DISCLAIMER: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its characters are the propert of James Cameron and Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm heavily into angst, the more there is, the better the story. I've never found a pairing that's inspired me to write a story until these two ladies came along, one machine, one human but both having an indomitable spirit. I also wanted to basically deconstruct Sarah and everything that she knows to only be able to put her back together in a different way. I hope I've been successful and that you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Oh, I also use British English for my spelling as well, except for the word 'mom', I like the American spelling of that word, it looks cooler. This is my first story as well, so please be gentle with any and all feedback.
SPECIAL THANKS: I would love to thank my awesome beta reader Dru. She is fantastic in giving me feedback and correcting my grammar/spelling. Anything that is still incorrect is all due to me I'm afraid. Also a BIG thank you to my very good friend Lorna, who I basically bullied into reading my story and had never really thought this pairing was possible. I think I've managed to convince her that they are possible. J
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Beyond All Reason
It wasn't that Cameron was averse to entering Sarah's bedroom in the dead of night. She was a terminator and as such, she was programmed to protect John Connor. Therefore by association it also extended to protecting John Connor's mother as well. So if the need arose and it was required for Cameron to enter Sarah's bedroom in defence of the woman, then yes, Cameron would do so in a heartbeat.
What she was averse to however was entering Sarah Connor's bedroom when no such occasion existed to 'defend' Sarah. That kind of fool-hardy action could only end with Cameron requiring at least a few stitches to her body and that was only if Sarah didn't have her gun on her, which was highly unlikely.
Hearing Sarah's whimpering through the closed door however seemed to be having the strangest effect on Cameron's 'feelings'. Terminators weren't supposed to feel, weren't supposed to have any conscious thought actually in regards to want, need or desire but as far as Cameron could ascertain from her behaviour at the moment, standing hesitantly outside Sarah's bedroom door, was that she did want to enter Sarah's bedroom. It was a need so strong, a desire so overwhelming, that the realisation of it was urging Cameron to deny her logic and enter the room regardless of the consequences.
It was not only illogical, it was also highly unproductive.
Sarah was not in any danger; therefore the logical part of her programming concluded that Cameron should not be standing here in a darkened hallway feeling all sorts of emotions that terminators had no business feeling or even understanding. But Cameron had come to realise lately that logic and Sarah Connor did not always go hand in hand.
"Cameron! What the hell are you doing?"
The harsh voice broke Cameron out of her musings as she involuntarily took a step back from the door that was suddenly wrenched open to show Sarah's sleep rumpled appearance standing on the threshold, door knob grasped firmly in a white knuckle grip at Cameron's surprising form in front of her.
"I don't sleep," Cameron replied in a monotone voice as she turned around and made her way down the hallway without any further explanation.
"What the f...?"
Cameron's highly tuned cybernetic senses had heard the confused mumbling behind her as she opened the front door and stepped out into the night but chose to ignore it. She had no answer for Sarah or even herself that would make any sense. Disregarding the muted sounds of Sarah moving about in the house, Cameron made her way further down the back path to stand beside the swing. Taking in the silence of the night and making sure everything was as it should be; Cameron allowed herself a momentary respite from being alert and succumbed to the swirling feelings of confusion that was surrounding her.
Sarah Connor. An enigma and a conundrum all wrapped up in one fragile human package of skin and bones. The mother of all destiny; who had not asked for her lot in life but nevertheless embraced it with an all consuming passion to keeping her son alive; who also bore the weight of the world on her slim shoulders so that her son did not yet have to take up the burden of being the saviour of mankind.
Sarah Connor. The backbone of the resistance and John's reason for living. So many terminators sent to destroy her and her son; so many terminators destroyed in the process. A fragile human that by all accounts should have died 100 times over but persevered against the harshest odds. Cameron didn't know whether this was innately Sarah or whether it was just sheer tenacity in never letting the machines win. Either way, Sarah Connor intrigued Cameron. Intrigued, captivated, enthralled...
And therein lay the crux of Cameron's confusion.
A terminator had no business in being any of those things. She was sent to protect John, the leader of the resistance. She wasn't sent to be intrigued, captivated and enthralled by the leader's mother...
Cameron gave a start at the sound of the voice and stood ramrod straight as the approaching footsteps that she was now aware of drew closer. If a machine had an inkling of self-recrimination Cameron would have cursed herself for being so lost in her thoughts that she had temporarily put John in danger. If it had been another terminator that had come across her, the results would have been spectacularly violent and not the muffled shuffling of Sarah's footsteps on the garden lawn as it was. Turning around, Cameron masked her face of all emotion and stood patiently as Sarah came to a stop in front of her.
"What are you doing?"
Cameron tilted her head to the side in acknowledgment of the question but remained silent as she studied Sarah in the stillness of the coming morning, sensing the uneasiness rolling off the woman.
"Cameron?" Sarah queried with a raised eyebrow at the continued silence from the terminator, feeling her stomach clench in anticipation of the answer. With the machine, Sarah never knew what to expect.
"I don't sleep," Cameron replied finally as she again fell silent and continued to stare at Sarah intently.
"I gathered that," Sarah drawled drolly in return as she moved to sit on one of the swings the uneasiness of before easing slightly at the predictable response.
"What I meant was what are you doing while you're not sleeping?"
Cameron turned her head away from Sarah's quiet regard as she went to stand next to the woman, holding gently onto the swing chain and staring into nothing.
"Why are you not sleeping?" Cameron returned as she deflected the question and tilted her head once again towards Sarah.
"Too many visions of a world gone mad and gleaming metal," Sarah replied dryly as she swung herself lazily backwards and forwards on the swing.
Cameron let go of the swing chain as she felt it moving, continuing to stare at Sarah her head still cocked in silent perusal.
Sarah glanced towards the machine and found herself drowning in eyes that looked black in the slowly awakening dawn. Swallowing reflexively at the intense stare and the sensation of being studied by a suddenly too intense terminator, Sarah cleared her dry throat and broke eye contact to stare out into the lightening back yard.
