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07 January 2011 @ 12:50 am
ROUND TWO  
ROUND 2 CLOSED!



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smiley_anon: Panicked Samsmiley_anon on June 24th, 2011 09:21 am (UTC)
Letting Go [3a]
“So how many beers?”

Alan looked up from the tablet he’d been scrolling through. “What?”

Sam leaned against the wall of the empty waiting room and smirked at the older man. “Come on. You’re not telling me you sat through Dad’s entire explanation of the world in his computer without something to wash down the crazy.”

He got a raised eyebrow before Alan’s glance returned to his display. “Not everyone relies on drinks to cope with… unusual circumstances.” The distraction persisted a moment longer before Alan met his look, mouth twisting upwards in a reluctant smile. “Besides, the coup d’état in his computer was a bit more difficult to swallow.”

Sam grinned. “You’re not answering the question, Alan.”

A sigh. “Four.”

“Huh.” Sam had expected more. Then again, Alan probably didn’t keep much supply on hand.

“And your own night?” The tone could almost be mistaken for casual. Almost. The sudden sharpness of Alan’s gaze was a bit less subtle.

Sam met the look. “Uneventful.”

“Really.”

“Surprisingly, yeah.” It was more or less true. Rinzler had gone to sleep, or at least stayed quiet and out of the way all night. And the happy-weapons-funtime was a morning activity.

Alan didn’t look convinced.

“Sam…” the older man gave a quiet sigh. “You’re an adult.” Sam’s eyes narrowed. One of these talks? “And you were right the other night. I’m not your father.”

He flinched. Way to hit the guilt button early, Alan.

“But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. This… problem we’re dealing with… it’s dangerous.”

“Man, I hate danger.”

Alan glared at him. “You enjoy risks, Sam. Challenges. I can’t say I approve of all of your stunts—” Sam snorted, “—but that’s a matter of you pushing your limits. Your limits. This is a different issue entirely.”

“Alan, I—”

“We don’t know what could set him off.” The older man leaned forward, tablet abandoned on the floor. “And if half of what I’ve heard is true, you’d have no more luck in a fight than I would.”

“Your confidence is flattering.” If entirely accurate.

“Sam—”

“So I’m just supposed to run away?!” Sam pushed off the wall, turned to pace the little room. “If this is—if he’s as dangerous as all that, why the hell are you here? Or Dad?”

A small grimace tightened Alan’s face, but his reply was even. “Because he’s our responsibility. I—” He shook his head. “I wrote Tron. Even if I didn’t—didn’t know what I was making. And your father…”

Sam waved away the rest. He knew all too well how determined his dad was to fix things. He glowered at the floor before his gaze rose to meet Alan’s. The other man looked… puzzled.

“…Why do you care?”

“Huh?”

“Tron’s not your program or friend. Quorra said you fought him. So why do you want to help him?”

Sam blinked. Stared. He thought… A laugh caught in Sam’s throat, and he brought a hand to his face as he shook his head slowly. Yeah, ‘cause the issue here is that I like Rinzler.

“…That’s really not the problem, Alan.” The older man’s mouth opened in question, and Sam grinned ruefully. “Seriously, I don’t care. About him.” As far as Sam was concerned, things would’ve been easier if Rinzler had gone down when Clu had.

“Then why…?” Alan sounded genuinely confused.

“I just…” Sam stopped. …wanted him out before he field-tested the kitchenware. On you. Or before you saw his previous attempts. Yeah, not so much. “Just… wanted to make sure you guys were okay,” he finished lamely.

Going by Alan’s expression, he wasn’t quite buying it. But he stayed quiet. Looked at Sam, before speaking evenly. “We’re all right, Sam. We’ll be fine. But if that’s all that’s keeping you here…” He spread his hands, nodded towards the door out. “Go. This isn’t your problem to fix, and call me overprotective, but I’d be glad if you stayed clear of it.”

It was Sam’s turn to give Alan a look, but it was more amused than annoyed. Alan was overprotective. But he was right. Sam could leave.

He bit his lip. Turned towards the exit, glanced back at Alan, at the lab entrance beyond. He opened his mouth. “Look. I…”

There was a crashing sound behind Sam. Alan’s expression froze, and he surged to his feet.

Sam was already past him.
smiley_anon: Rinzlersmiley_anon on June 24th, 2011 09:25 am (UTC)
Letting Go [3b]
Oh gods I am so sorry. >.< I… have no (adequate) excuse for this immense slowness-fail.

So much thanks to all you people who kept poking me; you absolutely helped keep it on my priorities list. Here's half a chapter.



