Title: Watching, not Sleeping
Fandom: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Characters: Sarah & Derek. Cameron gets a very brief look-in.
Rating/Category: T – discussion of adult themes, liberal use of bad language. Episode tag for Some Must Watch…
Word Count: About 3700
Spoilers: Huge ones for Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep
Summary: Sarah gets home.
Notes: A companion, of sorts, to Under the Influence. Sarah gets the crap kicked out of her so often, I can't help but want to patch her up again. Thanks and love to Cat for Beta and moral support. Thanks also to RoxyB for the Samson & Delilah handcuff connection. Comments welcome.
Disclaimer: Don't own them. Wish I did.
Sarah heard the click of the safety as soon as she opened the door, and she knew instinctively who it was sitting in the dark.
"It's me. Derek."
A light was switched on, and she raised her hand to block out the glare and the look of shock that passed fleetingly across his face.
"What the fuck happened to you?"
"Long story." She knew he wouldn't let her get away with that, not again, but her priorities lay elsewhere. "John? Is John okay?"
The last time she had seen her son, he was lying on the floor with two bullets in his chest.
"He's fine. I told him to go to bed, he was ready for dropping. He'd been on the computer for hours, looking for you. That's where the metal is now: looking for you."
Sarah barely reacted to him, she was already moving. "I just need to see him."
Derek nodded, sensible enough not to try and argue, and waited until she had passed him. Shaking his head, he ran warm water and disinfectant into a bowl and set it on the table, then collected the first aid kit from the bathroom and began taking out dressings. It was like déjà vu all over again. The fucking woman came back with more holes in her than he and John and the metal combined.
She looked calmer when she returned. She still looked like crap, but the wildness in her eyes had been replaced by utter exhaustion, and she sat without prompting in the chair he pulled out.
He continued to unpack dressings, and she continued to sit in silence. Looking at her, he could see that she had had a rough night. Bruises and scrapes littered her face, and both cheekbones were swollen from taking punches. There were livid, finger-shaped contusions encircling her throat, crowded and overlapping where her assailant's grip had been adjusted several times. She held herself stiffly, arms folded, splinting her ribs and injuries to her torso that her clothing concealed. A faint sheen of sweat glistened on her face, and in the harshness of the kitchen strip-light her pupils were unnaturally dilated. She had been drugged and beaten, and he wouldn't touch her until she asked him to.
"Sarah, is there any immediate problem from all this?"
Startled, she raised her head. At some point, Derek had stood up and moved to the counter, where he was now dropping tea-bags into two mugs and adding sugar to both. She had never taken sugar, and he knew that, but she suspected he was attempting to stave off shock, and she wondered exactly how bad she looked.
She shook her head. "No. Nothing immediate." Later. Later there would be problems when Winston's associates found his body and began to work in earnest to track her and John down. She had taken her cell-phone back out of Winston's pocket so they wouldn't be able to trace that. There was nothing else…
"Shit. The truck." It was always the fucking truck.
"What about it?"
"It's still there, at Western Iron and Metal. He moved me, somewhere further out of downtown. He used his own van, I had to take that, but the truck's still there." Still there, and once again covered in prints and containing evidence that could potentially be tracked back to them. She closed her eyes, feeling sick.
Derek watched her and tried to be brutal about priorities, when all he wanted to do was feed her painkillers and put her into bed. "Okay. The metal's over that way now. Let me make a call. It'll be okay."
He left the kitchen and Sarah heard a low murmur of conversation. She was attempting to be logical, to think of anything else she might have missed, but her thoughts were muddled, and sifting through them was taking more energy than she had to spare. She looked up expectantly when he returned.
"Here." He placed a mug in front of her and sat down with his own. "We've got the truck. Don't worry." He didn't offer any more details, because she looked like she was struggling to process what little he had just told her. She was staring at the steam rising from the mug, but she made no move to pick it up. Her face set with concentration, she was growing paler still, as she held both of her hands below the table and worked on something he couldn't see. He sipped his tea, wishing he'd made coffee instead, and looked up sharply when she spoke.
"I can't… damn it. I can't get this back in."
Her hands came up then, and all he saw was the blood. It was everywhere, slicked across her palms and coating her fingers and wrists.
"Jesus Christ, what've you done?" He stood, knocking the table and not caring as tea spilled. "Sarah?"