"I used to love watching the sun rise. It used to signify the beginning of a brand new day, where anything was possible and I had hopes for a better future. Then Kyle Reese showed up and now all I can see with each sunrise is time quickly marching forward and catching up with me," Sarah mused quietly, more to herself than to the still machine standing next to her.
"And before I know it, judgement day has been and gone and everything I've done has been for nothing. That the future I tried to save my son from is now his harsh reality."
Cameron remained silent as she absorbed the words, sensing the despair and the helplessness rolling off of Sarah like a physical blanket covering her in its clinging, cloying warmth on a too hot summer day.
"And I am also that unwanted reminder. A machine sent to protect your son who is also the cause of your nightmares."
Sarah glanced up quickly at the words from the terminator, taking in the bland facial features of the machine. Sarah could sense something roiling beneath the surface, beneath the stiffness that Cameron exuded that made Sarah pause. It was as if Cameron had weighed the words Sarah had spoken and found them unsatisfactory. If Sarah didn't know any better she could almost say that Cameron was...upset, not with Sarah but with herself.
This seemed highly unlikely however. Cameron was a machine and machines did not feel or even think beyond their mission. Cameron was all about her son, John Connor and the mission of keeping him alive. Anything beyond that Sarah was sure did not even enter the machines programming, never mind any thoughts about upsetting one Sarah Connor.
Sarah did not know how to respond to the comment from the terminator or if it even warranted a response. Yes, she did have nightmares and yes, they all involved gleaming metal and a fiery hell but it wasn't Cameron that stared back at her with blank ruthless eyes. If truth be told it was only thoughts of Cameron, her silent protector, her familiar presence that kept the nightmares at bay.
Sarah had been doing this alone for too long; she was growing weary of the demands placed on her to keep the leader of the resistance, her son, alive until he was capable enough to become a leader in his own right. The fact that she could now lay her burdens, no matter how briefly onto the deceptively strong shoulders of the machine in front of her was a catharsis to her troubled and weary soul.
Sarah no longer felt so alone with Cameron by her side even if it was only an ephemeral illusion.
But the idea of Cameron being more than what she was was too ludicrous for Sarah to contemplate, to even give thought to, let alone voicing them out loud to the machine standing silently in front of her.
With nothing to say and too much to reveal, Sarah slowly got to her feet and made her way back to the house, casting one last speculative look towards the terminator. With the sun now shining weakly behind the terminators back, Sarah imagined that the machine looked almost melancholy, a lost and wistful look upon her porcelain features.
Shaking her fanciful thoughts loose, Sarah turned away, her shoulders and features tightening imperceptibly at the thought of a 'lost' terminator and what that actually meant to her own peace of mind and the world at large.
Feeling slightly refreshed and more alert from her morning shower, Sarah entered the kitchen, her nose already sniffing out the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee as she spotted John and Cameron sitting at the kitchen table.
"Morning Mom," John greeted around a mouthful of cereal as he dug into his breakfast with relish giving her a quirky grin at the same time.
Sarah made her way over to John and placed a warm kiss to his head in greeting as she raised one eyebrow towards Cameron who was now standing in front of her with a piping hot cup of coffee. Black, just the way she liked it.
"Umm, thanks?" Sarah responded uncertainly as she took the proffered mug and sat down in the chair opposite John, giving the machine a suspicious look in return.
"She's been waiting all morning to give you that coffee," John offered helpfully with a smirk on his face.
Cameron remained silent as she sat rigidly in her seat and avoided Sarah's stare, the only noticeable indication of her discomfit was the slight clenching of her hands on the kitchen table.
Sarah continued to sip her coffee quietly as she pointedly ignored John's comment and the silent terminator sitting in front of her, once again thrown by her odd behaviour. Her uneasiness was growing in leaps and bounds, Cameron's behaviour sending her nerve endings on hyper alert.
Since her brief encounter with Cameron this morning, the girl had been constantly in her thoughts, making her cranky and edgy. With her mind unable to focus on anything but the machine in front of her and the very real worry of what the hell was going on with the girl, Sarah could only sigh wearily. If Cameron was...malfunctioning that would mean the machine would have to be terminated. With John's safety at stake there was no other option Sarah could take.
Pushing away the sick feeling in the pit of her gut in reaction to terminating Cameron, Sarah turned to study the machine critically catching the girl's bland stare in return. Feeling her insides tremble at the silent perusal, Sarah could only shake her head mentally at her reaction. Whatever was happening with Cameron was no concern of hers as long as the machine did not endanger John.
"Sarah, have you read the paper this morning?"
Sarah sighed wearily as she reluctantly turned her head towards the voice seeing Derek stride into the kitchen, her facial features settling into a grim mask. Derek and early morning visits was never a good thing in her opinion.
"Page 3, at the bottom," Derek continued as he threw the paper onto the table in front of her.
Sarah silently picked up the paper and turned to the mentioned page taking note of Derek's rigid stance.
Last night in downtown Los Angeles a most bizarre event took place where one witness reports he saw a flash of electrical energy discharge itself into a nearby alley and then a naked man walking out...
"We need to go check this out," Sarah stated vehemently as she glanced up at Derek all thoughts of Cameron and necessary conversations forgotten in the face of a new danger.
"Mom? What is it?" John interjected worriedly in Sarah's direction, the levity of earlier fading as he took in his mother's jerky movements, her hand running through her hair and obvious agitation.
"Another terminator," Derek voiced flatly before Sarah had the chance to respond.
"I'm coming with you."
"John, we don't know what this means and it's not safe for you to come with. Derek and I just need to do a little recon, find out more information," Sarah interrupted before he could continue further, pushing the nagging feeling of worry down for the moment.
"Mom! It's never safe! You can't seriously expect me to go to school as if I didn't just find out that there's another terminator loose out there somewhere?"
"John...please. The safest place for you right now is at school, he won't be able to find you there. We can't do anything until we know more." Sarah looked over to Derek for silent support, surprised that Cameron had yet to say anything.
