A/N: So, it's been awhile. And that's an understatement. I can't tell you guys when the next chapter will be up, but know that I've already written part of it. Initially I'd planned on 13 episodes, mainly just because that's a number a lot of shows go with if they're not doing a normal 22-episode season. But looking at the story I have planned, I'm not sure if it's going to take that long. So I'm going to play it by ear.

I hope that this chapter is up to my usual standards. I can't be sure, because I've read a lot of great things during this break, including Orsino's most recent work, of course. This chapter for me was always difficult because I knew I didn't want this to be the last chapter, but the only thing I had planned for the remaining part of the chapter is the end of the episode. So this chapter is mostly character development and some more Wexton, which I'm really getting to like and I have a plan for him that I'm really excited about. So basically I just hope that the long wait coupled with this chapter doesn't equal disappoint. I feel like it needs to be an amazing chapter to make up for the wait, but I'm not sure if I achieved that. However, I'm proud of a lot of things here and I was able to put some dialogue in that I've been thinking about for a long time now.

So without further ado, here is Episode 7, Chapter 4:

Kyle woke up early the next morning. No matter how long he was here, in the past, away from the war, he still couldn't seem to change his sleeping patterns. Thankfully, he'd been able to get to sleep soon after John had left, which meant he hadn't really had time to take in his surroundings. He thought now would be the perfect opportunity since according to the clock, it wasn't even 6 AM yet. He started with his room. It was simple, about 12 feet by 14 feet, not much larger than a jail cell, he thought sardonically. But it was nicer than a jail cell. The bed was comfortable, the walls had light wallpaper on them, and there was a small couch in the corner. There were also built-in shelves, a dresser, and a closet. He opened the closet door and was surprised to find the clothes he had gone with Derek to buy a few days after they'd first arrived. He checked the dresser, and sure enough, he found more of his clothes. Wanting to be thorough, he also knelt down and checked under the bed. There was a large metal case, which he pulled out and opened to find a variety of different weapons, complete with additional ammunition. Thoroughly impressed, he selected a 9 mm handgun, checked that it was loaded, and returned the case to its place under the bed.

Satisfied that he'd explored his private quarters completely, he bypassed the bathroom that he'd seen the night before and stepped out into the hallway. He was on the second floor of the main level of the compound. That's what John had called it last night. The compound. He'd told Kyle he'd give him a tour the next day, but Kyle figured it couldn't hurt to at least take a look around, maybe see if he could find some food anywhere. But in looking for the kitchen, he'd realized he was now at the room they were keeping Sarah and Derek in. He was surprised to see Sarah through the window, pacing back and forth. He figured she'd be asleep at this hour. Or at the very least laying down. But this is Sarah Connor, and she never does what people expect of her. He cautiously opened the door. Predictably, she was immediately on alert, but when she saw Kyle, she relaxed.

"Well, at least you're still alive."

Kyle raised his eyebrows and said, "You thought I wouldn't be?"

"Well, you never know with machines. And I still don't trust this new one. Not to mention the Cromartie one."

"John Henry," Kyle corrected her.

Sarah gave her patented Connor glare. She could deal with using names to distinguish between each machine, but the idea that a machine would change its name to accommodate for different parameters in its programming (what someone who is not Sarah Connor might call "a personality"), well, that was too much for Sarah. It hit too close to home considering her son seemed to think that Cameron was "special". Machines are machines and if she can't rely on that, that she can't rely on anything in her life. This belief has been one of the only constants in her life, and without constants, without John, whom she fears she is losing every day, she doesn't know who she is. Or what her life has meant, if it's even meant anything.

Kyle starts to approach Sarah carefully. He hasn't known her for long, but he knows well enough that sometimes she gets stuck inside her own head, her own thoughts. And interrupting someone like Sarah Connor from her thoughts is potentially dangerous. He's known enough shell-shocked soldiers to know this. So he reaches out a hand to gently squeeze her elbow and get her attention again. "Sarah?"

She looks back at him as if she's surprised he's still there. "Sorry, yeah, um, so have you seen John this morning?"

