DISCLAIMER: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its characters are the propert of James Cameron and Fox; Criminal Minds is the property of CBS and X-files belongs to Chris Carter. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: It's a bit of a stretch, but imagine Emily pre-BAU working in the Midwest, Scully mid-X-Files years (when she started wearing the nice suits), and Sarah, well, Sarah at any old time with her usual bad-ass self. The title of the story is taken from Ani DiFranco's song "Shy," which if you haven't heard the live version from Living in Clip, then you should check it out.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Water to Sky
"You've got to be kidding me," Special Agent Emily Prentiss ground out between clenched teeth as she stormed through the double glass doors leading to the visitor's area. "She thinks she can.." Spying an unknown agent, Emily marched up and straightened to maximize the significant height difference she had on the other woman. "I'm Prentiss."
"Special Agent Dana Scully." Dana extended her hand in greeting and left it hanging between them, finally withdrawing it when the dark-haired agent made no attempt to move her hands from her hips. Dana's eyes took a decidedly chilly cast. "And yes, I think I can," she said smugly, answering the question the agent had not asked of her. "I have broad discretion to investigate any case that falls under the purview of the x-files..."
"The x-files?" Emily interrupted Dana with a snort of suppressed laughter. "That 'special project' that spooky Mulder works on? What do little green men have to do with a domestic terrorist?" Her little green men comment caused a ripple of laughter around the office.
Dana ignored the derision; after all she was used it by now. "There's been an x-file open on the Connor case ever since the massacre in the LA police station." Emily opened her mouth to interrupt again, but Dana caught her before she could. "There are National Security implications to this case, Agent." Dana stressed the last word coldly, watching with a sense of satisfaction as the dark-haired agent's mouth snapped shut. "Now I suggest we take this conversation someplace a little more private."
Emily glanced around at the intent eyes watching them from every direction and gave a little nod, ushering Dana back past the double glass doors and up the stairs to a dimly-lit observation room. The monitors ringing the room showed many visions of the same woman, from all angles. Her dark hair had fallen forward, half-obscuring a lean, angular face. Her fingers were steepled in front of her on the heavy metal table and she looked bored, like the whole arrest and detention were only a minor annoyance in her day.
She didn't look so intimidating now, but Emily's first impression of her had been quite different: Sarah Connor, in a long leather duster and a double-pump shotgun in her hands, had burst out from behind a stack of crates, and the ensuing standoff between the two women still had Emily pumped with adrenaline. Looking down the twin barrels and into a pair of steely green eyes, Emily was sure she had never been so close to death as that moment. Now, stripped of her leather and shotgun, Connor looked thin and frail, obviously worn down from her years on the run. But an inner toughness reigned; Emily had spent the last two hours trying to get something, anything, out of her regarding the bombing, the location of her son John, or why she was in St. Louis, all to no avail.
Dana was studying the prisoner intently through the glass. "Has she said anything?"
"No," Emily replied quietly, smarting from her failure to extract any information from the fugitive.
Dana nodded impassively, as if she expected exactly that answer, and then turned from the one-way mirror to face the taller agent. "Look, Prentiss..."
Relenting a little, she replied, "Emily."
"Emily, I understand. This is a big bust, a career-making bust, for a young agent who has her sights set on Washington and a spot on the BAU." Emily's head came up to stare at Dana. "I do my homework," Dana explained with a shrug. "But there are things about this case that you don't know, several unexplained details that need to be explored." Emily crossed her arms in front of her chest, still unconvinced. "You think she's crazy, don't you?"
"Sarah Connor was diagnosed as delusional with sociopathic tendencies. I give that diagnosis more credence than the idea that she's being hunted by killer robots from the future. So in answer to your question, yes, I think she's crazy."
Dana caught the implication implicit in the young agent's words. "Crazy like people who believe in UFOs?" she asked.
Emily at least had the decency to blush, but she held her ground. "Fox Mulder was a star profiler before he threw it all away on this obsession with the supernatural."
Dana nodded; she could see how the agent might think that, so she tried a different tactic. "You spent hours in there with her. Does she fit the diagnosis?"
The corners of her mouth turned down as Emily studied the woman behind the glass. If anything, the fugitive's demeanor was the antithesis of the paranoid, delusional woman described in the file, and for two hours, Emily had tried to provoke a response that fit with the diagnosis, but she had gotten nowhere. "Her belief in her delusion is complete," she answered evasively. In truth, the woman fascinated her. Beneath the facade of boredom that Connor projected, there was a deep and relentless drive. One only had to look in those eyes or notice the tension in her shoulders to realize that this was a woman who expected a fight at any moment.
