?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
20 May 2008 @ 04:12 pm
The Parting Glass  
Fandom: Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles
Title: The Parting Glass
Characters: Derek, Kyle, Connor and Perry (with a dash of Sayles for flavor)
Author: cianconnell
Rating: Gen fic, rated R for language.
Word Count: 6,622
Disclaimer: Some things borrowed, nothing owned.
Author’s Note: It’s a one-shot, Derek’s POV, hopefully AU. Set on John Connor’s 30th birthday. I know that it’s been acknowledged to have been a mistake and it should have been his 40th, but hey, it’s out there…and in this version, the time-leap forward is accounted for. Spoilers are pretty much for the first season of T:SCC.



Beta thanks go out, as always, to overnighter and crashcmb, for tightening this up and making it—you know, make sense. For reals. All remaining mistakes are my own. Poor, poor betas, I have trouble enough with my tenses when I’m not dealing with time-travel. If they ever abandon me in a new fandom all by my lonesome, I’m well and truly scrod.

This is for un4scene and sabaceanbabe, since whenever I was stuck, I’d just rewatch their amazing vids (and/or reread sebaceanbabe's ficlets) and find the inspiration. Oh, and sabaceanbabe made me some sweet icons!

And for brandywine421, who handed me the bibinkus.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oh all the comrades that e'er I've had, they are sorry for my going away

And all the sweethearts that e'er I've had, they would wish me one more day to stay

But since it falls unto my lot that I should rise and you should not

I'll gently rise and I'll softly call good night and God be with you all.


--The Parting Glass (an Irish Folk Song)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On the night of John Connor’s thirtieth birthday, they got good and old-fashioned drunk.

A pair of HKs had locked in on their small platoon and fired, forcing Derek, Kyle and the others to abandon their attempt at tracking the Centaur patrol, and they had fallen back to the tunnels downtown.

Lieutenant Phillips had ordered Derek to report to Perry and gruffly suggested that the rest of them go grab some grub and a bunk and fall the hell to sleep so that they would be prepared to go back topside at zero-dark-thirty, if not earlier, but Kyle—still riding the adrenalin high from being shot at and so narrowly missed that his left boot had actually been singed at the heel—had insisted on tagging along. So the two of them had stood together outside of Connor’s door, where Perry was supposed to be, as Derek had rapped on it.

Even though Derek could hear Connor bellow, “C’m in,” from inside, it was Perry himself who quickly opened the door before he even had the chance to reach for the handle. Perry, whose massive form filled the doorway for a few seconds, as he carefully looked down both sides of the corridor. Perry, who, surprisingly, instead of admitting them into the room, sidled out sideways to join Derek and Kyle in the narrow hallway before closing the door decisively behind him.

“How’d it go up there?” he asked, his arms crossed tightly in front of his broad chest and his chin jutted out. Derek couldn’t help but notice that the company commander’s powerful body seemed to be purposefully positioned to create a formidable barrier between them and Connor’s temporary, makeshift quarters, for whatever reason.

“Not so great,” Derek admitted, as he tore his gaze away from the door and looked back up, way up, to meet Perry’s eyes.

“We tailed ‘em for almost a mile and a half, lost ‘em by what the LT says is the hull of the old World Trade Center. A couple of HKs clocked us and we had to abort—but, from what we could tell, they were headed pretty much due west of here.”

“I know where that building is…was,” Perry corrected himself, nodding, “…and the last few reports have all had the Centaurs headed in that same direction. We haven’t zeroed in on their base yet, but we’re getting closer—it’s just a matter of time now before we—”

“Oh, Jesus Christ, Justin,” Connor said, sounding annoyed as he opened the door and cut off whatever it was that Perry was going to say next, “I told them to come in—so let them in, already. Come on in, boys.”

Derek watched with a combination of curiosity and bemusement as Perry pinched the bridge of his nose with a thumb and pointer finger and squeezed his eyes shut for a brief moment, as if he were in a sudden, physical pain; then his face registered an expression not entirely unlike as if he had just swallowed a particularly bitter bunch of maggots, before he released his breath in a long hiss of air, nodded and stepped out of the way.

“Yes, of course, sir,” Perry sounded reluctant, but resigned, as he followed Connor’s command.

Derek shifted his eyes to Kyle, who pulled down the corners of his mouth and raised a shoulder and both eyebrows in Derek’s direction, acknowledging that he too knew that something was definitely off.

The something, the boys found out mere moments later, was Connor. Connor, who’d apparently fallen ass over teakettle from the sobriety transport, left stranded and without a good goddamned clue as to where the hell that transport had gone, which was odd. In the year and change since Connor had masterminded the escape from Century work camp and marshaled the rebellion—in the year and change since he had instilled some sort of a cohesive, ordered resistance in the fight against the machines—Derek had never—never, ever—even heard rumor of a Connor who was in anything less than in complete and utter control of himself and of all of his faculties.

Connor didn’t appear to have a lot of friends, or to let many into his inner circle. Whether it was because he didn’t want to, or because he didn’t think that he could afford to was well beyond Derek’s ken. But either way, Connor was not someone who seemed to cut loose much. Or at all. He remained very much inaccessible, very much the man behind the curtain, pulling their strings and directing their movements.

Not that Connor didn’t get involved in the dirty or dangerous work. He did, but most of his missions were solitary, or done with a very few, select others, others who weren’t briefed more than a few hours before they were dispatched—and who were told only exactly as little as they needed to be told in order to get whatever the hell it was that needed to get got accomplished, with as few casualties as possible.

One of the few soldiers for whom Connor did seem to have a natural affinity was Kyle. Connor had taken the boy under his wing not long after Derek had lost the then-twelve-year-old to the machines in a tunnel not far from where they were standing in the selfsame corridor. Connor and Kyle had spent the better part of six years together in the work camp as Connor had plotted and planned, biding his time and garnering all of the scant resources that he had been able to acquire. In the end, by all accounts, it had been a spectacular uprising, an escape of epic proportions, or at least that was the way Derek had heard it in the retelling.