"John your mother's right. Sarah and I will do a little recon work, once we know more then we'll decide what to do," Derek offered gently, sensing the boy's inner turmoil and fear for his mother at this new threat.
"Then take Cameron with you," John ground out between clenched teeth as he turned to glare at the silent machine willing her to speak.
"No. She needs to protect you and she can't do that if she's traipsing around with me and Derek," Sarah replied harshly.
"I will go with you and Derek Sarah, as you said, John will be safe at school," Cameron stated calmly as she finally entered the conversation and turned an impenetrable stare towards Sarah.
Sarah ignored both her son and the machine as she turned to walk away from the table, brushing past Derek who followed along silently behind her.
"You will need back up, it's not safe for you. If you encounter this terminator he will kill you," Cameron stated in a flat voice as she trailed after Sarah.
"It's never safe, not until we stop judgement day!" Sarah retorted harshly, her patience running thin.
"Your concern should be towards my son; your mission is to keep him safe, not me. I'll be fine and I have Derek for backup."
Cameron turned her head towards the person in question and if possible her expression tightened even further, her obvious distrust of Derek highly palpable in the charged atmosphere.
Cameron knew Sarah was right. John was, should be her main priority but the thought of Sarah entering an unknown situation with only the resistance fighter by her side made her stomach curdle, if her stomach could curdle that was. Derek was inefficient, human and...breakable. He could hardly be called upon to save Sarah if the need arose and it was this knowledge that gave Cameron pause. The idea of Sarah getting hurt, being hurt threw her cybernetic synapses into overdrive. Sarah's safety was of paramount importance to the terminator, why she couldn't say but it was important to her nonetheless.
"End of discussion. Derek, let's go."
Giving John and Cameron a pointed glare, Sarah turned on her heels and walked out of the house, Derek once again trailing behind her as he threw a disgusted look towards the machine in passing at her obvious slight of his abilities as a soldier.
Cameron made a move to follow but was stopped short by John's voice.
"Cameron, you won't win. Once mom's made up her mind we just have to live with it," John sighed loudly as he made his way back into the kitchen to grab his back pack off the kitchen bench.
Cameron hesitated, uncertainty writ largely on her face as she contemplated John's words and the closed front door.
"Come on, we better get going as well or we'll be late and that's something that I don't want to be explaining to mom when she gets back," John harrumphed in passing as he glanced toward the machine who was still staring at the closed door with a blank expression on her face.
Cameron followed silently, pushing all thoughts of Sarah Connor and her obstinacy away for the time being. John was her mission and that was all she should be concerned about, not whether or not Sarah was safe. But even in thinking those thoughts Cameron could not help the niggling feeling of unease as she closed the front door behind her.
Sarah glanced around at her surroundings, surprised she had been so lost in thought that she hadn't even been aware that the truck had come to a halt. Noticing Derek's guarded look she opened the door and climbed out, glancing wearily at the alley in front of her.
The alley was dank and filthy. Even in the weak morning light that struggled to shine down Sarah could see signs of human detritus accumulated here and there, abandoned as if the effort of maintaining such an area was beyond any hope. Further up ahead Sarah could just make out the exit at the other end of the alley.
Seeing the gaping crater and the burnt out signs on the concrete, Sarah moved cautiously closer to examine it further, the hairs on her skin rising in alarm as she saw something moving on the edges of her peripheral vision.
Glancing up quickly, Sarah spotted Derek moving further up ahead. Before she could draw Derek to her concerns however, a sharp crack echoed loudly through the silent alley followed by a sharp shooting pain that blossomed from her left side. Grasping her side, just above her ribs firmly in reflex, Sarah dropped to the ground in agony, rolling automatically at the same time to duck behind a garbage bin while also drawing her gun from behind her back to hold it loosely in a firm grip.
Sarah could hear Derek's alarmed shout before more gun fire erupted around her in a halo of sparks. Cursing to herself, Sarah waited for the sharp retort of the gunfire to fall quiet before she stuck her head cautiously from around the large bin. Ignoring the pain in her side for the time being, she drew both hands around her gun, noticing with a slight grimace the red blood coating her hands.
"Fuck!" Sarah swore as she saw the determined strides of a terminator advancing slowly on her position. She fired off a few rounds before safely pulling back to rest against the niche between the wall and the garbage bin.
Inhaling in short sharp breaths, Sarah looked around wildly for Derek to see where the resistance soldier had gone to. Not spotting him immediately Sarah once again cursed and drew in a deep breath hurriedly thinking through her options. She could hear the steady plodding of the advancing terminator but no more gun fire issued forth. Praying to any deity for small mercies and empty guns, Sarah drew in a deep breath and jumped out from behind the garbage bin holding her gun steady in hands covered with blood and pulled the trigger repeatedly at the terminator until the clicking of the empty chamber signified no more bullets were left.
The bullets impacted with deadly force landing dead centre in the terminators chest which on a normal human being would have felled him instantly in his tracks but on the terminator it hardly slowed down his progress. Shrugging off the bullet impacts as if they were mere inconveniences the terminator started moving faster towards Sarah.
Instinctively Sarah ducked and rolled to the side at the shouted command landing with a pained grunt on her injury. Stars swam in her vision as she lay winded; trying again to staunch the now steady flow of blood she could feel seeping from the wound.
Forcing the nausea and the pain down, Sarah rolled weakly onto her uninjured side and made to stand up, grasping the wall heavily for support, her gun hanging loosely from her hand. Turning her head towards the advancing terminator Sarah saw a flash of chrome and rubber rush past her and then the sound of a loud thump and the squealing of tires as Derek backed the SUV towards her position behind the garbage bin.
"Get in!" Derek shouted as he hastily flung open the passenger door.
Taking another deep breath, Sarah leapt at the open door and scrambled inside, slamming it closed behind her with the last of her strength as she sank down wearily into the front seat.
"Go, go!" Sarah shouted weakly as she glanced out the front windscreen to the downed terminator.
