Summary: Robert Hart thinks of his dead lover - and Shooter's betrayal of that love.
Categories: Michael Biehn > Dead Men Can't Dance Characters: Hart/Shooter, Robert Hart, Shooter
Warnings: Deathfic, Slash (homosexual)
Chapters: 2 Completed: Yes
Word count: 5418 Read: 4171
Published: 02 Jul 2006 Updated: 02 Jul 2006
The Toy by Anne Tolar
Sarah Conner couldn't stand to see him cry. What had his life been like in that dismal future he had told her about? His reality seemed to have been so bleak, so dangerous, so forlorn.
The touch of a flower on his fingertips, the smell of fresh, clean earth had done it to him. That simple beauty... so little to ask for, so much she had every day, but seldom managed to appreciate enough, so much he had never seen and might never see again... had made him cry.
He was asking her to fight, to stay alive, so he would be born and get to come back for her. He would give all of the future he had to come back to be with her just one time. He wished he believed that the loop would go on forever, that he would always be able to find her. But he knew in his soul that it wasn't going to happen. This little time he had with her was all the time there was ever going to be.
"Kyle..." She held his face in her hands, kissed him tenderly, and brushed away his tears. "We've got to go... we've got to get out of here. You've got to tell me what you want me to do."
"Don't you understand. I don't want to go on. I want to stay here and touch everything. Touch the grass, smell the flowers, touch the trees, feel the rain... so much to see and feel and love... especially you." The thin man with the soul-filled green eyes had found his love. If he kept on, he felt sure he was going to die. He didn't want to die, but he had to keep on. If he didn't, Sarah would die, and then the entire world would go to hell.
"We've got to keep going. You told me how important this is... now I believe you, but you're the one not wanting to move. Come on, Reese... we've got to move. You just enjoy what you get to see while we pass it by. We may not get to see much more, but it's more than you've ever had before... right?"
"Yeah." He sighed and shook his head. "But it's not nearly enough." Then he got to his feet, squared his shoulders, and looked at her... "Okay...so you're the brave one now... let's move."
Sarah Conner lead him on, back to the journey they had to complete. "We need supplies, Kyle. Do we dare stop in a store for a few minutes. I think we need a first aid kit... the last one's totally empty. And we need some more mothballs and stuff to make our pipe bombs. And I think it might be a good idea to get a little food and at least one more set of clothes." She laughed suddenly, not cheerfully, somewhat bitterly, finding it totally incomprehensible that she was making plans to build bombs, to care for someone who might be wounded, to run and hide forever.
"If we don't spend a whole lot of time in the place, we can stop... but where?"
"Next shopping center we pass. We need a big store so everything's in one place. Do you still have money?"
"Yeah, some... enough... I think." He held out his supply of cash again. "Is it still enough?"
"For now... we'll have to do something about it later. Here I go, talking about committing another crime! I can't believe this!"
"Well at least the crime's not just being alive."
"Come on... let's keep going. We don't have time to wait."
"Yes, Sergeant." He suddenly smiled as they moved out, not bright and cheerful... somewhat sad on the surface, aching like hell at the heart... but at least he would be with her for as long as he had. That was so much better than his old future, where he had no one at all... except John Conner... except the one he now suspected would be his own son. Hell, a son choosing his own father? The world made no sense at all... now or later.
They walked several miles before they came to the large center, and picked a well-known store. Sarah said it was a large chain store.
"Chain store? I don't think we need chain, Sarah."
"Back here, we called them chain stores because the companies owned them all over the country... sometimes all over the world... and they thought of them as linked, just like chain is linked, so they could distribute goods to people more easily."
"I think I've got it."
"What about your time?"
"How do you shop?"
"Shop? We don't - didn't - shop. At least I don't think we do, did. We trade things among our communities, and there are places where we gather things people make. We're scavengers. A few of the old plants, the ones where the machines weren't computer operated, we moved those underground so the craftsmen could make a few of the things we had had before. We all had to learn skills that were mostly long forgotten just to have basic necessities. Old people became the most important commodity we had because the knowledge was all with them about how to grow and gather and make by hand... All cloth had to be hand loomed, all food had to be grown in small patches with hand tools. John told us there were times when lots of medical procedures could be done with computerized machines, but not in my time. We couldn't trust any of the machinery... lots of people died because our medical facilities were antiquated or lots of procedures simply ceased to exist. The machines wiped the knowledge out so we wouldn't survive."
