Title: Questioning Fate
Rating: PG-13 (for language)
Pairings: Kate/John/original character triangle
Summary: Judgment day never came... but now, 2006, it's about to. A woman is sent back in time to prevent it from happening... but what is going on, really, and what are the true reasons behind Robin York's actions?
A/N: I'm rewriting yet another story of mine – why? Because I have to, or I won't get anywhere with it, ever. I have no idea what drove me into trying to write this fic in the first place, but it's safe to say it won't leave me alone – I mean, it has been years, literally. I'm thinking maybe it was the cute, cute, cute, cute look on John Connor's face when he sits in that lovely cage being all "I didn't do it." Yes, let's blame that – the bad boy act sure works for me. I could eat him, really.
What else? I also happen to know I might have errors with the timeline even though I really tried to think it through as carefully as I could. And well, other errors are possible too as English is not my first language. Anyways, feel free to point out my big mistakes, I don't mind but I can't promise I'd change them either –I've kinda made my own "timeline" out of information I've gathered and making dramatic changes will screw up the whole plot. We'll just forget everything that doesn't fit to the profile of my fic here. Mwuahaha, yes, I'm that evil.
The song used is PRESSURE by Staind.
I can't take this I come unglued
I might breakdown in front of you
necessary to medicate
I'm not sleeping, can't stay awake
Can't see through this
Too much pressure
Drowning in this
Too much pressure
If you need me I'll be here
Half unconscious to escape my fear
the year 2019
Things are not the way they were then; when I was still a little girl and happy and everything was better.
I remember, all too well, how my Mom and Dad used to take me into this beautiful park right next to our home, right beside our backyard. It was years ago and still I remember how they sat on the wooden bench for hours just watching how I ran around the park with other children; how I enjoyed myself under the bright sun. And I remember how I'd sometimes pause and turn to look at them only to see them whispering sweet words to each other. Most of the time I could hear them saying them though I always pretended I didn't. He would lean closer, smile, and Mom would laugh softly at his words. She would smile back, the brightest smile I've ever seen to date, and she'd bring her hand to touch his cheek and give him a gentle kiss on the lips which she always thought went by unnoticed. But I noticed, every time.
Above all, I remember how it felt to realise, time after time, that they were happy and still, after years of marriage, very much in love.
Hell, now that I think of it, I remember much more than that; my favourite swing was painted red just like the sand box next to it while the other swing was yellow. Or it had been when it'd still been new and shiny, but it'd already lost all it's color then, even when I was young. So yes, I remember a bunch of meaningless little details that make no difference, change and give nothing. Because remembering the good times doesn't always erase the bad, doesn't always bring comfort.
I had a dream I'd grow up to be someone important, like a lawyer or doctor or a princess. But never, not once, did I think my life would turn out this way, be what it is. Then again, I never thought of the possibility of the world ending up into this particular point. I don't think any of us did – well, except for John Connor that is.
She, the legendary Saint Sarah, she tried to warn us, humans, and we like the idiots we are chose to ignore it because it's always easier to live in denial than face the truth. She always knew what would happen, didn't she? Yeah, blessed be the Saint Sarah, the oh-so-magnificent prophet who bred and raised a soldier. A leader for the new world to come. Yeah, whatever. I can thank her for the nice try and for giving us him, sure, but a solid fact is that she failed her mission. Why do they never remember that, huh?
Naturally, the park I remember doesn't exist anymore. Only in my dreams. And I'm guessing it won't soon be there either. It's slowly, but surely, starting to fade from my mind and I know why, but I can't do anything about it.
It's because I don't sleep that much nowadays and frankly; I dream even less. There's nothing to remind me of that place. It's not that I don't like sleeping or dreaming, if that matters, because I do. But when you keep hearing the distant voices of war humming in your ears 24/7, well, you just don't want to sleep or see any dreams… for you know what kind they'll be. Nightmares. So you stay up and fight the war, inside and outside your head.
The war plaguing us seems to have no end and it causes nothing but sadness and sorrow and nightmares so horrible that they haunt you even when you're awake. Sometimes they're so vivid that you aren't sure if it's dream or reality. Maybe a little bit of both from time to time, you don't know. In the end you give up and don't really care anymore - you don't do it on purose, of course, but you simply do not have energy left to care. So instead, you just let the visions take over, let them come and go as they please.
And then, sometimes... sometimes they even end up being real. Sometimes you truly have heard people screaming in pain and it takes a while before you realise you've once again been attacked. For real.
So you don't sleep... but it's okay, really, because I kinda like spending my nights half-asleep, half-awake anyway. Gives me a chance to lay there in silence, be there by his side and guard his restless sleep. He definitely needs guarding - despite the fact he keeps denying it with every step taken.
