TITLE: Tactical Advantage
SERIES: And So It Went
FANDOM: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
RATING: Teen for language
SPOILERS: Anything through 1:7 "The Demon Hand" is game.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Don't know who does.
CHARACTERS: Derek Reese, John Connor, Charley Dixon
SUMMARY:  Fallout from "What We Lost in the Fire".


***
“I’m going out. I’ll be late.”

John nodded as Sarah pulled the front door shut behind her. He glanced out the kitchen windows and watched until the Jeep’s headlights disappeared. Turning, he looked at Derek sitting on the living room floor, barefoot, loading ammo clips.

Frowning, John opened the fridge and grabbed a beer. He twisted off the bottlecap and walked into the living room.

Derek looked up at him, raising an eyebrow at the beer in John's hand. “Rough day at school, Beav?”

John held the beer out. “It’s for you. We don’t have any limes.” Not that Derek would give a crap about limes, but still, he felt the need to clarify.

Derek gave John a wary look, but snatched the beer and drank half of it in a long series of gulps. John crossed the room and sat down in the rickety recliner, facing Derek. Derek watched him with one of his attentive, but unreadable expressions.

“What’s up?” Derek finally asked carefully.

John dragged a hand restlessly through his hair, shifting uncomfortably in the recliner. “I, uh …” He cleared his throat, forcing himself to look at Derek. “I asked her to talk to you last night.”

Derek sighed, rolling his eyes. “You gotta learn to stay outta other people’s business, John.”

“It’s not other people’s business,” John said, his unease giving way to anger. “It’s my family.”

“We may be your blood,” Derek said, “but we’re not your pawns. Not yet. You don’t get to move us around like chess pieces so you can build your perfect family.”

“That’s not what I’m trying to do,” John snapped. As if anyone could ever qualify Derek and Sarah together as a perfect family. Or at least that’s what John told himself.

“Then what are you trying to do?” Derek asked impatiently, pushing himself to his feet. As soon as he stood, he began to sway and he reached out, bracing one arm against the wall to steady himself. He looked down at the beer still in his hand and then at John.

John was looking right at him, glaring. And for the first time, Derek really saw the John Connor he knew, the future John, in the boy’s features. Slowly, John stood and crossed the room toward Derek. He stopped before he was in arm’s reach. Smart move, considering what John had done. Licking his lips, Derek wondered what the hell it was John put in his beer.

“You’re family, Derek,” John said evenly. “And that means a hell of a lot to me.” He took a deep breath. “But when she came home last night, she was crying. She doesn’t cry. Ever.”

John’s features were hard and Derek knew that expression well. That was the look that finally beat Skynet, the look that turned the tide on the fate of the entire human race. And oddly enough, it was also a look he'd seen several times from Kyle, most notably, the time Derek tried to toss that damn snap of Sarah into the fire. Kyle nearly broke his jaw. Derek still remembered his little brother standing over him, hands still balled into fists as he glared down at him with that same expression.

“If you make her cry again, Derek,” John said quietly, “I swear to God – family or not - I will end you.”

Derek blinked at his nephew. Derek certainly wasn’t a coward and he had at least thirty pounds and a good inch or two on John – not to mention a couple decades of pent up rage directed at his former CO. Physically, John wasn’t a match for Derek. But there was something in John’s eyes, in the way he held himself, that made Derek believe the boy could make good on his threat.

“Do you understand me?” John asked.

Derek licked his lips again. His tongue felt really weird. “Your mom’s a bitch.”

John half smiled. “Yeah, I know. But do you understand me?”

Derek nodded, concentrating on his words. “I understand, but you need to understand something too.”

“What?”

“Whatever happens, good or bad, between me and Sarah is between us. You stay out of it.”

John seemed to consider this for a moment and then nodded. “Okay.”

"I'm not kidding, John," Derek said darkly, trying not to slur. "Stay out."

John nodded again, suddenly looking a bit sheepish. He motioned toward the bottle. "Sorry about the beer. I needed a tactical advantage."

"You got it," Derek said mirthlessly. "What the hell is in this?"

John pursed his lips together. "You don't want to know. Cameron knows a lot about chemistry. And online pharmacies."

"If you roofied me, Connor, I swear to god, I'll get even."

"Not if you don't remember it," John said with an evil smile.

Derek swiped at John who easily evaded the clumsy move. Grumbling under his breath, Derek staggered a few feet to the couch and collapsed, staring up at the ceiling.