And Jesus fuck that story got retold, but a lot.

Or at least that’s the way it seemed to Derek. Though he might have been—admittedly—just a bit thin-skinned where that particular issue was concerned, not in the least because Kyle had recently taken to starting sentences with the words, “when I was in Century” all the damned time. Those words made the very hairs on the back of Derek’s neck bristle, as they had become a surefire harbinger that Kyle was about launch into a lengthy spiel that would serve to inform Derek about just how it was exactly that whatever he was doing, he was doing wrong, or how Connor had found a much better or more efficient way of accomplishing whatever the hell task it was that Derek was either contemplating starting—or better yet, smack in the middle of—performing.

Well, that and the fact that, in introducing himself outside his own small band of friends and fellow survivors, Derek suddenly found himself having to qualify his very own existence, his very own identity, with the words, “not that Reese,” in order to distinguish himself as the other Reese—the one who was not part of the Century legend. The one who wasn’t a goddamned hero for fuck’s sake. Which was ridiculous, anyway.

Because if Kyle fit the definition of a hero? Well, then they were all well and truly screwed. Oh, Derek knew better than most that Kyle was an apt—hell, a better than average—soldier; he was much stronger and more resourceful than his build or age would suggest, but he was still just a nineteen-year-old kid.

Despite all that he had gone through in the six years at the work camp, despite the crucial role that he had played in the execution of Connor’s uprising—hell, despite the fact that he was hardly even recognizable to Derek when the two of them had finally been reunited—well, Kyle was still Derek’s baby brother in the end. And heroes, especially not heroes of the magnitude that the stories had made of Connor and Kyle—well, they just did not look like Derek’s baby brother.

Kyle was, after all, the same kid who had insisted on dragging his pale blue security blanket along with them as the boys tentatively forged their way through the ruins and the rubble some twenty-odd miles to LA— even though he was already supposedly too old for the thing—after it had become painfully obvious that their parents would not be coming home again any time soon. Or anytime at all.

It had been Derek’s decision to leave the basement where they’d been huddled for days, afraid; Derek’s judgment call that facing probable radiation, even after they’d covered their bare skin and faces as best they could, and a slow and painful death was still a better call than waiting, listening as the distant echoes of entire neighborhoods being blown to kingdom come reverberated closer and closer to home; Derek’s desperate idea to head towards the uncertain shelter and safety of the tunnels that he had remembered were spread out in an intricate web beneath the far-off city that no longer was.

Derek had stuffed both of their backpacks to a near breaking point with as many aluminum cans of food, plastic bottles of water and juice pouches as he could manage, along with a can opener, toothpaste and the boys’ toothbrushes. That there was no room left for the blanket had not stopped Kyle from insisting that it come along. Of course, that meant that it had been left up to Derek to carry the damned thing—along with Kyle’s backpack, eventually—since the trek had proven difficult for the younger boy, especially as they neared the smoldering and skeletal remains of the former city, and the piles of rubble that had been left of the roads and vehicles and buildings had become larger and more cumbersome to traverse. In those days, Derek had been the only Reese that Kyle, at least, thought of as a hero.

Kyle had held onto the blanket—the only sentimental thing that had remained of his life before the bombs fell, the only tangible thing, besides his older brother, that reminded him of home—for nearly two more years, before an exasperated Derek had made the desperate case that he absolutely, positively could not, would not, even contemplate letting a mere baby who still needed to sleep with a goddamned blankie anywhere within detonation range of where explosives were being built, much less let him lend a hand in the making.

Derek had made the argument in anger, upset that Kyle was pestering him relentlessly to join in their efforts to fight back, to be useful in some concrete way in the war against the machines. But, if Derek were completely honest with himself, he would also have had to admit that he had made the argument in anger simply because it was easier to be angry—it was easier to lash out at his little brother—than it would have been to acknowledge the fear and trepidation he had felt when he realized there was only a limited amount of time left in which he could continue to keep his brother protected from the certain harm that would come from letting go.

Derek hadn’t wanted to think that there would come a point in time—and not far into the future, not even close to when Kyle would be as old as Derek had been when the bombs fell—when Kyle would slip out of iron grip with which he had held onto his little brother; a time in which he would have to let Kyle loose from the tether with which he had anchored him to relative safety.

In the end, though, his argument had backfired, since Kyle’s need to join in and make himself useful to the greater cause had apparently been stronger than his desire to hang onto that particular vestige of the past, to the last real remnant of his childhood. Kyle had disposed of the blanket the very next day—giving it to one of the few toddlers who were then living in the downtown tunnels, in a ceremony in which he had invoked such great pomp and circumstance that the little whelp had most likely felt like he was being bequeathed with some sort of an impenetrable shield.

It had become common knowledge, in the weeks and months after he had escaped from Century, that Kyle had taken, bizarrely, to carrying around a picture of Connor’s mother as a good luck charm; but only Derek knew that, to this day, he still carried with him a tattered and frayed piece of the blanket that he had snipped from the larger cloth—the corner that had contained the stitched lettering of his monogram—which he kept with him always, tucked away in the heel of his boot.

A spank snap of Sarah Connor might have been his little brother’s lucky charm, but apparently the bibinkus had remained the acting head of Kyle’s security detail.

It had taken almost six years, six long years, for the Century escape plan to come together. Six years’ time, during which Derek had lived a tenuous and increasingly reckless existence, not knowing whether Kyle was alive or dead—although, if pressed, he might have admitted that he had thought that the odds had most certainly and heavily favored the latter. Metal was not known to keep people alive out of the kindness of its circuitry, and Kyle’s young age and slight build should have worked decidedly to his disadvantage.

It was only later that Derek would discover that his little brother had stayed alive simply by doing what he was told to do , going where he was told to go, and doing it all when he was told to do so—exactly as Derek and the others had cautioned. Well, that and proving that he could be of use to the machines—proving that he was stronger and tougher than his appearance would suggest—that he could be put to hard labor at the disposal units and competently and durably perform jobs that had mentally and physically broken many who were twice his age and size.

