Title: White Rabbit
Fandom: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Characters: Sarah, Derek, Kyle, Allison, Kate Brewster and eventually John.
Summary: The name Connor is destined to be prominent in the history of humanity. For Sarah to succeed, she needs to become a legend, a myth, an unparalleled icon. She needs to become what John Connor should have been. The savior of mankind. (5.4k)
Ratings/Warnings: PG-13. General dark themes
Spoilers: Up to 2.21, Born to Run. Also, the world is partially inspired by Terminator: Salvation, but no real spoilers for the movie other than the cameo presence of Kate Brewster.
A/N: This was originally going to be my submission for , but this story works better if I split the fic into two separate pieces. Also, I fudged with people's age and dates a little, simply because I couldn't figure out the canon timeline properly. Damn time-traveling.
A/N #2: Beta'd by , with special thanks to for plot/story help, and for help with Spanish translations.
A few weeks after Judgment Day
"If you're listening to this radio communication, then you know you're not alone. My name is Sarah Connor, and I have a message. We're going to survive this."
She's known it's been coming for decades, but she almost can't believe her eyes as she steps out into the streets. There's a skyline now, full of crumbling brick, cracked concrete, buildings bent and twisted and falling under their own broken frames. The world is covered under a thick layer of dust and grime, and the only thing Sarah can feel, despite everything she's always known, is a sense of disbelief.
She takes one step at a time across the fallen wreckage.
She hopes John is somewhere safer.
First, there comes the missiles. Then, there comes the flying drones. It's better to move in the day; at night, Skynet utilizes infrared to target humans and they've lost too many already. She's in Mexico the following month, piecing together a growing number of survivors. She teaches them weaponry — how to shoot, how to build bombs, how to do recon and stay hidden. The Terminators haven't come yet; Skynet will build them soon.
"We need to find a dog," Sarah declares, early on to one of her survivors.
"Perro?" the man replies in bewilderment. "Por qué?"
Their first priority is to survive.
Then they can fight.
One November morning, the dogs start barking and don't stop.
Screaming, death, gunfire, it's only ten minutes of hell, just ten, and then Sarah finally manages to ram a rod into the base of the Triple-eight's neck. She empties her machine gun into his gut, then blasts an extra few rounds into the temple. When the red eyes dim, she flips a switchblade and removes the chip.
The others stare at her wide-eyed, but Sarah merely explains, "A la basé del cuello, es vulnerable."
Thirteen men and women end up dead, and one more suffers in critical condition. Sarah does what she can, fixing him up, but their only doctor disappeared two months ago when a drone flew overhead and corralled them together like cattle. She presses a hand to the wound, and behind her, a small girl says a prayer and quietly sobs. Sarah watches blood seep through the bandages, through her fingers, and the man in her arms sputters once more and passes away.
They bury the dead before sunrise, and move along.
She heads north, back towards the heart of California where more of her supplies lay hidden. She left ammunition there in an underground bunker, as well as tapes and a solitary photograph meant for John. Much good they are now. The radio chatter is silent the entire trip, almost deadly calm. Her people use a convoy of trucks to move across dust-covered highways and across the back alleys of broken towns. They take their time; no need to rush.
Civilization, or lack thereof, isn't going anywhere.
"There's nothing left," a man breathes, grief raw in his throat. "There's death out here. Nothing else."
"Survivors are plenty," Sarah says. "They're just hidden in small numbers like us."
He looks to her, desperately. "You sound so sure."
To the world, the war has gone one year but to Sarah it began a lifetime ago.
For seventeen years, her life was her son — protecting him, preparing him, the future savior of mankind. Seventeen years, and then he vanished in a blink of an eye and a flash of lightning, chasing after Cameron with another Terminator at his side. She thinks about Cameron often, just as she thinks about Weaver, just as she thinks about Derek. About Riley and Jesse. And Kyle — god, after all this time, she still thinks about Kyle. They're all out there, somewhere.
Radio chatter picks up, and Sarah sends out a constant message. "You are not alone. Listen to me: if you can't outrun them, then you have one option left. Fight. Their motor-cortex is exposed at the base of their neck. A blow to this region will disorient them, but not for long. We can fight back. We can survive. They are not invincible. "
We can win.
