Five Times Sarah Connor Sold Her Body To Save The World (And One Time She Didn't)
Deslea R. Judd
Fandom: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Rating: NC17 for adult concepts and dark themes.
Spoilers: To 1x03 The Turk.
Summary: A dark exploration of Sarah's story of survival and utility, told in six vignettes.
Disclaimer: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
Feedback: deslea at deslea dot com.
More fic: http://fiction.deslea.com
Author's Note: For amilyn, who suggested it during a meta-discussion of Sarah Connor's psychosexual development.
[The Guy With The Truck]
She was seven months pregnant when she decided it was time.
She'd been in Juarez for two months now, and she was a little ashamed of her own naivete. She'd kind of thought, a pretty girl alone in the most crime-riddled part of Mexico, she'd be a magnet for some big strong man with dubious connections. Surely, someone would swoop her up into their dark world, and she would start to learn.
But it hadn't happened. She'd been mugged and propositioned, sure. But she'd also found that the majority of people in Juarez, as with most other places, were ordinary people with ordinary lives. And those who weren't, could spot a silly little gringa who wasn't from their world a mile off.
The fact that her belly had its own zipcode probably didn't help any, either.
But she had to act. She had to get in somewhere, with someone, before she had her baby. She knew it as though Kyle had whispered it in her ear.
She watched. And she decided on The Guy With The Truck.
She'd watched him for a while. He came into the diner a lot. It was the only diner in town that needed an English-speaking waitress. Because of the couriers.
His name was Enrique Salceda. He spoke English. He had a large, extended family with camps on both sides of the border crossing (and, it was rumoured, a tunnel in between). There were children, and a mix of women - permanents and transients. The ratio of women to men made her think they felt safe there. And no woman ever turned up with a bruise.
As luck would have it, he was gone longer this time, and she feared he'd been caught. But he came in late one night at last. Her boss was out of the way, thank God.
"Hola. Donde va, eh?"
The guy peered at her over his coffee. "Niña pequeña. ¿Te llama?"
"Sarah," she said. "And that's about as far as my Spanish goes."
"Sarah. I've been in Colombia."
She wondered if it was drugs this time, instead of guns. She swallowed hard and didn't ask.
"So, what's happening with you, niña pequeña?"
He asked every time, and she was ready. She broke into tears.
"My boyfriend went to prison," she wailed. "He got caught robbing a liquor store, and he tried to blame it on me. I only drove the car, honestly, but now I can't go back to the States!"
The guy clucked sympathetically. "What an asshole. There is no one who can help you, una pequeña?"
"No one." She swallowed. "I like it here, but I'm - I'm having a baby - and - there's no one to help me-" she sobbed theatrically into her hankie like the little girl he kept saying she was.
He patted her shoulder awkwardly. "Una pequeña," he said again.
He wasn't taking the bait, dammit, and she wasn't good enough to manipulate him into it. All she had up her sleeve was asking outright. He was a nice guy, as bad guys went, but it was one hell of a favour to ask.
She looked up suddenly, tears stopping like a faucet. "You could help me," she said abruptly, like it had just occurred to her. At his started look, she grabbed his arm. "Help me. Help my son."
"¿Qué?" he exclaimed, surprised into his native tongue.
"The women in your camp," she said urgently. "They have children. They could teach me what to do."
The look on his face was clear enough. It said: *Wait. What the fuck just happened?*
She loosened her grip on his arm. Stroked it idly. "I won't be big and pregnant like this forever, you know," she whispered. Years later, he told her how clumsy she was, and how it was her amateurish desperation that decided him, not her offer.
He extracted his arm. He did it gently. Frowning, he took her hand. "I'm a one-woman man, una pequeña," he said kindly, and for one shining moment she thought he was going to help her for free. "But I have a little brother. He's a nice boy. A little naive, no? He needs a nice girl like you."
She swallowed. Then nodded. "I'd sure like to meet him."
Nothing was for free.
Nothing at all.
[The Mexican Cop Who Wasn't]
Enrique's little brother's name was Alfonze.
