DISCLAIMER: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its characters are the propert of James Cameron and Fox. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: Season 1, and up to episode 5 in season 2.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Bedtime Stories
By Anklebones


"Do you think Oz could give me courage?" asked the Cowardly Lion.

"Just as easily as he could give me brains," said the Scarecrow.

"Or give me a heart," said the Tin Woodman.

"Or send me back to Kansas," said Dorothy.

"Then, if you don't mind, I'll go with you," said the Lion, "for my life is simply unbearable without a bit of courage."

"You will be very welcome," answered Dorothy, "for you will help to keep away the other wild beasts. It seems to me they must be more cowardly than you are if they allow you to scare them so easily."

"They really are," said the Lion, "but that doesn't make me any braver, and as long as I know myself to be a coward I shall be unhappy."

While she read, Sarah savored the familiar, but long unfulfilled pleasure of bed time stories and a small boy curled up so warm and trustingly at her side. She wrapped an arm around his bony shoulders and tucked him closer on the bed, pretending just for a moment that this was another boy and another time.

Martin Bedell wasn't her son, but she couldn't shake the conviction that if she could save this one, then somehow that would make up for her failure to save the other. She couldn't rescue John from his fate, nor promise him that everything would be okay, but she could do that for Marty.

"Do you ever get scared?" He asked when she paused to turn the page, his eyes wide in a face that had aged years since this morning.

Sarah hesitated, but she couldn't deny the truth to this boy who had already experienced more than his fair share of fear. "Sometimes." She admitted softly, squeezing his shoulders.

"When you're out saving people like me." Marty concluded sagely, presuming from his limited experience that this was something she made a habit of. He leaned into her embrace, laying his head on her shoulder. "You were very brave though." He allowed.

Sarah smiled, touched despite herself by the earnest approval of an eleven year old boy, and continued reading.

"So once more the little company set off upon the journey, the Lion walking with stately strides at Dorothy's side. Toto did not approve this new comrade at first, for he could not forget how nearly he had been crushed between the Lion's great jaws. But after a time he became more at ease, and presently Toto and the Cowardly Lion had grown to be good friends."

"Do you think the Lion was sorry for scaring the dog?"

Cameron's question fell into a natural pause in the story, leaving Sarah to wonder how long the metal girl had been standing just inside the bedroom door. Startled, Marty stiffened slightly under her arm, giving the terminator a wary look as he pressed more closely against her side.

"I think so." Sarah answered thoughtfully, guessing that this was Cameron's typical round about way of trying to understand, and repair her mistake from this afternoon…In the terminator's mechanical mind, hoisting Marty up by his shirt front and giving him the bald truth about his situation and the danger his parents were in, was an efficient strategy to insure his cooperation and prevent him from calling his mother. Why this should make Sarah angry with her, or leave Marty completely terrified, seemed to escape her completely.

"How did the Lion let the dog know he wanted to be friends?" Cameron slid a step farther into the room, angling her head to one side and looking expectantly at the boy.

Sarah nudged Marty and gave him a reassuring smile, indicating that he should answer the question. She could feel him square his shoulders and straighten a little on the bed beside her.

"He started by saying sorry." Marty tested, sticking his jaw out a little and crossing his arms.

"I'm sorry." Cameron apologized easily, and if the words were a little stiff, Sarah attributed that to the girl's inevitable monotone and not a lack of sincerity. Marty seemed to understand her well enough, because he nodded, some of the tension going out of his shoulders.

"May I sit with you and listen to the story?" This time they both heard the wistfulness behind Cameron's request and Sarah was moving over even before Marty had agreed, but the boy shifted with her amiably enough and patted the blanket beside him.

"You can sit here." He allowed graciously. "But Sarah's reading…" He paused before continuing apologetically, "You talk a little weird."

Cameron shrugged as she climbed onto the bed and settled herself beside him, her back resting against the headboard and her legs stretched out, one ankle crossed over the other in a mirror image of Sarah's pose. "I know."

Sarah felt amusement swell beneath her breastbone at the exchange, and she gave Cameron a wry smile over Marty's head. The girl returned the glance, her expression a different kind of blank that Sarah was coming to associate with humour.

Impatient, Marty tapped the open pages of the book in front of her. Sarah ruffled his hair playfully before acceding to his pointed demand, and picked up where she left off.

"During the rest of that day there was no other adventure to mar the peace of their journey. Once, indeed, the Tin Woodman stepped upon a beetle that was crawling along the road, and killed the poor little thing. This made the Tin Woodman very unhappy, for he was always careful not to hurt any living creature; and as he walked along he wept several tears of sorrow and regret. These tears ran slowly down his face and over the hinges of his jaw, and there they rusted. When Dorothy presently asked him a question the Tin Woodman could not open his mouth, for his jaws were tightly rusted together. He became greatly frightened at this and made many motions to Dorothy to relieve him, but she could not understand. The Lion was also puzzled to know what was wrong. But the Scarecrow seized the oil-can from Dorothy's basket and oiled the Woodman's jaws, so that after a few moments he could talk as well as before."