Her intimate knowledge of Skynet and how to fight back draws supporters. Whispers grow of her capabilities, and people talk of her. But Sarah can't help but think that there's a hole where the world is supposed to be, and it keeps filling with bodies.
And there's no John Connor to save them. Only Sarah.
Sarah might not be enough.
The rifle rests heavy in her hands as Sarah barges forward through the narrow hallways. The underground passageway is crowded and dark, but people quickly make a hole for her. Refugees from a nearby city have taken up arms alongside Sarah's people, and she nods her head at a young family that huddles together for warmth against the back wall.
Numbers. They always need more numbers.
She bypasses two armed guards as she turns the corner and descends a steel ladder. The radio station is nearby, and the chatter on it is from Command. A new resistance faction has arisen, made primarily of military men and women. They send out communications worldwide in order to coordinate and facilitate on-ground soldiers. Sarah's unit is just one of many on the lower totem pole.
"Connor," she answers the comm. "We're in position."
They send her unit out on what seems to be, for all intents and purposes, a suicide mission. Plant C4 on a metal facility and blow the factory sky high. No one comes back from these missions. They know it. She knows it. Her unit knows it. Sarah confirms the order, reaches for her AK-47, and looks to a boy no older than John was, last she saw him.
"Gather the refugees," she tells him. "We need new recruits."
"Most of them are just kids," he informs her.
"If they're big enough to hold a gun, they're old enough to fight."
While she completes the mission, twelve others die. Command calls it a resounding success.
Sarah calls it a fucking waste of lives.
People seek her out, but she hates giving an audience.
She rises in status. They don't have ranks — official ones, at least. No Lieutenants or Captains or Generals. Yet there remains a military hierarchy, and Sarah quickly climbs the ladder. They have a new name for her now: Madre Salvadora. It seems, no matter how fate twists and turns, she will always be cast as a mother. Mary, she thinks, then shakes her head to dispel the comparison. This isn't supposed to be her destiny. This isn't supposed to be her place.
But somehow, the name Connor is destined to be prominent in the history of humanity. For her to succeed, she needs to become a legend, a myth, an unparalleled icon. She needs to become what John Connor should have been.
"Incoming!" someone shouts. "T-800 behind us!"
It is a red-letter day when Sarah meets a fourteen-year-old soldier by the name of Kyle Reese.
He is young. Christ, he's just a child. She can barely recognize him because he's skinny and his face is taut with malnourishment. The only thing that seems familiar to her is the kindness in his eyes; that gentle warmth is still there. Yet as he ushers in with the rest of the new refugees under her wing, the only thing Sarah can think is, he is a boy, a child.
Next to him is Derek, 23 years of age. Dirt and grime smear his face, but there is no kindness in his gaze. There never has been, she remembers. He stands tall, at alert. Sarah sweeps her eyes passed both brothers, continuing to inspect the rest of the new soldiers, but her gaze slowly returns to the Reese boys. She has seen both of these men die. It may be her destiny to march them to it yet again.
"Welcome," she says, throat tight. "Consider this your new family."
Dirt, blood, guns and metal.
That is her world.
Command's top three leaders are tracked, targeted and terminated over a period of three days, and suddenly, Sarah Connor is at the top of a very short list. She wakes that night with her heart thudding against her chest, breath coming in short bursts, sweat soaking through her undershirt. This has been a natural progression, a series of steps and maneuvers that have placed her in a position of inheritance of power. She knew this day would come.
People have always moved out of the way when she walks the halls. Her orders have always been followed without question, without regard, but it's different now. Or so she wonders. Sarah has never been the type to suffer from self-doubt, but there are these brief stabs of moments in the middle of the night where she is nearly crippled by it.
She runs during those moments, feet pounding away on the metallic catwalk that runs the interior of their underground facility. In these moments, she thinks of what John Connor would do. Not her son, the seventeen-year-old boy she raised — no, she thinks of the legend, the one that never came to be. She wonders if genes and training are enough. She wonders if her son would have seen things differently, made choices apart from her own.
Ironic, considering Cameron once told her that the future John Connor, when faced with a hard choice, used to ask himself what his mother would have done in his place.
Two hours before sunrise, and Sarah is still wide-awake on this particular Sunday. She reaches for a canteen and takes a sip, a drop of sweat working down her throat. Her tank is soaked, and her hair is pulled back clumsily into a loose ponytail.
"Don't you ever sleep?" a voice rings out, wryly.