But she had kept herself under control in the face of Emily's questions; only once had she allowed that intensity to show, when Emily had asked about Miles Dyson. "I didn't kill Miles," Connor had insisted, her hand on the table clenching into a fist.
"No, you just set the bomb that killed him. Big difference," had been Emily's sarcastic reply.
"I didn't kill him," Connor told her in a flat tone. Further attempts failed as Connor had steadfastly refused to answer any more questions.
And now, Emily was no closer to understanding the woman than she had been after reading her file. Connor was mad, of that she was sure, but the madness was singular and impossible to pigeon-hole into an easy category within the DSM-IV.
Emily was pulled from her thoughts by Dana removing a heavy trench coat. "I'm going to go talk to her." Taking note of the monitors, she said. "This can't be recorded. National..."
"...Security. Got it." Emily made a 'cut' motion with her hand and waved the sound technician to the door. When the door closed behind him, she stared down the shorter agent and stated firmly, "I'm staying." The anticipated argument didn't commence; instead, Dana just nodded her head and said, 'Ok.'
Sarah looked up as the door opened, but a red-haired woman was framed in the doorway instead of the tall brunette she was expecting. "Where's Agent Prentiss?" she asked, with a sarcastic smirk. The other woman didn't answer; instead, she sat at the table across from Sarah, pulled out a set of reading glasses, and opened the file she had brought in with her.
Sarah leaned back in her chair and resisted the urge to roll her eyes. She hated the police interrogation technique of pretending to read the file in front of the suspect. "You mean to tell me you didn't read that before you came in?" she asked.
A photo slid in front of her, a grainy still from black-and-white surveillance footage of the first terminator in a police station corridor. "Where is this man now?"
Sarah raised her hands, the handcuffs rattling against the edge of the table as she fingered the picture. She stared for a second, remembering the cold metal fingers fastening on her neck, her last desperate lunge for the control unit. She shook her head mutely and shrugged her shoulders.
A second picture slid across the table, a high-resolution, color image of the terminator arm and chip in the vault at Cyberdyne. Sarah looked up to lock eyes with the agent, who said, "I think you know." The red-haired agent indicated the pictures on the table. "Where did this technology come from?"
Sarah's eyes shifted to her file, the picture from the mental hospital staring back at her. "If you read that, then you know, Agent..." She craned her head to read the badge clipped to the woman's jacket, "Scully."
"What does it do? Why did you recruit Miles Dyson to help you destroy it? And why would he help destroy his life's work and die in the process?"
Sarah's back straightened in the chair and she leaned back, her eyes searching out the cameras stationed in each corner of the room. "They are turned off," Dana assured her.
"It doesn't matter anyway. I've told the story a thousand times. It hasn't changed."
"You and Dyson attempted to destroy the remnants of that technology and all his research."
"We did destroy it."
"No," Dana contradicted her firmly, "you didn't. That technology wasn't destroyed, not all of it. Some of it has been traced to a group of shadowy defense contractors working on black-ops projects. I need to know what is it, what it does, what they think they can learn from it..."
There was a flash and then the lights above their heads blew out. Emergency floodlights blinked on, bathing both women in an eerie glow. "A power surge..." the agent began uncertainly.
"It's never a good sign when I'm in custody and the lights go out," Sarah stated dryly. It was too reminiscent of her first time in a police station. Their eyes met again across the table and Scully gave an almost imperceptible nod before Emily burst through the door.
"Stay here, watch her," Scully commanded the younger agent as she left the room, disappearing down the hall before Emily could even respond.
"What the hell is going on here?" Emily demanded from the prisoner. Sarah didn't answer; instead she drummed her fingers on the table as if she were waiting for something.
"Quiet!" Emily commanded. A sound, like... gunfire, like full auto, sounded off in the distance, and Emily strained her ears to hear better. A soft footfall broke her concentration, but the FBI agent wasn't quick enough as the prisoner crashed into her. The tackle drove her into the wall, her gun hand pinned for crucial seconds before a clattering doubled fist struck her above the ear and everything went dark.
Emily's head ached, and when she tried to raise it, the pain intensified to a sharp spike above her ear. "Owww," she groaned, or tried to, as a hand wrapped around her mouth, muffling her sounds and very nearly choking her.
"Quiet," a harsh voice whispered near her ear. As memory returned, Emily tried to piece together how she came to be lying on the floor, her hands cuffed behind her back, but she couldn't. Nor could she remember how, exactly, her fugitive ended up laying nearly on top of her. But Emily heeded the command, because with her ear pressed to the floor, she heard, quite distinctly, a heavy tread in the hallway. A door opened, the tread paused, and then continued, moving ever closer to their position.