It meant "noble and ready," supposedly, but Alfonze usually wasn't. He was the weak link in everyone's armour, and Sarah quickly realised he wound up with her because everyone thought she'd be the weak link, as well. They hoped, with a woman and child to protect, he'd dig deep, find some balls, and man the fuck up.
Sarah outgrew him quickly, but in the complex social strata of the Salceda family, she couldn't leave him behind. Not without leaving the mother and sisters she counted on to get her through John's baby years.
When John was two, an operation went bad. It was Alfonze's, of course. It wouldn't have happened on Enrique's watch. Sarah was there, on lookout duty, and one minute the cocky, clueless bastard she'd come to despise was blundering around like an idiot, the next a goddamn cop had him and Hernando against a wall.
For one fleeting moment she considered leaving him there, but he had been kind to John and he was her admission ticket to the Salceda operation. And Hernando, the baby brother, was twice the man Alfonze was, and if he died, she thought it would just about kill everyone who'd been good to her.
Grimly, she went in there and made the offer. If the men went free, she'd do anything he wanted. Anything at *all*.
It turned out he wanted quite a lot.
Alfonze, the bastard, watched the fake cop shove it up her ass like he was watching the football. Hernando stood there with his eyes closed, wincing every time she cried out in pain. Sarah gritted her teeth and bore it, told herself it could be worse.
It got worse when he pulled out and tried to make her clean him up. At that point, Hernando snatched the gun from that cheap fake holster of his and blew his brains out. The cop collapsed on top of her in a wet, bloody heap.
For long, long seconds, Sarah beat back at his chest and screamed at his glazed expression. She had blood and brains on her face and his jizz on her back and she felt like she was drowning, and Hernando wasn't getting him off her because Alfonze tried to high-five him and he'd punched him in the jaw.
Hernando helped her at last.
He cleaned her up, and he held her, and he said he was sorry he didn't kill the guy sooner. And the last thing, the very last thing she wanted was to be held, but she let him, because it seemed to help him, and because she didn't want Alfonze within a mile of her.
From that day on, she was Hernando's. Alfonze disappeared. No one told her where he'd gone and Sarah never asked.
[The Jamaican Airline Dude]
The Cuban operation was a mess from the start. The only good thing about it was the choppers.
It was Hernando's idea, and it was actually a pretty good one. Fly in medical supplies, fly out cigars. Castro was big on healthcare and the US embargo made supplies expensive. For Sarah, who struggled with the ethics of a lot of their operations, this one had the added bonus of appealing to her social conscience. But crossing the sea was a logistical nightmare. Neither of them could fly - it wasn't something normally needed in the Salceda operation - and they didn't want to involve anyone who did.
There was also the small problem that neither of them had a helicopter.
That problem, at least, was solvable. There was a Jamaican airline that had just declared bankruptcy. It seemed like there was one every week, prompting Sarah to wonder out loud just how many Jamaican airlines there actually were. Hernando laughed and John laughed too, clapping his chubby little hands in delight.
So Sarah bought a dress and Hernando bought a suit and they flew to the administrator's office in Panama, speculating on the way that the administrator was a shelf company and the airline would soon be reborn, debt free. If that was the case, they expected an easy transaction.
The helicopter would not be a problem, the airline dude said, stretching out in an office that looked extremely temporary. It was an elegant building with views of La Ciudad, but there was no fitout. Like it had been rented yesterday. Of course, in view of the desperate need to satisfy creditors, they would like a cash sale.
That wouldn't be a problem, Hernando said, and it was agreed that Sarah would deliver the cash to the office. The airline dude would authorise release of the chopper by phone. Hernando would then take delivery at Albrook airport.
Sarah wore the same dress, but this time she wore lingerie beneath, bought at La Orda on the way. Her regular, sensible underthings were tucked into her purse.
She made the agreed trade first. She didn't want to compromise the chopper. Choppers were harder to get than flying lessons.
"Release the package," the airline dude said into the phone, holding it so Sarah could listen in. She bent forward so he could see down her dress. She heard someone in the foreground and Hernando in the background and that was good enough for her. She nodded and reached across him and took the receiver out of his hand. Put it back where it belonged with a lick of her lips.
He tugged her hard against him. "My name's not really Javier," he said. "It's Jorge."
