The Washroom on the Nebuchadnezzar
Trinity sighed as warmth enveloped her body. With the hum of the motor filtering out any sounds from the rest of the ship, the washroom was the most private, peaceful place on the Nebuchadnezzar. Since it was also the only place a passenger could feel truly warm, it was something of a zen chamber to most of the crew.
Standing in the metal tube, she closed her eyes and let her mind wander. It was always tempting to drift into sleep, but doing so would mean waking up in freezing water. Instead, she just breathed in the steamy air and relished the beautiful warmth, not unlike the feeling of sunlight in the Matrix. At first, she thought about Neo and the events of the previous day, but then she let her mind go blank to enjoy the heat while it lasted.
When the water's temperature had dropped to lukewarm, she took a dab of soap and massaged it through her hair, then bent her knees until they touched the side to dunk her head and rinse it out. When the water had turned cool, she reluctantly climbed over the ladder and ended her bath, draining the tube to send the water to be recycled and reheated. She began to wrap herself in a towel - made of the same thin, nearly useless fabric as their shirts, bearing no resemblance to the fluffy lies in the Matrix. Just as she did, the door opened behind her.
"I'm still in here!" she scolded and instinctively gripped the towel around herself. She turned and saw Neo in the doorway, who had clearly seen her unclothed from behind.
"I'm sorry," he said, starting to close the door, and noting that the lock must be broken.
"Did you need something?" she asked in a gentler tone.
"They said I could get a new shirt in here, but I can wait."
"No, it's alright," she said, soft but bold. "Come in."
He studied her face for a moment and then obeyed, entering and shutting the door behind him.
Still holding the towel closed, she reached out and examined his shirt when he got close. The fabric had torn all down the side and was hanging open.
"That's quite a rip," she said, mildly amused. "The shirts are on the shelf beneath the towels," she added, gesturing behind her.
Neo caressed her shoulder and studied the plugs on her arm and chest. He'd seen the ones lining her spine when he first cracked the door, and it was (literally) the first time he'd ever seen a naked person. Somehow it gave him a new perspective on where he was and all he'd seen so far. It was one thing to discover he could hack the Matrix. It was another thing to remember that, at one point, everyone with plugs had believed it to be reality. It felt like years had passed since the dreamworld had been his home, when really it had barely been a few weeks.
"How long have you been out?" he asked.
She knew he wasn't referring to the bath.
"A long time," she replied.
He looked down and smirked.
"No one wants to answer that."
"We don't like to live in the past." She touched his cheek. "The present is so much more fulfilling."
He kissed her and ran his hands up her sides. She let out a quiet gasp. The towel still clung to her body as she let it go and embraced him. Soon after, both the towel and his clothes were shed and they made love against the towel table over the hum of the motor. Neo found that the Matrix was as accurate about sex as it was about vision - it got it as right as it could, but something about knowing he was finally doing it with his real body was freeing. For the first time in his life, he was truly seeing, moving, feeling, doing, and he did not take it for granted.
When it was over, Trinity nestled her head against his collarbone and wrapped her arms around his waist. He returned her embrace and held her. Never before had she felt so drawn to another person, and now, finally being with him felt more beautiful than any hot bath ever could. Neo held her there much longer than she expected, and she knew he was feeling some version of the same emotion.
Only when there was a knock at the door did he ease his grasp.
"I guess we should find you a shirt," Trinity said.
He ran a hand through her wet hair and studied her face, then kissed her again.
"I guess we should clean up," he added afterward when he noticed they had knocked a pile of towels to the floor.
Trinity looked back and saw them, and something about the sight made her laugh. It was a sizable heap of drying cloths they had unknowingly dislodged with their movement. At first she just smiled, but then it crept up on her, and she genuinely laughed. She cupped her mouth to try to stop it, but it was no use. Her whole body shook with laughter.
Neo didn't understand exactly why it was funny, but he had never seen her laugh like that before. Trinity was a passionate person, certainly, but she wasn't one to lose composure under her emotions. Now, though, she had to wipe tears from the corner of her eyes as she gave up on fighting the laughter, and Neo couldn't help but smile and chuckle a bit in response. Whatever this was - this new, suddenly unreserved side of her - he was glad he was allowed to witness it.
She looked back up at him and shrugged, slightly embarrassed at her outburst, as if to say I don't really get it, either.
"You are so beautiful," he said in a sincere whisper as if observing her for the first time.
She held his gaze and didn't break it even when another knock came. Tank said something from behind the door, but his voice was muffled by the sound of the motor.
"Almost finished," Trinity responded, unsure if he'd hear her either.
She stood up from the table, still making eye-contact with Neo, and kissed him again. She gave him a small, almost coy smile before wordlessly grabbing her pants and dressing.
Both dressed, towels reorganized, and Neo in a new shirt, Trinity paused to look at him just as she reached for the door handle.
"You can sleep in my bunk if you like," she said, soft but direct.
Neo's face brightened a bit in surprise and he gave a faint, happy nod. Trinity pulled the door open and they both returned to the ship and reality. Being in love, Trinity reflected, was somewhat like being in the Matrix.
Except, she could be certain this was real.