Of course, if Derek had allowed himself to think too much on the subject, he might also have had to admit that these were tasks that Kyle may have been more mentally capable of performing in a large part because of his age—a morbid, though oddly beneficial result of the fact that Kyle had first encountered the sight—the sight and the smell—of too many dead and decomposing bodies to count on that long trek to L.A. when he was only eight years old.

By the time Kyle was twelve, he had stumbled over many a skull and tripped over many a torso, just as all of them had—well, all of them who had spent a fair amount of time topside—and Kyle had proven himself useful enough to the tattered command that he had been sent above ground much more regularly than Derek would have liked in the year leading up to his capture.

Apparently, Kyle had also proven himself useful to Connor as well, and quickly, since Connor had seemed to take to the kid immediately, helping him to learn just what it was that he had needed to know in order to stay alive during the years that he had spent at the work camp.

Connor seemed to trust Kyle innately for some unknown reason from the get-go, although according to his little brother—and thank God for small favors—it had been like taking out a Triple-Six with a lug nut and a slingshot to get Connor to agree to let him go on the more dangerous missions that had proved to be of vital importance in the planning and the execution of the uprising.

In hindsight, Derek thought that the escape had taken a good goddamned long time to come together; but as he would also readily concede, Connor’s plan had been meticulously thought out—the amount of detail that went into even the most infinitesimal components of the minutiae of the minutiae was astounding. Then again, it had to be, since the uprising detainees had but the one chance to make it work or it would have been a disastrous and bloody failure of catastrophic proportions.

After all, it would have been of no benefit to the machines to keep the would-be-escapees alive, and Skynet would have had zero interest in recapturing anyone who had proved a liability the first time around. Humanity’s numbers were dwindling, to be sure, but there were still plenty left willing and able to do Skynet’s dirty work upon capture, at least given the alternative.

Many, many lives were saved on that day, but many were also lost. The balance sheet had favored the escape though, or at least that was the way it had seemed in the year that followed, as the resistance had become more organized and better trained with Connor at its head. As best as Derek could tell, Connor seemed to almost intuit what would send those molten metal motherfuckers back to the trash heap where they belonged and give the fighters a better chance of getting at Skynet itself.

Connor was good at what he did; that Derek wouldn’t dispute. In fact, if he were forced to admit it, he would acknowledge that Connor was better than good. He was hell of an organizer, a hell of a motivator, a hell of a soldier, a hell of a leader, certainly. But, even given all of that, Derek didn’t quite think that he had the ability to fart blue skies or to burp filtered water, as Kyle seemed to believe.

Nor did Derek think that Connor was a hell of a guy—or a hell of a guy’s guy. Not really. Or, not at all.

The few times Derek had been around the man, he had found John Connor to be one aloof fucking bastard and just about as serious—and as much fun—as a plasma burn.

Which is what made it all the more uncomfortable as Derek and Kyle stood at attention before Connor for several awkward seconds, exchanging quick, decidedly bemused glances with each other while Connor just stood there, peering at each of them in turn through slightly bleary eyes for entirely too long, before he finally spoke.

When he finally did, though, he directed his question at Perry.

“Why don’t you pour one for the boys?”

Connor nodded towards a bottle of foul-looking liquid sitting on his footlocker as he snatched up a couple of small cups and thrust one of them at Derek, who couldn’t help but notice that Connor’s cheeks were just a bit flushed and that there were two other cups, set down on the locker right next to the bottle, that appeared to be empty.

“I think what Connor means to say is, at ease,” Perry said, shaking his head and reaching for a half-gallon glass jug. Glass. Derek hadn’t seen an intact glass—anything in years and he wondered just where and how the hell Connor had managed to get a hold of the fragile relic.

He was forced to look away from what Perry was doing when he felt Connor shove a tarnished metal cup roughly into his chest. His right hand unclasped his left wrist from where the one was securing the other tightly behind his back and he took the cup. A quick inspection of its bottom showed that it was from Tiffany & Co. and when Derek turned it to its side and looked at it closely, he could barely make out a monogram identifying the initials of the most assuredly long-dead baby to whom it had once belonged—a monogram that was etched into the nearly blackened silver in fancy cursive writing, JSS.

As Perry poured the brown-tinged drink into their cups, he offered an animatedly apologetic face. An expression which Derek understood just a second later, when he made the mistake of sniffing at the putrid liquid. The foul odor emanating out of the cup equaled or surpassed the drink’s nasty looks, and not in a good way, either. He could only just imagine what it tasted like. Derek also took special notice of the fact that Perry chose not to refill his own cup.

“My brother—he’s not 21,” Derek reminded Connor, more in an attempt to save Kyle from having to ingest the rotgut than from any real sense of duty to keep his brother sober. After all, it certainly wouldn’t have been the first time that the Reese boys had had a drink or twelve together—and it wasn’t as if anyone paid much attention to the arcane laws of their collective past—or at least those that the war had rendered pointless, in any event.

As far as Derek was concerned, if a kid was old enough to go above ground and risk his own neck—his own life—on behalf of the tunnel possums who couldn’t or wouldn’t—if a kid was old enough to light and toss a plastique-infused pipe bomb at a distance close enough to actually effectively take out a Centaur—if a kid had just barely managed to escape being pulsesploded into oblivion by a Hunter Killer by half of a hair’s breadth? Well, that kid deserved a drink more than most.

Instead of answering Derek’s apparent, albeit false, concern, Connor just held out his drink and said, “I know exactly how old your brother is, Reese, I spent five of his birthdays with him at the work camp—but you know what? Fuck it. There’s so little out there right now that isn’t all ate the fuck up that when there are things to celebrate—they should be celebrated, damnit, and that’s what we’re doing, Derek. We’re celebrating.”

Not knowing what the hell it was that Connor was talking about, or exactly what it was that they were being hogtied and forced to celebrate, Derek exchanged another quizzical look with Kyle, who seemed to be equally as puzzled.

