TITLE:  Footsteps

RATING:  HIGH R.  Not really NC-17, but for mature audiences only.  Sorry kids.

CATEGORY:  Drama/General, movie-fic.

THANKS:  As usual, thanks to Mara Trinity Scully, after whom I will be naming all of my children and future pets.  I can’t believe she doesn’t charge me for her high-quality editing.

DISCLAIMER:  They ain’t mine.  Not the characters, not the dialogue.  I’m just having fun with them for awhile, and I’m not making money off of ‘em.

DISTRIBUTION:  Just ask, and you can have it.

AUTHOR’S NOTES:  My most wonderful editoress suggested that I open this with a note that says “TAKE ME SERIOUSLY!  I AM A SERIOUS FIC!”  Basically, the point of this is, if you simply scan this fic instead of reading it thoroughly, you’ll probably miss the point.  Not only will you miss the point, but you’ll flame me horribly for what you think I’ve done that I haven’t actually done.  Also—it ain’t fluff, people.  So don’t dismiss this just because you don’t like romance.

 

 

 

FOOTSTEPS

 

 

One hundred and fifty-three.

 

That’s the number of dents in the square metre of sheet metal that makes up the ceiling above my head.  I know because that’s probably the number of times I’ve counted them.  There’s not much else to do in that cold cell, alone, while I’m waiting—

 

There, I hear it.  What I’m waiting for, I mean. 

 

Footsteps.

 

Her footsteps, heading back to her room after her watch. 

 

I’d know them anywhere, the sound of her footsteps.  Quick, even, and determined, the pace of a person who moves with a destination.  But at the same time light, a woman’s footsteps.  The creaking of the floor is much quieter than it is when one of the guys walks by.  When Dozer tramps down he hall—well, let’s just say you can tell where his name came from.

 

I listen for her footsteps every night, just to hear them move past my door and to think about what it would be like if she stopped and came in.  I wonder if her body looks anything like her RSI under those scrubs—if she could pull off black leather as well in the real world as she does in the Matrix.

 

I can’t help but smile to myself.  Damn, that woman is hot.

 

The footsteps are louder now, closer.  Almost to my door.  And then, amazingly—

 

They stop. 

 

For a moment, there is silence.  I hold my breath, straining to hear something, anything, but there is only silence.

 

The latch on my door turns, opens.  I sit up.

 

She steps in.  Closes the door behind her, turning the latch securely, then rests her elbows on the wheel and cups her forehead in her hands. Her back is to me, I can’t see her face, but her posture reflects confusion, frustration, and something else… something I can’t pinpoint.  I stand up and walk over to her. 

 

“What’s wrong, Trin?  Are you okay?”

 

She exhales sharply into her hands, then lifts her head and tilts it back, her eyes focused on some point past the ceiling.  She still isn’t facing me, which is good because I don’t want her to see me staring at the exposed column of her neck.

 

“No,” she says, finally.  Her voice is almost a whisper.  “No, I’m not okay.”

 

“Anything I can do to help?”

 

“I can’t—oh God, I can’t do this anymore…” Her voice trails off, and she turns to look at me with a gaze I’ve never seen from her, her blue eyes glowing red and hot as a neon sign.  

 

“What?”

 

She grabs my shoulders and pushes me back to my bed, sitting me down forcefully.  And then, before I can react, she grabs me by the back of my neck and brings her mouth down hard on mine, her lips pressing and moving insistently.  I feel her lift her knees one at a time to rest on the mattress outside my thighs, so she’s straddling me, perched over me, tilting my head further back.  Her tongue presses at my lips and I open them, letting her push into my mouth as she pushes me back on the bed.

 

Her hands are on me, tugging at my clothes, clawing at my chest.  So I touch her too, thrilled to feel her shiver and moan into my mouth.

 

Suddenly, somehow, our clothes are gone, and all I feel is flesh crushed against burning, scalding hot flesh.  I let my touch wander her body, truly as perfect here as in the Matrix, skimming her leg, her back, her breast.  I run my hand through her sweat-slick hair as I hear her gasp my name:

 

“Cypher…”

 

And then, without warning, she vanishes and I’m enveloped in darkness as I wake up alone, cold, and stiff in my bed.

