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09 March 2008 @ 04:38 pm
SCC Fic: Twenty Minutes  
Character: Derek Reese
Rating: PG, Gen
Spoilers: general for Season 1
W/C: 1100
Summary: There's something missing when he looks in the mirror.

A/N: Renew this show, FOX! Don't let me get sucked into this fandom for nothing!

The ritual is old, something out of childhood: hold the toothbrush parallel to the vanity and squeeze the tube so the blue stuff comes out along the bristles. This kind has little silver sparkles in it and he watches them glitter in the light before putting the brush in his mouth.

The mint flavoring explodes on his tongue and gums, so unexpectedly strong he has to cough a little. But it's good too - the only strong tastes he remembers are the pepper sauces that disguise the taste of slightly spoiled food.

"You only need a pea-sized amount," his mother told him, and he can recall how she was trying to be irritated at his wastefulness, but there was amusement in her voice, because he had toothpaste dripping off the end of his brush making a bright blue puddle. "That's too much. Don't swallow it, honey."

He can feel her standing next to him, a tall and protective presence, and recall the gentle touch of her hand as she smoothed his hair. Sarah stands next to John in the much the same way. He doubts many things about her, but never that she's willing to give everything to save John.

His mother never had the same chance, killed when the shockwave had come off the ocean and knocked over downtown like Kyle's blocks. One of the only things he's ever prayed for is that her death was instant, and she never knew Judgment Day had come.

He likes to think that she'd be proud of how he and Kyle grew up and fought the machines. He could tell her - she's here, she's alive in this time. She's not even that far away. The temptation to visit her and warn her is always there, hanging at the corner of his mind.

He stops brushing his teeth for a moment, lifting his gaze to the mirror. His reflection is the hardened, haunted man he's become, not the boy he remembers so distinctly. She won't know him. Worse, she might be afraid of him, and he thinks seeing fear might be the last thing that will break him into pieces.

But he's still going to go see Kyle. John deserves a chance to see his father. His father -- Derek is rueful it took him so long to figure out the truth. John looks so much like Kyle at the same age, it's a wonder it fools anyone.

Resuming brushing his teeth, he quirks a bit of a smile at the thought of Kyle.

"It's the fucking end of the world, and you want me to brush my teeth?" Kyle demanded, staring at him with an eight-year-old's belligerence. Derek knew the tantrum had nothing to do with brushing his teeth, so he waited patiently. "Are you out of your fucking mind?"

"Brush your teeth, Kyle, and stop saying fuck all the fucking time."

"Fuck you, you're not dad. You can't tell me what to do." He threw the toothbrush at Derek, who caught it with a snap of his wrist.

"You want your teeth to rot and fall out?" Derek asked him.

"What difference does it make?" Kyle demanded furiously, suddenly on the brink of tears and quivering, hands fisted at his sides.

Derek grabbed Kyle and shoved him into the wall. "Listen to me, you little baby," he hissed. "We've stayed alive all this time. Because the Reeses aren't quitters, you get me? We're not gonna give up and play dead and let the machines win. And maybe we'll die, but it's gonna be because we were fighting, not because we gave up. Do you hear me?"

Kyle's eyes went huge in his thin face and he swallowed hard before he nodded.

"Good. Fighting also means we take care of ourselves. So brush your fucking teeth." He shoved the toothbrush back into Kyle's hand.

He bends to spit and turns on the water to rinse the sink. The swirl of water -- the sound -- is mesmerizing - such a simple thing, taken for granted here.

They take so much for granted. Food, running water, sunlight…


He watches the television and laughs to himself at these little things they call wars. And then he wants to shake them all and tell them to stop fighting over stupid things when the world's going to end in four years.

Four years. Sometimes that seems like an eternity - that they have all the time in the world to stop Judgment Day. But usually it seems too close. There's not enough time. Then the panic starts to claw at his throat and his chest at the thought that he might have to live through it all again.

He brushes some more, trying to concentrate on the feel of the handle in his hand and the bristles in his mouth. There were good times too - he tries to remember that. Like getting drunk at John's thirtieth …

John stood up, swaying, demanding loudly, "What do we have the machines don't?"

Even mostly drunk, Derek knew he was supposed to say something like 'courage' or 'compassion.' But instead he whipped out the toothbrush from his inner pocket and held it up like a flag. "Good oral hygiene!"

Kyle hit him, while John and the rest dissolved into helpless laughter that lasted a long, long time…

There will be time. He'll make it be enough time, if he has to kill everyone involved in Skynet with his bare hands.

Sarah comes in, interrupting his thoughts, and tells him he's been brushing his teeth for twenty minutes.

After she's gone, he stares after her. That can't be right. Twenty minutes?

He fishes the toothbrush out of the trash can and runs it under the water, feeling as though everything is suddenly slightly wrong. When did he lose that much awareness of his surroundings?

When he looks at his reflection, really looks, he fears there's something missing. Something in his mind that should be there isn't there anymore. And it's not the last twenty minutes either.