She pulled at the wraparound fastener at her waist. Let her dress fall open. "I don't care," she hissed. "Don't tell me. I don't want to know."
"What do you want?" he wondered, nudging his knee between her thighs.
"I want to fly," she whispered as she leaned back on his desk, tugging at his tie.
So he fucked her across the desk-that-wasn't-his, and then he made a call, and Sarah learned to fly.
[The Ex Green Beret Guy]
The Ex Green Beret Guy was officially the scariest guy Sarah had ever met.
He wasn't the most evil. Not by any stretch. But he came back from a top secret mission that he Just Couldn't Talk About with a bad case of Seriously Fucked Up.
She debated whether to risk having him around John, but he was nice enough to the Salceda kids, and the chance to get ahold of his training was just too good to pass up. Hernando was ready to settle down, and he knew she wasn't the settling down type, so she went with his blessing.
Hooking up with him wasn't difficult, and it wasn't even a chore. He had that old-fashioned gallantry that soldiers sometimes had. She didn't actively enjoy it, but it was easy. Hernando had been hard work towards the end. They'd outgrown each other and he hadn't wanted to face it.
Getting him to talk, though - that was tough. He'd been trained not to talk. Trained by the very best.
Methodically, ruthlessly, she beat down his defences. Mentally filed away every weak spot she found, then pressed them relentlessly, then comforted him. Made him rely on her. It was psychological warfare.
It was cruel.
She was playing with fire. Messing with the mind of a damaged and dangerous man. A man who shared a house with her son. She'd pushed him to the precipice, and it was time to move in for the kill, while she still had any kind of control at all.
She sent John to spend the night with the Salcedas. Just in case.
She rode him that night, in every way. Controlled every move. Controlled *him*. Every time he came close, she pulled back, til he was reaching for her, grasping. Begging. He *needed* her, couldn't she *see* that? Every dark secret, every lonely memory, every fear hung there in the room as she taunted him, offering him the comfort of her body then snatching it away.
It was the ugliest thing she'd ever done to another human being.
At last, she let up. Let him flip her over and get on top of her. Let him fuck her, hard, plunging into her warmth over and over. He was weeping and whispering her name and pledging his allegiance to her and he couldn't get enough of her. Couldn't get enough of her *ever.*
He was a decent man, and he was hers. Allegiance irrevocably bartered for her body, and for the desperate need to be warm.
Sarah didn't sleep that night.
[The Kuna Woman]
John was seven when she finally cut ties with the Salcedas. Hernando died in a courier run gone bad, so she and Enrique were the only believers left.
Enrique was in Colombia. There was too much heat for him in Mexico, so he crossed the Darién into the South. And Sarah had never liked the South.
She had money, so she and John roamed for a while. They lived in a cabana in Baja. Then another in Bocas. Then, after a couple of months of sand and warm salty water and healing fresh air, she began to think in earnest about her next move. And it dawned on her that there wasn't one.
There was nothing left to learn.
Sure, she didn't know *everything*. She couldn't pilot a submarine or launch a nuclear missile. But as for anything she could learn from the guerillas of the Americas? She'd seen it all, done it all. She could fly a helicopter, crack a safe, build a bomb, and almost anything in between.
There was nowhere left to go.
It occurred to her that she could go back to the States. Getting fake IDs was child's play for her now, and so was money. She and John could train, and wait quietly for the war.
But she knew in her heart she couldn't do that. There were too many machines in the States, too many computers. People had them in their own homes now. Even some Central Americans had a Macintosh or PS/2 (although mostly in the really good neighbourhoods like Balboa). It made her nervous, almost to the point of panic.
She didn't think anyone in Bocas had one, except for that kid John played with. But that was a ten-year-old Atari, good for games only, and even Sarah wasn't scared of those.
She could run her own operations now, she supposed. All the things she shrank from - the hard drugs, the people smuggling with complete disregard for safety, the robberies targeting little mom-and-pop shops - she could stay away from that now. She could rob the big corporations with good insurance, she could stay away from cocaine and heroin, she could smuggle people in air conditioned trucks. She could do it right.
Do it right? Who was she kidding? She'd been a drug mule, a gun runner, a gun-for-hire, a glorified prostitute. Do it right, my ass.
