Fandom: Terminator/Sarah Connor Chronicles
Characters: Katherine Brewster, John Connor, and others…!
Summary: It's natural to assume that Skynet and the resistance knows about all about Katherine Brewster too.
Written For: medie
Prompt: "The show is branching off from the movie, but I'm dying to know how Kate would fit into the SCC universe."
Spoilers: all three Terminator movies, premise and characters of SCC; a general knowledge of T3 and Katherine Brewster is darn good to have!
Word Count: Just over 4,000.
Author's Notes: A million thanks to my incomparable betas – peri_peteia and sainfoin_fields. Your expertise, encouragement and tough love are greatly appreciated. <3333 And if you want to complain about timeline/age issues, go complain to the Terminator writers. IDK!
The school bus rattles and hums and his teacher shouts his name.
Cameron holds onto his arm, her grip tight. "I should be going with you," she says almost plaintively.
"We've discussed this," John replies firmly. "I can go on this field trip alone. I will see you tomorrow." He looks at her sternly but she clutches him even tighter.
With a sigh, he asks, "What is your mission?"
She blinks. "To ensure the survival of John Connor and Sarah Connor."
"Go home. Take care of mom. Let me have one day of my life without supervision, please," he says with a laugh. "I'll be fine without you."
Her cheeks color – a strange new habit of hers – and she pulls him into her arms. He freezes with surprise. "Don't go," she breathes into his ear. John flinches, troubled by this rather effective manipulation. Breathing in and out, he steadies himself and ignores the blood rushing in his ears.
"Goodbye, Cameron," he says and pulls away, but only because she lets him.
Moments later, he watches her from the bus window. Morris leans in and whispers, "What's up with your sister, man?"
John exhales slowly. "I think it's her mission in life to embarrass me in front of my friends."
A hand grabs his shoulder and a wet cloth covers his mouth and nose. The slightly sweet smell of chloroform and the biting sensation of panic choke him. His last thought before the darkness: Mom's so gonna kill me.
It's pain that greets him first when he awakes. He flinches, once, twice, and realizes that he's been tied to a chair. The ropes around his wrists sting his flesh and his back aches from sitting for what must have been a good while. There are fresh bruises throbbing along his side and his head is still rising out of the lingering chloroform fog.
John Connor's woken up to worse situations, and he's certain that even more terrible moments await him in the days to come. Regardless, notwithstanding and nevertheless: he immediately considers this to be the worst day ever.
He shakes his seat, struggles with his bonds and notes that his ankles are tied to the chair legs.
"Great," he mumbles, "Just great."
The warmth at his back, which he hasn't noticed until this moment, shifts and a female voice says, "So you're finally awake."
"Uhh," he says.
"Are you John Connor?" she asks.
He straightens, his eyes widening. Unbelievably, she laughs.
"The famous John Connor," she says, "I'd shake your hand, but I'm afraid that I'm a little tied up at the moment." Her laughter is sincere, light. "They said they were bringing you in. I didn't believe that they could."
John's been through enough not to freak out immediately that an amused-yet-distressed damsel seems to be tied to a chair behind him, but all the same, he gasps in surprise. "What?"
She leans back and he feels her hair soft against his neck. "It appears to be very complicated, John."
"Who's they?" he asks. "Who's holding us?"
"I haven't been able to catch everything they say – so much of it is so… crazy. Something about the end of the world, being blown up by evil robot overlords, and this insane human general in the future who deserves to die."
"Let me guess," he says, thinking fast. "This insane general is me?"
"In, give or take, twenty years," she replies.
"And how do you fit in this ridiculous…um… fantasy of theirs?" he asks, mimicking her nonchalant tone.
She laughs again. "Oh, I'm his second-in-command, of course. Me, the warrior queen of the apocalypse. It's an entertaining thought."
"You're very calm about all of this," he says. Deadly calm, he thinks.
"I don't mean to sound – well…" She clears her throat. "My father'll find me. And if not, my uncle. He's good at this sort of thing."
John leans back a little. "What?"
Her hair brushes against the back of his neck again. "Getting me out of trouble."
She's silent for a few moments and he immediately misses the sound of her voice. He steadies himself.
"How long have you been here?" he asks.
"Not sure. A day or two, maybe."
He looks around their makeshift prison. A small window to his left and a metal door to his right. Concrete walls. Dimly lit, the room smells musty and feels slightly damp. He sees a computer near the door and a small red light steadily blinking.
