terminator: the sarah connor chronicles/fight club. john/riley. R; slight sexual references (underage) & violence & some bad language. about 2545 words :: It smells like violence and faith, like blind belief. Like a new, different kind of future.

SOMEONE ELSE

When the other kids would run around the suburban yards and taste and breathe innocence in the way it was meant to be experienced, you'd be chased through the moist woods in Mexico and bathe in blood. Battle (because you have to). For their sake and for their future.

Whereas they'd laugh and dream of treasures at the end of rainbows, you'd shriek and hurt and fight a nightmare (the weight of the world on the shoulders of a little boy). All that for the sake of human race, for its right to exist. Every cut and wound and cry of pain. Just for them.

Most of them will die never even knowing your name.

000

You're always thinking why and do I have to and what difference does it make but you say yeah and okay and fine, I'll do it because that's how you stay alive.

You may not like being John Connor and sometimes you may even wish you're somebody else, somebody with a different kind of past, different future, but nonetheless, you do like living (though you rarely feel alive).

Most of the time, anyway.

000

"You're a pawn, John," you remember your mother saying once, out of blue. You were just a kid, but you understood what she meant though you probably shouldn't have. "We both are," she continued, shaking her head slightly, "But you know what happens to a pawn when it reaches the other side of the board."

It wasn't a question, there was no don't you? but it demanded an answer anyway. You whispered, simply, "It changes."

She smiled and even so young, you could tell there was something sad and haunting about it, in the way it didn't reach her eyes. It never does. "Yes," she confirmed taking your head between her hands and kissing your forehead, "that's right, it changes. Turns into something completely different. That's the beauty of the game, isn't it?"

000

They don't like you hanging around with Riley, having her in the house day after day. They've made it clear by telling you how stupid your behaviour is, how you should stop being so childish but you don't really care what they think. You've noticed you care less and less about less and less these days and it doesn't bother you that much, the way you slowly stop feeling. You figure, being forced to be John Connor gives you every fucking reason in the world to be angsty.

And the funniest thing is, your mother seems to think you do it to annoy her and Derek, to show her bits and pieces of the life you want but can never have. There could be some truth behind that, you don't deny it, but mostly you just like spending time with her, with this girl who seems to like you back just the way you are. You like the way she speaks and thinks and moves and the way her mouth tastes and how sexy she sounds when she's panting your name. She's not an innocent little girl and she's not sweet, you like that too. When she fucks you, she says the kind of things you've only heard in movies and you like the way she can turn you on and off whenever she wants to.

You're not her first, but she's yours. That doesn't bother you, either.

000

You trust her, your mother, with your life. Maybe because she gave birth to you or because for the longest time she was the only one you had. Before Cameron, before Derek. Maybe you trusted her because she said, promised, she'd take care of you and protect you till the end of the world and after, if need be. She'd die before letting anything bad happen to you. She didn't. She broke the promise without meaning to and it made you like this.

You can't forget and you can't forgive and when Derek tells you that the life you took was just a step to be taken, nothing more, you hurl a punch at him, meaning to crack his nose. You want to draw blood (doesn't really matter if it's yours or his since blood is blood). You don't, though, because half-way through he catches your wrist like you'd still be four, his fingernails digging into your flesh. Painfully, like he'd want to make you pay for everything you've done (in the future). Like he'd seen it coming.

"Been through that one time too many," he says softly, still holding your wrist at bay, "Go find someone else to take it out on, I'm done with that."

000

To you it seems he gave you an order and for once you're happy to comply. Derek should've known better. Or maybe he did. He's made it his daily mission to remind you that he knows what you were, are and what you'll become even if you don't. Maybe he knew you'd sneak out the house in the middle of the night. He told you, told you to go find someone else. You think he really meant it because he never, ever, volunteers to go anywhere with the machine but that night - that night - he insisted her assistance and took Cameron with him. The job took only 20 minutes, give and take, but it was all the time in the world you needed.

You escape.

Only for the night but as it turns out, sometimes that's enough.

000

You go looking for trouble but in the end, it's the trouble that finds you. It's some inmature idiot who thinks he can rob you or scare you, whatever. Some asshole who thinks you care when you don't. Who thinks a knife will stop you, your breathing. It doesn't, not after that.

You, your muscles, they do what they're trained to do. You fight (to protect the future or to protect you?). You twist the weapon out of his hand, breaking two of his fingers by doing so and enjoying the sound. He falls down on his knees in obvious pain, biting his lip to keep the curses in and you nearly smile. If that ain't another soldier, then you don't know what defines a soldier anymore.

He says, grunts, snarls 000 he says, "fucking hell. My bad, dude, sorry. You wanna see something really cool, huh?"

000

You follow the white asshole. The warehouse smells of blood and sweat and you feel at home.

They all say, whisper and tell, Tyler Durden, that man right there, that man in the middle, that man, dude, can't you see? They say Tyler Durden is the boss who made it all happen and they say he's the messiah who will free them all, make them see, and you're thinking if only someone could.

Someone else, but not you.

000

When the man, the one they called Tyler, speaks, no one else says a word. The air is crackling with tension and excitement and anticipation and something more, something vaguely familiar, but not quite. It smells like violence and faith, like blind belief. Like a new, different kind of future.

Maybe that's the real John Connor in disguise, the man they're looking for instead of you. Maybe this is the messiah who can fight and kill and lead us to victory. Maybe it was never meant to be you. You hope your mother got it all wrong.

Tyler says, "If someone says stop, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over." You wish it would always be that simple.

