beatrice_otter: Cartoon Obi-Wan and Yoda: The thing is, there were just no warning signs. (Warning Signs)
[personal profile] beatrice_otter
Title: the end of the world as we know it
Author: [personal profile] beatrice_otter
Fandom: Terminator
Rating: PG
Pairing: John Connor/Kate Brewster
Warnings: none
Spoilers: Terminator 3
Word Count: 1851
Written For: [profile] seldear in [community profile] yuletide
[profile] Prompt: Their first night in the bunker, having to learn about each other. Does not have to involve sex, but should involve some form of comfort.

“What the hell do we do?  Connor!  You still there?  My controls aren’t responding, I’ve got …” a burst of static cut through the transmission “…reports of …” “…missiles firing!  My God, I can’t abort …”

John Connor stood there, transfixed, listening to the chaos of the world ending.  Kate shivered; it was cold in this monument to Cold War arrogance.  They’d failed; what did they do now?  She looked at him.  He was the expert; he was the one who’d been training for this since God only knew when.  Why wasn’t he doing something?  “Connor!  John!”

He stared at the old microphone, breathing heavily.

Kate strode over to him and shook him.  “Snap out of it, John.  You can panic later.”  He looked at her, eyes lost like a small child.  She didn’t let herself soften.  “But right now, you’re the only one who’s got half a clue what to do after the world ends.  So start acting like it!  Tell them what they need to do!”

John nodded and turned back to the mike.  “A project from the military’s Cyber Research Systems has become self-aware and decided humans are a threat to its existence.  They’re trying to wipe us out.  All computer systems have been infected, there’s no way to stop them.”  His voice grew in confidence as he spoke.  This was a man she could picture leading the resistance, so dangerous Skynet would send assassins back through time to stop.  “You have to shut down and physically destroy any and all computer systems you can reach, take what weapons and supplies you can, and get the hell out away from major targets—that includes any and all population centers.  And they’re using nukes, so you need to get as far away as you can, to reduce fallout exposure.  Spread the word!  If the human race is going to survive, we need to get moving.”

“You’re joking, right?  This is all a joke …”

Connor interrupted him.  “This is real.  Skynet is taking over.  The bombs are falling.  You wanna survive, you do what I tell you.  Mexico’s less of a target; you should be safer from fallout there than in the US.  Probably the same with Canada.  Slag the computers, grab weapons and food, and get out of there!”

Kate watched him, sagging with relief.  It was comforting to have someone who knew what they were doing, even though she knew John wasn’t much better prepared for this, mentally, than she was.  He might have the skills—though to be honest, for all his talk about spending his whole life preparing for this, she hadn’t seen much so far—but it was obvious the reality of needing to use them had thrown him for a loop, at least to start.  She watched him for a few more minutes, then nudged him.  “What should I do?”

John frowned.  “There may be another radio, you could—no, what am I thinking.  You need to search this place.  Weapons, ammunition, transportation, food, medicine, clothing, in that order.  And maps.  We can’t stay here long, Skynet’s gonna figure out we’re here just from our radio chatter.  Right now it’s too busy taking over to bother with us, and with the Terminatrix gone it doesn’t know just how big a target we are, but I don’t want to push our luck.”

“Right.”  Kate squeezed his shoulder as he turned back to the mike and headed off to search.

***

Four hours later, John found her loading crates into the back of an old truck she’d found.  “I think I’ve got the stuff we’ll need; I was just getting it packed up,” she said, turning to face him.  “You may want to double-check it.”

“We can’t go tonight,” John said, hugging himself.  “I checked the radiation levels outside—it’s over 400 REM and rising.  That’d be lethal, over the time it would take us to get through to Mexico.”

“What do we do?” Kate asked.  “Will it be better tomorrow?”

John stared at her.  “Recovery from fallout takes years, Kate, depending on local weather conditions.  And it’s still spreading from the initial wave of bombs.  No.  What we need to do is see if this place has any radiation gear.  Gas masks, at the very least, to keep us from breathing that shit.  Layers of clothing to keep it off our skin.  Maybe we can find some lead to line the truck with, protect the supplies.  Too much to do tonight, we’re both dead tired.  We’ll have to trust Skynet’s too busy taking over to come after us for now, sleep here, hopefully get out of here tomorrow …”  He trailed off, staring at the truck, swaying on his feet.

“John, when was the last time you ate?”  Kate wasn’t hungry herself, but then she’d eaten some of the canned food she’d packed into the truck.

He gave her a wry smile.  “I don’t even remember.  Too long, though.  What’ve we got?”

Kate shrugged.  “Canned soup, canned meat, canned vegetables, canned fruit—canned everything.  Some of it’s past its due date, but they’ve kept this place stocked even if they haven’t updated the décor in a while.”  Rather than raid the supplies she’d already packed, she led the way toward the kitchens.  No reason not to warm it up if they had the time.

