Chapter 1: Prisoners of Fate
Fate Binds Us
Summary: Grace is sent back to the past to protect Dani. Unbeknownst to either of them, this is the second time this has happened.
Author’s Note: This fic takes place after the events of the film. For this fic, we’ll assume that Grace going back to 2020 in the film was the very first time. I know there’s debate that the Dani from 2042 in the film had already been saved by Grace and that both of them were stuck in an endless loop.
Fans have pointed to evidence in the film such as future Dani knowing to tattoo Carl’s coordinates onto Grace, and the flashback on the airplane looked like future Dani recognized young Grace. But for this fic to work, we’ll have to assume that the events in the film was the first time Grace had ever gone back to 2020.
Now, I ask that you all suspend reality. Sit back, and enjoy!
Also, if you have any questions or just want to drop me a message, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com
“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” – Paulo Coelho
The Hydro Plant
Dani lifted the large sheet of metal covering Grace’s abdomen. Her heart sank at the sight of the deep wound before her. Grace was bleeding badly. Instinctively, Dani looked around for Sarah, desperate for help.
“Sarah!” Dani called for her friend.
But Sarah didn’t even turn around. Instead, she replied ominously, “It’s not dead.”
Dani tried her best to shove the panic rising within her. How could they outrun the terminator and get Grace to safety? “We’re going to take you out of here,” Dani said.
Instead of answering her, Grace reached for a shard of glass. “My power source…. Get it close, and it’ll fry his neural net.”
Dani wouldn’t hear of it. “Grace, I can’t!”
“Yes, you can,” Grace answered with a calm resolve.
Before Dani could argue, she heard a crack in the air. Sarah was thrown hard and landed several feet from them. Dani looked up and saw the endoskeleton of the machine slowly making its way towards them. Their time had run out.
“Dani, this is what you sent me here to do,” Grace said, pleadingly.
“No,” Dani cried, shaking her head. She silently cursed her future self.
“We both knew I wasn’t coming back,” Grace said, completely resigned to her fate.
“No, I can’t,” Dani said, barely able to see Grace anymore through her tears.
“You saved me. Let me save you. Please, you do it,” Grace begged. “You do it!”
Knowing she had no other choice, Dani plunged the shard of glass into Grace’s abdomen. Her heart broke as she felt the metal power source beneath her fingers.
“I’m sorry, Grace.”
“I’m not.” And Dani knew, her heart would never be whole again.
An underground bunker
What was once Saint Elmo, Colorado
“Commander, a word, please.” Dani looked up from the cadet whose broken arm she was setting, and saw it was Grace at the door.
To everyone else in the room, Grace’s request was nothing out of the ordinary. Everyone knew that Grace was Dani’s most trusted soldier. Some even suspected, correctly, that Grace and Dani were more than just commander and subordinate. But Dani knew Grace better than the back of her hand. And Dani knew that she was seething with anger. Grace must have found out. Shit.
Dani sighed. “Of course.”
Dani and Grace walked side by side in silence throughout the expansive hallways of the resistance’s secret bunker. They finally reached Dani’s quarters after what seemed like an eternity. Grace stepped in first and waited until Dani closed the door behind her.
“How could you not tell me?!” Grace asked, angrily.
“Tell you what?” Dani wanted to try the dumb approach first, just in case Grace hadn’t actually found out what Dani believed she probably found out.
“Oh, don’t play that game with me, Dani, I taught it to you!” Grace said, trying her best to keep her voice down.
Dani couldn’t argue. Grace had perfected the innocent routine with Dani during her teenage years. “What did you hear, Grace?”
“Is it true that Legion sent a Rev-9 to Mexico City in 2020 to assassinate you?” Grace asked.
Dani could only close her eyes in defeat. “Yes.”
She had tried desperately to keep Grace in the dark. She had spent the last twenty-two years trying to make sure that Grace didn’t die for her a second time. But fate seemed to have other plans. Fate. It was Dani’s endless prison.
The commander in Dani was furious. Who in her inner circle had let Grace know? What protocols were overlooked that Grace had been able to find out something so top secret? She had a feeling she might know who. But Dani’s rational side soon took over. It didn’t matter how Grace knew, only that she did.
“How could you not trust me with this?” Grace asked, her voice cracking. Dani felt awful, because she knew Grace didn’t understand.
“This has nothing to do with trust,” Dani said, cupping her beloved’s face in her hands.
“It has everything to do with it! Do you have any idea how it felt for me to find out that you’d given orders to send Jacobsen to the past to protect you?!” Grace said.
“Lucas has proven himself time and time again. He’s more than capable of protecting me in the past. He’s smart, resourceful and incredibly resilient. The fact that he survived the augmentation procedure is a testament to that,” Dani said.
“I am every bit as smart, resourceful and resilient as he is, Dani! And you know it! My augmentation has made me every bit as fast and as strong as he is,” Grace argued.
“I’m not disputing that,” Dani said, reaching for Grace’s hand, trying to calm her. But Grace pulled away.
“Then you don’t trust me,” Grace said.
Dani could only shake her head. So many emotions were threatening to overwhelm her. Feelings of grief, hopelessness and disappointment came flooding back. The same feelings that engulfed her as she cradled a dying Grace in her arms twenty-two years ago.
“There’s no one on this hellish earth, I trust more than you. You can choose to believe that or not, I can’t control that. I have my reasons for sending Lucas Jacobsen to the past. And the biggest of those reasons, if you must know, is that I will not risk losing you, Grace,” Dani said, adamantly.
“Fine, I can understand that. But how could you not even tell me this was going on?” Grace demanded.
Because I wanted to change your fate. “Because I didn’t want you to worry about it. You’re always worrying about me. It’s supposed to be the other way around.”
“We protect each other, Dani.”
“We’ll continue to do that. But with you here, by my side.”
“I’m sorry, Dani. But I can’t let Jacobsen go. I’m going to the past, and I will make sure that the terminator does not succeed in killing you,” Grace said.
“I am still your commander, Grace. And I’m not allowing it,” Dani said, equally determined.
“I’m not giving you a choice, commander,” Grace said, the resolve in her voice was frightening.
“Why, Grace?! Why can’t you let this go?” Dani asked, angrily. “You know how time-travel works. It is a one-way ticket. If you do this, I’ll never see you again.”
“Do you think this is easy for me? But I don’t trust Jacobsen not to fail. I don’t trust anyone!”
“Because no one else loves you like I do,” Grace answered, running her hand through her disheveled sandy blonde hair. “I have no doubt that Jacobsen would do his best to keep you alive. But it’s still just a mission to him. This is personal to me. And failure is not an option.”
“How can you guarantee that, Grace?”
“Because I can’t live in a world without you in it.”
“So, you would sentence me to the very fate you’re trying to avoid?”
“I’m ensuring you have a future.”
Dani could feel tears pooling in her eyes. When was the last time she cried, she wondered? “Do you know what it would do to me to lose you, Grace?”
“Yes,” Grace said, simply.
“And yet, you still insist on this?” Dani asked.
“From the moment you found me, you’ve been my whole world, Dani. If Jacobsen fails, then I wouldn’t even remember ever knowing you. You would slip from my memories, like a long-ago faded dream. And I don’t even want to imagine a world where we didn’t find each other,” Grace said.
Dani just looked at the woman before her. This amazing person she watched grow up from a gangly teenager, to this heroic human being. It wasn’t often Dani lost an argument to Grace. But she knew she wouldn’t win this one. So, she did the only thing left to her. She embraced Grace. Held her so tightly, a part of her never wanting to let go. “I love you, Grace. Never forget that.”
The day Dani dreaded for the last twenty-two years had arrived, and she was helpless to stop it. Dani took Grace’s face in her hands and kissed her with everything she had left. Grace returned her kiss with equal fervor, both of them knowing that they were able to express more in that one kiss than a thousand words.
“Well, soldier, I see there’s no changing your mind,” Dani said, forcing herself to return to the safety of her commander persona. “Come on, I have some coordinates I’ll need to tattoo on you.”
“Or, you can just tell them to me. You know I can remember shit, right?” Grace said, shaking her head.
“Considering I just lost the bigger argument, you’re going to let me have this one, Grace,” Dani said, leaving no room for argument.
“Yes, ma’am,” Grace said, giving Dani a mock salute.
Dani smiled sadly. “Come on, Grace, we don’t have much time. I’ll brief Jacobsen on the change of plans. I also want to get you a map of Mexico City so you can familiarize yourself with it.”
“Don’t even think of tattooing a map of Mexico City on me,” Grace said, only half-jokingly.
“I'll tattoo it on your ass,” Dani said wryly, rolling her eyes. “Also, I’m going to speak to Dr. Farraday and ask him if it would be possible to send you back a little earlier than that Rev-9. We’ll be locking on to the residual vortex that the Rev-9 used to travel back in time, however, I understand that it’s possible to extend the temporal distortion ever so slightly so that we could send you a few days before the Rev-9 arrives. Oh, and I just remembered, I’ll need to figure out locations of where you can get your medication around the city. And I need to show you on the map where I used to work. And I’ll need to -”
“Dani, you’re rambling. You only do that when you’re nervous. Please, stop worrying. I won’t fail,” Grace said, seriously.
“That’s exactly why I’m worried.”
To be continued…
Author’s Notes: If you want to know how Grace found out about the Rev-9 being sent back in time, or if you just want more detail leading up to this chapter, check out my Missing Scene fic Dwell In Possibility
Chapter 2: A Stranger With Memories
Grace arrives in 2020.
Fate Binds Us
“Strangers are friends you have yet to meet.” - unknown
Grace looked around and observed her surroundings. It was eerie how normal everything was. Everyone around her was going about their day. A cacophony of Spanish conversations pervaded her excellent hearing. Vehicles of all sizes were coming and going. The sky was as blue as she could remember it before the world went to hell. But most disconcerting to Grace was the sound of laughter. People were carelessly laughing and joking as if they hadn’t a care in the world. She felt a little like she just stepped into the twilight zone. It would definitely take some getting used to.
Grace had arrived the day before, but she had arrived in a more remote area. There weren’t very many people and therefore there wasn’t much activity going on. Now, in the heart of Mexico City, her senses were almost overwhelmed. But Grace had to focus on her mission. Her Dani. She looked at the street signs and estimated she was approximately half a mile from the assembly plant that Dani had told her she used to work at. Aurius Motors, Grace recalled Dani telling her.
There were many obstacles that Grace and Dani knew she had to overcome. There was the situation of her meds, which she’d resolved for the immediate future the evening before. As per Dani’s instructions, she waited not too far from a Multifarmacia drugstore for the pharmaceutical delivery truck driver. Grace had felt awful for knocking the driver out cold. She then took the prescription medication she needed to combat her crashes whenever she used excessive energy that came with her augmentation.
With her medication issue taken care of, Grace’s entire focus was on ensuring that the Rev-9 didn’t get a step ahead of her. The resistance couldn’t pinpoint with complete accuracy when the Rev-9 would arrive. They narrowed it down to a five to nine-day window. The earliest Dani’s team of scientists was able to send Grace was four days prior to the earliest estimated arrival time of the Rev-9. In other words, Grace had no idea if the Rev-9 was set to arrive in four days or eight or anytime in between.
The other issue that Grace and Dani had debated extensively was how to maximize Grace’s advantage of having arrived first. Grace had argued for the pragmatic approach of just kidnapping the younger Dani and hiding her from the Rev-9 before it arrived. And as much as Dani seemed to admire her no-nonsense approach, she had argued that it would ultimately make Grace’s job harder, as Dani’s father and brother would go straight to the authorities. In the end, Grace would have to hide Dani not only from the Rev-9, but the authorities as well, the latter of whom would probably aid the Rev-9 unknowingly.
They then debated on the merits of Grace just telling young Dani the danger she was in, and see if she would trust Grace on her word. But upon deeper reflection, Dani decided it wouldn’t work. There was no way she would believe such a story. And the risk for Grace of going down that path would be to alienate Dani. And so, the two of them agreed that Grace would try to infiltrate young Dani’s workplace, and hopefully be able to keep a close eye on her until the time comes when she’ll need to rescue her.
Dani had given her the name of a man who specialized in under-the-table type of work. A Mr. Ari Gutierrez who owned a private security company. His company happened to be the company that Aurius Motors contracted for their factory in Mexico City. Grace looked both ways before crossing the street and made her way to the man’s office.
The next day
Dani got off the bus and looked behind her to see her brother, Diego not too far behind. Dani looked up to see the large Aurius Motors logo displayed before her above the entrance to their workplace. Another long day. Might as well get it over with.
“Hurry up, Diego, we don’t want to be late again. No doubt Señor Sanchez will report it to Mr. Grumman. He’s been laying people off left and right. We don’t want to give him an excuse to lay us off next,” Dani said, in Spanish.
“Don’t worry, Dani, we still have five minutes to spare,” her brother answered, smiling.
They quickly walked into the factory and pulled out their passes. Dani walked to the turnstile first and tapped her pass. She didn’t look up at the security guard to her left, but gave her customary, “Cómo estás?”
But instead of hearing the familiar, baritone of José, the usual guard, she instead heard an unfamiliar woman’s voice. Her English accent quite pronounced. “Muy bien, gracias.”
Dani paused and looked up. Before her was a pretty blonde, very tall gringa. One she’d never seen before. She had her hair cut short, almost a boy’s cut. She stood at least a foot taller than Dani. She even had an inch or two on Diego. The lady must be new, she’d have definitely noticed her before otherwise.
Dani knew all the guards at the factory and was friendly with all of them. She opened her mouth about to introduce herself when one of her co-workers yelled from across the floor. “Diego, Dani, hurry, Señor Sanchez wants a quick staff meeting!”
Dani smiled apologetically at the new guard and hurried to follow Gael, her co-worker. She took another quick glance behind her and noticed the pretty guard still staring at her. The way she looked at Dani was interesting. She couldn’t describe it, or pinpoint exactly why she even noticed. She made a mental note to seek out the new guard and welcome her. As white as she was, Dani figured it was safe to guess she was new to the area.
Grace watched as Dani walked away from her, a young man, she guessed was her brother, followed right behind. She knew there was a good chance she’d bump into Dani today, but seeing her in person, here, in 2020 was still surreal. She looked so young…. No, that wasn’t accurate, the Dani from her future still looked very young for her age. No, this Dani looked innocent. And in that innocence, her youth shone.
Grace cursed fate, knowing that Dani’s innocence was about to be stolen from her. But then again, it had already been stolen. It was the reason she was here in the first place. Grace started to make her way around the factory to do her rounds. She couldn’t care less about the security of the place, she only cared for Dani’s security. But to ensure she could at least keep her job for the next week or so, she had to at least make an effort to work.
In the meantime, she made note of every single entrance in the factory. She looked at every single machinery or tool that could be used as a weapon. She looked at all potential hazards. She drew quite a few stares during her rounds. No doubt she stood out like a sore thumb being a foreigner, and quite a tall one at that. Grace was also struggling to walk the line between blending in, but not being overly friendly as she didn’t want to open herself to questions.
It wasn’t long before Grace realized she was hungry. She looked at the clock and saw that it was the afternoon already. Not having a place to stay, and not having much funds – the truck driver she ambushed the day before barely had any cash – Grace didn’t have any food. As an augment, she didn’t need much food unless she used energy excessively. Even with her robbing the pharmaceutical truck the night before, she hadn’t had to use any additional energy. She pretty much got that job done with her training as a soldier.
But it had been almost two days since she had a meal. Come to think of it, her last meal had been in 2042. No wonder she was so hungry. Grace dug in her pocket and counted the cash there. She had forty pesos and change. That wouldn’t get her very far. She sighed. She reviewed her mental map to see where she could quickly grab food, when a soft, sweet voice she’d recognize anywhere interrupted her thoughts. Grace turned around.
“You’re new here,” Dani said in English, extending her hand for a shake. “Hi, I’m Daniella Ramos. But my friends call me, Dani. What’s your name?”
For a moment, Grace was frozen in place. She hadn’t expected this. “Ummm… I’m uhhh… Grace. My name is Grace.”
“Very nice to meet you, Grace. Here, I brought you something,” Dani said, her other hand coming out from behind her holding what looked to be a burrito. “We had a staff pot-luck today. I usually sneak food out and hand them to our guards. There aren’t really a lot of good places here that you could grab food and go within your thirty-minute lunch break.”
Despite the fact that Grace had spent half her life accepting food from Dani, she still felt touched that this Dani, whom she was a stranger to, was thoughtful enough to bring her something to eat. “Thank you, I really appreciate it. I actually didn’t get a chance to pack myself a lunch today.”
“No problem. Follow me, I’ll show you where the lunchroom is,” Dani said, walking away, not even bothering to check that Grace followed.
When they reached the lunchroom, there were several staff scattered throughout sitting at various tables. Dani grabbed a water bottle in the fridge and handed it to Grace. She then made a beeline to a table where a young man was sitting reading a newspaper.
“Diego, I’d like you to meet Grace, she’s our new security guard,” Dani said, as she took the newspaper from her brother’s hands. “Grace, this is my brother, Diego, he works here too.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Grace said, a little nervous to be meeting one of Dani’s family members. She’d often wondered what her family would have thought of her.
“Nice to meet you too, Grace. That’s my sister’s famous burrito. Try it, you’ll love it,” Diego said, smiling, obviously very proud of his sister. Grace liked him immediately.
“So, Grace, are you new to Mexico City?” Dani asked.
Grace took a bite of her burrito, debating how much to disclose. She decided to stay as close to the truth as possible. Dani always told her she sucked at lying. “Yes, I just arrived.”
“Where from?” Diego asked.
“From Portland,” Grace answered. It was where she was from, technically, before the war with the machines.
“What brings you here?” Dani asked.
Damn, this was sooner than Grace anticipated having to explain herself. What could she say? Why would an American come to Mexico to become a security guard? She had to think fast. “I’m here to try being on my own. I wanted to prove to my parents that I can be independent.” That sounded lame even to her own ears.
Grace didn’t miss the look Dani and Diego gave each other. She had to come up with a bit more. Grace added, “I come from a wealthy family. My folks and I had a falling out and I wanted to prove I can make it without their money. And I wanted to put some distance between us as well.”
“But why Mexico?” Diego asked.
“Uhhh… I plan on saving up, then maybe move to São Paulo. I have friends there,” Grace answered.
“I’m sorry to hear you’re estranged from your family. I can’t imagine being away from Diego and my father. I hope things work out,” Dani said, sympathetically, patting Grace on the arm.
Grace recognized the look in Dani’s eyes. She knew Grace was holding something back. But no way could she guess what that was. “Thanks.”
“Have you had a chance to get to know the people around here?” Dani asked.
“No, it’s my first day,” Grace said.
“A bunch of us are going for drinks after work at the local pub. Would you like to join us? It’ll give you a chance to meet some more people,” Dani suggested.
Grace’s first instinct was to say no. Even if she weren’t playing a part, she’d never been comfortable in crowds. She and Dani often preferred to spend their free time just with each other. But then Grace realized this was a good opportunity to keep an eye on Dani more easily.
“Sure, sounds like a good idea,” Grace said.
“Great!” Dani said, happily. “What time are you off?”
“I’m off at 5pm,” Grace answered.
“Oh no, I’m not off until 6pm,” Dani said.
“That’s no problem, I can wait,” Grace said. She was going to wait anyway and follow Dani home. Just because the Rev-9 hadn’t arrived yet, didn’t mean Grace wasn’t going to start keeping Dani safe now. Besides, this was Mexico, not exactly known for its safety.
“Are you sure? If you want, I can give you the address to the pub and you can maybe get started on a drink or two before we get there,” Dani offered.
“An hour isn’t long, I don’t mind,” Grace said.
“Wonderful! Diego and I will meet you at the entrance at 6pm then,” Dani said, smiling.
“Okay, I’ll see you later.”
Dani and Diego got up to get back to their shifts. Grace watched them leave and wondered where she could get more funds in the next five hours.
To be continued…
Author’s Notes: I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Thanks for reading!
Chapter 3: Always Smiling
Grace gets settled in a little more. She and Diego chat. And she ends up getting asked out by Dani.
“Smiling doesn’t necessarily mean you’re happy. Sometimes, it just means you’re strong.” - unknown
Fate Binds Us
Grace had gone to Mr. Gutierrez’s office on her last break and had asked him if it was possible to get an advance on her paycheque. The kindly old man gave her two-thousand pesos. A complete advance on her pay cheque. She could only hope she’d have enough time to at least work most of it off. It wasn’t much, but it would at least be enough that she didn’t invite any questions on being broke. Also, she had no plans on finding a place to stay or anything.
Because she didn’t need as much sleep as a normal human, she could literally spend the night guarding Dani’s home making sure that the Rev-9 didn’t arrive unexpectedly. She trusted Dani’s team of scientists when they told her she at least got a four-day head start. But then again, time-travel wasn’t an exact science. She wasn’t about to risk Dani’s life.
The problem remained on where she would set up camp to guard Dani during the times she was home. The last thing she wanted was to draw attention to herself and look like a creep. The fact that Grace was as white as they got, not to mention as tall as she was, blending in would be an enormous challenge. There was also the issue of keeping up her hygiene. She didn’t get a chance to see if Aurius Motors had showers for their staff. If they didn’t, she’d use the local gym. Speaking of, she’d need to move the medication she’d hidden soon before it was discovered.
A hundred different thoughts were going through her head when a voice interrupted her thoughts. “So, Grace, what do you think of Mexico City so far? Dani tells us you’re new here.” The question came from the man sitting in front of her. Gael, she recalled was his name.
“It’s great. I’m still struggling with my Spanish, but I’m learning a little more each day,” Grace said. Happy with her safe answer.
She’d been sitting at the La Clandestina pub with Dani, Diego and their two friends for the last hour now. They were all nice enough. But they were all definitely very curious of her. Not that she could really blame them. Still, she felt ill at ease in such a social setting. Her Spanish was awful, and she was the only foreigner in the group. Also, the guy sitting next to Gael – Leonardo if she remembered correctly – was hitting hard on Dani. It annoyed Grace somewhat that Dani seemed to be open to his attentions.
She’s not your Dani, Grace reminded herself. She looked to her left at Diego who was seated beside her. He didn’t seem too amused at that Leonardo guy either. She found she got along well with Diego and was comfortable in his presence. It was too bad he hadn’t survived in her future. She had no doubt they would have been good friends. She actually wasn’t quite sure how he died. Dani spoke very little of her family before the war. It was always a painful topic and Grace had never pushed. Now she wished she had.
Gael continued chatting with Grace about mundane things. Obviously trying to keep her included. Diego did the same. Dani was a bit preoccupied with Leonardo. Grace’s attention was diverted for a moment when her sharp hearing heard Leonardo ask Dani in Spanish, “Are you free Wednesday evening? I’m thinking to try that new restaurant that opened on Madero Street. Would you like to go with me?”
Grace rolled her eyes. She may not speak Spanish well, but she understood it a lot better than most people realized. “Are you asking me on a date?” Dani asked, flirtatiously.
“Maybe,” Leonardo answered. “What do you say?”
“Let me check with my father first,” Dani answered.
Great. More work. Grace would probably have to figure out how to trail Dani on her date. She’d rather go through the augmentation procedure again. It would be less painful. A part of her just wished the Rev-9 would arrive already. Her Dani hadn’t really told her she was such a social butterfly in her youth. Then again, Grace shouldn’t have been surprised. Dani had always been beautiful, smart and charismatic. Men and women were always drawn to her.
“What do you think, Grace?” Diego asked. Damn, she’d been caught wool-gathering.
“Sorry, what was that?” Grace said, sure she was blushing at being caught not paying attention.
“We were thinking about going to the carnival next Saturday. You should come with us,” Diego clarified.
“Oh, you should, Grace!” Dani added. “It’ll be so much fun. The boys usually run off on their own, but we can hang out.”
“Ummm, yeah, sure,” Grace answered, forcing a smile.
“Hey guys, the dart boards are free now,” Gael said, pointing to the other side of the bar. “Come on, everyone, twenty pesos says Dani beats Leonardo again.”
Grace, even without her augmentation, would beat everyone at a game that involved projectiles and accuracy. But the last thing she wanted to do was draw attention to herself. “Actually, I think I’ll skip the first few rounds while I finish my drink,” Grace said.
“Yeah, me too,” Diego said.
Everyone else got up and made their way to the dart boards. Dani made Grace promise to play a game against her before the night was through. She humored her and agreed. It was just Diego and Grace left at the table. Grace just sat back and watched Dani from afar. She looked so care-free. It was a stark contrast to her Dani who always slept with one eye open, so to speak.
“Dani’s pretty good at darts,” Grace said, making small talk with Diego.
“Ha! You should see her at billiards. She could probably support our whole family just doing that as a side hustle,” Diego said.
“She probably could. Her smile is so infectious, men would probably lose to her gladly just to be near her,” Grace said, admiring the young Dani from across the room.
“The smile isn’t real, a lot of the times,” Diego said, taking a sip of his beer.
Grace was intrigued. “What do you mean?”
“Ten years ago, our mother left us. That hurt Dani. I mean, it hurt all of us, but Dani the most.”
Dani had always told her that her mother had died. Grace now realized Dani meant it more in the philosophical sense. “I’m so sorry.”
“Thanks. Anyway, our father got sick two years ago. His cancer is in remission now, but Dani spent so much time caring for him that her boyfriend, Joaquin left her. That broke Dani,” Diego said, shaking his head.
“Good riddance,” Grace mumbled.
“I think so too,” Diego said, smiling.
“I wonder if he’ll ever truly realize what he gave up…” Grace said.
“He does, he came back eight months ago. He wanted Dani to take him back,” Diego said.
“What did Dani say?”
“She never found out. He never got to ask her. His face met my fist and he never came back,” Diego said, shrugging.
Grace grinned. She found she liked Dani’s brother more and more.
A couple of days later
“So far, we’ve had nine employees laid off by Mr. Grumman in the past month. They’ve all been replaced by machines,” Dani said, bringing Grace up to speed on her current concerns.
“That’s awful. Trust me, machines will be taking over the world in no time,” Grace answered, nonchalantly.
“You think so?” Dani asked, wondering why Grace had such a resigned attitude.
“Just a feeling,” Grace said, shrugging.
Dani figured that Grace was just one of those people that tended to go with the flow. Still, usually people would be a little more resistant to such changes, especially since it threatened jobs. How many brick and mortar shops have already closed because of online stores? Technology could be both a help and a hindrance.
“Thanks again for the tamales, it’s delicious,” Grace said, barely taking a breath between bites.
Dani smiled, amused. She’d noticed the last couple of days that Grace didn’t bring anything for lunch. There was just something about Grace that made Dani feel like she wanted to take care of her. Also, there was the fact that it was such a pleasure to bring Grace food, considering she always ate like she hadn’t eaten in years.
“I’m glad you like it. It’s fun for me to be able to cook for people other than my father and brother. I think they’ve gotten used to my cooking and don’t compliment me as much,” Dani said laughing.
“Where’d you learn to cook?” Grace asked.
“I learned on my own. I’ve read cookbooks, watched cooking shows, that sort of thing. If I don’t cook, my poor brother and father would just eat takeout all the time,” Dani asked.
“I hope they know how lucky they are,” Grace said, smiling.
Dani blushed. Grace’s compliment touched her heart. The two of them had been eating lunch together every day. And each day, Dani realized that Grace hadn’t really told her much about herself. But even then, she could tell that Grace was a very caring person. She would always open doors for her, or if it was crowded, she’d help pave the way for Dani. She’d always inquire as to how Dani was feeling if she looked a little tired. Or she’d always ask if Dani had eaten. The day before, Dani had forgotten her food on the bus, and Grace ran out on her break to get her a sandwich. Why Grace hadn’t gotten food for herself had baffled Dani and earned Grace some chastisement, which she just accepted with an amused smile.
Dani realized she couldn’t recall a time that she’d gotten so close to a new friend so quickly. She genuinely enjoyed Grace’s company and always looked forward to her lunch breaks. And every day, Grace would wait for her to finish her shift, even though she finished an hour later, just to take the bus with her. Grace always would get off at the same stop then head the other way. Dani wondered where she was staying.
“Hey Grace, where are you staying? I know you just moved here, have you found a permanent place yet?” Dani asked.
“Uhhh…” Dani wondered why Grace looked slightly uncomfortable. “Not yet. I’m staying not too far from where you live.”
“Oh, where?” Dani asked.
“Well… I uhhh… I’m staying at the… motel… I uhhh, forgot the name…” Grace trailed off.
“You must mean the Motel Del Valle. That’s the only one in that area. Oh my god, Grace, why didn’t you say anything? That’s like five-hundred pesos a night!” Dani said, appalled.
“I’m close to finding a place, really…”
“Well, I insist you check out of the motel today, and come stay with me and my family,” Dani said, not leaving any room for argument.
Grace looked like she was about to protest, but then paused and looked like she thought hard about Dani’s offer. “Are you sure I wouldn’t be imposing?”
“Absolutely not. I know we’ve just met, but I know I can trust you. And I don’t want you throwing away your hard-earned money staying at some motel,” Dani said.
“Thank you, I really appreciate it. Your father and brother won’t mind?” Grace asked.
“Not at all. You already know Diego, he’s cool with these things. And my papi is the nicest man you’ll meet. Do you have a lot of luggage you need to get?” Dani said.
“Ummm… no…. the airline lost my luggage. I just have a few things.”
“The airline lost your luggage?” Dani asked, appalled.
Grace looked so uncomfortable, Dani figured it wasn’t the best topic to discuss, and didn’t wait for a reply. Instead, she added, “Well, we’ll get your things tonight and bring them to my place.”
“Actually, since I’m off an hour before you, I can just grab them right when I’m done, and meet you back here.”
“Are you sure? You’re going to your motel then come back here? I can just meet you at your motel to save you a trip,” Dani said.
“No! I mean…. I’d rather you didn’t, it’s not the safest area. Anyway, I’ll be back well before your shift is done,” Grace said.
“Alright then,” Dani said, wondering why Grace was so reluctant, but she didn’t press. “I’ll meet you back here at 6pm, then we can go back to my place together and drop your things off.”
“Okay, great, that works. Thanks,” Grace said, smiling.
“Oh, I’ve been meaning to ask you, would you like to go to the movies with me tonight? I wanted to watch that new Julia Roberts movie, it just came out last week,” Dani said.
“Wait, didn’t you… I thought tonight was your date night with Leonardo?” Grace asked, sounding less than enthused.
“How did you know about that?” Dani asked, then it dawned on her. “You heard him at the pub. You understand Spanish!”
