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Title: Tron: Absolution [4/?]
Author: hellsingmongrel
Rating: PG, or PG13 for some language
Pairing: None yet, but no slash  and all canon except for 2, one only implied.
Summary: Two months have passed since Sam returned from the Grid.  When the digital world attempts to reach out to him again, Sam finds himself forced to face the hatred and distrust he feels for the Programs his father cared for so strongly.
Author's Note:  This is unfinished, and there'll probably be a new intro once I get a chance to finish it up and amend the beginning.  Just wanted to get some of it out there for you guys to read.  :>

Cycles later, Alan sat at the glass dining table in the brightly lit abode that had once belonged to Kevin Flynn, picking over bits of code piece by piece, his glasses discarded beside him while Tron sat nearby, staring intently at his Creator. He'd stayed quiet for most of the time, explaining for the User the workings of the world when Sam's own knowledge was lacking an answer to Alan's questions. At first, they were harmless enough. How did this work? Why was that the way it was? Where did the clouds in the digital sky come from? Questions of that sort. And then how did a Program 'begin' if it was 'born' when a User wrote it, and for that matter, could Programs procreate? That one had boggled Tron, who had never known that Users replicated through a process that was nothing more then an act of intimacy for Programs. Which in turn had boggled Alan, who didn't seem to know whether to be flustered or not over how much it amazed him to know that Programs had sex, at least in their own unique way. He'd actually stared at Tron for a moment, who simply gave him a lost look, before looking at Sam. “Even Quorra?” The question made the young man blush and decide he needed a change of subject, fast, and said so under no uncertain terms.

Soon, though, the questions had turned to less happy things. When did Kevin first discover the Grid? And Tron had met him then? How well had he known him?

What happened to him?

Sam had tried to redirect the conversation, not only worried that the subject would upset Tron and cause the same outburst as before, possibly pushing him into a reboot of the Rinzler programming that lay hidden in his binary, but wanting to avoid the memories he had in his own head. He'd already relived them enough for one day and he was already dreading the trip back to the Portal, where his father's image was waiting to bring it all back again.

“But then Tron had spoken up again, “I'm partly to blame.” Alan looked up at him for a moment, waiting for him to continue. Sam pushed away from the table and tried to occupy his mind with other things, but found it hard to focus his attention elsewhere when he kept one cautious eye on the Program at all times, especially now that Alan were here and would be in danger if anything were to happen.

“I knew C.L.U was up to something. I could have stopped him, but I ignored my suspicions at Kevinflynn's insistence. He trusted C.L.U and I trusted him. By the time the pieces of C.L.U's plan were in place, it was too late. My foolishness allowed us to be taken by surprise. I was able to distract them long enough that they were unable to derezz the Creator, and for that I was glad, but C.L.U overpowered me in the struggle. When I came to, the Portal back to your world had closed, leaving Kevinflynn stranded in mine, and C.L.U had decided I was...an appropriate subject to test more of the programming skills he'd inherited from the User on.”

“And C.L.U was...?”

“Kevinflynn's Program. He created him so that he could be in both worlds at once. Together, they wanted to...'create the perfect system'.”

“And he knew programming?”

“He knew many of the things Kevinflynn did, yes. The Creator felt he would best be able to do his task if he could rewrite code.”

“That would explain some of these anomalies. I knew a lot of them couldn't just be 'damage.' That appears as a broken line. Most of this is just completely rewritten. I gotta admit, he hacked you pretty bad. Makes me a bit mad, personally. I worked damned hard on this just to have a virus screw things up.”

“That still does not excuse my actions. For thousands of cycles, I went against my User's programming, aided in Clu's tyranny of the system the Creator had designed, and derezzed any Program who stood in my way. I can't even stand the thought of joining the Game Grid anymore. It reminds me too much of how I enjoyed the victories there. I derezzed too many innocent Programs. I actually liked it...”