Kyle became quiet as they walked into the big store. He froze when the doors whooshed open as he stepped on a pressure plate. "Damn!"
"We don't have to run from this just yet... just from Terminators... right?"
"Yeah... for now."
"Okay... I'm going to get the first aid supplies... you pick up the mothballs... I'll get the corn syrup... we'll get the pipe later. Get everything else we'll need for our weapons."
"But they've got a sign up there that says hardware. Pipe's hardware where I come from... why don't we get it here too?"
"If you buy all the components for bombs here, they'll notify the police. We'll get arrested, and we don't want that."
"Right. What else do I get? Do we get another gun?"
"No! They'll ask for identification, and there's a waiting period... they'll check you through the computer! We'll find a way to steal one later. You just get a shirt or two and another pair of pants. I'll pick up another sweater and pants. Then we'll meet under the sign that says Food and pick up what we need there."
"Okay... move fast... we don't need to be here long."
"It's crowded today... that's good... make it harder to be spotted. Biggest problem will be the checkout... it takes longer and you stand in a long line... it's easier to spot us there."
"Okay... we move."
She waited for him under the Food sign for fifteen minutes... worried that something had happened, that he was in trouble. She wondered whether to have him paged, but the very thought of it made her feel physically ill.
Instead, she started a search of areas nearby... moving systematically, one aisle at a time. He hadn't been far away, and of all places, he had stopped in toys.
"Kyle... what in the world?"
"What are all these things?" He starred at the rows of boxes and plastic wrapped things.
"Toys. Play things."
"You didn't have toys, anything to play with, when you were growing up?"
"Do things to have a good time... something you liked to do when you had free time."
"Free time? Well... I had an old gun... somebody said it was real nice, but I don't think so. John said it was an AK-47, but it didn't have a firing pin. He taught me how it would have worked, let me practice with it. I guess that was when I was three, maybe four. Later, somebody gave me a book on bomb-making... I read that a bunch of times. Passed my demolitions test when I was five. Then they let me go to surveillance and recognizance school. I guess that was fun. Learned how to spot terminators, how to get right up close to one of the big bone crushers and drop a grenade right down it's pipe. I finished near the top of the class. My graduation gift was my own dog. Must have cost somebody a fortune."
"What did you call it?"
"The dog? Didn't you give it a name?"
"No. Why would we give it a name? It was a piece of equipment for me. Mine was number 1694. I had it for five years before it got snuffed by an old model terminator. Never could afford another one."
"That's so sad. That's what you had to make you happy?"
"Staying alive was the only thing there was to be happy about. And looking at your world, I don't think you could call any of us happy."
"Look, when you don't know different... it's just what life is. What's killing me is knowing the difference."
"Come on, let's get food and get out of here."
"Okay..." but she noticed his wistful look at the row upon rows of colorful things that whirled, had wheels, or were fuzzy and warm to hold. So many choices, but no time for even one.
The food was easy. She showed him the canned meats, jerky, crackers, vacuum sealed things. They didn't have enough money to select much, but at least there was enough for the day. They would eat, not too nutritionally, but until they were full, for today.
They divided into separate check-out lanes, ones located side-by-side, and waited for their turns. The young checkout girl in Kyle's lane noticed him, smiled at him, and began to flirt. He ignored and disappointed her.
Sarah had finished her items and Kyle was paying for his when they saw it. It was just across the front of the store, scanning the room, looking through those dark shades to locate his prey. "Sarah... over there... it's him... come on... run!!!"
He grabbed her hand and they ran. When he yelled and stepped on the pressure pad at the door marked IN, the door refused to budge. They froze, then Kyle pulled loose his shotgun from under his coat and rammed it through the glass. It created instant bedlam. People began to run and scream. Pushing the two of them out the door, Kyle took one fearful look back, watching the machine as it tried to follow. Even programmed to prevail at all cost, the Terminator couldn't overcome the massive throng of people crashing against it as they sought places of safety.
They ran. It seemed they had never done anything else.
They took refuge near another culvert, under a bridge near the interstate... a place they could rest for a few minutes. He held her against his chest to help her stay warm in the damp, musty place.
"That place was amazing! All those things, all in one place. I'll have to remember that... maybe sneak back to look in another one some time."