“That’s good,” John said.  “If we can keep it from getting contaminated, we’ll have a reserve for a while.”

They walked silently to the kitchens, side by side.  The kitchen was large, white, and industrial, with huge freezers and whole rooms full of dry goods opening off of it.  Kate settled into a chair by a counter with a sigh; at this point, she had no idea how long she’d been up, but it’d been a long time.  Had she gotten any sleep since yesterday, when she’d gotten the call about a sick cat?  Sleep was a bad thing to think about, she realized as she yawned.  Although, if they weren’t leaving tonight, they probably should get some sleep.  She watched John fumble around the kitchen, looking for can openers and things.  “I can fix you something, if you need to get back to the radio,” she said, crossing her arms for a pillow on the counter beside her.  She’d been running on adrenaline for hours, and it was fast deserting her, but she could manage longer if she had to.

John shook his head.  “Nah.  That’s all over—nothing more to be done.  The military and national guard guys are dead by now if they stayed by their radios.  Either direct from the bombs, or fatal doses of radiation from being near bombs, or sticking with technology Skynet can use to find them.”  He yanked open the door to the freezer and stuck his head in.  “Might as well thaw something for breakfast, if we’re going to be here in the morning.  As for the ham radio guys—anyone within reach of our radio here is dead, too, unless they’re in a fallout shelter.  Would you know how to get to a fallout shelter, if you had to?  Would you know what kind of buildings might provide enough shelter to work?  They don’t exactly teach that in school, these days.”

Kate closed her eyes, wincing, trying to hold back tears.  The world really was ending.  She couldn’t imagine the number of people who were dying out there, while she sat safely in this bunker.

“And I’m not going to risk catching Skynet’s attention by trying to use modern communications systems like satellites or anything,” John continued, tossing packages of food out into the main kitchen.  “—it’s bound to have them fully under control by now.”  He emerged from the freezer and turned to the stove, where the chili he’d tossed in a pan was heating.  He grabbed a bite, nodded, and went rummaging through the cupboards.  “Old-fashioned radio it may miss, at least initially while it’s taking over and figuring out how things go.  That won’t last long, though, so if we’re gonna be here another day or so I don’t want to risk broadcasting anything more where Skynet may hear it and figure out where we are.”  He pulled down a bowl and cup, dumped the chili in the bowl.  “They must have some handheld radiation detectors somewhere in this bunker,” he said, filling his glass with tap water.  “Hope they don’t have any fancy computer chips—that’s one thing I hope they didn’t restock this place with.”  He dug into his meal with gusto.  “If we can find them, that’ll be a big help,” he said around a mouthful of food.  “Hey, you want some of this?”

Kate shook her head, looked away from him.  The world had just ended, and he was talking about food.  Like it didn’t matter.  Like he could just write off all those millions of people—including Scott and Dad and almost certainly her mother and all of her friends and coworkers and everyone she’d ever known but John—and sit here comfortably in a bunker.  She knew she was being irrational, that there was nothing they could do for anyone else at this point, but … how could he be hungry?

“Hey, you okay there?”

Kate pulled her attention back to John, and blinked at finding him kneeling right in front of her.  “I’m fine,” she said unconvincingly, sitting up.  “But the world isn’t doing so hot right now.”

John nodded, soberly.  “I know.  It’s ending.”  Hesitantly, he reached out and put a hand on her arm.  “But we’re still alive.  We’re still fighting.  And we’re going to stay that way.”  He held her eyes until she nodded.  “Right now, we need to sleep.  In the morning, we’ll figure out what we can do about the radiation and getting out of here.  You find any bedrooms in your search?”

Kate nodded, giving him a wan smile.  “Yeah, let me show you.”

***

“Wow,” John said, mouth hanging.  “Guess they really did think the President was gonna use this place.”  He stared around the palatial suite.  “That bed is definitely big enough for both of us,” he said, gesturing to the California King-sized four-poster taking up the far side of the room.

“Both of us?” Kate asked, swallowing.  It wasn’t that she was a prude, and she knew they’d have to hook up eventually.  But … Scott hadn’t even been dead a whole day, yet.

“Don’t worry, I’m not gonna try anything.”  John turned to her, looking at the floor.  “I just … really don’t want to be alone, right now.”  His voice wavered.  “Tonight, of all nights.  You know?”

Slowly, Kate nodded.  “Yeah.  I know.”  It was the first hint of vulnerability he’d shown since taking over the com systems.  Somehow, it gave her permission to show her own weakness.  She didn’t try to stop the tears, this time, saw them answered in his eyes.  She reached out and took his hand, drew him closer to her.  He wrapped his arms around her, and they clung to one another, crying.  There would be time enough for strength in the morning.  Tonight, they mourned.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-11-03 04:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rodlox.livejournal.com
*loves this*
a superbly realistic look at What Comes Next.

I like how the final paragraph both wraps it up & leaves open the potential promise of the story continuing.

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