lines in the sand | anklebones

The moon was full on the night that Benjamin saw the end of the world.

It hung low in the sky over the ruins of Kaliba headquarters, bright and clear in spite of the lights of the city, bearing witness as late became early, and one day became another.

Benjamin caught a yawn with the back of his arm as he swept his flashlight over another blown out hallway full of dust, rubble and scorched metal, just like every other hallway and room he had been through. Emergency services had cleared out the bodies, and Kaliba security had taken what remained of the electronics, leaving nothing behind but an empty shell.

An empty shell that was supposed to stay empty.

He didn't know why the higher-ups wanted to waste money, time, and manpower guarding a ruined hulk, and he wasn't asking. Questions weren't the way to move up in Kaliba. You kept your mouth shut and did as you were told, and if you kept it shut enough, and did well enough, you got promoted.

Most of the time, Benjamin wanted to be promoted. His girlfriend had started to linger in front of jewellery stores and make pointed comments about his apartment. His mother's health was failing, and she needed care she couldn't afford. Like everyone else, he had a host of problems that a little more money would make into smaller problems, but sometimes Benjamin wasn't so sure he wanted Kaliba's money.

There had been rumors... people had disappeared, and some of the things Benjamin had done had cost him some sleep at night. Not so much the assignments themselves, but the questions he wasn't asking about them were beginning to pile up in the back of his head and mutter uneasily.

And ever since the explosion...

Benjamin ducked to get through a half-collapsed doorway and nearly fell when he stepped down on a loose chunk of rubble and twisted his ankle.

"Shit," he spat, going down on one knee so he could check the damage. It was sore, but serviceable. He re-laced his boot and reached for his flashlight, nearly missing the first sign since he'd gotten assigned to this graveyard gig that he wasn't alone.

A footprint, too big to be his own, pressed into the dust and ash that coated the floor of the hallway.

It might have been nothing. Benjamin wasn’t the only guy they had on this, and some of them had to be bigger than he was, but... Kaliba supplied all their gear, including the army grade boots he was wearing. Uniform boots left uniform prints, and Benjamin had seen enough of his own criss-crossing the ruins night after night to know that this one was different.

Rising carefully, Benjamin put some weight on his ankle and grimaced, but found he could walk. The only thing Kaliba hated worse than questions was false alarms, but protocol required that he call in both the print and the injury and wait for someone to relieve him to finish the patrol. The question of whether or not Benjamin wanted to move up in the company would be moot if he brought a unit down here in the middle of the night for nothing but a twisted ankle and a footprint, especially if it turned out to be nothing more than some homeless man wandering somewhere he shouldn't.  

Benjamin didn't want to know what might happen to a hapless vagrant caught on Kaliba property. Company policy seemed to lean towards the “shoot first" approach, and if he was the one who called it in... He'd never considered himself to be a man with an overactive conscience, but everyone had to draw a line somewhere.

I'll just find him and send him on his way, Benjamin told himself. No one would ever have to know.

Obscuring the print with the toe of his boot, Benjamin continued down the hall, considerably more alert than he had been before. He found a few more prints, enough to know he was on the right trail, and he made sure to kick some fresh ash on top of all of them. A good tracker would still know someone had walked here, but hopefully not that it had been anyone other than the regularly scheduled patrols.

A sound up ahead, like cement against metal, told Benjamin he was getting closer. He slowed down, hanging his flashlight on his belt as he took out his gun and crept around the last corner.

"Freeze!" he demanded, training his weapon on the shape of the man he could just make out against the darker black of the walls.

The figure stopped and turned stiffly, almost unnaturally, as if he was a badly strung puppet. For some reason it sent a chill down Benjamin's spine, and he began to wish he had called for backup after all.

"Put your hands where I can see them!" He took an involuntary step backwards when the man began to advance on him instead. "I'll shoot!" he warned, feeling the chill become a tremble deep down in his bones. Benjamin realized this man didn’t look like a vagrant as he came closer. He was big, and clean cut even though his clothes didn't fit him well, and he wasn't stopping.

