Sam Flynn looked right at his fathers friend, a friend he’d barely seen over the years and one he’d never quite figure out. Roy Kleinberg had been a good friend of his parents and the Bradley's but over the years even though he’d never really moved away he’d closed himself off, distancing himself as much as he was able.
“He would have appreciated everything you did for him and I have to admit that you were right all along… He had no reason to leave and so many more to stay.”
Roy was still a little shy but quietly determined in his own way and had always - without any doubt - known that Kevin Flynn was alive out there somewhere. Which is what had made this so hard for Sam to do. With Alan and Lora it had been easier, close friends though his father and Alan were, there was an understanding there that had made the blow less devastating. They had each other, their family and friends, Sam even suspected it was more like closure or finding peace after all this time simply by knowing what had happened, Even if he’d had to skimp on some of the details for now, it turned out Showing up at their front door with Quorra had been a good icebreaker and had lightened the mood a little.
“It was the least I could do.” Roy told him quietly, still looking pretty nervous and very much like he expected the FBI to walk in on them at any moment, his hands couldn’t stay still in his lap, removing lint that wasn’t there then fiddling with his buttons. Alan had explained the basics as to what had happened to make him so nervous and Sam had shut down the hunt for Flynn Lives by outwardly admitting he had been the one to hack Encom’s system and release Encom 12. Turned out there wasn’t much they could do when the owner of the company gave something he owned away for free.
Sam nodded, not sure of what else to say. He’d said pretty much everything he’d wanted to but there now seemed to be something else playing on his mind, something highlighted by Roy’s hands clenched together and the look in his eyes. Sam knew that look, had seen in on his father when his mother died and subsequently on everyone he’d known when his father disappeared. The closest thing it came to was grief… even after all this time.
“I don’t just mean the movement.” Sam added, not really knowing why. It was just the first thing that occurred to him to say and it was true. “After mom died things were hard… Dad was… I don’t know how to explain it…”
“I remember.” The older man told him and Sam nodded, realising the truth there, he’d probably known better than Sam.
“But I think it helped him when you were there, towards the time he disappeared at least, he was smiling again and not just making an effort for me, actually smiling, telling stories of the Grid, taking me out on our bikes...he was happy again.” Sam smiled at the memory and looking at Roy he could see the same expression although is was altered by the inescapable look of sadness in his eyes. “I think… I know that you must have really helped him through what happened.”
“Lora and Alan did the same.”
“In their own way yeah, without them and my Grandparents I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been but with you it was different. Dad was always that little bit brighter when you were around. I guess I just hadn’t given it any thought until now.” It had been right in front of him but as a child he hadn’t thought anything of it.
Roy smiled again but this time it seemed more hopeful somehow, still trying to hide the sadness there but Sam could tell it would take longer for that to fade, if it ever really did.
“Thank you Sam.” Roy spoke as though fighting the tightness in his throat, speaking around it purposefully.
“It’s the least I could do.” Sam stood then, knowing it was time for him to leave. “You coming to Alan and Lora’s Barbecue?”
“I don’t know, Alan told me about it last week but I’ll see.” Roy was facing the window, the late morning sun shining just out of sight and he looked younger for just a moment like the Uncle that Sam remembered as a boy.
“It’d be good to see you there, I know Quorra really wants to meet you. She’s heard a lot about you from my Dad.”
Roy’s eyes flashed to his and he nodded. “She’s the girl he rescued?” when Sam nodded the other man seemed suddenly more interested.
“She spent the past 20 years with him, although as she’ll tell you it felt longer.” He hadn’t quite gotten around to explaining that part yet. “He was her best friend and mentor.”
“And you’re sure she’d be alright with that? I mean after…” Sam could almost see what he was thinking and didn’t waste any time putting his mind at ease.
“She’d love to talk to you, said there are things only you would understand.” Sam tried to keep his own realisation out of his voice and his expression, he had a feeling that the other man would be more uncomfortable if he knew what Sam had come to understand during their conversation.
“Good, we’ll see you there.” He flashed him a Sam Flynn signature smile on his way out.
There was a sharp knock on his door and Alan gave permission for whoever it was to enter, he didn’t have much left to do that afternoon anyway and thanks to the restructuring whoever it was would be someone he didn’t mind talking to.
“Hey Alan, mind if I come in?” Sam Flynn popped his head around the door, the top of his Flynn lives t shirt visible enough from where he stood.
“Of course, come on in. Just out of interest though, how many of those shirts do you have? Ever since you took back the company I’ve seen you in a new one at least once a week.” He sat back in his chair and motioned for Sam to take the one opposite.
“Ahhh, I’m not sure actually. Jett gave me a few of his spares.” Alan raised an eyebrow at that but Sam brushed it off with a light chuckle. “The rest I got from Uncle Roy and I didn’t ask any questions, I think the grey one is probably my favourite.”
“Hmm.” Alan shook his head a little and chuckled. “What brings you here anyway, can’t be much left to do today, everything seems set for next week.”
