Dejana's Writing

Last Loose End
a Matrix fanfiction by Dejana Talis
-not to be used without permission-

Written for the 2006 Winter Challenge on

Upon being unplugged, they all had to give up everything they had ever known. Everything - and everybody. Classmates, friends, even family vanished into the fog of the false world, replaced by the firmer bonds formed in the harsh reality. It was harder on some than others, but they all let go of their old lives in the end. As the Nebuchadnezzar’s youngest crewman, Mouse ached to prove he was just as strong as the others, but no matter how many days went by there was still something he couldn’t let go of.

When he left the Matrix, he thought she would follow soon after. They were both bold, inquisitive conspiracy theorists, their passionate and adventurous natures leading to the kind of wild nights most geeks could only download porn about. It was their similar interests that had brought them together. They traveled in the same virtual circles. At first, Mouse had watched the contact points eagerly for signs of her sending out feelers in the right direction. Unable to resist, he even dropped a vague hint here and there hoping to alert her to his presence. As time went by, however, he was forced to accept that his efforts were in vain. Despite trying everything short of rewiring the city to broadcast “ALI COME FIND ME” across the skyline, she never even vaguely suspected the existence of the ultimate truth. Ali simply didn’t have the kind of mind that could be freed.

Had he known that, would he have left her? No number of sleepless nights could answer that question. All that was certain was her memory would not leave him now. Although his parents, schoolmates, and everyone else who had been in his life before Morpheus faded from Mouse’s mind, he could not let go of Ali. She was no longer the only one who had truly understood him, but she had been the first, and no one on the Neb nor the world it traversed could take her place.

Especially today. As he sat with his Construct-fabricated laptop in the basement of the abandoned data center, he could think of nothing but Ali. He dutifully shadowed Neo through chatrooms and tech forums, his fingers skillfully manipulating the codes that kept Mouse anonymous and undetected, but it was all automatic. Normally he would’ve been planting links and articles for the as-yet-ignorant Neo to stumble upon, but tonight his mind was elsewhere.

It was Valentine’s Day.

No one else on the Neb remembered the holiday, but Mouse did, and it was impossible to forget once he entered the Matrix for his shift. The basement where he was now hiding was dark and gray, but the streets he had passed through to get here were nearly drowning in pink and red. It was Valentine’s Day, and he was spending it in a cold basement monitoring some guy who didn’t even know the real color of the sky. Of course, it was impossible to know if there really was any such holiday or if it had been entirely invented by the machines, but it was real enough to most of the sweethearts of the world. And Mouse still had a sweetheart.

A sweetheart who had never even known what really happened to the boy she had called the moon in her night sky. Mouse had once sworn there was nothing more important to him than Ali, and he had abandoned her to vanish into the ether.

Had he known she would never leave the Matrix, would he still have chosen the red pill? He didn’t know. He was certain, however, that he would not have left her like he did – without a word, without a warning, without a thought for her broken heart.

It was with that thought that he pulled up new screens, began new searches, with far more eager energy than he had had in months. It was with that thought that he abandoned his post and ran up the broken steps to the street.

After jogging a few blocks to a busier road, he hailed a cab. A foolish move by all standards; an agent could easily replace the driver and trap Mouse in a moving box of metal with no means of escape. It was precisely for that reason that he chose that mode of transportation. It was too far to run, and as long as he wasn’t doing anything to disrupt the Matrix, it was unlikely he would attract the agents’ attention. At the same time, an act so entirely against all of his training would confuse any of the crew who might try to find him, and at the moment, Mouse feared Morpheus more than any agent.

His phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and flipped it open, but he already knew exactly what code the caller ID would show. Tank wanted to know what the hell was going on.

Mouse turned off the ringer.

For the rest of the ride, he was alone with his thoughts. It was only a matter of time now until they came after him, and he would certainly catch hell for abandoning his duty of watching over the potential savior, but this had to be done. For him. For Ali. Just this once, he was going to do something just for him, just for the life and people he had left behind. Morpheus could have Mouse’s life, but it wasn’t fair for Ali to pay a price as well. He couldn’t let her hurt anymore.

