- AUTHOR: Helena
- TITLE: Outside
- CATEGORY: Drama
- RATING: PG-13
- SUMMARY: In the Matrix, Trinity fought, she died, but she never gave up. What happens when the Matrix is shut down?
- AUTHOR’S NOTES: Companion piece to “Inside”. *Warning*: character death ahead!
A thin wail woke Trinity from her sleep. Next to her, Neo slid out from under the covers. Instantly, she felt the cold eating away at her burning skin. “Neo,” she murmured drowsily.
“Shh. Go back to sleep. I’ll take care of this.” He glanced down into the tiny crib while he put on a shirt, quietly slipping from the room. Trinity shifted to her side, propped herself up on her elbow with some effort, and winced at the pain that still lingered in her lower abdomen. Zion was supposed to be the best place on earth, but only as long as you didn’t become ill. If you did, you were screwed. And if you needed a c-section in the middle of a fucking war, you were doubly screwed.
But pain was nothing new, and it had never deterred her from her mission. She dropped her legs down to the floor which felt so very cold to her bare feet. But it was probably just the damn fever, she told herself. Beads of sweat formed on her forehead, feeling like they turned into icy crystals as soon as the cool air touched them. The wailing didn’t stop, but grew louder, piercing her heart with its helpless protest and with worry. The child was too tiny, too weak to scream like this.
The three steps ahead of her seemed to stretch into three miles, the floor spinning around her in dizzying circles. She forced her feet ahead a little at a time, dragging herself along by sheer force of will. In another world, which wasn’t too long gone and still felt like a lifetime ago, she had been a fighter. She wouldn’t give up just yet. Finally, Trinity reached the small bed, grabbing the headboard to support herself while hard gasps for air left her lungs, drying up her throat until it felt raw and sore. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Babies were supposed to be rosy and chubby, and the mothers ample and joyful. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Or maybe it is, and the Matrix lied to us all the way, she thought bitterly as she stared down at her crying daughter.
She wanted to pick her up, soothe away the tears, but didn’t trust herself to not let her fall. So she just stood, watching helplessly as her baby cried. Victoria. Morpheus had given her the name the instant she had been born – the instant when the battle against the machines had been won. Victoria, a symbol for the new era…little had he considered that her arrival, which had been met with frenzied celebrations by the people of Zion, had looked hardly victorious behind the closed door where Trinity screamed as the medical personnel cut the tiny baby from her womb prematurely.
The fight for life or death the infant had faced the instant she was born had been ignored. The child was tiny and weak, because her mother hadn’t been able to indulge in the luxury of not fighting the war. Malnourished, because there had been no food but viscous goo for her mother. And not even her years of hard training and self-denying discipline had enabled her to keep that sort of food down during her pregnancy. For the millionth time, Trinity blamed herself for her lack of strength and endurance.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. She had wanted her baby to never have to fight, and still, she could just stand by and watch, silent tears running down her cheeks while the little girl kicked and wailed. Why did you have to come along here, and now? she thought. Why weren’t you born inside the Matrix, and lived happily ever after?
She reached out a hand to stroke the tiny head, but flinched back as she felt the child’s skin cold as ice against her feverish body. In those first few hours, when she’d sat next to the incubator, she had asked herself what the fight would be about if her child didn’t survive. Nothing. All their lives, they had fought for a world without war to bring their children into. And for the first time since she had been unplugged, she had cried harsh, burning tears that almost choked her, and which not even Neo could dry.
But now the tears were dried up, just like her illusions about the world without war. What did Zion hold for this small, fragile piece of human life? Happiness? No. Exhausting work which made the children grow old before their time. Mercy? Compassion? Hardly, she thought as she looked into the tear-streaked face of her daughter, so innocent and already so heavily punished. Everyone had their own problems, now that their one common worry had ceased. Peace? The world was already proving, again, that peace and mankind didn’t go hand in hand. People fought. It’s what was inside them, either left over from the times of the war, or just because there was so much anger, and fear, still. Trinity couldn’t blame them. But she could hate it.
Zion had been survival. Zion had been the magic word, whispered in dark corners and utopian dreams. Zion was a myth, the promised land the slaves imagined during their walk through the desert. Now they had arrived and, too late, they had realized that with a promise also comes a choice. It had been so well-hidden beneath the whispered glory, though, that no one had looked back before it was too late, and realized that this choice was irreversible. But in the moment she had first held her child, she had understood why the Matrix had been built in the first place, and why it had been so successful.
Shivering, Trinity sank to her knees, clutching the edge of the cot with every last bit of strength she had left. She couldn’t leave her daughter all alone like this. She couldn’t just collapse. Desperately, she wished she retained the strength of old days, the knowledge that she could deal with anything, that she was one of the most feared fighters of the resistance.
Now she wasn’t resistant any more, and everything else had dissipated with the cause she had believed in, too. But the pain and worry never stopped. She was tired. How could she ever have been blind to the fact that without the Matrix, there was no cause, and without a cause, no Trinity would be left? And no super-human Neo, either, who could fix almost anything the system threw at him?
This tiny baby was supposed to be the future, and yet had none. Like never before, she felt the weight of her fighting years crushing her. Zion wasn’t the world this child should be raised in, but it was the only place there was, and she knew that it would take a strong mother, a strong father to supply substitutes for all the disappointed hopes and wishes that would undoubtedly arise.
And in this world, she wasn’t strong any more. She was scared and weak in both body and soul. And Neo couldn’t keep carrying her weight much longer. She loved him, and she didn’t want him to. In the end, it was a lonely decision, she mused, just like in the beginning. Trinity sighed as she wiped her face on the dirty sleeve of her shirt, fumbling for the small package she had had stored in her pocket for a while. She tried to remember where they had buried Cypher, but couldn’t. Dimly, she wondered if she would be forgotten like that, too.
Would Neo hate her? The thought alone was almost enough to make her resolution falter, but she unfolded the package in her hand anyway. No, she thought. Never that. If there was one constant both in the Matrix and the real world, it was that Neo loved her, and she loved him. At a time, this had been enough. But it was going to take a good father to raise their child in this brave new world, and to be that, Neo needed to pour all his love over their child. All of it.
He, too, didn’t need her help any more. She smiled wistfully as she thought back to other times, times that were long gone, never to return. But at least, she still had a souvenir.
The bottle of precious milk fell to the floor, splintering into a thousand pieces when Neo found her minutes later. Blue foam was dripping out of her mouth, and in her cooling right hand, Trinity was still clutching the remnants of the blue pills.