She turns, spotting Derek and Kyle resting with their backs against the wall. She knows without asking that Derek was the one to voice the question. Kyle — sweet, young Kyle — would never use that tone on her, or anyone else. Derek, on the other hand, likes to twist every sentence with a casual cynicism. He wasn't like that, before — not entirely anyway. Maybe this is just another difference in the timeline? Or maybe it's a couple of more years before he outgrows this impatient negativity.
She tosses the canteen to Kyle. "Get me some more water?"
Kyle nods, taking off like an eager beaver, and Sarah stares after him for a moment with something tight caught in her throat.
"We need to move soon," Derek says, drawing her gaze. "We've been hunkered down here for too long. Metal will find us."
Sarah reaches for a towel and loops it around her neck. "Patrols say the machines haven't been twenty miles from here in weeks—"
"Which means they're due," Derek argues. "We shouldn't stick around for them to circle around."
"I'll take it under consideration," she says, as a dismissal.
As she walks away, Derek follows her. Sarah can feel a tension stiffening in her neck, but she strides away like she doesn't notice his presence just one-step behind her. Derek is a good man, and a better soldier. He's probably her best man, actually. But she has her reasons for staying aloof. She makes it to the radio station, gets an update from the guard on duty regarding the late night chatter, then goes through the logs to double-check the information.
Derek watches her the entire time, and he's smart enough to wait until the guard leaves before he opens his mouth. "It's strategically a bad idea to stay still for so long."
"Strategically, huh?" she says, like she suddenly doesn't know what the word means. "You sure about that?"
She thumbs through the papers. "These facilities have radio communication, an ad-hoc surgery room, two ammunition storage areas, and enough bunk space to house twice our unit. I don't want to move from here unless there's a credible threat. Your hunches don't qualify."
"We're not safe—"
"No one is ever safe," Sarah cuts in, voice hard, eyes rising to met his in a warning. "Is that all, Reese?"
He stands straighter, his jaw a hard and angry line. "Yes, ma'am."
Before he leaves, he tosses her his canteen full of water.
She takes the rocket-launcher with her as she walks out the front door into the blazing heat. It's a quarter past three in the afternoon, and the sun is blinding with its intensity. Sarah tries not to flinch, shading her eyes with an old pair of sunglasses she found on a dead body three weeks back, but her eyes aren't what they used to be.
She pulls open the backdoor of the jeep and loads the weaponry. "We'll be back with supplies by sundown. Keep the light running."
"Will do, boss."
She rounds the corner, and climbs into the driver's seat just as the other door opens. Derek settles a rifle against the floorboard, and climbs in.
Sarah pauses. "Where's Ramirez?"
"He broke his hand last night on patrol," Derek answers. "You get me."
There's a beat of silence that follows, but Sarah quickly readjusts and climbs in. She starts the car, pulls it into reverse, and floors the accelerator as they bounce across the rough terrain. The city limits are twenty miles away, and the road is long and empty. Sarah keeps her eyes on the horizon, paranoid about uninvited terminators, when Derek chooses that moment to strike up a conversation.
"Who's John?" he asks, casually.
She nearly swerves the jeep into a ditch. "What?" she demands.
He lifts one eyebrow, gripping his rifle tightly as she corrects course. "You fell asleep on your shift yesterday. Started talking in your sleep. Something about—?"
"It was just a question. I didn't—"
"I said shut up, Reese." She points ahead. "Look."
Out in the desert, a broken down trailer rests in the middle of the road. The hinges of the side door are blown clean off, and there's an arm hanging out over the steps. There's an abandoned restaurant opposite it; the type a foolish civilian might think was a good rest stop. Sarah pulls the jeep to a stop thirty meters away, and reaches for her gun.
"They're dead," Derek says. "You sure you wanna stop?"
"We check for survivors," Sarah replies, cocking her gun. "We always check."
The body is ripe, at least three days old. The glass is cracked, spiderweb-thin fractures spreading across the pane. She doesn't think it's from a bomb or a bullet — the cracks are too fine. No, something was hurled against the glass.
Derek takes the back, and Sarah rounds the front, but before they can make it to the doors, something small and lithe flies out the door and across the road, headed for the restaurant. Sarah screams out, but Derek is closer. He tackles the boy — no, a girl. Long hair, skinny, body thinner than a toothpick. She's a fighter, though. Kicking and screaming, long hair flying across her face as she nearly gives Derek a black eye for his troubles.