“I can understand a lot more than I can say, that’s for sure. And sorry, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.”
“Well, just between you and me, I wanted to say ‘no’, but didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I said I’d check with my father. I told him today that since Diego would be out with friends – which is true – that I preferred to stay home and be with my father. But perhaps I should have just been more up front with him. I don’t want to lead him on. I think he has a crush on me. I don’t like giving men false hope. Not that they’re falling all over me or anything. He’s a really nice guy, but I’m just not ready.”
“I understand,” Grace said nodding. And she really did look like she understood, so Dani didn’t elaborate anymore. The last thing she wanted was another Joaquin telling her she was lacking in some way.
“Anyway, back to you. My conversation with Leonardo the other day was a bit more complex than basic Spanish. How did you learn to understand it so well?” Dani asked.
“I used to be with someone who spoke Spanish. I tried to learn, but I always messed up my verbs and my pronunciation is atrocious. But understanding it when spoken is a lot easier for me,” Grace said.
Dani wondered who this person was that Grace was with. Obviously, they’d been together long enough that she learned to understand at least intermediate Spanish. She made a mental note to ask her about him again when they got to know each other better. Or her… Grace looked like someone who was also open to being with a her. Another thing to find out about her new friend.
Dani suddenly got an image of them together, like together, together. She shook her head, feeling silly with where her imagination was taking her. But still… “You okay, Dani?” Grace asked.
Dani was probably blushing with her less than appropriate thoughts at the moment. “Ummm, yeah, it’s just so hot in here,” Dani said.
“Really? This place is air conditioned,” Grace said, looking confused.
“Oh, yes… so it is,” Dani said, probably blushing even more. “Anyway, ummm, I got to head back, my break’s over. I’ll see you later!”
Grace probably thought she was such an oddball. Dani chuckled. Well, Grace seemed to have her oddities too. She was looking forward to discovering them all.
To be continued…
Author’s Notes: Thanks for reading everyone. One reader mentioned how Dani hadn’t noticed Grace’s scars which I totally overlooked. Thank you so much for pointing it out. Let’s just say for now that Grace has been wearing long-sleeves in good ol’ scorching Mexico City hahaha. But I’ll be putting a scene in the next chapter addressing that.
Chapter 4: Getting To Know All About You
Dani and Grace play Twenty Questions. Grace saves Dani's life and NOT from a terminator. And Grace and Dani's father have a chat.
“If you can’t get someone out of your head, maybe they’re supposed to be there” - unknown
Fate Binds Us
“What’s your favorite color?” Dani asked.
“What’s your favorite food?”
“Anything you’ve cooked.”
Dani laughed. “That’s not an answer, Grace!”
“Sure, it is,” Grace said, teasingly.
“Fine. What’s your favorite movie?” Dani asked.
“The Sound of Music.”
“Really? I didn’t think you were the type to enjoy musicals,” Dani said.
“Oh? What did you think I’d enjoy?”
“I don’t know. Action movies? Thrillers?”
“Well, before today, I can’t remember the last time I watched a movie. But The Sound of Music was a favorite of my mother’s, and when I was a child, we’d watch it every year around Christmas,” Grace said.
“That’s so nice. It’s a favorite of mine too,” Dani said.
“Anyway, what’s with all the questions, Dani?”
“Well, you never share anything about yourself, you left me no choice but to be nosy,” Dani answered.
Grace laughed. It was true, she went out of her way not to share much. Her Dani always told her she was a lousy liar. And despite the fact that she was with a much less experienced Dani, she had no doubt she still had the same nose for lies. It was the bane of Grace’s existence as a rebellious teen.
She and Dani were walking back from the cinema, and Dani got it in her mind to play this little Twenty-Questions game of hers. Grace figured she was probably more at question thirty by now. But she had to admit, despite the fact that Dani was being nosy, she was charmingly nosy. And Grace enjoyed the fact she could ask her own questions. There was just something different about a Dani that was less guarded, less jaded than the one she knew intimately.
Dani continued with her game as Grace munched on their left-over popcorn. “If you could have one superpower what would it be?”
Grace laughed. That was a good one. If only she knew. “I would wish for the ability to control any machine I wanted.”
“What? You mean like control them without having to push buttons and stuff? That’s so boring. Why not flight? Super strength? Or maybe read minds?”
“What can I say? I’m pragmatic,” Grace said, shrugging.
“Fine, fine. If you could-”
“Actually, I think it’s my turn now,” Grace said, interrupting. “If you could live in a book, or TV show, or movie, which would it be?”
“Hmm… Let me think. Probably the TV show El Ministerio Del Tiempo,” Dani answered.
“The Ministry of Time?” Grace asked, not sure if her translation was correct.
“Very good! Yes, it’s a Spanish show on Netflix right now. It’s about three heroes that go back in time and prevent bad guys from changing the past,” Dani said.
“It’s a science fiction show then?”
“Exactly. I love the concept of time-travel. Imagine the adventures you could go on!”
“I’m on one right now,” Grace mumbled.
“What did you say?” Dani asked
“Oh, nothing. I never knew you were into sci-fi,” Grace said. And it was genuinely news to her. But then again, she and her Dani didn’t really discuss shows or music or movies in their time. There were just far too many pressing things happening.
“Yes, The Time Machine is my favorite book. I think I’ve read it twelve times. What do you think, Grace? Do you think time-travel would be possible one day?” Dani asked.
“Unfortunately, yes,” Grace said, unable to hide her disdain for the concept. Time-travel was ultimately why she was separated from her Dani.
“Well, imagine the repercussions of the bad guys getting their hands on that technology. I mean, if you had enemies, all they’d have to do is go back to the past and kill you while you’re vulnerable,” Grace said.
“True, I guess. But then again, lucky for me I’m a complete nobody. No one would ever bother,” Dani said, laughing.
Grace couldn’t bring herself to join in her mirth. It hit a little too close to home. Instead, she decided to change the topic. “So, Dani, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?”
“Hmm… no one’s ever asked me that before. I’m not really a crazy person by nature. Let me think…. Well, after I graduated high school, it was the only time I ever got drunk. My friends and I poured two liters of bubble bath in a public fountain and proceeded to bathe in it. Let’s just say, my father was less than impressed,” Dani said.
Grace was laughing so hard. She just couldn’t picture her commander, her Dani, doing something so mischievous. “Oh my god, I wish I could have witnessed that.”
“It’s not that funny,” Dani said, as she laughed along with Grace. “What about you? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?”
What a loaded question. Anything even remotely close to the truth would be unbelievable. Interestingly enough, most of the crazy things Grace had done, her Dani knew about. She got scolded for most of them, in fact.
“I ate an Oreo without twisting it in half, and there was no milk,” Grace said, dryly.
Dani laughed. “You’re not fooling anyone, Grace. I know you’ve got a wild side hidden somewhere. I’ll discover it soon enough.”
“I have no doubt…” Grace mumbled, wryly.
“Anyway, give me five random facts about yourself,” Dani said.
“You’re really enjoying this, aren’t you? Okay, ummm…. I used to figure skate, but my constant growth spurts kept hindering my jumps, so I quit when I was like twelve. My favorite piece of music is Pachelbel’s Canon in D on the piano. I was obsessed with dinosaurs when I was a kid. Twizzlers is my favorite candy, and I wear size eleven shoes, nine if we’re talking men’s,” Grace said, realizing she didn’t have to make anything up.
“Wow, you really took ‘random’ to heart, didn’t you?” Dani said.
Grace just smiled. “Okay, my turn. What’s your biggest fear, Dani?”
“That’s easy. Losing any one of my family members.”
Damn. Grace felt awful. What a stupid question. She was thinking more along the lines of snakes or spiders, or being buried alive. She hated knowing that Dani would spend most of her adult life without her father and brother. But then, wouldn’t it be possible for Grace to save them too? She had no idea how they even died, so there was that problem. Perhaps she could help, but sadly, it wasn’t her priority. She would try if possible, but Dani was the priority.
“You okay, Grace? You seemed far away for a moment,” Dani asked.
“Ummm, yeah. Fine. Anyway, where were we?” Grace said, forcing a smile.
“Well, it was my turn now. What are you most insecure about?” Dani asked.
“My height,” Grace answered. There was a time when she was quite insecure about her place in Dani’s life. But that was long ago, mostly when she was a teen, and Dani treated her as more of a kid sister.
“Are you kidding me? I would love to be as tall as you. I have to look up at everyone. And I always need help reaching the top shelves at stores. Trust me, you’re lucky.”
“Well, I guess it doesn’t bother me as much now,” Grace clarified. Especially since her height gave her all kinds of advantages, especially in combat. “But I was mostly a shy kid. Standing out wasn’t fun for me.”
“I can believe that. But trust me, Grace. You’re beautiful as you are. I wouldn’t change a thing about you,” Dani said.
“I know,” Grace said, realizing she was probably blushing. “And I wouldn’t change a thing about you either. You’re perfect. All five foot one of you.”
Dani grinned. “Okay, my turn, how much would -”
But Grace didn’t hear the rest of Dani’s question as a screeching sound pierced her hearing. She didn’t even have to look. She immediately dropped the popcorn in her hands. Her left hand was on Dani’s back immediately, her other hand on her hips. She twisted to her side to avoid the out-of-control vehicle, and instinctively threw Dani in the opposite direction.
Dani squeaked in surprise, and Grace was on top of her in an instant, protecting her with her body. There was a loud crash in front of them, and Grace looked up to see a red Mercedes crumpled against a fallen light post. The driver was inside slumped against the steering wheel. Grace didn’t care. She ran her hands up and down Dani making sure she was alright.
“Dani?! Are you alright?!” Grace asked, worried she threw her too hard.
“Si, si….” Dani acknowledged in Spanish. “I’m fine. Are you?!”
“I’m fine. Can you get up?” Grace asked.
But Dani didn’t answer. Instead, she looked at the car that almost killed them… well, more like her. That wouldn’t have killed Grace, just injured her, and probably superficially at that. But Dani obviously didn’t know that.
“Oh my god, Grace. The driver, he’s unconscious. I’m calling for help!” Dani said, as she started dialing on her cell phone.
Typical Dani. Always worried about others. Grace was still fuming at the careless driver. She had to take a step back and remind herself that the driver might have had a heart attack or something. She breathed a sigh of relief that Dani seemed to be alright, save a few scrapes and bruises.
Grace made her way to the vehicle to check on the driver and see if he needed any medical help. She may be with a young Dani, but she was still Dani, and Grace already knew what she’d want her to do. And that was to do all she could to help the man. Grace looked around and noticed they were drawing a crowd. Dani was asking the people around them if anyone was a doctor.
Grace had already started performing CPR on the driver as he had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. After a minute or two of pumping the stranger’s heart, she could feel Dani’s hand on her back, encouraging her to keep on going. She had no idea how much time had passed but eventually she heard sirens from the first responders.
After another minute, with the stranger still lifeless before her, a paramedic dropped to his knees beside Grace and started to unpack his medical equipment. Dani took Grace’s hand and led her away. She took one last look at the lifeless man, and couldn’t help but be grateful it wasn’t Dani down there. Grace’s blood ran cold thinking of what could have happened to Dani had she not been there.
Several hours later
“Hey Grace, I hope Diego’s pyjamas fit you alright. If not -” Dani stopped dead in her tracks as she caught Grace in the process of putting a shirt on. “Dios mio! I’m so sorry, Grace. I should have knocked, I don’t know what I was thinking… I mean, obviously I wasn’t thinking. I’ll come back -”
“It’s okay, Dani. Come in. It’s your bedroom, you don’t have to knock,” Grace said.
But Dani didn’t truly register what Grace just said. She was completely engrossed in the scars on Grace’s arms. She had caught a glimpse of white symmetrical lines on Grace’s back as well. They were unlike anything she’d ever seen before. Those scars didn’t look like the result of some injury. They were too precise… too mechanical.
“What happened to your arms?” Dani asked.
Grace looked confused for a second, then when it dawned on her what Dani meant, she took a step back, looking almost embarrassed.
“Grace?” Dani prodded.
“Ummm… I had surgery a while back,” Grace said, while putting a sweater on, obviously not wanting to display her scars. It hadn’t escaped Dani’s notice that it was rather hot for a sweater at the moment.
“Why did you need surgery? And why so many incision lines?” Dani asked.
“It’s a long story, Dani. Maybe another time? I’m more interested to know how you’re doing,” Grace said.
Dani could tell her friend was uncomfortable with the topic of her scars. So, she decided to back off, but made a mental note to ask again another time. “I’m okay… Thanks to you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Grace said, seemingly uncomfortable.
“I’m serious. I’d be dead if it wasn’t for you,” Dani said. “Umm… Grace? How did you know to push me aside? The car came from behind us. We were both looking forward. How could you have possibly known?”
“I uhhh… I caught his headlight in the corner of my eye,” Grace said.
“But it happened so fast. How did you have time to even think, let alone react?” Dani said in disbelief.
“I don’t know… I…”
“And you were so strong too…. I could have sworn you lifted me right off my feet.”
“I’m sure it only felt that way, it all happened so fast…”
“You’re like my guardian angel, Grace. What you did… it was almost… inhuman.”
“I’m sure it was just the adrenaline. I’m not really -”
But she didn’t get to finish what she was saying as Dani crossed the room towards her, went up on her tippy toes, and embraced her. After a moment she pulled back and shyly kissed Grace on her cheek.
“I owe you my life, Grace. One day, I hope I can return the favor,” Dani said, as she stepped out of the room.
“You already have,” Grace whispered, unbeknownst to Dani.
Later that night, Grace quietly made her way out of the room she and Dani shared. She felt awful that Dani gave up her bed for her and slept on a mattress on the floor instead. Grace insisted she didn’t even need a mattress let alone a bed, but Dani wouldn’t hear of it. And as usual, nine out of ten times, Grace would lose the argument to Dani. Grace just thanked her lucky stars that she won the argument that truly counted; being sent back in time and becoming Dani’s protector.
Grace tip-toed to the kitchen to get herself some water. Although she hadn’t used up so much energy that she would need her meds, she did use up enough earlier that day that she was more thirsty than usual. She opened a cupboard and grabbed herself a mug. She was about to pour herself some water when she heard footsteps. She turned around and it was Dani’s father.
“Hola Señor,” Grace said, smiling. She was sure it came out more as ‘ho-la’ but hey, she figured her blonde hair gave her a pass.
Dani’s father spoke to her in Spanish. “My Dani tells me although you don’t speak much Spanish, you understand it very well.”
“Si, Señor Ramos,” Grace answered, shyly.
“After what you have done for me and Diego today, saving our precious Dani’s life, I hope you can bring yourself to call me Papi, because I consider you now part of our family. We would be broken if we lost Dani. Because of you, we are whole.”
Grace didn’t have the vocabulary to respond to Dani’s father in Spanish, and so she settled for smiling.
“I have seen a change in Dani this past week. She can’t stop talking about her new friend, Grace. She’s been excited to come to work every day this week. It warms my heart that she’d made a new friend, and a true one at that. It’s hard to believe, but she doesn’t have very many friends.”
Grace continued to smile and nod, hoping she could convey without words that she understood most of what Dani’s father was saying.
“Well, Grace, I’ll say good night now. I hope you feel at home here. And I hope you know that you are welcome to stay as long as you’d like. I would like to take you out to dinner with Dani and Diego tomorrow after your shift as a thank-you.”
Grace’s eyes widened and she started to shake her head. She didn’t want any kind of thanks for something she would have done regardless. But Dani’s father gently put his hand on her shoulder.
“Please, allow this old man this one indulgence. Besides, I’m sure you’d like to try something other than Dani’s cooking for a change,” Dani’s father said, laughing.
Grace chuckled along with him. Not that she agreed, but because Dani’s father was so kind and warm. Not unlike her own father. She liked him immediately. She liked Dani’s entire family. She mumbled a good night as Dani’s father left her in the kitchen.
He would never know just how much he’d touched Grace’s heart. To be accepted by Dani’s family, even though they didn’t truly know who she was, was a balm to Grace’s battered soul. She wished her Dani could see her now.
To be continued…
Author’s Note: Thanks so much for the kind words you guys gave me for last chapter. Next chapter – Rev-9!
Chapter 5: In The Midst of Chaos
The Rev-9 arrives. Dani is furious at Grace for lying. Sarah makes her grand entrance.
“A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” – Unknown.
Fate Binds Us
Papi did not cheap out on dinner. They were all dining out in Mexico City’s best restaurant, Restaurante Nicos. They’d spent the last two and a half hours dining on sopas, ensaladas, ceviche, tortas, tamales and enchiladas. Dani was stuffed. Looking at Papi and Diego, they were stuffed too.
Grace on the other hand, much to Dani’s amusement, was still eating. Her new-found friend sure did love food. She had this look of appreciation as if she didn’t know the next time she might eat. She started the evening shy enough and only took small bites, but seeing as Papi kept on ordering so much food, she probably decided it would be a shame to have it all go to waste.
“How do you like the tortas here, Grace? It’s this restaurant’s specialty,” Papi asked in Spanish.
“Deliciosa,” Grace said, smiling, seemingly happy she could answer this one question in her limited Spanish.
Dani smiled, pleased that Grace made the effort. She certainly didn’t have to as Dani and Diego had been translating for her to their father all night. She was also so happy that her father and brother embraced Grace as their newest family member. The fact that she wouldn’t be alive at the moment if it weren’t for her friend obviously played a huge part in that. She wondered why it mattered so much to her that Grace be accepted by her family. Did she want Grace as something more than a friend?
“Papi, did you know Grace is kind of a celebrity at work? Everyone knows how she saved Dani’s life,” Diego said, proudly.
Grace blushed. “Of course, everyone knows. You and Dani won’t stop talking about it.”
Dani purposely translated what Grace said to their father inaccurately which drew an exasperated look from Grace, and a chuckle from Papi.
“You are a hero, Grace. You deserve to be seen as one,” Papi said.
“I’m honored you see it that way, but really, I simply just pushed her aside,” Grace said, giving Dani a look that said, translate this accurately.
“You’re too humble. But regardless how you see it, we believe you’re a hero,” Papi said, a kindly finality in his voice.
Grace obviously caught it and just smiled and said, “Gracias, señor.”
Dani’s father laughed wholeheartedly. “I told you to call me, Papi now. Señor is something family wouldn’t say. And make no mistake, Grace. You are indeed family now. I am a religious man, and I believe with all my heart that God sent you to us.”
Dani decided to save her friend who was turning redder than a tomato. “So, Papi, we and some friends have plans to go to the carnival tomorrow. Did you want to come along?”
“An old man like me would prefer to stay home and relax. But you can use my car.”
Dani and Diego thanked their father, thrilled they wouldn’t have to bus it there. The television started playing in the restaurant and there was a football game on that drew Papi and Diego’s attention. Dani began to notice that Grace stopped eating and was constantly looking at the entrance and around the restaurant.
“Everything okay, Grace?” Dani asked. “Are you looking for someone? Are you in a hurry to go?”
“No, I’m just…” Grace trailed off, obviously distracted.
Dani noticed Grace not looking too well. She looked incredibly anxious. Dani thought she mumbled something that sounded like, “It’s too early.”
“Papi, you know, it’s been a long day, maybe we can settle the bill and relax at home?” Dani suggested.
“That’s a great idea. The first half of the game is almost finished. If we leave now, we can catch the second half at home,” Diego added.
“Ahhh, you know, I forgot my wallet in the car. I’ll be right back,” Papi said.
“Okay, I’m just going to run to the ladies’ room,” Dani said.
“No! Wait, Dani, I’ll come with you,” Grace said, looking nervous.
Dani and Grace made their way to the washroom together. Grace continued to look around nervously.
“Grace, what’s the matter? All of a sudden you’re looking so anxious. I’m sorry if my Papi made you uncomfortable with all his hero talk. He’s just really -”
“No, Dani, it’s not that…” Grace said, trailing off again.
“Then, are you not feeling well?” Dani asked, very concerned. She’d not seen Grace like this before.
“I don’t know, it could be nothing. But let’s just get going,” Grace said, standing by the washroom door.
“Okay,” Dani said, about to get into one of the stalls. “Umm… Grace? The other stall is available. Don’t you need to use it?”
But Grace didn’t seem to hear her. Dani just shrugged and decided to just empty her bladder. There was obviously something on Grace’s mind. She’d drag it out of her when they got home. Maybe she saw someone at the restaurant she knew. Who knows? Dani realized as close as she’d gotten to Grace the past week, there was still so much she didn’t know about her friend.
Dani quickly washed her hands and she and Grace made their way back to their table. It didn’t escape Dani’s notice that Grace never used the washroom. What was the point of her tagging along? As they approached their table, Dani saw that Diego was busy on his phone.
“Hey Diego, did Papi pay yet?” Dani asked.
“He hasn’t come back from the car yet,” Diego answered, distractedly.
Dani was about to pull out a chair to sit in, when she saw her father approaching their table, their bag of leftovers in his hand. But then something strange played out before her eyes. Her Papi raised the paper bag of leftovers before him and it morphed into this black liquid. A gun-like metal appeared in his hand and was pointing it right at her.
“Dani, get down!!!” She heard Grace scream, as she felt strong hands encircle her from behind. Grace shoved her to the side, her larger body covering her smaller one.
Gunshots rang in the air. The restaurant patrons were screaming and running. It was chaos. Grace was off of her like lightning. Dani looked and Grace took off a small tabletop and used it to pound on her father…. But wait, it wasn’t her father. Just like its hand earlier, it morphed again, only this time, into a completely different person. Grace kept on grabbing anything she could get her hands on and kept fighting the man ferociously. At one point, she was able to disarm him and his gun flew across the room.
Dani wasn’t sure if she was in a dream, or rather, a nightmare. All at once, everything moved around her lightning fast, but also in slow motion. She watched Grace move at inhuman speed. The man she fought was equally strong, it slammed into her which lifted her right off her feet and thrown through the restaurant window, glass shattering everywhere.
“Grace!!!” Dani screamed. She thought the man would go after Grace, but instead, it focused on her. It’s left arm turned into a knife-like extension, a solid steel, knife-like extension. A part of Dani knew she should run, but her fear froze her in place. The man raised his arm looking like he was about to strike.
Then a flash of red, smashed the man in the face. It was Diego! He had a fire extinguisher in his hands. Part of the flesh on the man’s face came off, but there was no blood. Instead, it reconstituted itself as if it was never injured. What Dani saw beneath made her blood run cold. It was metal skeleton. Its glowing red eyes trained completely on her.
“Dani, get behind me,” Diego yelled at her, as he kept swinging the fire extinguisher.
But to Dani’s horror, Diego didn’t even last another second. The man – the machine – disarmed Diego. And the next thing Dani saw would forever haunt her dreams. The machine impaled Diego through the gut. Its knife-like hand extension dripping in blood through her brother’s back.
“DIEGO!!! NOOOO!!!” Dani screamed in anguish.
The machine retracted its arm and Diego dropped to the floor. The machine looked straight at her. No remorse, no guilt for what it had just done. No pity for her. No emotion. Before it could take another step, she saw a flash of metal and heard a resounding crack in the air. The machine flew across the room. It was Grace! She was alive! Was that a car door in her hand?
“We have to go, Dani!” Grace said, lifting Dani to her feet.
“I won’t leave, Diego!” Dani said, fighting to get away from Grace’s vice-like grip.
Before Grace could say anything, the machine got back up and was running straight at them. Grace anticipated it and fought back, her only weapon the car door in her hand. Instead of a blunt-force weapon, she was now using it as a shield.
“Dani, stay behind me!” Grace yelled.
Dani ran to her brother on the floor. There was so much blood! “Diego? Diego, can you hear me?”
“Si, si….” Diego said, but there was blood coming from his mouth as well.
“Come on, try to get up,” Dani said, trying to lift her brother.
“No, no, I won’t make it. That thing wants you, Dani. You need to run,” Diego said. Dani looked back and saw that Grace and that thing had taken their battle to the streets.
“I won’t leave you, Diego,” Dani said, stubbornly.
Dani heard a loud crash and looked out at Grace and the machine again. Grace was able to put the machine in the path of an incoming semi. She killed it! Grace ran back in the restaurant.
“Dani, we have to go,” Grace said, pulling Dani away from her brother.
“Diego needs help. It’s dead!” Dani argued.
“No, it’s not! That won’t kill it. Trust me! We need to go or you’re dead in the next thirty seconds!” Grace yelled at her.
“Who are you, Grace? What was that?” Diego struggled to ask.
“That’s a Rev-9 Terminator. It was sent from the future to kill Dani. I’m here to protect her. She has to come with me. I can’t kill that thing, I can only hide her from it,” Grace explained, frantically.
Diego saw Grace’s open wound and the metal beneath. “You’re a machine too?”
“No, I’m human. Just modified,” Grace said. She turned to Dani and practically begged, “Please, we have to go, Dani.”
Dani looked out at the semi that ran over the machine. It started moving. Black liquid began oozing out of it, as the metal skeleton was still trapped beneath its wheels.
“We have to go!” Grace said, pulling Dani.
“Take her, save her!” Diego said, speaking only to Grace.
“I’m sorry,” Dani heard Grace say as she lifted Dani. She lifted her as if she weighed nothing and ran her outside.
Grace broke into an old 4x4 truck, the nearest vehicle she could get to. She shoved Dani inside and quickly worked on hot-wiring the vehicle. Dani looked out and saw that the Rev-9 was fully reconstituted and was freeing the skeleton part of itself that was still pinned to the semi.
“C’mon, c’mon!” Grace whispered to herself, trying to get the truck started. Dani looked at the Rev-9 again. The endoskeleton was reabsorbed into its liquid metal form. The thing was one again.
“C’mon!” Grace yelled just as the engine roared to life. They sped away quickly from the scene, but they weren’t out of the woods yet. The Rev-9 hijacked a van and was tailing them. Dani had never been so scared in her life.
“Dani, put your seatbelt on!” Grace said.
Dani instinctively obeyed then turned to Grace. “Why does it want to kill me? What have I done?”
“It’s not what you’ve done. It’s what you’ll do,” Grace answered cryptically as she weaved her way through traffic, trying to outrun their pursuer.
Dani was about to ask something else when a hit from behind jolted her forward. She looked back and there was the Rev-9 right behind them trying to run them off the road. The van the Rev-9 was driving tried to get beside them. Grace was able to maneuver their truck to block its way. A part of Dani was fascinated by how calm and collected Grace was.
Dani turned to watch their back. She couldn’t believe just how relentless this machine was, this Rev-9. It didn’t care what cars were in its way. It just rammed right through them. Dani screamed when it hit a pedestrian. She had no doubt that poor woman died instantly.
Grace continued to prevent the van from getting beside them for another couple of minutes, but a vehicle in front was driving slowly and Grace had no choice but to slam on the breaks. This gave the Rev-9 an opportunity to get beside them. It rammed its van right into the side of their truck. Their momentum sent them flipping right off the road.
Dani screamed. They were flipped upside down, her shoulder leaned awkwardly on the inside roof of the truck. For a moment she thought she’d broken her neck, but realized she was still able to move.
“Dani, are you alright?!” Grace said, removing her seatbelt.
“I think so,” Dani said, somewhat dazed.
“C’mon, we gotta run!” Grace said, dragging Dani out of the truck.
Dani realized they were on an overpass. Most cars just made a wide berth around them. There weren’t any other vehicles they could use to run away. The machine had split itself again and was approaching them from both sides. They had no escape. It was too high to jump, and Dani had a feeling that even if they did, that thing would easily just jump down after them. This was it. They were dead.
“Dani, listen to me. I’m going to charge at that one, the human looking one. Its endoskeleton will chase you, but it won’t be able to morph. On my mark, you run, you got it?”
“What?” Dani still couldn’t fully comprehend what the hell was going on.
But before Grace could take a step forward to initiate her plan, a red truck came screeching out of nowhere and knocked the endoskeleton right off its feet. What the hell? A silver-haired woman wearing a bulletproof vest came out of the vehicle holding a launcher of some kind. Was she law-enforcement? Even the Rev-9 looked confused for a second.
The unknown woman shot the endoskeleton first sending it flying at least fifty feet across smashing into a car. The morphing part of the Rev-9 looked like it remembered its mission and unleashed its knife-like extensions and made a beeline towards Dani. But the woman got several good shots at it, and its last one sent it flying over the overpass onto the road below.
The woman dropped her weapons and approached Dani and Grace and looked them up and down. She pulled what looked like a grenade and threw it over the overpass. She looked back at them again and with a smirk said, “I’ll be back.”
Grace quickly covered Dani, hugging her from behind as the grenade exploded from below them. Did this woman do this shit for a living? She looked like she was going for a walk in the park. The woman casually walked away from them, seeming to admire her handywork.
“Who the fuck was that?” Dani asked, out of breath.
“I don’t know, but we have to go,” Grace said, pulling Dani towards the woman’s truck, which she left wide open.
“But wait, we can’t just take this woman’s -”
“Dani, we either go or it kills you, it’s that simple.” Dani didn’t miss the irritation in Grace’s voice. She realized it was the first time she could remember Grace being short with her.
After a few minutes of driving, Dani broke the silence. “Take us back to the restaurant, Grace. I need to see Papi.”
Grace looked at her, pure sadness in her eyes. “I’m sorry, Dani. I don’t know how to tell you this, but your father… he’s… he’s dead.”
“What? No!” Dani said, fresh tears pooling in her eyes. “He wasn’t in the restaurant when that thing attacked.”
“The Rev-9 took your father’s appearance. It can only copy someone’s appearance when it establishes physical contact. The person it replicates… it kills them.”
Dani’s grief quickly turned into fury. In the blink of an eye, her entire family was dead. And Grace, this person she’d grown to love in such a short amount of time, was not who she thought she was.
“Who the hell are you, Grace?! You lied to me about everything,” Dani said, accusingly.
Grace looked remorseful, but was unapologetic. “I did. But I had to get close enough to you to make sure I was there to protect you when the Rev-9 inevitably arrived.”
“You knew! You knew this whole time that I was in danger and you said nothing! My father and brother are dead because you said nothing!” Dani said, angrily.
The hurt look in Grace’s eyes almost made Dani take back her words, but she felt so betrayed at the moment. Dani wished that Grace would defend herself, but she said nothing, just kept her eyes on the road.
“I’ve lost my whole family,” Dani whispered.
“I’m so sorry, Dani. One of these days, if I live through this, I’ll beg for your forgiveness. But for now, I need to get you as far away from that thing as possible,” Grace said.
Dani didn’t acknowledge Grace. She was too broken, too much in shock. They drove for several more minutes in silence. Dani was about to demand where they were going when she realized they weren’t driving in a straight line anymore. They were swerving left to right.