With another squeal of tires and a loud revving of the engine, the SUV continued reversing backwards towards the alley exit, manoeuvring into a hard right as it flew out of the alley onto the busy street. Turning the steering wheel frantically Derek righted the car and gunned it forward with another squeal of tires and burning rubber.
Cameron studied her surroundings and took note of the exit points and then to studying each individual face sat at one of the cafeteria tables. Satisfied that there was nothing out of the ordinary to alarm her, Cameron relaxed her guarded vigil slightly and sat back in her chair to stare off into nothing. The feeling of something being wrong had plagued her throughout the morning and she had been extra careful to remain vigilant.
"Cameron! Stop being a freak staring at people and eat something!" John whispered to Cameron harshly as he pushed her food tray in front of her.
"What's up with you? You've been twitchier and weirder than normal today and that's saying a lot."
Cameron picked up an apple off her tray and bit into it firmly, giving John a blank stare in return as she tilted her head to the side to study him silently.
"Jesus Cameron. Come on, stop being a terminator and talk to me," John bit out brusquely in a low tone as he rolled his eyes at Cameron's actions aware of the other students close by.
"I am a terminator John. I cannot stop being one," Cameron reminded him helpfully as she continued to bite into the apple.
John rolled his eyes again and sighed. It was just like Cameron to take everything so literal. If he didn't know any better he was sure that the machine was pulling his leg half the time. For a machine that was designed to infiltrate and blend with humanity he was surprised that it was taking Cameron so long to understand basic human behaviour and language. He had a sneaking suspicion that the machine was being especially obtuse when it suited her needs.
"What's wrong? Why are you being so 'I, Robot' today?" John persisted worried that the machine was hiding something of importance from him. He knew that she was capable of that, letting him know things only when it was required and in that regard she was exactly like his mother. The both of them treated him like a little boy sometimes instead of the leader that he was destined to become.
"I, Robot? I do not understand that reference John. I am a cybernetic organism not a robot."
John exhaled in frustration, now definitely sure that Cameron was being especially difficult on purpose.
"You know, having a conversation with you is like pulling teeth sometimes."
Cameron continued to ignore him, her concentration now focused solely on the apple she was eating as if the answers to her unspoken worries would magically reveal themselves the more she ate of it. Finally dropping the finished apple onto her tray Cameron looked up and pinned John with a sombre stare.
"I am concerned about the unknown terminator...and...Sarah."
"The terminator I can understand but why are you concerned about mom? She can look after herself," John glanced around cautiously making sure that they weren't being eavesdropped on.
"Yes, Sarah Connor is efficient that way," a hint of pride colouring her tone, "but we do not know why this terminator has come and until we do, we are all in danger." Cameron deviated from her usual blank expression to give John a look of frustration as if reluctant to admit the next part. "I am...very worried."
Alarmed at Cameron's stark honesty and admittance of human emotions John sat up straighter in his chair. It was unlike the machine to be this candid with him which definitely gave him pause for concern.
Before John could continue further a loud buzzing could be heard from the region of his pants. Reaching into his pocket for the vibrating phone John spared a worried glance towards Cameron as he hit the connecting button, quickly entering the agreed code into the phone and sighing with relief as he heard the answering code on the other end.
"John, your mother's hurt, she's been shot."
John quickly grabbed his backpack off the cafeteria table as Derek's worried voice filtered through, his face paling as the words suddenly registered in his brain. "Mom's hurt? Where are you?"
"We've gone to the warehouse, meet us there. Charlie's on his way over...and John? Hurry."
Flipping the phone closed John shoved it back into his pants pocket as he frantically followed after Cameron her cybernetic hearing already having caught Derek's words through the phone. Ignoring the startled stares directed towards the terminator John shoved his feelings of panic down as he fought to remain calm. His mother was hurt, how bad he didn't know but judging by the tone of Derek's voice it didn't bode well.
Sparing a quick glance towards Cameron as they finally reached the car, John wasn't sure he should be relieved or scared at the expression on the terminators face. Although usually bland and emotionless Cameron's expression this time was intense and focused; he resisted the urge to shudder and decided to remain silent as he quickly climbed into the passenger seat. As the truck manoeuvred onto the road, John could see Cameron's hands were clenched tightly to the steering wheel. When the truck lurched forward with frightening speed, John had a fleeting thought of almost, almost feeling sorry for whoever had hurt his mother.
Cameron slammed on the brakes as the truck came to a halt in front of an industrial warehouse. Scanning quickly around the perimeter of the building as she exited the truck, Cameron noticed the unfamiliar SUV and an ambulance vehicle parked haphazardly beside the warehouse entry. Taking note of the wide open doors of the four wheel car and the blood trail leading from the passenger side door, Cameron pushed her way inside with enough force to nearly take the rusting door off its hinges.
"Mom!" John shouted as he too took in the blood trail from the SUV, his heart hammering like a jack hammer in his chest. Forcing his frantic mind to calm, he quickly followed Cameron inside, his eyes slowly adjusting to the low light and the dust particles swirling in the weak light shining from the broken windows above.
"John, it's ok, your mothers going to be fine. She's lost a lot of blood but I managed to remove the bullet. She's asleep at the moment," Charlie stated calmly as he walked over towards John upon seeing his entry and clasped the boy's shoulders in a firm grasp, drawing John to a halt as he ignored the machines determined strides past him.
"Charlie, what the hell happened? It was only supposed to be recon!" John shouted angrily as his fears started to ease off a little at the sight and the words of the calm man in front of him. Brushing the hands off his shoulders John once again followed in Cameron's path.
"Derek and Sarah got ambushed by a terminator. Apparently he came out of nowhere and just started firing," Charlie explained quietly as they entered the small room together. Falling silent for the time being, Charlie stepped back to allow John to check on Sarah. Seeing the machine standing silently and rigidly by Sarah's head his soft expression turned into a grimace.
"John...I..." Derek halted as John turned accusing eyes towards him. Derek's expression was one of remorse, guilt and a sorrow so large that John felt overwhelmed by it. He couldn't handle Derek and his emotions at the moment; he could barely contain his own as he stared at his sleeping mother.
