TITLE: Five Times Derek Reese Screwed Sarah Connor. And One Time He Didn't.
CHARACTERS: Sarah, Derek, John, Cameron, Ellison
WARNINGS: Spoilers for the first season.
TIMELINE: Various, mostly set in the months after the season 1 finale.
She'd run the bastard to ground, which was no mean feat considering he was probably seventeen – and probably part gazelle – and she was, well, older. Her chest felt like it was going to explode and when she finally cornered the punk in the dead end alley, she thought she had him. Then she reached for her gun.
She was going to murder Derek. Because she always kept a spare piece in her purse. It was the only reason she ever carried the damn thing. The backup piece was the whole reason she hadn't gone back for her primary weapon when she dropped it hurdling the trashcans five blocks ago. But she reached for it and …
The moment's hesitation was just long enough and the kid jumped the chain link fence and was gone. And there went their last lead on Sarkissian's whereabouts.
She stood in the alley, chest heaving, considering all the ways she was going to torture Derek. She didn't give a shit if he took her toothbrush or he forgot to put the toilet seat down. She didn't even care if he drank out of the milk carton. But the next time he touched her fucking guns, she was going to cut off his fingers.
Sarah put on her best fake smile as she tried to feign interest in Kimmy Sanders' sales pitch. Kimmy's son, Brandon, was in the chess club with John. Sarah knew she made a mistake when she told John he could sign up. But she'd felt so guilty about ripping him out of his last school, she allowed herself to be manipulated. And now here she was, forced to play nice with other parents. And even worse, forced to pretend Derek Reese was her husband – and John's father.
"It's so simple," Kimmy assured her. "If you have a few free minutes tomorrow, I'd love to drop by and talk to you about it."
Sarah paled. The last thing she wanted was this woman trying to anoint her into the cult of cosmetic sales. "I don't know," Sarah said with a frown. "Derek is adamant that he doesn't want me working." She leaned in conspiratorially. "He's very old fashioned in some ways."
No doubt cueing on his name, Derek appeared out of nowhere and draped a possessive arm around Sarah's shoulders. He was even less excited than Sarah that he was forced to pretend to be the devoted husband and father – and he took it out on her in any way he could.
"What are you two talking about, dear?" he asked pointedly, fixing Sarah with a rather disturbing smile.
Wrapping her arm around his back, her thumb expertly found the barely healed knife wound he received several weeks earlier – and dug in. His breath hitched, but he managed to keep his smile firmly in tact.
"I was just telling Kimmy how you don't like me working," Sarah said, careful to keep her tone light, but narrowing her eyes at him just enough for him to understand the menace.
His smile brightened several degrees and he did a fabulous job of ignoring what had to have been the rather excruciating pain Sarah was inflicting. "Sarah," he said sweetly, "you know I only want you to be happy. I think you should definitely invite Kimmy over tomorrow."
Sarah turned to Kimmy, smiling brightly, as she did her best to tear a chunk out of Derek's back.
He didn't try to evade the punch. He stood there and took it like a man, stumbling backwards until he hit the wall. He looked at her and gingerly rubbed his jaw.
"You lied to me, you son of a bitch!" Sarah raged.
He shrugged, unconcerned. "Yeah."
"I told you, Reese. I told you to stay away."
He looked at her, silent. Cocking his head to the side, he asked, "You think that's going to do it?"
"What?" she snapped.
"Being nice. Being polite. You think the metal gives a damn if they break a few rules?" He stepped closer, angry now. "I don't think you want it."
"To stop it," he yelled. "I lived through the apocalypse, Sarah. I don't care if you think humanity deserved it or not. I can tell you that Kyle and I sure as shit didn't deserve to be orphaned, to spend our lives hiding in tunnels and fighting the machines."
She shakes her head, paling. "I didn't mean – "
"The fuck you didn't," Derek snarled. "It's still this thing to you. A concept. It's not a fucking concept to me. It's my life. And my brother's life. And I will fight with every thing that I have to prevent that from happening again. And if murdering one worthless son of a bitch will help at all, I'll do it in a heartbeat."
Sarah stared at him for several heartbeats. "He wasn't a worthless son of a bitch," she said evenly. "He was an Army General with direct oversight of the military computer systems integration."
