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The Unwritten Future

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Night is safer than day. Kyle Reese ("Sergeant, Tech-Com, DN38416") knew this, had lived under concealing shadows his entire life. Sunlight brought clear imagery, Skynet sensors tuned to find the slightest trace of human activity. To walk around under a clear blue sky is to invite death.

Sarah doesn't understand this. Kyle tried to explain it to her, but she just raised her face (her beautiful face) up to the rays of the Mexican sun and smiled at him, the wind lifting strands of her long blond hair. She doesn't feather her bangs anymore, has let them grow, insisting that she'd rather concentrate on the baby.

The baby. God. Kyle had thought destroying the Terminator would make their lives easy. He had woken in a hospital room, white walls and plastic tubing everywhere, with Sarah sitting beside his bed. She'd explained how she'd survived, that the records of his arrest had been lost during the Terminator's assault on the police station.

She'd told him to get well, and squeezed his hand.

* * *

A gentle breeze lifted dust from the unpaved streets. It never seemed to rain in Mexico; Kyle didn't know whether to be grateful for the lack of mud or worried about the effects of grit on Sarah's lungs. She winded easily in her seventh month of pregnancy.

They walked to the pharmacy from where they'd parked the Jeep. Their German shepherd Bruno would guard the car, his growl and teeth more than enough to deter people from getting too close. Kyle kept a careful hand at the small of her back, his eyes scanning constantly for threats. In his nightmares, he saw armies of Terminators approaching them and was held, helpless, while Sarah's neck was snapped and the baby ripped from her belly and smashed underfoot. During his waking hours, Kyle had never seen anyone do more than look sideways at the blonde gringa.

Sarah's face had softened over the course of her pregnancy, the added weight blurring the line of her jaw. Her ankles swelled all the time now, and walking long distances was hard for her. Kyle wished they'd been able to park closer to the pharmacy, but there just wasn't room on the narrow streets.

Lost in thought - stupid, Reese, so fucking stupid - he missed signs of the real danger.

Petty street criminals were a scourge on the lives of everyone in this tiny town, bad enough that you didn't venture off the main strip of bars and shops after dark. The daylight hours were usually safe. Usually.

The thief ambushed them from an alley, darting out with his pistol held at the ready. Kyle and Sarah both froze and aimed looks at each other. The weight of his Glock was false reassurance in the small of Kyle's back; the thief had his eyes glued on him. Any motion and Kyle would be dead.

Besides, what could a woman so obviously pregnant do in a situation like this?

* * *

Sarah asked Kyle to train her when he was released from the hospital. She looked at him, eyes haunted, and said that there was nothing left for her in Los Angeles. Her mother was dead, her best friend killed, her job barely enough to eke out an existence.

"I know what's coming, Kyle. I can't just live like this will be here forever." Her face crumpled for an instant, then firmed. "I need to prepare now, so that I can teach my son."

She hadn't known she was pregnant then.

* * *

Kyle had learned from John Connor, who had learned from Sarah Connor. Who was not going to learn directly from Kyle Reese. He couldn't do it. She had found something deep inside herself, something that kept her alive when he was wounded and unconscious, even though she'd been weak and soft mere hours before. She had survived and she would never let herself become so vulnerable again. Kyle knew she had to become the strong warrior of John Connor's tales, but the fervent light in Sarah's eyes was so different from the expression when he'd first met her, a frightened woman on the floor of a club, scuttling away from metallic death.

They worked together to find contacts, men who knew more than Kyle did about how to fight. Kyle's skills were tactical, geared toward destroying one Hunter-Killer or Terminator at a time. John would need to know strategy, organization, how to lead a guerilla war and hide every person under his command. Any advantage, any knowledge, could make a difference.

Kyle had never really expected to survive his mission into the past.

* * *

Sarah remained still as Kyle attempted his broken Spanish. Kyle could see her in his peripheral vision, remarkably calm. The thief didn't listen to what Kyle was trying to say, gestured for Sarah to give him la ficha out of her bag while pointing his gun at Kyle's midsection. She kept her eyes locked on the thief's face as she fumbled inside her utilitarian purse. Kyle knew that her hand wouldn't emerge with money.

Sarah shot the thief through the heart, then looked at Kyle.

"We'll need to move," she said.

* * *

Another town, dusty streets identical to the last. This one had a small hospital.