Kyle removes his hand and answers, "No, but it's pretty early. I think we might be the only ones up." He pauses, unsure if what he's about to say is a smart move. Probably not, but he goes for it anyway. "In fact, you should probably be in bed. At least for another couple of hours. I mean, how much sleep did you actually get?"

To his surprise, Sarah doesn't bite his head off. Not so surprisingly, though, she doesn't acquiesce either. "No, I'm fine. I was out most of yesterday, and they've patched me up, so I'm ready to go." She looks around the room, searching for something. "I just need to find some clothes, and I'm good."

Kyle had seen a door as he came into the room, so he went back there, and lo and behold, the door opened up to a closet. He didn't find any of Sarah's clothes, but he did find some scrubs she could wear in the meantime. He handed them to her, and she headed to the bathroom to put them on.

When she was dressed, they silently began walking throughout the halls of the large underground bunker.

"Where are we?" Sarah asked.

Kyle shrugged. "Some bunker that the Liquid Metal built. Or found. I'm not entirely sure. John promised to give us a tour today."

"No, I mean, where is it located? Where are we? Still in L.A.?"

"Yeah, we didn't really drive that long. The windows were tinted and there was music playing, so I couldn't pick up any of the normal indicators, but it was maybe an hour's drive."

"Which probably means that it's normally about a half hour's drive, assuming they were extra careful and went the long way."

Kyle squinted his eyes, considering Sarah's comment, "Probably. Either way, we're still in or near L.A."

Turning the corner, Kyle and Sarah found that they were almost to the lobby. To their right, they could see what looked like a gymnasium through the windows of the doors. Glancing to his left, Kyle saw in much the same way that there was a work out room across from the gymnasium. As they entered the lobby, he noticed that Sarah looked uncomfortable. She began checking all the entrances and exits (of which there were at least six or seven, what with all of the hallways, doors, and the elevator.) The stairs didn't help either. To Sarah, they were in prime position to become targets.

Recognizing why Sarah was uneasy, Kyle suggested that they go back to his room. Realizing how it sounded, he quickly added, "It's an enclosed space. Lots of firepower too. I don't know where your room is yet, and I don't really know where anything else is either, so I figure…."

Kyle trailed off, but not soon enough. Sarah smirked at his awkwardness, but didn't comment on it. Instead, she just said, "Let's go."

Back in Kyle's room, Sarah took up residence on the small couch while Kyle sat down on his bed. They sat in silence for what seemed like forever, until Kyle broke the silence. "How do you do it?"

It's a question he's often wanted to ask. It was hard enough for him to fight in the future, where he had little to lose and not much choice. But in this time, where Sarah could just as easily give up and take a permanent sabbatical on some tropical island or something, he was amazed she had lasted this long. He might not have.

"Do what?" Sarah asked, hedging, though it was clear to the two of them that she understood perfectly what Kyle was asking.

Regardless, Kyle explained, "Fight. I mean, sure, now we seem to have a fighting chance, but before, when it was just you and John with no outside information, I don't know…. I just wonder how you could keep going without losing hope. Without just saying 'fuck it' and deciding to try to live a normal life as long as possible before Skynet goes live. How do you do it?"

Sarah looked down at the floor, seeming almost ashamed. "I'm not what you think I am," she said so quietly, Kyle almost didn't hear her.

"What do you mean?" After a few moments, Sarah still didn't answer, so he pushed, "Sarah? What are you talking about?"

Maintaining her staring contest with the floor, she began, "I wanted to run. When we destroyed Cyberdyne and all of Dyson's research, I thought it was done. But when I found out that we'd only managed to push Judgment Day back a few years, I realized that it was highly unlikely we would ever be able to stop Judgment Day from happening. The most we could hope for was postponing it. But we could only do it for so long before one or both of us would be gone. And meanwhile, I've created a life for my son that is no life at all. Fighting the machines? For what? For me, it's all come down to my son, but I fought so that he would never have to be as hard or cold or violent as I have become." A lonely tear escaped from Sarah's right eye, and Kyle almost gasped in surprise. Sarah simply brushed it away and continued, "but when Cameron told us that we hadn't succeeded, all I wanted to do was run. But John wouldn't let me. Back then, he begged me to stay and stop it so that he wouldn't have to. But what he didn't understand is that was what I was trying to do. To keep him from having to fight. Even then, he was better than me. To him, the world needed to be saved. All that mattered to me was saving him. He's taught me a lot, but sometimes I think it's not enough."

