Title: Resistance (5b/?)
Fandom: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Disclaimer: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is not mine...though since Fox appears to be dropping it, rightfully it should be up for grabs.
Summary: Slightly alternate time-line, Riley lives...Cameron's glitch continues to make itself known, and Sarah...well Sarah gets to learn what it's like to be in John's shoes...in more ways than one.
AN: Many thanks as always to inspectorboxer for her unerring ability to point out ways to make these chapters so much better.
AN#2: This is a long one, so it's posted in two parts...I got a little wordy *G*
Chapter one / Chapter two / Chapter three / Chapter four / Chapter five, part one
John paced restlessly in front of the living room windows. A brief phone call from Sarah, assuring him that they were all in one piece and on their way back had eased most of his worries, but something, some strange catch in his mother’s voice had raised the hair on the back of his neck, and the sense of impending disaster only increased the longer he waited.
Riley had left to take Casey’s son home, and Lauren was settling
Cameron, looking like she’d been dragged halfway home behind the truck, jumped out of the bed and pulled opened the driver’s side door. Under the terminators eye, Jessie climbed slowly and deliberately out of the truck, her hands held out and away from her body. Cameron watched until she was certain that the Aussie wasn’t going anywhere, and then ignored her, reaching into the backseat and offering a hand to Sarah. The terminator eased the other woman gently out of the vehicle, not letting go of her until Sarah’s feet were set firmly on the gravel.
Contrary to her usual attitude towards the metal girl, Sarah seemed to accept Cameron’s help almost absently, her attention, and her gun, pointed firmly at Jessie.
“Sarah, this isn’t necessary!” Derek, slamming out of the passenger side door, crossed around the front of the truck to stand behind Jessie, a hand on her shoulder. “She made a judgment call, she didn’t kill anyone!”
“I don’t care what you call it!” Sarah snapped, keeping her Glock out, though she lowered it until she was aiming at Jessie’s knees instead of her chest. “She doesn’t get to make those calls.”
“And you do?” Jessie asked, brushing Derek’s hand off her shoulder. “Who put you in charge of this freak show anyway?”
John didn’t wait to find out how his mother would answer that question, leaving the window he bolted for the front door and then down front steps to the driveway. He skidded onto the scene in time to see his mother go toe to toe with the Aussie, a loaded gun and a shit-load of unresolved tension simmering between them.
“Mom!” Stopping just short of the tableau, John looked between the two obvious factions, wondering what could possibly have happened to set his mother off, and why she seemed to be standing almost protectively in front of the visibly damaged Cameron. “What’s going on?”
John’s arrival quelled some of the heat crackling in the group around the truck, muddying the lines they’d drawn, reminding them of what they had in common. Sarah finally stuffed the muzzle of her Glock back into the waistband of her jeans. Left in her hand she didn’t trust herself not to use it.
“Nothing,” she answered her son without breaking eye contact with Jessie. “Go back inside.”
“No.” John edged closer, “Not until you tell me what this is about.”
“John…” Sarah lowered her voice warningly, but before she could finish that thought, Jessie barked a humourless laugh and stepped away, waving a hand at the worry-stricken teenager.
“You going to put a gun to his head too, Connor? Shoot everyone who doesn’t do exactly what you say, when you say it?”
Sarah clenched her hands into fists, fighting the temptation to shut the woman up on a more permanent basis. She could feel Cameron looming behind her like a bullet on a chain; one word was all it would take… and it took every ounce of humanity left in her soul to keep that word behind her teeth.
“This is my house,” she rasped finally, her throat clenched with the need to constrain herself. “My son, my mission, my rules. Either accept that, or leave. Your choice.”
“Gladly!” Jessie didn’t need a second invitation. Shoving roughly past Sarah, she either ignored or didn’t notice Sarah’s gasp and wince at the abrupt contact.
Sarah turned to watch the other woman leave; an arm wrapped around her aching ribs the only admission that she was in pain. Derek stepped forward angrily beside her, the word of protest on his lips dying when Cameron shifted without warning to block Jessie’s path.
“Let her go,” Sarah told the metal girl brusquely, her teeth clenched around the throbbing in her side. She fully expected Cameron to comply, dismissing as always the girl’s insistence that she didn’t take orders from her. But Cameron didn’t move. A faint shiver down her left side was the only indication that she’d even heard Sarah’s words.
Unfazed, or just stupid, Jessie smirked up at the terminator. “That’s right sweetheart…walk away just like mummy says…we all know you’re the Connor’s faithful little metal bitch.”
A second tremor, much stronger than the first one, quivered down Cameron’s left arm to her fingers, ending in a spasm that twisted her hand into a knot. “I can’t let you leave,” she stated flatly.
“Sure you can,” Jessie’s voice dripped with condescension, her feet shifting slightly in the gravel the only outward indication that she took the terminator’s threat seriously. “Just put one foot in front of the other and go on back to your happy little family.”
“You can’t be trusted,” Cameron continued as if Jessie hadn’t spoken. “If I let you leave, you might bring danger back here. You’re a threat to my mission.”