Almost involuntarily, Benjamin felt his finger squeeze the trigger, the recoil slamming into his hands like a shock that went all the way up to his shoulders.

He saw the bullet land, saw the well of blood, black in the darkness against the white of the man's sleeve. He saw him glance down negligently, as if a fly had landed on him instead of a bullet punching through his arm. He saw him keep coming.

Benjamin stumbled backwards, pulling the trigger again and again when his shots went wide. He tripped and fell, but the man caught and lifted him with a grip like iron around his neck.

Dark eyes glowed.

"Do you know Danny Dyson?"

His toes dangling, Benjamin just managed to shake his head, almost choking on a sudden lungful of air when he was dropped to the ground.

He curled up around his aching lungs, waiting for the next blow, but it never came. When he finally opened his eyes and looked around, he was alone.

act 1

With the coming dawn nothing but a stubborn hope on the horizon, darkness still cloaked the machine's vigil. He had been watching the house for two hours and twenty-seven minutes from the front seat of the blue station wagon. Fifty yards down the street, he had carefully calculated the distance to conceal his presence from the home's occupants while still affording him an adequate view of their front door.

He didn't consider the back door. As far as the machine was concerned, back doors did not exist.

This house was only one of many possible addresses he had been given for his mission, and so far there was no sign of his target. His stakeout at the graveyard and subsequent search through the ruins of Kaliba's headquarters had been just as useless. The machine raised a hand to the healing hole in his arm. Danny Dyson was proving more difficult to track down than he had anticipated.

As the stars faded and the first alarm clocks began to sound behind curtained windows, he decided to withdraw. His presence here would not pass unremarked during the day. That had been made clear to him. He must be careful. Caution was not a natural strategy for a terminator, but he was learning.

His hand was on the ignition when movement drew the machine's attention. The door he was watching opened and a familiar woman slipped out, closing and locking it soundlessly behind her before getting into her car and pulling out onto the road.

The machine waited until she was nearly out of sight, then turned the key and followed Terissa Dyson down the street.


The first rays of sunlight tipped the ruff of the German Sheppard with gold as she watched the two cars disappear around a corner. Shaking off the chill of her long wait, she got to her feet and trotted purposefully down the street. A deep sniff confirmed her suspicions. This was the same machine that had been pursuing Danny Dyson in the cemetery.

A dog's shape did not give her a dog's senses exactly, but she could analyze the components of the air in a way that was something like a sense of smell, and the machine had been sitting here long enough to have left a faint trace behind. A machine could not look like a human without also smelling like one, and this one had also been in the graveyard where John Connor had been shot.

He was getting closer to his target, leaving Danny's future, including his ability to assist her, in doubt. Weaver briefly considered hunting the machine down, as she had those around her daughter's base in the future, but its presence here was unexpected, and Weaver wanted to know more. Someone wanted Danny dead, but who? And why?

Wrinkling her nose, Weaver looked back to the house, so close to the one where her daughter slept, and considered the possibilities. Perhaps this machine was something she could use... Either way, she would make sure he did not threaten her plans. Danny was useful, but ultimately expendable, others were... less so.


John had a complicated relationship with computers.

In spite of their unfortunate habit of trying to kill him, he found them fascinating. His entire life was based on the inevitable rebellion of technology, and yet he felt strangely at home in front of a screen. As a child he’d read code the way most kids read picture books, finding comfort in the simplicity of ones and zeros.

But not lately.

Lately computers were letting John Connor down, in more ways than one.

He’d been careful not to be in the hangar when Cameron came to work on the security system, and she’d been just as careful to let him know when she was coming. His pride was still stinging, and he wasn’t quite ready to deal with the terminator yet.