"I know," Derek spat.
She stared at him, shaking her head, more in sadness than disgust. "He was with his family. You didn't just murder him. You murdered two of his kids."
"I don't care."
"I know," she said sadly. "But if you use tactics like this to save humanity, you're no better than the machines."
Derek didn't flinch, but Sarah knew her words hit home. She turned, walking toward the back of the apartment, to the bedrooms. She stopped in the threshold, turning her head back toward him, but not looking at him. "I have to tell John," she said.
"Yeah." His reply was barely audible.
"He's going to know you got the address from his notebook."
She waited for a reply, but it didn't come. She turned back, staring blindly down the hall, toward the room where John and Cameron were busy hacking into a startup software company's personnel records. "He liked her," she said softly.
Derek remained silent.
She swiveled, looking directly at him. "There's a reason the John Connor you know is such a fuck."
The stickshift dug into her thigh, but she didn't care. She twisted, kicking off her boot, helping him pull at her jeans. It was a struggle. The Jeep was built for utility, not comfort. He didn't say anything and that shocked her. She expected him to be as irreverent and off-kilter while screwing as he was while doing everything else. She expected him to be lewd and playful and a jerk. But he wasn't.
There was a single-mindedness to his actions. The concentration she only ever saw him give a weapon. And now it was trained on her. It was flattering and empowering and creepy as hell.
Together, they managed to free one of her legs from the jeans and then she pulled at the fly of his pants as he lifted his hips off the seat just long enough to drag the material down his thighs.
She couldn't remember the last time she wanted anyone this badly. Sex was always a tool. In her life, her own desires have rarely mattered. He arched up even as his fingers bit into her hips, slamming her down against him. She didn't know if it was the fact that he was the one person who truly got it, or because she hated his guts, or because she loved his brother. Regardless, she was certain nothing ever felt as good as Derek Reese.
Then, as suddenly as it began, it was over. She pulled away from him, blindly opening the door, half falling, half jumping out of the Jeep, mindless with the need to get away from him. She was unsatisfied, still achy and tense and horny as hell. She ignored him hoarsely calling her name, hop-stumbling toward the house, shoving her leg back into her jeans.
Oh, Jesus. What did she just do?
Her brow furrowed and she looked up at the clerk. "I thought Diva Mehta was the director of the division," she said, repeating the name she memorized from the safehouse list.
"She was," the girl behind the desk said. She was young, probably working her way through school, bored to tears manning the front desk at the prospering software company. "But Diva started getting all freaky. Said people were following her. Now she doesn't come in the office."
There was a sinking feeling in the pit of Sarah's stomach. Yet another of Derek's team had been made by their target. Dammit. Right now, Mehta had the best odds for being the one to design the bulk of Skynet's base programming. If one of Derek's team had scared her off, they might have just destroyed their best chance for averting judgment day. "Really? Never in the office?"
"Never," the girl confirmed, shaking her head. "She works remotely." She snorted. "I wish I could do that."
"Do you know where she lives?" Sarah asked. It wasn't subtle, but at this point, she didn't have a lot of options.
"Yeah," the girl replied. "India."
One Time He Didn't.
"I thought you might want this," Ellison says, holding the tape out to Sarah.
She stares at it, blinking quickly. Her vision shifts to Ellison's face. He has a good face, a trustworthy face. She doesn't know how or why, but she believes he believes her. Too bad for him. Now he's a target too. The collateral damage is already making a shambles out of his life. His house was the most recent loss. Luckily, they got him out before the entire place blew. But most of his files, most of his notes and – Sarah acknowledges – the most comprehensive timeline of her life that ever existed – on grid and off - are gone. Sarah enjoys the irony. If Skynet had taken his files rather than destroying them, they would have been way ahead of the game. Their loss.
She stares at the tape, the one she noticed earlier. The one Ellison obviously noticed her noticing. He's a damn good agent, she'll give him that. And a fairly decent human being to boot. He must have grabbed the tape along with the armful of other files he managed to scoop up.
Somewhat reluctantly, she takes the tape. "Thanks," she says softly.
He nods and then looks to his car, parked next to their SUV in front of the abandoned gas station. "Now if you don't mind," he says, "I'm getting the hell away from you people. No offense, but you're like a self propelled biblical plague."