"When do you see them – the people holding us captive?" he asks, sensing the absence of his knife, habitually kept in his right pocket.
"At night, usually."
His skin begins to crawl. "What do they do?" he asks, half-afraid to know.
She doesn't say anything for a moment. "They talk," she says, "well, mostly they yell. They haven't smacked me around since they brought me in, but—" and she hesitates and straightens up in her chair. "They really hate this John Connor person," she says in a completely different tone than before, not casual or amused; she sounds sincerely distressed. "They really, really hate him."
"Why?" he asks quickly, thinking on the way he sees Derek stare at him from time to time.
She doesn't answer for a long moment. "I'm not sure," she finally says. He doesn't believe her.
"How many of them are there?"
"Two," she says.
He scoffs. "Just two?"
"They're armed, rather strong, and insane. Yeah, just two."
John thinks, biting his lip. "So do you have any ideas on how to escape? I'm sorta good with this sort of thing—"
"This sort of thing?" she asks, incredulous.
"Overcoming difficult situations," he says. "Trust me."
There's that laugh. "We've been kidnapped by crazy people who think we're the commanders of the human race in the future. And you have experience in overcoming difficult situations? Please."
He smiles, deeply amused. Turning his head as far as he can, he looks at her curiously. Her hair is dark red, short. She turns her head as well and he sees her cheek, bloodied, and her left eye looking at him with interest.
"What's your name?" he asks. She's beautiful, he thinks, under all that dirt and blood.
"Nice to meet you," she replies, her lips curved in a small smile.
"What do you do? Are you a student?" he asks.
She laughs. "I'm a veterinarian."
"Nice," he says. "I'm in high school." As he says the words, he feels utterly and completely lame.
"Oh," she says in a slightly higher pitch. "So your parents will be looking for you."
"Nope," he says. "My mom thinks I'm on a field trip. She won't be looking for me until the school notifies her that I'm missing." He quietly applauds his captors for their ingenuity. Having this much of a lead on Sarah Connor and a terminator is impressive.
"Ah," she says.
"So," he says, fidgeting a little, "you mentioned your father and uncle – what about a boyfriend, husband? Anyone else who could be looking for you?"
She moves slightly and the chair legs squeak under her. "Nope, no boyfriend. Couple years back, I almost got married. Got talked out of it."
John raises his eyebrows. "Talked out of it?"
"My uncle," she says breezily, "can give rather convincing arguments."
"Oh," he says and looks up at the light fixture above. The bulb flickers. He looks back at her looking at him with an odd expression on her face.
"Kate?" he asks.
She blinks and the gleam in her eye disappears. "My uncle always makes sure I keep a knife in the lining of my back pocket," she says. "I haven't been able to reach it alone – but with a little team work—" and she makes a soft grunt as she moves, her fingers grabbing hold of his.
"Earn your reputation, future leader of the human race, and save the damsel," she says, carefully pulling his hands up to the space between her shirt and jeans. "The knife's nestled in the lining, you should be able to feel the handle if you reach—"
She exhales softly as his fingers graze the small of her back. He blinks and concentrates on finding the knife's handle, trying to ignore his extreme discomfort with this situation.
"You keep a knife sheathed in the lining of your jeans?" he asks, feeling the small handle under the pad of his fingers and tugging gently at it.
"As I said, it was my uncle's idea."
"A knife. In your jeans," he repeats, pulling it out with care.
"It's small," she says simply. "And you never know when you're going to be kidnapped and tied up by crazies, do you?"
He shakes his head. "No, no you don't," he says, flipping the knife around carefully so that he can grip the small handle with one hand. "Got it."
"I owe you one, Connor," she says.
Starting to cut the ropes around her left hand, he says, "I'll keep that in mind."
It's difficult to cut the rope with limited ability to move his wrist, but he makes it. As soon as she's able to shake her hand loose of the ropes, she turns her head to look at him. "Thanks," she says and takes the knife from him.
It takes her a few moments, but she frees herself and then starts on his bonds. She grips his arm and cuts steadily at his rope. He realizes that he could have done this himself, but she's there in his personal space, smelling like blood and vanilla.
"There," she says, tugging the last rope off. He rubs his wrists and looks at her, wondering why she looks so familiar.
"Hi," she says. Her eyes are bright and her lips are slightly parted. He fights back the urge to grin in a stupid, high school boy sort of way. She's something else, he thinks.
