Sam glanced over at the Security monitor by his side and frowned deeply. Tron was sitting, crouched on the building beside Sam. They were watching over the recreation of the End of Line club. It didn’t seem very important, really, but enough Programs had voiced their opinion about bringing it back, so Sam volunteered to oversee the reconstruction of it. Tron had offered to come with Sam, but it seemed the Program had been more antsy to leave the presence of the oldest Users he knew than anything else. He hadn’t spoken the entire time. His body language fairly screamed anxiety and mistrust.
Tron didn’t trust himself, that much was clear to Sam. Whenever Sam, Kevin, and Alan went anywhere on the Grid, Tron would insist that the recently re-written Anon would come with them for protection.
“But Tron, we have you,” Kevin had assured the first time it happened. Tron’s eyes had grown hard and cold at the statement, a purr resonating deep in his code. It made everyone draw back a bit...
“No. You have Anon,” Tron had hissed before walking away. Tron had ended up joining them that day, but it was clear he didn’t consider himself proper protection. It had hurt Sam to see. The Program that fought for the Users doubting his ability to follow his directive. It became painfully clear that Sam had to do something. But what... That was the problem....
Sam looked over at Tron again before looking back at the slowly reconstructing Club. He had an idea.
“Come on, Man. Let’s head back over to the Gamma Sector. I want to work on something.”
Tron didn’t speak beyond a nod as the two got up and left.
“Hey Alan,” Sam called as he ran over to the two programmers, an object hidden behind his back. They were rebuilding the old I/O tower that had fallen out of use after Clu’s coup. Programs didn’t usually need to speak with Flynn on the other side of the screen... but now that Alan and Sam were also present on the Grid, it seemed wise to rebuild it.
“What’s up, Sam?” Alan asked as he gently pushed the datapad that Kevin was shoving in front of him away from his face. Kevin frowned at Alan before pocketing the datapad and looking over at his Son again, a patient smile no his face.
Sam grinned as he presented the object he’d been hiding to his Father and Father-figure, “Ta-da! Tron’s therapy project!”
Kevin raised his eyebrow, “Sam, that’s a stuffed animal....”
“And a small one, at that,” Alan observed with a smirk, “Wanna help us out here, Sam?”
“It’s Sheldon, the Tiny Dinosaur!” Sam declared, “He’s gonna be Tron’s practice for getting back into the swing of his purpose on the Grid.
Alan pursed his lips, “You want to give Tron a pocket-sized companion to practice protecting, so he can build confidence in his ability again... Okay,” The Programmer suddenly smiled, “I think I get it.”
Sam smiled at Alan before looking to his father, “I’m gonna give him to Tron so Tron can carry him around and protect him. Since he’s an inanimate object, he’s not gonna try to run away from Tron or get into trouble, so he should be easy to protect. Just a little confidence booster, you know?”
Flynn looked skeptical, but seemed to be pondering the idea. He was nodding to himself, his gaze focused upward. Then he looked back at Sam and bit his lip, “And... what if, by no fault of Tron... something happens to this Sheldon?” Flynn motioned to the tiny green plush with a slightly concerned expression. Sam smiled.
“Already thought of it. Sheldon’s got a little protective barrier around him whenever a threat approaches. Watch!” Sam withdrew his identity disk and activated it. The whirring, circular weapon was slowly lowered towards the innocent looking creature, but before Sheldon could face any harm, a thick blue protective barrier sprang up from him. The Identity Disc collided harmlessly with the barrier.
“There! See? It’s perfect!”
Alan, to his credit, relented rather quickly. Kevin took a bit more assuring, but he too ultimately agreed that it was worth a shot. It was Tron that was the most difficult to convince.
“Sam, why in User’s name would I carry around this inanimate object?” Tron glowered at Sam as the User offered Sheldon to him.
“Because he’s cute?” Tron’s glare grew a hundred times harder and Sam could feel himself shrink under the baleful gaze, “Come on, Tron.... It would just be a little training exercise.... To see how you handle protecting this little guy.”
Tron scoffed, “Why would I protect a thing that doesn’t need protecting? I could leave him in my quarters in the Sigma Sector and he’d be perfectly safe.”
“Not the name of the Game, Tron. Sheldon has to go everywhere with you. That’s part of the requirement. Anywhere you go, Sheldon goes,” Sam smiled at his own ingenuity. Yes, he was growing more and more confident that this was an excellent idea.
“And why should I even take this Sheldon?” Tron offered the tiny Dinosaur the stink eye as Sam cuddled the soft plush.
“Because he’s a gift, Tron, and I’m giving him to you,” Sam answered evenly, “Isn’t there some sort of Program-User agreement that when a User gives a Program a gift, they can’t refuse?”
Tron turned and began to walk away, obviously done with the conversation.
“Fine, then I guess Sheldon doesn’t get a home. Sorry, little guy...” Sam looked poutingly down at the tiny stuffed animal and tried to hide his glee. Unfortunately, manipulating Tron was terribly easy, and Sam had him right where he wanted him, “And Alan was so excited about the idea...” Sam smiled to himself as he tossed the stuffed animal away with a shrug.
Suddenly, Tron spun around, ran forward, caught the stuffed animal in midair, and clutched the creature to his chest. He then turned and gave Sam a bitter look, “Alan_1.... He approved of this idea?” Tron grumbled. Sam smiled and nodded, and Tron let out a bitter sigh of defeat...
“Fine..... I’ll take the inanimate stuffed being with me...”
“That’s the spirit!”