Without speaking, she held her left hand out to him, displaying a dark, ragged hole in her wrist and a thumb that was rigid and all wrong. It took a couple of seconds before he recognized the pattern of the injuries, and a couple more seconds after that before he could speak.
She nodded once. "It's dislocated. I can't get it back in."
"You drove with this?"
"Had to." She shook her head with a wry smile. "I think the drugs might've helped." She looked at him then, made actual eye contact, and shook her head again. "Don't… Not yet. Just fix it. It's fucking killing me."
He took her hand in both of his and palpated the base of her thumb firmly, assessing the direction it needed to go back in. "Do you want something for the pain?"
"Just get it over with."
He smiled. "I don't know why I bother asking. Try not to wake John."
He applied pressure, then smooth traction, and, with a wet pop, managed to manipulate the joint back into the socket. He ignored her sharp intake of breath and the quiet hyperventilating that followed, wondering whether he would be able to get her into her bedroom if she fainted.
A minute passed and she didn't faint. She sat ramrod-straight in the chair and worked hard to control her breathing as the pain eased slightly.
"Better save that till I've stitched your wrist."
He took her hand again and lowered it into the bowl of water, holding it in there as she jerked and tried to pull it back out.
"God, what's in this?"
"Antiseptic." His free hand was working the liquid into the wound. "You bit yourself." It wasn't a question. "It needs cleaning out properly. You don't want another infection."
She didn't; she was barely over the last one, but it felt like he was rubbing acid into the raw flesh. She closed her eyes and tried to block out what he was doing.
Derek watched the water turn pink, then a deeper crimson, thick clots and chunks of skin floating to the surface. She certainly hadn't left anything to chance. The wound was deep and nasty, and would be an absolute bitch to suture.
He lifted her hand and set it down on a clean towel, dabbing it dry carefully. She was trying not to flinch, and mostly succeeding.
He threaded a hooked needle and turned her wrist toward the light. "You okay?"
"You've completely avulsed a section here. I can only do so much; it's going to scar."
Her shoulders stiffened almost imperceptibly, but she recovered and nodded again. "It's alright. Do what you can."
He took that as consent, and made the first stitch efficiently. It was easier after the first one, and easier still because she never made a sound. Her only reaction was the clenching and unclenching of the fingers on her good hand every time the needle bit in.
"Do you know what he gave you?"
She winced as the thread snagged on a thicker edge, and shook her head.
"No. It knocked me out. Made me hallucinate, or dream, or whatever. I didn't… I didn't know what was real. Which was the point, I guess."
He made an affirmative-sounding noise and continued to concentrate on his task. "Probably Sodium Pentothal. The machines use that. It's their drug of choice for interrogations."
"It wasn't a machine." She watched the thread pull another piece of her wrist closed. "It was Winston."
"Who's Winston?" Derek's eyes narrowed, as he tried to remember why the name was so familiar. It didn't take long. "Jesus. Ed Winston? The guy who shot you?"
She nodded, still staring at the needle, which was somehow easier than looking at Derek. "Apparently he was getting patched up at the same time I was. Then they sent him back to wait for us. They knew we had the tapes. I guess they figured that sooner or later one of us would show up." She hissed at a particularly vicious jolt.
"Sorry. Almost finished."
"They know I have a son." Her voice was quiet but steady. "I didn't tell him, but he found out anyway. They think he's my accomplice. They'll be coming for us."
Derek tied a stitch off. He thought he knew where this was heading.
She barely took a breath, but just carried straight on, as if any hesitation would stop her from ever telling him. "He made me watch John die. I watched myself die. Then I woke up, and I was so scared." Blood welled up from beneath a stitch and trickled down her wrist. "I heard him talking on his phone, arranging our deaths. One quick phone call to end the world." The blood dripped and spattered silently onto the tile. "I got myself free, we fought, and I shot him point-blank between the fucking eyes while he looked right at me." She met and held Derek's gaze, and there was no doubt or remorse in her eyes. "I'd do it again."
She closed her eyes then, acknowledging the enormity of what she had said, allowing tears to escape down her cheeks. She felt warmth on her face and bit down on her lip, as he cupped her chin and used a cloth to ease the tears away. He continued to wipe her face gently, working to remove the smears of dried blood around her mouth and chin, and she let him, just for a moment.