“Yeah… it’s a little daunting to be honest, not really used to following the rules yet.” Sam admitted, he had taken on the job knowing there would be no more running off and abandoning this in search of something else.
“You’ll get used to it and you’ll be fine.” Alan’s words were the same steady and trustworthy ones Sam had grown up with, he had never lied and Sam considered that he may never do so, he normally avoided the truth if anything.
“Yeah, anyway, I’ve been working on trying to reconstruct some of the data from my dad’s grid - from the user end this time, I’m pretty sure it’s not stable enough for anyone to explore as it were.” He explained when Alan sent him a look he took to be disapproving.
“From what you’ve told me I’d have to agree with you.”
“Yeah, Q’s pretty insistent I stay out of it this time and that’s what brings me here actually.”
“Oh?” Alan was pretty curious as to what he wanted, Kevin had come to ask him a favour like this once, when he asked for a copy of Tron to upgrade and put on a system he was working on.
“I was looking through our systems -which is a lot easier with passwords than hacking I have to say - and I found something,a program called g.h.L.o.”
Alan knew immediately what he was referring to and sat up a little in his chair. “grid help, location orientation program, it’s been used in the system for the past seven years, gets upgraded every time the system does.”
“That’s the one, only I don’t seem to have permission to use it in any other system but the main Encom one, which isn’t unusual, it’s been the same here ever since my dad took over from what I’m told… it’s just that I have no way of contacting the programmer, they don’t work here or in any of our offices in the US.”
“I did manage to find out that their user is Hanabi and that they’ve been a registered user in Encom since 1988 but their contact information seems to lead me to you.”
“And that’s why you’re here?” Alan asked, he knew what the program was capable of and didn’t really need to guess why Sam wanted to use it.
“Yeah, pretty much.”
Alan nodded. “They’ve requested to be kept out of things as it were, their contract goes so far as to state they upgrade the program from time to time and perform any maintenance needed and they report to me directly on any matters relating to g.h.L.o.”
“Fair enough but Alan I’ve seen it and I’ve been testing it for the past few days, sending it searching for files I’ve hidden in the system. It even recompiled data that I scrambled, g.h.L.o is pretty impressive.” Alan was starting to wonder how long Sam had been wanting to ask about the program judging by how much research he’d put into it so far.
“Do you need me to contact them about using their program?”
Sam smiled but he looked more nervous than anything. “It’s a bit more than that actually Alan, I was wondering if they’d be able to modify it, or let me modify it for use on the other system.”
Alan sat back in his chair. “Ah.” was his only response.
“I know, I know they’re only contracted to maintain it and I can’t guarantee I can offer them anything official for their help but it’s either that or I figure out how to write something like g.h.L.o on my own and I don’t have the time or the knowledge to do a job that thorough.” he sighed and looked at Alan. “If it’s because they’re Japanese - I figured from their username they might be, it was written in japanese in the system, I can get Q to translate the notes on what I need altering.”
Alan chuckled at that. “They’re bilingual so english will be fine.” He looked at Sam, judging how serious he was and wondering if he knew how much like his father he looked when he spoke, his manner was much more like his mothers though and he was glad that the four or so short years he had with her had had a positive impact on his life.
“Does that mean you’ll ask them?” Sam asked, trying not to smile and maintain his serious expression.
“Yes, it means I will ask them. I can’t promise anything but they’ve been willing to help out with a few things in the past and if I explain why you need it Hanabi might be willing to do the work themselves.”
“Thank you Alan, I mean it - I’ll hand over my notes on the modifications and system specs at the barbecue tomorrow, just want to make sure I’ve got it all worked out.” He stood, almost bouncing on his feet and Alan couldn’t suppress another chuckle.
“I’ll see you tomorrow Sam, Lora said anytime after 2 will be fine and if you and Quorra are going to want to spend the night she’s sorted out a couple of the guest rooms.” Which for a woman who still couldn’t keep her own wardrobe in order had always surprised him. Everything else in the house had to be tidy but in their room the floor was an obstacle course made from her shoe collection.
“Thanks, I’ll let Q know. Are Hannah and Jett going to be there?” Sam asked, now almost at the door. He hadn’t seen Alan and Lora’s daughter for six months or so and had only seen Jett once in the last three.
“Yes, everyone’s home for once, I think Hannah’s back for good, not at home but California at least and Jett is here for a few days, he showed up on Wednesday.” His eyes drifted to the pictures of his family on his desk. One of Lora with Jett and Hannah when they were much younger and a family one from Italy two years ago when they visited Hannah whilst she was working and studying art over there. There were other photo’s too but those two stood pride of place next to one of Sam, Jordan and Kevin which he wasn’t sure Sam had ever noticed.
“That reminds me, I owe Jett a rematch.” Alan sent him a quizzical look and Sam smiled in response. “I’ll see you tomorrow Alan and thank you.”