Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Beta'd by Trinneo
Morpheus had assured Neo that, eventually, the insomnia would fade. Neo doubted the sentiment.
He hadn't slept since he, well, woke up. He had tried, laying in his metal bed with a few layers of cloth as cushioning. Apart from a few dozes that, really, hadn't lasted more than a few minutes at best, Neo had yet to sleep.
And that room... it was just... too...
It was so damn small and completely empty other than a book Tank had loaned him on the history of Zion, written by hand.
That had almost put him to sleep once.
But it hadn't.
So Neo climbed off his bed, aware that almost everyone was asleep by then. That was fine-- he didn't need someone to babysit or entertain him. He just needed to get out of his room.
He walked down the corridor, careful not to wake anybody up. Passed the kitchen, up the few steps and into the core.
She was at the console, typing lazily with one hand while not taking her eyes off the screen. One knee was brought up in front of her, the foot resting on the edge of her seat.
He had never seen her look so relaxed before but, even as he thought it, he watched her shoulders tense and her spine straighten.
What was it that had her so wound?
"Hello Neo." Trinity said, softly, without turning around.
"How did you know it was me?"
"I've been on this ship a long time. After a while, you pick up on little things. Who showers every week, who actually does laundry." She looked back and gave Neo a once over, lingering on his boots. "Footsteps..."
"You knew it was me because of my feet?"
She gave him an almost smile. "You'll pick it up soon enough."
"I've never been particularly observant."
"No." She agreed. "You really haven't."
Neo wondered, briefly, if he should take offense at that. But no, he doubted she meant it as more fact. It is what it is.
She was facing the console again and he wondered if she would speak again. It seemed as if she never really wanted to talk to him, even going so far as to avoid him at times. But he had no real reason to think that. She had never been anything but kind with him.
It was probably just him. He wanted to be near her all the time. He was probably just overthinking it.
Deciding that she wouldn't initiate any sort of conversation, he did. "How do you do it?"
"Read the code?"
Another almost smile, one side of her mouth tilting upwards ever so slightly. "Right now, listen. What do you hear?"
Neo blinked, silently following her command. "Nothing. It's quiet."
"No, it isn't. Listen again."
He did. There were no noise. No one was awake. But... he could hear the engine whirring and the pads from the hovercraft hissing as they kept the Neb in the air. A soft buzz filled the air, the sounds of computers running.
"The engine. The computers. The ship." You, breathing.
"Mhmm. Those noises, they're always there. You just tune them out. Just like the footsteps. You're always hearing them when people are up and about. You just..."
"Tune them out." He finished.
"Exactly. Your ears are always working, Neo. Eyes, nose, taste and touch. You just have to learn to listen to them."
He nodded, staring at the green glyphs raining down the screen.
Swallowing, afraid that the conversation might end, he asked, "What do I sound like?"
"Your footsteps are very soft." She answered, "Almost..."
She looked up, their eyes meeting.
Neo couldn't help but to suck in a breath. Jesus, those eyes... I could stare into them forever.
"Almost," Trinity chose her words carefully, "As if you were trying to go unnoticed. Like you think that by being quiet, you'll be ignored. That, maybe, all the pressure Morpheus is putting on you will somehow be alleviated."
A moment of silence passed between them.
Trinity looked away. "I'm sorry-- that was out of line."
"No." Neo assured her, "No, it wasn't. In fact, it was spot on."
Her expression didn't change, nor did she look back at him. Instead, her left hand reached for the keyboard, typing out instructions with just that hand.
"Would it be so bad?" She asked, staring hard at the screen in front of her. "Being the One?"
He tried to find the right words that would not offend. "I know that being the One would be a huge honor but... it's a lot of pressure. Almost too much pressure for just one person to take." Neo watched her carefully schooled face, wondering what she thought of his confession.
"I can only imagine what you must be going through right now."
There was a weight to those words that made Neo's own heart heavy.
He had known, from the very beginning, that he loved her. That first night in the club... the moment he heard her voice, he knew.
His head had spun, his heart had clenched and Neo knew that it wasn't just a passing fancy.
Neo also knew that she was so far out of his league that it was laughable to consider.
When she had pressed herself against him in that club, it took all that he had to not wrap his arms around her and kiss her right there. All he could do to keep his hands still while her breath tickled his ear, his neck.
The next night, it was her words alone that gave him the confidence and encouragement to follow Morpheus down the rabbit hole when he had almost walked away.
Upon first waking, he recalled her face above him and he had thought there is a Heaven and I have reached it.
He could recall her lessons in the construct, her insistence that he take up exercise in the real world to regain his strength all in vivid detail. And she was tough, never going easy on him. And with every quiet encouragement, her rarely offered and quietly given words "come on, Neo. I know you can do this" and "You are stronger than this" made him feel like he could almost fly.
And Neo loved her. Completely. With all of his being.
And he was content with knowing she would never love him back. She was so much better than him, deserved so much more. Maybe if he were the One... maybe then she would love him.
But he wasn't. And she didn't.
But right now, a blind man could see that she was hurting and he ached to take that pain away.
A door shut, the loud clang echoing through the ship, and footsteps skipped towards them.