The inner door to the lab was large and oddly weighted, designed to open slowly. It also came with a red-lit sign declaring ‘Do Not Open—Experiment in Progress’. Sam did his best to ignore both factors equally as he slammed into the push bar.

“Hnh—” Breath left him as he bounced back, the door jerking only slightly before continuing in a slow mechanical slide. Okay, so it was designed really well to open slowly.

The door cracked open, and a piercing buzz cut through the air. Sam grimaced, hands coming up to his ears before he tore them away to shove futilely on the sluggish door. What the hell was that? It sounded like—not feedback, but painfully close, a blaring grinding noise that jolted Sam’s brain far more effectively than any alarm clock he’d ever owned.

Who cares, Dad’s in there. He pressed against the door, squirming at the small opening as he tried to fit through. Alan was behind him, saying something, a hand on Sam’s shoulder, but he jerked away, wriggled at the widening gap—through the widening gap—

And stopped. Froze in shock. Disbelief.

It wasn’t the state of the room, the toppled cabinet or scattered machinery. It wasn’t his dad, in the far corner, hands raised in agitation, mouth open as he called for stillness, to please calm down. It certainly wasn’t the equally startled-looking technician that stunned Sam so completely.

Rinzler was there. Which he expected. He could handle. Maybe he hadn’t expected the program to be going at the other side of the door as it opened, hadn’t thought he would squirm through to find a black-suited killing machine in his face. But given all that had happened? It wasn't even that surprising.

The helmet was gone.

Sam stared, and he saw Rinzler stare back. The program’s hands were curved, tensed like claws at his side as he leaned forward, halted, body coiled with tension before the now-blocked opening. The growl spilled out, rougher, more jagged, loud enough to break through the blaring background noise.

And his face.

Alan’s face. But younger, sharper, and… twisted with rage. With broken, cold fury. The program’s eyes were voids, dilated black orbs surrounded by a faint ring of grey. They were the most hostile things Sam had ever seen. And simultaneously the emptiest.

Rinzler stiffened. Jaw tensed, head cocked to one side as Sam froze under the flat stare. Then he crouched—and leaped, vanishing from sight.

Sam swallowed, pounding heart a welcome reminder of his continued survival. He looked dazedly across the room, eyes catching on the lab technician as her gaze went up, brow furrowing. She stared for a moment. Blinked. Slowly nodded in absurd acceptance. Sam wondered distantly how much they were paying her.

If his dad was still talking, he couldn’t hear it over the alarm. Sam glanced up in time to see a flicker of motion, blackness disappearing into more blackness. Rinzler had broken the ceiling. How nice. Rinzler was in the ceiling.

Sam really didn’t want to think about it.

There was movement behind him, Alan shoving through the now half-open door, hands latching onto Sam, a question shouted through the grinding buzz. He glanced at the older man, flinched slightly—this was Alan’s face, screwed in familiar alarm and concern as his gaze raked the room. Sam nodded up at the hole above. Everyone else was visible.

There was shouting. Confusion. That insanely grating noise. Sam shook his head, breathed slowly and deeply.

…Fuck.

And suddenly, the sound cut off, and they could all hear themselves think. Or shout.

“What happened here!? Was that an alarm, is something—”

“It’s fine, man, it was just—”

“‘Fine’? Kevin, this place is a disaster zone, for all I know the police are on their way, and we have a mentally unstable—” Alan’s gaze shot to the lab operator and he halted mid-sentence. “…person. In the ceiling.” He shook his head, fixed Flynn with a glare through his lenses. “What part of this is ‘fine’?!”
(Deleted comment)
smiley_anon: Sam + Rinzler look frontsmiley_anon on June 24th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Letting Go [3b]
DX It gets so much worse.

>.< Frack Flynn. And Alan and Quorra and... even Sam, kinda. 'cause really, the way this has to end... all of them are terrible people.
(Anonymous) on June 25th, 2011 11:17 am (UTC)
Re: Letting Go [3b]
Everything will be worth the wait.
:))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
smiley_anon: Rinzler crouchsmiley_anon on June 25th, 2011 03:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Letting Go [3b]
:) *shakes head* I hope so. That was an abysmal wait...

Goes back to chapter notes
(Anonymous) on July 6th, 2011 10:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Letting Go [3b]
Eek! I love you're writing! lol at ceiling!Rinzler and ninja(sort of)!Rinzler looking forward to next update!
smiley_anon: Sam smiley_anon on July 16th, 2011 06:37 am (UTC)
Letting Go [3c]
-_- I am horrendously slow. Much thanks to you all for reviewing and putting up with my delay-fails.

Also, wtf, chapter, why did you keep growing?? O.o



“Look—”

“That wasn’t an alarm.”

