Nanaseven > Believe (In Me, In You)

Believe (In Me, In You)

“What did She say?”

“Nothing that concerns you,” she hummed, watching him from the corner of her eye as she buckled her seatbelt. It was the truth. But although smiles sometimes seemed like folly, Switch gave Apoc a wry one and let her knee bump against his as the car rumbled to life.

She murmured in a voice like velvet, crushed and wet and stepped on, “Switch.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Beautiful, isn’t it? My best one yet.” The woman exhaled slowly and slid her chair away from the table, a sigh like gravel in her throat. “Don’t usually make white cakes—my kids prefer chocolate. Seemed appropriate, though.” She removed her glasses, placed them on the tabletop beside the grand confection on its blue plate, and faced Switch for the first time.

The Oracle. A wise grandmother, a portly mystery in an apricot apron, a chain-smoking memory of better days. Not what she had expected, but then, she realized that she hadn’t know what to expect. This did not put her at ease. She remained in the doorway, beads on her shoulder from the curtain at her back.

“It’s very nice,” Switch said.

“But you don’t really think so, honey.” The Oracle tilted her head back, regarding her coolly. Between two fingers on her left hand a cigarette breathed nefariously. She flicked ashes onto the floor before she spoke again. “I can tell you have plenty on your mind right now. I suppose a cake doesn’t mean anything to someone who’s been where you have.”

“What else can you tell about me?”

“You seem nervous, child. What are you waiting for? Come sit with me. Don’t worry.” And then, the Oracle laughed, a kind, coarse sound that spoke of age and nicotine. “I don’t bite, honey, I just turn your feet in the right direction.”

There were five straightbacked chairs around the table. Switch sat in the chair farthest away from the Oracle, who didn’t look like she minded. “So—where am I headed? I know,” she said quickly, “I know I’m not the One. What I want to know is—what else is there? If I’m not the One?”

Smoke ghosted from between the Oracle’s generous lips. She swallowed, and the hand that held the cigarette gave a senseless little flip. “Think of a jigsaw puzzle,” she began, leaning with an elbow on the tabletop. “Think of the One as being the piece in the very middle, a piece that will tie everything together.”

“And I’m a corner.” Switch snorted and was immediately abashed at her cynicism. But in the Real, cynicism never disappointed like optimism did. She did not meet the Oracle’s eyes.

“Perhaps. There are so many pieces.” The Oracle exhaled pensively. Switch could not feel the frank eyes on her. “To lose one of those pieces is to preclude the end result. The big picture, if you will. And sometimes, losing one of those pieces is the only way that end result can come about.”

“I don’t understand,” she said contritely. She felt lost, and Switch never lost her way.

“The four corner pieces contribute to the puzzle. Without them, that middle piece will feel out of place. Stop feeling unimportant, child. Right now, you’re among the most important of all.” The Oracle placed a hand on the table and pushed her chair back, reaching her feet slowly. She smoothed a crease from her apron. Switch watched through her eyelashes as she slid a knife from a drawer nearby and sank the blade deep into the center of that grand white cake.

“The One will be found,” she continued. “And when he is found, you are going to help him believe.”

“Believe what?” Switch frowned. She stood, stepping away from the table and its five straightbacked chairs. “Believe the Truth?”

“Congratulations,” said the Oracle. Her eyes were no longer frank, but simple; in the Real, simplicity wasn’t something one saw every day. In her hands rested a white napkin, and on that white napkin rested a piece of white cake. “You’ve seen the light, and I think that calls for a treat.”

She remembered, then, as her hands dug into Apoc’s back and her head spun with the sound of Trinity’s name on his breath, that she had never given him an answer.

She realized, then, that he probably already knew.

Trinity reasoned. Neo watched her, watched Apoc’s body, still warm where she touched him, watched the window behind them, his face pale in the light that fell upon Switch. Switch breathed in dust and rubber and the scent of Apoc’s RSI. She heard Cypher speaking.

She heard Trinity. “Oh, no. Please, don’t.”

A thought took shape in her head, as stolidly furious as any Truth had ever been. She looked to Neo so that he would see how desperately he needed to believe.

“Not like this,” she said. “Not like this.”

Then her eyes closed, and her mind registered what it was to be dead.

Oh, God.

It was white.

End of Transmission

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