When Connor moved his cup in Derek’s direction and dipped it slightly downwards towards him as an invitation to take the lead, Derek could think of no response other than to raise his own cup in return—for whatever the hell it was worth. At the last second, though, he paused with the cup poised and still, held just inches from his lips, while he tossed up a quick, silent prayer for poor, most assuredly dead JSS’s soul, whomever the little fuck had been, before bracing himself and then slugging down the foul liquor in a single swallow.

Oh, Jesus fuck!

There was something semi-solid and slick in there, something that practically squirmed down Derek’s throat like a living creature, and all of a sudden, Derek wished that he had only just imagined what it had tasted like after all.

He glanced over at Kyle, slightly shaking his head in an effort to warn his kid brother off, but Kyle wasn’t even looking in his direction. Derek watched, with pure, unmitigated disgust as his little brother just kind of—peered inquisitively into the liquid for a bit, with a strange, but seemingly knowing grin—before he raised his own cup in a silent salute to Connor and drank down the super-sized shot with no more of a reaction than if it had been twice-boiled water.

Even odder to Derek, though, was Kyle’s response right after.

Pruno?” he laughed.“Jesus, John, I haven’t seen Pruno since Century. Where the hell’d you get it?”

Connor returned Kyle’s laugh with a short bark of his own, which sounded entirely unpracticed to Derek’s ears. Connor raised his cup again, then downed the liquid inside as easily as Kyle had before conceding, “Century. It came out during the last raid—Marshall took the bottle for the glass, he didn’t even know what he had in there—”

Even the rarely-seen vision of John Connor with an unabashed grin on his face couldn’t prevent Derek from skeptically asking, after a beat had passed, “What the hell’s a…Pruno?”

“I’m not sure you want to know,” Kyle said, trading another annoyingly conspiratorial look with Connor, before continuing, “Apparently, it’s a holdover from the prisons that were around before the bombs hit. We had a couple of guys inside who’d done time in the romper rooms. They could make booze out of just about anything. Don’t quote me on this, but I think that there’s—I think that there’s like ketchup involved.”

Jesus, fuck! was all that Derek could think of once again, though what he said aloud was, “That’s just—it’s foul is what it is—is this what we’re celebrating? Finding fucking Pruno? ’Cause if it is, I think I’m out.”

“It’s my thirtieth…birthday, that is,” Connor finally explained.

Derek was taken aback. He had thought that Connor was older than thirty. He looked older than thirty, certainly, and it seemed surprising to him, to say the least, that the very best hope for humanity was only four years older than he was. Then again, it dawned on him in that moment that, since he knew for a fact that half of the bullshit that was said about Kyle was just that, bullshit, it just might be that some of what was said about Connor very well could have been embellished as well.

It was not as comforting a thought as Derek might have expected, looking back to when his eyes had glazed over during the many, many times when he had been the unwilling, but captive, audience of Kyle’s long-winded reveries on the utter military brilliance that was John Connor.

“Happy Birthday, John,” Kyle said, raising his empty cup in Connor’s direction—Derek quickly joined him a moment later, when Kyle’s entirely too pointy elbow encouraged him to do so with a well aimed and painful jab to his ribs.

Connor grabbed the jug and refilled all of their cups before Derek could voice his protest. He then raised his own cup, pointed it at each brother in turn and solemnly said, “To family.”

“To family?” Perry asked, after a beat had passed, his voice sounding his apparent confusion, offered in his low distinctive growl from where he was leaning back against the far wall of the room, his arms once again crossed tightly in front of his chest. He didn’t look as if he approved of any of them at the moment. “The hell, John?”

“Oh, Jesus, Justin,” Connor answered quickly enough. “There are so goddamned few of us left—aren’t we all family at this point?”

Perry blinked a few times, before conceding, readily enough. “Of course, sir.”

Connor raised his cup again and continued, “To the Reese boys. May you—may we all find a way to end this thing—a way to win this war—a way to save those who we can save—and maybe even some of those who we couldn’t.”

“To crushing tin,” Kyle threw in, raising his cup towards Connor, even as he threw a look of complete what-the-fuck-ever at Derek.

“To blowing Skynet sky high,” Derek added, responding to Kyle’s look with one equally as skeptical, as he lifted his cup towards Connor.

“Amen,” Derek heard Perry quietly murmur his assent as the others downed their drinks.

For some reason, the Pruno wasn’t quite as bad the second time around, not that Derek thought that he would make any kind of a habit of it. To that end, he offered, “I’ve got some potato juice in my foot locker, if—”

But Perry cut him off with a sternly barked, “No, Reese!”

The company commander shook his head and stepped in front of the door, effectively blocking Derek’s exit, even though he had not yet made any sort of an advance in that direction.

“I think the Pruno’s got a high enough proof for this particular crowd—especially since Kyle and you have a sentry shift coming up in less than six, if I’m not mistaken.”

“True enough,” Derek allowed, then surprised himself by nodding when Connor gestured with the bottle.

After several more rounds, Derek found himself seated next to Kyle on Connor’s cot and Connor seated on the floor, his knees drawn up and his back supported by the wall at Kyle’s feet, close enough that he could still refill the brothers’ drinks without standing. Although Derek felt weirdly out-of-place taking a seat on the cot while the older man was slumped on the floor, Connor had insisted and Derek had acquiesced, not willing to make an argument of it.

Perry had stolen the opportunity several minutes earlier to take his leave for a while. Explaining that it was only a matter of time before some other soldier came knocking on the door, looking for either Connor or himself, he had left the small gathering to get briefings and to give orders, parting with an admonition for Derek to “look after the two of them, and please—for the love of God, please—just don’t let Connor leave these quarters ‘til I get back.”

“You’re not—” Connor had started out in all seriousness, before he let a small, sardonic laugh escape. “God, do you think the kids even say, ‘you’re not the boss of me,’ anymore?”

“I haven’t a clue,” Perry had rumbled, rolling his eyes, “but, I’m pretty sure that there’s a certain General Pruno who is the boss of—or rather, who is in control of this particular birthday party at the moment. I’m not saying that you don’t deserve to cut loose, John—or that you don’t deserve to celebrate. You do—more than most, even. But you’ve also got an image, a reputation, at stake here—and it’s best for everyone if you kept that intact.”