She could feel the body pressed against her tense, Emily's own gun gripped in a pale hand, when a crackle of static just outside the door made them both start wordlessly. Scully's voice rang out clearly from a walkie speaker: "Emergency protective transport for Sarah Connor leaving the cellblock staging area now. All units able to respond provide convoy support."
The heavy steps moved away, pounding into a run that matched the pounding in Emily's head perfectly. She shut her eyes against the pain, only to open them suddenly when the weight on her body shifted off and another set of footsteps vibrated the floor under her ear. Leveraging up, she knocked her head against the overturned table and groaned as spots appeared before her eyes. "Wait," she called out as she tried to get her feet under her to stand up, "you can't go."
Emily staggered up to come face-to-face with Sarah Connor, paused with her hand on the doorknob. "You going to stop me?" the fugitive asked, equal parts amusement and exasperation in her voice.
"You are in federal custody. I can't let you leave," Emily replied, edging around the table legs and nearly falling over her own feet. She made it to the wall and braced herself there, trying to calculate the distance between herself and the fugitive through narrowed, watering eyes.
She heard Sarah sigh. "You're not going to let me out of here without a fight, are you?"
"No." Emily's firm tone of voice was undermined when the attempt to shake her head almost made her topple over.
"Fine." A strong grip settled on her arm and Emily was pulled over to the door. Sarah eased open the door a crack and glanced both ways down the hallway. Seeing the way clear, she turned to the agent who was propped up against the wall. "Which way is the back way out?"
"What are you doing?" The pounding in her head receded to a manageable throb, and Emily tried to shake off the hand clamped around her arm, but the grip was like iron.
"I'm leaving, and I'm taking you with me." Emily's protest was cut short by the muzzle of a gun against her ribs. "The back way. Now." Connor didn't look particularly happy to be threatening Emily, but her eyes held a desperation that hadn't been there before. Whoever had been in that hallway, about to burst through the door, had scared the fugitive.
"That way," Emily said, indicating a direction down the dark hallway. She knew her best bet was to play along until she had a chance to turn the tables or talk the woman into turning herself in. And, despite the gun pressed against her back as Sarah walked her down the hallway, Emily didn't feel in any immediate danger.
"I wouldn't do this," Sarah explained as she held Emily upright as they navigated the stairs, "but you leave me no choice. I can't trust you not to raise the alarm as soon as I'm out of sight."
Emily stumbled on a step as she tried to think of circumstances under which she would let a fugitive go free. The very idea was crazy to her. "Of course I would raise the alarm. You are attempting to escape federal custody..."
"Being arrested isn't what I'm worried about. But you would lead him right to me."
"Him, the one who just shot up your field office." Sarah spied something on a step. "Hold it." She pressed Emily up against the wall with the barrel of the Glock as she scooped down to snag a set of keys with an Enterprise rental car tag and Dana Scully's business card. Sarah pocketed the keys, but her thoughtful look turned into a troubled frown when she saw the dark purple bruise at the edge of Emily's hairline. The young agent was hurt, and she didn't want to be responsible for any further injury. A muted explosion rocked the ground under their feet just as Sarah was about to loosen her grip, and the reminder steeled her resolve. She told herself that it had to be done as she pulled the dark-haired woman the rest of the way down the stairs.
Emily could hear gunfire and explosions. She had no idea of what was going on, but she felt an increased urgency to escape from the fugitive. "We can protect you if that's what you are worried about," she said as she tried to slow their progress by dragging her feet. They stopped on the first floor landing, by the exit. Sarah eased the door open and glanced around the back parking lot. There, suspiciously close to the door, was a nondescript four-door Ford, the staple of rental car lots everywhere.
"Yeah, you are doing a great job of that so far," Sarah replied distractedly as she glanced around the parking lot. It didn't seem like a trap. She felt Emily twist her arm, trying to take advantage of her split attention, and Sarah tightened her grip, earning a small sound of protest from the agent.
"Adding felony assault and kidnapping to your record isn't going to help you," Emily retorted, and despite the gravity of the situation, Sarah almost smiled. The young FBI agent had guts, she had to admit.
Taking a deep breath, Sarah dragged Emily out of the safety of the stairwell, making for the Ford with quick, determined steps. Emily gave a muffled 'omph' when Sarah unceremoniously shoved her into the backseat, but Sarah ignored her in her hurry to start the car and get away.