They traveled light, always with just the essentials. Sarah looked reflective as Kyle unloaded their bags from the Jeep and carried them into the small house they'd rented. Bruno sniffed around the edges of the rooms, alert for any suspicious signs.

"We'll need to stay put for a while," she said, and touched her stomach.

* * *

Sarah only went back to her apartment once, picking clothes out of the wreckage while Kyle looked around with wonder. They lived so easy, these people before the apocalypse, fat with the goods that lined the shelves of stores on every corner. Maybe that was why they were so eager to turn more and more of their world over to machines, not thinking of the consequences.

White tape outlined the spots where Sarah's roommate and her boyfriend had died.

Kyle wanted to take the food with him, canned goods to tide them over, but the way Sarah's hands shook as she sorted through the debris convinced him that she'd never eat any of it. She finally sold almost everything, sold her mother's house and cabin for cash. They lived at the house waiting for the will to be finalized. Sarah wouldn't sleep in her parents' bed, nor her childhood room. She led Kyle into the guest room and lay down on the bed. The sheets smelled of mothballs.

"Come here," she said. They were both too sore to do anything that night. Kyle was still weak from his wounds, but the tension wouldn't leave him. He held her while she slept, and stared up at the ceiling until the light of dawn broke through the window.

* * *

The first half of the pregnancy had been easy on Sarah, for the most part. She didn't get sick in the morning like Kyle had seen women do in the tunnels of the future. Fertile women were precious there, pampered more than anyone while expecting.

He would have to teach Sarah about radiation sickness and how to detect contaminated areas. Fatigue and nausea could be too easily dismissed as nothing unless you knew what to look for. That could be vital for her health after Judgment Day.

Kyle brought Sarah whatever she wanted: rough meals he could assemble without making them inedible, pillows for her back, damp cloths to soothe her skin.

Sarah looked up one day while reading a book on combat medicine. "Kyle, come here."

He put down his own book on child development and walked over to her. She took his hand and placed it on the rounded bump of her belly. He felt a fluttering underneath her skin and his eyes widened with realization.

"That's him," she said, a smile curving across her lips. "Our son."

Kyle curved his palm around her chin, leaned down and kissed her. Our savior.

* * *

Sarah liked to kiss the scar on Kyle's shoulder, liked to search out the evidence of all his wounds and try to soothe them away with her touch. He traced the smooth plains of her skin and marveled at her purity. She was his liberation, the woman he had loved for longer than he had known what love was.

Their second night in her mother's guest room, they had started touching each other and been unable to stop. Kyle had been frantic to reassure himself that she was real, was alive. He kissed her breasts, sucked her nipples into his mouth and bit down gently while she arched beneath him. He had gone hard in an instant when she touched him.

Sarah slid her fingers up and down his shaft, making Kyle groan. He rolled her over, on top of him, positioned her hips to his liking. Moisture met the head of his cock when he sought out her opening. She bent down and kissed him, all lips and tongue, and lowered herself onto him. His fingers clenched at the sensation, heat and wet and friction better than anything else in the world. She rode him with leisurely movements, her head tilted back, her skin damp with sweat.

Kyle's hands roamed her body, slid up her ribs to palm her breasts then down to where he entered her. His thumb found the spot that made her go wild and rubbed over and over until she came. She tightened around him and he fell down into his own release.

He slept without dreams that night.

* * *

Retreating from the dead thief, driving farther south into Mexico, they stopped to buy gasoline at a remote station, the first they'd seen in miles. Kyle went inside to roust the owner and returned to find Sarah negotiating with a small boy. He'd taken her picture and Sarah gave the boy four dollars for it.

She shared an amused smile with Kyle as she drove away from the station, then handed over the picture.

"What do you think?" she asked.

Kyle looked at the image and blinked. He watched the road unspool beside the Jeep for a hundred yards or so.

"What were you thinking about, when he took the picture?" Kyle asked.

Sarah shook her head. "I was thinking about what it would have been like, if you hadn't made it." She reached out and took his hand. "How alone I would have been."

Kyle's blood ran cold at the thought.

She never understood why he guarded that snapshot as if it were their most precious possession. He never told her the reason why.

* * *

The doctor handed Kyle the baby after he'd been weighed and cleaned. "Un muchacho, señor," he said.

Kyle looked down at John's tiny form, cradled his son close to his chest and murmured, "I know."

