TITLE: Don't Confuse Close With Happy
SERIES:And So It Went
WARNINGS: Spoilers through 2.05.
TIMELINE: This series is a bit AU, but takes a lot of the canon events.
NOTES: This series has its own canon, but I'm also trying to make it mesh with the main SCC universe, so there are differences, but the overall timeline is the same.
SUMMARY: Episode tag for "Goodbye To All That"
"What happened out there?"
Derek glances over his shoulder as Sarah pushes through the screen door, but doesn't actually look at her before turning back to the view. He likes the new house. It's much more secluded than the old place, more defensible. Even if there isn't a spare bedroom for him. At least they have a front porch.
He shrugs. "You know the drill. We took down the triple eight, gave Bedell enough information to keep him on target."
"But not too much information," Sarah prompts, her tone tight.
Derek knows she's pissed. He's pretty damn pissed himself and he's more than happy to oblige her need for conflict. The two of them are becoming strangers, fellow soldiers with nothing in common but the mission. They occasionally compare notes on how low the supplies are running or check up on leads. There's always friction where their paths cross, a scathing comment here, a snide remark there. He's nothing but an expendable grunt. She's an overbearing mother emasculating her son.
At the old house, they had to get along. Between Sarah's paranoia about letting John out of her sight and Derek's injury, they were all constantly on top of one another, forced into close quarters and forced to find a way to coexist. But since John's birthday, they've been scattered to the winds.
Derek doesn't know exactly what happened that day, but he knows it was big. John shaved his head and traded in the metal for a real, live girl. Sarah made a sandwich for the paramedic, but then watched his wife die without so much as an apology. The metal's on the fritz. Derek's sleeping in the truck. They all have their own agendas. It's become harder for all of them to be civil to one another, regardless of how much they might need each other.
And no one's getting laid. Except maybe John. And the fact that his teenage nephew might be getting more play than him has Derek in a foul mood.
"We told Bedell just enough," Derek finally says. "No more."
Sarah's anger seems to fizzle with no obvious outlet and she sinks down into one of the benches on the porch, staring at her feet. The silence between them isn't comfortable. But it's normal. They've learned to live like this the last few weeks. Tension is always heavy in the air. Things are always left unsaid, unresolved. Derek isn't sure he remembers how to live any other way. He thought things were rough at the old house, but now … It's been an unrelenting clusterfuck for weeks. The stuff with the triple eight and Bedell seems routine.
As for Sarah and Derek, their routine has been running from one disaster to the next, arguing when they have the time and not a whole hell of a lot else. Derek hasn't even seen the inside of the new house's master bedroom. But given how much it looks like Sarah isn't sleeping, it's entirely possible she hasn't either.
He's taken to sleeping elsewhere. He's not crazy about the fact. As much as he's glad to be away from the metal, he doesn't like leaving John and Sarah unguarded. Most nights he dozes in the truck in the park up the street. He's close enough. Just in case.
"You heard from Dixon lately?" Derek asks.
"Why would I?" Sarah snaps in reply.
She snorts, but he just sits there and waits. It doesn't take much to provoke Sarah Connor into a confrontation.
Just in case Sarah was thinking of taking the high road, Derek needles, "We could barely get rid of him when his wife was still alive, I find it hard to believe he's staying away now that he's single."
"You fucking asshole."
Nope. No high road here. He turns around and smiles nastily at her, unwilling to examine why it is he wants to get her attention so badly – even if it is though a fight. It's not the first time he's felt the compulsion to make her notice him. The first was before they even met, when he brushed his shoulder against hers in the hall as he made a retreat from the scene of Andy Goode's murder. The second was in that interrogation room when he told her she was prettier than her picture. Derek's too damn good of a soldier to make slips like that. It was intentional. He doesn't know why, but sometimes he needs her to acknowledge him. Or else it's like he doesn't exist.
Sarah glares at him, that condescending scowl on her face. "Charley's wife is dead."
"I know," Derek replies smoothly. "I watched her die."
"So did I."
"So did Charley."
Sarah turns away, looking at nothing, shaking her head.
"Do you think it's enough?" Derek taunts.
Sarah's head snaps back to him, her brow furrowed.
"Do you think he finally gets it?" Derek continues. "Dixon. Do you think he finally understands that this isn't something he can save you from? Do you think his wife's death finally convinced him it's true?"
She looks at him for a moment, at a loss for words. And then as quickly as it appeared, the indecision is gone. "How the hell should I know?" she snaps, turning on her heel and going back in the house.
Derek follows her, catching the screen door before she can slam it in his face. "Where's John?"
"Out with the girl?" He's not actually sure how far he wants to provoke her, but that doesn't stop him. The words are out of his mouth before he has time to think better of it. He trails her into the kitchen, grabbing a beer out of the fridge and leaning his hip against the counter as he watches Sarah wash her hands in the sink.
Sarah glances over her shoulder at him and smiles tightly. "Out with the girl," she confirms bitterly.
Derek shakes his head.
"Fucking spare me the parental advice," Sarah says, forestalling whatever it was he might have said. "I don't want it and I don't need it." She turns off the water and quickly dries her hands.
Derek watches her for a heartbeat, then another. He tips the bottle and takes a swallow. "Coulda fooled me."
She throws the towel on the counter and takes a step toward him, hands on her hips. "What the fuck do you want me to do, Reese?" she snaps. "Ground him? He's sixteen. And the future leader of the human resistance."
"Yeah and we're all fucked if he doesn't make it to seventeen or if he's so busy trying to get in that girl's pants that he forgets about the mission."
She glares at him for a long time. "John won't forget the mission," she says with finality before turning and leaving.
"How can you be so sure?"
