Categories > Cartoons > ReBoot1 Reviews
In a ficlet that politely ignores the Fourth Season's rule that Matrix despises Glitch-Bob, Mainframe's two guardians take a moment to discuss their pasts before the war with Daemon begins.
"Bob?" Dot murmured against Guardian 452's lips. She unsuccessfully tried to pull away from her old friend and new lover.
"Mmmmm?" Bob replied, and wrapped his arms more tightly around Dot's slender waist.
"Bob, I have to leave."
"No," he told her neck as he nipped at it.
"Bob!" Dot laughed. "I have a meeting with the Command.com of System Netscape in one millisecond. Just because you don't have to go doesn't mean I want to get out of it. Or would you rather we fight Daemon just with your shiny light trick?"
"It's not a trick. It's a special Glitch power."
"Than why did you use it to make ice at the Restart party?"
Bob pulled back and mock-glared at his girlfriend and Command.com. After some careful planning (he was learning something from Dot after all), he had managed to get the busiest woman in Mainframe alone with him. Actually he had cornered her in her office and dragged her into a nearby storage room. In any case it had seemed to work for a while. She had been cooperative and even acted delighted, but now it seemed that all his hard work had been for naught. The clever guardian decided to try one last strategy.
"But Dot," Bob whined, trying to look pathetic and lonely. "We never get to spend any time together! I'll bet even Daemon takes a break from conquering the known Net every once and a while."
Dot wasn't impressed. She stepped back and crossed her arms against her chest, fixing the sprite with an irritated look he knew ever so well. Even so there was a spark of amusement flashing in her commanding violet eyes.
"Bob, you shouldn't joke about Daemon. Besides we see each other all day."
"Strategy meetings and system conferences don't count. I was thinking about quality time. You can't blame a guy for wanting to be alone with you." Bob tried to be charming in order to dissuade Dot from her work but it was no use.
"Nice try, Guardian," Dot said with a cute smirk. "Now give me a kiss and I'll see you tonight after the strategy meeting."
He complied and she began to walk towards the door. Dot had her hand on the doorknob when Bob had an idea.
"Where's Little Enzo? I could do gaming drills with him. He's been begging me for cycles."
Dot looked at him oddly.
"He's at school."
"Oh. Right. I knew that."
She turned back to the door, her ticket back to the real world.
"Yes, Bob?" Dot asked, slightly annoyed now. Concentrate on his eyebrows. His cute, little eyebrows.
"Where's Matrix and AndrAIa?"
"AndrAIa's is getting ready for the system meeting. She and Matrix know this Command.com, remember? And En-Matrix is probably taking Mike the TV apart. He did move in with them," Dot reminded him.
Bob chuckled. Mike had moved out of the guardian's apartment cycles ago, claiming that Bob's new armor upstaged him.
"I better go make sure Mike is still in one piece."
"Mike?" Matrix called out as he searched the apartment. "Mike, where are you? I promise I won't hurt you."
Matrix paused as his pesky guardian programming resisted him telling such an outright lie.
"Okay, I promise I'll try not to hurt you."
There was no reply. Matrix gave up his hunt and sat down on the couch in the living room. He supposed Mike had finally decided to stay away after their last "incident" which had involved Gun, pliers, and a lot of swearing. No matter, Matrix could find something else to do while AndrAIa was meeting with Dot and the Command.com of one of the hundreds of systems that the gaming couple had visited. He didn't need to be with AndrAIa all the time. He could think of something to do while she talked to Tina, the aforementioned Command.com. He leaned back and looked up at the ceiling, quickly running over his options. There were only a precious few and most of them weren't legal in Mainframe anyway.
"I need a hobby," Matrix muttered, unconsciously flipping his cybernetic eye around as he scanned the walls of the room. When he noticed a crack in the plaster, he winced. AndrAIa wasn't going to like that.
There's one more reason for AndrAIa to hate this place, he thought. She wanted us to get our own place and now all she can do is find things wrong with it. She said she liked it when Dot showed it to us. I don't understand women.
As Matrix pondered the complexity of women (the ones he knew in particular), someone knocked on the front door. Curious, he went over and answered it.
"Oh...hey, Bob." Matrix gestured for the older guardian to come in.
"Matrix!" Bob said enthusiastically. As always he felt he had to be extra cheerful around his permanently somber friend.
Matrix stood around uncertainly for a few minutes before realizing that he should probably get something for Bob. It was a strange feeling not being the guest for once.