"Relax!" Sarah tries. "We're not here to hurt you—"
She bites Derek's hand and breaks free. Then she's off running again, into the restaurant. She's spry and quick, and Sarah can only think of ways to stop her that involve pain, so she lets the child go.
"Kid!" Derek mutters, holding his bitten hand. "We're not metal!"
"Shh," Sarah warns. "What is she? Like twelve? She's scared. Let me handle this."
Derek lifts an eyebrow. "And while you go play the mommy, what do I do? Stay here and knit?"
It's not hard to ignore Derek when he gets like this. Sarah approaches the front entrance, first. There's another smell here — another dead body. She sweeps her eyes across the room, and finds the source, an elderly man with white hair and glasses. His decaying mouth hangs open.
"We're sorry we scared you," Sarah calls out. "We didn't mean that."
A noise draws her attention, and she sees the girl trying to hide under a table. Sarah bends low, trying to peak under the tablecloth, but all she can see is a tiny pair of feet and slender legs.
"My name is Sarah," she calls softly. "What's yours?"
The small pair of feet shift awkwardly, and after a long pause, there's a hushed, timid voice. "Alli."
Sarah tries for a smile, but it feels false like she can't remember how. Shit. She was never good at this part. Beyond John, kids never liked her much. Hell, even John was suspect at times.
She rests her gun on the floor, still within reach, and crouches on her knees. "Well, Alli," she tries for friendly, "I bet you're thirsty. Why don't you come out from under there, and we'll get you something to eat and drink? What do you say?"
There's a long pause, and Sarah wonders if they're gonna have to force this girl out for her own good. But then the answer comes, "Okay. But you promise you won't hurt me?"
For a beat, Sarah can't answer because a little girl should never have to ask a question like that. She takes a steadying breath. "I promise. Now come out from under there and—that's it. Just crawl out."
She sees faded red shoes first, clad on tiny feet of an adolescent girl. Sarah is vaguely aware that Derek has walked in behind her, but her focus is pinned on the little girl. A veil of unkempt hair obscures the child's face, and Sarah cautiously extends her canteen.
"Alli, huh?" Sarah says, as the girl takes a greedy sip. "That's a pretty name. Is it short for something?"
"Yes." Sarah slowly reaches out to brush the long strands of dark hair away from her face. "It's short of Allison," the girl tells her. "Allison Young."
And Sarah is suddenly confronted with a ghost from the past. The face, it's younger — younger than she remembers. But it's undeniable and shocking, and Sarah stares frozen.
The war rages on.
I heard Sarah Connor once took out a pair of triple-eights by herself.
Sarah Connor knows things no one else does.
Sarah Connor's unit never fails.
Sarah Connor. Sarah Connor. Sarah Connor.
She can save us.
We all die for Sarah Connor.
It's the seven-year anniversary of Judgment Day.
That night, people get drunk. She isn't the type to condone such behavior, except she always makes an exception for this day. Samuels pulls out a stash of bottles she isn't supposed to know about, but Sarah turns away and heads towards the back. They keep a few sober guards on duty; Sarah even volunteers a shift. No one escapes grunt work, not even the boss.
She spends an endless amount of time thinking about all the faces she knew before Judgment Day – Miles Dyson and his family. She thinks about Charlie and his wife; her neighbor, Kacy. About the real guy behind Cromartie or John Henry or whatever the hell that bastard terminator was called. Andy Goode. Agent Ellison. Savannah Weaver.
They're just drops in a bucket, but she thinks about them a lot.
Kyle finds her a little after midnight, a tin cup of homemade alcohol in either hand. He slides his back against the wall and settles on the ground, facing her. He's older now, nearly 18, a rough stubble of a beard darkening his handsome face. She's starting to recognize the man she fell in love with, but it isn't the same.
This Kyle is meant for another Sarah.
He hands her a tin cup. "To Judgment Day," he says, somberly.
Sarah toasts the memorial of three billion people with a single shot of alcohol that burns like battery acid down her throat.
"The metal are corralling people," Sarah warns over the radio. "They're imprisoning us and conducting some sort of ongoing experimentation. We don't know why, but one thing's for sure. They're evolving. They will try to use the best part of us against ourselves. We cannot and will not let that happen. We will survive. This is Sarah Connor, over and out."