Sarah snorts a laugh. How true. She looks him in the eye, holding his gaze. "Be careful."
He nods. "I will."
Hours later, they're all crammed into the run down little motel. Two double beds (cozy, but not a problem, Cameron doesn't sleep and neither does Derek), a small kitchenette, an ancient TV and VCR. Sarah doesn't let herself consider how similar it is to the place she hid with Kyle.
John looks pointedly at the tape, sitting on the counter. He's perched on the end of one of the beds, filled with nervous energy. "So … uh?" he says, motioning to the tape.
Nodding, Sarah pushes herself off the end of the bed and takes the tape. Derek stretches out, leaning back against the headboard of the unoccupied bed, getting dirt on the bedspread from his boots. Cameron sits on the other bed, next to John, intently watching and listening to everything.
"What's on the tape?" Cameron asks.
"Nothing," John says dismissively.
"Then why are - " she starts.
"Shut up," John replies harshly, cutting Cameron off. It's unlike John to be so brusque, even with the machine and Sarah is reminded yet again how much this means not only to her, but to her son as well.
The terminator falls silent, but carefully watches as Sarah turns on the VCR and inserts the tape. It starts playing and the first few seconds are static, then a disclaimer stating that the tape is property of the West Highland Police Department. Sarah doesn't know how the hell Ellison managed to find a copy of this, but she's impressed. Turning, she walks back to the bed, sitting down stiffly. She leans back against the headboard next to Derek.
He glances over at her, but she doesn't meet his gaze. Derek knows in the vaguest of terms what the tape contains. So does John. Sarah, for better or worse, knows exactly what it contains. There's a part of her that doesn't want to see this. Not because she doesn't want to look at it. She does want to look at it. She's dying to look at it. But there's a part of her that doesn't want to share the tape's contents with the others. There's part of her that wants to leave this in her memory. But then she glances at her son and she knows how much he needs to see.
"You seen this?" Derek asks.
Sarah nods, watching John staring so intensely at the TV. "Once."
The disclaimer fades and there's a blip of static before the action starts. It's already well into the interrogation. Kyle is seated at the table, hands cuffed behind his back, wearing his dirty, ill fitting striped t-shirt. Jesus, she forgot about that shirt. She forgot how much she hated it. He's leaning forward to compensate for the awkward position of his arms, face angled up so he can glare at Silberman.
She can't breathe. She has lived with Kyle's face in her memory for what feels like a lifetime – and for what has been John's lifetime. But to see him, to actually see him, is joyous and heartbreaking and disconcerting. To hear his voice, his irritated, impatiently clipped words. She has a pang of regret at allowing John to see this tape. This is Kyle. Absolutely. But this Kyle, wound so tightly, isn't the Kyle who lives in her heart and memories.
She leans forward and next to her, Derek does the same thing. She glances over at him, watching his eyes trained tightly on the television screen. In a split second, she wonders what it must be like for him. From his perspective, he left his brother a few months ago. He has only recently grieved his death. But for Sarah, this tape is a relic from a previous life.
They watch, all of them, enraptured. They watch as Silberman baits Kyle, as Kyle earnestly and laboriously tries to explain the situation to a clearly condescending and disbelieving audience. And then Kyle snaps. He stands up, staring straight at the camera, yelling about the horrors awaiting her, the relentless, inevitable future.
But unlike the previous time she saw this tape, there is no kindly detective to suggest they've seen enough. It continues to play and the officers roughly subdue Kyle, pinning him face down to the table before he's finally led from the room struggling and yelling and the tape turns once again to static.
They all sit there, listening to the static. John looks back over his shoulder at her, his eyes shiny. "I need a walk," he says. As he stands up and walks to the door, Cameron follows him out into the late afternoon.
They sit in silence for a few minutes before Derek finally gets up and turn off the TV and VCR. Sarah looks up and he's holding a bottle out to her. Bourbon. She fucking hates bourbon. She takes the bottle and quickly swallows a mouthful of liquid fire. Coughing, she hands the bottle back to Derek, wiping her mouth with the back of her free hand.