"Mom," John croaked reaching for his mother's right hand and clutching it firmly in his shaking hands as he took in the almost washed out pallor of Sarah's complexion and the raspy rise and fall of her breathing. Brushing a piece of fallen hair from her face, John rested his other hand lightly on her cheek, feeling the warmth seeping between his cold fingers. Reassuring himself that his mom was indeed fine and that she was only sleeping, John turned red rimmed eyes towards Cameron who had remained eerily still; just standing there and staring down at Sarah her expression devoid of any emotion, her fists clenched firmly to her sides.
"Cameron?" John cleared his throat, raspy from worry and stress at the sight of his mother lying almost helpless on the table, covered only in a thin ambulance blanket. He shook his head to clear his thoughts of the last remnants of his earlier panic, finally noticing the blood soaked cloths lying on the floor of the dirty warehouse.
"Cameron?" John tried again as he returned his gaze to the still silent machine.
Cameron looked up from staring at Sarah on the table, her expression still devoid of any emotion. A perfect machine cast as if from marble, except now for a reddening haze starting to film over her brown eyes. John shuddered again, this time violently and he quickly dropped Sarah's hand to walk over to the terminator his own hands raised in front of him in a placating manner.
"Cameron, look at me. It's fine, everything is going to be fine."
Cameron looked as if she hadn't heard him. Her eyes a haze of red as she turned her head back to Sarah and the surrounding mess of bloody cloths strewn underneath the table carelessly.
In an instant, faster than the blink of a human eye Cameron moved and grabbed Derek pinning him to the wall by his throat; raising him off the floor as if he weighed nothing more than a feather.
"Cameron! No!" John shouted at the machine in horror running over to pull her arm from around Derek's throat ineffectually. "It's not his fault!"
Cameron ignored him and tilted her head to the side, staring daggers into the soldier's eyes as Derek tried vainly to release the hand holding him to the wall in a stranglehold. Kicking and wriggling in an attempt to get free, Derek's face started to redden as he tried to get oxygen into his lungs.
Charlie stood frozen by the door, unsure of what to do as he took in the spectacle in front of him.
"Cameron, please. He can't breathe," John pleaded helplessly as he continued to struggle with the machine, fear now showing plainly on his face at Cameron's non response.
"Cameron! Mom wouldn't want this!"
In one last panic fuelled attempt to save Derek's life, John raised his hand and slapped the machine hard across the face, wincing as the sound reverberated through the silent warehouse.
The slap glanced harmlessly off Cameron's face, leaving only a reddened handprint to prove that it had actually happened for the effect it had on the terminator. One, two, three seconds went by and then Cameron blinked, and as quickly as it had risen, the red haze cleared from her eyes and Cameron stepped back, releasing Derek to crumple to the floor gasping and wheezing for much needed air.
"You are inefficient, you were supposed to be Sarah's backup. Where were you?" Cameron demanded in a slow measured voice barely registering Derek's distress as he continued to take in gulping gasps of air, rubbing his throat at the same time to relieve the soreness; red and purple bruising already marring the skin.
"You crazy metal bitch!" Derek croaked out hoarsely as he struggled to a standing position his hand still rubbing his throat.
"Derek, don't," John warned in a low voice, stepping between the two glaring combatants. "Cameron, go outside and check the perimeter. We need to make sure it's safe, that we weren't followed."
John held his breath not sure if the machine would even listen to him in the state she was in.
Giving Derek one last menacing glare, Cameron turned on her heels and stomped out of the room, pausing briefly to glance at Sarah reassuringly. Ignoring Charlie as he eagerly stepped out of her way Cameron marched rigidly to the entrance of the warehouse and disappeared without another word.
Sarah stirred groggily on the hardened surface beneath her, throbbing pain settling around her side and head like a roaring fire running through her veins. Breathing was a mission in itself never mind the slight movement she made of turning her head minutely up to take in her surroundings. She could see big sturdy beams high above her head and smell the slightly acrid odour of stifling dust, abandonment and neglect.
Casting her eyes sideways Sarah could see the room she was in was barren. Aside from the hard surface she was lying on there seemed to be no other furniture except for the stacks of wooden crates and steel and metal pipes lying around the dirty dusty floor.
She could hear loud muffled voices to her left just behind her head but decided to leave that alone for now. The effort to keep her eyes open even in the short time she was awake was becoming unbearable. So closing her eyes again, Sarah succumbed to the pull of oblivion and the promise of sweet release from the pain consuming her body.
The next time she woke up, Sarah was resting comfortably on something softer than the hardened surface of before, feeling warm blankets tucked in firmly around her shoulders and neck. Taking a short breath, Sarah closed her eyes again and ran a mental inventory of her aches and pains. Aside from the sharp throbbing of her side and the continual throbbing of her head, Sarah didn't think she was feeling too bad. Aches and pains she could handle and push down for the time being, it was the helplessness of being weak that she hated.
Hearing silence except for the broken sounds of muted breathing, she stretched her legs and turned slightly, giving a muffled groan as the wound on her side flared vehemently in protest at the movement.
"Mom?" As Sarah absorbed the words, John came into her line of vision, his face etched in a worried frown.
"What...where am I?" Sarah groggily shook her head slowly to clear it of the clinging hold of hazy confusion and deadening pain.
"It's ok mom. We're at the warehouse. You're going to be fine," John breathed out in a relieved sigh as he noticed some colour returning to her dull features.
Struggling to sit up, Sarah had to hold in her breath as she nearly passed out again from the pain running the entire length of her body.
"Mom, don't move...please. I don't think..."
"I'm...I'm ok," Sarah forced out in a grunt as she felt John coming to her aid, supporting her under the shoulders as she twisted gently to place her feet on the solidity of the floor.
"Wh...where's everyone?" Pausing to take another short breath, Sarah turned woozy eyes around the empty room.
John sat down beside his mother on the makeshift ambulance gurney and sighed wearily. There was no point in begging his mother to take it easy; it wasn't in her to just lie around being helpless, not when she was still breathing, even if it was only just.