Emily's head bobbed up in the rearview as she sat up. "Damn it. Could you be a little more..." Emily's words were cut off as Sarah swerved around an overturned police car, a few licks of flame still flickering from the undercarriage. The front of the field office looked like a war zone, she thought, as they turned out onto the street, a screaming ambulance passing them as they drove away. Sarah quickly got off the main road and they drove in silence through quiet side streets. Emily tried, for a while, to pay attention to the turns and streets names, but that soon became impossible.
Finally, as the residential streets gave way to the rusted factories and backwoods strip malls of a long-forgotten highway, Emily asked, "Where are you taking me?"
Sarah met her eyes in the rearview mirror. "I don't know. Someplace quiet, someplace I can hole up for the day."
"Daybreak isn't for hours," Emily pointed out, and Sarah gave a thoughtful nod.
"Until then, we drive."
"Great." Emily was pretty sure that the handbook on being a hostage explicitly advised against sarcasm, but she was almost beyond caring at this point. The adrenaline was wearing off and every muscle in her body ached in concert with the pounding in her head.
"I won't hurt you." Sarah was staring at her in the rearview mirror, frowning uncertainly.
"Any more than you already have, you mean? Excuse me when I don't consider you a credible source."
Sarah drove in silence for a few minutes before asking, "How's your head?"
"Painful." Emily shifted in her seat, trying to relieve the pressure on her hands, and ended up driving her knee into the driver's seat. She tried again, with no better results: either her wrists or legs ended up awkwardly kinked and uncomfortable. She muttered a curse under her breath.
"Other than the fact that I'm five-foot eight and squashed into a backseat designed by midgets and that my hands are cuffed behind my back?" Emily resisted the urge to kick the seat in front of her.
There was a pause, and then Sarah asked, "Yeah, other than that?"
"Fine, peachy, thanks," Emily growled.
They drove on for a long while, well past the last lighted house and streetlights, when Sarah suddenly swung the car off the highway and onto a bumpy dirt road. Emily gritted her teeth as she was thrown around. The car stopped and the ceiling light flashed on. Emily tried to right herself, but before she could do so, Sarah pulled her out of the backseat into a gravel lane lit by moonlight and little else. Sarah unsnapped a cuff and stepped around, Emily's own Glock trained on her.
The chill air brought some much-needed clarity to Emily's thoughts. Whatever else she might be feeling she was still being held captive by an escaped mental patient with a gun. She held out her hands out in a calming gesture. "Look, I'm sorry, I..."
"Cuff your hands in the front." The instruction was curt, and Emily obeyed without hesitation. Once her hands were secured, Sarah guided her around the car and helped her into the passenger seat, reaching across the agent to fasten the seatbelt and settle the shoulder strap. "Better?" The tone was gruff but the green eyes gazing at her were not entirely unkind.
"I... yes, thank you."
Once they were back on the main road, Emily took the opportunity to study her captor at her leisure. Nothing about the woman fit with anything she had read in the case file. She was supposed to be a ranting lunatic or an anti-technology pyromaniac, driven by an all-encompassing delusion, and Emily had studied profiling enough to know that looks were deceptive with high-functioning psychopaths. But still, something was off.
"See something interesting?" Sarah didn't turn her head.
Sarah sniffed. "You are one tough cookie, aren't you? Sitting there trying to figure me out and waiting for your chance to escape." There was a pause, and then she asked, "Well?"
"You figure me out yet?"
"I'm not a trained psychologist."
Sarah turned onto a side road, seeming to navigate by instinct. "You must have formed an opinion." When Emily didn't answer, she continued, "I must be a disappointment, no foaming at the mouth, screaming about machines from the future."
"You still believe in them."
A small self-deprecating smile curled her mouth. "Yes... I still believe. You think I'm delusional, is that it?"
Emily answered truthfully, "I don't know what to think."
This time, the silence stretched for a long time. Emily leaned her head back and stared out into the darkness, the occasional house light seeming very far away from the road. This was a dangerous game she was playing. Looking at her situation realistically, she was injured, bound, and in the hands of a woman who was by all accounts a violent criminal. She couldn't afford to feel sympathy or try to rationalize Sarah's behavior, even when her gut was at odds with her brain. Deep down, she believed Sarah didn't want to hurt her. But she couldn't let down her guard, regardless of her feelings on the matter. She was a federal agent and it was her duty to recapture the woman. Her mind rolled over these thoughts as the steady flow of headlights seemed to hypnotize her.
A hazy light woke Emily, the first rays of dawn, and it took a few minutes before her fuzzy brain caught up to inform her why she hurt all over. A low moan escaped as she pushed up in the seat and tried to stretch her back. Asleep. She had fallen asleep. While being held captive. "Fuck."