“Look, you tin-can,” Jessie’s bravado slipped, her voice rising harshly. “I don’t give a shit about you or your mission, so get the hell out of my way!”
Sarah held her breath, aware that to either side of her Derek and John were doing the same. All three of them waiting for the moment when Cameron would give in like she always did, acquiescing to the judgment of her human allies, and step aside.
It didn’t happen.
As Jessie stared up at Cameron, pride warring with fear on her face, Sarah found herself hoping that the woman would just back down. She didn’t want the Aussie around any more than Jessie wanted to be there, but there was something off in Cameron’s eyes, something very ominous in the quivers running down the terminator’s arm.
“Jessie-” Sarah started, but she didn’t need to finish that thought, because at that moment Jessie seemed to come to a similar conclusion.
Backing up, the Aussie raised her hands in surrender. “Have it your way,” she sneered, turning as if to rejoin the others.
Cameron’s confrontational stance eased as the woman moved away, the strangeness in her eyes ebbing slowly as she raised her gaze to meet Sarah’s.
Jessie waited until the terminator’s attention had shifted and then, quick as a snake, she dropped her hand to her waist and drew her gun, twisting even as she pulled it out to train it on the metal girl behind her.
There was no time for Sarah to shout a warning, and no need. Whether Jessie was attempting to kill Cameron, or just to go down fighting, it was the most suicidal act of stupidity Sarah had ever seen, and the most useless.
Cameron was moving before Jessie even had the Ruger P90 clear of its holster. Catching the gun on its way around, she crushed the barrel and tore it out of Jessie’s grip before the woman could fire. With her other hand she lifted the Aussie by the front of her shirt and flung her backwards into the side of the truck as if she was nothing more than an ill mannered doll.
The vehicle rocked at the impact, and Jessie rebounded off the side, her hands and feet crunching and slipping in the gravel as she fought to stand. Blood ran down her face from a split above her brow, dripping onto the stones and smearing across Cameron’s hand when the terminator reached down and pulled her up by the throat, slamming the woman back into the truck with negligent ease.
As the three spectators watched in shock, the terminator’s fingers tightened, cutting off Jessie’s frightened protest in a strangled gurgle.
“Damnit!” Derek regained control of his faculties first, whipping out his gun and pointing it at Cameron. “Let her go you metal bitch!”
Cameron ignored him, pushing harder against Jessie’s neck until the Aussie began to choke. Flailing, Jessie grabbed at the terminator’s arm, raising her other hand to claw the metal girl’s face.
Lifting her chin easily out of range, Cameron caught Jessie’s wrist and pressed it back against the truck beside her head. The terminator’s expression was blank, but her eyes revealed her intent, shining with a mechanical blue light that as Sarah watched, shifted to a sickening red.
Derek advanced on the terminator grimly, panic and fury warring on his face, until he had the muzzle of his gun pressed firmly against Cameron’s head. “I said let her go!” he shouted hoarsely.
“Cameron!” John added his voice to the mix, scrambling past his mother and Derek to yank on the arm holding Jessie in place. “Stop it!” Not getting a response from the terminator, he turned pleading eyes on Derek, “Put the gun down, you’re not helping!”
“I’ll put it down when she backs off!” the ex-soldier snarled, but he took a step back, his hands shaking around their grip on the weapon.
“Come on, Cameron,” John begged, pulling fiercely on her arm. “You don’t want to do this…Mom said to let her go.”
“What’s going on?” Drawn by the shouts and commotion, Lauren ran down the front steps, a crying
Locked in place like a statue made out of flesh and blood, Sarah couldn’t answer. The scene unfolding in front of her seemed surreal, a nightmare seen through the haze of unconsciousness, not something she could do anything about. She heard Derek’s shouts and John’s pleas mingle with Jessie’s choking gasps, and they left her cold. Nothing penetrated her frozen state until the terminator at the center of it all shivered, her soulless mask melting for a heart-stopping instant into pitiful confusion at John’s words.
Sarah was moving before she even made the decision, pushing Derek aside, and placing herself between him and Cameron. “Get Lauren and Sydney out of here!” she snapped at John, locking eyes with Derek until the Soldier lowered his gun.
John stared at her, his eyes wide, but he backed off and left the situation in her hands. Collecting a protesting Lauren on his way past, he retreated down the driveway to the steps. Once there he either couldn’t force the girl to go all the way into the house, or wasn’t trying very hard, because they didn’t go any farther.
Sarah couldn’t spare the time to yell at them. Once she was sure Derek wasn’t going to put a bullet in her back, she focused all of her attention on the metal girl who had revealed, just for a moment, that she was as trapped by this situation as the woman she was throttling against a truck.
“Cameron…” Sarah whispered softly, putting one hand behind the girl’s neck and sliding the other down to rest her fingers on the inch of bare wrist between the terminator’s jacket sleeve and the hand that was clenched around Jessie’s throat.