She leaps to her feet, however, at the sound of footsteps, a loud click-clack against metal, and voices at the door. John opens his mouth to speak, but she silences him. "Quick," she says, "back in the chair, wrap the ropes around you, c'mon quick."
"I need to understand why," she says simply.
The chairs rattle against each other as they loosely tie the ropes back around their wrists and ankles. It's a ruse that will work only if their captors don't look too hard in the dim light.
He hears a key being forcefully put in the door. Steeling himself for the unknown, he senses Kate straightening up. "John," she says with the slightest of tremors in her voice. "I'm glad you're here with me."
He reaches with his right hand to grasp the fingers of her left.
The door creaks open and a man enters. "The great and powerful John Connor," the man says. "It's an honor."
A woman follows him and shuts the door behind her. "I hope you've realized by now that no one's going to rescue you," she says. "You know the metal and your mom won't miss you 'til it's too late."
"Damn, you are sick, cozying up to that toaster, Connor," the man says with a toothy grin. "I always wondered what was going on between you and that metal bitch."
"Skynet made her real pretty for you, didn't they?" the woman says.
"What do you want?" John asks.
"I want you dead," the man immediately replies. "You and Brewster."
Kate tenses in her chair. "You're insane," she says.
The man circles them, his eyes wild. "I'm insane? You people are insane. You're the great leaders of the human race and you're fucked in the head. It's not just that you keep sending people back, dividing families and decreasing our numbers. It's not just that you run our lives, telling us when to breathe, when to eat, what to do. You're infatuated with the enemy. It's sick. You keep infiltrating our ranks with your science projects, your beloved pets – reprogrammed metal that mess with your head. They look like us, Connor, but they're not us. And so many of them, so many of them have gone wrong. You ask us to believe in what you're doing and we follow you blindly because you're both so damn good at convincing people to follow you blindly. You're worse than the machine. You deserve to die."
John takes this in, his worst fears realized. Ever since he was old enough to understand that his future self sent his father to die, he's known that the John Connor he becomes is some kind of twisted, severe leader. He agonizes now over this new vision of a dark, charismatic character who seemingly sleeps with the enemy.
Kate says, "So in the future, we suck, I get it."
The woman bitterly smiles. "You sent my husband topside, Brewster, with one of your favorite little tin men. A simple mission, you said, it won't take an hour." She laughs. "Your metal lover malfunctioned and killed my Paul. They couldn't find all the pieces to bring him back for a proper burial."
"And you," the man says, his focus on John. "You sent my daughter back to 2001 on some mission for you. You took my daughter away from me. My blood. She was my blood."
"I'm so sorry," John whispers. Looser now in their makeshift bonds, John pulls Kate's hand into his, feeling a heady sense of bravery as her fingers slide against his own.
"So we've sent out a message. We know that if you can send hundreds of us back, they can send thousands of them," the man says, "Skynet's out there, right now, and they'll be all too happy to know that John Connor and Katherine Brewster are trussed up and ready to be eliminated."
John looks at the blinking red light of the computer and immediately pictures an army of terminators of all shapes and sizes heading for them, their priority target finally in reach. His blood runs cold.
"We're sitting ducks, then," Kate says.
"That's the general idea, yeah," the woman says, moving closer to Kate.
"I'd like to face my death on my feet, actually," Kate replies, and then she moves. Unable to see everything, only hear the tussle and feel the recoil of the back of her chair slamming into him as she leaped, John briefly closes his eyes and hopes.
He turns his head to look at them and sees Kate holding the woman tight against her, her knife pressed against the woman's neck. Kate grabs the woman's firearm and aims it at the man.
"Okay, okay," the man says, pulling his gun out and pointing it at John. With every muscle in his body tensed, John readies himself to move as quickly as needed.
"You will not kill John Connor," Kate says firmly.
John's blood runs hot and then cold as Kate's stance, tone, and intent reminds him of his mother.
"What's he to you?" the woman says, "he's just some teenager, right?"
"I'm somewhat attached to him," Kate snarls, gripping the woman tighter. "I'm his future wife, after all."
The man straightens, looking horrified, and the woman in Kate's grip squirms. "We never told you that you're Connor's wife," the man says.
Kate laughs, angrily. "You also never told me that Judgment Day was April 21, 2011. Interesting that I know that too."
The man blinks, his focus seemingly diminishing.