* * *

Lasers flash overhead that night, while Reese dashes from cover to cover. Skulls crunch under his boots, and he looks toward Perry's location. His commander gestures and Reese finds his position, waits for the ideal moment to spring their carefully planned ambush.

It all goes wrong. Reese fires his rifle, pulses of ruby energy lasing at their target, watches as more HKs converge on the battle. His unit is out there, is being killed one by one, and Reese has to save them.

He jerks awake, stretches out his arm to cover the empty space beside him, and wishes he could have spent the night with Sarah and John in the hospital.

* * *

Babies might as well have been the definition of helplessness. Tiny fingers, tiny hands, oversized heads too heavy for the fragile spinal column. No way to keep warm or fed without assistance.

The first year of John's life, Sarah didn't want to let him out of her sight. Kyle had seen mothers behave the same way in the tunnels; children were precious and longed for, the proof that humanity would survive the ravages of Judgment Day.

John did have Sarah's eyes, but Sarah cooed over the blond fluff on their son's head and told Kyle it must have come from him; she'd had black hair as a baby -- it had lightened as she got older. Kyle held John and rocked him to sleep and tried to block the knowledge that this child would become the man who led humanity back from the brink.

Time had never been the same since Kyle stepped out of a fused glass crater and into the streets of Los Angeles. Sarah asked him question after question about the future and Kyle did his best to answer since the smallest thing could make a difference. Too often he felt like he was living in a dream, an easy world of leisure, as though his childhood in the camps and teenage years learning to fight were a mirage. If he'd been alone, Kyle thought he'd probably have gone mad. Instead, Sarah's faith and their shared experience destroying the Terminator held them together.

* * *

Sarah continued to learn how to fight, even as she nursed John and changed his diapers. They moved around from town to town in Mexico, Central America -- wherever they could find another expert in unconventional warfare and survival. They were hard men with dead eyes, who looked Kyle over and decided whether or not he could protect his woman and his child. Kyle knew what he looked like, knew that their assessment was always on the right side of dangerous.

It was more fun to watch them underestimate Sarah. She'd hand John over to Kyle and shoot some new weapon like she'd done it a million times before. Their latest teacher would blink and look over at Kyle, who would smile and say, "She's the one who needs to know all this, not me."

* * *

A deserted highway stretched out in front of the Jeep, a long road to nowhere. Cactus grew next to the cracked asphalt. They carried extra gasoline and water, just in case. The sun was setting off to the left and Sarah was getting antsy. Night still screamed danger to her, even though she and Kyle had been practicing drills after dark. It was his natural environment, the place where he moved with an extra touch of assurance. Sarah always asked him how he could do that and he'd tell her she knew why.

John fussed in the back seat, pulling at the straps to his baby carrier and making the noises that meant he was hungry. Bruno nosed at John's head and gave him a lick.

"That was 'apple' again," Sarah said.

"Apple?" Kyle glanced over and narrowed his eyes. "How do you get apple from that?"

"Our son is a prodigy, you know that." Her smile warmed him. She looked around, then said, "We need to find a place to stop."

Kyle nodded and kept on driving. A few miles on he spotted a path leading away from the highway, nothing that could be called a road, but not many were paved out here. In the lowering dusk, he picked his way over the path, careful of obstacles that could bust a tire or break an axle. A mile on, he thought he saw shadows in the distance, geometric edges too straight for nature.

The buildings seemed deserted when they approached, no movement, no light.

Kyle stopped the Jeep and got out while Sarah slid over into the driver's seat. Bruno hopped out and stood guard at Kyle's heels. "Stay here," Kyle told Sarah, emphasizing it.

"Sure," she said.

"Sarah, I mean it. The first sign of trouble, you rabbit out of here."

"Go, surveil," she waved him onward. "Take care of him, Bruno."

It was an abandoned homestead. Furniture remained in the rooms, spotlighted by the beam of his flashlight. Mismatched crockery was in the kitchen. Outbuildings had once held livestock. Kyle disturbed a flock of chickens when he slid a door open and Bruno gave chase until Kyle called him back. There was a well in back of the house, but it was dry.

He returned to the Jeep. "Looks okay. Water dried up, I think."

After unpacking the essentials -- many more than before John was born -- they settled inside the house for the night. The woodstove was judged workable after a brief inspection, and Kyle brought in firewood from a stack out back. He'd never have risked a fire when he was growing up. Infrared sensors would have drawn HKs to them like crows to roadkill, unless the heat was carefully dissipated.