“You mean the 'Games' are still going? Why haven't you stopped them!” Tron glanced at Sam from the corner of his eye, shaking his head.

“Not C.L.U's games. Kevinflynn's games. Deresolution of a losing participant is expressly forbidden. As long as I'm in charge, there will never be another game like that.”

“Until someone else knocks you in the head and takes the crown?”


“What! Don't start on me, Alan, you didn't have to fight this asshole in those damned games of his! You just heard him! If he hadn't realized I was human and had to take me to his 'master,' he would have killed me and loved it!”

Alan glared at the tempestuous young man, turning in his chair to watch him as he stared the Program down. Tron simply sat quietly, holding his gaze with a heavily-guarded look.

“Samuel Flynn. I'm not your father. I can't take his place. But you're mistaken if I'm going to let you stand there and make an ass of yourself. Kevin would have been ashamed to see you being this way. In the years I knew him, I never saw him hold a grudge. He certainly forgave me for the way I treated him when we were your age. Hell, he didn't even hold a grudge against the people on the board who made it obvious they didn't like him. You're not doing his memory any favors by walking around here, stomping and snorting like a bull.”

“Why are you defending him? He tried to kill us!”

Alan sighed, standing to his feet and nearing the fuming man, holding the disk out for him to see as he manipulated the interface so that it zoomed out wide, giving a larger view of the data he'd been rewriting.

“The code. You're not stupid, Sam. I know you're an excellent programmer, even if you never finished school. You know what this much damaged coding does to a program. You're lucky if you can get it to boot up, let alone get it to work right.”

Sam glared for a while at the red text that pocked the lines of data. The look he turned back to Alan was stubborn. He knew what he was saying. He understood it. But he didn't want to accept it and he certainly didn't like it.

“I know I wasn't there when everything happened. I didn't see it all go down, and to be honest, I still find all of this really Twilight Zoneish. But if you're right, and all this code here really is what makes that man over there live and breath and talk and think and act and exist at all like you both obviously think it does, then I have a hard time believing he was functioning in any way like what I intended when I coded it. I wrote it, I know it. Worked on it for years. If this bit of text is that man's personality, then I believe what he's saying, because there are so many conflicting rewrites and overrides in this mess that it might as well have a different name altogether.”

Sam smirked cruelly, glancing over Alan's at Tron as he sat, staring at his hands folded on the table, looking uncomfortable with the whole ordeal.

“Oh, he did. He went by 'Rinzler.' Tron was your Program. C.L.U's was Rinzler. And he still has C.L.U's reprogramming, doesn't he?” Alan just stared, shaking his head in slight disbelief.

“Sam, now you're just making my case for me. That's what I've been fixing for hours. You need to calm down.”

Sam seemed to realize the slip he'd made when he spoke and he stuttered in an attempt to save face. In his spiteful attempt at dealing an emotional blow to Tron, he'd negated his entire argument, and now he felt foolish. Finally, he settled back into a seething glare that did little to hide the turmoil he felt.

“This surrogate father crap gets really old sometimes.” Alan sighed as he stormed away, retreating to one of the adjoining bedrooms to hide his face while he fumed. He slammed the door behind him, but the silence only lingered for an instant before he was storming back out, glaring and jabbing a finger in Tron's direction. “So help me, if you do anything to hurt him while I'm gone, I'll erase all of your coding myself!”

He tried to retreat back to the room before they could stop him, but froze when he heard his name, looked back in confusion when he realized he couldn't tell the two of them apart by voice alone and found Tron hurrying after him, his baton and spare disk held out in peace offering.

“If it makes you feel safer, here.”

He sneered at them for a second before taking them, growling and slamming the door behind him once more and leaving the Program standing there, looking a little lost.

Alan observed him for a moment before he shuffled back to his seat, burying his head back into the disk in his hand while keeping an eye on Tron's back.

“He was always difficult growing up. I know his heart's in the right place, he's a good kid. He just takes things kind of hard.”

