WHO: Sarah Connor, Kyle Reese WHEN: BACKDATED to Sunday, October 11 WHERE: Corridors of Mount Weather WHAT: Sarah, affected by Chris's Trouble, is trying to warn everyone about robots, looking for John, to drag him out of this mountain compound. WARNINGS: Definitely language and talk of a nuclear apocalypse.
What would it take to get these people to wake up? Time travel, alternate time lines — they all led to one thing. The machines always destroy the world, and the machines always try to wipe out all human beings. Something burned beneath her skin today, when they were talking about some Pod God on the radio, and since then, her paranoia and anxiety shot through the roof. Her room was slowly becoming an arsenal: clips hidden under her mattress, smaller guns under her pillow, behind her headboard. Wherever she could store them, she would find a place. It was slow-going though, and she didn't want anyone to notice.
Now, she took one of these modern handguns, nothing too vastly different from her own world. She was grateful she'd arrived her with her own gear, which meant the gun was tucked into a thigh holster for easier release, but she'd tucked a knife and various other weapons along the way.
John wasn't in his room, and that set off a whole new round of panic attacks. After witnessing what happened to him in their future, Sarah wanted nothing more than to change that. If she could get to him now at this age, maybe she could stop Skynet from changing him.
The corridors were a mess of freaked out people. Tiny Sarah Connor had to push her way through with a commanding voice and the muscled she'd spent the last ten years cultivating to protect herself. Sometimes it was enough, but there were more than enough superheroes here with super strength and sometimes that meant that Sarah had to duck around them.
"WHERE IS JOHN CONNOR? WHERE IS MY SON?"
Discharged to his residence was definitely an odd way to go about things -- a photo and a physical did not make for a thorough background check. And so relief (for not being singled out for any particular reason) mingled with apprehension (for being discharged into a population of who the hell knew how many possible skinjobs hiding in plain sight) as Kyle Reese was let out of medical with little more than a brief description of the environs and a confirmation that no, there was no Sarah Connor here.
With a small bag (meagrely stuffed with necessities issued to him and the few items he’d come through with which were not already holstered on his person) hoisted over one broad shoulder, he made a careful sweep across the compound, making note of corners and angles, the slope of hallways and the way the different sectors he passed were divided. They’d said they were in a mountain, but it took actually traversing the compound to appreciate the scale of the operation here; they were in its goddamn heart.
He reached the fifth level, and that’s when he realised that the atmosphere had changed over the past few minutes, as though in between levels four and five, something had clicked, something had happened, and the no-nonsense mood of the staff that’d greeted him had become something else entirely. Panic. The air was thick with it.
… and then he heard her. Seconds before, on turning a corner, she barrelled into him.
“Steady!” was a grunt as he whipped out with a hand to level at her shoulder. “-- Sarah?”
The sound of his voice was like the god of voice to her in that moment. Familiarity trickled down through her from his hand, and for one instant, she could feel calmness, home.
It was short-lived as she reached down and drew her gun on him. The T-1000 had done it before, mimicked him, and John Connor as his new, heartbreaking Terminator could be anyone. This might not even be Kyle Reese. Deep down in the hidden place in her heart, she wanted it to be him so badly.
"Stand down." The mission was the same: get John, get out. This was just a distraction that came at a peculiar and convenient time. "Prove who you are, or so help me I will leave nothing but a smoking crater where your head is."
“You stand down,” was an automatic retort, gruff, though not angry -- if this was Sarah, then she was right to test him, just as he was right not to back off, because he too was a stranger in this strange land. But while she brandished a weapon (and he had no doubt that the promised crater was entirely possible), he kept his left hand empty, the right still bearing the bag of his belongings over his shoulder.
“Do I have to be seven years old just to get a smile out of you? My callsign is DN38416.”
That was all it took for a smile to break through the wild anguish on her face. Smiles were fleeting for Sarah Connor, but in this instant, she could only launch herself at him and hug him, much like the way she hugged Pops when he'd been upgraded. Relief.
And then she retreated and began, "We have to get out of here, Reese. John's here. We have to get him to safety. He's — he's not how either of us remember him. He's from before Judgement Day." He would know what she meant about getting him to safety. She meant they had to keep him safe from Skynet, from that damn machine turning him into a Terminator. "There's too many people. It's not safe."