Running a hand through his unruly hair John turned to study his mother critically, taking note of the pained grimace on her face and the clenching of her hands on the thin gurney mattress. Once again cursing his mother's stubbornness and her resilient never give up attitude, John shuffled over to his backpack by the door and rummaged around for the bottle of pain meds Charlie had left behind.
"Here. Charlie said to take two of these when you woke up." Twisting the cap off the bottle, John proffered the small pills in his palm towards Sarah ignoring her question.
"I don't want those. They'll make me even more woozy and sleepy again." Sarah shook her head slowly at the pills in front of her, resolving her face into a stern frown.
"Mom, for God's sake, you were shot!" John growled low in his throat at his mother's refusal. There was stubbornness and then there was stupidity. John wasn't sure if his mother could tell the difference at the moment. "And you've just woken up from rudimentary surgery. I'm sure the world can wait for just a goddamn minute while you admit to being in pain and take these damn pills!"
Thrusting the pills into Sarah's reluctant hand, John stalked away to grab the bottle of water sitting on the crate beside his backpack, mumbling and cursing something about pig-headed mother's.
Sarah gave a startled glance towards John, surprised at the vehemence of the words and a little bit cowed at being royally scolded by her teenage son. Not that she would admit that to him of course.
"Fine," Sarah ground out between clenched teeth and popped the pills into her mouth swallowing reflexively and taking the offered water bottle from him. "But we don't have the luxury of taking a break John."
John hid his small smile at Sarah's capitulation and pulled a crate over to sit down in front of his mother. Placing a hand gently on her knee, he waited until she caught his eyes.
"Mom, I know we don't have that luxury. I'm not asking you to take a vacation here; I'm just asking you to please just, just take a rest for a minute. Ok?"
Seeing the worried look in her son's eyes, Sarah sighed and closed her eyes briefly. She knew John was right. She wasn't invincible, she wasn't a machine. She was only human and her body could only do so much, take so much before it would completely shut down if she didn't start to take better care of it.
Grasping his hand firmly between her own she gave it a gentle squeeze in acknowledgement of his words and eased back onto the gurney to rest her back against the wall, stretching her legs out in front of her. The pain meds were starting to kick in and the all consuming pain of before settled into a dull aching throb that allowed her thoughts to refocus on the situation at hand.
"Where is everyone?" Sarah repeated the question of earlier, happy to distract herself and John from her injury.
"Cameron's gone to dump and burn the SUV that Derek stole. Charlie's gone back to work, he needed to check the ambulance back in and Derek's gone to get the truck left at the alley." With the reminder of the alley and the outcome of this morning's 'recon' John scowled in thought again.
"Derek filled me in on what happened."
Sarah ran her hand wearily through her hair and rubbed her face tiredly. It was a fuck up of major proportions and they all knew it.
"You should have let me come, or taken Cameron with you," John continued belligerently.
"We didn't know John. I didn't know. It all just happened so fast it was as if he was waiting for us," Sarah looked away in silent contemplation over this morning's events. It was an ambush and she had run straight into it without thought. "I'm glad you weren't there and I'm glad Cameron was with you. Me getting shot is a lot less worrying than you being dead."
"But you could have died mom! Charlie told me that if the bullet had just been a little bit higher it would've nicked your heart and then even he wouldn't have been able to do anything." John turned away at the painful words, his eyes glimmering with unshed tears. He may be the future leader of the resistance but at the moment he was just a boy and that boy still needed his mother.
"But it didn't John, it didn't. We can't play what if's, if we do we'll never get out of bed in the mornings," Sarah replied quietly as she gazed softly at her son, her demeanour softening at his obvious concern showing through for her. "All we can do is just take one day at a time and see what comes."
John quirked a small smile in reply but remained silent. There was nothing more he could say. They both knew that this was their life, that they had no other option but to try and survive so they could fight the machines. That was all the both of them could do really; survive and fight so that the world did not end in a rubble of fire and ash.
Sarah closed her eyes again and drifted off into a light slumber, her last waking thought turning to Cameron and the alarming comprehension of having missed the machines solid presence close by since she had awakened.
Startled awake by the sound of raised voices, Sarah struggled to wake herself fully from the clutches of sleep dragging at her consciousness. Moving painfully to the edge of the gurney, Sarah kicked the blankets off her body and tentatively stood up, clinging to the side for support as she floundered briefly. Finally certain that her feet would hold her Sarah moved slowly to the door, holding an arm to her bandaged wound.
"What's going on?" Sarah grunted in effort as she spotted Derek's angry face in the calm of Cameron's stoic facade; John standing to the side in silence as he watched the unfolding scene in front of him with trepidation.
Silence reigned as Derek stopped his ranting and turned to stare at the unexpected interruption. Leaning heavily against the door jamb for support her breathing coming out in short sharp pants; Sarah studied the assembled group quietly waiting for an answer. Suddenly as if propelled by an unseen force, Cameron and John moved towards her with surprise and alarm. Derek remained rooted to the spot with a fierce scowl on his face.
"Sarah, you should not be out of bed," Cameron stated firmly as she converged on Sarah first. With a swiftness that took Sarah by surprise, Cameron scooped her up into her arms with a tenderness that belied the machines strength and proceeded to carry her back into the room.
"Whoa, whoa, what do you think you're doing girlie?" Sarah was disturbed at the easy display of Cameron's strength, enforcing once again the true nature of the girl as she struggled weakly to free herself. "Let me down, I'm not an invalid. I can walk to the bed by myself!"
"That is inefficient and will take too long. You are still hurt and moving will only make it worse," Cameron replied firmly, clasping her hands tighter around Sarah's struggling form to keep the woman from falling.
"Cameron..." Sarah fell silent as the machine deposited her gently onto the gurney. Satisfied that Sarah was relatively comfortable, Cameron moved away immediately.
"Mom are you ok?"
