He lies sprawled on the bridge, chest aching from the impact of Clu’s foot just moments ago. There’s a deeper ache as well, one that radiates out from the very core of him.
The regret hurts more than any physical blow could ever deal. Regret for not realizing all of this sooner. For letting Sam down again. For letting his miracle down.
Kevin stares up at his eternally youthful doppelgänger, fear and awe warring for dominance in his features.
“Why?” the program demands, expression caught between wounded and betrayed.
“He’s my son,” Kevin gives Clu the only answer he can, shaking his head slightly because there isn’t enough time. There was plenty when he was in exile; years of time he never took advantage of.
Clu stares down at the User, rage and hatred in his eyes. He raises the ISO’s disc in his hand, arcing high over his head, and Kevin prepares for the end. The corners of his eyes sting with unshed tears for the son he’s lost again, for the world he’ll never see, but at least Sam will escape unharmed.
Then, there’s the unmistakable pitched hum of a released weapon, and when he blinks his eyes open, Kevin finds Quorra’s disc embedded in the bridge a foot from his skull. He blinks and turns to stare up at his program again, expression blank with shock.
Clu is still staring back at him, but his expression is far different. It’s almost predatory, in a way, and the thought sends a lance of something down Kevin’s spine. They’ve engaged in this dance before, but after a thousand years in exile … Kevin believed it to be over.
The golden-circuited program is kneeling before he can think on it further, covering Flynn’s body with his own, piercing blue eyes still fixed on his User’s.
He inhales sharply, one hand lifting carefully to rest against the side of Clu’s neck. For a moment, he’s afraid he’s broken the connection, but instead of twisting away, Clu surges forward, their mouths connecting in what could more accurately be described as a battle for dominance rather than a kiss.
Kevin scrabbles at Clu’s shoulder, his other hand coming up to grip there firmly while his arm slides across the program’s shoulder blades.
Clu is all heat and brightness and burning radiance against him, and Kevin is very nearly overwhelmed. It’s been so long, so long since they had anything close to this.
In the distance, he can hear Sam’s voice, shouting for him. Quorra is there too, probably verbally and physically trying to hold him back. Kevin can only imagine what it might look like to his son and the ISO.
“Clu,” he gasps as the program relinquishes his assault enough to allow the User to breathe. “Stop, just for a second, stop-“
He’s shoving them up, supporting Clu’s almost dead weight as he reaches one arm up, fingertips pointed to the roiling skies overhead. “It’s okay!” Kevin shouts to his son, moving to wave instead. “It’s alright!”
Quorra’s expression is almost more doubtful than Sam’s, at least from what he can see at this distance, and Clu is doing him no favors by seeking to steer his concentration off the tracks with his lips and tongue.
With a supreme amount of effort, Kevin waves them off again, shouting at Sam to get to safety, to take Quorra with him. He yells a final sentence before the portal illuminates fully to beam them away, ordering Sam to reboot the system from the outside.
Reintegration would affect both himself and Clu in ways he didn’t care to explore. A cold reboot from a User on the outside is just a simple matter. He can take Clu and shelter him while the system warms up again.
Kevin comes back to himself, after having nearly drifted off, to find Clu trailing patient kisses over his jaw, and then back to his mouth.
When he wants to be, the sys admin is extraordinarily gentle. And Kevin marvels at every second of it, reaching up to touch Clu’s face as softly as he dares.
“Missed you,” he whispers, blue eyes bright with regret and thinly veiled pain.
Clu tilts his head slightly, then slants their lips together again, the sensation closer to a benediction than a kiss.
“Yeah,” he murmurs, reaching up to drag careful fingers through his User’s hair. “Me too.”
They sure as hell might not be perfect, but they’re doing the best they can with the time they have. And that’s all Kevin could ask for.