“Grace? What’s wrong?” Dani asked, noticing that Grace was sweating profusely. She touched her forehead. “You’re burning up!”
“I expended too much energy fighting the Rev-9. I’m crashing. I need water, and my meds,” Grace said, gasping for breath.
“Your meds? What?” Dani asked.
“It’s there,” Grace pointed straight ahead. Dani realized Grace had driven them near where they worked. She was pointing at the gym near Aurius Motors. “I didn’t get a chance to move them.”
“You’re pointing at Go! Fitness,” Dani said, wondering if Grace was hallucinating.
“Locker thirty-six. Combination twelve… thirty… four,” Grace said, between breaths. She managed to park their truck sloppily in a stall. She tried climbing out, but couldn’t even keep herself standing.
Dani, still angry with Grace, couldn’t help but put her arms around her waist to help steady her. “You can’t even walk! Here, get in the back. I’ll grab your meds, then I’ll drive.”
“Do you even know how to drive?” Grace asked.
“I’ll figure it out,” Dani said, as she slammed the door on Grace who was slumped on the back seat. Dani ran into the gym and easily found the locker. She was proud of herself for remembering the combination Grace gave her. She had a mind to grab several water bottles as well… actually, steal would probably be the more accurate term. She ran back outside with Grace’s meds along with the water when she saw the silver-haired stranger leaning against the hood of the truck.
“I save your ass, then you steal my truck. Nice.”
To be continued…
Author’s Notes: Sorry this chapter turned out to be the least original so far. I did take a lot from the film. That being said, I’m so happy I finally got Sarah into the story now. She’s such a fun character for me to play around with as a writer. Next chapter, Dani has to deal with her conflicted feelings of anger towards Grace. And Grace will need to deal with the new dynamic Sarah brings. The fun is just beginning. Thanks for reading, drop me a line and let me know what you think.
Chapter 6: Abuelita
Grace and Sarah meet. 'nuff said!
“A teacher presents the past, reveals the present, and creates the future.” -Unknown
Fate Binds Us
A motel somewhere in Toluca
It’s been twenty-four hours since Dani’s entire family had been killed. Now… entire, might sound like a lot of people, but it was only two. Her father and brother. But to Dani it was her entire world. She hadn’t even had a chance to say any meaningful last words to them. She hadn’t even gotten a chance to say goodbye to Diego before Grace had carried her away kicking and screaming. She’d since forced herself to feel numb towards her loss. If she allowed herself to feel, she might just fall apart and never find a way to put herself back together again.
The silver-haired commando – whom she’d just learned was named, Sarah – had told her that goodbyes wouldn’t help her. Perhaps she was right. Dani felt like she’d lost everything in the blink of an eye. Including Grace. Grace whom she’d had a crush on almost the minute she met her. And more than that, if she was being honest with herself, she’d found herself falling in love with her.
But a part of her felt like she’d lost her too. How could she ever forgive Grace for not telling her the truth? Grace said she was her protector. But hadn’t she known if she didn’t include Dani’s family in that, then Dani would have preferred to die anyway? She knew, this whole time Grace knew that Dani, and by extension her whole family, was in grave danger. Yet, she said nothing. Dani was so angry at her.
Yet, she couldn’t help but still feel protective over Grace. By the time Sarah had found them outside Go! Fitness Gym, Grace had already passed out in the truck. Sarah had forced them to take her station wagon instead, insisting that the vehicle would be harder to track by the so-called terminator. Dani had chosen to sit in the back seat and cradled the unconscious Grace’s head on her lap. She’d constantly kept checking and making sure she was still breathing.
“Here, kid, you need to eat,” Sarah said, disrupting her thoughts and shoving what seemed to be a ham sub in her hand.
“I’m not hungry,” Dani said, handing the food back.
“I… don’t care,” Sarah said, just staring at her outstretched hand, not making a move to take back the sub.
Dani sighed and took a bite. She’d never say it out loud, but Sarah intimidated her. Despite her age, she didn’t look like someone you’d want to mess with.
“Until your protector wakes up, I guess it’s fallen on my lap to make sure you survive. And part of that is making sure you don’t starve to death,” Sarah said, dryly.
“How do you know she’s my protector?” Dani asked, looking at Grace, unconscious on the only bed in the room.
“Well, I didn’t think a tiny thing like you would be anyone’s protector. Oh, that, and you’re not the one with metal meshing beneath her flesh,” Sarah said, opening her bag of potato chips.
“I wonder why that terminator wanted you dead,” Sarah said, still examining the unconscious Grace.
“I told you, I don’t know… I’m a nobody,” Dani said.
“Oh, I wasn’t asking you. Just wondering out loud. If Robogirl here hadn’t had a chance to tell you much, then you’re even more in the dark than I am,” Sarah said.
“Her name is Grace,” Dani said, not wanting anyone mocking her friend. The friend she’s currently very angry with.
“Well, excuse me, but you weren’t saying very nice things to Grace while you were cleaning her wounds earlier,” Sarah said.
“You understand Spanish,” Dani said. She had been mumbling less than happy thoughts to an unconscious Grace a few hours back.
“I’ve picked up some Spanish here and there,” Sarah said. “Why were you cursing Wonder Woman here when she’d just fought a terminator for you, two at one point? You got a bunch of other people waiting in the wings to protect your ungrateful hide?”
“I’m not ungrateful!” That hurt. It hit a little too close to home for Dani. “It’s just…. She pretended to be a security guard at my work. And I got close to her. I thought she was my friend. But this whole time, she knew the danger I was in, and she didn’t warn us. My father and brother died because we didn’t know what we were up against.”
“I see…” Sarah said, taking another bite of her chips.
“That’s all you have to say?” Dani asked.
“Look, Dani, I know you’re not going to believe this, but I’ve been in your shoes. I know the pain you’re going through. And I know how confused you are. But this… none of this is Grace’s fault. And I think somewhere deep down, you know that.”
“But she knew!” Dani argued.
Sarah nodded. “I know. But what could she have done? From the story you’ve told me, Grace probably had no idea exactly when, where or what form this terminator would take before it made its grand entrance.”
“You’re right, she could have warned you. But now that you’ve had some time to calm down, do you really think you would have believed her? That you’re being hunted by a machine sent back from the future?” Sarah asked.
“Be honest now, otherwise you’d only be lying to yourself,” Sarah said. Although her words were harsh, her eyes were sympathetic.
“I would have thought she was crazy,” Dani said, fresh tears pooling in her eyes.
“I’m sure she considered telling you, Dani. But ultimately, she had a job to do. And from what I’ve been able to piece together, that job is to make sure you survived. She wasn’t in a position to risk alienating you which would have made her job harder.”
“I just feel so betrayed,” Dani said. “I grew really close to her. I had thought that maybe…. Never mind. Obviously, I was wrong.”
“You know, you can be her mission, and you can be her friend. Both can be true at the same time,” Sarah said.
Dani realized that a lot of her anger towards Grace didn’t really have anything to do with her family’s death. It was the insecurity that came with the revelation that she was sent to protect her. She was some kind of mission to Grace that was ordered upon her by some nameless, faceless leader, sometime in the future. Did Grace even like her? Had it been a chore for Grace to spend all that time with Dani? Did she even consider Dani a friend? Regardless, the woman risked her life for her. That alone should earn her Dani’s eternal debt of gratitude.
“I said some awful things to her, Sarah,” Dani said, her anger swiftly turning to remorse.
“I wouldn’t worry about it, kiddo. Extraordinary circumstances and all that,” Sarah said, making an annoyed face as she realized she’d finished her bag of chips.
“Do you think she’ll pull through, Sarah?” Dani asked.
“Well, she did prepare those syringes. So, we didn’t have to guess how much dosage each of her medication required. I just hope we got it in her in time. But feel her forehead, her temperature has gone down. She’s not burning up anymore. I think she’ll be okay,” Sarah said.
Dani released a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. If Grace didn’t make it through, and Dani’s last words to her were made in anger, she had no idea how she’d cope with that.
“Hey Dani, here’s some money. Can you grab me some more Ruffles? I want the sour cream and onion one,” Sarah said, handing her a couple of bills. “Oh, you’ll probably want to get Too-Tall here some food for when she wakes up. And tie your hair up, and put on my hat and sunglasses. We don’t want you being recognized.”
Dani still didn’t make a move towards the door. A part of her wondered if the terminator was lurking somewhere near by.
As if reading her thoughts, Sarah added, “You’ll be fine. I took precautions to make sure we weren’t followed. And don’t worry about your friend here, I’ll keep an eye on her.”
Dani decided she could use some fresh air anyway. She took one last look at Grace and headed out.
Thirty minutes later
Grace’s head felt extremely heavy. More than that, she had a pounding headache. But her energy was back. She tentatively opened her eyes and the first thing she saw was the barrel of a pistol. And it was pointed right at her.
“Talk. Talk fast,” the silver-haired woman said.
Grace felt her adrenaline shoot up. Before the woman could even blink, Grace was behind her and had her pinned to the wall, the woman completely disarmed.
“You first,” Grace said, already scanning the room for Dani.
“Get off of me,” the woman said.
“Where’s Dani? Where is she? I swear, if anything’s happened to her -” Grace started.
“Relax. She’s fine. I sent her out for a while,” the woman said, rubbing her neck as Grace let her go.
“Sent her where?!” Grace asked, nearing panic mode.
“The poor girl needed some air,” Sarah said.
“There is a terminator that wants her dead, and you sent her out?!” Grace said, angrily. “Tell me where she went!”
“Not until I get answers from you,” the woman said.
“I don’t have time for this,” Grace said, making her way to the door.
“She’s safe. Look, you’re just going to go around in circles out there. I can easily tell you where she went. The sooner you answer my questions, the sooner I’ll tell you.”
Grace was torn, on the one hand, she was worried to death for Dani, but on the other, she knew she’d be wasting valuable time trying to find her without truly knowing where she went.
“Fine, ask your questions,” Grace said, really disliking the woman before her.
“When are you from?”
“Why is a terminator after Dani?”
“Because her existence is crucial in defeating the machines in my future. We were winning the war, and this was the machines’ last-ditch effort to turn the tides.”
“What kind of terminator are you? I’ve never seen one like you before… almost human.”
“I am human,” Grace said, irritably. Sarah just raised an eyebrow at her. “Just enhanced.”
“Did Skynet send this terminator?”
“I’ve never heard of Skynet.”
The woman seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. “Good. We changed that. John and I, we changed that. We saved three billion lives,” the woman said, a faraway look in her eyes. “You’re welcome.”
“Who are you?” Grace asked.
“My name is Sarah Connor. When I was young -”
“Wait, what? You’re Sarah Connor?” This was Dani’s Sarah? The woman Dani had always affectionately called abuelita?
“What? You know me?”
“No fucking way,” Grace mumbled, shaking her head in disbelief. A flash of memory came to Grace.
She will get on your last nerves, I have no doubt. But she was my friend, my teacher, a mother in some ways. Please, as much as you want to probably kill her, don’t. Trust her. For me, Grace. For me.
“Don’t tell me I’m still alive in 2042. That’d be fucking tragic,” Sarah said, snorting in amusement.
“No. I’d never met you before. But someone close to me said I might meet you,” Grace said, still not believing that this abrasive woman was the woman Dani always told her stories about with so much affection. The woman’s a pill!
“Oh? Well then, I’m sure I don’t need to explain anything further,” Sarah said, smiling smugly.
“Oh, yes, you do! Where did Dani go?” Grace said, walking closer to Sarah, hoping her height would intimidate her. But before Sarah could answer, there was a knock on the door.
“Sarah! Hey Sarah, let me in.” It was Dani. Grace rushed to the door to open it.
“Grace! You’re alright,” Dani said, hugging her immediately.
“Hey, don’t crush my chips!” Sarah said, annoyed.
“Oh, sorry. Here you go, Sarah,” Dani said, handing her the Ruffles bag. “Here, Grace, I got you a sandwich and some water.”
“You’re going to have to eat that in the car. We’ve got to go. Staying in one place for too long is never a good idea when you have a terminator on your tail,” Sarah said, as she walked out of the room to their car.
A part of Grace wanted to tell Sarah that she wasn’t needed. That Dani was Grace’s responsibility and for her to get lost. But Grace quickly acknowledged she was just being possessive of Dani. And what this silver-haired, weathered woman lacked in grace and brute strength, she more than made up for in her cleverness and experience. Her Dani had told her to trust Sarah. And so, she would.
But not before she got something off her chest. Grace followed Sarah out to the car. “Let’s get one thing straight, if you put Dani in any kind of danger, I will fuck you up.”
Sarah, not one bit intimidated by her towering height, simply smirked and said, “I drive.”
Grace took a deep breath. God give her strength.
To be continued…
Author’s Notes: Thank you so much, for reading, everyone! Next chapter will be more of the girls and their ever-evolving, often interesting dynamic. Dani still owes Grace an apology. Sarah begins to suspect that Grace is more than just Dani’s protector. And of course, the constant danger always lurking just around the corner.
Chapter 7: Grace In Forgiveness
Sarah continues to grate on Grace's nerves. Dani and Grace have a moment alone.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B Smedes
Fate Binds Us
“So, let me get this straight,” Sarah said, a look of disbelief on her face. “You’re mechanically augmented and optimized for short bursts of energy only.”
“Yes,” Grace said.
“So, if you don’t kill this Rev-9 within the first few minutes, you crash like a fat diabetic?”
Grace tried not to roll her eyes. Lord help her. “Yes.”
“Considering you didn’t even have a BB gun when I found you and Dani on that overpass…. What exactly was your plan?” Sarah asked, sarcasm dripping from every word.
Their new traveling companion was getting on Grace’s last nerves. If she was being honest with herself, it was probably because she was doing a ruthless job of exposing Grace’s shortcomings.
“My plan was to hide Dani. I couldn’t time-travel with any weapons from the future. And I had no time to procure any weapons in this time. Even if I did, all they would do is slow down the Rev-9. It’s not something you can fight. You can only run from it,” Grace said.
“Aaaaand then what? You plan on hiding Dani until…?” Sarah let herself trail off.
“Until she can fulfill her destiny,” Grace said, cringing at how awful that sounded.
“Uh huh,” Sarah said, dryly.
“You have a better idea?” Grace asked, annoyed.
“Well, I certainly don’t have a worse one,” Sarah answered. “God, you two need me even more than I thought.”
Grace just sunk back in her seat beside Sarah and fumed silently. The three of them had been driving for the last two hours. They were heading further south, “off the grid” according to Sarah, until they could come up with a plan. Grace hated to admit that Sarah was right. Dani was alive only by sheer luck. Grace had lost control of the situation, and she was pissed off at herself.
After several more minutes of tense silence, Dani spoke up. “Sarah, how did you know we’d be on that overpass?”
“I get these texts. They tell me when a terminator appears. I’ve gotten several over the years. They tell me the location and the time. And with each text I receive, I pack up all my weapons, and I kill those metal motherfuckers. And each text always ends with the same two words -”
“For John,” Grace whispered.
“How the hell did you know that?” Sarah asked.
“Never mind. Do you still have those texts?” Grace asked. She recalled her Dani telling her it was important for her to get a hold of Sarah’s cell phone. The messages that ended with “for John” would be important for Grace. She didn’t tell her much more, only that she’d put the clues together.
Sarah made a motion for Dani to grab her chip bag in the back seat. Dani handed the bag to Grace.
“What are you doing?” Sarah asked, as Grace knocked the back cover of the phone right off.
“Future shit,” Grace said, feeling her inner brattiness come out. “These texts all originate from just outside Laredo, Texas.”
“How do you know that?” Sarah asked.
“Because I recognize them,” Grace said.
“You’ve seen them before?” Dani asked.
“Just before I arrived here, my commander insisted I get these exact coordinates tattooed, as if I couldn’t remember shit,” Grace said, mumbling that last bit, and lifted her shirt. “I was told to go to these coordinates if my mission went sideways.”
“And what? You didn’t think it’s gone sideways yet?” Sarah asked, drolly.
Before Grace could throw back a sarcastic remark, Dani chimed in. “Perhaps we should go find this mystery texter. Maybe he can help us.”
“Considering you’re an undocumented Mexican citizen, I’m wanted in fifty states, and Hybrid-girl here has no identity whatsoever, it might not be a walk in the park,” Sarah said, dryly.
“I know someone who can get us past the border,” Dani said.
“Someone you trust?” Grace asked.
“Yes. My uncle,” Dani answered.
“Fine. We need to really get off the grid then,” Sarah said. “But first, we’ll need to stock up on food for at least the next day or so.”
Sarah turned the car around and started driving the opposite direction. They drove for another couple of hours until their fuel started running low. They stopped at a gas station around thirty miles away from the train station they needed to get to. They planned on ditching their vehicle a couple of miles from the station.
“You two wait here. I’ll go pay for the gas inside and pick up a few things,” Sarah said, not waiting for a response.
“She gets on your nerves, doesn’t she?” Dani asked, waiting for Sarah to be out of earshot.
“I’ve gotten to know her while you were unconscious. She means well.”
Grace nodded. “I know. I wouldn’t have let her near you otherwise.”
“So, you have a good feeling about her, then.”
“Not really. But my commander told me I might meet a Sarah Connor. I was told to trust her.”
“And you trust your commander?”
“Do you always do what your commander says?”
“Almost always.” Grace couldn’t help but smile, thinking of the one thing she disobeyed her Dani on.
“Was it your commander who ordered you to protect me?”
“No. I volunteered.”
“Why?” Dani asked, looking completely bewildered.
“Augments like me are incredibly rare. Most don’t survive the procedure,” Grace said. She couldn’t even begin to describe the agony of the whole process. She didn’t regret an ounce of pain. She would endure the pain a thousand times if it meant she could better protect Dani.
“I understand the scars now,” Dani said, sympathy in her voice.
“It would have been ideal for us to capture a terminator, and then reprogram it to protect you. But it’s virtually impossible to capture a functioning terminator. We often have to destroy it beyond repair just to get near. An augment was the next best thing.”
“And you were the only one who volunteered?”
“I don’t know, but my commander had assigned someone else to be your protector. I fought the decision and insisted it’d be me.”
“And just like that, your commander let you?”
“I wasn’t taking no for an answer.” Grace thought back to their heated argument. Somehow, it brought a small smile to her face.
Dani just stared at her for a moment. Grace wondered what she was thinking.
“How do you get back to 2042?”
“I can’t. If I had time-traveled back to a year in which they already had the technology, perhaps I could. But the technology is still at least two decades away from becoming reality.”
“You left your home, your friends with no way back? To protect me?”
“Your survival is more important than anything to this world. If you don’t make it, then there is no future.”
“But why did you insist to be the one to protect me?”
Because you’re the person I love the most. “Because I’m the best. I felt you had the best chance with me.”
“What makes me so important to the future?”
“I can’t tell you that. My commander gave me orders not to disclose too much information on the future. It could cause unforeseen consequences.”
“Fine, I won’t press the issue for now. But don’t think I won’t ask again. I’m being hunted for extermination. I have every faith in you to keep me alive, Grace. But it’s not something you can guarantee, nor would I expect it of you. That being said, if that Rev-9 does get me… I would at least want to know what I’m being killed for.”
Grace could only nod. As always, Dani had a point. But Grace couldn’t tell her, at least not yet. And it wasn’t so much that her commander ordered her not to. It was because she wasn’t quite ready to disclose to Dani what they were to each other. And it was something that she would inevitably touch upon if she were to go into any detail. As eager as she was for Dani to know what they meant to each other, she didn’t want to pressure Dani into thinking they had to be more. If she was going to survive this - which if she were truly honest with herself wasn’t part of her plan, it would be merely a luxury - then she would want Dani to love her on her own.
Dani interrupted her thoughts. “Grace, were you forced to leave family behind?”
“No, I was only a teenager when my family died.”
“Did that make it easier for you to volunteer? The fact you didn’t leave anyone behind?”
“Well…. There was someone…” Grace said, immediately regretting even giving away that much.
“Someone you loved?” Dani asked. Was that disappointment in her eyes, Grace wondered.
“I…. We…. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the here and now. What matters is that I can keep you alive. If I succeed in that, nothing else matters.”
Grace was surprised when Dani reached for her hand. She looked up to see Dani staring at her intently, her eyes glistening. “I never considered what you had to give up to protect me, Grace. I only saw my own loss, my own pain. I’m so sorry.”
Grace didn’t want Dani to be sorry for anything. She was the victim in all this. The one whose innocence was ripped apart from her for something she may or may not do. She had no experience with the brutalities of war. Grace did.
“Don’t apologize, Dani.”
“I said some terrible things to you in my grief, Grace. You didn’t deserve it. And I need you to know, I don’t blame you for my family’s death.”
“You should,” Grace said, regretting with all her heart she couldn’t do more for Dani’s father and brother whom she’d gotten quite close with herself.
“No! There’s nothing you could have done. Any warning from you wouldn’t have been believable. And I would have thought you were some crazy gringa, and I probably would have run away from you,” Dani said, a sad yet wry smile on her face.
Grace smiled, tears beginning to pool in her eyes. She hadn’t realized how much she needed to hear that. The weight on her heart she hadn’t even realized was there was suddenly lifted. She would forever wish that she could have done more for Dani’s family. But to know that Dani didn’t hold their deaths against her was a balm to her soul.
“Thanks, Dani,” Grace said, smiling, cupping the tiny woman’s face in her rough, weathered hands. She was taken slightly aback when Dani leaned further into her hand, as if drawing strength from that gesture. Grace had an urge to take Dani in her arms, but the moment was quickly gone.
“Come on you two. No time to dilly-dally. Grace, you drive while I eat,” Sarah said, throwing the car keys at Grace, while she started filling up their gas.
And for the first time since meeting Sarah Connor, Grace had no snarky remark on the tip of her tongue. She and Dani just shared a knowing grin and hopped in the vehicle.
To be continued…
Author’s Notes: The next chapter will be primarily in Sarah’s point of view. I’m currently working on that, and I must say, I’m having quite a bit of fun with it. Thanks for reading!
Chapter 8: A Heart To Understand
Grace and Sarah have a heart-to-heart. A newfound respect and understanding is born.
“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” – Abraham Lincoln
Fate Binds Us
Somewhere in Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas
Sarah winced for the dozenth time as the truck they were currently hitching a ride on hit another rut in the road. She was getting too old for this shit. All three of them were on the bed of the pickup truck out in the open. There was room for one of them in the actual passenger side of the truck, but Astrogirl refused to be separated from Dani, and Sarah, well, she wasn’t much of a fan of enclosed spaces.
Hence why she was currently covered in dust. Feeling every rut and bump on the road. Her old bones feeling every bit their age. She stared ahead of her and looked at a peacefully sleeping Dani. She was comfortably sleeping on Grace’s lap, not seeming to feel any bumps or shakes. Sarah wondered if Grace minded being used as a makeshift bed. Her hand resting gently on Dani’s shoulder would suggest she didn’t mind at all.
How the hell was that sprite of a girl still sleeping? Another rut in the road gave her the answer. While Sarah gingerly rubbed her ass, feeling that last jolt quite a bit, Dani was hardly jostled. It was then she realized that Grace had been compensating for every bump and shake of their ride thus far. Sarah’s eyebrow went up instinctively. Why would Grace go so far as to ensure Dani’s comfort? It certainly wasn’t a necessity in keeping her alive.
Since meeting those two, Sarah had been completely focused on their lack of game plan. She’d been nothing but critical in Grace’s lack of direction. She’d been engrossed in figuring out how to kill that Rev-9. She’d fumed at how mankind still hadn’t learned their lesson and created this so-called Legion. But she hadn’t stopped to think exactly what brought Grace and Dani together. Oh, she had no doubt Dani hadn’t a clue. But Grace…. The way she looked at Dani, reminded her of someone.
Had Sarah become so jaded that she no longer noticed such subtleties? Had she gotten to a point that she only noticed things that explode? Sarah didn’t like what she was discovering about herself. She looked at Grace and Dani before her. There was definitely a connection between them. They were comfortable with each other in a way that people who’d just met shouldn’t have been.
And Grace stared at Dani with a look that could only be described as longing. Grace had told Sarah that protecting Dani was her mission. At the time, Sarah took her explanation at face value. But now she’d bet every rifle she owned that Dani wasn’t merely a mission to Grace. And she would top that bet with every grenade launcher she owned that Grace knew Dani from the future.
In the short time she’d known Dani, she’d developed a fondness for the girl. Partly because she reminded Sarah of her younger self, but if she was truly being honest, she’d also admit that Dani awoke some long slumbering maternal feelings in her. Feelings she believed died with her son. And there was no doubt in Sarah’s mind that Dani was already halfway in love with her protector. And if her instincts were correct, and they often were, then poor Dani was in for some heartbreak when Grace inevitably traded her life for hers.
“Are we there yet?” Dani asked, still groggy.
“Good time to wake up. Yeah, we’re just a few minutes away,” Grace said, helping Dani sit up.
“I hope your uncle will feed us,” Sarah mumbled. “I’m starving.”
“Considering your diet consists of potato chips and nothing more…” Grace trailed off.
Sarah just gave her an F-you look. Dani seemed to find it amusing and just grinned. Sarah found it warmed her heart to see Dani smile. The girl’s been through so much. She thought back to the first time she encountered a terminator. It had been over thirty-five years ago. The thing killed her friends, her mother, and the man she loved, the man who was sent back to the past to protect her. She understood Dani’s pain, better than probably anyone alive. And she wanted desperately for Dani, not just to survive, but to win this thing.
“We’re here,” Grace said, as their truck came to a stop.
“Gracias!” Dani called out to their driver.
Grace hopped down first. The woman immediately turned around and helped Dani get down safely. Sarah, much to her amusement, didn’t miss the fact that Grace hadn’t bothered with helping her.
A man, a little younger than Sarah, came out of the house to greet them. With the way he greeted Dani, she assumed he was her uncle. Sarah noticed that Grace was also friendly with Dani’s uncle. And considering friendly wasn’t a word that Sarah had associated with Grace since meeting her, the way she greeted Dani’s uncle spoke volumes. Grace cared what Dani’s family thought of her. Interesting…
The three of them were quickly ushered inside Dani’s uncle’s home. The man was very welcoming. He introduced himself as Felipe Gandal. Dani’s maternal uncle. He was obviously thrilled to see his niece. He gave them a hearty meal straight away. He did look at Sarah and Grace in a curious manner, not that she could blame him. He had asked Dani for some help in the kitchen while she and Grace were eating.
“Hey Grace, use your super hearing. What are Dani and her uncle talking about?” Sarah asked, still needing to make sure they could trust the man.
“He’s asking her if she’s in some kind of trouble,” Grace said, speaking with her mouth full. Damn, that girl always ate like she’s never had a meal.
“I guess I can’t blame him,” Sarah said, getting back to her food. The fact that the man was worried about Dani put him in Sarah’s good books.
A few minutes later, Dani and her uncle joined them again at the table. It took quite a bit of convincing from all three of them that Dani wasn’t in the kind of trouble her uncle might suspect, but that she was in fact in trouble. It took Grace showing Felipe the metal mesh under her flesh from an open wound to convince him of their terminator story. That and Grace literally sliced a mosquito in half before his eyes. And even then, Sarah wasn’t sure he bought it all. But at least he finally agreed to help get them past the border.
Dani’s uncle told them they could leave in a few hours, but that he’s waiting for a friend who’d also assist in getting them through the border safely. Dani immediately took advantage of the time to run upstairs and take a shower. Grace headed outside and Sarah was left alone in the kitchen nursing her orange juice. God, she wished for some hard liquor right about then.
Bored and with nothing to do, she followed Grace outside. She found their resident time-traveler looking out at the horizon. The girl just didn’t rest. Perhaps Sarah had been a little hard on Grace. Underneath her battle-hardened façade she was just a young woman after all. A part of Sarah had forgotten what it was like to be so young, with an enormous responsibility not befitting one’s age.
“Why don’t you get some shuteye. Felipe said we have at least a couple of hours before we leave,” Sarah said.
“I’m not tired,” Grace said.
“What? Augments like you don’t need sleep?” Sarah asked.
“Not nearly as much as a normal person.”
“Look, try to relax, the terminator is nowhere near us. We’ve taken every precaution.”
“We can’t know that for sure,” Grace said, not taking her eyes off their surroundings.
Sarah sighed. “Look, Grace, I know you’re beating yourself up over Dani’s safety. I know you hate that I had to save your asses.”
Grace said nothing, but her answer was in her eyes. Sarah hit the nail right on the head.
Sarah continued. “Look, maybe I was a little too hard on you. It’s not like I’ve ever been in your shoes. I’m sure you did your best.”
Grace sighed and ran her hand through her short blonde locks. “That’s the thing. I did my best. And it wasn’t enough. And I wonder whether or not coming back here was the right thing to do.”
For the first time, Sarah felt compassion for Grace. The woman before her was obviously very torn. “Are you regretting becoming Dani’s protector?”
“I would never regret protecting Dani. But my commander had already assigned someone for this mission. And it wasn’t me. But I didn’t want anyone else protecting Dani. I didn’t trust anyone but myself. I argued fiercely with my commander to give me this job. Now I wonder if Jacobsen might have done a better job.”
“Well, tell me about this Jacobsen,” Sarah said.
“He’s older than me, around his late thirties, I’d guess. He’d been an augment longer than I’ve been. He also ranked higher than me. I’d say we were about equal in terms of skills. But I didn’t trust him to protect Dani because he would have treated it like any other mission…” Grace trailed off, looking unsure.
“But this, protecting Dani, this is personal to you, isn’t it?” Sarah said, her question sounding more like a statement.
Grace turned away from Sarah. She didn’t answer. She didn’t need to.
“Look, Grace, I think you need to find it in yourself to be straight with me. We’re on the same side here. We both want to make sure this terminator doesn’t get Dani. I need you to open up to me,” Sarah said.
“Fine. But answer me this, first. Why do you care what happens to Dani?” Grace asked.
That was fair. “Because I was her. And it sucked.”
“Not good enough. If you want me to open up to you, then you need to open up to me too.”
“Alright. For the first time since my son was killed, I’m not thinking about my next drink. With Dani, I have a chance to protect her, to help save her… something I failed to do with John.”
Grace nodded, her eyes softening. “I’m sorry about your son, Sarah. I really am.”
“I know,” Sarah said, patting Grace on the arm.
“And…. I never said thank you to you, for saving us on that overpass,” Grace said.
Sarah grinned. “So, tell me, who told you that you might meet me?”
