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



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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)
smiley_anon: Sam + Tronzlersmiley_anon on July 17th, 2011 04:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Letting Go [3f]
:) Yay, torturous hope.

XD And oh man, so much to write... theoretically I've got four long fics I should be working on, though I think my ff.net story is well and truly paused for now. :) Though this is the only fic I'm currently doing that'll have much Kevin and/or Alan in the immediate, given with the post-Hold-On stuff I've still got to go through all of Tronzler's solo adventures(/trauma) before going back to look at the other peoples.
(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
smiley_anon: Sam smiley_anon on July 27th, 2011 12:09 am (UTC)
Re: Letting Go [3f]
:D! *laughs*

Now, that would be cheating. I never cheat. O.O Really.
(Anonymous) on August 2nd, 2011 05:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Letting Go [3f]
Aw... But cheating is fun! Try it! ~uses long unused peer pressure skills from high school~ :D
(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)
(Anonymous) on September 21st, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
Re: Letting Go [3f]
+googol (10^100)
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!