Perry’s voice had suddenly sounded in all earnestness, or even more so than was his normal speaking tone, as he had continued, staring intently at Connor.

“We’re finally making some progress, John—baby steps to be sure—but we are moving forward for the first time since Skynet dropped the bombs on us and, like it or not, a big part of the reason why is the way that you’ve got people believing in you—looking up to you—thinking that you can do anything—that you are their best hope for the future—and—and that you are in control, always in control—that’s a part of it.”

Connor had nodded solemnly, but he had also given Perry a half-assed and decidedly drunken salute in return and Perry had left, still shaking his head and telling them that he’d be back as soon as he could.

“It sucks, you know,” Connor said into the silence, now that Perry had gone.

Derek didn’t respond, since he was pretty sure that he wanted no part in bearing witness to anything that John Connor might spill that he would regret saying the following morning. Instead, he watched as Connor absentmindedly reached between his knees and picked up the jug containing what little was left of the Pruno. His thumb and forefinger threaded through the small glass ring attached to the top of the jug’s neck and he began to turn the bottle in tight circles, slowly, in the foot-wide gap that existed between his knees, as they rested in the inside of his elbows, his left hand loosely gripping his right wrist, his eyes focused on the swirling liquid.

“What sucks?” Kyle finally asked when the silence had stretched into the realm of the uncomfortable.

“It all sucks, Kyle. I mean, it sucks that the only reason that we’re here to begin with is that no one was able to stop any of this from coming about—that there was not one fucking person in the past, who could have made all of this just not happen—that we couldn’t prevent Skynet from dropping the bombs in the first place—I mean, Jesus, why couldn’t we stop it? Why the fuck couldn’t we all just stop the fucking thing?”

“Maybe it’s because we all were just kids back then, Connor—” Derek offered. “Jesus fuck. I mean, maybe that and the fact that nobody—nobody could have predicted what was going to happen. It all came out of the blue, you know—all of the stories that have come out of that day say that it came out of the blue—that there was no warning—that there was no way to prepare, that there was no way that we could have defended ourselves.”

“Nah—that’s not it,” Connor said, vehemently shaking his head, still staring at the liquid twirling in the bottom of the glass jug, seeming to dismiss what Derek was saying out of hand.

“People knew, Derek. I mean, there had to be people who knew. There may not have been a whole lot of them—but they were out there. You can be good goddamned sure of it. We just—they just—they failed—and they keep on failing. Again and again and afuckinggain, they just keep on failing—and now here we are again, apparently.”

“And just where is it exactly that we are?” Derek asked, now curious as to the exact location of the terminus of this particular train of Connor’s thought.

“Here. We’re back here—or up here or way the fuck over there—or wherever the hell it is that we are now, not that it matters. None of it fucking matters, really—not after Judgment Day has come and gone. Because after that happens? All I know is that there’s another—another other entire generation of kids who will grow up—living their whole childhoods with just the one focus—a whole generation of kids, as fucking few in number as they are, mind you—who will spend their whole childhoods just trying to stay one step ahead of the machines—until they can’t and they don’t—and so many of them don’t—and that’s just—”

Connor broke off, still staring deeply into the spinning liquid, pausing for half a minute before he finally continued. “Well, it’s just no goddamned way to live. It’s no goddamned way to grow up. That much I can tell you. It sucks. Believe you me, it fucking sucks. Like, big time.”

“Yeah, we know.” Derek acknowledged, not quite sure why Connor was pointing out the obvious. After all, Derek was well-aware of the enormity of the suckitude that was involved in the day-to-day life—the day-to-day of just trying to remain alive —in the world as it had had been redefined in the mere seconds after the bombs had hit. The world in which he had now lived for almost half of his life. The world in which Kyle had lived for the majority of his own.

And while he got what Connor was saying—well at least the part about the suck—he wasn’t quite sure that he agreed. After all, was it those of them who were adults now who had it better, for having known of life—a previous life in which they had been able to run around outside feeling the coolness of the grass beneath their bare feet as the sun went down on a clear spring day—or was it the kids who had been too young to remember much or even those who had been born after who had it better, for simply not having known firsthand what it was that they had all lost—what it was that Skynet had taken away.

“But you shouldn’t,” Connor continued, sounding entirely dejected. “That’s the thing. You shouldn’t and Kyle shouldn’t—the two of you—this two of you…”

Connor cut himself off and Derek watched with fascination as he managed to tear his gaze from the muddied and fermented ketchup juice, or whatever the fuck it was, and raised his eyes to again look intently from one Reese to the other, before he just shrugged and sighed.

“And…and now I’m pretty much talking nonsense…so I’ll stop. In any event, you boys need to go find a bunk—go get at least a couple of hours of shut-eye before you’ve gotta head back up there—after all, you won’t be doing any of us any good out if you’re out on sentry duty either exhausted or still buzzed.”

“You know—I think we’re good,” Derek assured Connor, and a quick glance at Kyle confirmed it. Although he was feeling a bit tight, the booze hadn’t been anywhere near as potent as the homemade rotgut that the two of them were used to.

“Get on out of here, anyway” Connor said, polishing off the final dregs of the jug’s contents, before dismissively waving them towards the door with a couple of upwards flicks from his left wrist. “Don’t worry about Perry, I’m not going anywhere—I’m not going to do anything. Well, maybe save reconnoitering the state of the back of my eyelids.”

“Yes, sir.” Derek said as he stood up and headed towards the door.

Kyle stood up right after. “Happy thirtieth, John,” he said, sincerely, as he leaned down and extended his hand to the older man. They shook hands, and then Kyle reached down with his other hand and helped Connor to his feet, where he stood swaying slightly for just a moment, before dropping down heavily onto the cot.

