Part 1: The Cabin

There is a body this time. James Ellison, in shock, in atonement, made sure there would be a body before he sent them to the cabin to wait things out. Sarah Connor was dead again. For good, this time.

She's let Savannah keep her name. Simpler that way. The little girl has 'spoken' only in nods and head shakes since the day that Ellison sat her on his knee in the smoking ruins of Zeira Corp's basement lab and told her she was going away for awhile, going away with Aunt Sarah to a cabin where Uncle James used to spend his summers when he was a boy. To Sarah, he only said 'wait for me.'

She is tempted, every day, not to. But he phones her, with punishing regularity, on a phone he has provided for this purpose. 'This isn't done,' he tells her again and again. 'You wait for me. This isn't done.' She is still angry. But she shut him out once before, and it led to Weaver, to Skynet, to this. To John, leaving her. To her, leaving him. 'Don't shut me out again,' he tells her. 'Let me help this time. For Savannah. For you.'

They wait at the cabin. Savannah has a doll, and she talks to it in whispers when she thinks that Sarah isn't listening. She wordlessly accepts the bowls of cereal, of canned soup, of canned spaghetti that Sarah finds in the cabin and reheats for her. Sarah herself does not eat the bowls of food, and loses five more pounds in the first week they spend there.

One day, when he phones as usual, he tells her he's coming. She asks him to bring her some bread. She wants real food again, food you can't get in a can. She has stopped grieving. Part of her knows that John is ready, wherever he is. That somewhere in the future, he is taking charge, stepping up, fulfilling his destiny. He could not do this with her in tow, and part of her knows this. Part of her also knows that he'll send someone back for her. Or, if he doesn't, someone else will. Someone dangerous. She has to start training again, training Ellison, training Savannah. She has to stop wasting away and resume her work. John may have left her to fulfill his own destiny, but hers is still, forever, here and now, before the end comes. Stop SkyNet. Save John.

--

It's raining, and Savannah has a fear of lightning. This is a revelation to her. The storm, now in its third day, has finally brought down the little girl's defenses, and in her terror, she has come fleeing into Sarah's arms. Sarah holds her, speaks softly, resists the urge to start the training now and tell the child what greater terrors there are out there than this. There is time for that later, when Ellison comes. When he brings her food. When he brings her tools. When he brings her weapons. Time for that later.

She almost jumps out of her skin when she hears the truck coming up the driveway, and nearly jumps out of her skin again when it is Savannah who reaches out a hand to comfort her this time. She reaches for a gun, then remembers that she doesn't have one. Her hands flail, and Savannah thrusts out her doll in mute offering. Her heart doesn't stop racing until she sees Ellison, in profile, working his key into the lock.

And he, in turn, seems just as relieved that she is there waiting for him.

"I thought you'd run," he says. He is carrying several paper bags, sodden from rain, and puts them down gingerly, eyes on her.

"You asked me to wait for you."

"I did. But I thought you'd run."

"Wanted to."

"I know you did."

His tone is gentle---a little too gentle, a little too nice. Like he is talking to a crazy person, afraid he will spook her away...

He kneels down to Savannah's eye level, wraps her in a hug. "Savannah."

"Uncle James!"

"You doing okay out here?"

"I miss Mommy."

"I know."

"That wasn't her though, was it? The...the Mommy who left...that wasn't really her, I think."

"No, Savannah. It wasn't. You doing okay out here?"

"I guess so. Will we stay out here for long?"

He looks at Sarah again. "Aunt Sarah and I are going to talk about that. Do you want to stay here, Savannah?"

She wriggles out of his arms. "It's time for lunch now. Want some soup?"

They settle Savannah in the bedroom, sprawled out on some blankets on the bed, with a book, her doll and a tv dinner tray. Then he joins Sarah in the kitchen, dishes her out a bowl of soup and waits for her to say something.

She pushes the spoon around in the bowl for a second. Then: "I hate food from a can."

He spills open one of the damp paper bags, pulls out loaf after loaf of supermarket bread, an assortment. Whole wheat, rye, seven-grain...

"I didn't know what you wanted," he said.

The hunger hits her at once, sudden, painful, as much emotion as physical needs, and she lunges for the nearest package, ripping open the plastic with her teeth, cramming chunks of dough into her mouth with feral urgency. He pushes the soup in front of her again, but she's in her own world, and she's half a loaf in before she comes up for air, eyes widening, hands fisting around the crinkly wrapper, body shaking with hunger and grief and need. He wraps her in his arms and she is weeping, finally feeling John's loss.

He hopes she will eat some soup before she collapses. But as the sobbing tapers off, she sniffles, then goes limp in his arms. He tucks her on the couch with a blanket then sits, watching her. Waiting. There is much to discuss.