“I just don’t understand how. It doesn’t have the functions to do something like –”
“GREETINGS, PROGRAMS!” Flynn burst into Alan’s cubicle, flinging his arms around Lora and Alan’s shoulders and taking ten years off of their lives. “What’cha two lovebirds doing?”
Alan had a death grip on the edge of his desk, Lora clutched her heart, and Roy’s head promptly appeared over the top of the cubicle wall. “Hey, Flynn.”
“Hey man, any luck yet?”
“Getting there!” Roy said brightly. “These things are built like bunkers, but that’s not going to stop me.” And he went back to rattling the partitions.
Lora elbowed Flynn off, straightened from her hunched-over position, and motioned at the code scrolling down Alan’s monitor. “My Yori program has somehow hacked and taken Alan’s Tron offline, and neither of them are responding to commands. We can’t find any traces of a virus, but that’s the only explanation we’re left with. I think I have no choice but to delete all the digitization software and reinstall –”
“Wait, what? Delete?!”
“Look, Flynn, I know you don’t like programs being removed for no good reason,” Alan said, turning his swivelling chair. “But in this case –”
“No, no deletions,” Flynn said emphatically. “Not unless you absolutely have to, and not ever for these two. Everything’s fine anyway, I put her up to it.”
Lora and Alan stared. First at him, then at each other, then back at him.
“You’re responsible for this?” Lora asked.
Flynn waved his hands vaguely. “Tron’s such a busy program, never a moment’s rest, not even after he took down ol’ Master Control. He has all of Alan’s workaholicism condensed into a tiny little speck on the motherboard. But a woman has needs, you know? So I nudged and I winked and I snuck Yori a couple of permissions and some other titbits, and, well, you know the rest.”
“Do we now,” Alan deadpanned.
“Translation, please,” Lora said with crossed arms and a raised eyebrow.
“I installed some of my revised hacker program’s code into Yori so she could drag Tron on a honeymoon at a liquid energy oasis. They can’t hear you over the sound of their boinking.”
“Translation to programming language, please.”
“That was the translation to program language.”
It was entirely Flynn’s own fault Lora and Alan didn’t get how witty that repartee was.
He sighed. “It’s an experiment, okay? Your programs exchange code, they learn from each other, both of your projects benefit, the company is bettered –”
“Flynn, you can’t just use my digitization software to experiment, do you have any idea how delicate – !”
“– are you kidding me, I only just implemented Tron’s latest updates, the new version hasn’t been beta-tested –”
“– AND YOUR PROGRAMS LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER,” Flynn finished over his friends’ protests. “Two birds with one stone. If anything comes out of this besides the cure for digital blue balls, who knows, we might even be able to use the results to write them a digital little Jet.exe.” He shot a fond, dopey look at Lora’s victory-baby bump. “Clu 1.5 would be god-program. They’d get a kick out of that, man.”
He patted the incredulous couple on their respective shoulders. “Don’t worry, guys. The communications block is temporary and Tron will be back up and running within the hour.”
“You could have just asked!” Alan protested.
“You’re right. And next time, I will,” Flynn agreed easily. “But I really came here to tell you I’m getting pizza for all you stragglers. You guys want the usual?”
Roy’s head shot up over the top of his cubicle. “Pizza?”
“Anchovies for my man Ram. You too, Alan?”
“Yeah, sure,” Alan sighed.
“Any insane cravings for the pregnant lady today?”
“I’ll have a burger,” Lora replied with a dry smile. “You know the place.”
“And a ten-minute detour for the wrathful pregnant lady,” Flynn finished, turning on his heel. “Gotcha.”
When Flynn had taken orders for everyone left on the floor and disappeared in the direction of the stairs, Lora shook her head and laughed. “Honeymoon to a liquid energy oasis? God-programs?”
Roy disappeared back into his cubicle, and the partition between his and Alan’s desks shook anew. “You know, not that he’s not the best boss in the world or anything – he is letting us get rid of these cubicles after all –” he said. “– but sometimes...”
“You wish he’d save the pot for after hours?” Lora guessed.
“Yeah. I’m glad your programs aren’t infected with anything after all.”
“Thanks. But technically speaking, it is after hours,” Alan pointed out with an air of ‘sometimes I hate always playing fair’.
The cubicle wall tilted out into the walkway, finally revealing Roy in full; in all his curly-haired, bespectacled, sweater-vested glory. He pumped his screwdrivers into the air. “Freedom!”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the screen...
Tron’s circuits still bore their fluid aspect of leisure, tinted the enduring violet of long-term indulgence, and his hair was a rarely-seen mess. He didn’t seem aware of how ravished he looked – how thoroughly hacked. Not surprising, when he hadn’t opened his eyes or even lifted his head from the crook of Yori’s neck for microseconds.
Yori, for her part, was content to bask in the warmth of the energy cycling lazily through their joined circuits, the weight of his body draped over hers. The satisfaction of getting her way and making him like it didn’t hurt either.
The great Tron; champion of Users and User-Believers in systems everywhere; the hero of the Game Grid; the slayer of the MCP. Tron, the most efficient and dedicated security program alive. And he’d let himself be hacked. By her.
She didn’t need the temporary instincts of her borrowed hacker’s code to feel immensely satisfied by that.
Oh, he’d protested at first, of course, like the paragon of program virtues he was. But he’d been more than willing to turn a blind eye to being sabotaged once she laid out the numerous advantages. In bright, shining, prismatic detail. Guarding a network that rarely slept was rewarding work, but hell on your love life.
“I could get used to this,” Yori murmured. “Remind me to crack and copy Flynn’s permissions before they expire.”
“Already taken care of,” Tron said, wrapping himself tighter around her.
Yori smiled into his hair. “And that’s why I love you.”