When they were nearly to the door, Kyle stopped and turned back towards Connor. “Hey, I know I’ve said it before, but thanks, John. Thank you for all that you did for me at Century—and thank you for all you’ve done for all of us since. It may well suck—all of it, but it sucks just a little less because of you—and we will win this thing. With you in charge, we’ll win it. I know that we will—and when we do—after we do? Well, we’ll all celebrate my thirtieth in style.”

“Sure, Kyle,” Connor said, suddenly looking away from them, blinking rapidly and rubbing a heavy hand across his eyes and his face.

Jesus fuck!

The boys closed the door behind them and stood in the hallway, once again exchanging incredulous looks.

“Were those tears?” Derek asked, in a low whisper that still managed to contain his utter disbelief.

Kyle waited till they took a couple of steps down the hallway, before answering. “I’ve had a few with him in Century, but I’ve never seen him drunk. I’ve never seen him like that. He’s not—he’s not a big drinker.”

“Good lord, let’s hope not, or we’re all good and fucked,” Derek said, shaking his head and wondering when or if he’d ever be able to erase the memory of an inebriated and mostly incoherent John Connor.

It was funny, that.

Because, in the end, and as hard as it would have been to imagine at the time, Derek pretty much had forgotten Connor’s thirtieth birthday by the time when, five years later, a terrified Sayles had looked across at him from where he was lying cuffed to the floor and, with a quavering voice, had sought a simple assurance from Derek that their leader—the man who had brought mankind back from the brink of extinction—the man who they trusted would find a way to end Skynet’s reign of terror—the man who would somehow find a way to end the war victoriously—was not, in fact, crazy.

It was a simple enough assurance to lend to a frightened kid, to be sure, but one that Derek found himself, in that moment, unable to give.

The End

------------------------------------------------------
Additional Author’s Notes:

Ketchup. Okay, so I know that Kyle, in a deleted scene from the original movie, didn’t know what a hot dog was, but? Even disregarding the change from a Kyle who was born after Judgment Day and this Kyle, I think that processed foods such as hot dogs are long in the past, but plants, apparently, are not affected by radiation. So, I believe that there are fruits and veggies around post-JD and that Skynet probably brought them in to the detainees in Century and the other work camps, since they had to feed their prisoners and what cheaper, easier way, hence, my long-winded way of saying that I think that ketchup was/will be still around in some rudimentary form.

Connor’s Birthday: I don’t think that adult birthdays mean/meant much (time travel makes my head hurt), unless it was a seminal one—in fact, I’m not sure the exact date means much, which is my long-winded way of saying that I don’t think that there’s any particular reason why Kyle (especially as a 19-year-old kid) would remember the date of Connor’s birthday.

But, but…: I’m using a tree trunk/branches theory of time-travel…and I know that if you think too long on this, it breaks down. It always does. So don’t. Please. Or if you do? I don’t need to hear about it. Believe me, I know.

Pruno: Um…apparently, yes.

Finally, finally?: Malibu Sayles wants me to tell you that yes, yes it is…er, to be sure, I have no idea what he’s talking about.
 
 
 
brandywine421: exclamation pointbrandywine421 on May 20th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, Pruno...I seriously want to be in your brain. The details of this boggle my tiny noggin.

And heroes, especially not heroes of the magnitude that the stories had made of Connor and Kyle—well, they just did not look like Derek’s baby brother. I love this, to Derek, Kyle will always be his baby brother.

Connor raised his cup again and continued, “To the Reese boys. May you—may we all find a way to end this thing—a way to win this war—a way to save those who we can save—and maybe even some of those who we couldn’t.” *sniff* Love the toast.

After all, was it those of them who were adults now who had it better, for having known of life—a previous life in which they had been able to run around outside feeling the coolness of the grass beneath their bare feet as the sun went down on a clear spring day—or was it the kids who had been too young to remember much or even those who had been born after who had it better, for simply not having known firsthand what it was that they had all lost—what it was that Skynet had taken away. Wonderful.

♥ ♥
cianconnell: Reesebroscianconnell on May 22nd, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading and commenting Brandy! Oh, and for giving me the idea about the blanket.

I love the fact that the large age gap between the two boys really would make it kind of ridiculouos to Derek (who, I assume, has always been Kyle's protector) that Kyle is the stuff of legends. How annoying.
Kat: Chained Derekkatwoman76 on May 20th, 2008 09:25 pm (UTC)
*Love*
Hehe, I almost expected John to slip and call Kyle "dad" in his drunken state.
cianconnell: Reesebroscianconnell on May 22nd, 2008 03:10 pm (UTC)
Hee, I kind of liked how he flirted with the line--with the "family" comment and the "Reese boys," but ambiguously enough that he seemed like he was babbling, but not actually revealing anything. Or at least I hope that's how it came across.

How weird to have your dad be 11 years younger than you and for all intents and purposes a kid--even weirder in Century, I would think, where John took the protector role and I imagine had to put his foot down, not letting his 12-year-old father do something that might endanger him.

So, so weird.
The Proverbial Bull in a China Shop...: badasssabaceanbabe on May 21st, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)
I love this. And I have absolutely no intention of thinking about the time travel aspects because OMG OW! But that has no effect whatsoever on my love for this fic. I mean... well... Jesus fuck! this is good.

It was a nice surprise, too, to find that I was in some small way able to help you stay inspired. Hee!
cianconnell: Reesebroscianconnell on May 22nd, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
And I have absolutely no intention of thinking about the time travel aspects because OMG OW!

Good! Because they always break down at some point and it makes my head hurt.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting and making me all thinky about this world. This weird, weird awesome world.
crashcmb: OhNooocrashcmb on May 21st, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
Ah, you know how I feel about this, but I had to comment again anyway. The sorry state of affairs that make Pruno. Yes, I finally read that hysterical article describing the makings of the despicable concoction.

"The only drawback p\Pruno has, aside from its unappealing tannish-orange color, the white flecks of mold floating on the top and the smell you can't wash off, is its taste."

But, the best is of course your characterizations of those poor, poor boys. You make me really ache for the insecurities of Derek and his jealous thoughts about his brother's "worship" of Connor. And you make Connor so sympathetic in his aloneness.