And anyway, she thought, what self-respecting thug was going to work for her? At the end of the day, she was still a woman. Any half-decent thug would take her operation over and make it his. She knew that because it's what she'd do. What anyone would do.
And that was when she realised there was still something left to learn after all.
Her name was Allegria and she was a Panamanian indian of the Wounaan tribe.
Her name wasn't really Allegria, of course, though she spoke both English and Spanish fluently. She had a Kuna name but she wouldn't say what it was. Just like she didn't wear the traditional dress. But she wore the jewellery and even if she didn't, her albino skin and her angular features and the way she chugged away on Chi Chi all conspired to give her heritage away on sight.
But hiding her heritage wasn't the point, and she would have done a serious injury to anyone who suggested it was. Not that anyone would have dared. Allegria was a white indian, a moon child, sacred defender of the eclipse, and it didn't matter that she hadn't been back to the tribe in years, that her living was made running drugs across the Darién Gap and not defending the moon from a dragon. In the Darién, the old beliefs died hard, and not only among the Kuna.
"It's about keeping a reserve," she mused, tracing circles over Sarah's back. "It's about keeping people at a distance. You want them outside. You never let them under your skin."
"You let me under your skin," Sarah retorted mildly.
"You're different. You're passing through," Allegria murmured, planting a kiss at the base of Sarah's spine. "And anyway, you can do this and still have your reserve. You don't have to hold back everything. As long as there's something. Something that's just yours."
"Really?" she said doubtfully. Kyle was just hers. Was that enough?
"Of course," Allegria added, "mystique helps, too."
"You've got that built in," Sarah said irritably. "We don't all have tribally-significant albinism to fall back on."
"Oh, please. For all you know, I could be a white girl from Kansas."
Sarah turned her head and stared. "You're *not*."
Allegria's look was mischievous. "No. But I could be. You wouldn't know. Mystique can be created. You've been creating one all along."
"I don't understand."
"The lowered lashes, the submissive tilt of the head to the primary partner? It's quite an art you've got going there, you know. It's easy to seduce a man - or a woman," she added with a laugh. "It's harder to do it without pissing off their spouse."
"The main thing is, never doubt your authority. I don't. You know why? My people have been matrilineal for centuries. Don't even think about it. Believe it's your birthright, to run whatever you're running. Because Allegria, the Kuna moon warrior told you so." And she laughed uproariously, and chugged back some more of that godawful Chi Chi.
Sarah did believe it. But not because Allegria the Kuna moon warrior told her so.
She believed it because she was John Connor's mother.
"I've got the guts of three X-Boxes and four Playstations daisychained together in there. Plus some seriously modded-out code that I swear came to me in a dream."
Playstations. Jesus. "And all this to beat another computer at chess?"
Andy Goode looked at her sidelong. "None of this to beat another computer at chess."
Sarah's heart sank. "Then what?" she asked. "What are you doing?"
What the hell are you doing, Andy?
He told her, and what he said was scary enough. Would she believe the Turk had moods? You bet your ass she would. But it didn't matter, not really, because it wasn't the heart of it.
The heart of it was, Andy was in an eight year love affair with the song in his head. And he wouldn't rest until that song came to life, and killed them all.
The danger wasn't the Turk. Not really.
The danger was Andy's obsession.
"You talk about it like it's human," she whispered.
Andy shrugged. "You never know."
In that moment, Sarah knew with dark certainty that it was over. Even if she told Andy the truth, even if she could get him to believe it, he would protect the Turk. He would protect it like his deadly lover or his misbegotten child. He attracted her, and she knew she attracted him, and in a different life, she thought they could have loved each other - but he would never love her more than the machine.
Andy Goode had to die. And if she didn't do it, then Cameron would.
There was something hard blocking her throat, and it wasn't until she swallowed that she realised it tasted of tears.
"What?" Andy said. Jolted out of his reverie. "Too far? What is it?"
She forced her face to form a wide, toothy smile that felt horribly false.
"Nothing," she managed. She nodded to the path ahead of them. "Nothing at all."