"Winston told me that I wanted to die. He made it sound like the easy way out. He was wrong." She was looking at him again, green eyes achingly tired, but absolutely sure of that one fact.
"Maybe he thought that by suggesting it enough times, he'd manage to convince you. That you'd just give up and tell him what he wanted to know."
"Maybe. It didn't work, though. When I came to and I was still in the van, I realized what was happening to me, and it was like I'd been given a second chance. I knew I couldn't let John down again."
Derek caught the reference immediately. "Sarkissian wasn't your fault, Sarah. You had your hands tied behind your fucking back."
She nodded. "I knew this time I had to get out of the cuffs."
Her logic was absolute and allowed no room for debate. To her, at least, it all made perfect sense. Derek looked at her wrist, crisscrossed with black, and still oozing blood, and wondered at the desperation and the sheer bloody-minded determination that had caused her to mutilate herself.
She answered his unspoken question in the same pragmatic tone. "He was going to force me to call John. "
Derek gave a short, bleak laugh. He'd suspected that one had been coming. "They never learn, do they?"
In spite of herself, Sarah smiled. "Yeah, that never has worked out well for them. I wish they'd stop fucking trying." She studied her wrist, evaluating his craftsmanship. She wasn't sure exactly what had just transpired, but she felt slightly better for it.
Sensing her desire to change the subject, Derek made an all-encompassing gesture indicating her injuries. "So… Anything else I need to know about?"
"No… Well, my head's pounding."
"Yeah." They weren't, one was probably broken, but she would deal with that later, on her own.
"Your hand's going to be out of action for a while if you want the tendons to heal. It'll have to be strapped up."
She made a face, too tired to be compliant any more. "I need a shower."
She was already rising. She swayed slightly on her feet, but refused to do the decent thing and fall down again so he could pick her up and not have this battle. She was halfway across the lounge before he could think of anything to say.
Sarah made it to the bathroom and shut the door, leaning her back against it and taking a couple of deep breaths. She needed to get clean, to wash away the feeling of being trapped in an enclosed space with a man who had repeatedly made a point of touching her against her will. She had fought him, and she had defied him, but, with the use of the drugs and the restraints, he had maintained the upper hand for the best part of the three hours for which he had held her, and she despised him for that.
It was difficult to take her sweater off with only one functional hand. The effort and the pain left her light-headed, and unable to attempt the clasp on her bra. She sat down heavily on the toilet seat and lowered her head to her knees, then realized that wasn't going to be enough, and slipped down to crouch on the floor. The nausea hit her in a pitiless wave, and she heaved into the toilet until her stomach was empty and cramping. Resting her head against the cool of the porcelain, she closed her eyes, reluctant to move again until the world stopped spinning.
The knock on the door came almost instantly.
"I'm fine, Derek. I'm fine."
"You don't sound fine."
"Don't come in. Please."
The door was already opening, and she cursed herself for not having had the presence of mind to lock it.
"Please don't…" She didn't know how to end the sentence: come in, look at me like that, tell anybody about this.
He pushed the door shut behind him, not wanting to disturb John. John definitely did not need to be involved in this right now.
"I brought you your robe. Come on." Helping her up off the floor, he guided her back onto the toilet seat. He said nothing as she wrapped her arms protectively across her chest and shivered in the cool air.
"Here." He tucked the robe around her, averting his eyes but not quickly enough to miss the bruises that covered her back and the length of her right arm. "Better?"
"It'll be the drugs, Sarah. They'll wear off. I'll run the shower, okay? Shout if you need me."
Another quick nod, and she moved her hand to the button of her jeans, then dropped it down beside her as her stomach threatened to betray her again.
Derek caught her hesitancy and narrowed his eyes as dark thoughts began to coalesce. He knelt by her, careful not to touch her. "Sarah?"
"What?" Hadn't he just promised to leave her alone?
"Did he assault you?"
She shook her head quickly, too quickly. "No." A deep breath, drawn out into a shudder. "No. He didn't rape me, Derek."
Derek rocked back on his heels and ran a hand across his face. He was sweating. "He didn't hurt you like that?"
"No, not like that." Her eyes dropped from his face, and when she spoke again her voice was barely audible. "I just… I woke up one time and he'd taken my jacket off, he'd unbuttoned my jeans. That was how he knew about John. He saw the scar from my Cesarean."
"Son of a fucking bitch."