“I’m not really sure how much I should tell you. How much should we really know about the future?” Grace said.
“Cut the crap, Grace… I’m old.”
Grace just shrugged.
“Okay, I’ll ask a different question then. How do you know Dani?” Sarah asked.
By the look on Grace’s face, she hadn’t expected that question. “I’m not sure what you mean, I told you, she’s my mission.”
“And I’m Mother Theresa. Try again,” Sarah said, not giving her companion an inch.
“Look, Sarah, believe what you will,” Grace said, as she started walking away.
“Does Dani know that you know her?” Grace stopped in her tracks.
Sarah caught up to Grace in a few strides. “Look, Grace, this conversation is just between you and me. You have my word on that.”
Grace nodded tentatively.
“Who is Dani, and what makes her important?” Sarah asked.
“She is the leader of the largest human resistance in my time. She gathered survivors everywhere and turned us into a formidable fighting force. She saved countless lives, rebuilt communities, but most of all, she was responsible for orchestrating the most devastating tactical losses Legion has suffered,” Grace said, pride dripping from every word.
“My god… she’s John…” Sarah said, in awe. She’d been wrong. She had assumed that Dani was the mother of some great leader. It never occurred to her that it was Dani herself.
“In a way, it’s nice to know that humans are resilient enough to find a way to fight back, for a new leader to rise from the ashes… even after your son was killed,” Grace said.
Sarah turned around and looked back at the house. She saw Dani and her cousin chatting on the living room couch, watching something on the television. She couldn’t quite picture young, tiny, naïve Dani as a resistance leader.
“I wonder how she learned the skills to become such a leader. Someone obviously dangerous enough for Legion to send a terminator to the past to assassinate,” Sarah said, thinking out loud.
Grace snorted. “Would you believe it was you?”
“You’re fucking kidding me.”
“Dani used to tell me stories about you for hours. You were her teacher, her best friend, on occasion, a mother to her. She affectionately called you her abuelita. You had meant the world to her. It was only meeting you now that I wondered what it was about Dani that made you take her under your wing,” Grace said. “Now that I know what happened to your son, I understand better. Dani never mentioned your son had been killed by a terminator.”
“Jesus fucking Christ. You know what this means, right?” Sarah said.
“That you’re not going to survive the war with the machines?” Grace suggested.
“Who the hell cares?! I don’t want to live that long anyway. No, what I mean, is that this has all probably already happened. The Dani from your future, probably had already met a Grace in her own past who, I don’t know, must not have survived. It’s the only thing that makes sense. How would the Dani from your future know that you’d meet me, if this hadn’t already happened before?” Sarah said.
Grace pinched the bridge of her nose. “I’m sorry, Sarah. Time travel gives me a headache at the best of times.”
“Yeah, me too,” Sarah said, laughing.
“Let’s say you’re right, why hadn’t Dani from the future told me?” Grace asked.
“I can only guess…. But if my theory is correct, and the very first Grace she met died protecting her… then I’m sure she didn’t tell you because she didn’t want you resigned to that fate,” Sarah said.
Grace looked like a lightbulb had just turned on for her. “My god…. It was why she had rejected my application to become a soldier half a dozen times. It was why she had insisted it be Jacobsen who got sent back to the past and not me…. She didn’t want history to repeat itself.”
“Well… I mean we’re both just speculating here…. No way for us to truly know…. But it would make a lot of sense, now wouldn’t it?” Sarah said.
“A part of me had wondered if Dani hadn’t trusted in my skills to protect her. Just before I left, Dani had been all nervous…. I thought it was because she was worried I’d fail. I tried reassuring her that I wouldn’t. And she told me that’s what she was afraid of. I didn’t understand at the time,” Grace said in a whisper. It almost seemed like she was talking to herself.
“Grace, I want to know, who is Dani to you?” Sarah asked.
Grace looked torn for a moment. But then she quietly answered, “She’s my commander. She found me in the ruins after the machines attacked us. She saved me.”
Sarah nodded. “And?”
For a second, it looked like Grace would deny there was an and, but instead, said, “She’s the woman I love.”
“I thought so,” Sarah said, surprised at her sudden feelings of empathy. “It must be difficult.”
“I never imagined it’d be like this. I never dreamed I’d have to live in a world where she didn’t love me.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Sarah scoffed. “That girl is more than halfway in love with you already. Even when you were unconscious and she was mad at you for lying to her, she didn’t let you out of her sight. She even gave me attitude when I called you names.”
“Really?” Grace said, looking a little dumbfounded. “What’s her tell?”
Sarah snorted in amusement. “Her eyes. They soften and light up whenever you enter a room. Do you not see the way she looks at you? The hero worship in her eyes, the longing and affection? Probably not unlike the way you used to look at her when you were younger. Jesus, for someone with enhanced senses, you can be really dense.”
Grace just raised an eyebrow in offense, but didn’t say anything. Probably because she really couldn’t deny it.
After a moment, Grace broke the silence. “What’s my tell?”
“You want a list?” Sarah asked, sarcastically. “Well, you have a tendency to guide her by placing your hand on the small of her back. Looks to me like you’ve been doing that for years. I see you sometimes, you have an instinct to touch her face, or put your arm on or around her, but you stop yourself at the last minute. As if you have to remind yourself, you can’t do that.”
“Really? Those are my tells?” Grace said, looking sceptical.
“You also have this longing in your eyes when you look at her. But, most of all, you’re kind to her. You’re always worried about her. And I don’t mean about her getting killed. I mean, you’re worried that she hasn’t gotten enough sleep, or that she hasn’t eaten enough, or that she’s too hot, or cold, or thirsty, or that she’s not comfortable enough. Those aren’t prerequisites for keeping her alive.”
“And why do you care what my relationship is to Dani?” Grace asked, looking genuinely curious.
Sarah shrugged. “I had a suspicion. And I couldn’t rest until I had it confirmed. Besides, can’t an old woman be nosy?”
Grace laughed. “Dani did say you’d get on my nerves.”
“Look, Grace,” Sarah said in all seriousness. “I know it’s not part of your game plan to survive this. My son’s father was sent from the future as well to protect me. He gladly traded his life for mine. I see that same determination in you. But I want you to know that the future can be changed. It’s not set in stone.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“If there was indeed a Grace who saved your commander and died for her, that doesn’t mean you’re fated to share that destiny. And I’ll do everything I can to spare you and Dani that heartache.”
“Let’s just say I’ve been in Dani’s shoes. It didn’t end well for me. But perhaps with my experience, and a bit of luck, Dani might not have to become an old, bitter woman like me. A woman who can’t even remember what her hopes and dreams were before all this.”
“I think I understand now…”
“What?” Sarah asked.
“Why Dani loved you so much,” Grace said, putting a gentle hand on Sarah’s shoulder.
“Your Dani really called me her abuelita?” Sarah asked.
Grace just laughed.
To be continued…
Author’s Notes: I hope you guys enjoyed this little chapter from Sarah’s point of view. Sorry, I didn’t have much Dani in this chapter. Next chapter will bring Dani and Grace right back to the forefront. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.
Chapter 9: Fugitives
Dani accidentally blurts to Grace how she truly feels for her. Grace doesn't get a chance to respond as their attempt to cross the border all goes to hell in a hand basket. And Sarah is no longer the lone fugitive.
“Always tell someone how you feel, because opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye but regret can last for a lifetime.” - Unknown
Fate Binds Us
Dani had no idea what happened between Sarah and Grace between the time they left her uncle’s house and now, but they seemed less antagonistic with each other. Sarah hadn’t called Grace any insulting nicknames in the last four hours. That was a record since they’d met her. And Grace hadn’t made a sarcastic quip for Sarah in the same amount of time. Again, a record since they’d met her.
Dani smiled. She was glad those two seemed to be getting along better. Granted, their bickering was kind of funny, but she’d rather take this comfortable truce instead. And considering they had many miles between them and the mystery texter, it was for the best that everyone got along.
They’d been trekking through rough terrain for hours now, trying to get to the border. It had gotten dark the past hour and they still had a body of water to cross as well within the next mile or so according to her uncle. They had at least another hour before they even reached the border. Dani’s feet were sore, as was her back. But she tried her best to mask her discomfort. Grace and Sarah were risking their lives for her, the least she could do was not to make things harder for them.
“You alright?” said a concerned voice behind her.
Trust Grace to notice she was in pain, and in the dark no less. Must be her super vision. “I’m fine,” Dani answered.
“You don’t look fine,” Grace said. “You’re limping.”
Dani thought she’d done a good job of trying not to. But not a good enough job to fool Grace, obviously.
“You’re offering to carry me to the border?” Dani said, jokingly.
“Do you need me to?” Grace asked.
Dani slowed her pace. Dios Mío! She was serious. “No, Grace! I’m fine, really. Just minor blisters. I took care of most of them at my uncle’s. I’ll let you know if I can’t handle it.”
“Okay,” Grace said, tentatively.
“I promise, if the time comes I need to run, I can do it,” Dani said, trying to reassure a very worried-looking Grace. “I won’t slow you down.”
Before Grace could answer, Sarah slapped Dani on the back and said, “That’s not why she’s worried, little one.”
Dani noticed Grace give Sarah a look she couldn’t quite describe. Sarah just grinned, shrugged her shoulders and walked ahead of them. Grace in turn, just sighed and shook her head, as if in resignation.
“What was that all about?” Dani asked Grace.
“Who knows with Sarah,” Grace mumbled, looking around, anywhere but at Dani.
Dani figured there was more to that silent exchange, but at the moment, her sore back and feet were distracting enough. She looked up at Grace who was walking right beside her, almost in her personal space.
“Really, Grace, I’m fine. I promise you, my life isn’t in any danger at the moment. I know you’d rather be a mile ahead of everyone else, surveilling our surroundings,” Dani said, painfully reminded that she was just a mission to Grace.
“I like walking with you,” Grace said, simply.
Grace looked down at her, giving her a curious look. “You seem shocked.”
Dani shrugged. “Now that I know who you truly are, I know you’re here to do a job.”
“I don’t see you as a job, Dani,” Grace said, sounding hurt.
Dani scoffed. “I bet you regret taking on the world’s most thankless babysitting gig.”
“Wait, what? What’s gotten into you, Dani?” Grace asked, truly looking perplexed.
Dani sighed and shook her head. What was wrong with her? Why was she acting like a child that got their feelings hurt on the playground? “Sorry, nothing. Just ignore me. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
“Come on, Dani. Talk to me. I thought we were friends,” Grace said.
Dani stopped dead in her tracks. “That’s just it, Grace. We’re not! You see, I thought we were. But then I found out that you’re a time-traveler from the future and your mission was to protect me… for the good of mankind. And you just spent all that time hanging out with me just making sure you were around for when that terminator showed up.”
“Wait, you think…”
“And that’s fine, Grace. Don’t think I’m not grateful. I know what you had to give up to do all this. I just…. You can drop the best friend act,” Dani said, not able to hide the hurt and anger in her voice.
“Dani, where is all this coming from? I thought we were good. Are you still angry at me about your family?” Grace asked, hurt shining in her eyes.
“No! I don’t know if I ever truly was…” Dani looked around to make sure no one was within hearing range. “To be honest, I think I was more angry at the fact that I had gotten really close to you, I thought you were getting close to me…. And to find out it was all just an act. Well, that hurt, Grace.”
Grace let out a deep breath. “You don’t understand, Dani. I mean, it’s true that I played a part to get close to you, but the thing is-”
“You don’t have to explain. Really. I just…. I guess, I was falling for you…” Dani said, trailing off. She looked up at Grace to see a shocked expression. “Silly, huh? I didn’t even realize I could be attracted to another woman. But there you were, worming your way into my life, my heart. But that’s not your problem.”
“Dani, I had no idea, I -” but Grace didn’t finish what she’d been saying. She looked up, a very worried look taking over her face.
“Is something wrong?” Dani’s uncle said from several metres behind them.
“Everyone, take cover behind those rocks!” Grace yelled. “There’s a drone up above.”
“Are you sure? I don’t hear anything,” Sarah yelled back, about twenty feet away.
“Yeah, well, you’re not an augmented super solder from the future, are you?” Grace snapped back.
Well, Grace did make it almost five hours without a snarky comeback for Sarah, Dani mused. She figured their interrupted conversation probably put Grace in a bad mood. Dani was scolding herself for being so open with her. What the hell was she thinking telling her how she felt? Now she just made things more awkward. Not to mention embarrassed herself in the process. Whatever, she’ll try to blame it on all the trauma she’d suffered in the last seventy-two hours.
“Come on, we have to hurry,” Grace said, putting her hand on the small of Dani’s back and led her away.
The five of them, including Dani’s uncle and his friend quickly made it to the lake. They boarded two separate boats that got them across. The border wall was within sight. Dani hugged and thanked her uncle for everything’s he’d done to help them, at no small risk to himself. The feeling of fear and urgency started growing within Dani. She had no idea what awaited them behind that wall.
She felt a hand on her back and realized it was Sarah. “Come on, kid, moment of truth.”
Dani then felt a hand take hers, and saw it was Grace. “Stay close to me,” Grace whispered.
It was fitting she was between Grace and Sarah. The two people she trusted the most. Whatever awaited her in America, she knew she’d not be alone. Her uncle’s friend crawled first beneath in a hidden hole in the ground, presumably leading to the other side of the wall. Sarah went next, then Dani, with Grace coming in last.
“Shit,” Grace said. And Dani knew immediately they were in trouble even before all the border guards had their emergency vehicle lights trained on them.
“U.S. Border Patrol! Place your weapons on the ground!” Dani heard over a loudspeaker.
“We get locked up, it comes for her, she’s dead,” Sarah said to Grace.
“I’m not going to tell you again! Put your weapons on the ground!” the man over the speaker yelled.
Dani could sense Grace not wanting to give-up. No doubt she agreed with Sarah that if the Rev-9 were to find Dani detained, that she would be a lost cause. But Dani was not about to watch Grace nor Sarah get slaughtered in a hail of bullets for her. Before Grace could make a move, Dani made sure to beat her to it.
“Okay!” Dani said, raising her hands up in a show of surrender.
“Dani! Dani!” Grace said, panic lacing her voice.
“They can shoot me, but I’m not watching you die!” Dani said, looking Grace in the eyes, trying to will her to understand that she couldn’t lose another person she loved.
Grace, with not much choice left, followed Dani’s lead and put her weapon down. Sarah did the same. The border guards slowly made their way towards them. Behind her, Dani could hear Grace talk to Sarah.
“If they separate me from her, please, get her out of there,” Grace pleaded.
“Alright,” Sarah whispered.
The border guards wasted no time in getting them on the ground and cuffing them all. Dani could hear Sarah talking to the nearest guard to her in broken Spanish about how she needed to stay with Dani who she said was her granddaughter, and that she had some kind of medical condition. Dani doubted they’d let her.
Dani continued walking with two guards when she heard Grace scream behind her. She looked back and saw Grace running towards her, wild fear in her blue eyes. Before she realized what happened, strong arms were on her waist and she was flying through the air. A ball of flames from an explosion was the only thing left of where she had been standing just a micro-second before.
Dani landed awkwardly on her side, she had no doubt the left side of her face was battered and bleeding. It was pandemonium. Dozens of guards were on the ground injured, no doubt some were dead. Dani sat up, her wrists bleeding from the restraint.
“Grace?! Grace?!” Dani’s heart was pounding from the fear that Grace might have been killed from the explosion.
“I got you, Dani!” It was Sarah!
“Thank god, Sarah! We have to find Grace!” Dani said, trying to see through the smoke and carnage.
“There she is! I see her,” Sarah said, pointing to a prone figure in jeans, sprawled beneath an unconscious border patrol officer.
Dani ran to Grace’s side, terrified she was no longer alive. “Grace! Are you alright?” Dani asked, frantically trying to figure out how badly she was hurt. She still didn’t have the use of her hands which were bound behind her.
Grace started coughing and it was the greatest sound Dani had ever heard. “Dani?”
“Si, I’m fine. Come on, get up, Grace!” Dani said.
Sarah, whose restraints seem to have been broken during the explosion helped Grace up. “Come on, we have to get out of here,” Sarah said.
The three of them quickly ran towards a border patrol car with its doors left open. The keys were still in the ignition and Sarah wasted no time, getting it started. Dani turned back and saw some of the uninjured guards calling for back-up. When they started driving away, the guards realized what was happening and tried to run after them.
But without another working vehicle at their disposal, not to mention so many of their own injured or dead, they didn’t pursue the three of them. Although Dani had no doubt they’d be alerting every branch of the authorities on them. She was officially a fugitive. She almost laughed. With everything that’s happened, that was the least of her worries.
After driving for several minutes, the three of them ditched the car in some back alley, and stole an inconspicuous Ford Escape. The brand and model of the vehicle was fitting considering their circumstances, Dani mused. She looked back at the rear-view mirror to find Grace looking dazed.
“Grace? Are you alright?” Dani asked.
“I think I’m crashing…. I lost my meds in the explosion,” Grace said, between breaths.
“Damn,” Sarah muttered, realizing their predicament. “Okay, then, we’ll need to take a detour from our mystery texter and find some place to lay low. Also, we need to find a good pharmacy to target to get Grace her meds.”
“I didn’t expend too much energy, I shouldn’t completely crash, but I’m weak. If I’m going to be of any use to you, I’ll need my meds eventually,” Grace said.
“Don’t talk like that, Grace. Your value to us isn’t in what you can do or if you’re of any use to us,” Dani said, gently chastising her.
“Dani’s right. We’re a team. And more than that, you’re our friend,” Sarah said. Grace just gave Sarah a tired almost-smile.
“Where are we going now, Sarah?” Dani asked.
“I know of an abandoned house in San Antonio. It’s definitely out of our way, but I think we need to regroup first before we can continue to those coordinates,” Sarah said.
“Whose house is it?” Grace asked.
Sarah looked somber for a moment. Then casually said, “It was owned by my mother. It was a vacation home of sorts back in the day. After she died, I never sold it. It’s just completely abandoned. The Rev-9 shouldn’t be able to trace it to us. It should buy us some time.”
“Are you sure you’re okay with going back there, Sarah?” Dani asked.
“We do what we have to, kiddo…. We do what we have to…”
To be continued…
Author’s Notes: Thanks for reading and for the incredibly kind words for my last chapter. If you noticed, I changed the setting after the border-crossing. I didn’t want them detained at the border facility. I didn’t want to have to deal with authorities getting x-rays of Grace’s augmentation. Also, this will give our trio even more time to bond before they meet up with Carl LOL.
Chapter 10: No More Excuses
Our trio is in hiding. It truly hits home for Dani just how much she'd lost. Grace is torn about her feelings for Dani. And Sarah is... well, Sarah.
“ But the second she opened her eyes and looked at me, I knew. She was either going to be the death of me . . . or she was going to be the one who finally brought me back to life.” – Colleen Hoover, Ugly Love
Fate Binds Us
Grace hated having to be helped by both Sarah and Dani just to get out of the car. She knew it was a challenge for them. A normal woman with her height and build would weigh anywhere between 125 lbs to 135 lbs. But her augmentation added an additional 150 lbs at least. She had so many metal parts to her that she was surprised she didn’t weigh more. Her added weight was usually an advantage against a terminator, but at the moment, it was definitely a hindrance.
“Sorry, guys. I thought with some time my body could compensate a little better without the meds, but it’s taking longer than I thought,” Grace said, apologetically.
“Don’t be sorry, Grace, it’s not your fault,” Dani said, reassuringly.
“I think some water will help you feel better. There’s tap water in the house, it’s not the cleanest, but it’s safe to drink,” Sarah said.
“There’s still running water?” Dani asked.
“Yeah, I’ve kept it up,” Sarah said.
“But I thought you were wanted in the U.S. How were you able to continue to pay for it?” Dani asked.
“One day, Dani my dear, I’ll explain to you the complexities of anonymous bank accounts. For now, just know that there’s electricity and running water,” Sarah said.
“Why waste the money?” Grace asked.
“For predicaments like this. Well, that and I didn’t have the heart not to…” Sarah said, a faraway look in her eyes.
“Because it was your family’s vacation home?” Dani asked.
“Something like that. C’mon you two, let’s get inside,” Sarah said, as she opened the front door, and helped Dani settle Grace on the living room couch.
“We should go get Grace’s medication,” Dani said, already heading for the door again.
“Whoa, my little amiga. There is no we. You stay here with Grace. I’ll grab supplies,” Sarah said, gently pushing Dani back.
Grace saw Dani looking nervous. She had no doubt that Dani didn’t want to be left alone with her. Not after her little confession. After Grace’s initial shock went away, she felt an enormous joy at Dani blurting out her feelings. That she felt the same way as Grace did, after just a couple of weeks, was beyond her wildest imagination. But then her joy was quickly dampened by their predicament. Would it be fair to Dani when Grace knew she likely wouldn’t survive this whole ordeal?
“C’mon, Sarah! You need me. Who’ll make sure you won’t kill anyone trying to steal Grace’s meds?” Dani said, practically pleading.
Sarah scoffed. “Please, Dani, can’t you give me a little more credit than that? Besides, we can’t risk you being caught on CCTV cameras. This is the best place for you for now.”
Grace would have to agree with Sarah. Besides, she didn’t want Dani out of her sight. Never mind that she didn’t even have the strength to hurt a fly at the moment. To protect Dani, she’d find a way. She always had.
“I can borrow your hat and sunglasses, and I’ll tie my hair up,” Dani said, not giving up.
“First of all, I need my hat and sunglasses. And anyway, Grace is still pretty weak. You gonna leave her here all by herself?” Sarah asked, obviously trying a different tactic.
“We won’t be gone long. She’s looking a lot better than she did an hour ago,” Dani said, running into the kitchen. Grace heard the water start to run, and in about twenty seconds, Dani was back with a tall glass of water in each hand.
“Here you go, Grace. This will keep for until Sarah and I get back.”
“Dani, please stay. Sarah’s right, this is the safest place for you,” Grace added. “And, I’d rather not be alone.”
Grace knew Dani couldn’t turn such a plea down. The slight slump in her shoulders told Grace she’d be staying. It seemed Sarah was also on the same wavelength as Grace.
“Anyway, I’m outta here. Dani, jot down a list of things you need,” Sarah said, handing her a piece of paper and a pen. “Grace, you need anything?”
“Maybe just a change of clothes. Some socks and underclothes. For pants look for something around 24” waist and 34” hips. For shirts, I’m sure you can just eyeball it,” Grace said.
Sarah snickered. “Jesus… 24” waist. God damn super model.”
Grace just rolled her eyes. Was it her fault that she was tall and that food was scarce where she came from?
“Here, Sarah,” Dani said, handing the list over. “I’m sorry, but I only have pesos left and not very much.”
“Don’t worry about it, kiddo. I got it.” Sarah glanced down at Dani’s list. “What the hell… chicken breast, flour, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, pepper, paprika -? Ever heard of takeout, Dani?” Sarah said, obviously not bothering to finish the long list.
“Just because we’re fugitives, doesn’t mean we have to eat like we are,” Dani said.
“I only have two hands, you know,” Sarah said, sarcastically.
Dani just gave her a doe-eyed innocent look.
Sarah just shook her head. “Fine, fine. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Try not to burn the house down, you two.” Despite Grace’s exhaustion, she couldn’t help but grin. Sarah obviously had almost as rough a time saying no to Dani as she did.
Sarah closed the door behind her, and it was just Grace and Dani alone in the living room. You could cut the tension with a knife. Grace noticed that Dani was looking at everywhere but her. She wished she knew what to say. But she was at a loss for words herself.
Grace started drinking the glass of water Dani handed her earlier. She felt almost immediately better. She sat up a little more on the couch, realizing her light-headedness was beginning to ease. Since Dani didn’t look like she wanted conversation, Grace just continued to drink, and to observe her. Grace didn’t think she’d ever tire just staring at Dani. She was painfully beautiful. Grace wished for nothing more than to just take her in her arms and tell her everything would be okay.
“I’m going to look around the house, Grace. Yell if you need anything,” Dani said, going up the stairs and not waiting for Grace to respond.
After about a half hour, Grace felt enormously better. She tried standing up and realized she was pretty steady on her feet. She definitely couldn’t go toe-to-toe with a terminator just yet, but she could at least walk around again, albeit slowly. Grace prayed that Sarah would be able to get the medication she needed. Sarah knew the list of medication, but all of them were prescription, and Grace didn’t know just how exactly Sarah would get them short of holding a bunch of pharmacists at gunpoint.
Grace found the washroom and opened all the cupboards. She found a first-aid kit under the sink. Everything was expired inside, but they were all sealed and unopened. Grace figured it was better than nothing. She took the kit with her and gingerly made her way up the stairs. She found Dani sitting in a chair just looking out the window.
“Hey,” Grace said, by way of greeting.
Dani turned around, surprised. “You shouldn’t be up, Grace! We’re still waiting for your meds.”
“Walking around makes me feel better,” Grace said, pulling up a chair next to Dani by the window.
“Sit down,” Grace said. Dani immediately obeyed. That was a first, Grace mused.
She opened the kit and took a cotton swab, dampened it with saline, and gently started cleaning the cuts on Dani’s face.
“You don’t have to do this, Grace,” Dani said.
“I know,” Grace said, not even pausing what she was doing.
When Grace was satisfied she cleaned all of Dani’s cuts and scrapes as best she could, she applied some petroleum jelly to help prevent infection. She then cut some bandages very thinly and covered the cuts. She made a mental note to change them in a few hours and to make sure they were healing properly. There was a very deep gash in front of Dani’s left ear, which would no doubt scar. But the Dani that Grace knew in the future had no such scar. Did that mean Sarah was right? That the future wasn’t set in stone? If there had been a Grace who died for her Dani, did that mean she could change that outcome?
“Why are you so good to me, Grace?” Dani asked, interrupting her thoughts.
Because I don’t know how not to be. Because you’re everything that’s good in my life. “Because you’re my friend, Dani.”
Dani nodded, sadness crossing her features. “I’m sorry… about what I said. I didn’t mean to make it so awkward,” Dani said.
“Don’t be sorry, Dani. I’m the one who owes you an apology -”
“No, you don’t! I’m the one who got her signals all crossed,” Dani said, looking down at her hands.
“No, it was my fault…” Grace insisted.
Grace hated that Dani thought she had it all wrong. She had it all right in fact, but did Grace have a right to say so? Was she being selfish in wanting to pursue a relationship with Dani, only to probably break her heart when she gets herself killed?
“Look, Grace… Can we just pretend I never said anything? When we first met, I didn’t know there was someone else, I wouldn’t have let myself fall for you otherwise. I’m not that kind of person,” Dani said.
“Someone else?” Grace was confused.
“Yeah, remember? You told me at the gas station there was someone you left behind… in the future where you came from…”
Oh… that someone. Grace and her big mouth. What in the world possessed her to mention that? Grace sighed. Why were things never easy for her and Dani?
“Ummm… well, it’s not like I can go back…” Grace trailed off.
“And you must see me as this awful reminder of what you had to sacrifice… and I just, I want you to know that I completely understand why you can’t love me back…”
“Dani, it’s not that -”
“But I just don’t want to lose you. As a friend, I mean. I know I haven’t been the easiest to be around since that terminator showed up…. But I just lost my father and brother, I couldn’t bear to lose you too, Grace.”
“And I would never want to lose you…. Okay then, I’ll forget you ever said anything,” Grace said, hating that she couldn’t find the courage to throw caution to the wind and take Dani in her arms right then and there.
“No,” Dani said, taking Grace’s hand in hers. “I said I wanted you to pretend I never said anything. I never said I wanted you to forget.”
“I don’t understand…”
“I’m the target of a death hunt, Grace. If I died without having told you what I felt, I would regret it forever in whatever after-life I end up in.”
“Oh, Dani…” Grace wanted to tell her so badly that she would never let her die. She would never let her be hurt. But the painful truth was that the only reason they were both alive at the moment was due to pure luck. Luck that took on the form of one Sarah Connor. How fickle was fate that Grace’s saving grace – pardon the pun – turned out to be the orneriest old woman she’d ever met?
“Anyway, I just want to be alone right now, if that’s okay with you,” Dani said, getting up and walking out of the room.
Grace watched Dani shut the door behind her. The quiet click of the door resounded so loudly in her ears. Grace wasn’t sure if it was because of her enhanced hearing, or if it was because Dani walking out on her simply echoed the loneliness in her heart.
She and Dani - the one from the future – they at least had a chance to say their goodbyes. As heartbreaking as their separation was, they had left nothing unsaid between them. They knew they would never see each other again, but they both knew how much they loved each other. If Grace were to die, and there was a high likelihood that she would, then this Dani would never know how much she’d loved her.
Could Grace die and leave Dani to believe that her love was unrequited? Grace would never know true peace, even in death. But what were the chances of her surviving this whole ordeal? Even if she did, augmented humans came with many complications. If something went wrong, if her power-source were to fail, or if they couldn’t procure her meds on time, she could die. It’s not like the local hospital would even be able to treat her.
When she had left Dani in 2042, Grace was so heartbroken, so in despair that she hadn’t cared if she survived this mission or not. But spending time with this Dani, this same, only less experienced Dani made her realize that she could still have a future. She could still have Dani. She could be happy again. She knew there was a high likelihood of her dying, but for the first time since arriving in 2020, she desperately wanted to live.
And damn Sarah for giving her the hope that she could. The more Grace thought about her Dani from the future, the more she was convinced that Dani had lived through this same ordeal in her past. For one, there was no other explanation of how Dani knew to warn her about meeting Sarah. The clues had been front and centre the whole time she and Dani had been together.
She just hadn’t seen those clues for what they were. That look of recognition when Dani had pulled down Grace’s hood and met her for the very first time. Only for Dani, it hadn’t been the first time. There was the constant rejection of her military application. Dani’s fury when she had discovered Grace had undergone the augmentation procedure. Dani keeping her in the dark about the Rev-9 coming to the past to assassinate her. Dani’s fear that Grace would in fact succeed here in 2020. Everything Dani had done was to try to thwart fate.
And the fact that Grace had never met her older self, almost surely meant that she hadn’t survived. There were times, when her Dani hadn’t known she was observing her, that she looked so sad, so forlorn. There had been a rumor amongst the survivors. It was said that the reason Commander Ramos didn’t have a personal life was because the person she’d loved most, had been killed. And the rumor was that she didn’t care to get close to anyone else and so buried herself in her work thereafter.