"You know what some people say about you, right?" Derek asks her, after she shuts the radio off.
"They say you're gonna get everybody killed."
Sarah doesn't react. It might be true enough. "And what do the others say about me?"
He pauses, just for a second. "That you're our only way to salvation."
Fighting to keep her face neutral, she regards him with an intent gaze. "And what do you think, Reese?"
His tone is measured and even, and it tells her he's given this question a lot of consideration. "I think… either way, we'll follow you wherever you take us."
"Well," Sarah begins, then grows still for a beat. "Guess I better know what the hell I'm doing, then, huh?"
"It'd be appreciated," Derek offers into the silent wake that follows. "No pressure, though."
She's in better shape than people half her age, but her doc knows the truth; a redhead of 27 years of age, named Kate Brewster, who used to be a veterinarian in her previous life. "It's breast cancer," Kate informs her somberly. "Stage II as far as I can tell. We don't have the facilities to treat that."
Sarah nods, just once. "How long do I have?"
Kate disposes of a used syringe, then says quietly, "A year, maybe two if you're lucky. You're gonna have to start taking it easy. More rest."
After a beat, Sarah picks up her rifle and starts heading for the door.
She'll rest soon enough.
"Site my rifle," Allison recites obediently, though with a hint of exasperation. "I need to check the accuracy of it first. Make sure the sights are in alignment with the firearm."
Sarah nods. "Alright, then what do you do?"
Allison lifts an eyebrow. "Aim, pull the trigger, and run like my ass is on fire?"
Sarah almost smiles. "Not quite. Remember, there's a difference between shooting a shotgun and shooting a rifle. You can level a shotgun at the target and pull the trigger, but with a rifle, you aim. You have to align your sites with the target and squeeze the trigger. Also, remember your brea—"
"Breathing techniques," Allison cuts in, with a roll of her eyes. "Take a deep breath, sight your target, let half of your breath out, shoot and exhale. Bring the gun back to the target as it recoils."
"It's different when it's real," Sarah tells her. "You gotta compensate for the adrenaline. For the fear. You can forget the basics if you don't practice enough."
"I've practiced a lot by now," Allison challenges. "I'm not a baby. Derek and Kyle were younger than me when they first started patrol."
Sarah lifts her eyes to her. "Then you're the lucky one, not the other way around. Pay attention or I'll put you on surveillance duty for another six months."
"Yes, mom." The sarcasm bleeds off her voice.
Sarah pauses, hand frozen over the butt of a rifle. After a beat, she picks up the gun and runs through the routine all over again, this time with an added demonstration of live fire. She hoists the gun into Alli's hands, and watches the young girl reload. In another life, teaching this girl to shoot would have been laughable. The only thing Cameron didn't need to be taught was how to kill. But this girl – this little girl with the same face – wasn't anything like that at all.
"Do it again," Sarah orders. "And Alli? Never call me mom again."
Allison smiles. "Makes you feel old?"
Sarah turns away. "Something like that."
Kate treats her as best she can, but Sarah pushes the limits, mainly because she has no other real options. There is no chance to take it easy, no opportunity for bed rest. She's been given a year of life but she has plans on making it at least three. Terminators will never get her without a fight; damn if this disease will.
"There's… there's something I want to tell you," Kate says one day, and for a doc usually in control, poised and ready under the most dangerous circumstances, it's surprising for Sarah to see her falter now. "I—ah, I never brought it up before because I didn't think it mattered."
"This sounds ominous. How bad were the last results?"
"No." Kate shakes her head. "It isn't about that."
"I knew John Connor," Kate says, bluntly — just like that. And Sarah just stares, shocked, frozen, an intense rush of an indefinable emotion surging through her at the mere mention of her son. She hasn't heard that name poised on anyone else's lips in so long, she doesn't know how to react to it anymore. "I went to school with your son," she continues to explain. "When we were thirteen. I remember watching on the TV when you… when his foster parents were killed. The news kept saying you and this big guy kidnapped him."
After a beat, Sarah finds her voice. "You're mistaking me for someone else."
"I'm not," Kate refutes firmly, knowingly. "That event isn't something I would forget. Look, I get it. You don't like to talk about the past. We all lost family on Judgment Day."
