Nanda > Antiphon


The hovercraft had quieted down considerably. In addition to the silenced explosions and alarms, there was also the strong sense of its missing crew -- four loyal, one traitor, all dead.

In the aftermath, Morpheus had ordered both Tank and Neo to the medbay, and Trinity to the cockpit -- no arguments allowed or offered. So while Tank had his plasma burns treated and Neo endured stitches, Trinity had somehow activated the auxiliary power, sent a request to Zion for assistance from the nearest ship, and managed to pilot the limping Nebuchadnezzar to a small side tunnel that she hoped would keep them safe for a few hours. Long enough to get those goddamned sentinels off the main deck, at least.

She was still sitting in the pilot's chair, intent on the sensor readouts, when Neo found her. She noticed it took much longer than usual for him to climb up through the hatch, but he managed to do it without groaning -- or screaming -- in pain. Trinity was impressed.

He wore a blanket around his shoulders, and Trinity suddenly realized how cold it was in the ship, with their hull torn to pieces. She didn't look at him as he sat gingerly in the copilot's chair, but she could feel him looking at her.

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

"Well, I'm not dead."

"That's good."

Neo squinted in the dark -- the only light was the soft blue glow of the monitors -- and tilted his head to look outside; she saw his slow movements out of the corner of her eye. She also saw his swollen jaw and bandaged hands, and the stiff way he held his chest and shoulders under the blanket. "Nobody after us?" he asked.

"Not yet."

He squirmed a bit in the chair. Trinity couldn't tell whether it was because of the pain, or because he didn't know what to say.

"Morpheus is sending us to rest in shifts," he said. "Me first, then Tank -- I'm supposed to be asleep right now."

She felt one corner of her mouth twist into a half-smile, she wasn't sure why. His innocence, maybe. For all that he had already seen and done, he just seemed so young to her, sometimes. "Then you probably should be," she said dryly.

Neo caught her slight dig at him. He was, she had noticed, an expert at the kind of self-deprecating humor she understood best. "I know," he said. She thought he might be smiling, too, but she couldn't be sure. "I'm going. I just --"

She glanced sideways at him while he searched for the right words. She half hoped he wouldn't find them. But she also wondered when -- if? -- their conversations would stop being full of silences and unspoken thoughts.

Neo shifted in the copilot's chair again. "I feel like I should thank you. But that doesn't seem nearly enough."

Trinity stared resolutely at the blackness outside. "Neo, you don't have to say anything."

"Yeah... yeah, I do."

"Neo --" She didn't know what she was going to say, but he cut her off anyway.

"I'm not letting you back down again, Trinity."

She let out a breath she didn't know she was holding, met his eyes for just a second -- what had that bastard Cypher said, "those big, pretty eyes"? -- and felt herself nod exactly once. Then she felt silly. It's your turn to talk now, Trinity, she thought.

But in the next moment she realized he didn't expect a response. Somehow, in the little time they'd spent together, he already knew her that well. He stood, laid one bandaged hand on the back of her head, and bent to kiss her hair. Then he moved towards the hatch, obviously intending to obey Morpheus' order and get to bed.

"Neo." She turned her head a little, just enough to see him stop in surprise. Something in the way he held his head made her remember the taste of their earlier kiss, hours ago now: salt, copper, and something else, something she wanted very much to identify. She said, "I wasn't planning on backing down."

He actually laughed, a short, clipped sound she had never heard from him before. "Good," he said slowly. "That's -- good."

"Sleep well, Neo," she said as he lowered himself back through the hatch. She barely heard his murmured thanks -- it was mixed in with a few quiet "fucks" and "Jesus Christs" and followed by a final grunt as he hit the main deck below. Then she made out Morpheus' voice, asking Neo why he wasn't in his quarters yet, and Neo's response: "I'm going, I'm going."

Trinity sat back in the pilot's chair, relaxing, briefly, for what felt like the first time in months. Then she set the sensors so she could monitor them from the core, and headed down to get those goddamned sentinels off the ship she still called home.


End of Transmission

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