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21 October 2009 @ 11:38 pm
Terminator SCC Fiction: "But For This Anchor" (Sarah, Ellison, Sarah/Ellison, PG-13)  
Title: But For This Anchor
Author: HalfshellVenus
Fandom: Terminator: SCC
Characters: Sarah, Ellison (light Het)
Rating: PG-13
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."

x-x-x-x-x

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."

"Weaver."

"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."

"Oh."

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.


-------- fin --------

 
 
hereswith: Genhereswith on October 22nd, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
*squee* I have to rush, I promise to return with more comments later, but I wanted to let you know right away that I did like it, a lot :-) Thank you so much!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Random Fandomhalfshellvenus on October 23rd, 2009 06:09 am (UTC)
Yay, I'm so glad! I love trying out new things for the Fall Fandom Free-For-All, and making someone happy with an offering is such a great feeling!
hereswith: Genhereswith on October 24th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
Here I am, sorry I'm late! First of all, I was thrilled to see that someone had answered one of my prompts and even more so that it was you, because I remembered that earlier SCC story of yours :-)

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. Yes, that's how it would happen, and this says so much about what Sarah has had to endure, too.

It's certainly far enough into S/E, I love that they finally talk about things, and this: 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.

Everything was gone—everyone. What was left, now that the future had abandoned her? The finale leaves Sarah in an interesting place, and I think you've captured the state of mind she must be in really well here, grieving, questioning, but still surviving.

I also like how she for a moment feels less lonely, and Ellison's: "It'll be all right," he whispered afterward, and she knew he meant someday rather than soon. Because it won't be easy, of course, whichever course of action she chooses.

Thank you again!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Random Fandomhalfshellvenus on October 26th, 2009 04:15 am (UTC)
the state of mind she must be in really well here, grieving, questioning, but still surviving.
I can't stop thinking about what a brutal blow that would have been for her, having everything ripped away forever with so little warning. That's something you might not want to survive, but it's second nature for her now and she can't help following that path automatically.

Because it won't be easy, of course, whichever course of action she chooses.
Even just living on through her future won't be easy (when her son probably isn't coming back), but it will get better. I like to think that Ellison will be one of the reaons why.

So glad you liked this, and I'm happy to have made part of your wish list come true! I love the Fall Fandom Free-For-All, and all the new creations that might not otherwise have come to be!
chelseagirl on October 24th, 2009 12:28 pm (UTC)
Really nice -- rather how I imagined things going after the series' end!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Random Fandomhalfshellvenus on October 26th, 2009 04:17 am (UTC)
Thank you! I really wish we'd had a third season, and been able to see all of those fascinating ideas from the S2 finale move forward. I do think this is how Sarah's story would have gone, and I hope she and Ellison would have grown closer and formed a lasting bond stemming from the things they knew that were otherwise so completely unbelievable.
pellucid: Sarah tiredpellucid on October 24th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is lovely!!!! I adored your first one about them, and I adore this one, too. I think Sarah in the wake of the finale feels like she has, for perhaps the first time since Kyle Reese came into her life, something like a real choice: does she continue with her fight, even without John now, with even less understanding than ever what she's fighting for and how to go about it. Or does she finally rest. Is there a space, however small and localized, in which she can actually let go and just be, purposeless, in a way she hasn't been able to for 18 years. I love the implications of where we find her at the end. I suspect that she will keep fighting, but I also hope she can find moments, like this, in which to stop.

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

This made me grin a bit, because this is exactly the image that I've had of the immediate aftermath of the final scene, and my own perpetually unwritten story about what happens next (which I swear I will write eventually, if life ever stops being complicated long enough for me to do so!) begins in much the same way. Oh, Sarah!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Random Fandomhalfshellvenus on October 26th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
does she continue with her fight, even without John now, with even less understanding than ever what she's fighting for and how to go about it. Or does she finally rest.

It's such a great question, because the only thing she knew for certain was John's role in the future (as relayed by Kyle Reese) and the hard truth that forces from the future would try to kill him again and again to change that outcome.

She has threads of information (like who some of the people are that SkyNet becomes interested in), but after that encounter with Catharine Weaver they may all be too suspect to use.

I'd like to think of her finding some of the innocence she lost all those years ago, but I agree that it's more likely she'll continue to fight. Too many years as a soldier, even of your own critical war, changse you in ways that are too hard to put aside.

I hope you DO get the chance to finish your own story down the road-- it seems that a lot of people like this pairing and the chance to explore where the questions raised by the finale will lead. :)
pellucid: Sarah Connor thoughtfulpellucid on October 26th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)
I agree with you--I'd like to think Sarah could find some moments in which to rest, but regardless, she'll keep fighting. And quite possibly she'll use losing John as an excuse to fight all the harder. I suspect if we'd gotten a season 3 we'd have seen her following up some of those leads at the end--particularly the connection to Miles Dyson's son, for instance. I don't think she'd know, at this point, how to stop fighting.

As for the Sarah/Ellison pairing, I've been encouraged to see more and more people seeming to jump on the bandwagon. I was intrigued by them from "The Demon Hand" on, and hopelessly in the "give them more screen time together, OMG!" camp after "Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today"--so the setup at the end of season 2 felt like a gift just for me! But I feel like it's taken a while for more people to start writing things about them, so I'm absolutely delighted that they seem to have taken off, at least in a small way, of late. Hopefully we'll get more of that, even without a season 3.

And, um, hopefully this doesn't look too much like self-pimping--do feel free to ignore!--but I did in fact post a little snippet about them yesterday. Not quite the story I'd planned to write, but somewhat in that vein, I guess. a bailar, in case you're interested, though of course you needn't be!
ticketsonmyself on October 28th, 2009 05:38 am (UTC)
S2 DVD commentary said that Danny Dyson would have been a central character in S3, so it looks like you're right! And now I miss the show more than ever.
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Random Fandomhalfshellvenus on October 26th, 2009 04:34 am (UTC)
I feel so for her, and how bereft she would have been after those few explosive minutes and all the parts of her they destroyed. The grief over losing John would have been hard enough, but she also lost all the context of everything she'd done and been since he was born.

What an empty, awful feeling.

The idea that she might find a new path, and have a friend to stand by her while she explores those options, is very comforting. I always loved the friendship possibilities between these two, and hoped we'd see them develop farther.

As the future unfolds, they can help keep each other sane with the shared knowledge of all the impossible things they've witnessed. No-one else will ever truly understand.
ticketsonmyself on October 25th, 2009 10:07 am (UTC)
I have to come back to this, but I am full of swoony, goony, gooberish love for this story - an unexpected and totally fabulous sequel. Oh Sarah and James!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Random Fandomhalfshellvenus on October 26th, 2009 04:35 am (UTC)
Yay- I'm so glad you liked it! And it was nice to stretch them to that point beyond friendship that hereswith wanted to see-- and I'm sure she wasn't the only one. :)