Trembling violently under the contact, Cameron closed her crimson stained eyes briefly, and when she opened them again they were shining blue. Sarah swallowed hard, her heart knocking against her ribs so rapidly she could barely breathe. She had seconds to persuade Cameron to listen to her, seconds before Derek lost it and started something he couldn’t finish, seconds before Jessie took her last breath.
Sarah still couldn’t have said with any certainty whether she cared if the woman lived or died, but she couldn’t let her be killed in front of John or Derek. John didn’t need any more pain or regret in his life, and even when she was at her most furious with Derek, she could never wish for him watch the person he loved die before his eyes.
“Listen up, girlie,” she spoke soothingly, keeping her voice low and even. “John’s right, you don’t want to do this...I don’t want you to do this.”
“She’s a threat,” the terminator replied coldly, her eyes flickering and a shudder running down her left arm to the hand holding Jessie’s arm vice-like against the truck. Sarah winced at the audible snap of fragile bones under Cameron’s fingers, but she didn’t pull away. A broken wrist was the least of the Aussie’s problems right now. Jessie barely jerked, her grip falling limply away from Cameron’s arm. They were running out of time.
Derek growled inarticulately, but Sarah silenced him with a glare. She pressed more firmly on Cameron’s wrist, wrapping her fingers around until she could feel the rapidly beating pulse that simulated human blood flow.
“You don’t need to make that decision, remember?” Sarah reminded her. “That’s my job…you worry about the heavy lifting.” She could only hope that Cameron remembered their conversation in the hospital, a conversation that she couldn’t seem to forget.
One heartbeat, two, and the terminator eased back the slightest fraction, allowing Jessie a precious gasp of air. “We’re a team…?” came the hesitant response.
Sarah leaned forward, tightening her grip on the girl’s neck until her forehead was resting against Cameron’s temple. She could still feel faint tremors running through the terminator’s left side, but the girl was listening to her, and Jessie could breathe. “That’s right, girlie,” she admitted, as much to herself as to Cameron. “We’re a team.”
“Okay.” It ended as abruptly as it had begun. The terminator stepped back, dropping her hands and Jessie slumped to the driveway on her knees, the broken wrist held up against her chest as she coughed and wheezed for air.
Derek shoved Sarah aside and dropped down beside Jessie with a muttered curse, wrapping an arm around the Aussie’s shoulders and easing her into a sitting position so that he could look at her injury. The woman’s arm was a mess, already swelling in angry shades of purple and black. Sarah suspected the bones were shattered, but she couldn’t find it in herself to be sorry. Jessie was damned lucky to have gotten out of this alive.
She didn’t realize she was still holding onto Cameron’s wrist until the girl slipped her hand up through the loosened grip in order to clasp Sarah’s hand instead. Startled, Sarah glanced quickly at the terminator standing beside her, ready to snap if the girl was smiling, but Cameron was looking at the ground. The terminator’s shoulders were tensed as if she was expecting to be yelled at, or dismantled as Sarah so frequently threatened, and the fingers twined with her own were still shivering faintly.
Sarah repressed her first impulse to jerk away, choosing to let it go in the face of Cameron’s obvious distress. There would be time to have this conversation later, along with the one about what had just happened and why. They were going to have to sit down and find out exactly what was going on with Cameron’s chip. Sarah needed a straight answer about how damaged the terminator actually was, and whether or not that damage was what had caused the twitching and tremors that had wracked the girls frame. Twitching, Sarah realized looking back, which had been going on for some time.
Squeezing Cameron’s hand, she waited for the girl to look up before gently freeing her fingers. The terminator blinked, confused, but she let go, her face settling into its familiar even planes.
“You were wrong,” she said as Sarah watched Derek lift the unresisting Jessie to her feet and guide her towards the house. John left his post by the steps to help and Lauren shifted
“I did want to kill her,” the terminator continued when Sarah didn’t answer.
Sarah didn’t respond right away. She looked up at Derek and John maneuvering Jessie through the door, noting the worried glance that Lauren threw back at them both before following the others inside.
“Then why didn’t you?” She asked finally, her voice rough and tired.
“You didn’t want me to,” Cameron answered simply.
“And you want to make me happy.” There was no emotion, good or bad, attached to that idea for Sarah right now. It was an observation, nothing more.
“Yes,” Cameron answered Sarah even though it hadn’t been a question, searching her face for some clue as to her fate. “There’s something wrong with me,” she admitted.
Sarah looked past the terminator to the dented truck and the churned gravel where Jessie had kicked trenches through the stones in her attempt to escape. There were smears of red mixed in with the grey stones. “I know,” she said quietly.
“What are you going to do about it?”
Matching gazes with Cameron, Sarah recognized her own need for honesty in the girl and the empty reassurances that she might have offered John died on her tongue.
“I don’t know.” The truth rang surprisingly painlessly between them and Sarah realized abruptly that the answer would have been different a few days ago. A few days ago she would have known exactly what to do about a malfunctioning terminator. She had known what to do, the last time.
“I don’t know,” she repeated, letting that revelation enter her voice and turn a simple statement of doubt into something resembling a confession. It wasn’t much, but it was all she had to offer, and that was enough to ease some of the fear from Cameron’s eyes.