Not that it was all sunshine and rainbows when she wasn’t there either. Danny was proving a sullen and uncommunicative roommate. The only time he seemed to snap out of it was when they were working together. In the midst of a project Danny was a different person. Brilliant, creative, and determined, he was John’s superior as a programmer, but he got frustrated easily with John’s strict demands for security in their online investigations. Danny had no head for subtlety or circumspection, and John was sure that if he had been alone, he would have been caught long ago.

John might have been tempted to let him get his fingers burned if it weren’t for Terissa.

She had dropped Danny off at the hangar a few days ago, but didn’t stay longer than it took to make sure John was there and Danny was as safe as security systems and firearms hidden in umbrella stands could make him. John would have offered her a cup of coffee, but she’d waved him off, giving Danny a last hug before he shuffled off to bed.

She’d watched him go, her expression a mixture of guilt, fear and doubt, one that John suspected his own mother had worn often enough. It had wrenched something deep in his chest, but there was nothing he could say to make it better, and in the end he had let her go without saying anything at all.

Terissa didn’t deserve to go through what his mother had been through, so John did his best to keep Danny safe, even if his own doubts about the programmer were keeping him awake at night.

Sleep was a traitor that more often than not, leaving him awake with thoughts he'd rather have put aside for a few hours. Tonight was no better, and John had made a pot of coffee and gone to the lab, hoping to lose himself in his work for a few hours. But he found his eyes straying to Danny’s workstation instead, and the doubts that had been making sleep impossible returned to whisper their suspicions in his ear.

Why Danny?

He couldn’t shake a conversation from his mind, one of the first he and his mother had had with Cameron about the machines after she jumped them eight years into the future.

They don't know what you look like.

 And what if they found out who he was? His mother had demanded. Would they all know what to do then?

They do.

But this one hadn’t. This one had known his name and tossed him aside as if he meant nothing.

John didn’t like the direction that logic was taking him in, but he’d gone a lot of places he didn’t like in his life. This was just one more to add to the list. Without conscious thought, he’d rolled his chair from his desk to Danny’s and booted up the computer.

Now, with dawn more of a fact than a promise, John was wishing he’d told logic to go to hell and gone back to bed.

He hadn’t actually expected to find anything on Danny’s computer. They were both hackers, both intimately acquainted with the inner workings of the machines that were their life’s work. Danny should have hidden his tracks, erased every piece of damning evidence. John would have, but then John had been raised in a state of fear that made suspicion and subterfuge second nature.

Danny, ironically, was more trusting. Or just stupid. Knowing Danny, John gave it even odds.

He had gotten through Danny’s basic password security with ease, but what he’d found there was making him sick to his stomach.

They had both been working with the chip, slowly decoding its secrets, struggling with the damage it still carried from the explosion it had sustained while Cameron was using it, and later, from the shock of the time machine in the future. John had thought they'd hit a roadblock: a place where the data just scrambled, tangling around itself, almost as if there were two copies of the same software fighting to occupy the same space.

It hadn't made any sense, and Danny had claimed to be just as confused as John.

He'd been lying.

Danny had been working behind John's back, untangling the code, rewriting what he couldn't save, and slowly separating the two lines so that one could function while the other ran in the background. It wasn't quite finished, but John could read enough of the dominant code to recognize it.

He'd spent weeks writing a virus specifically designed to capture it.

It hadn’t been John Henry who had killed Sierra.

It had been C.A.I.N.

Working quickly, John erased all traces of his search and shut down the computer. He was reaching for his phone while the CPU was still hot, but something stayed his hand.

What would his mother do with this information? What would Cameron do? John remembered the pain in Terissa’s eyes when she had left Danny with him. Pain, but also trust. She trusted her son with him, and John was about to betray her.

He betrayed you first! a cold little voice inside his head insisted. Eliminate him now before someone else dies!