"How do you know all this?" John asks, staring at her in absolute shock. "Why—"
Katherine Brewster looks at him, fierce as a Valkyrie, and he shuts up.
"So, don't think your apocalyptic talk has any effect on me," she says to the man, her hand shaking slightly, still aiming the gun at his heart. "I know what happens. And I'm sorry for your loss, but I am not the Katherine Brewster you know and he," and she gestures to John with her head, "is not the John Connor you know.
"What do you think you'd accomplish by killing us? The human race will fail in the war to come without John. She won't have a husband to lose and you won't have a daughter.
"In sending you back, John Connor gave you a gift, a fucking gift to come back here where there are trees and sunlight and hot showers and cable television. He must have known you were unstable, and so he sent you home, to safety, to sanity, and this is how you repay him."
John watches her, breathless, and understands more than ever why.
The man hesitates a moment and steadies his hand, the gun aimed straight at John. "I can't accept it. I want my daughter back." He pulls the trigger.
It all happens so quickly. Kate screams, a shrill and desperate sound. John hurtles out of the chair. Despite the roar of adrenaline in his ears, he hears another shot. When he looks up, the man is falling to the floor.
He stands up so fast that the blood rushes to his head, almost blinding him. Blinking, he stares at the scene. The man lies motionless on the floor, a small bullet hole between his eyes. Kate is standing with her gun aimed at the dead man, her mouth set in fury. The other woman lies on the floor sobbing, clutching her neck.
"So," Kate says, the gun still in her hand. She turns to the woman on the floor. "In a few minutes, a whole mess of metal is gonna be down on all of us. What's it gonna be?"
The woman gets to her feet, raises her hands and backs up a few steps.
"Get out," Kate says coldly.
The woman flees.
John stares at the empty doorway and then looks at Kate. "You know," he says, "everything."
She is shaking, her cheeks white. "Yes."
And then, a touch of chaos occurs. As he describes it later, it is as if the wall is there one moment and gone the next. The cacophony is excruciating to his ears and his eyes water from the dust filling the air.
And he sees him.
John Connor chokes on a cry as a T-101, massive and deadly, strides through the rubble where a wall once stood and heads straight for Kate. He doesn't think as he dives in front of her, arms outstretched. Kate is speaking fast and fierce, but he pays no attention, pushing her behind him. "No," he shouts at the approaching terminator, its face so terribly familiar. "You can't," he says brokenly.
The T-101 shoves him out of the way with minimum force.
"Katherine Brewster," the terminator says, "have you sustained injury?"
John looks at her and gapes. Kate puts her arm around the terminator and leans against him, her face pressed against his chest and her eyes closed in relief. "I'm fine," she says, "Thank you." The terminator pats her arm awkwardly and she looks up at him. "But you do realize you just knocked John Connor on his ass?" she says with a smirk.
Tilting his head, the T-101 looks intently at John. "I do now," he says.
Lifting his hand to his mouth, John isn't sure whether to laugh or stare in shock. "Your uncle?," he asks incredulously, reminded so fiercely of his own version of Kate's "uncle."
Kate's cheeks are pink as she moves to help him up. "Yup," she says.
"This series of events is in error," the terminator says, his head tilted to one side. "After their adolescent mating ritual occurs in the year 1996, John Connor does not see Katherine Brewster again until the year 2020."
"The future is not written," Kate says, waving her hand at him.
"Excuse me?" John says, mind reeling. "What?"
Kate clears her throat. "It may not have been memorable to you," she says, "but I certainly have a very specific memory of –"
It clicks. "You're Kate Brewster," John Connor says, his eyes wide as saucers, "West Hills Junior High."
The room is suddenly very warm. "You look good," John squeaks out.
"You look like jailbait," she replies.
He lifts a hand to cover his eyes. "Long story."
"We must leave," the T-101 announces simply. "Come." He heads towards the opening that was once a wall, looks left and right and moves with purpose.
"This isn't happening," John says, standing perfectly still.
Kate shakes her head and tugs at his arm. "Terminators, headed this way. Hundreds of them. If you want to live—"
Her touch is electric. "I'm coming," he says, following her.
John's not stupid; he calls ahead before they arrive at the house.
When they pull up on the driveway, Cameron is waiting on the front porch. She has her arms crossed and he's sure she's packing more than one firearm. And John's pretty certain that Derek is watching from the windows with a loaded shotgun.
As they get out of the car, he sees his mother come out of the house. She stares – not at him, but at the T-101, her eyes wild.