Sarah took a deep breath, and finally looked up into Kyle's eyes. "Most times, it seems almost hopeless, but then you remember that he is hope. And that helps you fight another day. Hope that he will never be like me. Hope that he can find someway to retain that part of him that pushes him to fight for humanity, not just for humans. Hope that he will never have to see the world burn."

Silence followed for a long time after Sarah finished. For once, it was a silence they could both appreciate.

As always, the TV was set to a news channel, volume low, as Wexton prepared for his day. He was always up by the crack of dawn, ready to start anew. Preparing for the day not only meant eating a full and hearty breakfast, getting dressed, and brushing his teeth. For Wexton, it also meant checking his guns and going over the plan for the day in his head.

The plan for today was to track down the person whom Father Bonilla had contacted the day before. He'd already established the phone number based on the touch tones, and he had also determined that the phone was a disposable. It made his job more difficult, sure, but also more interesting. So armed and ready to spring into action at a moment's notice, he called the number. A young woman with a slight accent answered. "Yes?"

Wexton began tracking the call before speaking, using an American accent to curb any unnecessary suspiciousness. "Yes. Hello. I'm calling in regards to Father Bonilla."

The woman responded hesitantly, as if she was not sure she could trust the person on the end of the line. Smart girl, Wexton thought. Though he wasn't terribly surprised. If this woman is working with Sarah Connor, she's probably pretty good at what she does. "Who is this?"

Wexton put as much sadness in his tone as he could. "Something has happened to him. He's in a coma. I work with Father Bonilla, and I found a note he'd written stating that if anything happened to him, you should be contacted."

She's still dubious, and rightfully so. Proving she's smart once again, she merely says, "Thank you for letting me know." And she hangs up. She wasn't on long enough for Wexton to track her, but he at least has a general area in which he can begin his search.

And even if the search turns up empty, as its expected to, he has a few other things up his sleeves.

"I'm losing him."

When Kyle looked back at her, her eyes were sad. Sadder than usual, that is. Sad, and somehow empty. "You're not losing him, Sarah, he's just growing up."

"He doesn't need me anymore." She's not sulking, or pitying herself, she's simply being realistic. Kyle recognizes this, but he still feels it's necessary to console her, to make her feel better.

"Sarah?" He put both hands on her shoulders and locked eyes with her. "You're an idiot."

To say Sarah is shocked is an understatement. "Excuse me?" She wasn't expecting to be coddled, she wouldn't be Sarah Connor if she expected or even wanted to be coddled, but she definitely hadn't expected Kyle to say that.

He found comfort in the fact that Sarah wasn't armed, but remembering his own handgun, he panicked a little inside. He sighed deeply before continuing. "Whether John needs you or not, you'll still be his mother. In fact, you'll still be Sarah Connor, and that alone is reason enough to stick around. But I think you're wrong. He does still need you. Maybe not in the same ways he's always needed you, but he'll still need your strength and support and above all to know that you believe in him. You do believe in him, right?"

She sighed, "Of course I do. I just still wish that he didn't have to be the one. That I could do it. Or better yet, Derek." She cracked a slight smile at this, letting Kyle know that she is, in fact, feeling a little bit better. He tries not to examine too closely the fact that she had gone straight to Derek and surpassed him completely.

Kyle checked the wall clock before turning back to Sarah. "Look, I told John I'd meet him right about now. Why don't you go back to the med center and we'll come get you, okay?"

"Give me a gun, and you've got a deal," Sarah replied.

Now there's the Sarah Connor I know, Kyle thought to himself before handing her the 9mm he'd chosen for himself earlier.

"Where's Cameron?" Kyle asked when John invited him in to his quarters. He hadn't seen John away from her for more than a few minutes at a time since they had been reunited.