Outside, the sun sinks below the horizon. The door is still cracked open a bit from where Cameron neglected to close it. Sarah doesn't know how long John will be gone, but she suspects it will be a while. She doesn't know if it's just because he's a teenager or if he truly is a brooding soul, but her son needs a great deal of alone time to process information. With something like this, she wouldn't be shocked if he was out all night.
Inside the room, it gets dimmer and dimmer and before long, the only light is from the giant fluorescent lights illuminating the parking lot. It's cool now, but Sarah doesn't want to find a jacket. She wraps her arms around herself, using her hands to rub her arms in a vain attempt to create enough friction to warm her.
Derek reaches out, pressing a hand to her back and she jumps, twisting around to look at him. He holds his arms open in invitation. She squares her jaw, narrowing her eyes.
"Look, I'm not trying to nail you. Just come here."
For once, she believes him and allows him to pull her close. She's still cold, freezing actually and she can't help but think to the night she spent huddled in the cold with Kyle, attempting to share body heat, dressing a gunshot wound, learning about her future. But for all its similarities, this scenario is far different. Derek isn't Kyle. And she isn't that girl.
"He was a man," Derek says quietly, almost wistfully.
Turning, Sarah looks at him from only inches away.
Derek shrugs. "He'll always be my baby brother. But on that tape, that wasn't my kid brother. That was a soldier."
"That was John's father," Sarah says. It's both the literal truth and a huge horrible fucking metaphor. Kyle was the strong one, not her. His faith in her, his certainty in her strength was what buoyed her so effectively through the rough waters. He's the one who instilled in her a sense of urgency, the need to be prepared, the absolute importance of never giving up. He's the one who built the legend of John Connor within her which allowed her to mold her son into that form. Without Kyle, none of it worked.
She can feel Derek staring at her and she moves closer, relishing the warmth from his body. "You can't see it on the tape," she says, "but his hand was bandaged." She laughs mirthlessly. "I thought he was trying to kill me. I bit the shit out of him."
Derek gives her a small smile. "I can only imagine. He's lucky that's all you did."
She shakes her head, laughing softly. "I wasn't like this back then. I was green. Goddamn, I was so green. I was going to junior college. I wanted to be a …" She trails off, giving Derek a wry look. "Nevermind."
"No," he says softly, "finish. What did you want to be?"
She cocks an eyebrow and shrugs in self-deprecation. "I wanted to be a vet tech." She looks at him, reading his confusion. "Veterinary technician. I wanted to work at an animal hospital."
His brow furrows. "Like on cats and dogs and shit?"
She nods. "Yeah. Cats and dogs and shit."
"Isn't that awful … cuddly for you?" he baits.
She shoves him playfully. "I already told you I was green." Her expression turns harder. "And soft. And so damn stupid."
They sit there for a while and Sarah stews in her own jumble of emotions, mourning for her lost self, mourning for Kyle, trying to reconcile the two different people she's been in her life.
"How'd Kyle find you?" he asks, pulling her from her thoughts.
"Terminator went after me at a nightclub. Kyle was there with a shotgun. Didn't kill it, of course, but stunned it enough to get away."
"And you bit him?" Derek asks with a small smile.
"Shortly thereafter," Sarah confirms with a matching smile. "I thought he was going to kill me." She looks at him. "Your brother wasn't the most eloquent communicator to ever live."
Derek laughs, grinning broadly. "Kyle never could talk to girls worth a damn."
Sarah shrugs, smiling. "Their loss."
Derek watches her closely and his smile fades. "Did you love him?"
She nods, staring at her feet. "I did."
"Do you miss him?"
She nods again, still looking at her feet. "Every day."
"Me too," he says quietly.
She turns and meets his gaze and they just sit there for a while. Sarah realizes she isn't cold anymore. She knows they've finally found their truce. She and Derek. Maybe now they can stop arguing about every goddamn thing under the sun. Neither of them moves and she's so aware of his body pressed against hers. She knows he is too.
He laughs mirthlessly and she can feel it more than hear it.
"Roll over," he says.
She stares at him. "What?"
"Just do it."
"Because I want to spoon."
She opens her mouth and he cuts her off. "Just do it, dammit."
Still bewildered, she relents, rolling away from him onto her side. He curls up against her back, pulling her close.
And much to her shock it's … nice.