Sarah glanced over and saw Emily shaking her head despairingly. "What's wrong?"
"I fell asleep."
"You were tired."
Emily shook her head again. "That's not the point. I should have..."
Sarah seemed to read her thoughts. "Been ready to turn the tables and escape?" When Emily didn't answer, Sarah said, "Look, this will all be over soon. I just need to hole up for a few hours and then I'll let you go unharmed."
"Easy for you to say. You aren't the one..." Emily trailed off before she said something to antagonize the fugitive. She turned her head to see Sarah's eyes fixed on her, a pained expression on her face.
"No. I'm not. I'm the dangerous criminal holding you hostage." Sarah's voice was so forlorn that Emily had to clamp down on an instinctual urge to apologize. It almost seemed like the woman wanted her to trust her, like she was asking for understanding, and Emily had a brief thought about what the woman might be like without her delusions and the insanity that drove her. She wondered if her eyes would still have that dark, dangerous cast or would that intensity shift to other pursuits. She wondered, suddenly, briefly, what Sarah would look like when she smiled, and Emily shook her head hard, wincing as the residual pain drove such thoughts far from her mind.
They drove on in silence for a few minutes, until Sarah swung the car off onto a gravel side road. A faded sign whizzed by too quickly for Emily to read, but the ride got increasingly rougher.
Sarah pulled the car back behind a cabin half-hidden by trees and killed the ignition. A cold blast of early-morning air cut right through the suit coat and dress shirt Emily was wearing as Sarah stepped out of the car and stretched, her light sweater hiking up to expose an expanse of skin marred by a small scar at her waist. There was a crunch of branches as Sarah circled the small clearing, the gun at ready in her hand. Satisfied, Sarah tucked the Glock into the waistband of her jeans and lead Emily to the back door of the cabin.
"What is this place?" Emily asked, trying to take in the entirety of the one-room cabin in a quick assessment. She had barely noticed that Sarah had turned her around until she heard the snip of the handcuffs and a loosening of the pressure on her wrists. She winced as she rotated her shoulders and rubbed her sore wrists. "Thanks," she said dryly.
"Rental cabins. Closed for the season." Sarah watched as Emily marked the location of all the exits. "We're remote." Emily nodded thoughtfully as she tried to get her bearings and remember the last thing she had seen on the empty highway they had turned off. They were miles from the nearest inhabitation if her recollection was accurate.
"Come here." Sarah pulled her to a heavy wooden armchair. "Sit down." Careful fingers tilted Emily's head to the side and gently probed the bruise.
Grimacing, Emily tried to pull away. "Do you mind?"
"Are you still dizzy?"
"How many fingers am I holding up?"
"Good." At least the agent didn't appear to have a concussion. If she had been seriously hurt, Sarah was ready to change her plans. In the car, she had watched the agent closely while she had slept, a slight snore letting her know that the agent was indeed sleeping and not unconscious.
Sarah sighed then, and the look she shot Emily was not happy. In her hands she held the handcuffs. "I have to get some rest," she explained as she caught and cuffed first one wrist and then the other around a stout support on the chair. She stepped back to survey her handiwork, carefully avoiding Emily's eyes, and then she headed toward the bed.
"Connor!" When she was sure she had Sarah's attention, Emily carefully extended her middle finger and asked, "How many fingers am I holding up?"
An actual smile graced Sarah's face at Emily's show of bravado, and she gave a little laugh. "I think you'll live."
Sarah settled into the bed carefully, sliding the gun under a pillow, aware of the eyes on her and the plans the agent was no doubt making for the instant she fell asleep. Emily's thoughts, however, were occupied with regret, as Emily wanted to take back her desire to see the fugitive smile.
For a while, Emily just watched as Sarah slept, waiting for her to slide into a deeper sleep, but the fugitive twitched and tossed restlessly. From the looks of things, the fugitive's dreams were tortured, and the sharp sense of satisfaction that Emily felt in watching her suffer warred with her natural sense of empathy.
Finally, Emily began to experimentally rock the chair, testing the strength of the wood and listening for any squeaks of the legs on the floor. Carefully, she began to scoot the chair, a scant inch at a time, toward a cabinet by the door. There were two drawers there that looked like the exact kind of place that people would keep all kinds of things, like pocket knives, that might be used to open the cuffs.
Emily kept a watchful eye on the sleeping woman, whose sleep seemed less like rest and more like a battle. She had read enough of Sarah's file to know the nightmares that gripped the woman, visions of a nuclear apocalypse, killer robots, and her son murdered in front of her. She wondered, briefly, what might be the root cause of Sarah's delusions and nightmares, and why the staff at the sanitarium never managed to figure the woman out.