"She's ensuring that the facility is as safe as Catherine says it is."

"She's a thorough terminator, isn't she?"

John scoffed. "I don't think there's such a thing as a non-thorough terminator." There was a pause before John said, "Kyle?"

"Yeah John?"

"Make sure you don't let anyone know what she is okay?"

"Of course."

"I don't know what I'm going to do about that. My first instinct is to hide the truth. But on the other hand, it'll be much worse if they find out later."

With a gleam in his eye, Kyle responded, "You just gotta make sure they don't ever find out then."

"Yeah, I'll get right on that. You know anyone who sees her in the field is going to become suspicious."

"Then I think you've got your answer right there. Besides, you have a chance to change things this time around. You can introduce the idea of working with machines early on."

"That's true. I'll have to talk to Cameron about it first though."

After a beat, Kyle said, "Hey, do me and your mom a favor and ask her opinion on this, will you? I think she's feeling a little left out since you came back with Cameron."

John thought about it for a moment. He didn't really like the idea of talking to his mom about Cameron of all things, but he could see Kyle's point. "Yeah, I will. And I know she's hurting, I just don't know what I can do about it. I can't keep running to my mommy every time something happens. I need to make my own decisions."

"That's fine, just maybe take some time to talk to her. You don't even need to go to her for advice, just talk to her, let her know what you're thinking, let her know what's going on."

"That'd be a lot easier if we didn't have the tension concerning Cameron in between us."

"It'll take time, John, but I promise you won't regret it."

After giving Kyle and Sarah a tour of the place and trying to hold back a laugh when Sarah tried not to show how impressed she was with the facility, John walked Sarah to her room, which he'd pointed out during the tour, but hadn't actually entered. It turned out Sarah's room was right next to Kyle's, whose room was right next to Derek's, putting Kyle in the middle. Though according to the doctor, Derek probably wouldn't be using his room for another few days at least. They were keeping him in a medically-induced coma while his body healed itself.

When John and Sarah arrived at her room, John asked, "Mind if I stay for a little while? I feel like we haven't talked for a long time."

Sarah tried to hide her smile, but she wasn't too successful. "Sure." Upon entering the room, she noticed it was pretty much identical to Kyle's, which suited her just fine. She sat down on the couch, curling her right leg up to sit sideways and patted the cushion next to her.

After John sat down, they had a few minutes of awkward silence. Stubborn as always, Sarah waited for John to break the silence.

"I'm going to tell them today."

"Tell who?" Sarah asked, genuinely confused.

"Everyone. I don't want to lie to them, and I don't think that Weaver brought them here to be lied to. They should know what they're up against and what they're fighting for."

Sarah's brow furrowed. She hadn't liked the idea of her son leading a compound of people, who didn't even know why they were here, when he'd first told her during the tour. She didn't like it any more now. "John, you don't have to do this, you know. Just because the Liquid Metal says so, it doesn't mean that's how it has to be. If you want to utilize this place, and these people, fine. But let Kyle or Derek, or even me, do it instead. You can still be in charge as much as you're comfortable with, but you don't need to step up like this. You don't need to put yourself on the chopping block."

John was silent for a moment as he contemplated what his mother had just said. "I know I don't have to. But I need to. I saw what it's going to be like, and if I can't even do this, there's no way I'm going to be able to lead the Resistance. Besides, Weaver already introduced me to a group of people. So it is too late. But I decided even before then that I was going to do this. And I'm going to follow through."

Resigned, Sarah asked, "So what's your next move? Strategically, I mean. Once you've gathered your forces and briefed them, what are you going to do?" It was almost as hard to break out of the mold of 'trainer' as it was to break out of the mold of 'mother.' Not that she was trying to do so in regards to the latter. Or, for that matter, the former. She'll train her son until the day she dies. She doesn't want to leave him knowing she could have done more.

"I've already told John Henry to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Plus, we need to keep looking for Kaleba and figure out just what they're doing. I have a feeling they're trying to build Skynet. They might even be Grays sent back to ensure that no matter what, Skynet is built."

