Sarah doesn't tell the cops as much this time.
Not about the man who's dead or the machine crushed in the plant.
She creates a story she's sure they'll see through by how she's shaking and how she's never done this before but they don't. Her hands might not be still but her voice doesn't tremble. She finds herself ingeniously studying the cops. They'd never understand, never believe her, if she were to tell them the truth.
They'll find the mangled terminator in the building.
She'll be long gone by that time.
Long gone is a hotel in nowhere Texas, where she collapses on a bed, exhausted, and is sobbing within seconds, only half feeling it while she clutched the bedspread around her and welcomed the onslaught of unconsciousness.
She propels herself from the bed hours later, nearly vomiting on the floor before she makes the disgusting toilet. Clutching her stomach, with her head resting on the seat, she doesn't even have the energy to grumble.
The next morning she sets out for the border.
She doesn't have any idea how she's going to cross the border.
But she doesn't know how to be a mother either, especially mother of humanity's only hope, only that she does figure it out somehow. Because her son is waiting for her, in her womb and in that desolate future, to make the decisions that set all the dominos in a row for the last few weeks of her life.
Mexico is as good a place as any to start.
He doesn't remember how many times this has happened or will happen.
He opens his eyes to plain white walls and wide open windows with fluttering curtains, both which make him nervous even though he can't remember why or how. When he tries to look around, pain lances through the left side of his face, lightening sharp, causing his eyes to water and a groan to sound.
His vision clouds and when he opens them again there's a woman standing over him �"
"He's awake again."
White dress and white hat with a red cross on them, curly brown hair, button nose, simple pityingly sympathetic smile, hand on a floating plastic tube pressing a button.
"There you are. It's okay, we're here to help."
�" he can't remember why he shouldn't be sleeping. His arm feels colder, like dead weight ice is seeping through the inside of, and his vision blurs further. The woman in white is gone and just as suddenly somewhere a brunette with eyes like the sky is shouting his name, frantic and far enough away he can't tell what it is.
He fades into the inky cold blackness, her eyes following him as stars.
Until finally they are swallowed into the abyss, too.
Sarah Connor stops existing when she loses count of the borders she's crossed. She's still Sarah, but she doesn't give anyone her real last name and sometimes, if they look too crooked, she gives them a different first name.
Her favorite at the moment is Karen Gale.
She gets self defense training until she's showing too much for anyone to let it slide.
Then she starts memorizing gun components and how to make bombs.
She records tapes for John every night, a hand on her stomach and her eyes watching the horizon. The weight of the impending storm stretches taut through her shoulders, and she strains, as if she could peer far enough into the ending day to see beyond all the years separating her and that harrowing future.
Could see her grown son, the echo of the man she loved so briefly, who had to send his father to her, for them to meet and for him to be conceived, but also had knowingly sent his father to his unavoidable death.
That truth is enough to keep driving her forward to trying to prevent this future for all of them. Even if this version of herself will never have existed if they manage to change all of it.
She can take that sacrifice for her son; for Kyle.
That and so much more for both of them.
"That's right. Keep your eyes open and focus on the sound of my voice."
The brightness of the room burns his eyes and he groans, struggling to chase the darkness back into the fox hole inside his mind. It retreats faster than he can follow, sliding through his grasp. Vision swimming, the first thing to come into focus isn't the man talking, but the ceiling: a soft robin's blue with a border of white lilies shot through with pale pink accents.
There was a small three inch crack above him, too, which he held on to while blinking and gasping. It was erratic and unnatural compared to the blue and flowers.
"Can you hear me?"
He looked over at the tall, buzz cut, brown man watching him with a cautious smile. He nodded, still blinking, his voice coming from a long, empty hallway. "Where am I?"
"St. James Charity Hospital. Take a few breaths, man. You've been out a good while. Do you remember your name?"
His name? His eyes focused on the man's name badge, on the letters that spelled out P. Hall, as he pushed through the fog of his mind. Why was it so cloudy in his mind? And how long had he been laying here?
"What's the date?"
"December 5, 1985. How about the name Sarah?" His gaze sharpened on nurse Hall, who quickly added. "You've called out to her in your sleep nearly every night for as long as I've been here."
And John Conner. Their leader. The only man who could organize them to fight back. The only man they'd follow into hell and damnation for, if he even hinted that it would give them a better chance at the war.
And he was Kyle. Kyle Reese. He was sent back by John Connor to protect his mother from the Terminator sent back to kill her before she could conceive. But it had been more than that. He'd loved her, and she'd loved him, too, before….
He pushed up out of the bed, shoving sheets and accelerating the beeping of half a dozen machines. "I have to get out of here."
"Whoa, there." The nurse slowed him down with a hand to the shoulder. "You haven't used your legs for a year and half and-"
"Where is she?"
"Your Sarah?" The nurse had the curtsey to look abashed, even as his expression dipped. "Not here. I'm sorry to say you haven't had any visitors the whole time, man. It's made it much harder for taking off being a John Doe case."
Of course, she hadn't come.
She shouldn't. She was smarter than that, John Connor's mother, now that she understood the implications of their future. The true depth of the threat against her life. It made him as proud as it made him disappointed. He would have loved to see her face more than anything.
After his rehabilitation finishes, it takes Kyle the better part of two months to come up with a whisper of Sarah.