The cab turned corner after corner, carrying Mouse through the finer areas of town, toward the restaurant his special search program had shown as her location. It was that which had sealed the deal, had bridged the gap between wistful fancy and willful disobedience. The two of them had often planned to dine at that restaurant someday, when they were older and had money of their own. On Valentine’s Day. The day had arrived, and she had gone there alone with her memories of him, to honor that which had passed between them. She still thought about him as often as he thought about her. She still cared for him, she still missed him.

Mouse ordered the cab to halt down the street from the restaurant. This was the kind of place you arrived at by limousine, not taxi. He paid the driver from the handful of bills all redpills carried for emergency purposes, and strolled off toward his destination, trying his best to remain casual. He wouldn’t run, he wouldn’t hurry. He didn’t want to startle Ali by appearing suddenly. She would be surprised enough to see him as it was. He went over what he would say over and over in his head, his lips moving absently as he considered each syllable. He’d been working on these words for so long, and now that the moment was here none of them seemed right.

As he passed the plate glass windows of the restaurant on the way to the doors, he could not resist the temptation to glance inside. His eager eyes scanned every table, every face, searching for the girl he would never forget. Strange, no one seemed to be dining alone –

He spotted her. The girl he knew had become a woman, but he still recognized the slope of the neck he had so often caressed, the brightness of the eyes that had so often held him entranced long into the morning. She was wearing a sleek black dress, and her long blonde hair was piled up on her head in an elegant mass of curls. With the aid of his memories Mouse could still identify the sharp intelligence and bold attitude of the hacker he had once known, but all outward signs of her history as a geek had vanished beneath her mature beauty. For a moment he was spellbound by the sight of her as her eyes twinkled and she laughed lightly –


Mouse blinked, and the stomach he didn’t really have clenched in sudden nausea. This was no woman in mourning, and she wasn’t alone. A man in a suit sat across from her at the expensive table for two, smiling and holding her hand in his on the tablecloth. When they moved, something on her hand caught the light and sparkled brightly. An engagement ring.

The sidewalk was suddenly unstable beneath Mouse’s shoes. He reached up and lowered his shades, focusing on the pair in the restaurant in disbelief. He had to be mistaken, this couldn’t be the right person, maybe he was in the wrong place. Desperately he searched the rest of the room, twice, three times. He double-checked the name above the restaurant door. This was the place, the restaurant they had always intended to visit together. This was the woman, the girl who had given him her heart and captivated his in turn, whose memory held Mouse bound to this false world no matter how hard he tried to turn away. He had risked everything to come to her, only to find she was no longer waiting for him.

She had forgotten him.

His punishment for abandoning his post was 30 days’ confinement in the Nebuchadnezzar, and an assignment to design a program to teach future redpills the importance of letting go of every tie to their old lives. He had a feeling Morpheus had gone easy on him. Mouse had seen pity in the older man’s expression when he returned from the Matrix to find his face wet with the tears he had refused to shed in the virtual world. The punishment was almost none at all given the seriousness of the offense. Mouse was none too keen to return to the world of lies and broken promises, and he was eager to begin writing the required program. He wanted to make sure no one else had to suffer the burden that he had.

It wasn’t long before he had the program’s structure in mind. There would be a woman, as beautiful as if she had stepped off the cover of a magazine. She would be dressed in red in a world of black suits, impossible to ignore and just as irresistible. She would walk by the new arrival, swaying her hips alluringly, swinging her arms gracefully, giving him an approving and inviting smile.

Then, when the trainee turned around to follow her, she would become what she really was. A messenger of death, a gateway for the devil, a pawn under the enemy’s control. An agent, cruel and ruthless and interested in nothing but the liberated humans’ demise. No matter how close the relationship, no matter how strong the bond, all was broken the moment the red pill was swallowed. From that moment on, every life within the Matrix was nothing more than a potential enemy, a liability, a trap waiting for the rebels to let their guard down.

Temptation was a weakness none of the unplugged could afford.

The End
The Matrix trilogy and its associated characters and canon are the property of the Wachowski brothers.
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