Satisfied, he walked ahead of her. Took the fork towards Mountain Top Lagoon. She felt for the handgun at her back and was comforted by its weight.
*What are you doing?* part of her screamed at her. *All these years, you've never killed anyone - and now him?*
*Cameron will hurt him,* another part of her said calmly. Like a cool flannel on a fevered brow. *She'll scare him. I won't. He'll never even see it coming.*
*Let her! You can't save him, so save what's left of yourself!*
"You okay?" Andy asked. "You're quiet all of a sudden."
She forced herself to answer. "Yeah. It's just pretty up here."
She couldn't remember the last time an outsider cared if she was okay.
But that was the problem, wasn't it? He wasn't an outsider. Not really. He didn't know her name or her story, but somehow she'd let him in anyway.
On a sudden impulse, she took his hand. Tugged him against a tree. Kissed him, hard. The gun bit into her back and she was glad she hadn't flicked off the safety yet.
He gave a muffled sound of surprise. Of half-protest. He returned the kiss, sort of, in a clearly-out-of-his-depth kind of way. She supposed that sexually aggressive women weren't frequent visitors to his world.
He learned fast, though. She wasn't surprised. Shaking hands tugged at her shirt. He reminded her of that guy in Nicaragua, the one who taught her to hotwire cars. To this day she suspected she'd been his first. And this guy was a lot like him. He kissed her, yes, but her tongue explored his, not the other way around. He was too busy feeling to try to dominate her.
A nice guy, the guy in Nicaragua had been. But just a guy. She thought she might have stolen his guns when she left him, but she couldn't remember for sure.
"That's good," she whispered, pressing her breast into his palm. She remembered doing this in Nicaragua, just like this. She couldn't remember who with, but she remembered her shirt pulling up and the bark pressing into her back and looking up into the tree canopy when she came.
"Whoa," he whispered, and at first she didn't register it. And then she did, and it wasn't the guy in Nicaragua. Any of the guys in Nicaragua.
Oddly, it was Charley's voice she registered first. And then she really heard it, and it was Andy.
"Whoa," he said again.
"You don't wanna?" she said shyly, and for an awful moment there she didn't know whether she was play-acting or saying it for real. Her world was spinning and collapsing on itself. A hundred anonymous moments were collapsing in on the man in front of her and she couldn't get her head around why it wasn't going to script.
He gave a diffident little chuckle. Reluctantly, he drew his hand out of her shirt. "Yeah, I wanna."
She was still reeling. It was starting to dawn on her, what she'd done. What she'd tried to do.
She'd tried to depersonalise him. By fucking him. So she could kill him.
Oh, my God, she thought. Tried to wrap her head around it. That was...well, it was a kind of rape, wasn't it?
She burst into sudden, absolutely genuine tears.
"Hey, hey," Andy said. "It's not that I don't want you or anything-"
Self-preservation kicked in. She had to stop him, she thought, before she blurted out why she was really crying. If she did that, she really would have to kill him.
"No, Andy, I know that. I'm sorry," she said, wiping her eyes with her palm. She threw in a downcast look for good measure, thinking frantically. Groping for her next move to mask her colossal mistake. "I just - I've got a bad habit of getting into things too soon. It's stupid. I promised myself I wouldn't do that this time. And look at me. It's the third time we've met and I've got you up against a tree." Saying it, it dawned on her what it must look like. She said slowly, "You must think I'm a total slut."
"Wow, do you have a case of 'nice girls don't'," he commented. "I don't think anything of the sort."
She stared at him. Blinked a couple of times. He'd blindsided her as sure as a thwack to the side of the head. "What?"
"I think you're a beautiful woman who I would like to have a few more dates with. And then, if they go well, I'd really like to take you to bed, in a bed. In case you hadn't noticed, us computer nerds aren't the outdoorsy type."
She laughed in spite of herself. Jesus, here she was self-flagellating, and he'd made her laugh. She really could have loved him.
She was also just about half-insane. She'd lived through knowing about the end of the world, being chased by machines from the future, selling her body for morsels of knowledge, taking a lover who died in front of her *before he was born* for fuck's sake, raising that man's child, and years of her life in a prison hospital while their son was in foster care. And she was just about to lose her mind over feeling up Andy Goode in a nature reserve called Mountain Top Lagoon with no fucking lagoon in sight. She opened her mouth to speak, with no idea of what lunacies would come out.