"You think we will?" She smiled up at him.
"Maybe... someday." He laughed a little at the thought, but he looked away from her. She could tell from the look on his face that his answer should have been "No."
"I got you something."
She placed a small cubical box in his hand... a purple box, with a strange picture on the front.
"What is this thing?"
"It's a toy."
"A toy? He opened the box and took the small object in his hand. "What does it do?"
"Well... it doesn't do much of anything."
"It just sits there until you move it in some direction and turn it loose."
"Huh? What kind of weapon is it?"
"It's not a weapon. It's just a toy. I thought you ought to have at least one."
"What do I do with it?"
"You just keep it. You take it out of the box and put it in your kit, here."
"What do I do with the box?"
"Just throw it away."
"That's strange... you throw it away?"
"Sure, it's just a box."
"In my time, I'd get money for this."
"Nothing's trash. What does it do? How do you turn it on, use it?"
"You don't turn it on. If it had batteries, it wouldn't last long enough for you to enjoy it. If it made noise, it could be dangerous. I just wanted you to have something that doesn't have to be used for fighting. I used to have one of these... it lasted for years. It doesn't really do anything special... that's the whole point... it's just fun."
"I don't understand."
"Here, put it here," she placed it on the lip of the drainage pipe, arranging an assortment of items below it, each always shorter than before. Then she tipped it forward."
"See, it just starts on its own, and then it falls again, and again until it all just stops. I couldn't get you anything large, but this will fit in your pack."
"What's it for? You can't use it to fight with."
"KYLE... it's not for ANYTHING! It's not to help you fight."
"It really doesn't have a real purpose? It just demonstrates the principle of gravity?" Kyle smiled and shook his head as he picked up the little thing and set it in motion. I can see that... could teach a kid something with it. But other than that, it doesn't have much purpose."
"Certainly it does."
"What purpose then."
"It's purpose is just to give you a little bit of fun, to make you smile... and it looks like it's doing a reasonably good job. Come on... we'd better move... that thing won't be confused or stopped for long."
"We've got to move, but here... give me that." He waited just a few minutes, then laughed softly again, as he watched his toy, the only gift with no purpose he had ever or would ever receive.
"The only thing I ever got given to me, beside the dog, was an extra slice of bread for breakfast once in a while, or an extra serving of a fresh vegetable once."
"I can't imagine living like that."
"Believe me... where I was, extra food was a real, special gift. But you've got to quit making me remember the future, we've got to move. Are you ready?"
"Yes... don't forget your toy."
"I won't forget." He tossed it in his hand, feeling its weight, watching how it moved. "I wonder."
"Oh, nothing." He pulled her to her feet, and set both their feet on a path with no destination except someplace where they could stay alive.
They had barely gone five miles when the hair stood up on the back of his neck. They were on a bridge, a too exposed bridge, where they found they could be seen for miles. The thing that followed them could see for incredible distances, and it saw them now, but it wasn't nearly far enough away.
"Sarah, can you outrun it for just a little while?"
"Yes... alone. Can you?"
"For just a little while. Where are you going to be?"
"Hopefully setting up an ambush for it."
"We don't have anything to ambush it WITH, Kyle. What are you going to do?"
"I don't know just yet... but I'm starting to think of something that might work... at least buy us enough time to get away from here. I wish it could be me to draw it away, but it won't follow me. No matter where you go, it will follow you. My best chance is to get behind it for a time."
"Okay... how long do I have to outrun it, and where do I deliver it?"
"There's a path that runs around this place. Can you run around it, maybe twice?"
"Yes... I've run one like this before."
"Then run until you see me up top here and pass as close under the bridge as you can. I don't think it will notice me as long as it's close to you."
"What if it has a gun?"
"Right now, I don't think it's got ammunition. It wasn't in that place long enough to steal any, and it'll anticipate that it can deal with you without weapons if it has to. Now, head down from here, and see if you can catch it 's attention. Remember, you don't want it too close to you...let it see you from across the park. And Sarah... be careful."
"I will. And Kyle..."
"I love you too."
He smiled at her a little, and he simply shook his head.
Then she was running along the path, just until she spotted it and knew it had spotted her. Then she ran back along the paved course, running for real and for her life... running to give Kyle time. The thing picked up the pursuit.