Grace had always been jealous of this nameless, faceless someone. Good god, could it have been her this whole time? How ironic that it was now Dani who believed that Grace couldn’t let go of a past love. And what a sense of humor fate had that she and Dani both had been each other’s lost love. When Grace and her Dani finally got together, she had only ever broached the topic once. Dani simply evaded the question and just said to her that Grace had no competition and not to fret about her past.
Grace had promised her Dani that she wouldn’t tell this Dani who she would become, and what they’d truly meant to each other. Her Dani was certain her younger self couldn’t handle the truth. And Grace would defer to her Dani’s judgment for now. But she’d be damned if she’d waste another second putting her and Dani through this unnecessary separation. If Dani felt for Grace even half of what she felt for Dani, then that’s really all that should matter.
Grace gathered all her courage, got up as fast as her half-recovered body would allow her, and went in search of Dani. She eventually found her downstairs, sitting on the couch, staring at an old archaic television that was at least from the 80’s. Dani looked so lost. Grace hated that she was partly responsible for that.
“You know, you’re supposed to turn that on,” Grace said, half-jokingly, pointing at the dust-covered television.
Dani scoffed. “I doubt Sarah kept up her cable payments.”
“You’re probably right, well, that and I doubt an almost-forty-year-old television would still be working,” Grace said.
“You never know,” Dani shrugged.
She moved to sit beside Dani on the couch. Dani looked up at her with moist eyes. Grace had no doubt she’d been holding back tears. It was almost more than Grace could bear to see Dani so lost and vulnerable. The woman before her had no experience with the ruthlessness of life. She had no experience with war. And she certainly had no experience with losing so much in so little time.
Dani looked a little embarrassed. She sniffled quietly, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. Grace’s heart melted when Dani tried to smile through her tears. That’s her Dani, always trying to be strong.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be a watering pot, Grace. I bet you wished you hadn’t come down here,” Dani said.
“Never,” Grace said, wiping a stray tear that escaped down Dani’s cheek.
“It’s just that…. I lost my father, my brother…. I don’t even know if Taquito’s okay. He’s probably starved to death by now…”
“I’m sure a neighbor heard him and probably took him in,” Grace said, lamely, knowing that Dani was probably right.
“I doubt that…” Dani said, sadly. “And I’ve probably been fired from my job now as I haven’t shown up nor given any indication why. And now that I’m a fugitive, I’ll probably never be able to go back home. I probably couldn’t access any of my money in the bank either anymore…”
“I’ve lost my job, my family, my home, and to top it all off, I’m completely broke…. Dios Mío, I’ve lost everything!”
“You haven’t lost me!” Grace said, pulling Dani in her arms. It was like a dam had broken inside Dani. Gut-wrenching sobs tore through her chest, and Grace felt like it tore through hers as well.
“Look at me, Dani. We will get through this,” Grace said, willing for Dani to believe her.
“Yes! We. You and I. We’ll make it. I would never willingly leave you Dani.”
“How can you promise that?” Dani asked, her bottom lip quivering.
“Because I love you. And I can’t live in a world where we’re not together.”
Before Dani could respond, Grace leaned forward and kissed her. It felt like coming home. A part of Grace expected Dani to pull back, but after a split second of shock, Dani leaned into the kiss even more, taking Grace’s face in her hands and deepening their kiss.
But after another moment, Dani put her hand on Grace’s chest and gently pushed her to stop. “Wait… I don’t understand…”
Grace just smiled and went back to kissing her again. In between their kisses, Grace said teasingly, “You got me. You got me, hook, line and sinker…. You gonna throw me back?”
Grace heard a laugh catch in Dani’s throat. It was sort of a half-laugh, half-sob, but she’d take it. “Never…. You’re stuck with me now.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Much to Grace’s disappointment, she was far too weak for anything more than what they were currently doing. When the time came that she and Dani truly became one, she wanted to be at her best… She wanted to give Dani her best… her all. It wasn’t often someone could have two first-times with the woman they loved.
Dani seemed to sense her weak state and simply smiled. Dani kissed her one more time and got up. “Wait, where are you going?” Grace asked, not wanting to ever be apart again.
“I’m going to try to figure out Sarah’s mom’s antique television,” Dani said. “There’s a VCR below, see? Maybe she has some old movies we can watch.”
“I think I’d like that,” Grace said, excited at the prospect of cuddling on the couch with Dani and just watching an old movie.
About an hour later, Sarah walked into the back-door mumbling to herself, annoyed she hadn’t been able to talk herself into not getting everything on Dani’s list. Damn that tiny little girl. She refused to be wrapped around her little finger. For Christ’s sake, Dani had jotted down Mexican oregano on her list. Sarah hadn’t even known there were different kinds of oregano. She stopped by three different stores before she found the damn thing. Dani had better make her a gourmet meal fit for a queen.
Sarah finally got all the stuff she bought into the house. Where the hell were those two? The least they could do was help her with all these bags. But then Sarah noticed the faint sound of the television running in the background. Never mind! Grace was probably still useless, and Dani was probably still avoiding her protector. Oh, she’d noticed the tension between the two. She suspected Dani might have blurted a little more than she intended, and Grace, being Grace probably didn’t take the opportunity.
Speaking of Grace, Sarah quickly grabbed the various medication she acquired and started mixing them immediately. The pharmacy had been closed so she was glad not to have had to hold anyone at gunpoint. She put on a makeshift mask, broke into the pharmacy and quickly got out. Easy money, as her son John used to like to say.
Sarah grabbed the syringe she just filled with Grace’s meds and went in search for their resident freedom-fighter from the future. She decided to start in the living room where she can hear the television running. What Sarah saw before her was something she didn’t quite expect.
Before her was Grace and Dani asleep on the couch. Her mother’s old VHS copy of The Sound of Music playing on the television. It was the only source of light in the room. Dani was cuddled into Grace’s side like a baby opossum. Even deep in sleep, Grace had her arms protectively around Dani. Sarah felt her cynical heart soften. They’d obviously resolved whatever imaginary obstacle had been between them before she’d left. Sarah came to the realization that she was rooting for these two kids. Despite the fact she’d probably never say it out loud, she wanted them to make it. Make it together.
Sarah shook her head and smiled. “You go, Grace.”
To be continued…
Author’s Notes: If you want to read about the missing scene in which Grace asks Dani about the rumor of her losing someone she loved in the past, you can check it out in one of my Missing Scenes fic, SOS-Fallen
Chapter 11: A Family
Dani, Grace and Sarah make pancakes. What else do you need to know? LOL
“Family is anyone who loves you unconditionally.” - Unknown
Fate Binds Us
The next morning
Dani woke to the feeling of an overly full bladder. Her back was a bit stiff as she’d obviously been in the same position for hours. She opened her eyes not quite remembering where she was. Suddenly, she realized there were arms around her. Grace.
The events of the previous night came flooding back to Dani. She looked at her protector, holding her gently but surely, even deep in sleep. She adjusted her eyes to the darkness and noticed an empty syringe on the coffee table. Thank God Sarah got Grace’s meds. Dani looked at her watch and saw that it was just before 5am.
Dani gently wiggled out of Grace’s arms, careful not to wake her. She looked down at Grace who she’d never seen look so at peace. She liked to think she had something to do with that. She smiled, bent down and placed a light kiss on her forehead. She still didn’t know what caused the change of heart in Grace the night before. And she definitely still had lingering insecurities about the one Grace left behind in the future. But she refused to question it. She’d take Grace any way she could get her.
Dani made her way to the washroom and relieved herself. She debated whether or not to start her day. She’d always been an early riser, so it wasn’t like she’d fall asleep again. But on the other hand, she was tempted to fall right back into Grace’s arms. The only thing Dani was worried about was waking Grace in the process. She needed her rest.
Dani decided to start on breakfast for them. She made her way to the kitchen and went straight for the fridge. Dani smiled after opening the fridge and seeing almost everything on her list right there. It was funny, she never doubted that Sarah would pull through for her. She looked at the table and saw that all the non-perishables were still sitting there. She started rummaging through the cabinets to see what kitchen items were available to her. She pulled out a couple of mixing bowls, decided to make some pancakes when she heard a shuffle outside.
Her first reaction was fear. Did the Rev-9 somehow find them? But Dani recalled how anxious Grace had been at the restaurant just before the terminator showed up. She had sensed the machine minutes before it attacked. Grace had mentioned the technological foundation for her augmentation came from the terminator blueprint. Somehow, as a result, she can sense when a terminator is nearby. And Dani had every faith that Grace would know if the Rev-9 was nearby, sleeping or not.
Calmed once again, Dani opened the backdoor and peeked outside, wondering if it was just a stray animal she’d heard. But instead, she saw Sarah, sitting on a bench and smoking a cigarette. Dani had no doubt Sarah heard her coming out, but the older woman didn’t acknowledge her.
“You really shouldn’t smoke,” Dani said.
Sarah snorted. “Right. Might kill me, huh?”
“It’d be a shame to survive everything you’ve had so far, only to die of lung cancer.”
Sarah laughed. “We all have to die of something, kid.”
“I know. But I don’t want to lose you over something as preventable as this,” Dani said.
“Jesus, you sound like my mother,” Sarah said as she put out her cigarette.
Dani smiled, heartened that Sarah listened to her. “Thanks for letting us use your mother’s home. I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to be back here.”
Sarah shrugged. “It was just a vacation home.”
“You don’t have to pretend with me, Sarah. I’d like to think we’re past that,” Dani said.
“Don’t know what you’re talking about, kid.”
“You don’t have to always act like nothing bothers you. With everything we’ve been through, you can open up to me, you know.”
“Right, because what? We’re family now?” Sarah said, sarcastically.
“Yes,” Dani said, simply.
Sarah opened her mouth, and Dani half expected her to come up with another sarcastic retort, but nothing came out. She just stared at Dani peculiarly for a moment, then looked away.
After a long moment, Sarah broke the silence. “I don’t even know what a family is anymore.”
“That’s not true.”
Sarah scoffed. “Trust me, kid. You and your girlfriend don’t want me in your lives. I’m nothing but an alcoholic. The only thing I care about is my next drink or my next terminator kill. Don’t really care which comes first.”
“I don’t believe that, Sarah. I haven’t seen you take a drink in the week since I’ve met you. Grace and I are alive because of you.”
“Forget it, Dani. You don’t owe me anything. Not friendship, and certainly not a family.”
“It’s not about owing, Sarah. Fate brought us together. You, me, and Grace, all we have is each other. Don’t tell me you just plan on killing that Rev-9, pack up, say adios and we’ll never hear from you again.”
“The thought did cross my mind…”
“Well, get it out of your mind, Sarah. Besides, we’re all stronger together than apart.”
“I suppose you younglings would be lost without me,” Sara said, grinning.
Dani laughed. She couldn’t argue that. “But really, Sarah, why do you always keep yourself apart? Why the gruff act all the time? You scared you might end up caring for us?”
Dani nodded in understanding. This woman before her lost everything, everything she’d ever lived for. Her depth of loss was something even Dani couldn’t quite fathom. Dani at least didn’t understand the agony of losing one’s only child.
“Don’t let fear run your life, Sarah,” Dani said.
“That, and it’s probably too late anyway,” Sarah said, wryly.
“What do you mean?”
“Something died inside me when John died. I haven’t cared for another soul since that day. I’ve had no friends, merely acquaintances. And those acquaintances were only made because they served some purpose in helping me kill terminators. I detested everything I’d become. I’d become someone I doubt my mother could be proud of…”
Dani nodded, afraid to interrupt her. She instead just put a hand on her arm, encouraging her to continue.
“… But then I met you two stragglers,” Sarah said chuckling. “And I knew you’d both end up dead without me. And I don’t know when it happened, but I realized that I started caring again. You’d awoken feelings in me that I haven’t felt since my son died. And Grace, well, she’s helping me remember what it’s like to have an ally, someone I can trust.”
Dani snickered. “When you two first met I thought you might kill each other.”
“Nah, we were just drawing lines in the sand. You see, Grace and I are more alike than you’d think. We’re both hardened, battle-scarred. We trust each other without question, despite the fact we get on each other’s nerves. And we ultimately want the same thing.”
“And what’s that?” Dani asked.
“To protect what’s left of your innocence, and to keep you alive.”
Dani nodded. Honored that two of the bravest women she knew were both willing to die for her, no questions asked. She vowed never to let that happen.
“Looks like you and Grace came to an understanding,” Dani said.
“Hmm… or something,” Sarah said, smiling.
“Thank you so much for getting Grace’s meds,” Dani said, sincerely.
“Did you ever doubt me?”
“No, and that’s why it means so much to me. The only thing I doubted was whether heads would roll in the process.”
Sarah laughed and patted her thigh, affectionately. “Don’t you worry, kid. I know what Grace means to you. In fact, I’m glad to see you two worked out whatever it was that needed working out?”
Dani blushed. There was no doubt Sarah saw her and Grace asleep together when she got back… Not that much happened. Grace had been far too weak, much to her disappointment.
“Nothing happened, Sarah,” Dani said, sure her cheeks were beet-red.
Sarah put her hands up. “Hey, I’m not your mother, kid. I didn’t ask, nor do I want to know. All I’m saying is, I’m glad you two are okay.”
“I think I’d like for you to have what I never could.”
“And what’s that?” Dani asked.
Dani embraced Sarah who she half expected to pull away. “For what it’s worth, I desperately want that for you too.”
Sarah snorted, but instead of a sarcastic quip, she just patted Dani’s back.
“Come inside,” Dani said, “Help me make some breakfast. It’s easier to plot out our next steps on a full stomach.”
Before Sarah could respond, the back door swung open. “There you are! I got worried when I couldn’t find you,” Grace said, looking relieved.
“Sorry, I hadn’t meant to stay outside so long,” Dani said, giving Grace her most innocent look.
“It’s chilly out here, come inside,” Grace said, rubbing Dani’s arms up and down.
“Yes, mom,” Sarah said, smirking at Grace.
Dani just laughed while Grace rolled her eyes.
Grace kept rubbing Dani’s arms and usually such a gesture wouldn’t really do much in a practical sense, but Grace’s body heat was definitely not like the average person’s so Dani felt a lot less chilled immediately. Regardless, it was time to get back inside, and she quickly followed Grace back in with Sarah close behind.
In no time at all, the three of them were working in tandem in the kitchen. Sarah started by washing the pans and dishes which were covered in dust. Dani then began making their pancake mix from scratch. Grace on the other hand seemed to be at a loss as to what to do in a kitchen.
“Here, why don’t you get started on some scrambled eggs, Grace,” Dani said, handing her a bowl and fork.
Grace looked at the items like it was some kind of incendiary device. Dani just laughed. She went on her toes and kissed Grace on the nose. “I didn’t know you’d be so cute in the kitchen,” Dani said in Spanish. Grace just blushed which she found so endearing.
Dani took pity on Grace and cracked the eggs in the bowl for her. She then went back to measuring her ingredients.
“So, Grace, I’m curious,” Sarah said. “What exactly did you eat on a regular basis? In the future, I mean.”
Grace just shrugged. “Whatever we can scavenge. But on a regular basis, I’d say mostly energy bars, freeze-dried food, biscuits, you know that sort of thing.”
“How do people stay healthy eating such things?” Dani asked.
“We’ve had technological advances too. Our vitamin supplements were far better than anything you have here. Our leader understood that it was impractical to have the kind of food available before the war, but it was made a priority to ensure everyone didn’t suffer on a nutritional basis. Our scientists were ordered to make supplements that would sustain everyone’s basic nutritional needs. And so, the only purpose left for food was merely for calorie intake, not its nutritional value.”
“Eat to live instead of live to eat,” Sarah said, shaking her head. “Makes sense now why you seem to savor everything you eat. Even a cheese sandwich probably tastes like heaven to you.”
“Enjoy the little things while you have it,” Grace said, mixing her eggs.
Sarah just nodded.
“Grace, you’re not fighting a terminator, go easy on the eggs,” Dani said, amused with how hard Grace was scrambling them.
“Just go back to your pancakes, I can handle these,” Grace said.
Dani laughed. “Fine, fine. Just make sure we have some eggs left by the time you’re done with those. At that rate, they’ll evaporate before they hit the pan.”
Grace just rolled her eyes, but at least she did ease up on her eggs.
“Here, I’ll get started on the bacon. You’re welcome, Grace. I know you probably haven’t had any since the war. Hey Dani, put some chocolate chips in my pancakes,” Sarah said.
“Shouldn’t you be watching your sugar intake at your age?” Grace said, seriously but with a teasing look in her eyes.
“Hey, I’m not the crashing diabetic,” Sarah retorted.
“Whoa, I think that’s one for Sarah, zero for you, Grace,” Dani said, laughing.
Grace just laughed good-naturedly. Even she could appreciate a good comeback. “I’ll get you back for that one, Sarah.”
“You can try,” Sarah said, grinning.
“Now, now, chicas, we’re all on the same team here,” Dani said.
“And which team would that be?” Sarah asked.
“Dani’s team,” Grace said, smiling.
“Damn right!” Sarah said.
The three of them soon found a rhythm, and in no time, they had a pretty nice-looking breakfast all set up in front of them. Their table was adorned with pancakes of various sizes – much to Dani’s dismay. She never could make evenly sized pancakes – they also had bacon, toast, eggs and an assortment of fruit.
Dani dug right into her food, excited for a nice hot breakfast for a change. Even before her family had been killed, breakfast was often skipped as she didn’t want to be late for work. This was a nice treat.
“So, anyway, I’m thinking we’ll need to steal another car, find some weapons, and make our way to those coordinates,” Sarah said, in between bites.
“I agree. In terms of food and clothing, not to mention my meds, we’re good. Weapons is all we’re short,” Grace said.
“I know a guy who’ll sell some to us,” Sarah said.
“Like a black-market kind of thing?” Dani asked.
“Kind of thing…” Sarah said.
“Can we trust him?” Grace asked. “There’s probably a reward out for us. You don’t think he’ll turn us in?”
“There’s been a massive reward out for me for decades. He hasn’t turned me in yet,” Sarah said.
“Okay, we’ll take our chances then,” Dani said.
“Look, Grace, don’t worry. I haven’t survived this long on the run by trusting the wrong people. I won’t ever put Dani in danger. You have my word,” Sarah said, seriously.
Grace nodded, obviously trusting Sarah.
“Anyway, you two stay here. I’m going to the gas station a few blocks from here. Gonna use their payphone. Wanna make sure my weapons dealer is still around,” Sarah said, getting up and putting her plate in the sink.
“You don’t want us to come with you?” Dani asked.
“I won’t be long, and I’d rather you stay away from any prying eyes. Besides, I’m sure you and Grace will find something to do,” Sarah said, winking at Dani.
Dani blushed, but Grace merely gave Sarah a sardonic look. “Have fun, kids!” Sarah said, as she walked out the backdoor.
Dani turned to Grace who was drinking her milk. She looked down at Grace’s plate and noticed something on her pancake.
“Is that a happy face?” Dani asked.
Dani looked closer. The blueberries were aligned to form a smile. The cluster of chocolate chips looked to represent eyes. And a slice of strawberry definitely looked like the nose piece.
“I think it is,” Dani insisted.
“No, it’s not.”
“Yeah, it is.”
“No, it’s not.”
Dani laughed so hard. “Yes, it is! Don’t deny it!”
“No, you’re seeing things.”
“I am not! It’s so a happy face.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Awww, you’re so cute, Grace,” Dani said, kissing her on the cheek.
“Finish your food, Dani.”
To be continued…
Author’s notes: I hope you all enjoyed this little fluff piece. Thanks so much for reading and all the kind words.
Chapter 12: You Are My Life
The Rev-9 catches up to Grace, Dani and Sarah. All hell breaks loose!
“If you asked me to choose between my life or yours, I would always choose mine, because you are my life.” – Dani to Grace
Fate Binds Us
Grace, Dani and Sarah had been driving for the last half hour on their way to meet with Sarah’s weapons dealer. Their plan was then to head straight to their mystery texter after procuring their various armaments. Grace felt a little sad leaving the house behind. They’d spent only two days recuperating there, but she’d grown attached to it. In a way, it was what she imagined living with Dani would have been like had they just been normal people. It had been like a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse of heaven for Grace.
She tried to focus on the here and now. She might as well had been dreaming of unicorns than dreaming of a normal life with Dani. That’s how out of reach it all was, at least the normal part of it. But a life with Dani might not be completely out of reach. But first they both had to live through this nightmare.
They’d packed up their meagre belongings that morning. They grabbed whatever food they had that tended to have a long shelf-life. They’d brought half of Grace’s meds, but the other half, they’d shipped to a locker for rent in Laredo in case they found themselves in a similar situation as the one they’d found themselves in at the border. Finally, they’d reviewed their route and itinerary and took off in a freshly stolen Mazda CX-3.
Grace knew Dani still wasn’t comfortable stealing other people’s possessions. Truth be told, she wasn’t fond of stealing either, but she knew it was a necessary evil. And Dani no longer protested, which she knew was a good thing. But it made Grace sad, as it was another reminder of how much of Dani’s innocence had been destroyed.
And so, they found themselves on the road again. Sarah was behind the wheel – for whatever reason, she always insisted on driving – and Dani was in the front seat this time around. Grace quite enjoyed being in the back for a change, it was more spacious for her long limbs. Also, it was easier to keep an eye on Dani; a favorite pastime of hers.
“So, Sarah, would you rather lose the ability to read or speak?” Dani asked, filling up the time and silence with her questions game of Would You Rather…
“Hmm…. Can I re-learn how to read or how to speak?” Sarah asked, obviously getting into the game as well.
“Nope. It’s a skill you’d lose forever,” Dani said, matter-of-factly.
“Then I’d rather lose the ability to speak,” Sarah said.
Ever the practical one, Grace mused.
“How about you, Dani, would you rather lose your sense of touch, or your sense of taste?” Sarah asked.
Dani’s forehead wrinkled slightly. She was giving Sarah’s question a lot of thought. “If I had to lose one, I’d choose to lose my sense of touch. I mean, being numb would have its advantages too, right? I could never feel pain. If I lost my sense of taste, then I’d never be able to enjoy any of my favorite foods again.”
Grace smirked. She made a mental note to remind Dani of her answer after she’d had her way with her. Much to Grace’s dismay, they’d cuddled and kissed plenty, but they hadn’t had a chance to be intimate yet. Dani seemed a little skittish whenever things got too heated. Grace wondered how much experience Dani really had. She wished she’d asked her Dani. But she never enjoyed talking about the past. Grace was looking forward to making sure this Dani would feel differently with her answer after their first time.
“Okay Grace, your turn,” Dani said. “Would you rather spend the rest of your life in an underground bunker, or forever be on the run, not even being able to stay in one place for more than a few hours?”
“I don’t care, as long as you’re with me,” Grace said, sincerely. Dani blushed, but also gave her a smile that would rival the sun.
Trust Sarah, of course, to bring them back to reality. “Please, don’t make me toss what little breakfast I had. Answer the question, Grace.”
“Are you always so cynical?” Grace asked.
“Only when it’s not Christmas,” Sarah grinned. “Well?”
“I’d rather be in the underground bunker,” Grace said.
“Really?” Dani asked, obviously not expecting that choice. “Wouldn’t you get cabin fever?”
“For one, I’m used to being in underground bunkers. It’s how we evaded Legion in my time. And I’m assuming the theoretical choice you gave me was between being on the run and always having to worry about our safety, as opposed to being safe in a bunker, but just not being able to leave. I’d always choose your safety,” Grace answered.
“Well, I appreciate that,” Dani said, grinning. “So, Sarah, this one’s for you. Would you rather have one real get-out-of-jail free card, or a key that opens any door?”
“You’re talking to someone who’s escaped a psychiatric ward as well as various prisons. I am my own get-out-of-jail card. The key that opens any door would be far more practical,” Sarah answered.
Dani laughed. “Sorry, I forgot who I was talking to.”
“Okay, Dani, your turn. Would you rather be loved by everyone, or be feared by everyone? Now keep in mind, those who fear you would do anything you told them to,” Sarah asked.
“Neither,” Dani said, simply. “I’d rather be respected by everyone, and for them to make up their own minds.”
Grace was not one bit surprised by her answer. Already, she could see so much of the commander in this Dani that she would no doubt grow to become. And Dani needn’t worry. There was no one more respected where Grace came from.
“So, Grace,” Dani started. “Would you rather lose all your memories from birth until now, or lose your ability to make new long-term memories?”
“You don’t ask the easy questions, do you, Dani?” Grace said, truly meaning it. She thought long and hard. What would it do to her to lose her memories of her childhood, her family, judgment day, surviving on her own, her augmentation, but most of all, to lose memories of her Dani? She wouldn’t be herself anymore.
“Well?” Sarah asked, seemingly just as curious as Dani.
“I’d want to keep my memories,” Grace said, almost in a whisper.
“Good choice. You don’t want to ever forget the love of your life. In some ways, that’s even more tragic than just leaving them behind,” Dani said, sincerely, looking so sad for Grace.
If only Grace could tell Dani that it was her whom she’d left behind. That it was only ever Dani she loved, lost and found again. Grace saw Sarah looking at her through the rear-view mirror, as if to say just tell her. But she’d promised her Dani she wouldn’t. Grace was about to change the topic when sirens were heard from behind them.
“Shit,” Sarah mumbled.
Grace turned around. One state patrol vehicle was behind them. “Should we try to outrun it?”
“With nothing but open road in front of us? It’d be futile. They’d call for backup and we’d be surrounded in no time,” Sarah said, slowing their vehicle down.
“Do you have any fake IDs, Sarah?” Dani asked.
“Yeah, I got one. Just, everyone play it cool,” Sarah said, bringing their vehicle to a complete stop.
“If he ran our plate, we’re fucked,” Grace said. She looked behind them and saw that the two state troopers were getting out of their vehicle.
“You want to fight our way through this? I mean, I’m sure taking down two cops would be a walk in the park for you,” Sarah said.
“No! We’re unarmed, and I don’t want to risk Grace getting hurt,” Dani argued vehemently.
“We’ll play it by ear, Dani,” Grace said, putting a hand on her shoulder. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”
Just then, one of the state troopers, a tall, blonde, and well-built man in his mid-thirties, knocked on Sarah’s window. “Ma’am, may I see your driver’s license and registration, please.”
“Sure, officer,” Sarah said, reaching for her fake ID. “My registration isn’t here at the moment, but I can provide that another time.”
“I see,” the man said, looking at Sarah, then the rest of them suspiciously.
His partner, a slightly shorter man with a receding hairline who looked to be about in his early forties, knocked on Dani’s window. “Do the rest of you have ID?”
“Is there a problem, officer? I’ve already provided you mine,” Sarah said, a forced smile on her face.
Grace already had a feeling this wouldn’t end well for them. They’d either have to physically fight off these cops – and with they, that pretty much meant her – or they’d be taken into custody. Neither option was good.
The blonde trooper took Sarah’s ID with him back to his car. He was running something on the computer. There was no way they wouldn’t be outed for the fugitives they were. Grace felt herself tensing, ready for a battle. But they were all at a disadvantage currently in their car. She closed her eyes, trying to block out the noise. She could hear the officer behind them in his vehicle call for back up.
Faintly, Grace heard, “This is officer Berkley. We have a 10-1 situation here. Stolen vehicle. Suspects match the description of escaped detainees.”
“Fuck,” Grace murmured.
The police got off his radio, pulled his weapon out and said, “Get out of the vehicle. You’re all under arrest. Hands where I can see them.”
Grace quickly assessed their situation. The troopers did a good job of spreading themselves out. The older officer had his gun trained on Dani on one side of their car. The other, the one who called for backup, was on the other side of their car and pointing a gun at Sarah. Grace could no doubt disarm both men at no danger to herself. But there was no guarantee that the cop holding a gun to Dani wouldn’t pull the trigger. She would never risk Dani. These were local state troopers, they would have to take them to a jail first. Their odds were better trying to escape there. The only problem was that the Rev-9 would no doubt have caught that radio exchange and would be on its way.
Grace exchanged a look with Sarah conveying to her that she would not be fighting back. Sarah nodded agreeably, obviously seeing the danger to Dani as well if they decided to take a stand. Grace was the first to exit the vehicle with her hands in the air. Dani and Sarah quickly followed suit, their hands also in the air. They were quickly patted down, cuffed, read their rights, and shoved in the back of the police vehicle. To Grace’s relief, they missed the syringes she’d tucked behind her bra.
Not long after, they were taken to the police station where they were booked and thrown in jail. They were all offered their customary phone call, but none of them really had anyone they needed to call. They were advised they’d be assigned counsel, which they all couldn’t care less about. Interestingly enough, it must have been a slow workday because the three of them were the only ones in custody.
When the cops finally left them alone, they quickly got down to figuring out what to do next. They all agreed that Grace had the strength to easily force their jail cell door open. Their real problem was to sneak out undetected. On their way over, Sarah caught a glimpse of a police chopper up on the roof. With Grace proficient at piloting various aircrafts, all they’d need would be a clear path to the chopper and they’d be home free.
But a clear path would not be easy to obtain. There were cameras all over the police station as well as troopers on duty at all hours of the day. They’d no doubt would have to incapacitate several of them in order to make their escape. Grace didn’t want to hurt anyone, and these cops were all innocent and just doing their jobs. But if it came down to Dani or them, the choice was easy. Dani first. Always.
Sarah and Dani were currently trying to decide when to make their move when it seemed fate decided for them. Grace felt that same tingling feeling in the back of her mind. The hairs on her arms immediately stood up. The Rev-9 had found them.
“Shit! We have to go. It’s here!” Grace said, trying to stay calm.
“Fuck! That was fast. I thought we’d have more time,” Sarah said.
Grace quickly forced their cell door open. But she hadn’t taken one foot out the door when an Asian police officer walked into the room. It was the Rev-9. It didn’t matter what form it took. She always instinctively knew.
“Step aside. I only want the girl,” the machine told Grace.
“Over my dead body,” Grace said, angrily.
“If you insist,” the Rev-9 said, as it turned its arms into those all-too-familiar blades.
Grace lifted herself off the ground by grabbing onto the bars above her head. She swung her entire weight at the machine and kicked it across the room. It crashed right through the wall.
“Sarah, get Dani out of here!” Grace yelled.
“On it!” Sarah answered.
“We’re not leaving Grace!” Dani argued, but much to Grace’s relief, Sarah was hauling Dani out of there. It was against her will, but she was being dragged out nonetheless.
As Sarah and Dani made their escape, the Rev-9 made a move to follow them. But Grace threw herself at it and pinned it to the ground with all her might, trying to buy Sarah and Dani a few more seconds. The Rev-9 easily threw her aside as if she weighed nothing. There was a rifle leaning on the wall next to where she landed. Thank god for careless local cops. She started shooting at the machine which forced it to turn around and deal with her.