Waving off John's concerns with an exasperated sigh, Sarah continued to study the machine next to her with silent regard. There was something...off about her. Cameron's stance was more stiffly pronounced than usual, more...robotic than the fluid grace she had come to associate with Cameron. Surprised and a little uncomfortable with her awareness of being so attuned to the machines presence, Sarah snorted in derision and focused her attention on John who was now hovering around her like a mother hen.
"I'm fine. Can everyone just stop fussing?" Irritated at her son's overly solicitous actions towards her and more rattled than she cared to admit about being in Cameron's arms, Sarah glared at him until he gave in and backed away hesitantly.
Satisfied that John was going to leave her alone for now, Sarah turned her attention to Derek who was glaring silently at Cameron by the door catching the purpling and mottled bruises forming around his neck. "Derek, what happened to your neck?"
"Why don't you ask the metal bitch?" Derek retorted as he gesticulated towards Cameron in anger.
"Cameron?" This time the sharpness in Sarah's voice was unmistakable as she directed her focus back onto Cameron.
On the outside the machine looked as unperturbed as ever by the stare directed at her, on the inside however Cameron felt a moment of doubt and uncertainty. She was not sorry that she had hurt Derek, Derek was nothing to her but she was sorry that Sarah was looking at her like she was just another machine.
Cameron didn't understand why this thought unsettled her so much but it did. Having Sarah think of her as just another machine in a long line of machines was doing weird things to her programming. She wanted to be...more in Sarah's eyes, but more what she did not know.
"Well?" Raising her eyebrow in impatience at the machine's continued silence Sarah could feel the beginnings of a major migraine just behind her eyes.
"He let you get hurt, get shot. If you had died, John would have been in danger and my mission is to protect John," Cameron finally answered with something that she thought Sarah would understand and not her true reactions to seeing Sarah hurt.
Sarah didn't know what to say, what the machine wanted from her behind those brown eyes. Sarah sensed there was something that the girl wasn't saying but she didn't have the energy to find out at the moment. "We'll talk about this later Cameron."
"That's it?! That's all you're going to say to that thing?! We'll talk about it later?!" Derek exclaimed incredulously as he waved a hand in the air in frustration."She nearly killed me!"
"If I had wanted you dead, you would be dead."
"Cameron..." Sarah began uncertainly but fell silent. It was true. If Cameron had wanted to kill Derek there was nothing any of them could do about it.
"I'm not sticking around for this crap." And with that Derek turned on his heels and stalked out of the room.
"Well, that went well," John drawled into the silence left by the soldiers' departure.
Feeling a bone weary tiredness suddenly descend on her with an inflexible force, Sarah closed her eyes briefly and rubbed her temples to soothe the ache. She was so sick of all of this. She had been doing this for sixteen years and it seemed like they were never going to win, never going to be rid of the spectre of judgement day. Sarah just wanted to lay her head down and never wake up, the promise of doing nothing, of not being anything, the greatest release she could think of right now.
"So what are we going to do now?" John's voice penetrated Sarah's macabre thoughts and she sighed. No matter how tired she was there was no escaping her reality. She could not just lie down quietly and let the machines win. It wasn't in her to just give up.
Steeling her resolve and summoning strength from deep within, Sarah turned bleary eyes towards John, dismissing the silent terminator for now. Dealing with John's question was a much easier and safer prospect than dealing with Cameron.
"Do we know anything about that terminator yet?"
"No, he's still out there somewhere. There's been no further news about sightings of any strange men wondering the city though." John walked over and offered the pain meds he had grabbed from his backpack once again to Sarah.
Eyeing the pills distastefully Sarah started to protest but then changed her mind. She was too damn tired to argue and if truth be told, the walk from earlier and Cameron's strange behaviour had taken a lot out of her. Maybe easing the pain wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.
"The house is safe. It hasn't been disturbed and there were no signs of any activity in and around the perimeter. We can go back tonight." Cameron added, slightly concerned that Sarah had taken the offered pills without protesting, it wasn't like the woman to acquiesce so easily.
"Fine, I've had enough of this gurney for one day anyway; the idea of my own bed is all I can think about for now. We'll discuss the situation tomorrow," Sarah sighed as she made to move but was once again taken by surprise as she felt Cameron's arms wrapping themselves around her back and under her legs. Her breath caught in her throat as the machine lifted her easily into her arms again.
"Cameron..." Sarah started to protest but then fell silent. What the hell. If the machine was determined to play nursemaid then she would let her...just this once, besides, she really was in pain. Tomorrow they would definitely have to have a heart to heart about personal boundaries, maybe at the short end of her 9mm but today, she would let the strange machine do her knight in shining metal routine.
Sighing softly Sarah wove her arms around Cameron's neck and placed her head on the strong shoulders, more than confused and disconcerted about how good it felt to be carried in Cameron's arms.
Cameron glanced down at the soft sigh and felt her features soften at the sight of a mellow and relaxed Sarah. It wasn't often she allowed anyone to coddle her; the fact that Sarah let Cameron do so was a gift that Cameron wanted to treasure in her memory banks.
Following quietly beside Cameron, John glanced over at the machine in consternation as he caught the unguarded look she bestowed on his mother.
"John, could you stay a minute?" Giving John a quick glance to make sure that he was staying, Sarah raised an eyebrow at the now silent machine standing to the side, Sarah's dismissal evident in the non verbal communication.
Cameron's features remained impassive as she bestowed one last impenetrable stare at Sarah before turning around and exiting the bedroom, closing the door softly behind her.
Feeling the tension leave her body as soon as Cameron closed the door behind her, Sarah let out a quick relieved breath. Cameron had continued her knight in shining metal routine as soon as they had returned home, getting out of the truck quickly and lifting Sarah into her arms again before Sarah could protest to deposit her gently onto her bed. Not wanting to admit that Cameron's presence was affecting her more than it should, Sarah turned her attention to John, a frown marring her pale features.
"What happened with Derek today?"
John fidgeted nervously at his mother's question as he avoided her gaze. He knew that she was not overly fond of Cameron and distrusted her as she distrusted all machines. Telling her what had happened today would only make her more wary around the girl.