“He doesn't like me. Not that I blame him.”

“He's always had a temper. He lashes out when he's upset, that's all. He's done the same thing to me a few times over the years. Once he finds someone he thinks he can project onto, he latches on like a pit bull. Just give it time.”

“He has a point.”

“Not a very strong one, from what I'm seeing. Like I said, he's just upset. I knew he was acting differently since he first came back to the arcade. I didn't know why until now.”

“But it is my fault. I could have stopped it before it started.”

Alan smirked up at him with a sad but playful look.

“Technically, I think it was Kevin's fault. Oh, don't look so scandalized. Users make mistakes, too. That's the reason we created Programs in the first place. He wasn't perfect, far from it. He just had big dreams. The way I hear it, you tried your best. But you put too much faith in his judgment. It's not your fault he was so naive. Kevin was always a big of a big kid. He was fun to be around, but sometimes he didn't have a lot of common sense.”

“But...as a User, I had thought he would know what was best. He was the Creator. The one who shaped the Grid. I couldn't just go against my programming and defy the will of the Users. Even when I knew it was right.”

“Which is why it was his fault, not yours. Don't get me wrong. I'm upset that he's gone. I'm just being realistic. If he was unable to handle things by himself, he should have asked for help. I had no idea what he was up to. I would have done everything I could to help if I had.”

“Friends look out for each other.”

“Yeah, exactly.” Alan looked up at him curiously, found him staring off into space with a distant look on his face.

“He told me that once. He'd been trying to explain something to me. Telling me about how he didn't think Programs and Users were that different. I guess it was an argument, really. He didn't understand why it was so upsetting for me to have him throw out millions of cycles of tradition. Programs are not Users, we can never be the same. We were written by the Users and to pretend we are one and the same is blasphemy. He kept telling me 'No, no, you've got it all wrong.' My User wasn't going to erase me just because I realized I wasn't a slave to them. I couldn't believe he was saying those things. My programming tells me to always obey the will of the Users, that they guide us and know what is best for us. But here was a User telling me things that went against all of that!

Finally, he just looked at me and told me 'Tron, you're not my slave, you're my friend. You're always here, trying to look out for me even when I don't feel like I need it.' He just smiled at me with that infuriating grin of his. He said 'Friends always look out for each other. Not slaves. Slaves just do what they're told.' I didn't know what else to say.”

Alan smiled over at him when Tron finally trailed off into silence. Even with the intense sense of strolling through the Uncanny Valley he had just being around him and hearing him talk, he couldn't help but feel for him. He knew better then anyone what it took to make his own voice crack the way Tron's threatened to do when at times.

“Good old Flynn. He always knew how to get right under your skin. He never did take anything seriously. It always made it harder to stomach when he finally would stop acting like a kid for five seconds. Always used to piss me off.” He almost missed the surprised, somewhat guilty look that earned him.

“...You, too...?” He laughed.

“You have no idea. I swear to God, when we first met, I couldn't stand him! He was my girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, so of course at that age, I was always jealous and suspicious around him, and I just couldn't stand the man, he was always joking around. Too bad for us, he grows on people.”

Tron couldn't look him in the eye for a moment, but it was obvious he was trying not to crack a smile and feeling guilty about it, too. He covered his mouth as if it would disguise the expression, giving himself a chance to regain his composure.

“I'm glad I'm not the only one...” Alan was glad Sam wasn't around to hear the way that made him laugh.

The catharsis of laughter helped to put them both at ease enough that the silence that followed was a comfortable one. Just as Alan felt his eyes beginning to strain and a knot form in the small of his back, he found himself scrolling through the code, up, back down, and then back up once more to ensure he hadn't missed anything. He nodded to himself, humming a sound of self-satisfaction before looking back up at Tron.

“I think I'm done. Now what do we do with it?” Tron looked up at him expectantly and held out his hand. He handed the disk back to him, standing to his feet so he could stretch out, feeling as if every vertebrae in his back had slipped out of place.