What came out was perfectly sane. "Well. I think I should go home and nurse my pride, so it's all healed up in time for our next date."
"If you want. Walk with me?"
She shook her head. "I'll stay here a while, if that's okay."
He nodded. "As long as you're sure." He queried softly, "Can I call you?"
She met his gaze fully for the first time since it happened. "I'd like that. Andy."
He beamed that kid-like smile at her, put his hands in his pockets, and he left her there.
His whistle drafted back on the breeze behind him.
She watched him go, and when even his whistle had evaporated, she let out the breath she hadn't known she was holding. Sank down to the base of the tree. Shudders rippled through her body, and it wasn't until she felt fresh tears on her cheeks that she realised they were sobs.
*Wow, do you have a case of 'nice girls don't.'*
That was all wrong. Nice guys like Andy and Charley and Kyle didn't want...
Well, they didn't want women like her.
It wasn't just the sex. They didn't want women who'd blown up factories or knew how to build pipe bombs, either. What was the line? "Guys don't make passes at girls who kick asses." And no, in her experience, they really didn't.
But the sex mattered. It mattered a lot. It was something she knew instinctively without needing to be told.
But Andy didn't care. Maybe he'd care if he knew the full circumstances and extent of it - but then, maybe not. She was no longer certain of that.
And somehow that was messing with her head.
*I don't think anything of the sort.*
She could feel her carefully-constructed world collapsing around her. The lives of Sarah Connor and Sarah Insert-Pseudonym-Here were on a crash course, and not only did she not know how to stop it, she didn't even know which was which anymore.
It was all wrong. Sarah Connor was supposed to be the nice girl. Kyle's girl. Sarah Pseudonym was supposed to be the bad girl who Got Shit Done, and if that meant using her body, so be it.
Only Sarah Pseudonym grew up. And now Sarah Connor was the lunatic who'd fucked anything that moved and Sarah Pseudonym dated nice guys like Andy.
And now Andy had seen a little bit of them both. And the world should have shifted on its axis. But it hadn't.
In fact, the only person who seemed to have a problem with all this was her.
The essential divide in her was beginning to close, she thought, and that idea scared the hell out of her. Because if it closed, she'd have to deal with...well...whichever of them was the bad girl.
She knew conceptually that the whole bad girl thing was as misogynistic as the ugliest men she'd slept with. But she also knew that whichever Sarah did those things, wasn't a person she'd ever wanted to be. She'd been a romantic girl who wanted to find The One, be a wife and mother, in that order, and have an ordinary life. And she had made peace, more or less, with The One dying before her eyes, and with raising their son on the run, but she'd never made peace with some of the things she'd had to do along the way.
A little knowledge was a bad thing, she thought. She'd spent enough years in therapy to understand the exact nature of her constructed duality. In her experience, psychiatrists had an unhealthy fixation on all things sexual, and Sarah Connor and Sarah Pseudonym had been trotted out for analysis many times before. Indeed, she had encouraged it. She could defer discussion of the truth-or-otherwise of her delusions for weeks with a single, mournful reference to selling her body.
And in all those years of analysis, not once had the foundations of her world budged an inch.
Andy Goode had taken an axe to it with a throwaway remark.
Doctor Silberman told her to introduce Sarah Connor to Sarah Pseudonym once. Sarah had told him that was stupid and refused to speak for the rest of the session. She wondered now what they would have said if she'd done it.
She suppressed a smile. They would have said, *I don't like you very much.*
But maybe they just needed to be in the same room. Maybe that was what he was getting at.
Maybe that was what Andy did for her.
"Silberman, you asshole," she said out loud in wonder. "You were good for something after all."
She looked up at the canopy of trees over her head. She remembered the guy in Nicaragua and the way he surprised her by making her come. She remembered Andy's hand under her shirt and the way a little part of her really had wanted him to touch her breasts.
*They're in the same room,* she thought in wonder.
If she could save a tiny part of her own mind, she thought, maybe she could save Andy, too.