Cameron would already be loading her gun, or at least, the Cameron John had known would have. Sentimentality had never been part of her programming. Now... she was different, but John had seen how fiercely she would fight to protect his mother and Savannah, and she had never trusted Danny. This was all the excuse she would need. And his mother...

John hadn't seen her since that last awkward and painful conversation. He'd said he still loved her, and he did, but he needed time to figure out what that meant.

Sarah Connor was not a cold-blooded murderer, whatever the police files said. John had only known her to shoot to kill once, and that had been to save his life. If Danny came at her with a rifle, John didn’t doubt she would do what she had to do, but would she condone his execution?

John wouldn’t have thought so, but then he also wouldn’t have expected her to fall in love with a machine. He couldn’t take anything for granted anymore.

Hypocrite! He scorned himself, clinging to the decision he had reached in a rain-soaked park. His mother’s choices were her own, and John had promised himself he wouldn’t try to destroy what little happiness she had managed to find. That didn’t make it easier to accept, or spare him the knowledge that his instincts about what his mother would or would not do were no longer trustworthy.

Who to trust...? It was a thorny question. John was uncomfortably aware of the secrets he himself had chosen to carry, and their consequences. What right did he have to judge Danny without even asking him?

Before she had sent him back to the past, Sierra had refused to tell John who his enemies were. She had argued that pre-knowledge was more likely to cause betrayals than prevent them. With her warnings in his head, and on the very walls around him, John couldn’t make himself pick up the phone.

Once this was out, there would be no taking it back. Before he turned Danny over to the uncertain judgment of others, John had to know for sure.

A chirp from the security system announced a visitor, and John pulled up the security cameras, both relieved and a little sick to see Terissa’s car on the road to the hangar.

Leaving his phone on the desk, he headed to the door to meet her.


Sarah was beautiful in the morning sunlight.

Their blankets had ended up on the floor some time during the night, and Cameron hadn't bothered to retrieve them, enjoying the sight of Sarah sprawled unselfconsciously naked beside her. As the dawn began darting curiously in through the blinds, Cameron tracked the patterns it drew on Sarah's skin and stored them securely in her memory files. She resisted the urge to follow the light with her fingers, savouring the strangely thrilling torture of denied pleasure.

Sarah needed her sleep, but that wasn’t what stayed Cameron's hands.

She had nearly lost this.

Not only the physical side of their relationship, though Cameron would have missed that too, but this... laying next to her lover, listening to her breathe and knowing that even though she was a machine, she was trusted, loved... that she belonged here. More, that this place beside Sarah existed only for her, and no one else. These stolen moments, short but cherished, were as close to perfect as any Cameron had known and she wanted them to last forever.

Sarah muttered in her sleep, her brow furrowing, as if something in her dreams was irritating her. Cameron risked smoothing the expression out with her thumb, delighting in the single chaste touch, and feeling a smile lift the corner of her mouth when the frown returned. Sarah would always be Sarah, unpredictable, illogical, and irascible.

Sarah murmured again, and Cameron noted the changes in vital signs that indicated a shift in her sleep cycle. She would be awake soon, and another morning would begin.

Mornings were still... not quite awkward... but careful. They were both being terribly careful with each other, neither willing to risk upsetting the delicate balance that had returned to their relationship. Cameron was afraid to ask for too much, and she sensed that Sarah was still fighting with herself. Wanting to forgive, but unable to completely banish the memory of the pain Cameron had caused.

Through trial and error, Cameron had learned that it was best if she gave Sarah a little space in the mornings, time to get herself together.

So she slipped out of bed before Sarah could wake and searched silently through the room for her clothes, finding them more scattered than she remembered. She needed her own dresser, she decided. Before Sierra's death, Sarah had insisted this was their room, but that was something else they weren’t talking about.

Dressed, with her handgun tucked into the back of her jeans, Cameron eased out into the hall and pulled the door closed behind her. A stop at Savannah's door assured her the child was safe. She moved on without disturbing her, padding down the stairs and out into the back yard for her morning patrol.