“I made a few updates while I was at it, by the way. There were years of them you didn't get since you've been isolated here for so long. Ah, Jesus, I can't do things like that anymore. My body isn't what it used to be. I'm gonna have cricks for weeks.”

“I can't think you enough. Really. Thank you.”

“Eh, don't worry about it. It gave me something to do. I haven't gotten to really play around with code in years anyway. I much prefer it to sitting in damned board meetings all day.”

Tron smiled at him, rolling the disk in his hands for a moment thoughtfully.

“Still, thank you. I'm sorry to have kept you here so long. I know User time is short.”

Alan glanced for his watch, suddenly remembering how long he and Sam had been inside the Grid. When he found it missing, he frowned, trying to find his cell phone instead.

“Alan-One? Is something wrong?”

“Just lost my watch and phone. I can't tell what time it is.”

“Oh, I see. User devices don't transfer into the Grid. You should find them when you return home. At present, it's only six hours, thirty-seven minutes, and twenty-four seconds past noon in your world.” Alan looked at him mildly at his reply.

“Really? We've only been here for five minutes? How can you tell?”

“Internal clocks. All Programs have them. I don't fully understand the difference between our time and yours, but Kevinflynn once compared one microcycle here to one of your hours. However, a microcycle in your world only lasts for a single minute.”

Alan nodded in understanding, relaxing with the knowledge that they hadn't been gone for any time at all. With it, the fatigue began to catch up to him, and he sighed, rubbing his eyes.

“I guess that explains why I'm not starving. I'm still exhausted, though.”

“That's understandable. If it suits you, while I reboot, you could sleep here. It will most likely take several microcycles for the process to be completed after such extensive reprogramming. It did the first time.”

“What happens when you reboot?”

“Sam called it 'blacking out' when we spoke earlier in the day.”

'Oh. Ah! I see. I guess you won't be going anywhere for a while, then.” Tron smirked wryly.

“Not likely.”

“Alright. That sounds fine, then. I'll go tell Sam.”

Uncontrollable curiosity held him back as he moved to inform the younger man, and he found himself watching as Tron reached to put the disk in the socket at his back, twisting it to lock it into place. He cringed when he saw him slump awkwardly against the table, stepping forward to reach out in worry that he would fall out of the chair to the floor, and stood expectantly before reassuring himself that he was secure as he was. He felt a moment of surprise, though, he the mask he wore shifted, disturbed from underneath as the damage began to heal itself, reforming the side of his face that had been shattered.

He cursed his nosiness as he gave into the awe it gave him and lifted the mask away, watching in fascination as Tron's face reformed, his missing eye and half of his ear appearing where they should have been as his short, black hair filled itself back in until the Program resting in front of him was hole once more.

Unfortunately, it made the Uncanny Valley even worse, and he had to laugh at himself as he felt his skin crawl just a little.

“Don't think I'll ever get used to that...” He crept quietly back to Sam's room as if he would disturb the rebooting Program and knocked softly on the door.


He opened the door, glancing inside to find Sam sitting back on the bed, his ankles crossed in front of him as he juggled a pair of disks in his hand, spinning and rolling them around his fingers. Tron's things sat on the shelf beside the bed, and he realized that the second disk he was toying with was the one he'd taken from the virus earlier. The glare he gave Alan didn't hide the bloodshot redness in his eyes in the least.

“Tron's rebooting. It should take a while, and I'm exhausted, so he suggested we stay here for a few...'microcycles'?”

Sam clapped his hands around the disks, jumping out of the bed and pushing past his friend into the corridor.

“Great, fine, I'll watch 'sleeping beauty.' You can sleep in here. Lock the door.”

“Sam, wait.”

He stared at his back expectantly, hoping he would turn. He didn't.

