Fandom: Terminator: SCC
Characters: Sarah, Ellison (light Het)
Summary: In the end, Sarah wound up telling Ellison everything.
Author's Notes: For the Fall Fandom Free-For-All (requested by hereswith), and I hope it got far enough into Sarah/Ellison for your liking.
This could be read standalone, or as a follow-on to my earlier story, The World Is Burning.
Also for writers_choice, this is "Surrender."
Eventually—after John and the others vanished, after fire drove her and Ellison from the building, after the longest day in a life that already held too much sadness—Sarah told Ellison everything.
There was no longer any reason not to.
He'd spirited her out through the basement in the trunk of his car, and no-one should've had as much experience with that as she did, so long ago trained out of claustrophobia that there were times she'd fallen asleep in those dark, cramped spaces. He'd stopped in an empty alley a few miles later so she could move into the backseat, and she'd lain down immediately when reality had turned out to be too heavy a burden to withstand.
Ellison had found them a motel by nightfall, someplace safe enough for the moment. Sarah knew that safety was only temporary (God, she was weary with knowing it). The only permanence in her life for the last eighteen years had been John and the constant vigilance needed to keep him safe.
She lost her son, herself, and her purpose in a single day.
Sarah barricaded herself in the motel shower and tried to wash off the smell of smoke, the ashen agony of her lonely, bitter future still clinging fast even as she huddled there in the tub. There was no point to anything now—even living—but she'd forged a path to survival so many times that it was a habit not easily forsaken.
When she finally came out of the bathroom, James Ellison was waiting with a handful of blankets and eyes so soft she could get lost in them.
She'd forgotten how he could listen, how all the unbelievable truths she'd carried for half a lifetime could become weightless once they'd found a home inside someone else.
She'd forgotten that it was exactly the reason she'd told him about Cromartie and about the War, because it made a difference having someone to talk to who wasn't a robot, a fellow soldier, or the son who blamed her for the terrible future she was teaching him to outlast.
It was hard to trust Ellison all the same, because trust could prove dangerous—even fatal. She'd spent too many years traveling back and forth through the shadows of different decades to ever forget that.
"You gave them Cromartie—the robot," she corrected. "After we finally managed to kill him and bury him the desert. Why would you do that?"
"It became my job," Ellison answered quietly. "And I didn't know what she was."
"Yes. I thought she was human."
It didn't make sense—the only 'metal' Sarah had ever met had been the assassins sent to kill her son, and they hadn't been good at hiding it. "Why were they keeping him in that building? What was your part in it?"
"I was…" Ellison stopped for a moment, thought about it, and continued. "I was teaching him to be human."
"To pass himself off as one of us."
"No. To understand morality and make the right choices. To realize that human life is sacred."
There was no question that she believed him, and that if anyone could teach a robot humanity, it was Ellison. What she didn't understand was why he'd been allowed to do it.
After nearly two decades of running, of having both assistance and assassins arrive from the future into the subtly shifting 'present,' Sarah didn’t know what to believe anymore. Would John only have become the savior of the branch of the future Kyle had seen? What if that future never happened, and John's training was never needed?
What if she'd wasted all this time being John's sergeant instead of his mother? God, what if she'd been completely wrong?
"Sarah." Ellison's voice finally reached her, nearly drowned out by her own shuddering breaths. "Sarah," he said again more quietly, pulling her close and holding her against the tide of her own grief.
Everything was gone—everyone. What was left, now that the future had abandoned her?
Ellison (James by now, surely) kept rocking her, his lips soft against her hair, against her face. She responded to him with the forgotten part of herself that was simply a woman and not a warrior, the part without labels or the burdens they invoked.
He made love to her, and she remembered how very long ago it had been since anyone had treated her with such tenderness and exquisite care.
"It'll be all right," he whispered afterward, and she knew he meant someday rather than soon.
Lying there in his arms, Sarah suddenly felt less lonely than she'd expected or deserved.
In spite of everything that had happened—permanent now, she was certain—a glimmer of hope awakened inside her. Maybe, with James' help (if she allowed herself that luxury), she could find a way to be Sarah Connor again.
With nothing left to rescue her (to bind her), there was always the possibility of change. If she tried hard enough, maybe she could even remember the girl she'd once been, instead of the shell-shocked soldier who'd watched her world go up in flames today.
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