But he does need me, no matter what he says. Or at least I hope so.
I breathe in his scent and I don't want to exhale, not ever. Simply 'cause I don't want to let it -him- go and I know that's what'll happen if he suddeny comes to. Sometimes I'm too scared to breathe, to even think, for even the slightest noise can snap him awake and he really could use the rest anyway. He's always been like that, such a light-sleeper, at least as far as I can remember.
Sometimes he sees the kind of nightmares that cut my breathing, and his, and make him tremble and sweat all over. That's usually when he keeps calling out the name of his old lover, but I don't mind, I just want to take the pain away. I try to wake him up; chase away the nightmare by kissing his forehead, by whispering calming words into his ear… and I gather him into my arms and tell him I love him... and ignore the fact he thinks he's holding someone else.
He loved her more than he could ever love me, but usually I'm person big enough to get over that, to ignore it. Usually I'm just happy he's alive after all the shit he's been through.
Like a thief, I steal one last glance before I lean down closer to kiss his forehead gently, the way I always do. I get up from the bed as carefully as I can and slowly, as if to postpone what I know I'll have to do, start to get dressed. I pull my shirt over my head but stop as I hear him move and mutter something incoherent. I swear to God even my heart stops at the noise, just like my breathing did.
When he doesn't move again for a minute, doesn't say anything, I exhale thinking the path is clear.
But then, "York?" he mumbles my name softly and I smile wistfully. He always, always calls me by my last name for a reason I've yet to discover. It's a habit he picked up from day one and can't seem to lose... not that I'd mind. I do it too, anyway. Call him by his last name, that is.
"I'm here, Connor," I answer from the shadows though I know I should stay silent not to wake him up completely. He was half-asleep, but not anymore. I realise it's too late to back down when he slowly opens his eyes and tries to find me from the shadows. Lucky for me, it's too dark for his eyes at first and it takes a moment before he's adjusted to the blackness around.
"What you doing there?" He asks after spotting me by the door. "Come back to bed."
I want to, so badly. But I can't and so I shake my head, swallowing hard, and pick up my trousers which were thrown on the floor a few hours ago. By him, of course. I feel like crying; feel like confessing and begging him to stop me, to tell me I'm crazy and that I can't do it. He tilts his head to one side and the burning desire to go back to bed and to be held by him hits my insides like a hammer would.
"I can't," I answer finally. I try to sound assuring, commanding even, but it never stops him from asking more questions, from demanding me to bend.
"York," his voice is low and commanding and, well, quite obviously affecting me the way he meant it to. They don't call him leader for nothing.
"It's the middle of the night," he states the obvious, "what you mean you can't?"
You wouldn't understand, John.
Or maybe he would and he'd show me the green light.
I'm not sure which one scares me more.
"Drag your ass back to bed," he says, impatient, "or I'll come and drag you back myself."
Wouldn't be a first, but, "Sorry, hon," I say with a casual roll of shoulders and force myself to smile. Where the hell did I leave my jacket, damnit? I scan the floor quickly 'till I spot it near the bed. Preparing, I take a few steps closer to pick it up and then, turn to look at him. "I really gotta go now, ok? I have a few things to sort out."
He's suspicious, I can tell... and he won't let me off the hook this easy 'cause of that.
"Sort out?" He asks and a second later the candle on his nightstand is being lit, "At this time?" He continues, staring at me and into my eyes to try and find the answer he's looking for. "Like what?" When I still don't answer, he does the one thing he knows will get a reaction of somekind out of me. He sits up as I pull the jacket on and the blanket on top of him starts to slowly slip down. I silently pray he'll stop it, for my sake, because I don't think I could cope with him being naked right now.
Which, I'm guessing, is exactly what he's counting on.
"Nothing big," I tell him, eyes darting from one wall to another, "Don't worry over it, okay? You just focus on the big issues. Like stopping the war and all."
Maybe it's somewhat low of me to mention it, to use the war to get his mind off of me, but... he's not giving me much of a choice here, is he?
"I'll just stop by the headquarters and I'll be back in a minute, I promise," I say, explaning, "'Sides, I wanna check on the kids. That was a nasty-looking blow she took today and I bet she's still in the infirmary."
"Yeah, it was," he admits and finally, thank heavens, he grabs the blanket pulling it back, "and you know, Sarah better be there or I'll get pissed off."
Bringing his much worshipped first-born to the conversation was also very low of me. But, as they say, all is fair in love and war. And in this case, it's a mix of both.
"But you know," John keeps on talking, "if I were you, I wouldn't worry too much. She's a tough girl, she'll survive. She takes after her mother, after all."
He didn't mean it to sting, but still I flinch as he mentions her... his deceased wife. He's a guy, he doesn't understand it.