One last push was one too many, as the chair leg struck a rough spot on the wood and emitted a high squeak. The speed with which Sarah came out of her sleep, pulled the heavy Glock from beneath the pillow, and trained it on the FBI agent froze Emily in her place.
For a few long seconds, during which Emily forgot to breathe, the gun never waivered, and then Sarah seemed to realize what she was doing and let it drop to the tangle of blankets on the bed. Emily drew in a shaky breath as Sarah ran her hands through her hair.
"Damn it, I could have shot you."
"You don't sleep very well," Emily observed into the silence, trying to draw Sarah out. Twisted in blankets with her hair tousled and pillow-tossed, the fugitive seemed vulnerable and ordinary.
Sarah scooted back to lean against the wall behind the bed, her fingers resting on the grip of the gun. She eyed Emily suspiciously, and Emily knew she had noticed the distance the chair had traveled in the course of the hour. "No, I don't."
"This life, it can't be easy for you." Sarah didn't reply, but her face took on a thoughtful expression. "Have you ever thought what it would be like to stop running?"
"To be dead, you mean?" Sarah seemed unimpressed with Emily's attempts to talk her around.
"Those aren't your only two options. And think of your son."
Sarah's head snapped up and her eyes lasered in on Emily. "John?"
"This life can't be any easier for him," Emily reasoned.
Sarah sprang up from the bed, her exhaustion falling away as she stood ram-rod straight, her back to Emily, as she told her, "Leave John out of this."
"Like you have?" Sarah turned to glare at the agent, but Emily continued, "You've implicated him in your crimes, dragged him all over, how do you think he feels about that?"
With three quick strides, Sarah covered the distance between them, her hands gripping the armrests as she came to an abrupt stop in front of the agent. Emily shrank back, suddenly afraid of what she had unleashed. This had been what she had tried to elicit in the interview, the raw and angry Sarah, but she didn't revel in her success.
"You don't know me, you don't know John," Sarah yelled, inches from her face. And in the moment she should have felt fear, Emily looked up into those furious green eyes and felt an entirely different emotion run through her body and lodge deep in her gut. "You think you know anything about what we've been through..."
Swallowing past a sudden catch in her chest, Emily interrupted, "Yes, I do." Her voice was firm, even as her heart was pounding in her chest and her mouth was dry. "I know that he resents you because he can't have a normal life. Deep down, he's probably still angry at you for being gone all those years you were in the institution. And he's just biding his time until he can grow up and stop living this life with you."
For a second, Emily was sure she had gone too far and she braced herself for a blow. Instead, Sarah looked like she had been the one hit, her expression stricken as though she had taken a body blow. Sarah gave the chair an angry push and straightened, stalking across the room to stand silhouetted in the window. Her whole body shook. "You think I don't know how crazy it all sounds?" She gave a short bark of laughter. "Robots from the future? Time travel?" She swung to glare at the agent, and Emily was surprised to see her eyes bright with unshed tears. "At the institution, they kept telling me, 'Give up your delusion, Sarah. You have to want to be well. Then you can see John and live a happy life.'"
Sarah strode across the floor again to loom over the agent. "You think I want to live this way? You think this is a choice?" She dropped her head and gave a short, quick, shake, and when she looked up again she was calmer, in control, but Emily could see the turmoil remained, interwoven with the pain and sorrow in her eyes. In a quiet voice, with just a hint of pleading, she said, "Just because it sounds crazy doesn't mean it isn't true."
The compassion Emily had been trying to hold in check rose, and if her hands had been free, she might have gathered the broken woman in her arms to provide some measure of comfort. That nameless emotion swam up as Emily took in the tousled dark hair and the eyes bright with unshed tears, and for a second, Emily was thankful for the handcuffs.
Sarah straightened suddenly and walked to the bed, rummaging in the covers until she turned to face Emily, gun in hand. All traces of vulnerability were gone, and the dangerous cast was back. Emily's eyes flickered to the gun and she tried to mask the way her stomach was trembling.
"I'll be back in five minutes. I don't want to hurt you, but if you try anything, I won't hesitate. Understand?"
Emily nodded mutely and held herself straight in the chair until the sound of Sarah's boots left the porch; releasing the breath she was holding, she rested her head back and slumped down in the chair. "Brilliant, Emily, just brilliant," she chastised herself. "Piss off the woman with the gun, why don't you?"