 

Always alone in my bed.

 

Sometimes, I don’t know what I see in her.  Hell, she’s made it perfectly clear that she’d feed her arm to a Sentinel before she let me touch her.  Well, actually, she’d probably be more likely to feed my arm to a Sentinel if I ever so much as looked at her sideways.  And she’s so damn frigid all the time, concealed behind that thick shell of hers—I wonder what she’s hiding.  I’ve never seen her with anyone—anyone—even though she’s had plenty of chances.  I mean shit, there was Gamma, who got killed last year, and Titon, who got transferred to another ship, and Ares, who got over her eventually before he got killed, too.  Even Tank had had a thing for her at one point, but he gave up and moved on.

 

I hate giving up.

 

That’s the real reason I’m doing it.  Turning them in, I mean.  Because they’re making me give up, because I know we can’t win and I hate it.  At least this way I won’t remember.  Yeah, I don’t like the fact that they’re all going to have to die in the process, but hell, two hours after it happens I’ll have forgotten it.     

 

I start counting ceiling dents to pass the time, waiting for my hard-on to diminish before I go back to sleep.  For a brief instant I consider slipping into the bathroom and having an intimate moment with the five Palm sisters to take care of it, but the thought depresses me so I don’t bother.  There really are one hundred and fifty-three dents in that sheet of metal, you know.  Strange, the little details like that that I remember in my dreams.  One hundred and fifty-three dents.

 

I hear footsteps.  Her footsteps.  Moving through the hall in a slow crescendo as she comes closer to my room, and I wait, expecting to hear the sound peak as she passes my door, and then fade slowly away—

 

But that doesn’t happen.  She stops before she gets to me.  She’s close, I know, but she hasn’t passed me yet. 

 

She stopped next door.

 

Neo’s room.   

 

As silently as I can, I get up and slip out into the corridor.  She’s left the door open, so I peek in.

 

What I see triggers my gag reflex, and I swallow down the desire to retch with anger and frustration right there in the hallway.

 

He’s passed out on the bed with his shoes still on, the moron.  He over-exhausted himself with his training today.  I knew it was too hard for him.  But her

 

She has a tray of food and some water that she’s setting down by his bed.  And then, as she goes to stand up again, she stops with her face in front of his.  For a second it looks like she might kiss him, but I know she’s not that forward or that stupid.  But she’s still there, inhaling his breath.

 

After a few seconds she rises and turns back to the door.  I lean against the wall and wait.  She doesn’t seem surprised to see me when she closes the door, and her maddening way of being able to mask her reactions just pisses the hell outta me.  There are times when I really, really want to hit the woman, and this is one of them.  Just once, bam, hard across the face, for everything she’s put me through.  I would never do it, though, because she has the power to have me kicked off the ship for something like that, plus she could probably hurt me a hell of a lot worse than I could hurt her.  Well, that and the fact that I’d never forgive myself afterward.

 

But damn, sometimes, it’s tempting.

 

“I don’t remember you ever bringing me dinner,” I say quietly.  She says nothing and looks at me impassively, which only adds to my frustration.  I bite down the edge of sarcasm that threatens to cut its way out.  “There’s something about him, isn’t there?”

 

She meets my gaze evenly.  “Don’t tell me you’re a believer now.”

 

“I just keep thinking if Morpheus is so sure, why hasn’t he taken him to see the Oracle?  She would know.”

 

Her voice takes on the don’t-fuck-with-me edge that I love so much.  “Morpheus will take him when he’s ready.” 

 

Without another word, she turns and walks away.

 

For a moment I stand there, stunned.  I don’t really know if I’m more pissed off about the fact that she obviously likes this guy, or the fact that she’s all of the sudden decided to start believing in the stupid prophecy, or the fact that as usual, I’m just getting shafted.  I think a part of me had hoped, before, that I could arrange to take her with me when I left.  I really didn’t want to see her dead.  But no, she wouldn’t come, and the machines wouldn’t want her to come.  She’s meant to be on this side of the lie, the “real” side that’s no more real than the Matrix.  Nothing’s true, anymore.  All that matters is who’s at the right place at the right time.

 

I already know the place. 

 

Smith will come if I call him.

 

It’s time to go arrange the time.