"You want a drink or something?"
Matrix frowned and turned towards the kitchen. He had been hoping for a no. Now he'd actually have to go into the kitchen, a realm infrequently visited by the gaming couple. Bob followed closely behind, whistling off-key.
"So where's Mike?" Bob asked, looking around the small apartment. He froze, his question forgotten, as he and Matrix entered the kitchen. The room was completely empty, no counters, no chairs, no table. All that was in the room was a box, a small refrigerator, and, for some odd reason, a large blanket. Matrix headed for the refrigerator purposely, kicking the blanket away as he went by it.
"He left sometime last night," Matrix answered Bob's previous question as he bent down, opened the refrigerator, and peered hopefully into it.
"Why?" Bob asked, momentarily distracted from Matrix and AndrAIa's sparse kitchen. He walked over to look into the box. It was completely empty.
"Well," Matrix began, avoiding the guardian's eyes, "he kind of walked into our room at a bad time."
"I see," Bob said, suppressing a laugh.
"Yeah. I guess breaking off his antenna was a little harsh. You want some jello?"
Matrix actually smiled at the surprised look on Bob's face. He pointed into the refrigerator where there were rows upon rows of jello molds.
"The neighbors keep sending them to us," Matrix explained, shrugging his large shoulders.
"Um, I guess I wouldn't mind having the red spider with the green eyes."
"I think that's supposed to be Hexadecimal," Matrix murmured, pulling it out and holding it up to Bob for a closer look.
"Hey, yeah. I didn't know they made black jello. Neat." Bob took the jello mold gratefully and Glitch-phased a spoon. He could do all kinds of neat things like that now. So what if Dot made fun of him. She couldn't Glitch-phase eating utensils from her hands.
"So why aren't you with AndrAIa?" Bob asked, unable to think of anything else to say as they went back into the living room.
"I don't know Tina that well. Besides, DrAI's been making me take it easy until she thinks I'm ready to play games again. And anyway, why would she need me? She has Dot looking over her shoulder."
Bob chuckled softly in agreement. As Matrix sat down in a chair the light caught his bionic eye. Bob stopped laughing, looked at it, and lowered his head slightly. Admittedly he'd seen far worse kinds of scars in the Web, but somehow seeing something like that on Enzo made it more terrible.
"Matrix, what exactly happened to your eye?" Bob's question caught Matrix and himself off-guard. Matrix fingered the scar over his eye self-consciously as Bob opened his mouth to take the words back. A harsh chuckle from the renegade cut him off.
"You know, you're the first person that's asked me that since I got back. Dot just stares at it when she thinks I'm not looking with that weird look on her face she used to get when you did something dangerous."
"The look where her eyebrows bunch up and she bites her lip?"
"That's your sister." Bob nodded to himself, a fond smile on his face. He got serious again quickly. "If you don't want to talk about it, I understand."
"No, that's all right. I guess I should get used to explaining it. AndrAIa offered to but..." Matrix shook his head and sighed. "It happened in the game I lost. It was some kind of basic fighting game and the User had this...knife. On the last round he...."
Matrix paused, uncomfortable to find that he was unable to put it into words, as he made vague slashing motions up his eye. To Bob's surprise the renegade was shaking slightly.
"I'm sorry," Bob said softly, giving the other sprite a few moments to compose himself. He took the time to take a big scoop out of Hex's head and perform an unusual lobotomy with his teeth. It was pretty good.
"So am I," Matrix whispered, looking off distantly. He focused on Bob again after a nano. "I never told anyone before."
"Are you going to tell Dot?" Bob asked gently, viciously hacking off one of Hex's arms.
"Probably should. Someday. I don't know. I think it would be harder to tell...her." Matrix grimaced when he heard himself. "If that makes any sense."
"It does," Bob reassured him, a curious note in his voice as he scratched at one of his web scars. Matrix watched him.
"What was it like? Being in the Web, I mean?" the renegade asked, leaning forward.
"It was...very...chaotic," Bob answered slowly, unsure of what to tell him. He stabbed at Hex's upper torso and considered. He hadn't told anyone about the Web yet. Dot hadn't asked, not able to steel herself enough to deal with the answer yet, and Mouse was too discreet to openly pry.
"I see." Matrix raised an eyebrow at Bob, inviting more of an answer.
"There are no laws there," Bob said. As a guardian, a lawless place had been unthinkable. The Web had been a rude awakening. "The Web Riders are more civilized than anybody else but they rarely come out into the open. They don't want to degrade any more than they have to."