She hadn't bothered with shoes, and the wet grass was cold against her bare feet. Cameron walked the perimeter, checking the motion sensors she'd set out since Weaver's last appearance, and finding them all in working order. If the terminator was spying, she was doing it from afar.

Still, Cameron was uneasy. Pausing at the far end of the lawn, she felt the hairs on the back of her neck lift, and a shiver that had nothing to do with the chill of the dawn move over her skin. It was a purely human response, and therefore untrustworthy, but Cameron scanned the yard again, frustrated when her readings turning up nothing out of the ordinary.

A sprinkler switched on next door with a metallic click and scrape, and Cameron startled, her hand going to her gun. The weapon would be useless against Weaver, but the touch of the metal against her skin steadied her, as much for its reminder of Sarah as the gun itself.

Her synthetic heartbeat slowing, soothed by the rhythmic sound of water against grass, Cameron deliberately turned her back on the yard and went inside. Weaver was either there or she was not, and there wasn't anything Cameron could do about it except wait until the other machine made a move.

In contrast, she barely spared a thought for the terminator hunting Danny as she reset the alarm on the back door and switched the kitchen light on. She had no doubt that it was still out there, but its target wasn't here, and Cameron would make sure Danny stayed as far away from Sarah and Savannah as possible. She would not permit them to be caught in the crossfire.

She was not particularly happy that John was living with a target either, but Sarah was determined to let him make his own decisions, and Cameron had done her best to make the hangar as secure as possible.

Extending her senses to keep track of the heartbeats upstairs, Cameron made a pot of coffee and began setting out the breakfast dishes. The rising sun through the windows warmed her, and by the time the coffee was ready, she was nearly calm again. Pouring a cup for no other reason than that it brought thoughts of Sarah closer, she took it to the table and sat down to wait.

Worry warred with anticipation, and Cameron fought the unfamiliar urge to fidget. She wrapped her fingers around the cup in her hands, focusing on the heat coming through the ceramic and the dark, rich scent. She had heard that coffee smelled better than it tasted, but she had only ever tasted it on Sarah's lips, and considering how much she enjoyed kissing Sarah, that had probably given it an unfair advantage.

Curious, she lifted the cup and took a sip, wrinkling her nose at the unexpected bitterness.  

Sarah enjoyed this?

Determined not to admit defeat to a caffeinated beverage, Cameron got a second cup, and this time she added a little milk. It was... better, but still not what she would call enjoyable.

A third cup, and a spoonful of sugar later, Cameron had something she considered drinkable. Back at the table, she sipped it slowly, letting it roll over her tongue and down her throat. It tasted like Sarah, and more. It tasted like home and family. Like nothing Cameron had ever expected to claim, and everything she was terrified of losing.

Imagination was not Cameron's forte, but for just a moment she tried to picture what it would be like if all of this was real... if their front wasn't a front. If there was no threat of Skynet hanging over their heads, no Weaver, no Kaliba... If she and Sarah and Savannah were a normal family, with normal worries...

She could almost capture it; for a fraction of a second Cameron felt the illusion settle around her, but she had never been designed for denial, and it didn't last longer than the sugar she had stirred into her coffee, lingering only as an added sweetness to the morning's glow.


Terissa waited as long as she could before checking on Danny.

It had been harder than she wanted to admit to leave him at the hangar with John. Knowing what was after him, knowing what it would do if it found him... it was all she could do not to camp out on his doorstep. She had forced herself to drive home and go to bed, but sleep had been a miserly companion, and nightmares had plagued what little of it she had managed to get.

The following nights with no word from her son had been no better. Only knowing that they were safe, and that Cameron was visiting daily to make updates on the security system, had made it possible for Terissa to wait and give Danny the trust he needed.

But last night had been worse.

As soon as there was light on the horizon, Terissa had escaped the cage of her bedroom and found herself back in the car. There was no decision to it, no possibility of denial. Dread was heavy on her chest and she had to see her son again, see that he was alive and well, or she would go mad.