She stops in the doorway, shaking her head. She turns to look at him. "Because the mission is all we've ever had. I never forget. John never forgets."
He swirls the beer in his bottle, contemplating it. "Does saying it out loud make it more believable?" He doesn't look at her, but he knows she's still standing in the doorway. "If you lie to yourself often enough, can you sleep at night?"
"You jackass – " She's already moving when she curses at him and he barely has time to set the bottle down before she lands her first punch, sending him stumbling backward against the refrigerator. He twists as a second punch glances off his shoulder. Managing to catch one of her wrists in his right hand, he uses his left to protect his face. He never took Sarah for a cat fight kind of girl, but that bitch is going to gouge out one of his eyes if she gets the chance.
Sarah quickly switches tactics, brutally kicking him in the knee, sending him crashing to the floor. But his grip is tight and he pulls her with him as he falls. They grapple on the scarred linoleum floor, twisting and hitting, fighting for dominance. Sarah kicks him again, this time in the ribs. Realizing that she is well and truly pissed – and out for blood - he takes the cheap shot, viciously grabbing her upper left arm and mercilessly digging his fingers into the still healing muscle.
She sucks in air as the pain paralyzes her for a moment. Derek takes the advantage, catching each of her wrists in one of his hands, the full weight of his upper body pinning her to the floor as he straddles her upper thighs, immobilizing her lower body. She bares her teeth at him, but there isn't a damn thing she can do to get leverage in this position.
Derek knows this victory is fleeting at best. He'll have to let her go and when he does, he knows he better run like hell.
He leans down, his face inches from hers. "Coward."
She slams her head forward, trying to headbutt him, but he pulls away. "Coward," he repeats from a safer distance.
"Fuck you," she seethes. "Hell of a statement coming from the guy sleeping in the truck up the street."
That burns a little and he looks down at her. "You made it pretty clear I wasn't welcome here."
"The fuck I did," she says derisively. "You've never worried about making anyone uncomfortable. You're sleeping in the truck because you're the one who's lying to himself."
"All that bullshit about John forgetting the mission," she growls. "It's not about John. John won't forget the mission. It's about you." She glares at him, teeth still bared, breathing so hard she's panting through her teeth.
Derek stares down at her and then all at once, pushes off and lets her go, backing quickly out of range.
She skitters to her feet and grabs a knife out of the block, holding it out towards him. "Do that again and I'll kill you."
He looks at her. And then at the knife. His gaze once again meets hers and he takes a deliberate step toward her. And then another. And another.
The point of the knife presses against his chest, but neither of them are willing to break eye contact. Derek moves closer, feels the burn and knows the blade broke the skin. He can feel his blood seeping into the material of his t-shirt.
Sarah finally looks at the tiny rivulet of blood running down the knife blade toward the hilt. The blood is shockingly crimson against the shiny steel of the blade and Sarah is immediately reminded of her hands covered in his blood, pressing the kitchen towel tightly to his chest as she willed – and screamed – so desperately for him to live.
With a sharp shake of her head, she pulls her wrist back and sets the knife on the counter. Her motions are slow, controlled. She looks defiantly up at Derek as he looms over her. "You're the coward," she says again, her voice quiet, but not soft.
"You're my brother's widow."
She winces, breaks eye contact. She looks at the floor and then at his chest. "You're bleeding on my kitchen floor."
"Not the first time, probably won't be the last."
Sarah stares at the blood on his shirt. The wound wasn't deep and it's probably already stopped bleeding.
Derek doesn't move his feet, but he leans in closer, braces his hand against the counter behind her, his wrist grazing her hip. "What do you see when you look at me?"
She looks up at him, but says nothing.
"Do you see Kyle?"
Reflexively, she shakes her head, shunning the very idea. "No," she says. She swallows thickly. "No."
He leans in, his face close to hers. She can feel his breath against her temple. She stares straight ahead, at the patch of skin just above the collar of his shirt. There's a scratch there, probably from a branch or brush. She wonders what exactly happened with all those boys playing soldier.
He takes a breath, licks his lips. "What do you see when you look at me?"
She looks up, staring into his eyes. His irises are light, like Kyle's, but they are so different - intense in a way so unlike Kyle's. Derek is worldlier than Kyle was, more damaged, less idealistic. She finds that comforting. Sarah doesn't have a lot of use for idealists.
"Future," she says so quietly she can barely hear it herself.
He holds her gaze. "The future," he says. "Or your future?"
She doesn't break eye contact, but she shakes her head. "I don't know."
He sighs, hangs his head and then pushes off the counter, retreating several steps as he looks at her. "I'm not going anywhere," he says.
Sarah looks at him, but remains silent.
"You can be a bitch." He laughs. "Hell, you can even stab me. I may be in the park up the street, but I'm not going anywhere."
"Do you?" he presses.
She meets his gaze and nods. "Yes." And she does. She knows that Derek is one hell of a soldier, but she also knows this long ago ceased to be a mission. Derek will die to protect John, not because he's the future leader of the human resistance, but because he's Kyle's son.
"You don't have to fuck me to keep me around."
Sarah flinches and then glares, willing herself not to consider how many times she lived that scenario.
He steps closer. "When was the last time you were with a guy because you wanted to be with him?"
She shrugs and looks away.
"When?" he presses. "When is the last time you shared a bed with someone when it wasn't part of the mission, when you didn't want or need something from him?"
She shakes her head, unwilling to answer the question.
She screws her eyes shut for a moment and then finally forces them open, looking at him. He's staring right back. Their eyes are locked for a heartbeat, then another. "Yeah," she says. "Kyle."
He nods, not at all shocked by her words. Slowly, he turns around and grabs his beer. "I'll be on the porch if you need me."