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The Shadow's Chill

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A.D. 2015
One Year Before Judgment Day
Timeline Gamma Alpha Two, Code "Born to Run"

"Who's this?" Elinor asks, flipping through Savannah's wallet, holding up a picture of John and Savannah from when he and Sarah had "kidnapped" her, as the two girl sit on Elinor's bed. It's hot, and they've already stripped down to their underwear.

"My stepbrother," Savannah answers. It's even sort of true in a way, although "adopted brother" would probably be closer to the truth. "He's away fighting the war." Also true, technically. Elinor doesn't need to know that the "away" he is at is in the post-Judgment Day future, that the war is not against terrorists or rogue states but killer humanoid cyborgs.

"He's hot," Elinor notes.

Savannah makes a noncommittal noise. John wasn't much older than Savannah is now when the the photo was taken, but at the time, he seemed ages older than her. "I'm like nine years old in that picture," she points out. "The guy taught me how to tie my shoes."

Elinor shrugs. "Still hot." After a pause, "Do you miss him?"

Savannah shrugs back. "I never really got to know him."

John is supposed to be here (now) so tha he can fight against SkyNet. So that he can lead the Resistance once Judgment Day happens. He's the one who's supposed to shoulder that burden. But no, he's off with her mother (not really her mother, her mother is dead, she has no mother but Sarah) in the future somewhere, somewhen. The world is absent its savior.

It's not fair, Savannah thinks as she glances at her overnight bag lying on Elinor's floor. (Of course it isn't, Sarah would say. The world never is.) Inside the bag, nestled between two clean pairs of underwear, is a loaded handgun and an extra magazine of ammunition.

This was never supposed to be her job. (It is now. Deal with it.)

She can't tell Elinor that. Elinor doesn't know that Sarah, lost without her son, the young man around whom her entire existence centered for eighteen years, has continued on with Savannah where she left off with John, not knowing how to do anything else but train Savannah to be the perfect warrior to fight against the machines, the perfect commander to lead the human race. Only problem is, Savannah's about as far from being perfect as it's possible to get.

"He left some big shoes to fill," Savannah says instead. She knows she's not up to the task. She's not John, some prophesied messiah born of a predestination paradox. She's just an ordinary little girl.

Or at least, she was, once upon a time. It's only, what, seven years ago that John and Sarah walked into Sarah's life, that day in Dr. Sherman's offcice? But that's almost half her entire life to date. It seems like forever.

It seems like it was some other girl who once upon a time had a happy and loving human mother and father.

"You're hot too," Elinor assures her, misjudging the source of Savannah's disquiet, as she rubs a thumb across Savannah's shoulder. "It must run in the family."

"We're not related," Savannah reminds Elinor idly, her thoughts still on Judgment Day and on John. Did he ever wonder if he would be good enough to do what needed to be done. Did he ever hold doubts? Or was the certain knowledge that he was capable of it, that he had to be or else he never would have existed in the first place, enough to give him the conviction, the confidence, the drive that he needed?

Because Savannah doesn't have that. All she has is the knowledge that she had better be good enough, because she's all that the human race has left now that its annointed one has gone MIA because he fell in love with a piece of metal. It's as if Jesus took a trip to Maui with Mary Magdalene and left Monty Python's Brian to take care of that whole atonement-and-redemption thing.

"Sorry I brought him up," Elinor says, returning the photograph to Savannah's wallet and slipping it back into her purse. She leans over and kisses Savannah. "Let's not think of anyone else. It's just you and me."

Savannah Weaver is responsible for six billion human lives.

Savannah Shirley--that's the nom de guerre for the moment, after Anne of Green Gables; Sarah can never resist a literary reference--says, "Okay," and kisses Elinor.

Elinor's parents don't know their daughter is a sexually active bisexual, so a night of (relatively tame) debauchery is easily arranged under the guise of an innocent sleepover. Sarah doesn't seeem to care other than taking Savannah to Planned Parenthood every three months since she was thirteen, and slipping a pack of condoms and a box of cellophane wrap into her overnight bag--doesn't care so long as Savannah is ready to turn her back on her former lovers forever just as soon as its time to switch identities again.

The possibility of true love is something else that John has stolen from her, because true love has stolen John from her. She cannot afford to love like John did because then humanity will have no one else.

Pat Benatar was right.

Savannah slips her hand into the waistband of Elinor's panties with her left hand, feeling the smooth curve of the girl's ass, even as she strokes the bared skin of Elinor's back with her right. Elinor smiles and reaches around and unfastens Savannah's bra.

They make love slowly, quietly so not to alert Elinor's parents or her brother in the next room. When they are done, they cuddle next to each other, a loose sheet draped over their naked bodies. Elinor falls asleep first.

Even on this hot summer night, with the warmth of Elinor's body pressed up against her, Savannah finds herself cold inside. She shivers, and tries to fall asleep.