The technician’s words cut across Flynn’s response, drawing everyone’s focus as she nodded towards the large machine in the center of the room. She typed something into her console before looking up to meet their regard. “The scanner makes that noise when active.” She blinked, glanced down before pushing her glasses up as she turned awkwardly to Sam’s father. “I did warn him.”

“No, I know, it was just…”

“Wait.” The word came out unintended, a jerky, unsteady sound in the (now-quiet) room. Sam blinked, refocused as his brain caught up with his mouth. If the noise was what set him off… “The helmet. Why…?” He swallowed, fist curling uneasily against the wall as he made himself lean back.

I didn’t want to see that.

And now he couldn’t stop.

A shrug across the room, shoulder-length hair brushed back as the technician depressed a control, walked over to the scanner as it slowly ejected a long white cot. “Can’t run an fMRI with something like that in the way. Though it took over an hour to convince your friend.” She stuck her head in the opening, hands trailing over the machine in quick inspection before stepping back to glance between the three of them. She settled on Alan, faced him as she continued. “I need to run some checks, but just looking, it doesn’t seem like he damaged the scanner in his… exit. Which is good; I realize you’ve got funds, but this equipment…”

Alan nodded wearily, gaze traversing the peripheral wreckage. “Is there anything we can do, Miss… Ikeda, was it?”

Another shrug. “Erin’s fine. I should be good to handle this. It’ll just take half an hour or so.” She hesitated. “…If you want, I can set it up to run again, assuming everything checks out. You booked the lab for the day, and even if you just want the resting state comparison, the data needs to process overnight. Though…. uh…”

Sam stared upwards. The hole in the ceiling was a square with three straight edges, the fourth broken unevenly where the offending ceiling panel had been forced aside and broken. The light from below illuminated the crawlspace faintly, glinting off a metallic vent, some coiled cables trailing off into the darkness.

If Rinzler was nearby, Sam couldn’t see him.

“…Right.” Alan’s tone hovered between helpless and grim. He tilted his head, peered at the opening and looked back at the others. “We’ll need a ladder, I suppose, and…” the frustrated confusion across his face could’ve almost been funny under other circumstances. “Do either of you know anything that could make him…”

Sam snorted. You could whistle. I’m sure that’d work. As far as he’d seen, they’d all been pretty useless at ‘making’ Rinzler do anything.

His dad was talking now, something about patience, calm, giving Tron time. Sam ignored him, craned his neck for a better view. How far did the crawlspace even go? As far as they knew, Rinzler could be across the building now. Or on the roof. He shook his head, fist clenching as the memory flickered back.

He didn’t want it.

The eyes. Empty. Alan’s face, but not. The expression… hateful, vicious. Wrong.

Panicked.

Sam closed his eyes. Opened them.

…Fuck.

It took a moment for the others to notice. “Kiddo…?” His dad’s voice was hesitant, with a cautious overtone that almost surprised Sam. Less calm than he’d expected. Huh.

Then Alan turned to look. Eyes widened, mouth fell open in disbelief before snapping shut to shape frustrated words. Sam still couldn’t help finding the confusion kind of funny, especially on Alan. They were all leaving normality behind, it seemed.

“What are you doing?”
smiley_anon: Rinzler crouchsmiley_anon on July 16th, 2011 06:41 am (UTC)
Letting Go [3d]
Sam looked down from the bookshelf he’d scaled, leaned awkwardly out as he tried to reach up into the hole for something stable. “Um. Climbing?” They could go back to arguing, really. This wasn’t as easy as it looked.

“Sam. Get down. We can—”

“Look, he’s not coming down.” The edge of the hole was flimsy supports and equally flimsy tiles; he doubted it would take his weight. “Unless you’ve got any duct-crawling ninja shrinks on the payroll, one of us is going to have to go up there.” A pipe. Ha. He tested it. Seemed solid. “Might as well be me.”

He glanced down. His dad and Alan hovered below, the latter looking unsure whether trying to yank him down would be as harmful as leaving him. He moved before Alan could decide, gripping the pipe firmly as he leaned out sideways, pushing off the shelf to wriggle up through the gap.

“Then let us—” a frustrated sound cut through the words as Sam entered the crawlspace, though it was less audible against the background hum of machinery now surrounding him. “Sam, it’s not your—”

“Responsibility, right.” He balanced across the narrow supports—crap, those aren’t stable—, stuck his head down to grin at the worried faces below. “Think of it like an extracurricular.”

“Sam.” He grimaced at the tone of his father’s voice. He was used to making Alan panic; this was… a new rebuke. He waited, but his dad just looked at him, long and measured. Impassive. Then Flynn closed his eyes. Opened them. “Be careful.”