Putting the toothbrush on the shelf, he tries to shake it off. He wants to believe it's because he's not fully recovered and he's losing his edge in all this quiet.

He lifts his eyes to the mirror again and freezes.

She's standing behind him, in the doorway. The Connors' pet Terminator.

Her eyes meet his in the reflection. Instead of her usual blank stare though, she's smiling at him, sweetly, like an actual beautiful young woman.

But he tenses all through his body, and his instincts scream at him that he's in danger. He whirls to confront her, reaching for a weapon he doesn't have.

The doorway is empty.

Panting he sags back against the sink, then turns to splash water on his face, trying to calm down. He clutches the edge of the vanity, breathing deeply to get his head back together and trying not to think of anything at all.

He avoids looking in the mirror again before he finally leaves.

Kelly...It's like Jello with a K and a Y: [scc] uncle bagcenterspire on March 10th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC)
Very nice! I love that everyone is getting sucked in as much as I am!
lizardbeth: Dereklizardbeth_j on March 10th, 2008 04:59 am (UTC)
I am so far gone it's not even funny... Thanks!
y878hy878h on March 10th, 2008 12:17 am (UTC)
lovely...good explination why derek was brushing his teeth for so long...he was in another time! good job
lizardbeth: Sarah Connor - pensivelizardbeth_j on March 10th, 2008 05:02 am (UTC)
thanks! I figured Derek was probably in some flashback/fugue state and that's why he wasn't aware of how long it had been. Normal people just don't brush their teeth for that long...
(no subject) - mymatedave on March 10th, 2008 09:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
The Proverbial Bull in a China Shop...: all okaysabaceanbabe on March 10th, 2008 01:55 am (UTC)
Dude! DEREK FIC!!!! *twirls you*

I love the back and forth between present and future and past and the introspection and the "Connors' pet Terminator" and that if he visits his mother and warns her, she'll be afraid of the man he's become and it'll break him into little pieces.

Damn, but I am falling hard for this show.

And I know, KNOW that something is going to happen in a future episode (DAMMIT) between Derek and Cameron that will have something to do with her dancing and the music he heard when the Terminators held him prisoner. I just know that when the Terminators found out that the humans had taken some of them and reprogrammed them, that's why they took that group of humans, to reprogram them. *wibble*
lizardbeth: Dereklizardbeth_j on March 10th, 2008 06:42 am (UTC)
It's so sad and scary to wonder what Skynet or whoever did to him. Maybe it didn't work, right? Right? *sniffle*

Thanks! I was reading some comments about how people thought the twenty minute toothbrushing was weird or a writer's mistake or whatever, and I was all "no way, he's in a total PTSD fugue state. It's obvious." When things are obvious to me but other people are puzzled, that almost always cues up fic.

Poor damaged Derek. *pets* And then I got to wondering about Derek in What he Beheld and actually seeing himself and Wee!Kyle... *shoots bunnies*

GIMME MY SHOW BACK, Fox. Thank god BSG comes back soon so I can stop mourning the lack of new canon for SCC.
MiniOrr: T:TSCC: Derek Reeseminiglik on March 10th, 2008 02:04 am (UTC)
Very nice. I particularly liked the joke at John's birthday. It does seem to me that Derek would be one of the more irreverent of the group (particularly while Kyle is still alive and he's a bit more sane than he is now).
lizardbeth: Dereklizardbeth_j on March 10th, 2008 06:46 am (UTC)
I thought of the joke as one of the first things, then took it out, then put it back... glad you liked it! :) And yeah, I agree that Derek was probably pretty funny - he shows some dry wit once in a while that you just know had to be pitch black humor back in the day.

(no subject) - miniglik on March 16th, 2008 09:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Jayne L.: bsgtoastserrico on March 10th, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
Ooo, *nice*. I love what you did with the twenty minutes thing, playing with it as a measure of his current mental state, using it to lead into his hallucination (*or was it??*). Creepy and good.
lizardbeth: Sarah Connorlizardbeth_j on March 10th, 2008 06:51 am (UTC)
Thank you! I suspect Derek is quite a bit more messed up (even not counting what might have happened in the basement) than he's letting on, and the twenty minute toothbrushing is a sign of that. I just hope it's only trauma and not something more ominous...
lambent: scc - derek on park benchlambent on March 10th, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
Oh, Derek... I love how we get hints that he really is from a different world, and he's probably having some trouble dealing... This is a nice exploration of that.
lizardbeth: Dereklizardbeth_j on March 10th, 2008 06:53 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yeah, he's gotta be having SOME trouble dealing with his past (the future war), knowing Judgment day is coming, and all that. He's lucky he's sane as he is, really.
silverangelsauntnanewt011 on March 10th, 2008 08:01 am (UTC)
Oh, this was wonderful, of course Derek dug the toothbrush out of the trash, waste not, want not. Loved the scenes with Mommy Reese and Kyle. Derek is so messed up and I want to read everything I can to find out how he got that way.
lizardbeth: Sarah Connor - pensivelizardbeth_j on March 10th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
I know, me too! I just want to know so much more about the future war and how Derek and Kyle survived, etc. There's so much to explore with him.