But Sarah, true to form, was about ten steps ahead of him. That John Connor was alive, well, and from before was information that required time to process and come to terms with -- the last thing they’d seen of their son was a twisting, murderous machine who wore a face Kyle loved through every beat of his heart.
He reached out to catch her by the elbow before she thought to move away. A firm grip, not meant to hurt, nor demand; it was a request for stillness. That they were standing in the middle of a hallway where people, stricken expressions on their faces, wandered was not lost on him.
“What’s happening now? Things were… fine --” what a shitty word that, fine; “five minutes ago.”
"Things are not fine. Look around you, Reese. The apocalypse happened anyway." The machines would be on their way any moment, and none of these people would listen. It may have been a green land outside, but no one had gone out far enough to know where that ended. "They blew up the planet anyway. It's gone. There's nothing I remember out there."
For a brief moment, there were tears in her eyes. She pressed the palms of her hands against her temples. "I lost it. I lost the freedom of my future. Of our future. It's gone."
“That’s not what I…” Frustration creased his expression as the tears pricked at Sarah’s eyes, and he pulled in a steadying inhale, hard against his teeth. If she panicked (if she panicked further), he wasn’t sure what she would do.
Then: “Take a breath, soldier. It’s not fine, right; it’s different. I don’t think this is our apocalypse, Sarah. Now.” His hand made its way back to her shoulder. “This isn’t the right place. Where are you bunking?”
"Next door to John. He wasn't there, Kyle. I need to find him — in this panic, he could be anywhere. Anything could happen to him." But he was right and he steadied her in a way that no one other than Pops was able to do. She stabilized her breathing, gave him a curt nod, and then turned to lead him down the corridor toward the place they'd given her to live. She grabbed his wrist, so they wouldn't get lost or maybe because she needed the steadying.
It may not be their apocalypse, but it sure as hell felt like they'd failed. It didn't matter what they told her, when the weight of the world was on your shoulders, it was always your fault.
"What's the last thing you remember?"
In all the timelines, in all the variations of things, Kyle knew one thing was certain: if John Connor was alive, it was because he was Sarah’s son, and Sarah would have taught her boy how to survive. He could take care of himself -- for now, at least. He had to believe that.
Letting himself fall into pace with her was easy, and he allowed himself the simple pleasure of letting her lead him, finding his voice again only after the door was shut behind them, the din of the hallway briefly muted.
“We destroyed Genisys.”
"But when? There are people scattered all over their timelines here." There wasn't time to go over this with him so she drug him into the room she'd been designated. 506A. Sarah wasn't sure what was going on, but John was from a universe where he didn't recognize her so there had to be multiple timelines converging. Somewhere out there was the soft version of Sarah Connor that Kyle Reese had originally come back for. Being here was like being in the middle of a convention full of people you knew but didn't.
"The very last thing you remember? Telling yourself about Skynet? What?" Her hand slipped under a pillow to retrieve another gun.
“Yeah. That.” It was probably sad, just how not weird it was to be saying such things. “2017. Genisys down, you, me, and Pops at my -- at Kyle’s house, and Pops smiling in that weird way of his because we…” He broke off, feeling the beginnings of a flush creep up his neck.
“What’s the last thing you remember?”
"The same…" It came out a slight huff of air meant to be a laugh. She remembered choosing him because the future was wide open. He was a good man, and she knew that they'd been fate in one timeline. Maybe they were always fated to meet and fall in love. Maybe there was such a thing as soul-mates….
That was neither here nor there. Things were unraveling again here. She held out the gun to him.
"I know all the marked exits. I need to know more in case something ever happens."
Refusing the offer of a weapon was not part of Kyle's genetic composition. He took the piece, appraising its weight and grip within the palm of his hand, a brow furrowed as he waited for Sarah to continue. That he'd just arrived and hadn't gotten his bearings was a non-issue -- if she knew all the marked exits, then she'd been here quite a while longer, which was strange because they'd said there was no one here going by the name of Sarah Connor.
"What alias are you using? They didn't know anyone with your name."
That caused a bump in her calm, but urgent demeanor. Fair skin meant any pink that traveled up her neck to her cheeks was highly visible. She'd been frantic when she'd come in, and after they told her about the apocalypse, she couldn't tell them her real name. Not if John was anywhere out there. She had to protect him at all costs. So she'd told them:
"Does it matter? I've got an alias. I've had a bunch of them for a long time. I just used the first one that popped up in my head after they sedated me. I wasn't thrilled to be here."