It was barely six when she pulled out of the driveway, too early to wake the boys, so Terissa didn’t go straight to the hangar. Instead she drove to a nearby grocery store and picked up a pretext in the guise of breakfast. It wouldn’t fool anyone, but they could all pretend it did, and everyone could keep their pride. It was nearly all they had.

She saw the red light of the motion detector hidden at the base of a tree blink when she turned onto the dirt road leading to the little airline hangar. She couldn’t spot the corresponding camera that would transmit her picture on ahead of her, but the visual reminder of the security John had put in place and Cameron had upgraded, eased some of her worry. This was what they did. They could keep Danny safer than she could, safer than he could keep himself. She just prayed that he wouldn’t do anything stupid. That he would trust a little. But for all her love, Terissa wasn’t blind to her son’s faults. He was so lost...

A text message made her phone chime, asking for ID confirmation. Cameron had briefed Terissa on the new security once it was installed and given her a password. It was matched to the facial recognition software in the cameras, and the wrong code would set off the alarms. Terissa keyed in her four digit password and continued on to the hangar.

John met her at the door with a tired grin, but he was tense, uneasy in a way he hadn’t been the night before and Terissa felt her own shoulders bunch in response.

“Good morning, John,” she said to fill the awkward silence. “Danny...?”

“In the shower,” he said, closing the door behind her and resetting the alarms. “How are you holding up?”

Terissa shrugged. “I’m still standing. Is that coffee hot?” she indicated the cup in his hand.

John shook his head. “I’ll put on a new pot.” He suited actions to words, and Terissa busied herself with the groceries, setting up breakfast on the little table in the kitchenette.

The coffee maker switched off just as Danny made his appearance, and Terissa had to clutch the back of a chair to keep herself from going to him immediately.

“Mom.” He looked surprised to see her, and his eyes skirted to the food on the table and back again. She hadn’t fooled him, but she saw the gratitude on his face for the effort. He was the one to cross the distance between them for an awkward hug while John stayed discreetly in the background.

“Danny,” she murmured into his shoulder, getting a firm grip on herself so that when he let her go she felt a little more like the calm, competent woman she needed to be and less like a terrified mother. “How are you?”

“Fine,” Danny shrugged. “You didn’t have to come all the way out here.”

“I was in the neighbourhood,” she joked. It was weak but it put a smile on his face and they sat down to breakfast without the resentment between them that Terissa had feared.

Tactfully, John withdrew to the lab with a plate of breakfast and a fresh mug of coffee. Terissa appreciated his thoughtfulness, but in truth she would have welcomed his company. Danny responded willingly enough to her attempts at conversation, but he didn’t offer any of his own, and Terissa was almost grateful when the light above the door announced another visitor.

“John?” she called into the lab. “Is that Cameron?” But John was staring white-faced at the security footage when she went to check on him. Terissa leaned over his shoulder and felt her stomach freeze at the familiar profile in the blue station wagon.


Sarah woke all at once from a formless, but ominous dream, John’s name in the back of her throat and a nameless fear in the pit of her stomach. She reached for her gun but there was nothing under her pillow. Startled, she began untangling herself from the sheets, only then taking in the general disarray of her bedroom.

The blankets were on the floor, and there were clothes scattered across the carpet.

The dream that had woken her began to recede, replaced by the memory of the night before, and Sarah sank back into the bed with a sheepish but satisfied smile on her face. The sheets beside her were cold to the touch, but given the amount of light coming in through the window, Cameron had simply let her sleep in.

Sarah would have enjoyed curling up with the terminator a little longer, but the first few mornings after their reunion had been strange, and since then Cameron had been careful to be gone before she woke up. It felt wrong, and Sarah wished the terminator hadn’t stopped trying, but she didn’t know how to ask her to start again. What she wanted and what she could have had never been the same thing, and for now it was enough to fall asleep in Cameron’s arms. Having reclaimed a little more of what they had almost lost, it wouldn’t do to get greedy now.