“I'm sorry about earlier. I shouldn't have snapped at you.” He saw his shoulders wilt ever so slightly and heard him sigh. “I know you've been through a lot. You know I'm on your side, right? I'm always here if you need to talk. Really, if you ever need someone to talk to, just come to me. I'll believe you now.”

He smiled at the soft laugh he got in reply. It wasn't a particularly happy sound, but it wasn't bitter or angry, either, simply a sound of understanding.

“Yeah, I know. Thanks, Alan. Enjoy your nap.”

He shut the door behind him – more for Sam's own sake then his own – and sighed a deep, exhausting breath as he glanced around the room. So Flynn's sense of style must have changed with his time here. He had to admit, he was a little impressed.

Still, his main concern at that moment was with getting some sleep, and the bed called to him like a siren. He shrugged out of his blazer, pulling off his tie and tossing them onto the nightstand, flopped down on the edge of the mattress, and kicked off his shoes. The second he laid back, he bed felt like the most amazing thing he'd ever felt in his life. It didn't even matter that the light shimmering in from the city – what seemed like miles away – bounced around the room, making it glow a soft, cleansing blue. All he cared about was the pillow under his head and the fact that he was asleep only fractions of a second later.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


The first thing he noticed when the reboot process was completed was the bright, glaring light in his left eye. He squinted, shielding his face as it took a moment to adjust as he shielded his face and sat up, groaning gently. When the light calibration was completed and he found himself staring at the room with restored vision, he paused, simply taking in the sights and enjoying the strangely clear feeling in his head. The second thing he noticed was the silence. True, actual, complete silence, and he realized that with the reprogramming, the damage that had created that never ending electronic buzz as the pixels tried to reform connections that were no longer possible had been healed and he no longer emanated the infuriating sound.

He stood, amazed at the tension he felt missing inside of him for the first time in cycles. He stretched out all of his limbs, arching his back like a cat as he lifted up onto the balls of his feet, and simply enjoyed the way it felt to wake up without background noise in the back of his his programming, scrambling his thoughts and moods until he had trouble recognizing himself. Not even the small ache of a low energy level could dampen the wonderful feeling, though it did send him looking for an energy tap. He found it easily enough, tucked into a small basin in what he was unable to recognize as a kitchen in his limited experience with User facilities.

He wasn't at all shocked that Flynn had had a well leading directly to a pure source directed to his hideout, though the taste of it tingling on his tongue and down his throat and the way he felt it coursing warmly through his circuits surprised him a little when he first tasted it. It had been so long since he'd tasted unrefined energy, it was like a jolt to his system.

A quick, cursory glance around the room as he finished off the glass showed that as far as he could tell, the Users had either left or were still asleep. The hideout was quiet, the slitted windows in the sides of the mountain wall of the balcony as dark as the main room, where only the light from his own diodes and the city on the horizon illuminated the furnishings around him.

There was a rustle of movement across the room that drew his attention to the large alcove set in the wall to allow space for a unique bed, and he realized he could see Sam's armored legs hanging over the side where he sat. When he didn't respond to his name, Tron crept over quietly, finding the User propped against the wall, his arms crossed as if he'd lost the battle to stay awake while he'd kept watch.

He laughed softly to himself as he refilled the glass in his hand and stalked back over, his feet making no sound on the hard floor, a trait he'd learned from years as an assassin. He rested a hand on the User's shoulder, giving a gentle nudge to awaken him and holding the glass out. “Sam, wake up, drink this.”

The User grunted and jerked, shifting and shoving at the hand blearily as he seemed to try to get more comfortable in an attempt to fight off consciousness.

“Hngh...not now, Alan...lemme sleep.”

Tron only chuckled, shaking his head and nudging him again.

Sam, you should wake up. It's six hours, fourty-nine minutes, and twelve seconds past noon in your world. We should get you and Alan-One home.”