It's going to be a long night, he thinks.
As they sit around the kitchen table, John stares at his family, past, present and future. Such strong, fierce individuals with one singular mission. He struggles silently with the weight of responsibility. They've killed for him, he thinks. Gazing at Kate, he wonders how she can sit there, cool and unconcerned after killing a man. To save me, he thinks.
"– The T-101 came to me in 2003, right before I was going to get married, and told me the story," Kate is saying. His mother nods her head slightly in response. "It took him some time to convince me."
"Katherine Brewster is very stubborn," the T-101 says.
Derek snorts and looks at John in a way that makes him slightly uncomfortable.
"But he was ultimately successful," she replies, looking at the terminator affectionately.
John imagines the twenty-year-old Katherine Brewster as he imagines his mother in 1984 – a woman being informed of the greatness expected of her in the future, of her bravery, her importance. How does a person, ignorant of their own potential, rise to the occasion without going mad? John wonders what the terminator must have said, what he must have shown her to convince her of the dark and dismal truth.
And what could the terminator have said to ensure that this woman would fall in love with the future leader of the human race, this mythical John Connor? Kate's passion, he thinks as he remembers her words, is fueled by more than faith.
"We live off the grid, mostly, setting up supply centers and working my father's military connections," Kate continues. "We're going to be ready for the first few years, the nuclear winter. But when Skynet rounds up the remnants of humanity—" and she stops and looks at him.
"Then it's your show," she says.
"If you were living off the grid, how did they find you?" Derek asks.
"Probably through my father. We haven't fully gone underground like you guys," Kate says. "Not sure how they found you –"
John watches his mother eye all the exits and pull her jacket closer around her. "I don't like it. They had obviously been watching." She looks pointedly at Cameron who coolly stares back at her. "Doesn't matter now. We'll move tonight. It won't happen again."
"Mom," he sighs, despite knowing that she's right.
Cameron slides her fingers along his neck. He shivers, unsure if she's just doing what she always does – checking his vitals – or if she's attempting to comfort him.
He feels ten times as awkward in his uncertainty of her actions with Kate there watching. Remembering the words of the man who held them hostage just hours earlier, he bites his lip.
"You should come with us," his mother says suddenly, her eyes intensely staring at Kate. "We plan on stopping Skynet and we need all the help we can get. With your military connections—"
Cameron and the T-101 look at each other sharply and then at his mother. "It would be unwise if John Connor and Katherine Brewster were in the same location," Cameron says firmly.
"—they would prove a bigger target, " the T-101 continues.
"Better to have them separate," Cameron says.
Kate nods her head, touching the T-101's arm. "I agree," she says with a brief glance at John.
"But we're going to stop Skynet," his mother says fiercely. "Judgment Day does not have to happen. We can stop it."
John knows what Kate's going to say before she says it. "Judgment Day is inevitable. Nothing and no one can stop it." Her voice is firm, resolute. John knows that she believes every word she says.
Derek stares at her, horrified. Sarah Connor shakes her head and looks away.
"So this is goodbye," John says.
Kate gently pushes his bangs out of his eyes and her fingers linger on the side of his face. "For now at least."
He feels suddenly very awkward, unsure of himself. "We didn't even know their names."
"We will," Kate says, her gaze unflinching.
John nods. "Thanks – thank you for the rescue."
She hesitates for a moment, leans in and presses a kiss to the corner of his mouth. As she pulls away, she quietly says, "See you around, Connor."
Cameron is waiting for him when he returns to the house.
When Katherine Brewster was 28 years old, the world as she knew it ended and a horrible winter followed the nuclear war.
At 31, the survivors she led were rounded up and taken to a Skynet work camp. The dead were to be processed, they were told, and humans should learn their new place in this new world.
It was there that she began, in earnest, to speak of the man who would save them, the man that she loved. Eventually, she began to hear the real stories, the true ones.
Once, when pulling a cart of bodies to the factory with a boy, she told him one of the new stories.
"—And a boy, just your age, named Kyle Reese, helped John Connor save hundreds from the slaughterhouse in the Century Work Camp. They stormed the machines and escaped."
"And the people followed him? They weren't afraid?" the boy said, his eyes wide.
"Of course they were afraid," a voice from behind her said. "But that didn't stop them from trying."
Kate held her breath and turned around.
"Hey," John Connor said, looking haggard but whole.
And she smiled.