Sarah snuck little glances at her audience as she read, noting that both Cameron and Marty seemed riveted on the story. The terminator was leaning over the boy's shoulder to examine the illustrations, her eyes wide. For his part, Marty seemed to have forgotten his earlier uneasiness, relaxing between them, his eyes growing heavy, as if this was something they did every night.

It was an appealing notion Sarah admitted privately. She had always read to John alone…there hadn't been anyone when he was small to sit on his other side and do their part to keep the monsters of the dark away. Without even thinking about it, Sarah lifted her arm from Marty's shoulder and reached behind him to capture Cameron's hand in hers, tangling their fingers together in the shadows.

The terminator inhaled sharply at the gesture, but she made no other outward sign of pleasure for Marty to comment on. Instead she settled for stroking her thumb lightly over the back of Sarah's hand, winning a smile and a quick wink above the boy's oblivious head.

""This will serve me a lesson," said he, "to look where I step. For if I should kill another bug or beetle I should surely cry again, and crying rusts my jaws so that I cannot speak."

Thereafter he walked very carefully, with his eyes on the road, and when he saw a tiny ant toiling by he would step over it, so as not to harm it. The Tin Woodman knew very well he had no heart, and therefore he took great care never to be cruel or unkind to anything.

"You people with hearts," he said, "have something to guide you, and need never do wrong; but I have no heart, and so I must be very careful.""

As she came to the end of the chapter, Marty finally surrendered to exhaustion, and closed his eyes, falling asleep against her shoulder with one arm thrown over her lap. Feeling everything in her soften and melt at the sight, Sarah closed the book and reached over very carefully to place it on the night table.

"He's sleeping" Cameron observed unnecessarily, but Sarah nodded anyway, charmed by the satisfied and oddly possessive glint in the terminators eyes when she looked down at Marty.

"We should keep him." The metal girl stated definitively, transferring her gaze to Sarah, though her expression lost none of its possessiveness. "He makes you happy."

Sarah laughed softly, acknowledging the temptation even as she shook her head. "He has a mother…and a father, and I'm not doing such a great job with the son I have." Sliding her hand up Cameron's arm, she brushed it over soft brown hair, tucking errant strands behind the girl's ear. "But thanks for the thought."

"John loves you." Cameron disagreed softly, leaning into Sarah's touch where it had come to rest on her jaw. "He has told me so many times in the future."

The reassurance soothed her aching heart, but it couldn't completely erase her doubts. She shifted her hand to the back of Cameron's neck, tugging gently until she could rest her forehead against the terminator's. "Sometimes I'm afraid that I'm losing him…" She confessed.

"You people with hearts," Cameron echoed the Tin Man's words.

Sarah pulled back a little, her eyes searching Cameron's face for the meaning behind the quote. "What?"

"You people with hearts." She repeated. "You love John. Your heart guides you so that you can't do wrong." She looked down at Marty, her shoulders slumping. "I do not have a heart…I have to be careful."

Sarah felt her much discussed heart constrict at the sorrow in that simple statement. Cameron viewed her mistake with Marty this afternoon as the natural consequence of lacking a heart. Simultaneously she had assured Sarah that John would not leave her because the human woman did possess a heart and therefore she could not do anything so wrong that John would leave her…It didn't take a lot of brains to connect the dots and realize what was worrying the girl.

"Hey…" Sarah took hold of Cameron's chin and lifted her head. "Dorothy didn't abandon the Tin Man and I'm not going to walk away from you either." She waited until the metal girl raised her eyes. "We all make mistakes." When that earned her a slight nod, she leaned forward over the slumbering child between them and reinforced her point with a tender kiss. Cameron responded eagerly, opening her mouth under Sarah's and flicking her tongue along the other woman's lower lip.

Reluctantly pulling back after a few breathless minutes, Sarah nodded down at Marty. "Unfortunately, sweet as it is, there is a downside to having children fall asleep in your lap." She ran her hand down the side of Cameron's neck and traced her fingers along one of the straps of her tank-top to emphasize that point,

Cameron drew her brows together while she thought that through, her eyes widening when she realized what Sarah meant. "Would you like me to carry him to John's room?" She offered quickly, but her expression was hesitant as she reached out to smooth Marty's ruffled hair.

"Honestly…" Sarah admitted, seeing the indecision in the girl's features. "I'm pretty happy just the way we are." That said she took Cameron's hand again and shifted the boy a little so that she could lean her head on the terminator's shoulder. "Can we stay like this tonight?"

"Yes." Cameron agreed readily, something akin to affection in her voice when she smiled down at Marty. "I would like that too." Without disturbing the woman on her shoulder, she flipped off the bedside lamp and settled herself more comfortably against the headboard. Lifting her free hand she smoothed it over Sarah's hair and pressed a soft kiss on the top of the woman's head.

"Go to sleep. I will protect you both."

The End

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