Sam blinked, a faint tightness growing in his throat before he nodded abruptly and turned away. He heard their voices rise behind him in contentious discussion, tuned it out as best he could. Sam glanced up, then made his way cautiously to the side, where the lab wall provided enough support to sit and look around.

Well, crouch and look around. Ceilings were short. Who’d have thought. Concrete above, tiles below, the two-foot space between was cluttered with pipes and vents, cables and lights and little metal supports he really hoped were stable. The space by the wall was slightly bigger, a gap above and below with… an impressive amount of insulation. No wonder the scanner wasn’t audible from outside the lab.

He peered through the crawlspace. It wasn’t lightless by any means; enough reflected back from the ceiling lights below that he could find his way around. But the visibility was dim—and erratic, uncovered bulbs blinding at points, while other corners drifted off into darkness. Yeah, this is going to be fun.

Continuing to ignore the part of his brain still looping ‘why’s at him, Sam rifled through his pocket to retrieve his phone, toggling the backlight before shining it at the nearest corner. It made a half-decent flashlight. The corner, unfortunately, was less effective as a search place. No sign of Rinzler.

He looked around, the unpleasant magnitude of the task really setting in. He could be… Anywhere. Yep. Sam sighed, gave a brief glance at the light from the exit before shaking his head. Right. Pick a direction and get started.

It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Rinzler found him first.

He was squeezing through a particularly narrow gap, trying to wedge himself between two pipes to get past a ventilation duct. It was more stable here (wherever here was), with more vertical space, but also more clutter, making it harder to find routes around the omnipresent obstacles. Obstacles that blocked sight as well as motion, making him search every damn corner, and even then…

A ticking rumble filled the darkness.

Sam froze.

The noise was loud. Close. It echoed through the space, direction impossible to pinpoint. Sam’s heartbeat pounded in his ears as he tensed, nearly dropping his light source. Not that it was helping, when he was stuck between the pipes, unable to turn and look and Rinzler was growling in the pitch black around him and he didn’t know where.
smiley_anon: Tronzler maskless stand/looksmiley_anon on July 16th, 2011 06:44 am (UTC)
Letting Go [3e]
Just… don’t move.

Though he should probably start breathing again. Breathing was good. “…Rinzler?”

The sound increased, and Sam swallowed. Acknowledgement. That was a good sign. Right? He still couldn’t tell where the program was, which was more terrifying than he wanted to admit right now. He blinked at the dark ahead of him, waving the phone to move the light from side to side. Nothing. He glows in the fucking dark. Why is this so hard?

“Uh. Don’t go anywhere. Please.” Sam pushed himself backwards slowly, listening to the sound for any changes of pitch or volume. Not that he expected Rinzler to announce an attack beforehand, but at least he’d hear if the program moved off. Nothing.

Out from under the duct, Sam cautiously sat up. Turned. He moved his head this way and that, trying to track the direction of the unending noise. Freedom of movement helped. If Rinzler wasn’t trying to hide, he should be able to…

There.

Red-orange dimly traced familiar patterns through the blacknesss. The light was faint, faint enough Sam wondered if he was glowing anymore—it could be reflection. The shapes were unmistakable, though, and he dragged himself left to face the program. Raised the light.

The growl surged across the space with the sudden sharpness of a rattling snake, and Sam lowered the phone in a hurry. “Sorry, sorry!” The quick glimpse was revealing enough. Rinzler was perched between the ceiling supports, limbs balanced across the slim metal with a casual precision Sam would have hurt himself trying to match. Like a spider. Or a cat.

He was staring at Sam. How surprising. The sight still twisted something in Sam’s gut, leaving a heavy dryness in his throat that persisted well after the light dropped away. He’d thought the helmet was creepy, but… it was so much better than this. Alan’s face… so very wrong. Eyes wide, unblinking. Jaw tense, mouth a hard line.

The eyes were the worst. Still dilated to near-perfect black, a thin grey line edging in the emptiness. They were empty, vacant—but also hard. Bitter? Accusing? Demanding? He didn’t know. Wasn’t sure he wanted to.

“…Hey.” Sam’s voice was a croak in the darkness.

Rinzler shifted in response, head tilting as the rumbling skipped slightly. Sam could see his shape, his movements well enough, even with the light pointed to the side. Could see enough. More than.

“You’re… fast up here.” Like he wasn’t, down below. What am I even saying? What was he doing here?

The ticking rattle filled the silence.