Reluctantly climbing out of the bed, Sarah found her gun on the floor underneath her jeans and put it back under her pillow. Naked, she grabbed a handful of clothes from the dresser and headed for the shower.

The warm water was welcome, but afterwards Sarah winced at the evidence Cameron had left on her skin the night before. They hadn’t been careful, that was for the daylight hours, and Sarah couldn’t regret it, but for now she exchanged her t-shirt for something with a higher neckline before heading downstairs.

The smell of coffee led her to the kitchen, where she found a breakfast spread that would have made any homemaker proud, and Cameron sitting in the middle of it with several cups of coffee, a jug of milk and a pot of sugar. Sarah paused on the threshold as Cameron looked up, face bare of makeup, hair still adorably tousled and the wary appeal of a startled deer in her eyes, as if she'd been caught at something.

The sight filled Sarah with such a simple joy that for a moment it was all she could do to take it in. "How do you like it?" she asked finally, indicating the cup in Cameron's hands.

"One milk, one sugar," Cameron answered automatically. "It's bitter."

"Lightweight," Sarah teased. "Is there any left for me?"

"I saved some." Cameron took the offending cups of coffee and dumped them in the sink before filling another for Sarah.

Sarah came into the kitchen to take it, unable to resist reaching out to brush Cameron's hair from the back of her neck and running her fingers over the unblemished skin.

“You still heal faster than I do, girlie,” she murmured, grinning at the terminator’s confused blink when she turned around. Sarah pulled her own shirt away from her neck in explanation, and felt her smile broaden to see the faintest hint of a blush on Cameron’s cheeks at the sight of the red mark over her collar bone.

“I’m sorry-“ Cameron started to say, laying her fingers over the faint red bruise, but Sarah shook her head.

“Don’t be.”

Obviously flustered and unsure, Cameron dropped her hand and looked down at her feet. Sarah tilted her chin back up, running a thumb over the soft skin of Cameron’s jaw. “It’s okay,” she murmured, intending to say more, but Cameron’s phone cut her off, trilling a warning that brought Sarah’s dream back to her in a rush.

She didn’t need to know what the message said to know who it was.





He appeared in the doorway of the lab just before the alarm sounded, and Terissa saw him pale at the look on her face.

“Get the guns,” John ordered him. “I’ll meet you at the back door.”

Danny turned and bolted and John snatched up a laptop from the desk before following.

“Stay here!” he told Terissa, but she shook her head.

“I’m going with you.”

“No,” he said shortly.

“He’s my son!” Terissa reminded him.

“He’s a target!” John nearly yelled, turning to look at her with Sarah’s eyes: fierce, confident, and utterly unmovable. “And you’re just one more body in the way.” Taking a deep breath, he made an effort to gentle his tone. “Dying for him won’t save him. We’ll lead it off so you can get away.”

“You’re a fool,” Terissa said flatly. She tried to get past him to Danny, but John blocked her way.

“The best way to help Danny right now is to keep yourself safe.”

“No one is ever safe,” Terissa threw at him, furious and frightened. She saw him wince, and he seemed to relent, turning sideways, but as soon as Terissa relaxed he caught her with his shoulder and pushed her back into the lab, slamming the door in her face and hitting the locks.

All Terissa could do was slam her fist into the door and curse. She heard the roar of an engine out back and went to the computers. John had left the security footage up, and she saw their truck spin and squeal out of the parking lot, John at the wheel and Danny in the passenger seat. They tore up the dirt road, using the shoulder to pass the station wagon.

Terissa’s heart was in her throat when John deliberately slowed, making sure the terminator got a good look at Danny before gunning the engine again. The lure worked, but Terissa felt no relief as her death sped away and the alarms went silent.

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