Sarah fed John his applesauce from jars of baby food while Kyle poked around the rooms. One level, split in four. Kitchen, family room, two bedrooms.

When the original inhabitants left, they didn't take everything with them. There were medical supplies in one cabinet, blankets in a rickety chest at the foot of a bed. Kyle sorted through what remained, and brought Sarah a hammered silver bracelet. It was tarnished when he found it, but rubbing restored some of the luster.

She looked at him oddly when he handed her the bracelet. "A gift," he said.

She traced her thumb over the edges and thanked him.

Kyle saw her tuck the bracelet into her bag later that night.

She never wore it.

Kyle liked the blanket they used that night so much that he brought it with them. He also claimed some shirts. You had to use what you found, after all.

* * *

They were able to settle down for a while, in Nicaragua. The area was fairly safe, not too contested by Contras or Sandinistas, but close enough to provide experience. Sarah learned how to build a network of contacts from the ground up. Kyle watched their son play with blocks and read books on military technology or basic science.

One dawn, Sarah slipped out of their bed to run. Kyle turned over and blinked lazily at evidence of the sun moving across the walls. It wasn't long before John toddled into his parents' room.

"Papa, papa!" John called, raising his arms to be lifted up.

"Morning, John," Kyle said and pressed a kiss to his son's forehead.

"Mama come back soon?" John asked.

"Yeah, and then we'll get breakfast."

John snuggled close to Kyle's side and fell back asleep. Kyle wrapped his left arm around John and slipped his right hand under the pillow. The gun was hidden well enough for now.

Kyle would take it with him when he went on his own run, at dusk.

* * *

John Connor teaches Kyle Reese to shoot a gun. Reese is ten, just escaped from the death camps with a bar code lasered across his forearm. John, a man of thirty, face scarred from some prior battle, puts the pistol in Reese's hand, explains basic safety, demonstrates how to hold it, and watches while Reese shoots at a crude target outlined on the tunnel walls.

John nods approvingly and tells Reese to practice more. When Reese is able to hit the target with the entire clip, he will graduate to a machine gun. Reese does it by the end of the day.

* * *

Kyle slept again, just a little, with his son warm by his side. Sarah kissed him awake. Her hair was damp with sweat where it wasn't confined to a ponytail and her face glowed from exertion. She grinned down at him and Kyle was tempted to pull her back into bed.

"Mama!" A small form barreled over Kyle and into Sarah's arms. Kyle oofed from the impact of John's foot into his stomach.

"Hey there, pipsqueak. Want breakfast?" Sarah lifted John higher on her hip while Kyle rolled out of bed.

"Cereal?" Sarah asked after John's enthusiastic nod.

When Kyle entered the kitchen after a trip to the bathroom, John was seated at the round table. He didn't spill a single Cheerio from his spoon during the trip from bowl to mouth. Kyle nodded approvingly and smiled at Sarah. Good coordination and reflexes were vital.

* * *

It was amazing what you could find out if you took the time to look. Kyle thought sometimes about searching for his parents, but couldn't imagine seeing them young and healthy. They had died in the camps, torn away from Kyle by metallic arms.

He'd never forgotten how it felt to watch their last moments of life drain away. His son should never see anything similar.

The United States possessed thousands of nuclear warheads, hundreds of ballistic missiles. Even a treaty to eliminate an entire class of missiles, even the collapse of their bitter enemy the Soviet Union couldn't make the knowledge of doomsday weapons vanish.

Once released, it could never be unknown.

* * *

They thought about moving back to the United States when John grew old enough to begin school. Just north of the border, in New Mexico. Kyle and Sarah discussed it, wondering if it was a mistake for John to show up on official records or if he needed structure to his life. They went so far as to travel to Las Cruces, Kyle nervous that his forged passport wouldn't stand up to the scrutiny of the country that had supposedly issued it.

The city wasn't so different from where they'd lived in Mexico and points further south -- orderly and prosperous streets with gringos strolling along the sidewalks, shabbier Mexican or Indian neighborhoods filled with faces that looked eerily familiar to friends they knew -- but something about it made Kyle's skin crawl.

It was when they drove north to check escape routes out of the city and Kyle looked at the highway signs that he realized why he didn't like it there. Los Alamos, three hundred miles north. Trinity test site, seventy miles north-east. This state was the birthplace of the atomic age.