Sarah thinks about lying, denying everything. But one look at Kate and she knows better. Unbelievable. All the ways for someone to discover her secret, and she sits now with a woman who knew John as a child. It's almost perverse, the way fate keeps fucking with her.
Kate pulls off a latex glove. "I'll keep your secret. You don't have to worry about that. I just… I just wanted you to know. I've always known but I didn't want to say anything before."
"Then why now? Why wait all this time?"
"Because you shouldn't have to die with that secret on your shoulders. You can talk to me, if you want."
Sarah releases a sigh and looks away. She can't talk about this. She can't talk about John, just like she doesn't talk about her cancer beyond what's necessary. It's there. It's ugly. She needs to keep moving, despite it. There's nothing more anyone can say.
But curiosity gets the better of Sarah, and she lifts her gaze back up. "How well did you know him?"
Kate offers a dim smile. "The truth? John was my first kiss."
Kyle gets sent out on an overnight mission, but doesn't return for six weeks.
The entire time, Sarah tries not to panic. No Kyle means no John. She can't risk that, even if her son isn't the savior of mankind anymore. She still has to send Kyle back. She's just a mother in those moments; just a mother who wants her son born, even if John was going to be ripped from her all too soon. And there's a part of her, no matter how buried deep and dormant, that will always love Kyle in a way she will never love another man.
She needs Kyle Reese back.
The one person in complete agreement with her is Derek, even if he is suspicious of her willingness to go along with his half-crazy rescue plans. When solid intel comes through that the metal have been experimenting on people in some broken-down facilities a hundred miles north of them, Sarah doesn't hesitate. Even Allison comes along. They do two sweeps through the northwestern quadrant of what can only be described as hell – formally L.A. Sarah takes lead, even if such missions for her are rare these days.
When they eventually rescue Kyle, she nearly dies in the process.
Seven weeks later, she has a healed scar on her lower back, and Kyle finally confronts her. "Why would you do it? Why would you risk all that for my team?"
Gone is the shy boy. Kyle Reese is all man now, and he looks at her like a man does a woman. Sarah knows he's a little bit in love with her. Truth be told, Sarah knows more than a few men in the unit, even a few of the women, have developed feelings for their fearless leader. Often infatuations, little crushes, misplaced and misguided. Except for Kyle.
It's twisted as fuck, but she needs Kyle to be in love with her.
"You'll find out one day," she tells him. "I promise."
She leaves him behind without another word.
Her body continues to betray her.
Once, while she's doing nothing more taxing than taking a damn shower, a wave of dizziness overwhelms her. Sarah steadies a palm against the stall, but the room spins circles around her. Weakness, she curses to herself. She slides her back against the wall, drawing knees up to her chest as lukewarm water sputters down from the showerhead.
The communal showers are empty for the moment, but such respites are rare. There is no room for modesty in such tight quarters. Man, woman, child — someone will stumble upon her soon if she doesn't pick herself up off the floor.
Turns out, her indignity is only witnessed by one other person: Derek.
He stops short when he sees her, thrown. Sarah's vision is blurry, but she latches onto the sight of a tattoo on his right bicep, a small winged animal of some sort. Something about her unfocused gaze must give her away, because Derek grows concerned.
"Yeah, fine," she says dismissively, like her sitting naked on the shower floors isn't strange at all. No one officially knows about her illness, but they're all too perceptive for their own good. Derek doesn't need to be told there's something wrong with her, just like Sarah doesn't need to be told that he's figured out her big secret. Well, one of them anyway. "Just give me some privacy, Derek."
He shifts a little on the balls of his feet. "You called me Derek instead of Reese. That can't be a good sign."
"You read too much into things."
"Do I?" Derek asks. "Should I get Brewster?"
"I said I'm fine," she warns.
Most men would take the hint, but Derek has always been apart. Where once there was an impatient soldier, now years of climbing the ladder to become her second-in-command have tempered his stubbornness. He knows how to navigate around Sarah's moodiness. She almost hates that about him.
"Here," he says, and there is a steady calm to his voice as he stretches out a hand. "Come with me."
… if you want to live.
She blinks, head throbbing, and there's a small part of her that suddenly wants to throw up – or cry. She can't decide which, but a rush of unexpected emotion overwhelms her, and Sarah chooses to blame that on the vertigo she's been suffering lately. Her vision blurs, and she runs a hand through her wet hair, before she manages to return Derek's stare.