Right at that moment, several troopers came running in, weapons in hand. But they all stopped dead in their tracks when they saw the black blades being swung in the air by what seemed to be one of their own, trying to cut Grace in half.
“What the fuck?” one of the troopers said.
Another cop, realizing they were dealing with some kind of monster, aimed his weapon at the Rev-9. It hit it right on the chest, the liquid metal gave way to show part of the endoskeleton for a moment or two. It quickly fixed itself, but it gave Grace time to grab another weapon just as her ammo ran out.
The machine, realizing its disguise was useless, morphed back into its regular form. It quickly dispatched the dozen or so officers that had turned against it, killing them instantly and brutally. Grace was left on her own. She was the only thing standing between the Rev-9 and Dani. Grace wasted no time and quickly charged at the Rev-9, body-slamming it against the wall. She took its head in her hands and smashed it repeatedly.
But the machine quickly regained its bearing, lifted Grace off her feet and threw her on the ground. It put its foot right on her chest, pinning her to the floor. With its foot still on her chest, it went down on one knee. It looked at her curiously before it morphed its hand into that dreaded black blade again. It raised its arm high above its head, readying to finish Grace off.
Looking back, the only thing Grace could remember was sending out a prayer to God to keep Dani and Sarah safe. The last image in her mind’s eye was Dani’s smiling face. She had believed with every fibre of her being that she’d met the end. But it hadn’t been the end. A loud shot rang in the air and the Rev-9 snapped back. Then there was another shot, and another, until the killer machine was off Grace completely.
Everything else happened in a blur. She saw Dani swing a rifle at a temporarily disoriented Rev-9, obviously out of ammo. Dani was screaming at it in Spanish. Grace tried to scream at Dani to get away, but she was still trying to catch her breath from being pinned down brutally on the chest.
Grace fought desperately to get back on her feet. She felt the first stirrings of her body beginning to crash. She looked up and her stomach went up in her throat at the sight before her. The Rev-9 had Dani against a desk. She tried to scream but no sound came out. Then a gunshot came from behind her. Several shots came in quick succession sending the machine crashing against the wall and away from Dani.
It was Sarah! “Damn kid got away from me! Wouldn’t leave your cybernetic ass behind,” Sarah said.
Grace and Sarah quickly ran to Dani and pulled her up. Grace’s first instinct was to check Dani for any injuries, but there was no time. She was on her feet and they all ran and made a beeline for the roof. They quickly got into the police chopper and Grace wasted no time in starting it up. The Rev-9 made its way to the roof as well and saw them trying to make their escape.
It ran at them full speed, but Sarah had a shotgun at her side that she no doubt took from one of the dead officers. Her aim was sure, and she unloaded on the machine. It slowed it enough that they were able to get airborne. Grace looked down and saw the Rev-9 looking at them with a blank expression on its face. She felt her blood run cold. This was what they were up against. A machine that didn’t even feel disappointment at their escape. A machine that didn’t feel anything at all. Emotion would never cloud its judgment. It didn’t need rest or nourishment. It would be relentless.
Grace turned around to look at Dani. “What the hell were you thinking?!” Grace had never felt so frightened in her life than when she saw Dani in the Rev-9’s clutches.
“I wasn’t… going to… leave you behind,” Dani said, seemingly out of breath.
“No! Between me and you, you will always pick you, do you understand?!” Grace said, the anger in her voice a mask for her fright.
But Dani didn’t answer. It was then Grace realized that she was struggling to breathe.
“Dani? Dani what’s wrong?” Grace asked, concern overtaking all other emotions at the moment.
Dani bent forward a little. “Dani? Are you hurt?” Sarah asked.
Dani was so pale. Grace had no idea what was wrong. And it scared the hell out of her. Grace couldn’t let go of the controls and she had to rely on Sarah behind her to check on Dani.
“Shit,” Sarah whispered.
And it was then that Grace saw a pool of blood at Dani’s feet. Sarah rushed to unzip Dani’s hoody. Beneath was even more blood. Grace felt panic welling up within her. She looked at Dani and saw her struggling to stay upright. Sarah lifted Dani’s shirt and Grace heard her gasp.
“I think she’s been stabbed,” Sarah said.
“No!” Grace said. “Dani! Dani, you hang in there! Do you hear me? We’re gonna get you help. Dani! Dani!?”
But Dani didn’t answer. She just collapsed in Sarah’s arms.
To be continued…
Chapter 13: We All Wear Scars
Dani fights for her life and Grace blames herself. Carl makes his grand entrance. Sarah is forced to decide what's more important; Dani's life or her revenge.
“A scar simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” – Unknown
Fate Binds Us
“Is she breathing, Sarah? How bad’s the wound? How much blood is she losing? Sarah? Sarah?!”
Sarah could see Grace’s face turn ghostly pale at the sight of so much blood on Dani. She saw the panic grow in her friend’s eyes. She needed to calm her down.
“Grace, turn around and focus on flying. I’ve got her,” Sarah said.
“How bad is it?” Grace said, a hint of hysteria in her voice.
Sarah ignored Grace for a moment. She got off her seat and did her best to lay Dani down in a semi-recovery position. Dani was sweating profusely, and her heart was racing. She did a quick head-to-toe scan checking for any other injuries she might have sustained. There didn’t seem to be any, thank God. Dani was bleeding a lot, but the bleeding seemed to be venous, not arterial. Sarah put as much pressure on the wound as she safely could to slow down the bleeding.
“Sarah?” Grace asked, her voice cracking.
“I can’t tell how deep the stab wound is,” Sarah said, trying to appear calm for Grace’s sake. “Her blood is oozing, but at least it’s not spurting, which is a good sign that no artery’s been damaged. Her bleeding is also slowing down with the pressure I’m applying, so that’s a good thing, but…”
“But what?” Grace asked.
“She’s so small,” Sarah whispered. “I’m not sure how much more blood she could lose.”
“That’s it, I’m flying us to a hospital,” Grace said, turning the chopper in the air.
“Have you lost your mind?!” Sarah yelled. “The only reason we don’t have the military on our asses is because every single cop in that station is dead, and couldn’t report us. Who knows if the Rev-9 already impersonated an officer to report this chopper stolen. They will shoot us down on sight! We won’t even get a chance to land near a hospital. And if by some miracle we do, then the Rev-9 will no doubt find Dani there, and in her condition, we won’t be able to move her. She’ll be a sitting duck!”
“Then what?! What do we do, Sarah? We have no medical equipment,” Grace said. “And what if Dani needs a blood transfusion? For god’s sake, Sarah! Tell me what to do!”
“The first thing you need to do is calm down, Grace,” Sarah said, trying to infuse her voice with as much authority as she could muster.
Grace nodded, taking a deep breath.
“Look, you were given instructions to head to those coordinates if your mission went sideways. I’d say we’re way beyond sideways now.”
“But how is that going to help, Dani? She needs medical attention. We don’t know who this mystery texter is or if he can even help us.”
“You’re right, it’s a risk. But Dani’s bleeding is slowing down. I think we have some time.”
“But, Sarah, she’s so small. She can’t afford to bleed so much. What if we get to those coordinates, and this guy won’t be able to help Dani?”
“Look, Grace. I know you’re scared, and I know you’re worried sick. But you need to think logically about this. We, quite frankly, don’t have a lot of choice. If we take her to a populated area like a hospital, or hell, even a veterinary hospital, our chopper will be spotted from miles away. That Rev-9 will find Dani before she even has a minute to recover. She’d be dead anyway.”
“Please, Sarah,” Grace said, tears welling in her blue eyes. “I can’t lose her.”
“Then you need to listen to me. Her best chance is for us to continue to evade that terminator. The good news is that although she’s bleeding a lot, it’s not catastrophic. Once we get to those coordinates, and we ditch the chopper, we can focus on getting medical supplies for Dani. We can give her the time she needs to recover as well.”
Grace nodded. “Okay, then. I’ll take us to those coordinates.”
“Now, listen, Grace. Both the Rev-9 and the authorities will be looking for this chopper. You’ll need to land us at least ten miles from those coordinates, preferably in an area that’s hard to spot -”
“Ten miles?! Dani needs immediate help! We can’t carry her that far without worsening her injury.”
“Let me finish. A really fit runner could probably run a mile in eight minutes. That would approximately be eighty minutes to run ten miles -”
“I don’t think -”
Sarah glared at Grace who wisely shut-up. “Anyway, with your enhancements, you could probably do it in half that time. I’ll stay here with Dani and keep her bleeding in check and make sure she doesn’t fall into shock. Once you get there, see if it’s possible to drive back here. Make sure to bring plenty of water, and a makeshift stretcher of some sort.”
“If I leave you two, and the Rev-9 finds you, you’d be defenseless!”
“It’s a risk we have to take, Grace. We’ve run out of options. Do you have any meds left? That run you’ll need to do will drain you.”
“Show me,” Sarah said.
She had to insist as she knew Grace would do the run regardless if she had meds or not. Grace sighed, and reached behind her. After a few seconds of fumbling, she pulled two syringes and showed them to her. Sarah nodded, satisfied. She wondered how her meds miraculously remained intact after her fight with the Rev-9, then quickly decided it wasn’t important. It was imperative that Grace not end up crashing on top of Dani’s injury. Sarah could only handle one crisis at a time.
After about a half hour, Grace found a spot on the ground that would be hard to see from up in the air. Sarah estimated them to be approximately ten miles from the coordinates they needed to reach. Grace quickly but gently landed their chopper deep in the woods. She hopped out of the chopper first and observed their surroundings. Sarah didn’t dare take her hands off Dani’s wounds.
“The terrain is rough, but I think it’s possible to get a vehicle back here,” Grace yelled from a few feet away.
“Do you know where to go?” Sarah asked.
“Yeah, I do. It’ll take me approximately forty minutes to run there. If I can get a vehicle back here, it’ll take only about ten minutes to drive back. Hopefully, I won’t be gone for any more than an hour,” Grace answered.
Sarah saw that Grace was torn about leaving them.
“Grace, I swear to you, I will guard Dani with my life. But every minute counts. You need to go,” Sarah said, gently but firmly.
Grace looked at Dani one last time. “Thanks, Sarah.”
Grace then ran like her life depended on it. And considering Dani was her life, she supposed it did. Sarah then focused her attention on the small woman before her. Dani was getting paler by the minute it seemed. But at least her bleeding slowed down. Granted, Sarah didn’t dare let up on the pressure she was applying on the wound. However, the fact that it seemed to help meant that the wound wasn’t severe enough that the body’s natural clotting system couldn’t help. What worried Sarah was that she had no idea if Dani had any major nerve damage. And of course, there was still the risk of infection. But they had to deal with those problems as they came.
Sarah thought about Grace and what it would mean if Dani lost this battle. Grace would never recover. Her devastation would be unimaginable. She would forever blame herself. Dani’s death wouldn’t mean the loss of one person; it would no doubt be the loss of two. And that’s not even taking into account the fact that the very future hung in the balance.
“You better make it, kid,” Sarah whispered. “For everyone’s sake.”
Sarah hated not being able to do much. She had literally been in the same position for over two hours already, pretty much from the moment Dani lost consciousness. She looked down at her watch. Grace had been gone now for fifty-six minutes. Sarah could only pray that future Dani knew what she was doing when she tattooed those coordinates on Grace.
Sarah’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of an engine. Her first instinct was to reach for a weapon. Of course, she was quickly brought back to her reality with the sight of her blood-soaked hands. She could only hope that was Grace approaching. Otherwise they were dead. It was that simple.
“Sarah!” she heard Grace yell from outside.
Thank God! “Still here, Grace!” Sarah responded.
“Is Dani -”
“Still alive. Come on, hurry.”
She peeked out of the chopper to see what Grace brought with her. She saw an old Volvo station wagon. Grace was pulling something from out of the trunk. Sarah then saw an older man come out of the passenger side. He mostly had gray hair with a short matching beard. Why did he look so familiar?
He approached the chopper and stood right outside, a mere few feet away from Sarah. It was then she saw his face; the scar. The very one that had haunted her dreams for two decades since she cradled her son’s lifeless body in her arms. It was him. That face, it was the same one that had saved her and her son, and then later took him from her.
“Sarah Connor,” the T-800 said, recognizing her.
Sarah’s blood turned to ice.
“You son of a bitch!!! You mother fucker! I’ll kill you, you hear me, I’ll kill you!”
Sarah saw red, and for that moment, she lost all thought of everything except of ripping this machine apart, limb from bionic limb. She jumped out of the chopper and started hitting and kicking the terminator before her. It didn’t fight back, but she barely noticed. It was like being trapped in a tunnel-vision. She couldn’t think anymore. All the agony she felt when John died came rushing back in a deluge of emotion.
The next thing she knew, she was being dragged away from her target. Strong arms around her waist was pulling her back.
“Sarah! What the hell?! This is your mystery texter. He’s the man helping us!” Grace yelled.
“It’s not a man! It’s a terminator and it killed my son, John!” Sarah screamed hysterically.
“Is this true?” Grace asked, calmly.
“Yes,” the terminator answered.
“Let me go!” Sarah practically spat at Grace.
“No! You need to calm down. Dani’s life depends on it. He’s helping us, and we need him. We need to get Dani back to his cabin,” Grace said, practically pleading with Sarah.
“I have detailed files on human anatomy,” the terminator said matter-of-factly. “I can help your injured friend.”
It was only then that Sarah realized she’d let go of the pressure she’d been applying to Dani’s wound. She closed her eyes for a moment and prayed for some clarity. Dani’s life was on the line. Her son was forever lost. Her revenge could wait. She gave the T-800 the most hateful look she could muster, then ran back in the chopper.
Sarah was relieved to see that although Dani’s bleeding got slightly worse without the pressure to her wound, she didn’t lose too much more blood. Sarah felt guilt eat away at her. How did she lose so much control that she’d forgotten Dani. Seeing that thing again had taken all reason from her. She looked down at the girl she’d come to feel such maternal affection for, and swore she’d come first, as she should.
Grace quickly followed her in the chopper with the terminator close behind. Sarah kept her hands on Dani’s wound and Grace and the machine gently carried Dani to the car. They placed her in the back seat with Sarah who kept her hands pressed to Dani’s abdomen. The terminator got behind the wheel with Grace taking the passenger’s seat.
Sarah could tell that Grace wanted to be in the back with Dani, but it was impractical to switch at this stage, not to mention that Grace probably still didn’t trust her to be in the front seat with their new-found comrade.
The drive went by like a blur for Sarah. She was bombarded by emotions she couldn’t process. Her son’s killer sat mere inches from her. The woman she’d started loving like her own child was bleeding to death right under her hands. Not unlike how her son John had bled to death in her arms two decades prior. The only thing keeping her calm was her desire for Dani to live. She wanted Dani to live more than she wanted her son’s killer dead.
She had no idea how much time had passed when she saw them begin to approach a cabin. She saw a white van parked outside with an ad for Carl’s Draperies. Their car came to a stop right at the front door. The terminator got out and opened the back door with Grace close behind. It took some careful maneuvering to get Dani out of the vehicle without hurting her, but they eventually did it. They brought her into the house and placed her on the couch.
“Stay here,” the terminator said, making his way out the front door again.
“Not so fast!” Sarah said. “Where are you going?”
“We’ll need medical supplies. I have some in storage,” the machine answered.
“I don’t think a first-aid kit will really help us much,” Sarah mumbled.
“I have a whole range of medical supplies.”
“You just keep them around?” Grace asked.
“Even without a rogue AI taking over, I calculate a 74% chance that human civilization will collapse into poverism and in that eventuality, medical supplies will be vital to keep my family alive,” the terminator said.
“You have a fucking family?” Sarah asked. “Are they terminators too?”
Grace just glared at her. “Please get everything we’ll need for Dani.” The terminator nodded and left them alone.
After a couple of minutes, they heard the sound of a vehicle engine approach.
“Shit! Who’s that?” Sarah said.
Grace quickly went to the window and peeked through the curtain. “It’s a woman and a young man. They’re taking out groceries from the trunk. It’s probably his family that he was talking about.”
“Do they look like terminators?” Sarah said, sarcastically.
“Sarah, will you please!” Grace said exasperatedly.
The woman opened the door, stepped one foot into the house and dropped all her groceries in shock. “My god…”
“Uhhh, don’t be alarmed, we’re friends of your… uhh… husband’s,” Grace said, her tone obviously wasn’t sure if husband was the right term.
“Oh,” the woman said, eyes round as saucers.
“What happened to her?” the young man asked, pointing at Dani.
Before either Sarah or Grace could answer, the terminator came back, his arms full of medical supplies. “Hi honey. We have company.”
“Company?” the woman said incredulously.
The machine quickly invented a story of an armed robbery going wrong, and how Sarah had been an old friend of his who remembered he lived close by. His wife asked why they hadn’t just gone to the hospital and they’d told her that Dani was an undocumented illegal in the country and couldn’t risk getting caught. The woman seemed to accept the story, albeit with some reservations – and really, who could blame her?
But it was their luck that his wife – whom they all found out was named Alicia – was a registered nurse. After her initial shock at seeing three battered and bloodied guests at her home, she quickly took charge.
“Carl, please bring your friend to the guest room. It will be easier to attend to her on a bed than here,” Alicia said.
“Thank you,” Grace said, quickly moving to help the terminator lift Dani and take her to the room.
“Mateo, boil some water, please,” Alicia told her son.
After they’d settled Dani in the guest room, Alicia had kindly asked her and Grace to leave them. “I know you’re worried for your friend, but our guest room is very tiny. Carl and I would move faster just the two of us. Please just wait outside.”
As much as Sarah didn’t trust the machine, and as much as she knew Grace didn’t want Dani out of her sight, they knew it was for the best. The two women went back to the couch and sat down, exhausted.
Sarah broke the silence. “Have you taken your meds after your run?”
“Yes. I took it before we left to get you and Dani. I’m fine,” Grace said.
Sarah didn’t think she looked fine at all. “Look…. I’m sorry I forgot about Dani out there.”
“I understand, Sarah. It couldn’t have been easy seeing your son’s killer again. And under any other circumstances, I would have let you kill him.”
Sarah felt a gentle hand on her back. “I’m sorry, Sarah. I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now.”
“I don’t even have a picture of my son. I refused to take any, thinking it would help keep him hidden if Skynet didn’t know what he looked like,” Sarah said, almost in a whisper.
“I would have done the same thing in your place,” Grace said.
“And now, I’m forgetting his face.”
Grace just put an arm around her, but said nothing. Exhausted and emotionally drained, Sarah rested her head on her friend’s shoulder. It was after a few minutes that she realized she wasn’t the only one hurting. She looked up to see a very distraught looking Grace. Her eyes were red and moist. There was a tenseness to her face that she had no doubt stemmed from her worries.
“She’ll make it, Grace. I’ve never seen a feistier little thing than our Dani. She’ll fight for her life. And I wouldn’t bet against her,” Sarah said, trying to sound more confident than she truly was.
“What if she doesn’t make it?” Grace asked.
“She will. Don’t even think it,” Sarah said, firmly.
“But if she doesn’t… Dear God, Sarah, I promised her I wouldn’t let anything happen to her. And now she’s forced to fight for her life!”
“That’s not on you, you hear me?”
“Of course, it is! I’m her protector. And I failed her.”
“You were ready to give your life up back there at the police station to ensure Dani got away. It’s not your fault that she didn’t listen to you or me.”
“I was there…. When the Rev-9 hurt her, I was there. I was just a few feet away. It took me too long to get back up. It was my fault… my fault…”
“Oh, Grace. We had already been in the clear, you know. While you were back in the station fighting that Rev-9. We had already broken into a vehicle and would have been well on our way. But Dani jumped out of the vehicle just as I started it and ran back for you,” Sarah said, sighing.
“She’s so god damned stubborn,” Grace mumbled, frustratedly.
Sarah chuckled. “I take it this has happened before?”
“Too many times before,” Grace said. “Our biggest fights were always because she risked her life unnecessarily… a lot of the times, for me.”
“I have no doubt Dani would disagree with your definition of unnecessarily. And I’m sorry to tell you, it’s just something you’ll have to live with. And deep down, I know you already know that,” Sarah said.
“It’s who she is,” Grace said, resignedly.
“It’s why you love her so much.”
Grace gave her a sardonic look.
“Oh, don’t even deny it. You love her because of who she is. All of her. Not despite of who she is.”
Grace snorted. “I hate it when you’re right.”
“She could no more put her life ahead of yours than you could put your life ahead of hers.”
Grace gave her a weak, wry smile. “Dani will be the death of me. That Rev-9’s got nothing on her.”
Sarah laughed. “I can’t even argue that.”
The two of them sat together in companionable silence for another hour it seemed. They both gave to and drew strength from one another. Sarah might not have liked Grace much when she first met her, but she was grateful to have her. This unlikely friend she’d made for life.
Neither the terminator nor Alicia had come out of the room in the entire hour or so that Sarah and Grace had been waiting. Sarah could tell that Grace was getting more and more nervous by the second. But she’d run out of comforting words for her a while back. That, and she had to admit, she was scared herself. Just because Dani was alive in the future Grace came from didn’t mean it guaranteed this one’s survival. Her son, John’s death, was proof of that.
Sarah was about to get up to use the washroom when the door to the guest room opened and the terminator and Alicia both stepped out. Sarah couldn’t read their expressions. Not that she expected anything from a terminator. She didn’t miss the fact that their clothing was very clearly bloodstained. She felt Grace stand up next to her. She took the young woman’s hand beside her, trying to give her strength for whatever news was coming their way.
“She’s awake now,” Alicia said, smiling tiredly.
Sarah let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Grace let out what sounded like a half-sob, half-laugh. The taller woman pulled Sarah in a huge embrace, her relief palpable.
“Go on, go see her. I need to use the washroom anyway,” Sarah said to Grace, wanting to give the kids some privacy.
Grace didn’t need to be told twice. She quickly went into the room. She saw Dani lying in the bed so still. Her face was turned away from her and Grace wasn’t quite sure if she was still awake.
Dani look startled but gave her a weak smile anyway.
“Sorry, did I scare you?” Grace asked. “Because you sure scared me.”
“You look terrible,” Dani said.
“You might have something to do with that,” Grace said, teasingly.
She pulled up a chair and sat next to Dani’s bed, taking her hand in hers.
“How long was I out?” Dani asked.
“Several hours maybe, honestly, I’ve lost track.”
Dani nodded slowly. She must have realized the hell she’d put Grace through. “Sorry I gave you a fright.”
Grace took a deep breath. Her emotions were in turmoil. “You can’t do stupid shit like that, Dani. You can’t put yourself at risk.”
“It would have killed you.”
“That doesn’t matter. When are you gonna get it? Everybody dies, if you don’t make it.”
“I would trade everybody for you.”
Grace closed her eyes in defeat. “You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“You can’t even tell me what makes me so important…. I almost died, and if I had I wouldn’t have even known what I got killed for. Not truly… I mean, all you’ve told me is that I’m important in the war against the machines. But that doesn’t tell me anything.”
Grace looked away momentarily. Dani had a point. Did future Dani anticipate this whole scenario unfolding before them? Or were they off script? She hated this whole time-traveling bullshit. It added to her already severe headache.
“Listen, Dani,” Grace said, taking Dani’s face gently in her hand. “You should have chosen to save your life. Because your life is all that matters.”
“But I did…. Don’t you see, Grace? You are my life.”
To be continued…
Author’s Notes: To any of my readers who are in the medical profession, I apologize in advance for any inaccuracies I’ve included (and will probably include) in my fic. I have no idea if a stab anywhere in the torso is even survivable without going to a hospital. Please give this one creative license to me LOL. Other than that, did anyone catch my nod to T2 Judgment Day? The whole “I have detailed files on human anatomy” line? LOL. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this latest instalment, and thank you for all the kind feedback so far.
Chapter 14: Veritas Liberabit Vos
Grace tells Dani everything.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32
Fate Binds Us
The following day
“Your wound will eventually need stitching, Dani,” Alicia said, inspecting her abdomen. “But we’ll leave it just bandaged for now since we were successful in controlling the bleeding.”
“Gracias, Alicia,” Dani said, gratefully, knowing she was a complete stranger to this woman who chose to help her anyway.
“Wouldn’t it heal faster if it’s stitched sooner?” Grace asked.
“It’s best to wait in case infection sets in,” Carl said.
Sarah scoffed under her breath. “Of course, you’d know.”
“Uhh… maybe your friends are hungry, Carl. Perhaps I’ll put together some sandwiches and chips?” Alicia suggested, obviously sensing the tension between Sarah and her husband, but was too polite to ask about it.
“That’s a great idea, honey,” Carl answered.
Dani watched Alicia make her way out of the tiny guest room leaving her, Grace, Carl and an ornery Sarah alone.
“So, you’re Carl,” Dani said when Alicia was out of earshot.
“That’s what everyone calls me, yes.”
“I’m never going to fucking call you Carl,” Sarah said, her disdain evident in every word.
Dani and Grace just gave their friend a be good look. But Sarah wasn’t quite ready to let go yet.
“Look,” Sarah said, ignoring her friends. “You may have helped in saving Dani’s life, but that doesn’t make us even. You’re still my enemy.”
Dani gently reached for Sarah’s hand. “But he’s also our ally.”
“He’s a terminator,” Sarah said, stubbornly.
“And we’re fighting a terminator. One that we haven’t been able to stop. We need him,” Dani said, a pleading look in her eyes.
Sarah sighed, but backed off. She went back to staring out the window.
“I’ve gone back to the site of your chopper last night. I hid it farther away to make it more difficult for the Rev-9 to trace you three here,” Carl said.
“Thank you,” Dani said.
“May I ask why this terminator wants you dead?” Carl asked Dani.
“I’m apparently an obstacle in their continued survival in the year 2042. I really couldn’t give you any more than that,” Dani said dryly, giving Grace a sardonic look.
“I’ve told you what the Rev-9 is capable of. That’s really all you need to know,” Grace said to Carl.
“What are the chances the Rev-9 will eventually find me here?” Dani asked.
“I calculate there is an 18% chance that the Rev-9 will find you here within the next two weeks. Your best chance for survival would be to relocate as soon as possible,” Carl said.
“Dani’s too injured to be moved,” Grace said.
“It’s okay, Grace. I can handle it,” Dani said, reassuring Grace with a look.
“If there’s an 18% chance of this Rev-9 coming to your home,” Sarah said, sarcastically emphasizing the 18%. “Then your family needs to get out of here. Unless you don’t care that they end up as collateral damage.”
“You are correct. I will need to have a talk with them,” Carl said.
Dani wouldn’t quite call it sadness that she saw in the terminator’s face, but she wouldn’t say he had a neutral face either. She wondered if the machine growing a conscience like Grace had surmised had also led him to have some concept of emotions.
“What plan do you have for stopping this terminator that’s after Dani?” Carl asked.
“Easy,” Sarah said, the topic of destroying a terminator piquing her interest once again. “We use Dani as bait to lure the Rev-9 to us. We choose our weapons, our ground, set up a killbox, and then we take it down!”
“What?! No! Absolutely not!” Grace said, angrily. “That’s out of the question. We are not using Dani as bait.”
“Sarah is right. Our one tactical advantage is that the terminator only sees its mission. Wherever Dani goes, he will follow,” Carl added.
“Damn right, it will,” Sarah said.
Dani wondered if Sarah realized she’d just agreed with Carl.
“And I will be there,” Sarah finished.
“Well, I’m not about to stake her out like some goat for you,” Grace said, adamantly.
“Well, what’s your plan? More running? More hiding?” Sarah argued.
“My plan is to hide her at the bottom of a mineshaft if I have to, at least until -”
“Stop it! Look, considering I have a gaping hole in my abdomen that is still kind of bleeding, and Jesus knows what other fluid it’s oozing at the moment, we don’t have to fight about this just now,” Dani said, frustratedly.
“The sooner we come up with a plan, the better we can execute it,” Sarah said.
“I agree,” Grace said. “But you’re going to have to come up with a better one, Sarah. No way are we putting Dani in danger.”
“It’s our best shot, Grace. Don’t let your feelings for Dani cloud your judgment,” Sarah argued.
“Any risk to Dani is too great a risk,” Grace said, not giving an inch.
“No, Grace,” Dani said, firmly. “We can’t hide forever. I’m sorry, but I’m with Sarah and Carl on this. We need to stop the Rev-9 before any more people are killed.”
“Dani, no, you can’t -”
“I’m not going to live in fear the rest of my life,” Dani said. “Even if Sarah’s plan means that might not be long.”
Dani hated the look of utter desolation on Grace’s face. But she had to hold her resolve. She needed some measure of control back in her life. It was as if her life’s been in a tailspin since that Rev-9 showed up.
Dani continued. “We’ll hide for now until I recover. Then you’ll teach me what I need to know so I’m not so reliant on all of you to defend myself. Then we choose our weapons and our ground, and we set up a…”
“Killbox,” Sarah supplied.
“Killbox! Then we’re going to use me as bait. And then we kill that thing.” Dani looked at Grace. “Okay?”
“This plan has a high probability of success,” Carl said.
Dani looked at Grace, hoping she’d budge. But Grace avoided looking at her. She just looked away, her jaws clenched. It was obvious she wasn’t happy with Dani, but she didn’t gainsay her either. Dani knew that Grace would follow her into hell and back, but it weighed heavily on her heart that they were at odds on this.
“I’ll need to talk to Alicia. I’ll need to convince her to take Mateo and for both of them to get as far away from here as possible. It will be very hard to explain,” Carl said, walking out of the room.
“I’m gonna go online and do some research on a few things,” Sarah said, getting up and leaving Dani and Grace alone.
Dani sighed. Well, this was awkward. Grace still refused to look at Dani. She just kept staring at the window. A part of Dani wanted to apologize for not backing Grace up when they were all trying to agree on a plan. But she wanted to have a semblance of a normal life again. She wanted to experience a life with Grace in which they weren’t always running or hiding. She knew it was a pipe dream of sorts. Even if she could have that, it wouldn’t last. Judgment Day was just a few years away. But she could dream… she could hope.
Dani was distracted from her thoughts by a faint odor in the air. She was then appalled to realize it was her. In the last twenty-four hours she’d been soaked in blood, sweat, tears, and whatever this gross yellow discharge was oozing from her wound. She’d never felt more disgusting. She wondered if Grace had an enhanced sense of smell as well. Dani shook her head in defeat.
She slowly inched to the side of the bed. She tested getting up on her elbows slightly. It hurt like hell, but she was able to do it. She then gingerly tried to place a foot down on the floor first, but before she’d even felt the cold tile, Grace decided to notice her again.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Grace said, chastisement dripping from every word.