After a moment to settle her nerves, Emily began another determined push to the cabinet, no longer caring what noise she made. Using two fingers, she leveraged a drawer open, her eyes searching the contents anxiously, her ears straining for the sound of boots. There, a corkscrew. She managed to get it out with her fingertips and shove the drawer closed with an elbow just as the first footsteps rumbled the porch. She hoped the sound of the door hid the noise of her chair sliding back into place.
Sarah dumped the armload of wood down by the fireplace behind Emily and Emily could hear her moving around, stacking logs and tearing newspaper. Hoping that lighting the fire would keep the fugitive occupied, Emily quietly worked on the lock. A loosening of the pressure on her wrist told her she was being successful, but the noise behind her was quieting. The low crackle told her that the kindling was catching and that she only had a few more seconds.
Sarah rounded the chair, saying, "Look, I'm sor..." but she didn't get the word out as Emily yanked her arm free and swung for Sarah's head, barreling into the other woman and driving her back as Emily came to her feet.
Emily had only planned on shoving Sarah away so she could get to the door, but the combination of her momentum and Sarah's quick reflexes entangled their bodies. Sarah clinched the taller woman and drew her back, so that they ended up sprawling unceremoniously on the bed. Emily struggled within the bear hug that Sarah held her in, twisting her shoulders in a desperate attempt to free her arms, but too no avail. Sarah's thin body held an unbelievable strength. Emily felt Sarah shift as she pulled a hand free, and the agent had a moment of panic as she imagined Sarah going for the Glock. A second later, a sharp snick of a cuff told her what had really happened, and she raised her hand to find it shackled to the wrist of the fugitive.
"Damn it." Emily's free hand connected with the mattress beside Sarah's head with a very unsatisfying thud, all the fight leaving her in a rush. Her body relaxed of its own accord, sinking into the other woman. For a long second, they just laid there, catching their breath from the sudden fight, each lost in her own thoughts. Emily's humiliation burned her cheeks and she dropped her head so she didn't have to face the woman who had bested her.
Sarah's arm, which had been squeezing them together so tightly, moved to Emily's lower back in a loose embrace, and Emily realized how intimately they were intertwined. Raising her head from where it had come to rest in the crook of Sarah's neck, she risked a peek at the fugitive. What stunned her was what she didn't see: she didn't see her captor, nor an escaped mental patient, but instead she saw a woman, tired far beyond her considerable strength, pushed far beyond her limits, but still proud, ferocious, and yes, even beautiful in her struggle. And rather than the triumph Emily expected, there was an odd expression of patience and understanding on the other woman's face.
That emotion that was not fear rushed through Emily and she finally gave it a name: desire. In that moment, she became aware of many things: the slow, soft circles Sarah was tracing in the small of her back, the smell of gun oil and sweat, and especially the way Sarah's lips parted just enough to look like an invitation.
Emily didn't know how long they laid there, frozen, before Sarah said, "I didn't want this, any of this." Her free hand came up to gently touch the bruise at Emily's hairline before gliding back through Emily's hair. "I don't like what I'm forced to do. Especially this. Especially to you."
The soft touch of Sarah's hand through her hair stole away Emily's ability to speak. She swallowed past a catch in her throat. Her head dipped instinctually yet--later Emily would acknowledge--deliberately to cover Sarah's lips with her own.
Suddenly breathless and dry mouthed, Emily rolled off of Sarah, her arm twisting in the cuff. A grunt from the other woman signaled that her sudden movements had yanked the other woman's arm sharply. With nowhere to go, Emily perched on the edge of the bed, as far away from the fugitive as she could get while still shackled to her, but there was no escape from the woman or what she had done. The pressure on her wrist slackened as Sarah scooted across the bed.
"I... I," Emily glared down at her hands when she realized that they were shaking. She flinched away from the hand Sarah tried to place on her shoulder and struggled to regain control of herself, both emotionally and physically. Sarah's eyes were on her, she could feel them boring into her head, and she realized that kidnapped and handcuffed to a fugitive was not the best of circumstances under which to get some 'me' time. Her fingers fidgeted of their own accord.
"It's ok..." Sarah began, but Emily cut her off.
"Don't, just don't." Emily faced the other woman on the bed, hating the look of compassion in those green eyes. Compassion was what had gotten her into this mess. "Don't try to rationalize what just happened. It's too early for me to start experiencing Stockholm Syndrome," she said with a bitter laugh.
Sarah cocked her head to the side and stared at the young agent, brushing back the dark hair when Emily's head dropped. "So why did you?"
"I..." Emily hesitated to say the words aloud, as if speaking them would make them more real than what was reverberating in her head. "I wanted to." It was simple, a simple statement of truth, that filled her with so much shame.