"Derek," John said cautiously. "Are you okay? I didn't meant to – "

Derek impatiently waved him off and John retreated, probably to his room to play on the computer with his pet metal. Derek stared dumbly at the ceiling, enjoying the pleasantly numb feeling.

***

A loud knock on the door interrupted Derek's thoughts. Okay, well, not so much interrupted since they weren't particularly ordered to begin with. His head lolled to the side and he could make a shape out on the other side of the door. Where the fuck was his gun? He scratched his head.

Ow! Fuck. The gun was in his hand.

The thing on the other side knocked again. Where the hell was the metal? It should at least be doing something useful like answering the door. Derek fucking hated the metal. He hated that it looked like a girl. And it should totally have bigger tits. That was some fucking irony. Women in this time were real with fake tits. The metal was a fake girl with real looking tits.

The door opened and Charley Dixon poked his head inside. "Anybody here?"

That was really fucking stupid. In this house, something like that could easily get you shot.

Charley stepped into the room and looked down at Derek. "I'm not sure you're in any shape to shoot anyone."

Oh shit. He must have said that last bit out loud.

"And that too," Charley said. He crouched down and looked at Derek. "What the hell are you on? Your pupils are the size of saucers."

"Nunna yer goddamn bizniz," Derek slurred. Besides, he didn't know what was in the beer anyway.

"Someone dosed you?" Charley asked, brow furrowed. He reached down and grabbed the empty beer bottle, sniffing it and making a face.

In retrospect, finishing the bottle after he knew it was laced with one of Cameron's science experiments didn't seem like the greatest idea. But Jesus it had been a long time since Derek had been this relaxed. Drugs were in short supply after the apocalypse. And no matter how much he wished for a little oblivion, Derek could never bring himself to huff anything. But this shit he was on now … Whatever the hell it was, it was nice. Mellow. No paranoia or twitching or crawling skin. Just floating along … on the couch. And no needles. Fuck, he hated needles.

"Needles?” Charley asked warily. “I'm not going to give you a shot." He cocked an eyebrow at Derek. “From the amount of ink you have, I find it hard to believe you hate needles.”

Fuck. Inside voice. Inside voice.

Charley didn't reply, so Derek was relatively certain that last bit wasn't out loud. He stared up at the annoyingly present paramedic with what he hoped was an impatient expression.

Charley just looked down at him and shook his head. “Sarah left me for you?” He snorted, turning and heading toward the bedrooms. Derek wasn’t sure how long Charley was gone, but he returned looking irritated. Derek supposed that meant John, Sarah and the metal were all gone.

While Charley was snooping around, Derek had slowly pushed himself into a sitting position on the couch. He realized that once he was sitting up, his buzz was starting to wane. Shit. That did nothing to improve his mood.

Watching Charley walk back into the living room, Derek took a deep breath and forced himself to concentrate on his words. “You should probably consider spending a little less time stalking Sarah. Your wife will eventually get a clue.”

Charley looked him up and down. “If you weren’t here … it might have been different between me and Sarah.” Somehow Charley managed to say it without sounding petulant. In fact he sounded calm. And earnest. And if Derek was being honest with himself – which was rarer and rarer these days - he had to admit Charley sounded a hell of a lot like Kyle used to sound. Which just pissed Derek off more.

“You don’t deserve her,” Charley added, once again making it sound like an assessment rather than a challenge.

“You do,” Derek countered, irritated. “You totally deserve the plague that is Sarah Connor.”

Charley looked like he might actually take a swing at Derek. But he didn’t. Instead, he crossed his arms over his chest, staring down at Derek. “Do you really believe that?” he asked. “You believe I deserve Sarah?”

Derek pushed himself off the couch and stood facing Charley. He watched him for several long moments. “No,” he said flatly, “I don’t think you deserve her.” He turned away, heading for the kitchen and another beer. It wouldn’t resurrect his buzz, but it might help his strangely wounded pride.

“What about you?” Charley goaded, following. “Do you think you deserve her?”

Ignoring him, Derek pulled another beer out of the fridge and opened it. He drank half of it before turning to face Charley. “Go home to your wife, Dixon. Leave us the fuck alone. You’re a liability.”

“You didn’t answer me,” Charley said.

Derek turned away, taking another drink of the beer. He walked out of the kitchen, turning the light off behind himself, leaving Charley in the dark as he made his way to the bathroom for a shower.

***
End Section - TBC

***
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