“So the, uh, scanner freaked you out? The noise?” he added hurriedly, seeing an orange-lined hand clench around metal. Rinzler seemed to tense, irritated. Sam wasn’t sure whether to take that as agreement or disapproval of the implied fear. And what this one-sided conversation needs is more uncertainty.

He dropped his eyes from the shadowed face, fixing briefly on the orange ‘T’ before looking away entirely. Tron. Did this… did any of this even have a chance?

Fuck, he didn’t even know if Rinzler was listening. Understanding. Whatever. Sam sighed, a harsh echo amidst the tangled metal surroundings, raised his head with a look that edged more towards a glare.

“Look, will you—can you—” He was done being hesitant, polite; it wasn’t like it got him anywhere. “You need to come down. Now.” The rapid beat of his heart, the panicky voice in his head contrasted dizzyingly against the simple frustration now rising, and Sam did his best to fix on the latter. Rinzler would get violent or not, but he was sick of this. Sick of all of it.

“Dad—and Alan—they’re coming here to help you. To fix you. Make you better.” Rinzler didn’t move, didn’t respond, and a fresh surge of irritation welled up. “The least you could do is stay on ground level.”

No answer.

“Rinzler?”
smiley_anon: Tronzler maskless diskssmiley_anon on July 16th, 2011 06:50 am (UTC)
Letting Go [3f]
Silence.

Not silence. Not exactly. But at some point, the rattling had dropped to a muted rumble. Quieter. Even. The program was still, motionless in a way that set Sam on edge.

He frowned, leaned forward slightly. When that didn’t provoke a reaction, he cautiously raised the light—not towards Rinzler, but close enough to cast some light.

The program was unmoving. ‘Frozen’, he’d say, but… that wasn’t right. Tense, but not stiff. Faint, faint twitches in the muscles, hands clenched around the stabilizing supports. Sam couldn’t be sure he’d have noticed with the helmet on—but the program’s gaze was fixed ahead, staring unblinking into the darkness. No physical reaction to the light, either—eyes still dilated to black voids. After wearing that helmet for… Sam frowned. Can he even…?

The shadowed expression, what little of it Sam saw, was a grimace. Breaths quietly harsh. Mouth twisted unhappily. Sam stared, dropped his gaze, glanced back. Away. He wasn’t—he shouldn’t…

I don’t know what to do.

Rinzler blinked.

Froze. Eyes sharpened, focused, then he withdrew with a surging growl, slipping fluidly back towards shadow.

“Hey!” Sam moved forward in an awkward scramble—no chance of catching up, but he could at least keep the program in sight. Fuck. “Are you—” he hesitated, but he had to say something. “—okay?” What the hell was that?

He caught the outline ahead as Rinzler turned to glare back, ticking rumble rising in flat irritation. Right. Not talking about it. He returned the glower halfheartedly, torn between lingering unease and new frustration—he really didn’t want to have to chase the program down again.

“Look, just—don’t run off, okay? I don’t—”

Rinzler’s noise interrupted his words, volume increasing in a stutter as the program tilted his head. Looked at Sam. Turned back the other way.

Sam squinted, trying to make out an expression, gesture—anything. There was enough light behind Rinzler to cast a clear silhouette; he could see the program’s form clearly enough, but no details or…

Hey. Light. Sam blinked. That was…

The exit.

He looked at Rinzler. At the opening.

“Oh.”



Several hours of relative calm later, Sam was less than surprised when his dad suggested the program stay with him another night. After all, they got along “so well, man!” Sam was clearly helping.

He was surprised to find himself not arguing.
(Deleted comment)
Re: Letting Go [3f] - smiley_anon on July 17th, 2011 04:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on July 26th, 2011 11:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Letting Go [3f]
Oh man, oh man. Sam's already starting to almost warm up to Rinzler. The ending's going to be painful to watch... >_<

Unless...Sam's only going to be assigned to put Rinzler down. He doesn't actually have to do it, right? :D
Re: Letting Go [3f] - smiley_anon on July 27th, 2011 12:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Letting Go [3f] - (Anonymous) on August 2nd, 2011 05:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on August 30th, 2011 11:35 am (UTC)
Re: Letting Go [3f]
I know you have a lot on your plate smiley, but I do hope you'll update soon. :)
(Deleted comment)
Re: Letting Go [3f] - (Anonymous) on September 21st, 2011 03:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
dogpiss: hugdogpiss on September 12th, 2011 07:02 am (UTC)
Re: Letting Go [3f]
This whole thing is really awesome. And when you end it it will be so heartbreaking. Rinzler is so far gone, but you want to hope. And to see a rapport and shared trust building between Sam and Rinzler, it is... already HEARTBREAKING! You are doing so well capturing the different reactions. Good job with this so far, keep up the good work!