The User seemed to register the speech patterns so contradictory to what he would have expected and opened his eyes, squinting at Tron before he realized who had woken him, and he jumped. Fully awake but perhaps not fully conscious, he lashed out in surprise, his hands simply meeting air as Tron gave him space.

“Jesus, back up! Last thing I need to wake up to is you staring at me!”

Tron laughed, holding the glass out once more as Sam settled, glancing at it and then back up at him suspiciously before taking it in his hand.

“I apologize. I'll remember that for future reference.”

Sam sniffed the liquid in the glass as he watched the restored Program return to the kitchen to fill another glass. Satisfied when he didn't smell anything that would hint at poison, he took a sip, his eyes never leaving Tron's back.

“So...you look fixed. What about your head? Still feel any urges to turn people into piles of 'energon cubes'?”

He took the accusations in stride, pausing to search his core directives for any anomalies for the User's sake. It felt good, to feel every line of the corrupted coding absent from his programming. He doubted Sam would understand if he tried to explain it. Did Users have concepts of feeling 'newly create?' It was the closest thing he could think to compare it to, though the relief it gave him made the sensation more profound then the way he'd felt on his creation date when he'd woken to the world for the first time, looking around himself with amazed eyes as his Creator gave him his first commands through the I/O Beam that had coalesced his code into one single living being.

“C.L.U's corruption has been wiped clean. I remember the events that occurred, but I do not feel the Rinzler programming conflicting with my original directives any longer.” Sam just watched him, perhaps not knowing what to say or unable to come up with an appropriate way of voicing his hard-lost suspicions now that their reason for being seemed to have been erased. “It's like a weight's been lifted. It feels...'free' for the first time in a long, long time.”


The User's eyes didn't leave his back as he walked into the adjoining corridor and knocked gently at the door, listening intently for an invitation. None came, but he could just make out the sound of snoring coming from inside that seemed undisturbed by the knock. He opened the door – Alan had decided to not give into Sam's paranoia apparently – and glanced inside to see Alan sprawled face-down on the bed, his face half-buried in the pillow.

He called out softly into the room without reply before letting himself in. He still wasn't sure quite how to handle himself around his Creator. With Flynn, the fact that he was a User and therefore should be treated with the utmost respect – even when he at times vexed Tron with his unusual ways – had been slightly offset by the fact that he wasn't Tron's User. Tron still revered him and looked up to him as an untouchable, unbeatable being, quirky as he was, but he hadn't been Alan-One, the User who watched over him and guided him through their hardest struggles with the MCP. Programs respected all Users, but they held the most adoration for their one true Creator. Flynn's insistence on friendship and not fealty had only made the informal nature of Program-User reverence all the more confusing.

“You have to really shout to wake him up. He's a deep sleeper. I avoided more trouble then I can count just because he sleeps like the dead.”

He glanced at Sam as he stood in the doorway, keeping an obviously close eye on the Program. Oh, he knew he was rarely out of his radar. He would have been surprised not to be. Strangely enough, now that he had been repaired, he found it didn't bother him quite the same way it had before. Without Rinzler in his head, threatening to take control, he knew he could never harm them. He would prove it to them, and if Sam learned to at least trust his honesty, that would be enough for him. Alan-One had instructed him to 'give it time,' and he would.

“Alan-One.” He received no answer and so he said it again a little louder. It earned him an unconscious stir, a snore cut off short, and a sort, questioning sound.


“It's time we should be leaving.”


He waited expectantly, but the reply, which he had thought sounded like an agreement, was the only reaction he got. Alan-One didn't budge.

“Dude, he's not even awake, I'm telling you. You gotta shout. Alan!”
Tron Jumped as the sleeping User's eyes jerked open and he stirred, rolling over to sit up and look around in a half-conscious daze.

“What? I'm up. Where are my glasses?”

“Tron's rebooted. We're heading back now. Where did you leave them?”

“I have no idea...”