Sarah cupped Emily's chin and raised her head so their eyes met. Emily wanted to twist her head, break the contact that was burning through her skin, but she didn't, not even when she saw Sarah's eyes focus on her lips and dip her head.
If the first kiss started a fire, then the second kiss burned her to the ground. Sarah was gentle, cautious, tentative, her light touch on Emily's cheek giving Emily space to pull away. And Emily wanted to listen to the voice of reason, the voice that sounded suspiciously like her mother's voice, telling her all the ways that this was a violation of the rules and codes of conduct and maybe even several laws, and do just that. But the barely-there touch of Sarah's fingers kept her spellbound, until Emily parted her lips and deepened the kiss. She quelled the reasonable voices, figuring she would have plenty of time for self-recrimination later, and gave herself over to the primal, base emotions that seemed, in the moment, to be more honest and true than she wanted to admit.
Emily heard a thunk and then Sarah was pressing her back onto the bed, the slight weight pinning Emily's body to the lumpy mattress. Sarah's fingers caught and held their shackled hands above Emily's head as she began an almost lazy exploration of Emily's mouth with soft, careful kisses. Emily's free hand bunched in the fabric of Sarah's shirt, her fingers gripping almost painfully, before she gave in and touched the bare strip of skin above Sarah's jeans. She felt Sarah shiver under her fingers as she traced a path up her spine.
Suddenly Sarah's lips left hers, and Emily uttered a mumble of protest before opening her eyes to Sarah looking down at her, slowly shaking her head. "I... This isn't..." Emily stilled her fingers, seeing the sadness and concern in Sarah's eyes. "First I attack you, then kidnap you, and now I'm... I might as well have a gun to your head."
Emily shushed her with a quick kiss that only made Sarah look more pained rather than less. "The gun is on the floor, not to my head." She felt Sarah start to slide off and she tightened her hold. "I want this." Her fingers brushed through Sarah's hair before pulling her down for another kiss. "Please." The entreaty seemed to work, as Sarah's body sank into hers once again, only to stiffen as Sarah reached down to dig into the front pocket of her jeans. Emily saw a glimpse of the handcuff key and then the metal around her wrist fell loose.
"You can go," Sarah whispered against her skin, "I won't stop you," and Emily had an image of herself walking out of the cabin, even picking her gun off the floor by the bed and arresting the fugitive, redeeming herself for the slip. But she did none of those things, and the moment was lost when Emily felt the buttons on her shirt loosen, one by one. Her own fingers traced the contours of Sarah's body as she slid the sweater and tank up and off.
A red, jagged scar on Sarah's shoulder drew her eye and she brushed a finger over it. "How?" she asked, not remembering any mention of the scar in the file she had read.
Sarah's lips twisted into a smirk and she shook her head, catching Emily's fingers to press a kiss into her palm. "Trust me, you don't want to know."
And then there was no more talking, as Sarah eased Emily's shirt over her shoulders and leaned over to tickle her stomach with her tongue. They wrestled out of their remaining clothes quickly, exploring with fingers and mouths, until Sarah began a determined journey down Emily's body to rest between her thighs. Emily tangled her hands in Sarah's hair and held her there, letting the waves build until they crested and overtook her completely.
When Emily woke, the room was dark, lit only by the last burning embers of the fire. She didn't even need to stretch out her hand to feel the cold sheets to know that she was alone. She squeezed her eyes closed for a long second and then got up, finding her clothes neatly folded on the table beside her gun, badge, and handcuffs. She got dressed quickly and stepped out of the cabin into the cold, chill night, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the thin moonlight through the trees before deciding which way to go.
Her decision was moot when she saw a ray of light moving through the trees, a flashlight in the hands of someone moving carefully through the woods. "Sarah?" she called, but the voice that answered her was not the one she expected.
"Emily?" Leaves were kicked up as the speaker ran towards her. "Emily? Are you okay?"
"Yeah... yeah, I'm fine," she answered just as Scully came to a stop in front of her.
The shorter agent was out of breath as she tried to get the explanation out. "Connor called me, about an hour ago, told me where you were. Told me to come alone." Emily could feel the questions in the redhead's gaze. "Is she here? Is Sarah Connor still here?"
"No, she isn't. She left a while ago... left me handcuffed to a chair. I just got free."
Dana set a hand on her shoulder, patting briefly, before guiding her down the gravel drive. "Come on. My car is just down here."
Emily let herself be drawn away, sparing only a single backward glance at the cabin. The next time she saw the fugitive, it was months later, a video feed from a bank, just before Sarah Connor blew herself and her son up.
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