Sarah reaches out a hand, and Derek pulls her to her feet.
She's starting to forget things about John.
She remembers pancakes and breakfasts, and reading to him from The Wizard of Oz. She remembers the jungles of South America, the road trips across the western states, and the place near L.A. where they stayed with Charlie. She remembers their aliases — Reese, Balm, Benedict, Goodman, Deere and Anderson.
But she doesn't remember the sight of his face while he slumbers; that peaceful look that used to soothe her soul. Sarah doesn't understand why she can't recall it. It was always such precious moments – those stolen hours where she watched him sleep. The memory has faded now, been distorted. Maybe even repressed.
"Did you have family?" Allison asks, just once when she's around 16. "Before Judgment Day, did… did you have anyone?"
Everybody in the room freezes, and she can sense Kate's attention suddenly riveted on her from behind. No one else has ever dared asked Sarah this. Everybody knows, without being told, that Sarah never discusses her life from before. It's off-limits.
"No," Sarah lies. "No family at all."
Whatever the reason, the memory of John sleeping is forever lost.
She expects Kyle's feelings.
Derek, on the other hand, completely blindsides her.
She wakes a little before dawn, when the light's still dim and grey. She's never been a sound sleeper, jolting awake at the slightest noise. This time, though, Sarah has no idea what woke her up. She glances to the ceiling, and there's the distant chatter of people talking, walking, nothing unusual.
Beside her, Derek murmurs, stirring. He doesn't sleep any more soundly than Sarah does. "Hey." He blinks blearily as his hand lands on her belly. "You okay?"
The space afforded to them isn't much; there are inlets in these caverns that serve as private quarters if you have the right drapes. People tend to give Sarah (and now Derek) a lot of space, even more lately since she's taken to spending more time sleeping. The sickness isn't bad; it's the fatigue that annoys her.
"Fine," she tells him. "I just can't sleep."
He looks at her, and there's time enough for her to turn her head, refuse his kiss if she really wants to. His mouth settles heavily on hers, warm and soft and almost leisurely. He always likes to take his time, but then, building, he's soon kissing her aggressively. Probably because he senses in a moment she's going to put her hand on him and push him away.
"We should get up," she murmurs against his lips. "We need to head out for supplies today."
He pulls back slightly to sigh against her neck, and Sarah drops a hand across his broad back. It should flatter her that a man half her age is interested in sharing her bed. "Just try." The words have haunted Sarah ever since she agreed to them. But because it's Derek, and he's a Reese, that makes things… complicated. And more than a little fucked up. She can admit that to herself, if no one else.
"Stay in and sleep," he tells her. "I'll do recon first. You should get some rest."
"I don't need you to coddle me."
"Good, 'cause I don't coddle. We need people focused when we hit the city."
As much as she hates to admit it, he's right. And days like these, staying in bed while others do the dirty work, steadily become more frequent. Sarah tells herself it's expected. She's sick. She's paid her dues. There's not much more she can do for the Resistance, and the fight hasn't yet been won.
It pisses her off more than anything.
Then one day, everything suddenly changes.
It starts off like any other. She stays in bed while Derek dresses and grabs his gear, and then she's alone for a small amount of time. Kyle just came back from recon, and there's a debriefing she wants in on. She has time, though. Except something nags at her, an indefinable sensation that she can't pinpoint, but it's like déjà vu or something equally nebulous. It bugs the crap out of Sarah and forces her out of bed.
She grabs a coat and leaves the rifle. She reaches a twist in the hallway just as she overhears Derek say to someone, "Well, you know what? I think you're gonna be famous. My brother's back, and you're wearing his coat."
There's something that lodges in her throat, her heart skipping a beat. She can't define it, but it's like something familiar in the wind. She knows this feeling. When she emerges through a hole in the corridor, there are more voices in the distance, and she recognizes one, then another. She can see Allison playing with a dog, and her people have gathered for something – for someone.
Time suddenly slows down.
It's just a moment, when the world stops turning, and Sarah stares in disbelief at the figure in the center of the crowd. Same face, same eyes, the look in them enough to steal Sarah's breath away.
"Mom?" a familiar voice rings out.
Everyone turns and stares, but Sarah only has eyes for one person. "John."
"My name is Sarah Connor, and if you're listening to this, you know you're not alone."