A/N: Hey, matrix fans. I'm sorry if this is the saddest thing you've ever read, but I had to write it. It was meant to be a one shot, but I could easily extend this if I felt like it. I actually wrote this to be Morpheus-centric, but it turned out to be more of a Niobe fic, so I hope you enjoy.
Reality in Dreams
After peace had undoubtedly been confirmed, there were some who grew restless.
Not because of the deaths.
Not because of the mess.
Not because of the shock or even the sheer joy of the war having finally ended.
But because it had been more than a month and their saviors had not yet returned.
Morpheus hid his concern in public, but Niobe knew him too well. He was the most restless of them all.
The council argued now about attempting a search for them.
"There is no real danger, so we have nothing to lose."
"We do not know that for sure, councilor." Jason countered tactfully. "The only real sign of peace we have received was the retreat not two months ago. For all we know, they could still be mobilizing."
"But what would they be waiting for?" A councilor asked. "Why would they have left us alone for so long?"
"Machines are strategists of nothing else. They may be waiting for us to put our guard down. As much as I'd love to be as optimistic as most of Zion, we need to keep aware of the possibilities. Unless there is an active truce made, I still do not trust them."
"Then let us be the ones to act first."
Morpheus' voice pulsed through the air. It was quiet as Locke's eyes slowly turned to him, their eyes meeting in a strong connection. In the past, they'd felt nothing but bitterness towards the other for a few reasons, but now, something had changed. Jason hated to admit it, but Neo did save them. Niobe had also been right to trust Neo, even if she didn't believe in the prophesy, she trusted him with her ship; with everything. Their stare only confirmed the now shed bitterness—they were past such insecurities. Jason may be a hard man; a coarse and serious man, but he knew reality and accepted it when he needed to. He'd felt the Niobe's sudden interest in him all those years ago had been partly a ruse, especially concerning Morpheus, but he was young then and only cared about his own benefit. Now, his soul belonged to Zion, his heart somewhat detached and recovering from war. As he glanced at Niobe, standing tall next to Morpheus, he knew where her true feelings had lied all this time. And even if he was hurt, may it be his severed heart or his pride, he found it easier than he'd expected to move on, seeing how complete she looked. At this brief thought, he nodded to Morpheus, understanding the feeling of needing completion.
Morpheus nodded as a reply, turning back to the council. "With a full crew, I believe we can make this peace treaty as well as solve the mystery of Neo and Trinity's sacrifice."
"We grant you your wish, Captain Morpheus. You may choose your crew and depart whenever ready. We have faith in your leadership."
"Thank you, councilors."
And so the quest began.
Niobe hadn't gotten one word out of Morpheus after the meeting. She'd heard him call in officers, asking for their service on the mission. No one declined him, some even contacted him wanting to sign up. She could tell the decisions were making him grow weary by the minute.
After business, he sat alone, quiet for a long while, thinking. She watched him from the doorframe of his bedroom, not having seen him like this in a very long time. It almost scared her how vulnerable he seemed at the moment, but she knew the psychological pain he was going through. Well, she knew what it most likely was, and even then, she could only imagine what it felt like. He feared their death; the death of his children. She knew how his crew felt about him, at least the crew members she'd gotten to know.
She remembered Tank, an enthusiastic operator who died untimely death. He'd been raised by a single mother in a loving family, family values and Zion pride the epitome of his upbringing, so of course he'd look up to Morpheus as a father. But it wasn't only Tank, Trinity had also been very close to him, his best pupil. And Niobe knew just how important Trinity was to Morpheus. She was the only remained member of his original crew.
She was the one who used to keep him up at night, wondering if she could possibly be the One.
It was an honest guess, when they'd tracked her. Niobe had only heard of her "glorious escape." It was still talked about at the Academy how much of a natural Trinity had been to freeing her mind. And when confronted about it, she would wave it off like it was nothing, in a modest way, usually saying something like "anyone can do it when faced with the challenge. Its believing that makes the possibilities reality."
Trinity usually wasn't one for motivational speeches, but sometimes, a sentence or two of wisdom was all the cadets needed.
And Neo. Niobe couldn't shake the feeling that he was dead. She just felt it in her gut, like the very essence of the One had been erased from the atmosphere of Zion with his passing. But she didn't believe in the prophesy. She knew it needed to exist to give the people hope, including Morpheus, but she didn't need that kind of hope. She fought at the front lines, her hope was rooted in her crew. But Neo had had such a short life. Thirty some years plugged in with a hell of a wakeup call, slammed into a committed relationship before he even sets foot in Zion, becomes a celebrity and the savior of the human race all in six months. What the hell kind of life was that? She could only admire him for it, knowing the sacrifices all too well.
She thought at first that a relationship would be a distraction for such a "superhero." It had been for her, which was why, when she looked back, she didn't regret breaking it off with Morpheus. Though, she might have done it a little gentler…
Her thoughts were interrupted by Morpheus' burrowing eyes. His chin rested against his folded hands, elbows on the table in front of him. She took the chance and walked over to him, sitting down next to him. She was surprised that she didn't have to say anything to pry at his inner thoughts out into the open. He was willing to give them to her right then and there.
"Is it foolish to hope that they're merely stranded? Or lost?" After a pause, "Alive and together? Is it so childish as to wish or saviors a future?"
Niobe let a smirk grace her features, wanting to lighten the mood a bit. "When have you ever cared about being foolish?"
Morpheus heard the slight satire in her voice and braved a small smile, knowing her intensions. "Never. I still don't, because I do hope. I dream of their survival."
"I know." She replied, completely serious. "They mean more to you than any worshipper could ever imagine. They still pray."
"Every day. I know." He said, having seen the temples at the regular worshipping hour still filled, even after the wars supposed end. "I pray as well."
It was a long time until he reached for her hand. She braced his to match his strength, his other hand covering his eyes, moistening his silent tears. His voice remained clear through the waves of emotion.
"Reality still hurts, even after dreams come true."
He knew his own words sounded foolish, but it was true. Even if this reality was finally rewarding, finally merciful and fulfilling, there had to be some sacrifice; some pain to balance the prosperity.
"They wouldn't change a thing. I know they wouldn't." Niobe said. "Not even if meant their future."
"Yes, you're right." Morpheus confessed after a moment, looking back into her eyes.
"We'll find them." She said reassuringly.
"One way or another." Morpheus confirmed. "The truth will be known."