After it had passed him, paying him no attention as he crouched a short distance out of its line of vision, Kyle reached into the bag of supplies they had picked up at the store, and pulled out a length of thin rope he had picked up without really knowing why... but rope could be useful for a great many things. He ran down the path that looped under the bridge and intersected with the path Sarah was on.
The path was lined with tall, thin, limber cedar trees... something he thought could be highly useful. Besides the rope, he had picked up something from an area labeled sporting goods. It was a thin plastic box, full of pyramid shaped lumps of metal, each with a nice, pointed end. He hadn't know exactly how he would use them. The box said it was weights for fishing. He had seen an old book about fishing once, and one of the older ones had told him how it was done, but he had never gotten to try it. Still, the weights had looked interesting and useful. Useful was always a good choice.
He looked at the trees and planned quickly. He headed for the top of the bridge,, grabbed onto the top of one of the trees, then stepped out into the open air, feeling his body fall.
Sarah was getting tired, even if she was in good shape, and getting used to running by now. Still, the thing followed her. It didn't seem to really feel a need for extra speed in its pursuit of her. It was too big for speed to be a part of its arsenal of weapons, anyway. It was just dogged determination that seemed to matter. Whoever, whatever, had designed and built it, understood persistent, insistent determination more than any other concept.
Her mind laughed a little, thinking about how proud people were of the machines they were building, the quality control they bragged about. They were so pleased when their machines did the same task over and over and over. The good ones just never seemed to wear out , never, ever seemed to stop.
She was nearing the end of her first round. She looked up in horror and saw Kyle jump from the bridge. She screamed as she froze. She didn't understand. What if he got hurt, or killed? Where would she go then? She headed in his direction.
"No... make one more round. I need time."
"What are you doing?"
"You'll see... trust me... one more round, okay? When you come around, run straight toward this bunch of trees, and then slow down... let it catch up."
"One more round... then do it... NOW RUN!!"
She ran. That was all there was anymore. And the thing followed her.
She didn't see Kyle when she made the last circle. She didn't know why he wanted her to go under the bridge... but he had said to do it, and she trusted him... she loved him... She went under the bridge, and as her heart lurched, she made herself slow down. She could almost feel it's breath on her neck.
It reached for her. It almost had her hair, her collar, her skin. "KYLE!!!"
The thing wasn't behind her anymore, but suddenly Kyle was. Running beside her, and he was LAUGHING!
"That's one GREAT gift, SARAH! I think I've found out what you mean about fun! I've never had some much fun in my life!"
"FUN? What fun? Where is that thing."
"Back there..." He stopped running for a second and looked back toward the bridge.
"See... under the bridge... in that clump of trees."
She looked back, looking hard to see where he pointed. Suddenly, she understood, and she laughed herself.
It was there, lying in a heap, up among the tall, limber trees. It was moving... or trying to move... but it wasn't going anywhere very fast. It's artificial skin was slightly mangled, dented, pockmarked by the chunks of heavy lead embedded in it. One piece had found the socket of his one remaining artificial eye and lodged deep inside the skull. Another had bashed his skull, another creased his arm. One thinner of the lumps had jammed itself deep in the socket of one arm, which jerked uselessly as it tried to rise against the blocked levers and pulleys that made up its 'muscles'.
"How did you get him down?"
"Your gift... my toy!"
"I just pulled some of the trees down, tied them back with some of my rope. You had to go around again cause it took time to find the right limbs to get it in the right angle. I had to climb back up the tree, then climb part way up the bridge to get it done. Then I just threaded the weights along the toy, and stretched the toy across the path at neck height where the tree would sling them off right at it when I cut the rope. I think that's the nicest gift I've ever had to fight with, Sarah. Now, we've got some time to get away from here. Come on... let's go."
"Wait," she took courage then and stopped to get a slightly closer look. The biggest surprise for Sarah was that the big, unstoppable machine was totally wrapped up in thin, flexible wire. "Well, what do you know! I think I'm going to buy stock in that thing."
"I don't know what 'stock' is, but you can get me another one, if we can find another store. In fact, we might want more than one. It's a good weapon. What did you call that thing? Is it what you call fishing?"
"No... it's not EXACTLY fishing. It's a toy... it's just a toy."
"But what do you call it?" He took her hand and pulled her after him, starting again to do what was necessary to stay alive. They ran. "What was it you called it?"
"Kyle... it's on the box... it's just a toy... it's called a... "
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