And then there's Malibu Sayles and his monogrammed silver baby cup.

'Nuff said.
cianconnell: Sayles&guncianconnell on May 22nd, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
Ha! I had to come up with some rotgut, and that led me to think of what folks in prison do, since they too have kinda limited resources, but you know they're brewing up something, which...led me to Pruno and that really funny article about the boys making a batch, and then I couldn't not use it.

I totally should have mentioned the mold! Except in Future Wars time, it's probably considered a delicacy.

Hee, my love for Malibu Sayles is tremendous.
Mayhem Parva: (charming-syrai) pool SCCraincitygirl on May 21st, 2008 05:55 am (UTC)
Despite all that he had gone through in the six years at the work camp, despite the crucial role that he had played in the execution of Connor’s uprising—hell, despite the fact that he was hardly even recognizable to Derek when the two of them had finally been reunited—well, Kyle was still Derek’s baby brother in the end. And heroes, especially not heroes of the magnitude that the stories had made of Connor and Kyle—well, they just did not look like Derek’s baby brother.

Oh, dear.

he absolutely, positively could not, would not, even contemplate letting a mere baby who still needed to sleep with a goddamned blankie anywhere within detonation range of where explosives were being built, much less let him lend a hand in the making.

Oh dear, times eleventy. He's learning to make plastique as a child, but he still needs his blankie. I love the juxtaposition of terribly terribly adult actions with the reminder that he's still just a little boy.
cianconnell: Reesebroscianconnell on May 22nd, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
Since John got to have Kyle for such a huge portion of his childhood/early adulthood, I wanted to give something about Kyle to Derek that not even John would know about...hence the piece of blanket in the boot. And, it just kind of fit, what must have been kind of the ridiculousness of the situation to have his baby brother transformed into this hero because of the Century uprising.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
overnighter: Derek in Chainsovernighter on May 21st, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, man. You know how much I love this story, but what I think I like the best -- aside from how well you capture all the voices -- is how generous you are to each character, how we can sense Derek's insecurity, and Kyle's striving to live up to this "hero" reputation and John's terrible, terrible burden.

And I love the quick glimpses we get of Derek's sorrow and thin faith. Lovely.
cianconnell: Reesebroscianconnell on May 22nd, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks!

It's tough to balance being fair to each, since there just has to be a weirdness between John and Derek, what with John such a huge part of Kyle's childhood during a time that Derek must surely have blamed himself for failing to protect him.

But, obviously, it's not John's fault that he became close to/stepped into the protector role of the kid who he knows is going to grow up to become his father (so weird)!

Thanks for helping me out with this. It started out as a drabble (heh) about the laser branding--and ended up neither.

Ah well...that just leaves that particular issue for another day.

I think you just landed in Denver.

*waves in the general direction of DIA*
Signal to Noise: SCC Derek Smileun4scene on May 22nd, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC)
Oh joy!!! What a treat, I hope you don't mind saving this gem to take to the airport with me. Flying makes me anxious and having this to read will help me immensely. Promise to have feedback in the next day or so!
The Proverbial Bull in a China Shop...: Aerynsabaceanbabe on May 22nd, 2008 02:09 pm (UTC)
You'll love it. (And fly safe.)
Signal to Noise: Battlestar Kara Ponytailun4scene on May 28th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC)
Hee, I did adore it!
cianconnell: Reesebroscianconnell on May 22nd, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
Yays!

I watched and rewatched From Yesterday about eleventy-billion times while writing. Especially the Derek/Kyle scenes. I just love how normal they are with each other, whether it's poking fun, getting annoyed, whatever--they're just brothers first, even though one's a hero and the other's tougher than titanium.

Have a safe and fun trip!
Signal to Noise: SCC Kyleun4scene on May 28th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC)
I had to be listening to Coldplay's Fix Me as I am writing this. :)

prepared to go back topside at zero-dark-thirty

I adored that you have the texture of even giving your story adjusted post-apocalyptic time keeping. Such a nice touch. And there was so much in the way of emotional undercurrents between all these characters. Beautiful.

The brothers theme is so rich, which we've talked about before, but you really do give the Reese Boys such clear voices in your writing it's just amazing! They are really normal and familiar with each other in a way that they couldn't be with anyone else... which was a major part of what I wanted to touch on with From Yesterday. Yay for being on the same wave length!

Edited at 2008-05-28 04:02 am (UTC)
cianconnell: Reesebroscianconnell on May 29th, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
You read!

Yep, love me the brothers thing. I mean, I adore Kyle the hero from the first movie and how tortured and alone he was in Cameron's imaginings, but I kind of adore Friedman's version, too, in an entirely different way.

I love that Kyle wasn't alone and that he could joke around and be picked on and just be normal when hanging around with Derek and the boys. And I love, now that we see tortured, serious, soldier in the present-Derek--that ditto.

The future is a scary, scary place after JD, but it seems that mankind has kind of retained it's humanity through it all. It's nice to see that a sense of hope, humor and even sarcasm has survived along with the understandable doubt and fear.

Thank you, Friedman!

And thanks for reading.
indie: SCC ReeseBoysindiefic on May 30th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
Connor, who’d apparently fallen ass over teakettle from the sobriety transport, left stranded and without a good goddamned clue as to where the hell that transport had gone, which was odd.

That is a beautiful, beautiful description. Seriously. I love the flow of the words. And the sentiment is just hysterical. I loved Connor yelling at Perry, Perry's reaction and Connor calling them "boys". Hee!

And Jesus fuck that story got retold, but a lot.

*snort* I love the glimpse inside Derek's head.

Those words made the very hairs on the back of Derek’s neck bristle, as they had become a surefire harbinger that Kyle was about launch into a lengthy spiel that would serve to inform Derek about just how it was exactly that whatever he was doing, he was doing wrong, or how Connor had found a much better or more efficient way of accomplishing whatever the hell task it was that Derek was either contemplating starting—or better yet, smack in the middle of—performing.