“I need to clean myself. I stink.”
“No, Grace, I’m not joking. I have a smell. A foul one at that. I have various bodily fluid on me, some that I don’t even have names for. I can’t even stand to be in the same room as me. But since I can’t get away from me, I’ll have to do the next best thing which is to wash myself,” Dani said, still trying to get her left foot to reach the floor. She fucking hated being so short.
“You can barely even sit up,” Grace said, exasperated.
Dani glared at Grace. “I’m getting there…”
“Can you please lie back down, Dani.”
“I’m sick of lying down,” Dani said, stubbornly.
“Lie back down before you hurt yourself! Look, I’ll gather some things and I’ll give you a sponge bath right here,” Grace said, lifting Dani’s one hanging leg and gently placing it back on the bed.
“Absolutely not! I’m not some invalid that needs a bed bath!” Dani said, appalled.
“You’re not strong enough to shower on your own. You could slip in there by yourself. You can re-open your wound. You need my help,” Grace said, talking to her as if she were a child.
“No, I don’t. Look, if you want to be helpful, go find me a new set of clothes to change into. We’ll need to burn these ones,” Dani said, looking at the clothes she was wearing.
“Yeah, I can do that, but I’m not leaving you because you’re going to end up getting hurt.”
“Look, Grace, I know you just want to help me. But I really will not feel clean with a bed bath or sponge bath, or whatever it is you’re insisting I do. I want a good old-fashioned shower.”
“Okay, fine. I’ll help you,” Grace said, making a move to help Dani up.
“Whoa!” Dani said, pulling away. “You mean, you’re going to help give me a shower? In there? Without my clothes on?”
Grace looked a bit confused. “Yeah, how else are you going to get clean?”
“I don’t want you to see me without my clothes on,” Dani said, instinctively crossing her arms in front of her.
Grace laughed. “Seriously? Dani…. I know we haven’t, you know… been intimate yet…. But we were getting there… weren’t we?”
“It’s not that…” Dani hedged, not wanting to hurt Grace’s feelings, but reluctant to tell her everything.
“Then what? I mean, you trust me, don’t you?” Grace asked, unable to hide the hurt in her voice.
“Of course! It’s just…”
“What? Why would you rather risk worsening your injury, than let me help?”
Great, now Dani was forced into a corner. Does she confess her insecurities, or let Grace think the worst? She took a deep breath.
“It’s nothing to do with trust, Grace. You know I trust you with my life. It’s just that…. I’ve never looked worse in my life. I’d lose all dignity. I look terrible and gross… and I just don’t want you to see me, and compare me, and find me lacking.”
“First of all, you’re never anything but beautiful to me…. And second of all, compare you to what?” Grace asked, looking completely confused.
“Well…. You know… Your love… the one you left behind,” Dani said, sadly.
Grace ran a hand through her hair and looked away. Damn it, she didn’t mean to bring up painful memories for Grace. She wanted to kick herself. What had she been thinking blurting that out?
“Dani, you don’t understand…”
“I’m sorry…. I’ve just never been so helpless. And I’ve never felt so ugly before. I’m not usually a vain person, but I’ve never been in love before either. I guess my insecurities are just now coming to the surface.”
Grace cupped her cheek, and gave her a sad smile. “You know you have no competition, right, Dani?”
Dani scoffed. “You don’t have to try to make me feel better.”
“I’m not! I’m telling you the truth.”
“You’re allowed to have a past, you know, Grace. And you certainly don’t owe me an explanation for your past relationships. But if it’s okay with you, would you mind telling me about her or him? The one you left behind,” Dani asked, deciding she needed to know if she’d forever be competing with a ghost.
Grace didn’t answer for a very long time. Dani worried she may have stepped over a line with her question. But she couldn’t take it back. And so, she sat there and waited. Just when Dani thought Grace would never answer, she broke the silence.
“She was my commander.”
Well, shit. How was she going to compete with that? Couldn’t fate have given Grace some green, bumbling cadet? Dani had never felt more inadequate. She was nothing but an unemployed former factory worker.
“I guess I understand now why you had to fight so hard to allow her to send you back. If I were her, I’d have never let you go.”
Dani wasn’t sure why Grace looked so amused. “I didn’t often win arguments with her, but I won the ones that counted.”
“You should have let someone else do it, Grace. You guys were winning the war against the machines. You could have lived happily ever after with your commander. Now instead, you’re stuck having to settle for me.”
“It was a bad trade,” Dani said, dejectedly.
“I have never, for even a second regretted coming back to the past to protect you. Granted, I’ve questioned at times if I was truly the best person to do it. Believe it or not, I have my own insecurities. But I don’t wish that I was back in 2042 right now.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand you, Grace. Because I would never leave you to protect some stranger, no matter what they meant to the world.”
“Never say never. You don’t truly know what you’d do until the situation actually presents itself, Dani. Trust me to know,” Grace said.
“Sorry, you’re right. I didn’t mean to judge,” Dani said, sincerely.
Grace nodded. “I know.”
Dani shrugged resignedly. “Tell me about her.”
“Well… I was fifteen when she found me in the ruins after Judgment Day. I was so malnourished I probably only looked about twelve. Anyway, there were scavengers that were about to kill me for what little food I had left. And out of nowhere, like an avenging angel, she rescued me.”
Great, Dani was chopped liver compared to Grace’s old lover. A part of Dani didn’t want to hear anymore, but decided better to get it over with.
“Then what happened?” Dani asked.
Grace laughed. “I followed her around everywhere after that. Perhaps a little like a lost puppy. There was a bit of hero-worship thrown in there too. She treated me like a kid sister. She was always patient with me, always teaching me things. I’m sure I got on her nerves with all my questions and my constant presence, but she never showed it.”
“So, wait… so then, she wasn’t your lover?” Dani asked, hopeful.
“Not at first, no. That came years later,” Grace answered. “I spent years hiding my feelings for her. I’d stew in jealousy with all the men, and even some women, vying for her affections.”
“So, she was into men?” Dani asked.
“She wasn’t into anyone, actually. She never paid them any attention; men or women. She was always so serious, always focused on the task at hand. The only time she’d ever let her hair down – literally and figuratively – was when she was with me. But that didn’t stop me from living in fear that she’d find someone to fall in love with and forget about me.”
Dani’s shoulders slumped. There went what little hope she’d had. But then again, when have things gone right for her in the last little while? Although, she was alive, there was still that.
“How did you go from being a “kid sister” to being… well, you know?” Dani asked. She was such a sucker for punishment.
“When I was twenty, my commander declined my application to join the fight against the machines. Actually, she’d declined it multiple times by that point. So, I went behind her back, impersonated a cadet who had been on leave, and went on a reconnaissance mission.”
“Gutsy… stupid, but gutsy,” Dani said, admiring the young Grace.
“Yeah, that was pretty much the consensus when I got back. Anyway, the mission ended up in a shootout against some older model terminators. A few of us were injured, but nothing severe, and the Captain of that mission was impressed with how I handled myself.”
“When we got back, the commander herself was waiting on the tarmac eager for a report when she spotted me.”
“How’d that go?”
“I’d never seen her so angry. I was shaking in my boots. But of course, I did my best not to show it. I was rebelling. I wanted to join the fight against the machines. I was better than most of the recruits she was accepting, and I felt I wasn’t being treated fairly. But most of all, I wanted to stay near her. Joining the resistance would have made it easier.”
“It must have been hard always being left behind and being the one to worry.”
“You have no idea,” Grace said, dryly. “Her responsibilities as a commander often kept her away. Sometimes I’d only see her a few times a month. Anyway, after that little stunt I pulled, I think she realized that one way or another, I’d be killing terminators. She figured it’d be better for me to do it under her command than for me to go rogue.”
“How badly did you get reamed out?” Dani asked.
“Actually, she didn’t say much. She just had this heartbreakingly defeated look. And she told me that she hoped she didn’t live to regret it, but that she’d accept me into the resistance. Her disappointment kind of crushed whatever excitement I might have had.”
“She probably just didn’t want you in any danger,” Dani said.
“I understand that now. Anyway, soon after, she’d sent me away to train with Captain Ramirez. I went away for a couple of years, and in that whole time, I only saw my commander three times.”
Dani didn’t miss the fact that Grace had counted each time. “Was it when you got back that your relationship with your commander changed?”
“A little after, yeah. My training was severe. It challenged me in ways I had never imagined when I had applied. I came back a lot more mature. I grew up in ways that had nothing to do with my height,” Grace said, half-jokingly.
“I guess she stopped seeing you as that rebellious kid.”
“Yeah, I think so. Anyway, I moved up the ranks pretty quickly. Doing so allowed me to spend more time with my commander. She and I often went on missions together. One thing led to another and before either of us knew what was happening, we were together.”
Dani tried to read Grace’s expressions. She sensed a bit of longing, but mostly, it seemed her memories were fond ones.
“What was that like? Sleeping with the boss, so to speak?” Dani asked.
Grace chuckled. “During work hours, and of course missions, we were completely professional. But in private, we had no ranks. We were just like any normal couple. We teased each other, we played games, we’d talk for hours on everything and nothing at all. We’d make love…. They were the best years of my life.”
And that was despite an apocalyptic setting, Dani mused. Feeling totally inadequate and wanting the torture to end, Dani resolved to ask one last question. She’d realized the entire time that Grace had never said her commander’s name. Was it so painful that she couldn’t even bring herself to say it? But Dani needed to know. Who was this woman she could never live up to?
“I’m so sorry for everything you’ve lost, Grace. And I swear, I’ll never bring this up again after today…. But your commander, what was her name?”
“No,” Grace said, gently cupping her face and forcing her to look up. “My commander’s name was Dani.”
Perhaps it was all those Tylenols she’d taken that caused her thinking to be somewhat fuzzy, but the concept wasn’t quite registering for Dani. The implication was so obvious, yet so impossible to believe. Was Grace’s commander none other than her? That’s crazy! Dani could never lead an entire resistance; an army essentially. What bunch of crazy people would follow her? But… but… the way Grace was looking at her. It could only mean…
“What was her full name, Grace?”
Grace smiled. “Her name was Daniella Ramos. But to me, she was my Dani.”
“You knew me,” Dani said, more as a statement than a question.
“And you knew me, it would seem,” Grace said.
“I don’t understand.”
“I didn’t either, until we met Sarah. She and I suspect that all of this, everything we’re going through, my Dani already went through it, or something like it. It’s how she knew I’d meet Sarah. It’s how she knew to tattoo these coordinates so we could find Carl.”
“But wait… if what you’re saying is true… then, did you meet your older self?” Dani asked, not liking the implication if she hadn’t.
Grace shook her head, seemingly unable to say the words.
“But if what you say is true… then she never made it,” Dani said, the realization hurting worse than any wound the Rev-9 could’ve inflicted upon her.
“I guess that’s why my Dani was always so overprotective of me. It was perhaps why she declined my application to join the resistance something like six times. It was probably why she nearly lost her mind when she had found out I went through the human augmentation program. I suppose to her, every event made her feel like she couldn’t escape the hands of fate.”
“You leaving her to come back here… that was probably the second time she’d lost you,” Dani whispered, suddenly no longer feeling envious of her older self.
Dani could see tears well in Grace’s eyes; tears she refused to let fall. It seemed the realization was only truly hitting home for her now.
“For what it’s worth,” Dani said, trying to comfort Grace. “If we can change the past for the better, then the Dani you left behind probably wouldn’t even exist to miss you anymore.”
“You mean change the future?” Grace said.
Dani shrugged. “Both? Either? This time-travel business is confusing on the best of days.”
“Welcome to my world,” Grace said, wryly.
“Speaking of your world, I guess that’s why the machines want me dead, because I lead some kind of army against them?” Dani asked.
“Dani, I don’t think you truly understand. You gave the survivors of the world something to hope for again. You saved so many lives. You rebuilt communities. You created a militia, gave people purpose again. You orchestrated seemingly impossible victories against Legion. Their most devastating tactical losses were because of you. We were on the verge of taking back our world when that Rev-9 was sent back to the past to kill you.”
“So, I’m being hunted for the same reason that Sarah’s son was,” Dani said.
“What prevents Legion from sending endless terminators to the past? They eventually got Sarah’s son. Perhaps this is all for nothing,” Dani said.
“First of all, that was Skynet that was responsible for John Connor’s death. I have no idea what that alternate future was like. But I can tell you about the future I came from. And I can tell you, it’s not easy sending anyone or anything back to the past. The only reason I was able to come back here was because we were able to lock on to the residual temporal vortex that sent the Rev-9 back. It takes an enormous amount of energy and even more resources to accomplish the task. It’s not like sending a parcel through the mail.”
Dani nodded, a newfound resolve in her. “I won’t let you die, Grace.”
“That’s not up to you.”
Dani scoffed at that. “If I can save the world, then I can most definitely save the one person I love the most. Just watch me.”
Grace smiled and teasingly saluted her. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Good,” Dani said. “So, Sarah’s been in on this the whole time? Why did you confide in her, but not me?”
“You can take that up with yourself. Future you told me not to tell you.”
“Oh…. I guess, knowing myself I can sort of understand. But then, why tell me now?” Dani asked.
Grace shrugged. “I didn’t want anything to be between us. This thing with you blaming yourself because you believed I left my love to protect you on this mission…. I didn’t want that weighing on you. And as much as it amused me for you to be the jealous one for a change, I wanted you to know the truth.”
“I’m so embarrassed,” Dani said, covering her face with her hands.
“Don’t be. It’s cute,” Grace said, kissing her on the nose.
“Gee, thanks,” Dani said, exaggerating her eye-roll.
Grace just laughed. “Now, will you let me give you a bath?”
“I don’t know…. I don’t really want your first time to see me in the… altogether…” Dani said, throwing in air quotations. “To be like this. I’m so dirty and gross. Not exactly the romantic first time I had imagined with you.”
“You do realize I’ve seen you in every imaginable situation you could possibly think of… with and without your clothes,” Grace said, grinning.
“Hey, this may be old hat to you, but it’s not to me,” Dani said.
“Well, it’s up to you. You can either stay dirty and gross as you call it, or you can let me give you a bath. Because no way in hell am I letting you out of bed, let alone in a slippery tub all by yourself,” Grace said, crossing her arms.
“Now that I know future me was your commander, I’m guessing you’re enjoying this little power trip?”
Grace just shrugged, a Cheshire cat grin on her face.
“Fine, fine. Let’s get this over with,” Dani said, letting Grace lift her out of bed. “Hey Grace?”
“Just wondering… Do you have an enhanced sense of smell too?”
Grace snickered. “If I did, I wouldn’t be in the same room as you.”
Grace just kissed her little pout and laughed.
To be continued…
Author’s Notes: For those of you who read my other Grace/Dani fic No Competition and asked for a sequel in which Dani finds out everything, this chapter is the closest it would have looked like. There’s just no way I could fit something like this in a fic restricted as a missing scene from the film.
If you want to see a bit of the things Grace mentioned in this fic, I recommend you read my Fate Binds Us Missing Scenes series. Unrequited Love shows a young jealous Grace. Pride of Opinion details the time that Grace, in an act of rebellion impersonated a cadet.
Under The Same Sky encompasses the two years that Grace was away for training. And finally, Distance of Misunderstanding and Understanding Silence details the journey of Dani and Grace from friends to lovers.
Chapter 15: Rebel With A Cause
It's eight months later. Our quartet has managed to evade the Rev-9 by moving to a remote location. Dani is recovered and is training hard to take down the Rev-9. And training a little too hard for Grace's comfort.
“I saw that you were perfect and so I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect, and I loved you even more.” - Unknown
Fate Binds Us
8 months later
Angle Township, Lake of the Woods County, Minnesota
Grace was woken up by feather light kisses on her nose, cheek and lips. As much as she wouldn’t have minded sleeping for a few more minutes, she smiled and opened her eyes. The same beautiful face greeted her first thing in the morning as it had for the last eight months.
“Buenos días, mi amor,” Dani whispered. “Rise and shine.”
“You couldn’t have let me sleep in another few minutes?” Grace asked, teasingly.
“I thought you said you didn’t need nearly as much sleep as a ‘regular human’? Your words, not mine,” Dani said, giggling.
“Well, a few orgasms from you would wear out even a super soldier from the future,” Grace said, grinning.
“Well, I did have to pay you back from the night before,” Dani said, snuggling back into her side.
“Considering you’re full of energy so early this morning, maybe I didn’t do a good enough job last night? I’ll need to remedy that,” Grace said, leaning down to kiss Dani.
“Hmmm…. As tempting as the thought is, we need to get up. Sarah wants another hunting training session with us. If we’re not down in thirty minutes, she’ll come barging right in here,” Dani said, laughing.
Grace rolled her eyes. “Of course, she would,” she said, wryly.
“On that note, I’m going to hop in the shower,” Dani said.
“I could join you,” Grace said, cheekily. “I mean, it’ll save time.”
“Oh no, you don’t! The last time we showered together, it ended up being over an hour, and Sarah nearly ripped us both new ones when we used up all the hot water,” Dani said, pulling away.
“Awww, c’mon, Dani. I’ll protect you,” Grace said, borderline whining. “Sarah won’t lay a finger on you.”
Dani just giggled. “You’re assuming you’ll still be standing when she’s done with you. Anyway, we don’t want to be late for breakfast, otherwise Sarah will eat it all. Besides, it’s Carl’s turn to make it today, and he’s shockingly very good at it.”
Grace snickered. “Who knew terminators could do more than just hunt and kill.”
“No kidding. Anyway, you turn that frown upside down, missy. I promise, we can have that shower together later,” Dani said, winking at her.
“Fine, you can go first,” Grace said, giving a fake pout.
Dani gave her a quick kiss on the lips and made her way to the washroom and shut the door. Grace stretched out in the bed for a few seconds before sitting up. She heard the shower turn on which she figured was her cue to start getting ready herself.
After Dani had been stabbed by the Rev-9, they’d stayed at Carl’s cabin for another week just to give Dani a little more time to recover enough to be moved. They’d spent that time trying to figure out where to hide. They faced a few problems. They were all – except for Carl – fugitives and would have an incredibly difficult time leaving the continental United States. Second of all, Dani had months of recovery time ahead of her for that vicious stab wound she’d suffered. Thirdly, there were very few places that didn’t have CCTV cameras. They didn’t have too many options.
After much research, the four of them finally settled on a little isolated place in Minnesota called Angle Inlet, a tiny community in Angle Township. It was an incredibly remote area with a population of a little over sixty. There was no way to get there other than by boat or plane as it was surrounded by the Lake of the Woods. The only way to access their newfound home by land was to drive through Manitoba, Canada.
The place was so remote, there was nothing but a convenience store, a post office, a schoolhouse, a church and a golf course. Oh yeah, and there was one restaurant too. And surprisingly, it was pretty good, which was a surprise since the owners really had no motivation to really put in much effort considering they had no competition. Anyway, there wasn’t even a grocery store in the area. Carl needed to make biweekly trips across the border to the closest town in Sprague, Manitoba to replenish their food supplies.
Carl had purchased a single-family home under his name. It was a bit old, having been built in 1996. It had three bedrooms, two baths and was approximately 2000 sq. ft. The land was relatively large at 1.5 acres. It was perfect for all the training sessions Sarah kept putting Dani through. It also had a very large basement where they were able to store all the weapons they’d brought from Carl’s collection.
It had only been two months since Dani started really training with Sarah and the rest of them. Prior to that she’d been mostly recovering. It had been a difficult road for Dani, and Grace was incredibly proud of her resilience and positive attitude. Even now, she knew Dani still struggled with the pain, even though she’d never admit it. There was some nerve damage she suffered, and more likely than not, it would be a permanent pain for Dani to some degree. Grace had no doubt that events were playing out differently for them than it had for her Dani from the future. She knew because the Dani from 2042 had no such scar where this Dani had been stabbed.
This gave her and Dani – and Sarah – hope that Grace didn’t have to be fated to die. And how she desperately wanted to live! Despite the challenges they’d undergone the last eight months, it had also been such a happy time for her and Dani. They were together, their love and trust in each other ironclad. Grace yearned so badly for a future with Dani she could taste it.
Dani had become obsessed with taking the Rev-9 down. Not because it was hunting her, but because she was completely focused on ensuring Grace lived. She supposed it was a good thing. Most people who suffered an injury as traumatic as the one Dani did often fell into depression. Many suffered from PTSD and anxiety. But not Dani; she channeled all her emotions in destroying the Rev-9.
It didn’t mean that Grace stopped observing her mental health. On the contrary, she was constantly looking for signs that anything was out of the ordinary with Dani. But aside from the occasional nightmares – which they all had – Dani was her usual self. Of course, the psychological fallout could easily catch up to Dani once this was all over, but Grace prayed she’d still be there to help her through it.
It had taken Dani about six months to be well enough to start her training. It was because of this that she and Dani hadn’t become intimate until only two months prior. But they’d been sharing the same bedroom since they’d moved into the house eight months before. Sarah had magnanimously given them the master bedroom which they were thankful for as it had the biggest bed.
Because Dani’s mobility had been so badly hindered during the six months she’d spent recovering, it had taken a lot of work just to get her back to the way she was prior to the injury. They had to work on her conditioning, strength and stamina which was no easy task as Dani still suffered from pain due to nerve damage. It was a particularly cold winter where they were and the cold temperature just exacerbated Dani’s condition. But she never complained, and never admitted to any pain or discomfort.
Dani had no idea that Grace knew whenever she was in pain. Grace had enhanced hearing; that much, Dani knew. But she didn’t quite realize how acute it was. Even a hitch in Dani’s breath was audible for Grace. Any change in heart rate or breathing was immediately noticeable. Grace’s enhanced eyesight could also detect the slightest sweat beginning to break out. This often happened when Dani would push herself too hard during a training session and aggravate her injury.
And did Dani ever train hard! She soaked up everything they taught her like a sponge. Dani was now capable of field stripping an AR-15 in under thirty-five seconds. She could reload a Glock by feel in a micro-second. She was now hitting her bullseye targets dead on. And with the exponential improvement in her skills, her confidence was growing in leaps and bounds as well.
This wasn’t entirely a good thing. Dani already had a reckless streak to her – she wouldn’t have ever been stabbed otherwise. Grace was incredibly worried what this newfound confidence would make Dani do when faced with the Rev-9. She had to be extra diligent in guarding Dani. Grace made a silent vow that what happened at the police station couldn’t be allowed to happen again.
Two hours later
Dani tried to control her breathing as she hid between a boulder and a large tree. She looked down at her watch. She’d evaded Grace, Carl and Sarah for just over six minutes now. She clutched her semi-automatic paintball gun close to her chest, trying to listen for any sounds.
The last time they’d tried this hunting exercise, Dani only lasted eight minutes and nineteen seconds. It was Grace who’d found her. She had hesitated taking the shot at Grace to stun her so she could run. She knew they were only using paintball guns, but it still hurt, and that split-second indecision of not firing had given Grace the time to tag her ending the exercise.
She got quite the lecture from her protector on being indecisive. She graciously took the chastisement and didn’t bring up the fact that Grace had an opportunity to shoot her as well for an easy tag, but had decided not to.
The exercise was relatively simple. They’d choose a remote location in the area – today they’d chosen the woods nearby. Dani would get a thirty-second head start to hide. Then it was off to the races. The purpose of the exercise was for Dani to learn to hide and use her resources to evade the Rev-9 as long as possible until help came. The game only ended when one of her pursuers physically tagged her. Being shot with a paintball gun did not end the game as a gunshot in real life – depending on where you’re hit – may still allow you to run.
Dani looked down at her watch again. She was nearly at seven minutes. What made this exercise so difficult was that both Carl and Grace had similar technical capabilities built-in as that of the Rev-9, Grace especially, since her augments were based on technology from older Rev models. If they could find her, that meant she’d have died in real life, if it was just her and the Rev-9 with no hope for help.
Dani heard the crunch of footsteps from her left. She peeked from behind the boulder and saw it was Carl. He obviously sensed her and was trying to pinpoint her location. A shot from her weapon felt like nothing to the terminator and she knew she wouldn’t be able to faze him enough to run if he did see her. Then she heard another rustle from the opposite direction. It was Grace with Sarah another twenty feet or so behind her. They were closing in on her.
Dani grabbed a fist-sized rock and hurled it away from her. As she’d hoped, all three of her pursuers looked that way. She took advantage of the distraction and ran the other way. Unfortunately, the sound of her footsteps gave her position away. Her only hope was to dive into the embankment and hope there was a little crevice there somewhere that would be big enough to hide her small frame.
Dani ended up losing her footing and instead of diving for cover, she tumbled down the embankment instead. She heard Grace call her name, probably seeing her fall. How embarrassing. But she didn’t answer as to not give her position away. She quickly gained her bearings and saw that there was no place to hide other than behind some bushes. She crouched low and quickly made her way there.
She reassessed her situation and realized she was screwed. Jumping down the embankment hadn’t been a great idea. It was completely open save for some bushes and a man-made lake. It would only be seconds now before she was found. Damn it! She could only hope that she’d at least beaten her previous time.
She could hear footsteps closing in on her from three different directions. She was surrounded and if she tried to run, she’d just get shot. And she didn’t relish the thought of getting hit. Paintballs stung and left ugly bruises and welts. But at the same time, Dani didn’t want to just be a sitting duck and get caught. She’d rather “die” doing something than just waiting to get caught. She peeked out from behind the bushes and saw the location of each of her pursuers.
She made a decision to take a shot at both Sarah and Grace to stun them. That would leave only Carl as her hunter for a couple of precious seconds. She remembered Grace’s lecture on indecision and quickly jumped to action. From behind the bushes she took aim and shot Sarah first which staggered her backwards. Not giving Grace any time, she then hit her square on the shoulder, knocking her back a step.
Dani then sprinted towards the lake. She threw her paintball gun aside and dove right in. She immediately regretted her choice as the water felt like a thousand knives stabbing her. The shock made her involuntarily gasp for air that wasn’t there. It was around 35 degrees Fahrenheit that day, and although it was relatively warm for a winter day, the water was still incredibly cold. She swam and swam and soon, she realized she was getting tired and her arms and legs were completely numb. Her heavy winter clothes were also bogging her down.
Dani started to panic. She could barely move her arms and legs. Her lungs were on fire and she had no doubt she was mere seconds away from drowning. She expelled the last of her oxygen when strong arms encircled her waist and pulled her to the surface. It was Grace.
“Dani, are you alright?”
“Si…” Dani said, gasping for air. “How’d I do?”
“Jesus,” Grace mumbled.
Dani knew Grace was not happy with her little stunt. It was another minute or so until they made it to shore. Grace didn’t even put Dani down and placed her directly in Carl’s arms while she caught her breath.
“Take her back to the house. We need to warm her up,” Grace said, breathing heavily.
Twenty minutes later, after a warm shower – taken alone – Dani was on the couch in a bathrobe listening to Grace and Sarah bicker over their last training session.
“She had no right to take such a risk with her life,” Grace said.
“If this was a real scenario, jumping into that lake was the only option she had left,” Sarah answered.
“But this wasn’t a real scenario. Dani could have drowned,” Grace argued.
“You would never let that happen,” Sarah said, dismissively. “And even if you weren’t there, we wouldn’t let that happen.”
“You can’t guarantee that, Sarah. That lake was murky, and it was hard to see underwater. I was just lucky that Dani chose to swim in a straight line. What if she hadn’t? And I couldn’t find her in time? She’d be dead now,” Grace said.
“True…” Sarah conceded. “But I designed this training scenario to be as realistic as possible. She made the right choice. If it was the Rev-9 after her, she had a better chance in that frigid lake than in his clutches, and you know that.”
“This was a training session. There’s never a reason to put your life in danger in a damn training session!” Grace said angrily.
“Okay, stop it! I’m sorry I jumped into the lake, Grace. I didn’t think it through very well. I’m a decent swimmer and a lake usually would be no problem for me. I underestimated how freezing cold it would be. I promise, I won’t do something like that again,” Dani said.
Grace took a deep breath and nodded. Dani knew she wasn’t really angry, or at least, her anger was mostly just an outlet for her fear. And the look in Grace’s eyes showed that she knew it wouldn’t be the last they’d see of Dani’s reckless stunts.
“Anyway,” Dani said, turning to Sarah. “How long did I last?”
She heard Grace scoff in disbelief. She ignored her.
“Pretty darn long, kiddo. Not sure when exactly Grace “tagged” you underwater, but it was already a little over twelve minutes when you jumped in there. Well done,” Sarah said.
Dani tried not to smile seeing as how Grace was right next to her still frowning. But Sarah just gave her a wink. She got the message. She did good. She felt pretty darn proud she added over four minutes to her previous time.
“Did I give you a pretty bad welt when I shot you?” Dani asked Sarah, feeling a bit guilty.
“As a matter of fact, you did. Got me good in the ribs. Nice shooting,” Sarah said.
“Thanks,” Dani said. “Too bad our weapons can only slow down the Rev-9. It can’t really kill it.”
“Actually, speaking of, my contact finally got back to me this morning,” Sarah said. “He said he can provide us those electromagnetic pulse grenades. He wants to meet us in an abandoned warehouse just outside the air force base where he’s stationed.”
“Your Major friend?” Grace asked.
“Out of Bingham,” Carl added.
“How’d you know that?” Sarah asked. “You’ve been tracking me?”
“If you’re going to keep your cell phone in a bag of potato chips, then keep your phone in a bag of potato chips,” Carl answered monotonously.
Dani snorted in amusement. “I guess we’ll need to gather our supplies. We’re going on a road trip!”
“Lunch first. Then we leave,” Sarah said.
To be continued
Author’s Notes: I hope this chapter wasn’t too boring for you guys. I just kind of wanted to set up a few things before we get into the final arc of this fic. By the way, did anyone else notice that the AO3 tag for Grace/Dani Ramos is now Grace Harper/Dani Ramos? Since when did Grace have a last name? Anyone know where that came from? Is this like on the blu-ray? It’s news to me. Anyway, thank you all for reading!
Chapter 16: Second Chances
Their epic showdown with the Rev-9 is at hand. Can Grace and Dani thwart destiny? Or will they forever be prisoners of fate? Find out in my penultimate chapter.
“Sometimes you need a second chance, because you weren’t quite ready for the first.” - Unknown
Fate Binds Us
“So, Carl, of all the businesses you could have gotten into, why’d you get into drapes?” Dani asked.
Sarah scoffed. “Was your AI not smart enough to realize you’d have made a lot more money as a hitman for hire?”