"What are the they like?" Matrix asked, understandably curious about Mainframe's potential allies.
"They're a very closed people. They don't allow anyone to talk about their life before they entered the Web so I don't know who they were...before. But they were good to me." Bob swallowed. Good yes. The web riders had been very gracious to him considering that most of their views on guardians were that the former were naive dipswitches, and they had been more than patient with him. But he vividly remembered the beginning, when he hadn't understood a word they were saying, when all he knew was fear of the scarred sprites that jabbered at him and seemed almost always ready to just leave him in the open Web. If they had he now knew that he would have died slowly and painfully of Web exposure as he was starting to when they had found him. He never wanted to have to experience anything like that again.
Matrix nodded and the two sat in silence. Not an awkward silence like before but a companionable one where two people that knew what it was like to be afraid and to suffer sat together and remembered. Matrix frowned, thanking the Net that he had at least had Frisket and AndrAIa with him in the games. He didn't know how Bob had made it without someone he loved close by.
"Well, we sure know how to have a party," Bob said, trying to lighten the mood. Matrix stared at him and opened his mouth to apologize. Bob waved his protests away.
"I think it's good we talked about all this. I know I feel better having gotten it off my chest." Bob smiled. "I bet you do to."
Matrix didn't have a suitably tough answer for that but his eyes were undeniably grateful.
"This was good. Thanks for the jello," Bob said, waving the empty jello mold plate slightly.
"I guess I should be going. I have a date tonight." Bob got up, grinning mischievously.
"Anybody I know?" Matrix asked, actually playing along.
"Maybe. You ever met Dot Matrix?"
"The Diner broad?"
"That's the one."
"I might have talked to her once or twice." Matrix actually smiled, getting up with Bob. "You two have fun tonight."
Matrix paused, blinking slightly.
"But not too much fun. She is my sister."
"I promise to be a complete gentleman. Guardian honor." Bob patted Matrix on the back and headed for the door.
"Bob? We're friends, right?"
"Huh?" Bob turned around. "Of course we are."
"Then as a friend, can I ask you something?"
"Do you really think we can beat Daemon?"
Bob looked at Matrix in surprise, completely unprepared for that question. Then he looked down at his hands and sucked in a deep breath. If it had been anyone else asking he would have given him a confident affirmative. Matrix, however, had earned an honest answer out of him.
"I don't know, Enzo. She's infected sprites I never thought a virus could touch," Bob whispered, thinking of Turbo and wincing. He never thought the day would come that Turbo would fail. As a cadet he had considered the Prime Guardian invincible. Now he barely knew what to believe.
"But I do know that Mainframe has a way of doing the impossible. Look at everything that's happened. Our system has survived an infection and a restart, a chaotic virus has become one of us, and we defeated one of the most ruthless viruses in the Net. If I know anything, I know we're the only ones that stand a chance against Daemon."
"Thanks, Bob," Matrix said, clasping Bob's shoulder briefly. "I needed to hear that."
"Yeah. Me too." Bob nodded at the renegade and put a hand on the doorknob. "See you later, Enzo."
"Bob," Matrix said, putting his hands to his side and managing in that moment to somehow look exactly like he had hours ago.
Bob smiled at him and opened the door just as AndrAIa did.
"Oh Bob! You scared me," AndrAIa scolded. She walked in the living room and wrapped her arms around Matrix's neck for a quick hug. "The meeting went well. I think we have a new ally. Tina nearly fainted when she saw me though. She thinks it's only been six minutes since we left Netscape."
"We expected that, didn't we?" Matrix asked, slipping an arm loosely around AndrAIa's waist.
"Yes. It was just odd. So, what have you guys been doing?" the game sprite asked, looking between her lover and her friend.
"Talking," Matrix said, meeting Bob's eyes.
"You actually got Matrix to talk?" AndrAIa asked Bob. "And you didn't have to threaten him? You really are amazing."
"Funny." Matrix growled, grabbing AndrAIa and picking her off the ground.
"Put me down! I was just kidding." AndrAIa giggled, stealing a kiss when she got the chance. The kiss became more involved as the gaming couple forgot about Bob.
Bob chuckled as he left them alone. Kids, he thought and wondered briefly if he could pick Dot up like that without hurting his back. In any case, it would be fun to try. And he couldn't think of anyone else he'd rather have playing doctor.