Ha! I love the bitterness. (Especially because in my little world, it was Derek who taught John everything, who then taught Kyle, who is now irritating Derek. It's the ciiiiircle of life ...)

The one who wasn’t a goddamned hero for fuck’s sake.

Oh damn, I LOVE that. He's jealous of his little brother. *smooshes Derek*

Derek’s desperate idea to head towards the uncertain shelter and safety of the tunnels that he had remembered were spread out in an intricate web beneath the far-off city that no longer was.

Oh my god, I feel like a total dolt for not putting that together before this very moment. Gah.

In those days, Derek had been the only Reese that Kyle, at least, thought of as a hero.

Is it wrong that I'm thinking that Derek is the wind beneath Kyle's wings ;)

That is hilarious that Kyle had to choose between his blankie and blowing shit up. Boys ;P Also, I can only imagine how much that must have freaked out Derek's hygiene sensibilities.

A spank snap of Sarah Connor might have been his little brother’s lucky charm, but apparently the bibinkus had remained the acting head of Kyle’s security detail.

the spank snap ...

the bibinkus ...

I LOVE YOU!!!

The few times Derek had been around the man, he had found John Connor to be one aloof fucking bastard and just about as serious—and as much fun—as a plasma burn.

Lovely wording.

“My brother—he’s not 21,” Derek reminded Connor, more in an attempt to save Kyle from having to ingest the rotgut than from any real sense of duty to keep his brother sober.

Hell of a grenade to throw yourself on Derek ;P

At the last second, though, he paused with the cup poised and still, held just inches from his lips, while he tossed up a quick, silent prayer for poor, most assuredly dead JSS’s soul, whomever the little fuck had been, before bracing himself and then slugging down the foul liquor in a single swallow.

Oh, Jesus fuck!


*dies*

Connor grabbed the jug and refilled all of their cups before Derek could voice his protest. He then raised his own cup, pointed it at each brother in turn and solemnly said, “To family.”

*sniffle*

Lovely story. I love the insight into Derek's relationship with his baby brother. Kyle's hero worship for Connor and sort of protectiveness toward him is very touching. I like how it's sort of acknowledged between the Reese brothers that John is somehow more fragile than either of them, maybe because he has an impossibly larger burden to bear than either of them (not that either of them could even begin to comprehend that ...). I love how Derek is simultaneously irritated by/jealous of/baffled by/in awe of John Connor. I love John's fragility and his guilt and his obvious care for both the Reese boys.

Lovely story. thanks so much for posting. Sorry it took me so long to read and feedback.
cianconnell: Reesebroscianconnell on June 2nd, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
Wow! Thank you so much for the detailed and more-than-generous feedback.

And you know, as much as I like to think on this world (especially the future aspect of it all), this?

Especially because in my little world, it was Derek who taught John everything, who then taught Kyle, who is now irritating Derek. It's the ciiiiircle of life

Is something that I hadn't even thought of. You're entirely right. Who better to teach John than a guy, who has just spent 16 years in that future world, surviving, successfully (well, until the end--gah that must have been devastating to have finally "earned" a branding) evading capture and fighting back?

Then to have John teach them all what he just learned from Derek, if/once they can't avoid JD in the next loop around.

Time travel, seriously fucks with my mind, but in a good way (most of the time).

I think Friedman and company perfectly captured the unavoidable weirdness between John, Kyle and Derek (as well as Derek and Kyle's obvious closeness--semi-normal brother relationship) in just those few minutes we got in Dungeons & Dragons.

Again thanks for reading and leaving feedback! This day is entirely made out of win for me now.
teachertamteachertam on June 25th, 2008 06:16 am (UTC)
I have GOT to learn how to italicize.

Because I just love this entire paragraph. So I'm just going to quote it here.

"Derek watched with a combination of curiosity and bemusement as Perry pinched the bridge of his nose with a thumb and pointer finger and squeezed his eyes shut for a brief moment, as if he were in a sudden, physical pain; then his face registered an expression not entirely unlike as if he had just swallowed a particularly bitter bunch of maggots, before he released his breath in a long hiss of air, nodded and stepped out of the way."

Jeez, you are good at the descriptive text. Way to go.

Kyle's blankie. *sniffs* My brother had a green quilt that fit his crib, but was little more than a foot-warmer, once he grew up. But that quilt? Was on my brother's bed until high school. And still? He has it. It's folded up nicely, in a box in his closet. And when I question where it is? :) My brother sounds all protective and says, "It's in my closet. And it's not going anywhere." So cute.

The time travel issues *are confusing, but I'm used to just ignoring them. "The Terminator," with all of its time travel issues, has been such a part of me for so long that I'm used to suspending my disbelief.

The part that kept getting me, both when I read the story and during the seires? Is that the time travel aspect was *not* well known to the characters. It's hard for me to remember that not everyone knows about it. That it's *not* just a fact of life, for most of the characters.

Which made the entire converstion between John and the Reese boys much more poignant.

"To the Reese boys." I was so sad for John. He was celebrating with family, but he couldn't tell them that they were family. He's so alone. So sad.

You are sucha good study of character. I love your charater study/background pieces.

Nice.

:)

Thank you.

p.s. Pruno? So funny! Thank you for including that link. :)
cianconnellcianconnell on June 25th, 2008 01:29 pm (UTC)
Aw thanks, Tam!

The part that kept getting me, both when I read the story and during the seires? Is that the time travel aspect was *not* well known to the characters. It's hard for me to remember that not everyone knows about it. That it's *not* just a fact of life, for most of the characters.

Yep, only John knows that it's going to someday be possible and he'll be sending all of these guys back (well, John and possibly an older version of
Derek if they somehow managed to screw it up yet again and that Derek lived through JD (and now I'm making my head hurt again, so I'll stop)).

I wanted something to give to Derek that only he'd know about, since John got to have Kyle for the eight years they were in Century brandywine421 gave me the blankie idea.

Oh, to do italics, just do < i > at the beginning of the text you want in italics and </ i > at the end (but with no spaces).