That made Sarah angry. "Seriously? You really think that Grays would still help Skynet, even with the opportunity of fading into the background here? They could run, or hell, fight. Skynet's not much of a threat here."

"Well, we don't know that. Besides, we know they have metal working with them, so that might be all the enforcement needed. The point is we just don't know. We don't know what they're end game is, and that's what I want to figure out."

Sarah reached out a hand to grasp her son's shoulder. "I'm proud of you, you know that, right?"

John, embarrassed, replied, "Yeah, I know."

"Never forget that," Sarah said somberly.

Later, after he'd left his mother, making her promise to get some rest, John was left to his own devices while Cameron patrolled the area—again. Old habits die hard. They'd had a few discussions since they'd arrived at the Ark about how Cameron didn't have to be so diligent in her patrols anymore. It always ended with Cameron insisting that they can never be too careful, and usually with her leaving to "secure the area".

But it was lunchtime anyway, and since Cameron didn't need to eat, John figured he'd take advantage of the time and get something to eat. He hadn't actually eaten in the cafeteria yet. The night before, he'd been too distracted to think about such things as hunger, and this morning, Cameron had had breakfast delivered to the room. He wasn't sure how she'd managed that, but regardless, he had eaten in their room that morning.

The cafeteria was set up much like any cafeteria would be. Rectangular bench tables scattered across the large area with a buffet of food against the back wall. The buffet was self-serve, which suited John just fine. He didn't need anyone to be deciding how much food he'd be allowed to eat. But the thought of his time in the future, where food was scarce, sent a sting of guilt to his gut. He shook it away, though, telling himself that that's in the future. Right now, they have food and he shouldn't let it go to waste.

So he filled his tray with two pre-made turkey sandwiches (of course), some pasta salad, a bag of chips, two cookies and a brownie for dessert. He sat down and started to dig in. After a few minutes, he felt the presence of someone directly behind him. He turned to look, but all he saw at first was a flash of color as the figure moved around him to sit down. When he was able to focus, he noticed that the figure was actually a girl. A woman, really. She had straight dark hair, medium-length, and she smirked as she made to sit down.

She folded her arms in front of her on the table and just kind of stared at him for a moment before saying, "So what do you think this is all about?"

"Excuse me?"

"Well, what are we all doing here? Some secret government experiment? Or something like Deep Impact? The world's going to end, and they need to save the best and the brightest." She was eager, excited more at the possibilities than knowing what was actually going on.

John couldn't help but scoff a bit, trying to hold back from telling her how close she'd come to guessing correctly. Instead, he just said, "I have no idea. I heard there's supposed to be a presentation or something. Maybe we'll find out then."

Really, he'd only just informed John Henry and Weaver of his presentation about 10 minutes ago, so he figured it probably hadn't been announced yet, or however the two of them planned to gather everyone. He wouldn't be surprised if they simply informed everyone via loudspeaker to gather in the gymnasium immediately when he was ready for them. Speaking of…. John checked his watch and noted that it was just past noon. He'd finish up the rest of his lunch just in time to meet Cameron downstairs.

"Am I boring you?" The woman asked, though her tone implied that she wasn't actually offended.

"No, sorry, I'm just supposed to meet someone later."

"So what's your specialty?"


The woman rolled her eyes. "Your specialty. Like me, I'm a tech head. What do you do?"

John just shrugged. He played with the idea of saying 'a little bit of everything', which was more or less true. Can't be the leader of mankind and not pick up skills in almost every area. Except cooking. He took after his mom in that. But since that response would probably bring up more questions, he decided to go with the most simple, believable answer. "I'm working in tech too. Programming mostly."

"Really? Well, I guess we'll be working together a lot." She held out her hand. "Carly."

He took her hand and shook it. "John."

"Nice to meet you John. Well, I actually gotta get going, but I'll be seeing you."

"See ya." John watched as she got up and walked away, then went back to his lunch. But as he did, an unbidden and unpleasant thought came to mind. There's a good chance she'll hate me after this morning. If not for what I'm going to be telling her and everyone else, then at least for lying to her.