach and infect what’s left over.”
“Given how Terminator he got in the end, that’s not surprising,” The answer’s flip but Quorra has learned to read Sam’s body language, to understand that when his mouth gets tight like that and his eyes lose their light, that he’s displeased.
She draws a breath, lowers her pad and offers. “Tron is – helpful. Some of the upgrades you gave him have made it easier for us to contain the malicious code.”
It’s hard to admit that, Tron having been the bone of contention early on, Quorra wary, too aware of how wrong things had gone even as she could remember the good, valiant program that had worked so hard in the beginning to help build the Grid. This Tron was different; an upgraded copy, clear of the horrors of the purges and the loss that his corruption had helped spur, eager to make amends from what Sam said, even though this copy had no part in those things at all. Quorra can’t bring herself to go with Sam to visit Tron, not for fear of being stuck in there again. Not for fear of never wanting to leave the safe womb of floating knowledge and predictability, this User world sometimes a little overwhelming.
“Good to know I inherited something from the old man besides devilish good looks and a Fortune 500 company. How long before we have something solid?”
She doesn’t want to disappoint him; would give anything not to because Quorra knows the answer he wants and would give anything to say now. It’s not in her to lie to Sam like that, leaning to rest her forehead against his cheek, biting the inside of her lip, the sensation of pain so different out here, so much more immediate and intense.
“Difficult to say. Might be weeks or –“
“Well, I hope not or I’m going to go blind from reading all this code. I’m starting to see it during my sleep cycles,” Quorra says tartly.
“Hmm. Maybe you can show me some of what you’re doing and I can take a crack at things with you. More minds, more productivity.”
“I’d like that.”
And she would, if only not to feel so alone in this monumental task, trying match shattered code to Kevin’s disc, to do something impossible and audacious. It was something only a Flynn would even dare think of and Quorra can only pray that it didn’t blow up in their faces before they were through.
“Sam. Sam, what if I can’t –“
A finger touches her lips, Sam sharing a gentle, encouraging smile with her, Quorra subsiding. “Hey, you’re a miracle, remember?”
“Being a miracle is a lot to live up to sometimes,” Quorra frowns, dropping her eyes, aware that these days it feels more like she’s hiding away rather than gifting the world with all Kevin Flynn thought she could offer it.
Lips graze her temple, Sam’s arms solid, warm as they close around her shoulders. “The old man believed in you. I believe in you too, Quorra.”
“-hat the hell?”
As far as opening lines go, it’s not his best. Kevin lowers his arms, aware with a jolt that the explosion, the burst of sound and skin and /life/ that his senses tell him he is in, is in fact not happening. Moreover there’s no portal before him, no Sam and Quorra standing in an array of light, no Clu trying to claw his way into reality. There’s only serenity and space here, a stretch of barely illuminated darkness not unlike the Grid’s original state. He frowns, catches sight of his hands, of – of how not wrinkled they are and they fly to his face, also free of whiskers and hey, all that unsightly sagging that had started to occur? Not here either.
This is really starting to freak him out.
Okay. So. In a computer, obviously but no Clu and no Grid and a younger sprier version of himself which could mean any number of things, not the least of which was that this was one really fucked up dream, to go along with the other fucked up dream he had about Sam arriving on the Grid and Tron being corrupted or – or – maybe this was just it. Maybe he exploded and this was eternity, an eternity he imagined, in a virgin datastream, uncorrupted and empty and alone–
Not so alone and Kevin turns around slowly, a little afraid though he refuses to admit that, even to himself. Tron is peering at him, a little anxiously and that’s just – weird. Weird and kind of good, coaxing a startled bark of laughter. A chortle really because damn, if this is a dream or some fucked up head game being played on him, Kevin would rather not know.
“Tron,” Kevin pauses, gives him the once over and as far as programs go, Tron looks pretty damn good. Better really. “You’re looking fit. In shape and – amazingly not like your head’s been covered by a giant insect.”
The program looks a little more worried now, tilting his head. “Flynn. Do you know where you are?”
“Well, I’m really hoping you’re not gonna tell me this is heaven because I gotta tell ya, man that though I have been the /worst/ kind of sinner on occasion, this is a little stripped down, even for me. The company’s good though. How you been?”
“You’re on a private hard drive,” Tron, ever dutiful, logical Tron, says, “What’s the last thing you remember?”
Private hard drive, private hard drive – Shit, did that mean they were all downloaded somewhere? Was he going to have to deal with Clu showing up again to rain on his parade? Or had that even happened yet? Was this one of those weird time-bending moments where things could be changed or righted if he just went down path A instead of path B? God, he’d hated those episodes of Star Trek.
“Um. Exploding. Into a lot of pieces. Not the joyride it was made out to be, let me tell you. It – Tron? What the hell is going on?”
Now that, that seemed to amuse the program, Tron’s stern features relaxing, mouth softening and that was cute, the security program taking a bit of pleasure in Kevin’s pain. Just like old times – No, wait, that was Alan. Tron was more stalwart and puppyish than that, too kind and eager to please. Less guile. Thought better of Kevin too, and that had always been a blind spot, hadn’t it? Made it so much easier for Kevin to enjoy his company because all those preconceptions about /him/? Totally not there.
“You’re in an uncorrupted space, privately owned by Samuel – by Sam Flynn. He and the former program, now User Quorra have spent the last year reconstructing your data imprint –“
“Data imprint. Oh my God,” Kevin muttered, rubbing his face then frowned, “Also giving me botox and plastic surgery. That’d be Quorra’s doing, I bet. Always conscientious about appearance.