Evenly (even through the curiosity sparked by the first signs of her blush -- was she flustered because she'd just admitted to needing sedation?): "I've got to know what to call you, what you're going by."
She dropped her gaze and moved to pull her bag out from under her bed so she wouldn't have to look him in the eye. Reluctantly, she grumbled, "Sarah Reese."
Kyle had enough sense not to laugh at the grudging quality of her tone, though there was no suppressing the smile that spread crookedly across his lips. "Okay," he said after allowing himself a beat to process what exactly that meant, if anything (Sarah Reese was the first thing to pop into her head).
After dropping his own bag onto her bed, where he could unzip it to reveal the lineup of rifles and handguns he'd had on him when... this, whatever it was, happened, he then sat on the edge of the mattress, feeling it sink and groan beneath him. "Sarah. Want to tell me what the hell is going on with John?"
It was like the fire had gone out of her, and she slumped onto the back of her calves, ignoring the ache of the stone floor against her knees and shins. Why was she all riled up? What had set it all off? One moment, she was listening to that radio show, hoping they'd play some damned music, but there'd been that interview with the woman who apparently led a convoy of people to talk to the Grounders about being able to expand where they could go. Then there were those idiots talking about a Pod God, and before she knew it, she was bonafide frantic and ready to leave.
"He's…." Her shoulders slumped as she looked up at him. His face, no matter how pained or dirty he was, always had a kindness to it. His eyes in particular. "He's fine. I don't — I don't really know why I felt like I need to find him and get out of here."
"I don't think you're the only one who felt... panicked. When I left medical, things were quiet. And then --" a snap of his fingers, a hard thwack of sound to emphasise his point. Sarah Connor did not panic -- not, at least, in crowded hallways.
Leaning forward, elbows digging into his knees as he braced his weight, he caught her eye. "Do you want to gear up and find him?"
She nodded as a reply. She'd feel better if they did. Sarah had been fighting the urge to force him to move bunks to this one so that she could keep a better eye on him. If something opened the next door or broke through it all together, she may never know that anything was even wrong. These walls were thick, but not thick enough to keep a Terminator out.
More of her energy was seeping from her. Whether that was his presence or something else, she couldn't say. It didn't matter anyway; she reached up to cup the side of his face. "Where'd they put you? What lodgings?"
“Uh…” Her touch was both a pleasure and a distraction -- they’d had barely any time to be with each other in anything other than scenarios coloured by violence, and that kiss under Pops’ dumbass grin had been a fleeting thing -- and it took him a moment to remember he had his assigned room number scribbled in blue ink on the back of his hand. His gaze flicked down, brow furrowing. “506. I don’t know where that is.”
A flicker of mild confusion crossed her face. They'd assigned him to her bunk somehow? And then it hit her: they probably thought they were married. He'd come in asking about Sarah Connor, and there'd been a Sarah Reese on their roster. Yet another reason she really should have thought of another last name. Sarah pressed the bridge of her nose.
"This is 506." She angled her arm against the floor to lean enough to look around him toward the small wall that separated the two beds. "That's the only open bunk in this housing unit."
For a moment, all he could do was echo Sarah -- “This?” as he leaned back, following the direction of her gaze. There: that. A blink before he cleared his throat and straightened. “I guess they thought multiple Reeses had to be related, huh?” came with a short laugh; there was a note of uncertainty to the sound. “Is this okay?”
"Better where I can keep an eye on you." He didn't really need protecting, being a soldier himself, but Sarah Connor was nothing if not watchful, mindful, and quite frankly, more than a little controlling. "Only thing better would be getting a place with John where we can keep an eye on him." She suspected the teenager wouldn't be too thrilled to live with his parents, alternate universe or not.
Multiple Reeses, though; that blush crept up her neck once more.
“-- good.” Kyle’s thoughts on the matter were strikingly similar to hers: Sarah Connor didn’t need protecting, but Sarah Connor needed protecting, and things were going to be so much easier with her in his sights. In his room. Their room.
Another cough before he attempted a joke meant to diffuse the unspoken tension which seemed to be the source of Sarah’s blush. “Just keep your paws off my guns.”