Sam Flynn was twelve years old when his father Kevin decided to leave their small farm and find something better for them overseas. He took some of the money they’d been saving, packed his few belongings, and bequeathed to Sam the small energy farm, his white lightcycle, and their teenaged Basic farmhand, Tron.
“I want to go with you,” Sam said.
“You can’t. Not yet. When I find what we’re looking for I’ll come back for you. I promise,” Kevin said and squeezed Sam’s shoulders reassuringly. He then looked over at Tron, who stood silently on the side. “Take care of my boy, Tron.”
“Always,” Tron said.
Sam watched his father walk down the road. He then looked over at Tron, who gestured for him to go back inside, it’s getting dark and he had school tomorrow. At the doorway he looked for his father again but Kevin had disappeared around the bend several yards down.
Three weeks later the news came that the Solar Sailer his father was on was attacked by the Dread Pirate MCP, and Dread Pirates never leave anyone alive.
When Sam was fifteen he had to be rescued from a group of older boys by Tron, who fended them off with the disk he always kept on his back as a defense against energy-sucking gridbugs.
“I could’ve taken them all out,” he protested while Tron literally dragged him half a mile home.
“You keep telling yourself that,” Tron said while his circuits flashed dangerously red.
When they finally reached the small farm Sam yanked his arm back and Tron just let go. Sam fell on the ground on his ass and glared up at him. “Thought you were supposed to take care of me.”
“Be glad it’s just your pride that’s hurt and not anything else. What were you thinking?”
Sam glowered at him but the narrowed gray eyes were too much; he decided the ground was much better and stared at that instead as he muttered, “Need to learn how to fight so I can find the Dread Pirate MCP and kill him.”
“By harassing people who are bigger and stronger than you?”
“Can’t you at least give me credit for trying?”
That earned him a wry smile as Tron walked up to him and held out his hand. “Come on.”
Sam took it…and was suddenly on his back, the wind knocked out of his lungs and a foot on his chest. He blinked up at the Basic, who said, “Always be on your toes. Never take a kind gesture for granted.”
“You’re trying to teach me something?”
Tron removed his foot and Sam sat up, rubbing his sternum. “You wanted to learn, didn’t you?”
“Well, yeah, but-”
“I won’t always be here for you, Sam,” Tron said. “I don’t know much myself but I can teach you the basics, so that the next time you goad someone into fighting you you’ll at least know what you’re doing.”
“I always know what I’m doing,” Sam said as he followed Tron into the house. “And what do you mean you won’t always be here? You’re always here.”
Tron stopped short and Sam almost collided into him.
“I can’t promise you that,” he said as he turned to face Sam, “but I’ll try.”
Sam felt himself swaying forward, drawn in by the steady gray gaze, but Tron was already moving away, saying, “Need to check if the gridbugs got into the energy crop again. I’ll see you in a few hours.”
With a sigh Sam went into his room, which he used to share with his father, and dozed off on the low bed until evening.
When Sam was twenty-two he finally worked up the courage to confess his feelings to Tron. It didn’t go quite as expected, though; Sam meant to do it with words but when he came upon the older man polishing the white lightcycle in the small garage as requested he just stood there, tongue-tied. Tron didn’t notice until he’d been there for ten minutes, and then looked up.
He took in a shuddering breath as Tron rose to his feet and walked around the lightcycle to him but no words came out. He instead stared at the circuits on his chest that formed the oddly appropriate “T”. Before he knew what he was doing he lifted his hand and tentatively traced a glowing blue square, said, “I-”
He didn’t know what he was trying to say but it didn’t matter because Tron was kissing him. With a short moan Sam opened his mouth, wrapped his arms around the Basic’s neck, and dragged them back against the wall of the garage. Tron’s lips were warm, mouth reverent as it moved against his, and Sam thought nothing could be better than this.
Ten long languorous minutes later, when they were sitting on the floor, so close to each other that there was no space between them, Tron told him the news.
“I’m leaving in two days,” he said softly and Sam felt a cold pit form in his chest.
“With Flynn gone it’s been just you and me,” Tron said, tracing Sam’s bottom lip with his thumb. “There’s nothing for us here. I’ll find something better out there, and then I’ll come back for you.”
“That’s what Dad said.”
“Maybe I’ll have better luck. Just wait for me. Can you do that?”
Sam didn’t say anything. He just nodded and closed his eyes as lips brushed against his.
“I’ll always come back for you, Sam. Always.”
The Solar Sailer Tron was on was attacked by the Dread Pirate Paranoid.
There were no survivors.