“The Grid you created was wiped clean cycles ago, when your reconnection with Clu caused a system wide shutdown. Your data was the only recoverable bits of information from the original Grid.”
Kevin knew he sounded subdued, tried hard not to feel an utter sense of failure and responsibility, so many lives on his shoulders. Such a stupid mistake to make, trying to create his own version of Tron (without that dogged sense of responsibility) and so arrogant in believing Clu could be imbibed with the same sense of decency and morality as the other program. So sure that it would all work out because he was just so damn clever. So many lives lost and Sam and Quorra, had been tortured though at least he could take comfort in the fact they had gotten out.
“Clu has been eradicated,” Tron seemed to think about this, “I’m sorry.”
Kevin laughed again, the sound devoid of amusement, another death to add to the pile, even if that one had been justified, if the loss of life could be justified. “And you? How is it you’ve been restored or – oh. Back-up?”
“Back up,” Tron confirmed with a thin smile. “I’ve no memory of what transpired on the Grid, only the information I’ve been given by Quorra and Sam Flynn. Your son has been working on improving my – weak points so that certain eventualities might be avoided this time.”
Certain eventualities. “You mean like you having your soul sucked out through your nose by my evil clone? Yeah. Good one.”
“I had forgotten how strangely you speak, Flynn though I must confess that hearing it now, I have missed it.”
The words were so simple, so sincere and they made Kevin’s chest ache, reaching out and slapping a hand against Tron’s arm, rewarded with another tentative smile and questioning look. This was the early days again, the days he had long missed, when the moments when it had simply been the two of them, Clu off doing other things, following the nebulous, ill-thought out orders Kevin had given him. Tron had been his rock, more so than Clu, his sounding board and confidant. Tron who had shown him more than the joy of creating a faceless populace and a shining city, seeing to it that they met every new program, explored every sector as soon as it was raised. Always moving, seeing and /doing/ and having so many long conversations about everything – anything, usually initiated by some off-color remark Kevin made, debates about User versus Program philosophy. More so than Alan or Lora, Tron had become the best friend he could have asked for, the company he had missed since Jordan died and it hadn’t seemed strange at all that the program would invade his waking hours, sharing stories with Sam, coaching his son so that they could meet --
Originally he had created the Grid to see if he could and then for Sam and the world outside but towards the end, before everything went to hell, it was something he had wanted to give to Tron, to share with him, their creation and no longer only his. Such a wistful, strange hope that had died the day of the coup and Kevin couldn’t dare bring himself to resurrect it. Has to remind himself that this isn’t the Tron that stood shoulder to shoulder with him, trying to carve paradise out of blank space, that even with his strong affection and respect for Users, it’s not the same.
It’s different. Hell, if Kevin knows what that means beyond the pang of so many lost years of longing, of wishing for a way to right things, to change them. To take that chance he might have taken, he had spent so long psyching himself up to take.
“So what now? Just you and me and blank space? Are you my jailer, here to make sure I don’t raise anymore hell?”
Tron looks shocked, his hand covering Kevin’s and head shaking so quickly, “This place is yours. To start over. To do with as you like, without the responsibilities that might have tied you to the User world. Sam Flynn said he would visit as often as possible.”
“Kind of surprised he’s not here now. Unless he’s really pissed at me for screwing up and /dying/ last time.”
There’s a pause and it takes a second for Kevin to realize Tron? Looks /embarrassed/. Which is just a weird, weird expression for the security program to have. “Wait – does Sam know that I’m all up and running…weird as it is to say that.”
“Negative. User Quorra initiated protocols early and asked that I investigate. To make sure.”
It took a second. “To make sure that I wasn’t infected with the Clu bug?”
“Correct. I am transmitting our encounter to her as we speak.”
“Well, I hope not all of it because I’m not that much of an exhibitionist.”
“I do not understand.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Kevin said and threw an arm around him, grinned a little because this was familiar. More than nice and Tron felt more solid to him than before, more real. “So. What are we going to do here? We’ve got what – a terabyte –“
“Christ, Sam went a little overboard, didn’t he? The original Grid wasn’t even a fraction of that. What am I supposed to do with all this space? What are /we/ supposed do with it and yes, Tron, I am asking for input seeing as I’m a program now, just like you.”
“You are taking this remarkably well,” Tron observed. “Does it not distress you?”
“That I died? Nah, I deserved it. Just a little. Besides, you’re telling me I get to start over again and hopefully not make the same mistakes with my bestest buddy at my side and that my son is going to visit me while being old enough to go away during awkward moments. I’m trying to see a downside.”
“I do not understand.”
Kevin squeezed the arm around Tron’s neck a little more, jostled him closer, enjoying that. “Don’t worry. We’ve got time to work on that, too. Gotta loosen you up, teach you some User customs all over again. Yori seemed to like the one or two things I showed her.”
There it was again, the line in Tron’s brow as he struggled to work that one out, looking like he wanted to retort but couldn’t quite. Kevin had missed that, had missed him in all those long years of waiting, watching his creation destroy the world, cut off from his son, and mourning so many lost opportunities. It was hard to believe there was time now, that there might be a second chance and yeah, it was a little weird to figure out how bent he was long after the fact but Kevin liked to think he was a flexible guy.
In this case – extremely flexible.
“Oh, you know. Things.”