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Midnight Thoughts

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Kyle leaned against the wall outside the bar, 'Tech Noir', whatever that meant, counting off the hours in his mind, and keeping a running tab of people and vehicles. John hadn't been able to be very specific. He'd said his mother hadn't told him exactly when she'd gotten there, just the name of the bar, that it had been late, and that the Terminator had followed a call she made to find her. The place was the only thing he had, so he waited. The city was so loud, perpetual noises in a cacophony like nothing he'd known since he was a young child. He'd almost forgotten what a living city had sounded like, convinced himself he'd imagined the sheer amount of noise there had been in the world before the bombs and Skynet. He'd been wrong, it wasn't his imagination, it really had been this loud.

That, and the abundance of everything anyone could possibly want, were vying for notice as the most bizarre thing about this time period. The rebels he'd lived with since John broke them out were quiet by necessity, and the world only had the noises of the machines outside -- machines, and the few pieces of equipment they'd simply had to have. This amount of noise, the unceasing hum of the cars and the people, made his ears ache, and he knew he was going to have a much harder time knowing where the Terminator was. He'd never be able to track it by sound in all of this, even once he spotted it. His eyes checked faces unceasingly, even while he thought about the cit --

There.

He would know her face drunk or drugged or sober, wracked with pain or exhausted beyond belief, let alone being merely tired from hours awake. That was just part of being a soldier. Her hair was different, make-up on her face, pretty clothes so unlike the practical ones in the photograph... but he could never mistake Sarah Connor for anyone else, or fail to see her. He came off the wall and moved to follow her, letting her lead him. The idea of using her, using Sarah, as bait tore at him, but he had no other way to locate the Terminator, or make contact with her in a way that would mean she would believe him.

He had to let her see it, first. See what it was capable of. Then he could do what needed to be done to turn the metal motherfucker back into the scrap it had been built out of. He'd deactivated Terminators before, he could do it again. He had no choice -- Sarah had to be protected. Everything in his world depended on it. That didn't mean he was pleased about the necessity. //Suck it up, soldier,// he told himself, and slipped into the bar after her, mimicking her payment with some money that had been in the old drunk's pants.

He had to be there, so that she would understand.

***

Kyle didn't realize for long moments that Sarah had fallen asleep as he talked to her, telling her about his time. When he noticed, he just trailed off into silence, finding having her asleep in his arms easier than trying to tell her about his world. He wasn't sure why she wanted to know about it anyway, she wouldn't see it... but she'd asked. He couldn't tell Sarah Connor 'no', when it wouldn't put her in danger to tell her 'yes'. The very idea made almost everything in him rebel. He would, had, told Sarah no when he needed to -- but there would be no point in it right now.

She was... nothing at all like he had imagined. He didn't entirely know what to think about it, but he understood now, in a way he never had, why John had made him memorize "you must be strong" as the beginning of his message. That had struck him as so strange, before. He'd never really thought about Sarah Connor as being anything but strong. The mother of the legend must have always been strong, to have been able to do what she had, to teach John everything he needed to know to keep them alive.

But the frightened little doll of a woman... wasn't strong. She wasn't weak, he could see depth in her; in the way she'd tried to fight him at first, in that she'd had the wisdom to hide in the charnel house of the police station, and in the worried but competent way she'd tied the bandage around his arm. 'It's my first', he heard her voice say again, and shook his head, careful to keep it a small motion. 'First of many, Sarah,' he hadn't wanted to say to her.

The picture John had given him when he was still young had given him the impression of a woman that was sad, determined... She wasn't that woman yet. That was obvious in everything from her impractical hair and shoes and clothing to the way she had frozen with the Terminator almost on top of her. She would be the woman he'd always seen -- he knew she would be. There was nothing else that could happen. There were things she had to know, just as soon as she woke up, things that had to happen, but all of that could wait.

Right now, though, she was asleep resting against his side and half in his arms, deep enough inside the culvert that they couldn't be seen with any kind of sensor, and the car was behind them and far off the road. She wasn't used to doing without sleep, not the way that he was. He had the time to just look at her, to compare all of her lines with the lines of the photograph, to...

...to want things he'd wanted from Sarah for most of his life, things he had no business wanting from John's mother, from the mother of the rebellion. He reminded himself of that yet again, forcing his eyes to leave the sweet curve of her jaw, the gentle, supple curve of her breast where she was pressed against him.

That was more difficult than even he had thought it would be.

***