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Make Your Own Fate
#1 - Time is ticking down

Marcus feels pain, but the fact that the pain is so very minor is what really scares him. He's had all the flesh melt off his left hand, almost his entire ribcage is laid open, he has a hole in the back of his skull, his whole body has been thrown around with enough force to leave dents in the walls, and his chest has been bruised worse than that time he took a tumble with his bike back in 1996 and had 680 pounds of chrome and metal land on him.

Still, he feels only dented, not broken. He can even walk, and his hands have stopped shaking. The tremors and the jittery feeling must have been because of the electric shock Connor used to get his heart started again.

Connor, however, is a mess. The man had a steel rebar punch through the left side of his chest. Damned close to the shoulder; damned close to his heart. It's a miracle he's not only still breathing, but upright and moving. With a lot of help, admittedly, but moving, and that's what counts, right?

"Transports. Outside," Connor gasps quietly. There's blood dripping from his mouth, but it's just a trickle, not a river.

Marcus is almost sure of that. He's seen enough people shanked - more than a couple, less than a lot - to know which kind of wound is lethal, and which you can recover from. Connor's Resistance has doctors. Shit conditions to operate under, sure, but still - doctors. At least one: Connor's red-headed wife, and her surgery. Plus, every army's got field hospitals, and medics.

Connor will survive this, and Skynet in the guise of Serena Kogan will be proven wrong.

Connor won't die because of Marcus. He'll get back to his people and lead that ragged bunch to victory, just like everybody - Blair included - is so fucking convinced of.

Marcus wants to scoff at humanity's last "Messiah", but he knows how much desperate people need a figurehead, a hero, and Connor's so damned true it's fucking unbelievable. He's not a slick PR guy who reads daily words of wisdom off a piece of paper, but doesn't really know what he's saying. The thoughts, the suggestions he whispers across radio waves at night all stem from his own experiences, Marcus is willing to bet. He leads from the front, not from the safety of a bunker in home territory.

Seriously, it's a miracle the man has made it so far, with the stupid risks he takes like he's fucking immortal. He's not, and Skynet's just dying to prove it.

Trusting him was a risk, Marcus knows, perhaps the biggest one Connor's ever taken. Sure, Connor was desperate to save Kyle Reese (and Marcus still wants to know the story behind this little mystery - Kyle Reese's not even twenty years old, and Connor is... what? Thirty-five? In terms of figures, that doesn't add up), and he didn't see another way, but breaking into his archenemy's main complex? That reeks of the kind of recklessness that gets people killed fast, and messy, and tends to take out a lot of bystanders.

But - Connor didn't give Skynet the satisfaction. To the contrary, Connor even saved him.

They saved each other.

And isn't that the mind-fuck to end all mind-fucks?

Skynet's novel, unique "infiltration machine" and humanity's Messiah, taking turns in fending off the Grim Reaper on the other's behalf. The damned machines sure as hell didn't see that one coming.

A week ago, Marcus' life made sense. On less than 10 square foot, sure, but he knew why he was in that cell, why his days seemed to run together, with one set date inexorably looming closer and closer. Then everything became bright, only for him to open his eyes in almost total darkness. First mud, fire and the dead, then desert sand, and finally ruins as far as his eye could see.

Now he's a fucking machine with a few human parts left over. The only reason he didn't stay put or lay down to die when the Resistance hunted him like a rabbit was-- okay, there was Blair, but mainly it was because he wanted to find who'd fucked him up so badly, then he got drawn into those few surviving bastards' fight against enemies right out of a science fiction novel, with Connor - always Connor - like a blazing fire drawing everyone's eye. Marcus stops that train of thought fast. Everybody seems to agree that his brain's still human, still his own. Now that he's ripped out the chip that Skynet could use to plug him in like a digital camera or some such shit, he's in control of his own actions. At least he hopes so, and prays for a second to a god he's stopped believing in years ago.

Connor stumbles, and almost, his arm slips out of Marcus' hold. Marcus grits his teeth and tightens his grip with both hands, the square, strong fingers on one of them comfortingly familiar, the other slender and sinuous-looking, made of bare metal.

