Kirstma > Betrothed


* II *

Months later, several of the shipmates were sitting in the mess-hall eating dinner, chatting and playing cards. The hatch burst open.

"Morpheus is fightin’ Neo!" Mouse exclaimed, his eyes bulging with excitement.

Like everyone else, Trinity didn’t think. She simply reacted. They all scrambled for the hatch and scurried up to the core to watch the action. This was a new development––no trainee had ever fought Morpheus in his first day––or in his first week, for that matter.

As she watched Neo fight, Trinity became increasingly aware of a fluttering in her stomach that plagued her when Neo was around.

"Jesus Christ he’s fast," Mouse whispered. "Take a look at his neuro-kinetics, they’re way above normal!"

They were. It was frightening. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Switch and Apoc exchange suspicious glances.

The other crewmates might have been talking, but Trinity didn’t notice. Then the order came from Morpheus: load the jump program.

"What if he makes it?" Mouse asked, idealism shining in his eyes.

"No one’s ever made their first jump," Tank pointed out, but he sounded optimistic himself.

"I know, I know––but what if he does?"

"He won’t," Apoc said quietly.

Trinity didn’t even realize she was secretly urging him until the words "come on" left her lips––a whisper that sounded more like a breath. Then––she wasn’t breathing anymore. She was in limbo, just waiting, just waiting . . . and he missed.

Mouse let out a sigh of exasperation. "Wha––what does that mean?"

"It doesn’t mean anything," Switch said.

Trinity was already on her way back to the mess hall. Downstairs, she slowly gathered the dishes and got ready to wash them out. It was Cypher’s turn to do the dishes, but now she needed something to get her mind off the preceding events.

Quietly, Switch entered the dining hall. She studied Trinity. "Geez Trinity, you look like a sentinel just ate your best friend."

"I’m just busy, that’s all. I’ve got a lot on my mind."

"Everybody falls the first time. Remember?"

"Uh-huh. I wasn’t expecting him to make it."

"Everyone pretty much scattered when he came out of it. No one wanted Morpheus to know they’d been entertained by the latest trainee." She moved over to a stack of kitchenware. "I don’t think he ate today, and now he’s gone to bed. Why don’t you bring him dinner?"

"Bring him dinner? I have better things to do."

Switch chuckled. "It’s okay to put that women’s lib stuff aside for once, Trinity." Switch siphoned a bowl of slop from the pump. She put it on a tray and thrust it into Trinity’s hands. "Go ahead. Let yourself feel instead of think." She left Trinity with the tray and went away from the mess hall.

He’d collapsed in an awkward heap on top of the bed. He hadn’t bothered to get under the covers. She almost said something to wake him but thought better of it, and she walked slowly into his quarters and crouched near the bed. She set the tray down. Would he wake up and eat this? Probably not––he was out cold.

She studied him for a minute––that pale, unsuspecting face, those long eyelashes. She was close enough to breathe him in, so she inhaled quietly and held her breath. They were so close, nearly touching. She wanted to touch his face, the stubble on his head––anything that was a part of him. And she let herself live in the moment and forget briefly about the things that had to be done. Right now, she could feel herself breathing his air.

At that moment, she didn’t know that Cypher was lingering in outside the door, or that Morpheus had a job for her to do. As she crouched near Neo, half-hoping for him to awake and find her, and half-hoping for him to remain asleep, she felt everything become perfectly clear. Just for a moment.


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