000

In the morning you go downstairs only because you know you can't avoid the inevitable. No point in stalling. So you take a shower, get yourself ready, grab your school bag and go eat breakfast. The moment you step into the kitchen, her rough hands are all over your face. Making sure. Cut lip, black eye, a whole bunch of bruises. No brain trauma. Hallelujah. She should see the rest of your body... or maybe not.

"What the hell, John?" she demands, always demanding and you tell her you got into a fight last night, in the park, with some stupid kid who was showing off, bullying you, wasn't your fault, no worries, you know what to do, keep your head down, it was a mistake, won't ever happen again. You promise you'll take care of it. You don't know if she believes you or not, can't quite read that stunned look in her eyes, but she leaves it at that, saying, "Okay, good. I hope so." Or else 000 you hear the warning, you've learned to recognize it so well though she never says it.

Derek says nothing then, only looks at you, eyes narrowing slightly and later when neither she or Cameron is around, he finally decides to speak. He says, "hope no one died" and that's that (he doesn't sound surprised or angry and it makes you wonder). You want to tell him, snap. Of course no one died because you were raised to protect your own ass and you said stop before it got too far. But it's not like you can tell him that, right? Can't tell him that if you hadn't stopped yourself, it, him, someone else would've (and you would've been grateful for that). You remember the first two rules and hell, you if anyone in this world are made of rules, right?

000

"I think it's kinda hot," Riley confesses two days after your fight, tracing your lips with her index finger and not caring it still hurts. She's lying against your side (warm and warming you), one leg thrown over yours. Her soft fingers are distracting you from your own thoughts by tracing patterns on your skin, counting the cuts and bruises and guessing how many of them will scar.

"Great, me getting my ass kicked is hot now?" You ask and laugh weakly. She knees you in the thigh, playful. The knee hits a bruise and it hurts. You wince, but it's okay because somehow, when she's there and you're not alone, it's the right kind of pain.

"Tell me the truth. Who did it?" She asks, whispers against your shoulder, "Not your mom, right?" You tell her she'd never, not Sarah. Only... she kinda did.

000

You were on your back, attempting to catch your heaving breath (no such luck there) and trying your best to force your body off the cold ground (no such luck there, either). You tasted the blood in your mouth, felt it all over, wet, warm. Everything hurt, every inch and spot and breath and swallow. Even thinking. Everything burned and tickled and just for a moment you thought you might burst into tears because you fucking went and did it again. You told yourself you wouldn't, but you did, you yelled the damn word and the fight was over. They all know who you are, or what you are, and they leave you alone. You and your silent curses. The last time someone did offer a helping hand, someone usually does, but that one time you refused to accept it. You would refuse again. You're John fucking Connor.

Tyler said, "Fights will go on as long as they have to" and that's precisely the goddamn problem. It won't ever be over, not till you fight back instead of run. It's not enough that she wants to keep you safe, it'll never be enough. You killed and even that doesn't cut it. It's just a step, it's you trying to stay alive. The war needs more. From you. You wonder, sometimes. How far could you let yourself go if you didn't have to worry about the fate of an entire planet? Would you kill even if it was a choice between only two souls, the other being yours?

"Johnny, that's your name, right?" a voice says from somewhere above. You can't see but you can hear and for a moment it feels like God were speaking to you from the heavens. "Well, John," Tyler says, imagine a white ball of healing light or something 'cause you can't stay there forever, they need to lock the place up and you open your eyes.

000

After Tyler decides to fight you and dislocates your shoulder a few times, your mother figures she's given you enough time to deal with your issues and now it's time for her to butt in. You get it, she's worried and angry and frustrated and decides for you the way she's decided since you took your first breath. "This has to stop," your mother says, eyes screaming murder, "you can't keep doing this, whatever this is. It's not your mission and you have to stop. I'm ordering you to stop."

But this is no fight club and she can't tell you to stop. Somewhere along the way, her orders have changed, you suppose. They are gray and colorless and fade to black now, while everything else is slowly regaining their true colors.

You ask, "why" and "do I have to" and "what difference does it make?"

000

The guy you're fighting is probably twice your size but you learned to compensate around the time you learned to walk. It's all you ever do. Try fighting a terminator without compensating and you'll get why. You hit and block and kick, nothing in your style has changed since the last time you were here, but somehow you feel more focused than ever before. Alive.

Like maybe your mother taught you all the right things you need in order to survive, to be strong and independent. Maybe she taught you to compensate because she knew you'd always feel less. Maybe you can fight a little bit better if you trust you can. Maybe it really is about faith, about blind belief and hope. Those are your gifts to the humankind and the only things your soldiers will ever have.

Maybe your mother broke the promise because she knew she needed to. Because she's known all along that there's nothing more important than fighting for what's right. So the circle never breaks. You do it for them while she does everything she can (for you) to make sure you will. Since you're John Connor and all.

000

The fight ends the moment you yell stop and this time you don't feel like a loser at all. Instead, you say, "Tyler, I need a sec with you. Outside."

Tyler wants a war, you know this much. You don't know why he wants it, just that he does and you suddenly figured you could always try and give him something easier than philosophy, but something harder than humans to fight. So you tell him the truth and Tyler says, "What we really should do is just kill everyone, the whole government and just. Everyone. That way it won't happen, man."

You smirk and tell him, no. You don't take over the club, it was always meant to be his, but you do take over the cause and make it yours. The first wave of your future Resistance; you made it happen, made them see. You don't tell your mother about it, though cause that'd be against the rules.