The question of when to introduce John to his future had never really been answered. John learned the facts of Judgment Day with his ABCs, along with the need never to tell anyone outside his family. The date the bombs fell was always in the back of Kyle and Sarah's minds, a timer ticking down to detonation.

They decided to remain south of the border, just in case. Official records could lead to another Terminator being sent back in time, hunting John this time. They couldn't lose him. He was too precious.

* * *

Reese goes on his first mission when he's twelve, laser rifle clutched in his hands. He follows David, a veteran of the resistance, on a winding course through a once-thriving city, their way lit only by moonlight. They locate the burned-out shell of a hospital and carefully pick through the ruins. Much of the hospital's stock of medicines is spoiled, but enough remain to make the trip worthwhile.

Their luck holds on the way back: no machines detect their presence. They slip through deserted streets, signaling their progress to headquarters in encoded data bursts. When they reach the tunnels, the veteran tells Reese to keep track of his radiation exposure.

"Especially if you want kids some day," David says before reuniting with his wife and seven-year old daughter.

* * *

Another small town in Mexico, another ex-military man to mine for strategy and tactics.

Kyle taught John to shoot a pistol there. John's small hands could only just lift the weapon, but he followed his father's instructions gravely, intent on loading and cocking the trigger.

John hit the target with the first clip.

It was a year before he could graduate to a machine gun; he could hit the target with every bullet, but until then he wasn't big enough to support the added weight of a larger weapon.

Kyle longed for the laser rifles of his youth, which had enough power to stop a Terminator with one pull of the trigger. Until then, their family would have to make do with large-caliber projectile weapons.

* * *

Kyle saw computers slipping into everyday life, even in the relatively poor areas they inhabited. Standing in line to buy new clothes at a store -- John was growing taller and taller every day -- Kyle watched the people before him hand over slips of plastic that were swiped through a terminal. Networks ran everywhere. It was more and more difficult to live on cash alone, unless you were prepared to skirt the edges of the law. Kyle and Sarah had been doing that for long enough that all these consumers seemed insane. Give up your location, your spending habits, the most private details of your life, to anyone who cared to look?

Far better to stay below the radar, unable to be located through data streams.

* * *

John was sleeping out with his friend Tomás Salceda that night, camping under the stars. Kyle and Sarah had worried about it, but sent Bruno along to guard their son. John was ten now, and knew that if Bruno barked long and loud, he had to flee.

Kyle came back to their house and went for his evening run, gun tucked in the small of his back. The German shepherd puppy they'd adopted whined at Kyle as he opened the door. Kyle chucked Max under the chin and laughed at the way he rolled over to invite a rub on his stomach. Bruno was getting old, and they knew he wouldn't live forever. It was better to train the puppy under Bruno's guidance, so Max would know how to guard when Bruno was gone.

Sarah was folding laundry in their bedroom. She looked up and smiled at Kyle, a bolt straight to his belly. Kyle wondered what his answering smile must look like, to widen her eyes that way. He prowled closer to where she stood by the dresser, a slim figure in a tank top and thin cotton sweat pants. She pulled him into her, and their kiss was a conflagration.

She broke away briefly, to say, "Is this why you thought it was a good idea for John to camp out?"

It hadn't been, but Kyle wasn't above taking advantage. He stripped her down to bare skin, lifted her atop the dresser while she pulled his shirt over his head. His hands pulled her knees apart and slipped up her thighs, firm muscles clenching under his touch. His cock was hard and it was a battle to do anything other than take her then and there.

She hadn't been wearing panties. Kyle bent down, mouthed the inside of her knee, ran his tongue up the line of her quadriceps. Her nails were always clipped short, but they were long enough to scratch at his scalp. He reached the center of her legs, vulva flushed and warm, her scent intoxicating. He loved to do this, loved to lick her while she writhed underneath him. Her hands moved to his shoulders and he cast a quick glimpse upwards. Her torso was a picture of fitness, belly sculpted in the years after John's birth by her dedication to protecting him. Her breasts were still soft, swayed with her movements, nipples peaked with arousal.

Kyle licked up to her belly button, up to the hollow between her breasts, pulled her forward so he could thrust inside her. Sarah's legs locked behind his back, tightened to get him closer. Kyle raised his head and said, "Bed." Her ass filled his palms as he walked the few paces necessary to get them horizontal.

The laundry fell to the floor and had to be refolded later. Neither of them cared.