She pulled the robe tighter around herself. "Sometimes it's easier with the machines; they're less complicated. They hurt you, but at least they're upfront about it." All of her own anger had been spent, leaving only a bone-weariness in its wake. "I just need a shower. I'm fine."
Derek turned away from her, battening down the urge to put his fist through the mirror, and started the water instead. He decided it might be beneficial to focus on practicalities. "Can I get you anything?"
"No, I'm good. Thanks."
"Let me know when you're done. I'll strap that hand for you. Try not to get the stitches wet."
He waited until she was safely standing, then left her alone. Pulling the door shut behind him, he walked down the corridor until he was out of earshot, then punched the wall twice. It made his own hand sore. And it didn't help.
"Sodium thiopental, ketamine and a trace of phencyclidine."
"Phencyclidine?" Derek took hold of the vial Cameron had found in the back of Winston's van.
"Jesus. How many vials?"
"Two. One still half full. Sodium thiopental weakens the resolve of the subject and makes them more compliant to pressure. Ketamine has an analgesic effect but can cause vivid hallucinations. Both are excellent choices for prolonged interrogations."
"I guess it's just a coincidence that you know so much about this." His teeth were gritted so hard that he was surprised he could form a sentence.
Cameron looked puzzled, as if Derek had said something blatantly stupid. "No. I have detailed information banks on each of these drugs; phencyclidine…"
He cut her off impatiently. "Side effects. What can we expect?"
"Headache, nausea, prolonged drowsiness, delirium…" The machine checked the symptoms off on her fingers as if recounting a shopping list, "…For up to thirty-six hours."
"Great." He turned away as he heard the bathroom door click open. "Any advice in there on what we can do to help? Or is your information limited to the benefits?"
Cameron gave him a look he swore she had picked up from Sarah. "Keep her quiet in a darkened room. No sudden noises. Encourage her to take pain relief, and push fluids."
He was nodding, making mental notes. "Anything else?"
"Reassurance. It would be best if someone stayed with her."
"I'm staying." He poured a glass of water and picked up the first aid kit. "Get rid of the van."
Sarah was sitting on the edge of her bed, her head bowed and her eyes closed, holding her injured hand protectively in her lap. She winced as Derek switched on the dim bedside light.
"The metal says you're going to feel like shit for a couple of days."
"Here." He put two tablets in her good hand and held out the glass of water, but she was already shaking her head.
"No. No more drugs."
"They're Tylenol, Sarah. Nothing stronger. They might ease the pain enough to let you sleep."
She raised a skeptical eyebrow but offered no further dissent, taking the tablets with careful sips of water, and Derek realized she must already be feeling like shit.
Sitting down beside her, he lifted her hand out of her lap and rested it on his leg. She watched him warily, but didn't pull away. He taped a pad of gauze across the stitches in her wrist, then began to work a bandage firmly around her hand to splint her thumb.
"Buddy of mine, Ward, he did this once. Well, not the biting. He'd been shot already, so there was plenty of blood, but he popped his own thumb out to get away from the tin cans." Derek screwed his face up, checking the support that the dressing was providing. "I hope I'm doing this right. By the time Ward got back to the bunker, he was so shot to hell that he died before the doc could get around to mending his thumb."
Sarah gave a surprised laugh. "That little anecdote supposed to make me feel better?"
He pressed a strip of tape into place and shrugged. "Well, it made you laugh."
She smiled then, a genuine smile that made her face younger and her voice softer. "Yeah, I guess it did."
"Hand feel okay?"
"Feels like I bit a piece out of it and messed up my thumb."
"What a coincidence." He pulled back the covers on the bed and gestured for her to get in, shocked as hell when she acquiesced without an argument. She curled up on her side with a soft sigh and he tucked the quilt over her. "Need anything else?"
"Forty-eight hours of dreamless sleep would be good."
He dragged a chair up to the side of the bed and sank into it with a yawn. "You and me both, Connor."
She looked at him with the trace of a smile still on her lips. "Don't you have anywhere else to be, Derek?" It was a fair question; he had spent precious little time at the house, of late.
"No, not right now. It's five-thirty in the morning. Thought I might hang out in this chair for a while, if that's okay with you."
He heard a mumble of assent, her eyes already closing as he flicked the light out. The room wasn't totally dark; dawn was threading a thin light through the curtains. He sat and watched as her face slowly relaxed and she finally slept.