K: SCC:derek:watchingwonderinglittle_giddy on March 10th, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, I loved so much about this it's not even funny. Eight year old Kyle swearing and 'stop saying fuck so fucking much', the thirtieth party, the way he's falling apart just a little bit but a whole lot, the section on his mother broke me, 'Connors' pet Terminator' and the fact that a toothbrush runs through it all.

On a totally selfish note, I'm glad that if I'm falling hard for this show, I'm not alone. Future!John dragged me in and Derek's helping. *glares/pets*
The Proverbial Bull in a China Shop...: all okaysabaceanbabe on March 10th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, man! You are TOTALLY not alone. *whimpers*
(no subject) - lizardbeth_j on March 10th, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Mayhem Parva: (ispeaknerd) BSG futuresraincitygirl on March 10th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, squee-ish McSqueepants. Nicely done, great explanation for the 20 minute toothbrushing session, awesome glimpse of drunk people being silly at a party. Poor Derek, missing his mommy and knowing if he tries to warn her she'll just think he's crazypants.

Loved the glimpse of Wee!Derek playing surrogate father to even-wee-er Wee!Kyle and making him keep up a routine. And I loved the glimpse of 8-year-old Kyle acting out, angry and despairing, using bad language. If you're 8, I guess using the F word would seem like a big rebellion.
lizardbeth: Dereklizardbeth_j on March 10th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
Your comment cracks me up. "mcsqueepants"? hee.

poor Derek, y'know? The more I think about him the more I just want to write fic about him and Kyle eking out a living and how hard it is to be in the present, etc. Apoca!fic, check! noble, somewhat taciturn but snarky, yet messed up resistance fighter? check! it's my list of favorite things all mushed together. no wonder I didn't fall for this show until Derek showed up (I liked it, but he pings so many of my writing kinks it's ridiculous).

mrsdrjackson: *glee*mrsdrjackson on March 11th, 2008 01:53 am (UTC)
Ok, so I really did not think it was possible for me to crush this much on Derek BUT I AM and it is all your fault! :P Excellent fic. *g*
lizardbeth: Dereklizardbeth_j on March 11th, 2008 04:16 am (UTC)
JOin the club! :) Thanks!
indie: SCC Derek/toothbrushindiefic on March 11th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that's lovely. A beautiful blend of humor, horror and angst.

Even mostly drunk, Derek knew he was supposed to say something like 'courage' or 'compassion.' But instead he whipped out the toothbrush from his inner pocket and held it up like a flag. "Good oral hygiene!"

OMG. that seems *so* perfect for Derek.
lizardbeth: Dereklizardbeth_j on March 11th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
thank you!

Derek is something of a smartass, so I'm sure he's even worse when he's drunk. Plus, toothbrush-obsessed. heh.

Icon love! :D
Saphron Girlsaphron_girl on March 13th, 2008 10:33 pm (UTC)
I love Derek Reese, and I love this fic. Brilliant!!

Even mostly drunk, Derek knew he was supposed to say something like 'courage' or 'compassion.' But instead he whipped out the toothbrush from his inner pocket and held it up like a flag. "Good oral hygiene!"

What makes this even funnier is Kyle's comment in the first Terminator film about how the new T-800 models are so authentic, they even have "bad breath". Apparently their hygiene *is* lacking.
lizardbeth: Dereklizardbeth_j on March 14th, 2008 02:22 am (UTC)

I remembered that from T1. It seemed to fit in to the toothbrush theme (er, those two words shouldn't really go together) so that's why I kept in the joke. :D
want. take. have.: john wants to see youghostrunner7 on March 17th, 2008 04:14 am (UTC)
Very cool. Very gritty and immediate.
lizardbeth: Sarah Connorlizardbeth_j on March 17th, 2008 10:32 pm (UTC)
thank you! I'm glad I reposted the link, if it helped new people find it.
rhienelleth: derek/sarahrhienelleth on March 18th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was just lovely. Note perfect. I hope you write more about Derek Reese. And more about Derek and Kyle. :-)
lizardbeth: Dereklizardbeth_j on March 25th, 2008 06:40 am (UTC)
Thank you! I need to rewatch before I tackle anything more serious, but I'd LOVE to write more Derek. He's just so fascinating, isn't he?

One zarkin frood: TSCC - Derekscarletumbrella on March 18th, 2008 11:20 pm (UTC)
Wonderful Derek character study. I really enjoyed this! Especially the flash-forward to John's 30th birthday party. I can just picture that happening. Love it.

Edited at 2008-03-18 11:21 pm (UTC)
lizardbeth: Dereklizardbeth_j on March 25th, 2008 06:39 am (UTC)
Thank you! The thought of Drunk!Derek amused me greatly, and I'm glad he's getting such a good reaction!

(she says a week later... if you even remember the fic you commented on. I meant it to be more timely, really.)
(no subject) - scarletumbrella on March 26th, 2008 12:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)