Not understanding the sarcasm, Carl answered seriously, “Becoming a professional assassin for hire would not have allowed me to blend in as I needed to. Why do you ask?”
Dani shrugged. “I was just thinking…. When all this is over, could I still lead a normal life? What job could I even get?”
“Don’t worry about that, Dani,” Grace said, placing a hand on hers. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
“Besides,” Sarah chimed in. “A nine-to-five wouldn’t work for any of us. When this is ‘all over’, we’ll need to focus our efforts in stopping this new Judgment Day.”
“There is also the danger of Legion attempting to send another terminator after Dani,” Carl said.
Grace shook her head. “It’s highly unlikely. The resources that Legion would need to attempt it again is so difficult to procure. The resistance would be on them before they even get that far. They were only able to achieve it this time because we didn’t know the technology was possible until it was too late.”
“But highly unlikely is not the same as impossible,” Carl said.
Grace sighed. “No, it’s not.”
“Still, we all need to make a living,” Dani said.
“Don’t lose sleep over it, kiddo,” Sarah said.
“I can’t help it, Sarah. I’ve never been rich, but I’ve never worried about where to get my next meal either. I have no idea how much longer we can survive on your savings, nor would that be fair to you,” Dani argued.
“I’ve wired funds to an offshore account that I’ve left instructions for you back at the house on how to access,” Carl said. “I have detailed files on twentieth century stocks which I had invested into. Despite Sarah changing the future, a lot of the ones on an upward trajectory continued to climb. Funds are the least of your worries.”
“Wow… Thanks, Carl,” Grace said.
“No thanks required. It was the only logical thing to do to help prevent Judgment Day,” Carl answered.
Dani looked at Sarah in the rear-view mirror to see her reaction. By the look on her face, Carl’s revelation was news to her. Dani thought she might say something, but she just looked out the window.
The four of them had been sitting in their rented van for over an hour waiting for Sarah’s contact to meet with them. Grace had the wheel, Dani was riding shotgun, and Sarah and Carl were in the back seat. Dani smiled to herself when she thought of the fact that just a few months ago, Sarah wouldn’t be caught dead sitting next to Carl. And although she stood by her words and had never called him by his name, she at least seemed to be in the process of making her peace with what happened to her son. Although Dani had to admit, some days were better than others for Sarah.
She looked to her left to see a very tense looking Grace. Their vehicle’s engine was completely off and had been for the last hour or so, but Grace was clutching the wheel like she was waiting for a countdown in a race.
“You okay, Grace?” Dani asked, squeezing her hand.
“Yeah, just not a fan of dark, abandoned warehouses. I’m just eager for Sarah’s major to get here,” Grace answered.
“Don’t worry. After today, we’ll have the last piece of the puzzle. Then we can really put a plan into motion and trap the terminator, kill it, and move on with our lives,” Dani said.
“You know your life will never be the same again, don’t you?” Grace asked, a sympathetic look in her eyes.
She nodded. “I know. But as long as we’re together, I can handle anything.”
Grace opened her mouth about to say something when headlights illuminated the windows of the warehouse. A vehicle was approaching them. All four of them reached out to their sides for their weapons. Sarah was the first to get out of the vehicle followed by Carl, then Grace. Dani was about to jump out herself when Grace asked her to stay inside – just in case. She knew they could handle things and so she stayed put.
Dani watched from an open window in the van. An African American man of average height and build walked out of a black SUV, wearing camos.
“Always good to see you, major,” Sarah said.
“It’s never good to see you, Connor,” the major answered.
“You got my birthday present?” Sarah asked, cheekily.
The man turned around and grabbed a silver briefcase from his vehicle. He approached Sarah and handed it over.
“You know, Sarah, I don’t commit treason for just anybody,” the major said.
“What’s the range of the EMP against a class four hardened target?” Carl asked.
“Bodyguard?” the major asked.
“I do drapes,” Carl answered.
Sarah sighed. “He’s part of my operations team, and he should just shut the fuck up.”
The major was about to say something when Grace interrupted. “Major, what kind of helos fly out of Bingham?”
Why would Grace care? Dani wondered.
“Blackhawks and Chinooks. Why?” the major asked.
It was then Dani heard the unmistakable sound of a chopper approaching. Shit!
“It’s found us,” Carl said.
The Rev-9 started shooting indiscriminately through the windows. Dani watched in horror as the major was hit several times. The last bullet hitting him in the side of the head. He was dead before he hit the ground.
“Everyone, take cover!” Sarah yelled.
“Dani, get down!” Grace screamed.
But Dani was frozen in place, her fear paralyzing her. She watched in a daze as Sarah quickly checked the major for signs of life. Having quickly realized he was a goner, she went and grabbed the briefcase and jumped in the back. Carl returned fire, still outside the van, while Grace hopped in beside Dani and started the engine.
Dani watched as the liquid metal portion of the Rev-9 separated from its endoskeleton and jumped out of the chopper. It landed effortlessly on its feet and charged after them, after her.
Carl got in the van and continued shooting at it. Grace stepped on the gas.
They were trying to outrun two pursuers at the moment. The endoskeleton flying the chopper and its liquid metal counterpart chasing them on foot. It was dark and Dani could barely see where they were going. Thankfully, Grace could see perfectly fine in the dark, thanks to her augmentation.
Dani watched the Rev-9 get picked up by its endoskeleton and made its way back into the chopper. It obviously realized it couldn’t chase them on foot. Grace drove like the bats of hell were at their heels. Dani quickly put on her seatbelt and hung on to whatever she could. The chopper kept flying low trying to knock them over by swinging at them from the side. It jostled them badly each time, but Grace managed to stay ahead a few meters for several minutes.
But their luck ran out when a hit from their left sent them hitting an awkward incline sending their van tumbling like a pinwheel until it hit a wall, upside down.
“Dani? Dani?! Are you okay?” Grace asked, already unfastening her seatbelt.
“Si, si, I’m fine,” Dani answered quickly. “Are you?”
But Grace didn’t answer. Her head tilted instinctively as if she heard something. Then she screamed, “Everyone, get out! Now!”
Before Dani could even move, Grace grabbed her and physically dragged her out. Carl did the same to Sarah.
“Wait, the EMPs!” Dani yelled.
She shook herself free of Grace’s grasp and ran straight back to the overturned van to try and grab the briefcase.
“Dani, get back here!” Grace screamed.
But before Dani could take three strides, Carl lifted her from her collar and pulled her back. She was about to protest when the chopper crashed right into the van and blew it up in a ball of flames. Dani watched in horror as their only means to destroy the Rev-9 blew up along with the van.
After running for several more yards, Carl let go of her and unceremoniously dropped her on the ground. Dani was quickly pulled into a strong embrace.
“Are you crazy?!” Grace said as she held her.
Dani looked back at the smoldering van. “Si, maybe a little.”
Grace ran her hands up and down on her checking for any signs of injury.
“I’m fine, I promise, Grace,” Dani said.
“Come on,” Sarah said. “It’s coming.”
And just as Sarah said, the Rev-9 was starting to break its way out of the burning chopper. The four of them started running as fast and as far as they could. There were no signs of any vehicles they could use anywhere. They couldn’t head towards the air base that the major was stationed at. They would be arrested and then turned into sitting ducks.
“There, let’s hide there,” Dani said, pointing at some kind of factory.
“I agree,” Carl said. “Our best chance at the moment is to hide instead of run. It’s big enough that we might be able to hide for some time.”
“The factory doesn’t seem to be operational,” Grace said.
When they were in the vicinity, Dani saw a big dirty sign on the building that said ‘Smart Plastics Technologies’.
“It looks like an out of commission plastic manufacturing plant,” Sarah said.
They reached a fence with a sign that said, ‘All vehicles must stop’. They kept on moving and saw another sign that said, ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted’. But they ignored it. They reached an entrance and Carl and Grace together broke the door down.
Dani looked behind and could see the Rev-9 gaining on them. They didn’t have much time. They ran into the plant and immediately started looking for a place to hide. Carl and Sarah both still had their AR-15s with them, and Dani had a Glock tucked in her pants, but that was about all they had for weapons. Grace had been too busy trying to get Dani out of the van to get hers.
“Too bad we had to lose those EMPs,” Dani said, looking around the plant. “This could have been our killbox.”
“We’ll come up with something else,” Sarah said. “This is just a setback. We just need to regroup.”
“If we can regroup,” Carl said.
“Gee, thanks, Mister Ray-Of-Sunshine,” Sarah said, sarcastically.
Despite their situation, Dani chuckled. Leave it to Sarah to hold her grudge to what could be their bitter end.
“Stay close to me, Dani,” Grace said, pulling her in front so she had her back.
Before Dani could answer, they heard footsteps getting louder and louder. The Rev-9 was gaining on them. They had mere minutes left, if that.
“There!” Sarah said, pointing at a room with large, thick white doors.
Everyone ran inside and locked themselves in. Dani looked around and surmised this room had been a freezer of some kind.
“This room appears to be soundproof,” Carl said. “And if it finds us, the thick doors should also slow it down. This should buy us some time.”
“Time for what? We’re trapped,” Dani said, despair beginning to overwhelm her.
“Hey, look at me, Dani,” Grace said, pulling her in her arms. “I won’t let it hurt you. Not again, I swear.”
“You think your promise makes me feel better, Grace?” Dani asked, tears welling in her eyes. “I can see it in your eyes. You’re thinking of ways to get me out of here, even at the cost of your own life.”
“Stop it, you two!” Sarah said. “We’re all getting out of here. No one’s getting left behind. We’re a family, you hear? If we have to turn this dilapidated factory into our killbox then so be it! We just need to come up with a plan.”
“I calculate a 12% chance that we could successfully destroy the Rev-9 here with the armaments that we have,” Carl said.
“Shut the fuck up, Robocop,” Sarah said, glaring at Carl.
“I apologize. Sometimes I forget that humans need motivational speeches in the face of insurmountable odds,” Carl said.
“Well, 12% is not zero,” Dani said.
“It’s not much better, Dani,” Grace said. “I’m not about to risk your life on a 12% chance.”
“Look at me, Grace,” Dani said, using what she imagined her commander voice would sound. “We’re all getting out of here, or none of us are getting out of here. Those are our only two options.”
Grace just sighed. Dani had no doubt Grace was well aware of when it was useful to argue with her. That moment wasn’t one of them.
“I can stay behind and stall the Rev-9 while you three try to escape,” Carl said.
“Thank you, Carl, but you’d be sacrificing yourself for nothing,” Grace said. “If we had some form of a getaway vehicle it might work. But it’ll overwhelm you eventually, and we wouldn’t be able to escape it for long.”
“It’s like a ghost town here. I guess that’s why they set up an airbase not too far from here,” Sarah said.
“How far is the airbase from here, Sarah? Maybe we can sneak in and steal a vehicle or better yet, a chopper,” Dani asked.
“It’s close, but still a few klicks from here. The Rev-9 will dispatch Carl with plenty of time to get us if we’re on foot,” Sarah said.
“I’ll stay and help Carl,” Grace said.
“No! That’s not an option!” Dani said.
“Without being properly armed, you wouldn’t last much longer either, Grace,” Sarah said. “Your sacrifice, although noble, would be pointless. There’s no weapon short of a missile that we could throw at the Rev-9 to stop it outside of an EMP grenade.”
“And unfortunately, we lost ours,” Dani said, dejectedly.
“But what if we had something like it?” Grace said.
“What do you mean?” Sarah asked.
“My power source,” Grace said.
“How do we get it out of you, without killing you?” Sarah asked.
“You can’t,” Grace said.
“No!” Dani said.
“Get it close enough to the Rev-9 and it’ll fry its neural net, exactly as an EMP would,” Grace said.
“Absolutely not! That is not an option, so just shut up, Grace! Do you hear me? Don’t even bring it up again,” Dani said, furiously.
“Why can’t we use Carl’s power source?” Sarah asked.
Dani glared at Sarah, horrified that she’d suggest such a thing. To Dani, Carl was part of their family too. Despite their predicament, Grace chuckled at Sarah’s everlasting pragmatism.
“Unfortunately, my processor which is my version of a power source does not have such capabilities. I have no equivalent in my system to an EMP. I would have offered it otherwise,” Carl said.
A loud bang startled the quartet. There was another bang, and then another. The Rev-9 had found them.
“Shit!” Sarah said. “It’s found us.”
“The door won’t hold much longer. We have, maybe, a minute,” Carl said.
“Hey Carl,” Grace said.
“Yes?” Carl said.
“Remember what we talked about? Our last resort?” Grace said, staring intently at Carl.
“Yes, I remember,” Carl said.
“What are you talking about?” Sarah asked.
“What last resort?” Dani asked.
“We’re out of options,” Grace said, amidst the banging on the door, the only thing between them and the terminator. “Do it.”
Before Dani could ask what Grace was talking about, Carl pulled her against him, his grip on her, although not painful, was like a vise.
“Carl, what the hell are you doing? Let me go!” Dani said.
But then it hit her what was going on. Grace bent down and pulled what looked like a hunting knife from her left boot.
“Oh, Grace,” Sarah said, shaking her head.
“Don’t make me hold you down too,” Carl said to Sarah.
“NOOOO! Sarah, stop her!” Dani cried, fighting and kicking Carl to no avail.
But before Sarah could react, Grace plunged the knife in her side.
“GRACE!!! NOOOO!!!” Dani screamed.
Grace fell to her knees. She reached with her free hand and pulled a metallic device from within her. The thing resembled something like a small flashlight. Seeing as the deed was done, Carl let Dani go.
No longer being held back, Dani flung herself at Grace on the ground. She was furious at both Grace and Carl for planning this behind her back. But she shoved aside her fury and focused on the woman she loved. The woman who was now dying in her arms.
“How could you do this, Grace?” Dani said through tears.
The banging on the door got louder and louder and the walls reverberated violently with the force, but Dani couldn’t care less. Her love was dying.
“We both knew it was probably going to come to this,” Grace said.
“It can’t end like this,” Dani said, caressing Grace’s face.
“You’ve saved me in every way someone could be saved. Let me save you now. I love you, Dani. I… always… have…” Grace said, fading out.
“Grace! Grace! You can’t leave me! Grace!” Dani cried. She felt arms encircle her from behind and realized it was Sarah.
“We only have a few seconds before that metal motherfucker breaks through. Don’t let Grace’s sacrifice be in vain,” Sarah whispered in her ear. “Come on, get up.”
Dani tried shaking Grace awake, unable to accept her sacrifice. But she was gone. Her eyes open, but lifeless. Dani picked up Grace’s hand and it was limp.
Sarah pulled Dani away. “All you can do now is avenge her, Dani,” Sarah said, placing Grace’s power source in Dani’s hand. “Here, when you see your shot, take it.”
There was a loud bang at the door, a cracking sound, and that was it. The door gave way, and the Rev-9 was in. Carl and Sarah immediately started shooting at it. Despite her grief, Dani found her senses again, and ran past the Rev-9 and out in the open while Carl and Sarah fought the thing. She wanted to lure the machine away from them as they wouldn’t stand a chance in an enclosed space.
Dani looked back and the machine split itself. Carl took on the liquid metal part of the terminator. They fought several feet from where Dani was. Carl was trying to shove the Rev-9 over the ledge down to the next floor. Dani turned and saw that Sarah had her hands full with the endoskeleton. She was shooting at it with her AR-15, but it was only slowing it down.
“Hey! Hey! I’m over here!” Dani yelled at the endoskeleton.
It heard her and forgot all about Sarah. It came after her, but Sarah pulled a grenade from her belt and threw it at the Rev-9. The explosion knocked the machine several feet back through the wall and shook the whole floor. Dani could hear another fight still going on and saw that Carl was still fighting the other part of the Rev-9, the liquid metal part.
Carl was about to fall over the ledge when Dani pulled her Glock from behind her and shot the thing behind the head. The distraction was enough that Carl got the upper hand, rolled out from under the Rev-9 and flipped it, sending it toppling over the ledge. Dani heard a loud splash and ran to where Carl was. She looked down and saw that the Rev-9 had landed in some kind of liquid vat below. Its molecular structure was breaking apart, it couldn’t seem to reconstitute inside the liquid.
“What the hell did it fall into?” Dani asked.
“It looks like some kind of hydrochloric acid,” Carl answered. “It’s corrosive enough that in high concentration such as the one below, it can destroy mimetic polyalloy.”
“Mimetic what?” Dani asked.
“Liquid metal,” Carl answered.
Before Dani could answer she heard a commotion behind them. The first thing she saw was Sarah being thrown about twelve feet in the air. The endoskeleton was still alive. It had its red eyes set on her. Carl started shooting at it. The Rev-9 charged at Carl knocking the rifle from his hands and throwing him over the ledge.
“Carl!” Dani screamed.
She didn’t get a chance to see where Carl landed below as the Rev-9 came at her. She ran for the AR-15 on the ground. She picked it up and started shooting the machine. But after several rounds, she was out of ammo.
Her fury made her lose all reason and she picked up the rifle like a baseball bat and started swinging it at the endoskeleton. It barely fazed it, but she didn’t care. She was screaming and cursing it to hell and back. This thing that took everything she loved from her. She pulled the power source from her pocket and was about to use it, when the Rev-9 knocked her back sending her flying.
She landed awkwardly on her shoulder, but she still had the power source in her hand. She tried getting up but the Rev-9 was on top of her. It knocked the power source from her hand which rolled away from her. Its metal fingers found its way around her neck. This was it, Dani thought. She’d be dead in a second. At least she would be with Grace… just one breath away.
Dani looked her killer in the eyes and cursed it to hell. Her last defiant act. She felt the machine squeeze her throat. She prepared for the inevitable. But it never came. A flash of blonde tackled the machine off Dani. What the hell?!
“Grace!” Dani screamed, half in joy, half in disbelief. “You’re alive?!”
“Grab the power source, Dani!” Grace yelled at her.
Right! The power source. Dani ran the other way and grabbed the little gadget. She quickly ran back to Grace who was holding the Rev-9 down.
“Shove it in its eye, it’s most vulnerable there,” Grace said.
Dani lifted her arm above her head, ready to shove the thing down the Rev-9’s eye when a firm hand held her wrist from behind, stopping her.
“Don’t.” It was Carl.
“What? Why?” Dani asked.
“Because…” Sarah said, limping towards them. “Whatever augments remain that is keeping Grace miraculously alive will fry along with the terminator.”
“Let me do it,” Carl said, taking over holding the Rev-9 down from Grace.
“But that means it’ll kill you too, Carl,” Dani said, sadly.
“It’s only logical,” Carl said. “Go, Grace, get as far away from here as you can. Get outside.”
Grace put her hand on Carl’s shoulder. “I never knew that any good could come from a machine. You’ve proven me wrong. It was a privilege fighting by your side.”
“Likewise,” Carl answered simply.
Grace looked back at Dani, her eyes inquiring if she’d go with her. But Dani responded silently that she wanted to be with Carl in his last moments. Grace understood and nodded, knowing the danger to Dani was contained.
“I love you, Carl,” Dani said, kissing the machine that had become more like an uncle to her the last several months.
“Take care, Dani,” Carl said.
Sarah sighed, tiredly. “Thank you… Carl.”
“For John,” Carl said, solemnly.
And that was her cue. Dani shoved the power source right smack in the Rev-9’s eye with all her might. It thrashed and bucked at the assault, but Carl’s hold was relentless. The whole building lit up like lightning struck. The machine fought with everything it had, it clawed at Carl but to no avail. After several more seconds of defiance from the machine, the electrical back blow was finished. The red light in its eyes faded into nothing. And Dani spat on its lifeless face.
With the loss of Carl, and her brother and father, she couldn’t even find it in herself to feel any kind of triumph. Instead, she walked away and helped Sarah to her feet and the two of them rushed out of the factory to find Grace. They eventually found her leaning on a pillar outside, an empty syringe on the ground next to her. Dani let go of Sarah and ran right into Grace’s arms.
“Dios mío! How are you alive?!” Dani asked, tears of happiness rolling down her face.
“I second that question,” Sarah yelled from a few feet away.
Grace laughed. “I had no idea at first. But since all my augments are functioning optimally, I can only assume that I have a second power source. It’s the only explanation.”
“And you didn’t know about this?” Sarah asked.
“A power source is very hard to create. It requires mining precious metals, not to mention the complicated technology that’s involved in creating them. All volunteers in the augmentation program only got one,” Grace said.
“Except you,” Dani said.
“I’m sure you had something to do with that,” Grace said, kissing Dani passionately on the lips. “You saved me again.”
Dani laughed. “I told you I wouldn’t let you die for me.”
“You were right. That’ll teach me to go against my commander’s orders,” Grace said, playfully.
“And don’t you forget it!” Dani said, smiling.
“We thought you died. You had no pulse,” Sarah said, putting a hand on Grace’s shoulder.
“I think maybe I did for a moment. It would have taken my system a few minutes to recalibrate and realize it had an alternate power source. When it rebooted, it jumpstarted my organs as well. I’m good as new,” Grace said.
“Except for that terrible wound you gave yourself,” Dani said, pulling away from Grace’s embrace. “Why aren’t you bleeding more?”
“The engineers for the augment program re-arranged my insides so that no vital organs surround the power source. If ever I needed to resort to using my power source, they designed it so that I wouldn’t bleed catastrophically to prevent me from using it,” Grace answered.
“But you’re still bleeding, we need to get you help,” Dani said.
“After dealing with your stabbing, I think we can handle Grace’s injury. This is minor compared to what we had to go through with you. We’ll just need to steal some medical supplies,” Sarah said. “For now, let’s get back in the building and see if there are any first-aid kits we can use in the meantime.”
“Good idea, Sarah,” Dani said.
“We also have to figure out what to do with the endoskeletons of the Rev-9 and… Carl,” Sarah said, solemnly. “We can’t risk them getting found.”
Dani nodded. She thought about the hydrochloric acid vat in the factory. That might be a good place to erase all evidence of their existence. The trio made their way back in the factory, exhausted, but grateful to still have each other.
“I guess we might have that future after all,” Grace said, pulling Dani closer.
“Maybe… if I forgive you,” Dani said.
Sarah snorted in amusement.
“What? Hey now, come on… You can’t still be mad about that,” Grace said.
“Oh, just watch me,” Dani said, remembering her anguish watching Grace plunge a knife in herself.
“You did plan and plot with Carl behind our backs,” Sarah said.
Grace glared at Sarah. “Not helping, Connor,” Grace mumbled.
Dani tried not to giggle at Grace being ganged up on.
“I’d do it again,” Grace said defiantly.
Dani just gave her a look. “Really?”
“I wouldn’t answer that if I were you,” Sarah said, snickering.
Grace slumped her shoulder knowing she wasn’t going to win. “C’mon, Dani. I’ll make it up to you, I promise. I hate it when you’re mad at me. Don’t tell me I defied death just to live the rest of my life with an angry Dani. What can I do?”
“Well…. I’m sure I can think of a few things…” Dani said, coyly.
“Oh god,” Sarah said, dryly. “Whatever it is, please make sure I’m out of the house first.”
Grace and Dani burst out laughing.
To be continued…
Author’s Notes: If you want to get a little more detail on how Grace got her second power source, check out my fic, Dwell In Possibility
Chapter 17: Uncharted Territory (Epilogue)
In the aftermath of destroying the Rev-9, our trio look to the future. It's a future wrought with many uncertainties, but there's one thing they're sure of, it's that they'll face the unknown as a family.
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln
Fate Binds Us
Chapter 17 (Epilogue)
“Hold still…” Dani mumbled as she stitched the wound in Grace’s side.
Grace tried not to flinch as Dani’s less than steady hands tried patching her up. She would’ve done it herself, but any excuse to have Dani near her wasn’t one she was going to pass up. Grace was jolted from her reverie by a stinging sensation where Dani jabbed her a little too harshly.
“Ouch!” Grace complained.
“Oh, did that hurt?” Dani asked.
Grace smiled in amusement. So, Dani was still sore about her plunging a knife in her gut. She couldn’t really blame the beautiful, petite woman in front of her. If their roles had been reversed, hell for sure would have broken loose with how livid Grace would have been. But their roles hadn’t been reversed. And Grace would do it all again if she had to. Dani would get over it… eventually.
“You know, I was a lot more gentle with you when you were injured,” Grace said.
Dani scoffed. “I wasn’t the one who stabbed myself.”
“You might as well have with that stunt you pulled.”
“I wasn’t going to just do nothing while that thing killed you.”
“Neither was I.”
Grace and Dani stared each other down for a millisecond.
“You are so stubborn!” both of them said in unison.
Grace watched Dani frown at her and got back to her task. To Dani, each other’s safety and wellbeing was something they’d only fought about the last few months. But to Grace, it’d been something she’d fought Dani over for years… half her life in fact. It brought a small smile to her face that it would seem they’d have some more years of fighting about it left.
“What are you smiling about?” Dani asked.
“I guess I don’t mind arguing about this with you. We wouldn’t be us if we weren’t fighting about this,” Grace said.
Dani sighed. “Considering the alternative is you being dead, I’ll take this over burying you any day.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Grace watched Dani continue to work on her in silence. It had been over twenty-four hours since they’d fought and destroyed the Rev-9. They’d arrived back at their home on Angle Inlet just a few hours ago. It felt so strange stepping foot in the house and not see Carl there. If anyone had told Grace that she would be mourning the death of a machine prior to coming back to 2020, she’d have laughed in their face.
But here she was with a heavy weight in her heart. After eight months of having lived with Carl, she no longer even thought of him as a machine. He was just part of their little makeshift family. She and Dani were alive and together because of his sacrifice. She’d never forget that. She was pleased when Dani told her how Sarah thanked Carl by his name in his last moment. That spoke volumes coming from Sarah. Grace could only hope she’d made peace with her and Carl’s bloody past.
When Dani got over her euphoria of seeing Grace alive again, her anger at Grace’s self-sacrifice quickly re-surfaced. The anger she exhibited was one Grace had only seen once before. And that was significant. Grace had seen Dani feeling every kind of anger under the sun in their years together. But this anger, it was controlled fury mixed with disappointment and tempered with understanding. Not unlike the anger she exhibited when Grace had chosen to become an augment against Dani’s wishes.
Grace thought back to the whole augment procedure wondering when Dani found the opportunity to instruct her team of doctors and scientists to place two power sources inside her. The whole procedure took several months and many operations. It must have been right after the first phase when Dani had discovered what Grace had done and visited her while she was in recovery.
In her drugged-induced state she thought she’d heard Dani say to her that she wouldn’t let her die and that she’d make sure of it. At the time, Grace assumed that Dani had been talking about the operations. But looking back, it was more likely she was talking about now. She looked at the woman before her working ever so diligently in taking care of her injuries. How many times had Dani saved her now? She’d long since lost track.
“Why are you staring at me like that?” Dani asked, breaking Grace out of her thoughts.
Grace shrugged. “Can’t I stare at the woman I love?”
Dani blushed. “I look terrible. I haven’t even had a chance to clean myself up since we got home.”
“Doesn’t matter. You’re always beautiful to me.”
“… I know,” Dani said, getting up from her knees and kissing Grace on the lips. “There, I’m done. Take it easy and don’t do anything strenuous until you’re healed.”
“If you don’t let me do anything strenuous then how am I supposed to make things up to you?” Grace asked, a twinkle in her eyes.
Dani grinned. “You’re just going to have to get creative.”
The next day
Grace and Dani walked hand in hand through the woods towards the lake. It was the same lake Dani had jumped into several days before during their training session. They saw Sarah on her knees, a chisel in hand, carving something into a rock.
As Dani and Grace got closer, they saw two flat rocks side by side stacked on smaller stones beneath. The one on the left said ‘John’, the other, ‘Carl’. Grace smiled at her friend. She hadn’t expected this.
“Hey Sarah, we were looking for you. Lunch was ready and we couldn’t find you,” Dani said.
“Thanks, but I’m not hungry,” Sarah said, not looking up from her carving.
“Is that a memorial you’re making?” Grace asked.
“I guess…” Sarah said. “You know, I was forced to bury John in Guatemala. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Looking back, I’m not even sure how I survived it.”
“I’m so sorry, Sarah,” Dani said.
Sarah shrugged. “Yeah, me too.”
“And that other one there… for Carl?” Grace asked.
Sarah sighed and ran her hand through her hair. “For the last twenty-two years, I got through each day purely on my rage. It’s what kept me alive. Eventually, I no longer knew how to live without the anger. That anger fueled my will to live. The terminator who killed my son was the embodiment of my hate.”
“And now?” Dani asked.
“I still hate the terminator who killed my son. I hate Skynet that created him. But Carl… that’s not the same thing that killed my son. I know that now. And my hate and anger no longer sustain me. I get up in the mornings now to make sure to fight for a better tomorrow. I feel like I belong in this world again. And I believe that the three of us can change the future. Just like John and I stopped our Judgment Day, I believe we can stop Grace’s.”
“You sure, Sarah? We’re kind of in uncharted territory now,” Grace said.
“I believe we’ve got what it takes to navigate it,” Sarah said, confidently.
“I’m so proud of you, Sarah,” Dani said, embracing her friend. “Letting go is never easy. But Grace and I are here for you. We always will be. We’re a family.”
“I know…. And that’s what sustains me now,” Sarah said, smiling.
“You know your food’s gone cold in the house,” Grace said, feeling a little awkward seeing a Sarah that wasn’t bitingly sarcastic.
Sarah laughed, shaking her head. “You and your food, Grace.”
“She’ll bankrupt us on the grocery bills alone,” Dani said, teasingly.
“Hey!” Grace said in mock indignation. “Try having a metabolism with the potential to burn like ten thousand calories a day.”
“Forget humanity, we’ll need to stop Judgment Day solely to keep Grace fed,” Sarah said, laughing.
“You’re right,” Dani said, laughing. “I don’t think she has it in her to go back to her biscuits and freeze-dried foods.”
“The abuse I take,” Grace mumbled.
“Yet, you wouldn’t trade us for anything in the world, mi amor,” Dani said, putting her arms around Grace.
“Are you kidding me? I’d trade you for a Klondike bar,” Grace said.
“Hey!” Dani said.
Sarah laughed as Grace kissed the pout off her beloved Dani’s face.
Author’s Notes: Thanks to everyone who stuck with me from beginning to end on this fic. If you enjoyed this fic, please check out my Fate Binds Us - Missing Scenes series. It really fleshes out a lot of the events that Grace alluded to in this fic and centres around her and Dani. Also, there's an epilogue to this, you can find that in the fic Fate Unbound
Also, if you guys just want to drop me a msg feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org