* * *

Soldiers surround Reese as he runs through the wreckage leading to Skynet headquarters. John Connor told them they would win, but Reese doesn't quite believe it. How can humans, fallible and weak, overcome the pitiless perfection of the machine?

Reese fires his laser rifle again and again, aiming for the HKs and metal infantry guarding the building. Other beams bisect the dark horizon, troops converging from all directions, drawing their web tighter and tighter.

Skynet will go down tonight, its defense grid smashed to rubble. Their computer experts have inserted customized viruses into Skynet's code, generating errors that will accumulate into an avalanche. All the troops need to do is pick off the stragglers.

They rush inside, clear the hallways of robotic fighters and Terminators. Reese finds himself in John Connor's echelon and marvels at the cool efficiency of his leader.

"Team two, advance on the north corridor," Conner says into his radio headset. "Team one, cover our line of retreat."

Soon enough, it's done except the mopping up.

* * *

"No fate but what we make for ourselves." Sarah was watching storm clouds roll in over the horizon from the back porch while Kyle cleaned weapons. John played fetch with Max in the yard, throwing a stick hard and long and laughing when Max raced to retrieve it. John had cried when Bruno died, the first family member he'd ever lost.

Kyle set the rag and gun oil on the stained table and met Sarah's eyes.

"What are you thinking, Sarah?" Kyle asked.

"What if we can change it? Stop Judgment Day?"

"How?" What would the two of them be able to do against the military-industrial complex of the richest nation on the planet?

"I don't know, exactly. But there should be something."

Max galloped back to John and wagged his tail for another throw.

* * *

The confusion after the battle is more than Reese can comprehend. He slips into the shadows around the Skynet control room, observing and looking for new threats. John Connor confers with his senior advisors in the center, only to be interrupted by a shout from a technician hacking Skynet records.

There's a babble about temporal displacement equipment, a Terminator sent back in time. John Connor sweeps the room with his eyes, then raises his voice to cut through the noise. "Skynet is trying to kill my mother in the past. In 1984, before I was born. I need a volunteer to protect her."

Reese steps forward reflexively, faster than his mind can catch up. "I'll go, sir," he says.

Connor glances over at his wife and second-in-command, Katherine Brewster, her red hair confined in a ponytail under her cap. They share a long look that Reese can't decipher, then Connor motions Reese to him and explains the mission.

Reese's heart beats faster at the thought of meeting the legend who taught John Connor everything he knew.

Of meeting Reese's hero and impossible love.

* * *

Cyberdyne Systems Corporation was located in a sleek glass building in the greater Los Angeles area. Kyle's nerves made his hands want to tremble as he placed the charges, but he took deep breaths until they calmed. The architectural plans were on record at the county courthouse, and Kyle and Sarah had consulted with a demolitions expert they knew to find the most effective spots for the explosives.

Their small team of saboteurs had infiltrated the Cyberdyne staff one by one. Inside access was crucial to the success of their plan. John was with Enrique Salceda at his place south of Los Angeles, ordered to stay put until Kyle and Sarah came to retrieve him.

Cyberdyne's manufacturing plant wasn't up and running yet -- any product that led to Skynet was inside the headquarters building as drawings on computers or sketches on paper.

The building went down over the Christmas holidays, after a persistent fire alarm malfunction drove out any worker dedicated enough to come into work and made emergency services nonchalant. A flash of flame, a stream of shattered glass -- the force of the explosion busted windows in nearby buildings and sirens wailed as fire trucks approached the devastated site one more time.

* * *

Kyle and Sarah read the newspaper reports in Tijuana, John sitting across the breakfast table typing on his laptop computer. He was writing algorithms to detect patterns of military procurement spending based on Congressional records.

"Will it be enough?" Sarah asked Kyle.

"I don't know. It might. We should keep on the move, I think, in case we didn't change enough."

John looked up and cocked an eyebrow at them. "I might not have to be the leader of the revolution?" His voice was high and scratchy and Kyle suddenly heard John's lower adult voice in his head, encouraging the troops before the final push to destroy Skynet.

"Maybe not," Sarah said. "You still have to finish those math problems, though." She sipped at her coffee and turned the newspaper to the world news. "Do you think we should move to Europe?"

Kyle read the headlines about fighting in Bosnia and replied, "That might be a good idea, for now."

The sun came out from behind a cloud, its rays highlighting the curve of Sarah's cheek. Kyle spread his fingers out, hands flat against the table, and soaked up the warmth.