His left hand feels numb and like it doesn't entirely belong to him. He feels resistance to even the slightest pressure and can judge easily how much to bend the metallic finger joints without doing damage, but sensation's missing. He almost didn't feel the heat of the molten metal at all and screamed more from the expectation of pain than any actual pain (although his flesh melted away, sizzling, and for a second, smelled like... He pushes the thought away). He's loath to use it, and to touch Connor with it feels like an imposition, almost a sacrilege, but he won't let Connor fall.

They're outside now, and there's automatic weapons fire, the sounds of running and of yelled orders, the blaring of alarms, and the sound of rotor blades.

Connor's busy keeping himself on his feet. There's more blood on his mouth, but when he bites out, "Thanks, Marcus," the words are clearly audible.

Marcus only trusts himself to nod and to swipe a closer glance over Connor's face. He's pale and sweaty, and at least a bit of all that blood dripping from his chin is from his lower lip that he's bitten through. Still, he's determinedly holding onto Marcus, and hobbling alongside him on his less fucked leg.

The wounded and the lame, Marcus thinks, and almost snorts aloud.

Suddenly, a vaguely humanoid shape appears out of the darkness and smoke around them, and Marcus almost drops Connor while he fumbles out his gun - faster than he's ever done in his life -, but the shape turns out to be a man, not a killing machine with a fucking miniature cannon mounted to its arm. A man Marcus knows.

Connor rasps out, "Barnes!" like a warning, or like a command to an attack dog in order to stop it in its tracks. "He's a friend."

The dark-skinned man just glowers.

It's like the showdown in an action movie - Barnes and Marcus both have guns pointed at each other, although Marcus feels at a distinct disadvantage. Barnes has a submachine gun; Marcus has Connor's handgun with only a half-empty clip inside.

"Connor?" Barnes asks, as though he's wishing he misunderstood.

"Wright is with me. He saved my life; he got me out of there. He's coming back with us." Connor's the unstoppable force, whereas Barnes' not even half-way to being an immovable object.

Marcus almost keeps quiet, but they're wasting time they don't have. Time Connor doesn't have.

"He had a piece of rebar punched through his chest, and he's been choking on blood. He needs surgery, not a fucking discussion. Help me get him out of here."

Barnes' eyes wander down Connor's body and stick to the dark, wet stain spreading from his left shoulder, then jump to the trail of blood dripping off Connor's chin. He nods jerkily, glowers once more for good measure, then grabs Connor's free arm and drags it over his own shoulder.

Supported from both sides, they move much faster now. A couple of soldiers with the Resistance's distinctive armbands dodge around them, and all of them glance over Connor for a second like they can't help themselves. It's semi-organized chaos, and more and more people get herded into choppers. Marcus looks for Kyle Reese and Star, but can't discover either in the confusion.

Barnes leads them to a smaller chopper with rotating blades, prepared for take-off. There's a red-headed woman crouched in its cargo bay, mouthing Connor's name.

Everything around them seems to slow down. Like in a dream, they climb inside and help Connor settle on the floor so that Katherine Connor can begin first aid. The transport takes off. Marcus feels the wind on his face. Despite the smell of smoke, the cool night air is soothing. He wants nothing more than close his eyes for a second, just a second, but first, he has to make sure that Connor doesn't make a liar out of him and goes and dies on him like Skynet wanted.

He presses Connor's right hand, and it's only when Connor squeezes back that he realizes he's been using his left hand, the fleshless, metal one, to give comfort.

Despite the pain he's in, Connor's face looks calm, and strong, and like he's not going to give up, ever, and Marcus closes his eyes. Just for a second.

"Terminator: Salvation" ficlet by allaire mikháil, 1.571 words, John Connor/Marcus Wright friendship, gen or pre-slash, Marcus POV, rated PG.

I find it interesting that, although they are strangers, Connor always refers to Marcus Wright as "Marcus" instead of, say, using his last name. The amount of trust and willingness to go out on a limb for the other makes this such a powerful friendship. Or more.

Many thanks to ljdestinyawakened for a quick and dirty beta job.

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