Author's Note: I don't own the Matrix
I came up with the idea for this story when I was writing a short story for my English class. It starts out with Neo and Trinity when they were younger before they were freed. (Rachel is the name of Trinity before she chose her name, and you'll find out what's wrong with Neo in future chapters)
Rachel never noticed him much before. He sat two sets of bleachers over from her and up a couple. Enough for her to have to twist her head a little to see him. He sat, arms on his knees and his hands clutching a CD player in between his legs. She followed the cord up to the headphones that were nestled on his ears, his espresso brown hair covering them up. His head bobbed up and down slightly to the beat of whatever music he was listening to. His eyes were closed, and occasionally he squeezed them tight, not out of habit, but as if he were trying to get something out of his head. Suddenly, his eyes snapped open and he stared directly at her. As she continued to hold his gaze, his slow, even breaths started to become short, ragged pants. His eyes shifted all over the place until he hung his head, squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his teeth together. Now, from where Rachel was sitting, where she could only hear the faint slapping of the snare drum that came from his CD player, she heard an uproar of music. The bass didn't carry, only the treble, which made the song sound fake. Like it came from a clock radio. Rachel kept watching him. Wondering to herself if she should get help, when his breathing returned to normal, his teeth unclenched, and he finally turned down the music, returning it to the faint slap of a snare drum she heard before. He let out a long sigh and his shoulders slumped. His head started to turn, to see if she was still watching him. She snapped her head foreword and concentrated on the basketball hoop on the far side of they gym. She brought her hand up to her left cheek and traced her fingers down a large scar that began at her cheekbone and ended at the corner of her mouth. She wondered if that was the reason for what just happened. She had always gotten some sort of response from her face. People would make eye contact for a brief second and then look away, or they wouldn't look at all. She'd get a few "Oh my God, what happened to you?" and then an "I am so sorry," after she told them. But nobody had done what he just did before. Maybe he was squeamish. Rachel sat with her left cheek in the palm of her hand until she was allowed to leave. She watched the seconds tick by on her watch until the minute hand reached 4:30. Detention was over. Rachel and the boy both got up at the same time. He bounced down the bleacher stairs and briskly walked toward the gym doors, mouthing the words of his song to himself. He halted at the doors, and without turning around, muttered the words, "I'm sorry." After that he was gone. Rachel picked up her backpack and sauntered down the bleachers, head parallel with the floor, knowing that she had scarred him. No pun intended. She let out a long sigh and pushed open the gym door and left.
Rachel walked slowly through Jackson Park aimlessly. It had become a new habit of hers. Every day, she found someplace different to be. It was always easy to find someplace new to go in the city. Today it was through Jackson Park on a beautiful drizzly day. She'd been out so long that the hem of her pants were wet and the weight of the water made her hair hang limply in front of her face. She approached a basketball court and sat down at one of the picnic tables surrounding it. She pressed the palms of her hands to her forehead and grabbed the hair at the top of her head. She kept thinking about how that boy reacted to her the day before. 'Don't be ashamed of it Rachel, you're beautiful,' Rachel heard her mothers voice in her head. 'No one's going to care about a mark on your face.' But her mother was wrong. Voices of her so-called friends flooded her head. 'Ew, Rachel, what is that thing on your face?' 'Are you suicidal Rachel?' 'You might want to put some makeup on that.' 'Masochism anyone?' Every single one of them, their voices dripping sarcasm. Each one deserted her when she needed them most.
There was someone dribbling a basketball on the court next to her. She didn't look over to see who it was. There was the sound of the basketball smacking the backboard, and the swish of it going through the chain hoop. They kept this up for a while. *smack* swoosh. Rachel noticed that they never missed a shot. She lifted up her head and looked over to who was playing basketball. She rolled her eyes at who she saw. It was the guy from the bleachers from the day before. He still had his headphones wrapped around his ears, and the cord trailed to the CD player that was buried in the front pocket of his jeans. Rachel grunted and raised herself from the picnic table. She walked over to the boy with every intention of venting her anger on him. She wanted him to feel like shit. But a voice in the back of her head halted her slightly. 'He did say that he was sorry.' Rachel pushed that thought to the back of her mind. He still shouldn't have done what he did. He didn't even know her. She focused her eyes on him. A bomb could have exploded next to her and her gaze would never falter. "Hey!" she barked. The boy stopped in mid shoot and looked over in her direction. He grimaced and squinted his eyes, as if to block the sun. But the sun wasn't out. She was now face to face with him. Small raindrops were caught on his eyelashes, but he blinked and they shook off. He was breathing a little heavier than normal. But that was either because he had been playing so much, or he was nervous. His eyes were focused on something behind her but she didn't turn her head to see what it was. "What was yesterday about? Why the hell did you do that?"
He blinked a couple of times, never looking at her. "I… I said I was sorry."
His eyes darted behind him for a split second. He was thinking about running away. But Rachel wouldn't let him. "Is it because of my face? Are you disgusted by it? Or do you feel sorry for me like everyone else does?" Rachel couldn't believe she was pushing it this far. But she felt like pushing it.
"No, it's not because of your face. I admit, I was a little disturbed by it. And no I don't feel sorry for you because what you're going through is nothing compared to what I'm going through," his voice grew louder with every sentence.
Rachel's face softened a little and she added in a quiet voice, "then what are you going through?"
The boy let out a short laugh, "why do you care so much?"
Rachel went silent. Really, why did she care so much? "I don't know," she replied.
"Yeah, you don't," he retorted. "A scar on your face is nothing compared to a scar on your life." He stood there, occasionally squeezing his eyes shut, or clenching his teeth together, or turning up his music for a little but then turning it down again. "What's your name anyway?"
Rachel stared into his eyes, whose never met hers. He had never looked at her once. "Rachel," she said uneasily. She paused. "What's yours?"
For the first time, he stared into her eyes for half a split second. She caught a glimpse of some twisted pain in them. "Thomas." He picked up his basketball, turned around and walked away.