Tron held the glass out gingerly as his Creator sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and rubbing at his eyes. He squinted up at it before taking it and straightening up with a mumbled gratitude and taking a drink, only to cough in shock when the energy hit his system.

“What is this?”

“Energy. I don't believe it's something you have in your world. It should help you wake up, though. It seems to have the same effect on Users that it has on Programs.”

He watched him stare at it in curiosity before taking another testing drink, slower this time. Now that he was prepared for it, he seemed to like it, his eyebrows lifting before he gave a subtle shiver.

“It has a kick. That's funny. It's kind of like whiskey. Whiskey doesn't wake you up, though.” Tron didn't understand the reference, but he gave a small laugh in reply when Alan-One smirked up at him.

“Tingles like liquor bot acts like coffee. I had it the last time I was here. It's different, that's for sure.” Sam held the glasses out to Alan as he returned from the common room and the older man accepted them gratefully, the drink already beginning to take effect. He frowned at the window over the bed as he stood up, retrieving his jacket and tie from the table beside him.

“How long was I asleep? It's still dark out.”

“There's no sun here. You slept for a long time.”

“Oh. Huh. Well, what's the plan?”

“We head back to the Portal and head home.”

Alan nodded as he pulled the blazer back on, stuffing his tie into his pocket, and once his shoes were back on, he sighed contentedly, glancing back at the two.

“That's all good and well, but I meant after. You mentioned making upgrades Sam? Earlier, in the car, I mean. I want to help.” Tron looked up from retrieving his baton and spare disk from the shelf.

“You do?”

“Of course. You can't expect me to just forget about this place. Sam?”

The User smiled at him, crossing his arms in front of himself.

“I'd figured you would say that. It makes it easier on me. You're the only one I trust with this right now. There's no way I'd ask any of the other guys at Encom to help, they'd just try to exploit it all for money.”

“We're going to need help, though. I need to make some phone calls.” Sam frowned at him and got a smirk in return.

“Who do you have in mind?”

“Lora. That laser is her baby. It's going to need upgrades, too, if we hope to come back here later. It was never meant to work on the new systems we've developed since she made it.”

“You're right. It could use to be a bit more energy efficient, too. Otherwise, all Dad's money will go to electrical bills. How do you plan on getting her down here, though? She seemed pretty happy where she was.”

Alan thought for a minute, shaking his head. It had been over 20 years since she'd followed her 'new' job. After the digitizer program was phased out, she'd been shuffled around to other positions as they opened up, never finding her feet in any of them. She'd had little interest in the work they'd tried to give her, and when a higher paying position came up that let her do more R&D for the Government, she'd taken it. It wasn't the digitizer, but the last time he'd spoken to her, she'd been happy.

“I don't honestly know. I guess we'll just have to hope she misses her digitizer work enough to want to continue.”

“I guess offering her a higher-paying position won't hurt, either.” Alan smirked at him.

“I doubt the board will like that.”

“It's not the boards decision.”

“All that leaves is for us to get in touch with her. After we get home, at least.” Sam nodded in reply, heading out the door towards the lift that led down to the lower levels.

“I'll get the runner started up.” Alan watched as Sam headed out the door before turning to look at his Program as Tron stood watching and waiting expectantly, giving him a smile.

“How about you? I take it the rewrites have started up well?” Tron's inquisitive gaze brightened and he smiled back, and Alan could see an obvious ease about him that had been missing before.

“They have, thank you, Alan-One. Things feel much better, now. I don't know if my way of describing it would be adequate to convey the difference I feel so that you understand, but it is...profound. I feel...” He seemed to struggle in his limited scope to find a word that would describe it that would extend beyond the cultural divide, but in the end, he simply laughed and shrugged in resignation to his User. “It feels good.”

Alan chuckled, patting him on the back and leading him out the door after Sam. It was strange, seeing the way the friendly gesture seemed to please Tron, the way he smiled at Alan with an almost child-like air.

“I'm glad. You look happier.”



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