"I know she does," I say, forcing a smile of some kind, "and hey, she does have a bit of you in her veins too so she'll be alright. You'll just sleep, ok? And you know, I'm gonna check up on Reese while I'm there, so really, don't stay up and wait for me. Sleep, Connor... Big day tomorrow."
He snorts, sound made in the back of his throat and says, "As big as any other day we've lived through."
Not even close, love. I wonder what he would say if he knew what I'm about to do. If I told him that no, actually, tomorrow is gonna be a big day. Different than all the others.
Would he stop me and tell me to forget it, to leave it at that. Would be refuse to let me do it... or would he wish me luck and ask me to save Joy's life? I don't know.
"Go back to sleep," I say one more time before I turn around and glance over my shoulder.
"And John," -I love you- "be careful."
Before he can answer, say anything at all, I close the door behind me and quicken my pace. I need to go and I need go now or I won't be able to.
I don't even notice the amount of junk and dirt around me anymore, not even when I detour my way around them. I've gotten used to the cracked walls and floors filled with stuff because we don't have enough space to keep them anywhere else... not to mention the roof that could fall down on us any minute, at least it seems it could. None of those things bother me anymore. During my first weeks down here it all looked so much worse… with me being a bitch and breathing down on their necks, they really did manage to fix the place up pretty well. I'm glad. Now it at least looks like something that can actually be defined as home.
Because really, this place, that's what it is. A home... and not only to me, but to so many others. We've lived underground for years - it's the only way to stay hidden from the machines.
As I reach the door of the infirmary, I pause. I think I heard something... so I stop my hand on the doorknob and listen for a moment... but I don't have to stand there for long before I hear their voices coming from the other side of the door.
And of course, I recognize them immediately.
Sarah Connor, the oldest and only daughter of John Connor's... and Reese Connor, her little brother.
I knock on the door but I don't wait for an answer, I never do; I just pull the door open and step in. Sarah is lying, well, sitting in an old hospital bed with Reese sitting at her feet. They both turn to look at me as I enter, and they smile their father's smile at me.
It manages to melt my heart and warm me up inside.
It wasn't always like this. I mean, after their mother died they hated me and it's not like you could blame them either. Sarah hated me for so long and so passionately that I thought I'd never survive it – I was truly afraid of the kid sneaking up into my room in the middle of night and suffocating me with my own pillow. Wouldn't have surprised me... as John pointed out, she's a warrior like her mother and grandmother both were; guess it comes with the shared name.
Growing up in a world like this you gotta be strong, I suppose. Just wish she could've had the kind of childhood I did.
She's eleven and already a soldier.
"Hey," Sarah greets me, smile widening. "You came to check I'm still kicking and breathing?" She laughts at her own words and I nod, returning the smile weakly. How can I tell her that really, what I'm here for, is a goodbye.
So, I tell her, "something like that," and shut the door behind me. Only, when I don't make a single move, the kids exchange a hesitated look before their eyes return on me.
"Okay... what's the problem, York?" Reese asks with serious tone and for a moment he sounds just like his father instead of a 8-year-old boy . I close my eyes and focus on breathing. Can't break into tears now, alright? Can't.
"Problem?" I open my eyes again, rolling them and snort, "Who said there's a problem?" They're both looking at me with a meaningful look in their eyes and yet again, they exchange a knowing glance before it's Sarah's turn to speak.
"Well," Sarah starts, immediately, "for one there's the look on your face."
There's no look, damnit.
"Seriously, it's like the Judgment day had come all over again," she says, thinking it's the funniest joke she's ever cracked and even Reese snickers. I do too, but only for the show. There's nothing funny or amusing about the Judgment day and if the situation wasn't this, the kind it is, I'd tell her that.
It's like the Judgment day had come all over again, huh?
And, you know, in so many ways, it has. You have no idea, kid, no clue and I'm glad she doesn't. Because she doesn't deserve this kind of life, this fate, this destiny, this war. None of this. She deserves so much more and all I want is to give her that... that and the world.
Oh well, Connor always says I'm too damn driven, too damn ambitious for my own good...
"No, not really. Just wanted to make sure you're ok," I say after a while and give Reese a look, "and that he's in bed – which he's not, I see."
My face must say more than any words ever could 'cause he gets up with a smile, gives his sister a hug and walks up to me. "See," he laughs, giving me a hug, "I'm going!" And then, in a blink of an eye, he truly is gone and I'm thinking... will I never see him again?
"So, what's up?" Sarah asks, adjusting her position and I can feel her bluegreen eyes on me, screening through my expressions, examining. She knows, like John did, that I'm not being honest because unfortunately, another thing the two have always shared is the inner-built lie-detector that I don't know how to cheat.
