Sometimes Sarah Connor wakes up in the night, terrified, Glock 17 in her hand before she even notices. The dingy motel room is silent. There's no sound from her son.
He sleeps quietly, but still, she'd know the faint intake and release of his breath. It takes her only a moment to remember that he’s not here anymore; that she doesn’t need to protect him, because he doesn’t even exist in this year. She can’t protect him in the future, where he's naked and weaponless, with metal for a guide.
She relaxes, as much as she relaxes. She stands, she checks out the window to see if anything’s changed.
She packs and heads out; she leaves the keycard on the counter.
Driving is like meditation for Sarah Connor.
Ellison doesn’t drive with her; he’s holed up in a safe house with young Savannah, making plans, making philosophies. He has the Bible, and she has the road.
He hates the machines nearly as much as she does (but nowhere near enough). She doesn’t ask who takes care of Savannah while he’s with Sarah, planning their support from the past. She doesn’t think he’d tell her.
He gave her a whole set of the Bible on tape for her birthday (and damn if it's not an FBI agent who remembers her birthday for the first time since Charley); 60 or more cassettes done up in plastic. Sometimes, when it gets too much to hear the calming sweet voice of the woman reading Dorothy’s adventures, Sarah puts them in.
“Listen to Habakkuk,” he says, once, in a diner in Nevada. “It suits…this.” She does.
Decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled.
She takes the tape out with a click-click and puts Dorothy back in.
It’s easier than she thought it would be. She’s sitting in a National Park—Glen Canyon, in Utah—on a boulder, eating a sandwich, when she realizes that.
Maybe it’s because she doesn’t have any control anymore about what happens to him, because she can’t. If she can’t do it, she can’t waste her time thinking about it. She’s a practical person.
Dr. Silberman would say she was repressing her grief. Maybe he’d be right.
She doesn’t care what the hell he thinks.
The sun’s high enough to hit her in the eyes, so she shades them, glancing away. The forest is beautiful, here.
Wherever John is, now, this doesn’t exist.
She doesn’t swallow past the hardness in her throat, but rather tips out the crumbs from the paper bag into the roadside dumpster, and folds the bag for another lunch.
She has things to do, an apocalypse to sabotage; the future is counting on her.
When she’s in emptiest parts of the desert, as she makes her way to Tucson, Arizona, and the metal waiting for her (apparently Ellison and his computer have a hell of a way of finding where to go), she can hear the psalms like static in her ears, feel them baking into her skin.
She thinks I would fly away and be at rest. I would stay in the desert, far from the tempest and storm.
But she can’t rest, anymore. There’s no longer someone who will be kept safe, if they stay in hiding; the only way she can keep him safe is to keep driving herself forward.
She knows better than to think that there will be time for her to rest, before she is dead.
She only hopes that she can live long enough.
The hardest moment is in the lounge of a motel in Silver City, New Mexico. It’s been two weeks since Tucson. She’s leaning against the counter as subtly as she can, as she waits for the receptionist to return. Her lower left leg is still bandaged from the stitch-job she did on the bullet wound. It was shallow, at least; through-and-through. But she’s glad she made old Rick in Mexico help her refine her first aid seventeen years ago; no—twenty-seven, now.
She realizes that the tall grey-haired man with his back to her, in the corner, is accidently blocking her view from someone else at his table. It’s not important, probably, but she’s curious (and she knows the various ways ‘not important’ can be wrong). When the receptionist brings back her key, she smiles as sincere as she can, and moves up.
The angle changes and she can see who wasn’t there before; he’s a boy, about ten years old, and they’re playing chess, brown hair falling in his face as he glances up. Other than that, he doesn’t look like John at all.
Still, when she walks up the stairs, it’s ten minutes sitting on her bed, hands trembling, before she manages to take the shower she’s been wanting for days.
When she comes down the stairs, later, the boy is sitting alone with his chess set. He’s playing some sort of game with them, which involves a lot of explosive noises. It’s normal stuff, what you get when any kid of a certain age is given a few objects and some free time. Hell, she used to do that.
“Hey,” she says, quietly, hand resting on the back of the chair almost before she realizes what she’s doing. He looks up, sudden and embarrassed; he’s getting too old to play pretend games, in his opinion. Her smile warms. “You want to play another game?”
“Uh—yeah, okay,” he sets the pieces back out with the easy skill of someone who’s played this a hundred times. Sarah doesn’t quite know what to call the feeling evoked by the familiarity of his movements. Instead, she sets her hand out carefully to still one of the pieces from toppling.
She gives him a good game, but she doesn’t have to let him win. He’s a talented player, and chess has never been her style.
On her way back to California, she’d entertained, as she was driving, doing what she’d never done –crossing all the way to Washington DC, and trying to find out if the people funding SkyNet were as easy to deal with as Terminators, when you had plastique.
You can’t destroy naïve ignorance with explosives, and Ellison called her two days ago to say he needed her back in Los Angeles.
Her land is still the West, for now.
She listens to Habakkuk again, all the way through, not stopping some verses from the end. She wants to be able to tell Ellison she did. It’s the closest thing to friendship she has, now, and she knows the importance of allies.
She hears, again, Decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled, but listens after, for: yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.
In her pick-up truck, air-conditioning working overtime but only half-at-all, Sarah Connor starts to laugh.
Ellison’s going to be surprised if he thinks she’s going to wait patiently but, yeah, bringing a day of calamity she can do.
Sometimes, Sarah Connor wakes up in the night, terrified, Glock 17 in her hand before she even notices.
She’s doing all right.