"Tank." She said, pushing back from her chair. "I didn't realize how late it was."
A moment later, Tank climbed the short steps.
"Morning, my Red Queen. Hey newbie. What are you doing up so early?"
"Couldn't sleep." Neo said, looking between Tank and Trinity.
She had smiled upon his entry and appeared to be doing some last minutes adjustments to the code in front of her. Tank went behind her, bending down to kiss her cheek.
"Trinity, go to bed."
"I just wanted to finish checking--"
"Finish tomorrow." Tank told her, his hands on her shoulder as he pushed her up and and out of the chair. "Sleep. Both of you."
"Bite me." Trinity said, stretching. "I'll see you later."
With her head, she motioned for Neo to follow her.
He did so, feeling like a little puppy but he couldn't help himself.
Tank replied with a wave as they left the Core and turned immediately into the kitchen. Trinity turned on the light and walked over to a cupboard.
"How long has it been since you slept?"
"I got about twenty minutes earlier."
"Through the night?"
She gave him what could best be described as an almost-glare, half-heartedly reprimanding him.
"And you didn't mention it because...?"
Neo shrugged. "I didn't want to make a fuss."
She rolled her eyes, turning on her heel. "Jesus Christ, Neo."
A mug was in one hand, a small tin in the other.
"I mean, I'm still functioning."
The half-hearted glare was back as she filled the mug with water from the hot tap. She then dug out a small basket and filled it with... tea leaves? Yes, they had to be.
She dropped the basket into the water and handed it to Neo.
He was unaware of his body immediately yielding to her command until he his ass hit the bench beneath him.
Trinity took the seat next to him, her legs folding in front of her. And then, her voice changed, "Tell me." A command, but a quiet one.
She didn't elaborate but he understood, nevertheless.
Tell me why. Why aren't you sleeping? What's going through your head?
A short chuckle escaped him. "I just... all I can think about is the years I spent, well, sleeping. Twenty-seven years... it's a long time to sleep."
Trinity nodded, in agreement.
"I can't help but wonder if... if I had started searching sooner. If I had taken initiative when I was younger, like you did..."
"Then you wouldn't be you."
"Me? I never did anything in my life. I got up, I went to work-- almost always late, I might add-- I ate terrible food, drank more than I should have and spent my nights on a computer within a computer."
"And it sucks." Trinity deadpanned.
"Yeah," Neo said, a small laugh escaping. "It really fucking sucks."
"You feel that anger? Inside you, heating your blood?"
Neo nodded, swallowing back the emotions that came to the surface when she looked at him like that.
"You've been hiding it ever since you passed out after that first night in the Construct. It does no good inside of you and if you try to ignore it, then it'll just manifest itself in other ways. At night, when you try to sleep, it creeps back in, doesn't it?"
Another nod, "So, how do I stop it?"
"The anger? You don't stop it. It's there for a reason; it's justified. So use it. In the Matrix, in the Construct. Take all of that energy and use it to fight the machines, make yourself better. Take it, and tell the machines that they haven't won."
Neo took a sip of the tea, the bitter herbs feeling foreign on his tongue.
"They stole twenty-seven years of my life and they haven't won?"
"Not by a long shot." He saw her hand twitch, almost as if she were about to reach for him. Instead, she spoke, "This is your chance to start a new life Neo-- a life that is your own. Where you make your own decisions."
Neo knew she was right. He couldn't let himself be so focused on his past that he forgot about the present. He could do things right this time... he wouldn't be so focused in work that he forgot to be human. He could have a job that actually made a difference.
"You aren't Thomas Anderson anymore." Trinity said softly.
The words meant more to him than she would ever know and he loved her even more for them.
He almost said the words aloud, catching himself before they reached his lips. It wasn’t fair to her to burden her with the knowledge that he loved her, irrevocably. Trinity was a good person and he would not be put more pressure on her than she was already under.
And Neo would stay, faithfully, by her side for as long as she would have him. As a friend, as a comrade or just another crew member. And he would watch as, one day, Trinity would inevitably find the one who she would spend her life with. One who was worthy of her. And it wouldn’t be him.
Because Trinity would never, could never love someone like him.
He was almost certain.
When he had swallowed what was left of his tea, he stood up to deposit his cup in the sink. Trinity followed suit, before walking to the door.
Wordlessly, he followed her, stopping when she stopped just outside her door.
“Sleep well, Neo.” She said, her hand on the lever but her back against the door as she bid him goodnight.
They were only a foot apart, Neo noticed. Close enough that every inhale brought her scent to him-- smoke and dust. Close enough that, were he to stretch his hand, he could touch her.
He noticed a lock of hair had tumbled from behind her ear.
Unable to stop himself, Neo reached forward. His fingers brushing against her temple as he pushed the hair back.
His blood was on fire, his hair on end.
He could kiss her, now, while his hand curved around her ear. Just lean forward, angle her head up and press his lips to hers. He was already so close he could taste her.
He almost did.
But Neo let his hand fall, lamely, to his side. “Sleep well, Trinity.” He said, quietly.
Because Trinity would never, could never love someone like him.
He was almost certain.