Fine, let's get it out in the open, then.
"Look, I'm about to do something that might end up being the most idiotic thing I've ever done," I tell her truthfully because that's the only thing I can do. She frowns, not understanding and tilts her head just like her father always does. She's trying to figure out my words and I can see the process in her eyes. Naturally she has no real idea of what I'm talking about, and I don't want her to know either – I don't want to explain these things to her because as said, she's only 11 and my problems shouldn't become hers and-
"You're going back."
She snorts, rolls her eyes and, "you're going back, aren't you?" she repeats calmly, only this time she adds the question to it as if to underline the point.
I blink, eyes shifting to my side and I feel my body tremble.
"Going back where?" Well, playing the dumb-adult-card is my best option, I guess.
"To the past, of course. You know it's against our rules!"
Not ours, his. His rules. Like everything else in today's world.
"No, of course I'm not." Perhaps I deny it a little bit too fast and perhaps a little bit too loudly as well, because she doesn't believe me at all. Her smile fades away completely and she stares at me, waiting for me to explain. She doesn't have to ask me to, the expression on her face is as demanding as always. "No," I say again, but this time calmly.
Her eyes, they're throwing sharp, pointy objects at me; I swear my skin prickles.
"Don't lie to me," she accuses me, growing angry, "I know you are."
Maybe coming to see her wasn't such a good idea...
"Fine, whatever. It's really none of your business, Sarah," I snap, though we both know it has everything to do with her.
"Okay, sure... then why did you tell me you're about to do something really idiotic?" The smile on her face is a true mark of victory and I can't help but sigh. Okay, fine, she got me on that one. I have no idea. Don't ask me questions that difficult, okay?
"I dunno," I admit, shoulders collapsing with defeat. There's something very wrong with me and my life if a 11-year-old can beat the truth out of me by only staring. "I guess," I start, stuttering, "I guess I wanted to see you two before, before I... I mean-"
Luckily I don't have to complete my sentence; she does it for me.
"Before you leave," she finishes, matter-of-fact.
Then she frowns and I know she's gonna ask something – it's a matter of seconds, I swear and-
"Are you coming back?"
Oh man. Not that one.
Instead of lying, I shake my head. If only I could explain it all to her; I know she'd understand. Okay, yeah, she's a child but she's a smart one and I have this feeling she'd see my point of view better than her father ever could. And in the end, after some time, she'd find it within her, the power and reason to forgive me. She'd be the one to hug me and wish me luck.
"No," I say, inhaling sharply, "I'm not coming back, ever. But I need you to do something for me, okay?"
Something in her eyes flickers and, "depends on what it is," she says and folds her arms. If things had been different, she'd be a business woman to be.
Here goes. Don't cry.
"I know it's lot to ask, since really, you are just a lil kid... but I want you to tell your Dad that I'm doing this because I love you and Reese and cause I love him."
She doesn't say anything.
"I have to do this, Sarah, 'cause you see... I know something even he doesn't know yet."
She frowns again, disbelief shining from her eyes. The faith she has for her father is never-ending and never, ever, does it falter.
"No. No, no. No," she repeats the word with a shake of head and then goes onto reasoning, "That's not possible. He's the head of this Resistance, there's nothing he doesn't know."
That's what I thought once. Then I grew up.
And it's not about that. I have to do this, Sarah. Let me do this.
"No, honey," I argue, "you're wrong. I know he'll find it out eventually and when he does, he'll want to go back himself or something as stupid as that. I won't allow that... I can't, so I'll go."
"So you're playing a martyr, huh?" She snaps and the words cut wounds on my flesh, make me bleed, "Listen, we could send someone else, you know."
I appreciate what she's trying to do, really, but this is the one fight she won't win with me. She's right of course, I'm sure at least 20 of John Connor's loyal soldiers would want to do it for me, for him, but no. I can't change my mind anymore. It's gotta be me. "I'm not doing this because I want to leave you guys," I say, a plead so obvious in my eyes that she reads it easily, "I'm doing this only because I have to. Will you tell him I said that, please? Will you ask him to trust me, for once? Tell him that I'm gonna take care of it."
"Take care of what?" She tries, though she knows I won't tell. That I can't. Nice try, baby girl, but not gonna happen.
"Sarah, come on." Maybe she hears the warning in my voice despite the fact it trembles a bit, or maybe sees it in my eyes. Either way, she gives up, sighing.
"Fine," she spits like a child would, "I'll tell him that."
There's a pause and then, "You know he'd kick your ass if he knew about this, right?"
Oh, honey. I roll my eyes and give a small, cynical laugh.
"Why do you think I'm leaving in the middle of night, huh?"