A brunette gringo in Brazil whose been on the arm of Venezuelan drug dealer for the last month, with a scary right hook and a nothing to lose attitude. When he manages to get there, after being nearly beaten for his impertinent inability to hold his temper, he finds out she's been gone for two weeks.
She hadn't given them any warning before she left; had stayed with them for six months.
Then it's another two weeks before he hears about her again.
Someone fitting her description has been spotted training with an ex-marine survivalist living in French Guiana after he's willing to hand over half the cash he has left on him. The other half is spent on airfare.
Each hour that crawls is another she might be slipping through his fingers.
The high sun in early summer has her black tank top sticking to her, hair pulled up high and glasses hiding the dark circles around her eyes. None of this is on her mind though when she comes rounding the side of a building and sees her son being scooped up into the arms of an unfamiliar American as a car careened toward them.
"John!" She screamed before even thinking about it.
She can hear the number of people who suddenly moved around her, the guns that are trained on the man, but they fall away entire as she watches the spiky-haired man go still with shock and then look toward her.
And he's suddenly unfailingly familiar.
But impossible. If anything can be now.
"Wait!" She called out, jogging toward the two, even as she called out to her newest compatriots. "Kyle?"
It had taken an extra two days to figure out where they were hiding out, camped along a river. He'd been hanging back, trying to figure out how to approach the camp when he'd noticed a small child running out from the tented area unsupervised.
Which wouldn't have been so much a problem if it weren't for the car.
He'd gone running forward, making far too much noise from the brush, scooping the struggling child up into his arms and dodging to the right, as he heard the most beautiful sound in the world. Not the screech of the car's tires as it flew left, so nearly missing them, but the sound of Sarah's voice.
It took a half second to realize what she'd said.
She'd screamed 'John,' which had him staring down at the toddler in his arms for the first second. Face and arms and feet all dirty, but squealing as though this had been the greatest game in the world, plucking at his shirt like it was to become the next toy.
Then he'd looked up, holding the child, holding John Connor protectively closer and considering pummeling the driver who'd nearly ended anyone having a future ever, only to be caught off guard again.
It was her, Sarah Connor, in all her glory running toward him. She was beautiful against the dry, hot South American back drop. Not the newly adult woman he'd found ages ago, all sweet, scared and hesitant around the edges. This woman was leaner, sharper, descively aimed directly at him, dressed in dark form fitting clothing designed for fighting, travel, and weapon concealment.
Kyle was glad to see her mouth still crinkled in confusion when she stopped, the habit of putting her fingers against her lips both still present.
"You're dead." Her arms were held out, in a no nonsense fashion, for her son. "You died years ago."
"Rumors of my death were overrated," he said, handing John over as he glanced at the men gathering all around them. The guns were all illegal, he was sure, and they were waiting for her sign to shoot him. Even though he was sure the man in the green beret, to the far left over Sarah's shoulder, was the actual leader.
"I saw you die. I held your body. I watched them take it away."
"You were wrong." She frowned the same way still, which made him smile much broader, even if the way she said such emotional things was deadly still now. "I was only clinically dead for a few minutes. I was unconscious for years."
"Everything alright here, Sarah?" The man with the green beret had stepped up.
She looked away from that face she saw so often in her dreams to nod as she was settling John deftly on a hip, her holster on that side set back three inches specifically for this purpose. "Yeah. I got this."
He raised a hand and the men disbursed, caring not at all.
"Going to introduce your intruder?"
"Kyle," Sarah said, uncertain in tone, even though her expression was firm. "Sergeant Armis, Kyle."
"Pleased, I'm sure," he drawled, nodding his head.
"Yeah." Kyle said, not paying him much mind, except to look back and forth.
"I've got this," Sarah said, not yet looking back to Kyle. She wasn't sure she'd be able to look away if she did. She wasn't sure what to say to Armis about him. Armis barely knew anything real about her as it was. It was only quick thinking in an entirely too muddled thought process that kept her from saying Kyle's last name.
"I'm sure you do." Armis smirked smugly. "You just call if you need the men, again."
"Tell the men not to almost run over my son, or I'm going to have to shoot them."
"I believe you were complaining yesterday about him getting into everything."
"I don't care if it is John's fault," Sarah remarked dryly, smiling near sardonically. "I'll still shoot the driver. I'm just warning you."
Armis laughed, and waved her off. "Take care of your guest." He walked off away from them.
"Nice guy." Kyle said, stepping closer and inspecting the dirty little happy face in the crook of her arm. He reached out and ruffled his dark hair, listening to the giggle it elicited. "So this is him?"
"My son," Sarah said, looking back toward him slowly. "Yes."
"Who's is he?"
"I'm going to pretend you didn't just assume he was someone else's," Sarah said. "Or I'll have to hit you and I have rules about not getting into incidents when John might be hurt by it."
Kyle's face registered anger and then a quickly followed, shock through understanding, eyes moving between her face and John's rapidly.
When he couldn't seem to figure out what to say next, Sarah added, "We're doing okay. Have been. You aren't required to do anything now that you kno-"
"Sarah," Kyle interrupted sharply, before shaking his head. He looked annoyed, and yet his mouth was crooked smiling "You still don't know when to stop talking, do you?"
"I don't want you to feel-"
Her words were stopped his time by his lips, by his hand framing her cheek, rough fingertips running up into her tightly held back hair. She kept her wits enough not to drop John but she groaned against the kiss she had missed so much, the one no one else's had been like.
The one that tasted like love and need and desperation, with the smallest spark of hope.