"It's nothing mom...I handled it." John finally mumbled as Sarah's frown started to turn into a glare at his continued silence.
"John..." Sarah's voice was menacing as she caught John's nervous fidgeting, his palms rubbing up and down his thighs as he sat on the bed looking at everything but Sarah.
"Mom...I said I handled it!" John's voice was belligerent this time as he stood up suddenly, arms crossed over his chest in defiance to glare down at Sarah propped up on her bed.
"That's not what I asked John. What the hell happened?" Sarah's patience was running thin. If Cameron was a threat, she needed to know.
"Fine. Cameron got upset that you were hurt and she took it out on Derek. Happy now?" John ground out through clenched teeth, upset that she would not just leave it alone.
"No, I'm not happy John, how can I be happy if Cameron could possibly be...malfunctioning?" Sarah bit out as her insides started to quiver at the idea, her expression solemn.
Walking over swiftly to kneel on the floor beside the bed, John clutched Sarah's arm urgently.
"She's not! She's not malfunctioning!" John was alarmed that his mother would even think that as his defiance drained out of him at Sarah's thoughts.
"How do you know John? She tried to kill Derek." Sarah turned to give him an implacable stare as she felt his desperation for Cameron's well being.
"She did it for you!" John was nearly shouting this time. He knew that Sarah would have no hesitation in terminating Cameron if she felt that Cameron was a danger to him.
"Wha...what?" Startled at the words, Sarah could only stare at John in confusion and horror.
"Cameron, she was...she was upset...that Derek hadn't protected you...hadn't stopped you from getting hurt." John's voice was quiet now as his eyes pleaded with his mother to understand.
Sarah's thoughts were in turmoil. Cameron had tried to kill Derek because of his failure to protect her? That was absurd. Why would Cameron even care that she was hurt? John Connor was her mission, not Sarah Connor.
"You didn't see her mom...she was really...upset. It was like...seeing you on that table just made her...snap or something. She really cares about you."
Sarah remained silent as she shook her head wearily, trying to organise her chaotic thoughts over John's confession.
"Why would she...?" Sarah's voice faltered, the question dying on her breath as her uneasiness of earlier returned with full force. This was not something that she could deal with right now, not when she was already weak and hurting. Cameron...caring...about her was too...something...something that Sarah did not even want to contemplate.
"We'll talk about this another time John." Pinning John with another impenetrable stare, Sarah released her arm from his grip and closed her eyes.
"So you're not going to...terminate her?" John's voice was hesitant as he stood up slowly, his eyes never moving from Sarah's closed expression.
Rubbing her eyes tiredly, Sarah could only shake her head slowly in the negative. Cameron would have to wait, she could not deal with Cameron when she was feeling too confused, her thoughts a maelstrom of unanswered questions, questions that she probably didn't even want the answers to anyway.
Cameron had a decidedly strong sense of déjà vu as she found herself standing outside Sarah's bedroom door once more; this time however it wasn't the middle of the night and she was carrying a tray of food. Knocking gently, Cameron reached for the door knob and entered the bedroom; noticing the pale morning light eking its way in through the partly closed curtains. Placing the tray carefully on the nightstand, Cameron paused in her actions and looked down inquisitively at a still sleeping Sarah.
Sarah asleep was a new revelation to the machine. She had never had the opportunity to study the woman this close and this new facet of her discovery about Sarah fascinated her. Asleep, Sarah looked less formidable, less fierce and less guarded than she usually was. For a woman of her age, Cameron was aware that Sarah was aesthetically pleasing to the eye and that she kept her body in great shape. But she never really gave it any conscious thought. Watching Sarah now however, that was the only thought she had.
"Shit! Stop doing that!" Sarah yelped as her eyes flew open in surprise at seeing Cameron towering over her, her hand reaching for the gun under her pillow automatically.
"Doing what?" Cameron stood perfectly still, head tilted to the side.
"Sneaking up on me!"
Sarah released the grip on the butt of her gun and sat up, struggling to unravel the twisted blankets around her body at the same time. Cameron looked on in silence, finally leaning in to help as Sarah tried vainly to stack her pillows behind her back. Cameron didn't think this was a good time to correct Sarah and let her know that this could hardly be called sneaking if she was still asleep at the time.
Taking note of the wound on her side, Sarah was pleased to discover that the pain wasn't as mind numbing as yesterday. It was still tender and she could definitely use some more pain meds but all in all, it wasn't too bad and she could manage. Now leaning comfortably against the piled pillows Sarah proffered a scowl to the machine standing silently watching her.
"Why are you in my room anyway?"
"I brought you breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day is it not?" Cameron enquired in confusion.
"Um yes but..." Sighing plaintively Sarah gave in and rolled her eyes at Cameron's expression. Making the girl understand something as basic as social conventions and personal boundaries was something that Sarah did not feel like tackling first thing this morning.
"I have also brought bandages and your pills." Cameron picked up the discarded tray on the nightstand and placed it firmly but gently onto Sarah's lap.
Sarah looked down at the tray in surprise, finally smelling the enticing aroma of coffee and food. Glancing at the plate of scrambled eggs and toast, Sarah looked up towards the machine again this time with an expression of amazement.
"You can cook?"
"I am capable of making rudimentary meals for survival. I am a cybernetic organism designed..."
"...to infiltrate the human race...yada, yada, yada. I know Cameron." Sarah interrupted in an aggrieved tone before the machine could finish. "Why didn't you tell me you could cook? I would've had you on cooking duty by now."
Catching the amused smirk on Sarah's face Cameron felt herself relaxing slightly, glad that Sarah was not going to cause her harm. Cameron didn't want Sarah to do more damage to herself in her current state.
"When you have finished I will help you with your dressing, it needs changing."
"Why are you doing this Cameron?" Sarah enquired softly as she took a sip of her coffee, pushing away the uncomfortable thought that she should be more upset at finding the machine watching her in her sleep than she actually was.
"I...you are hurt and require help. It...is better for the mission if you are healed quickly, " Cameron replied hesitantly, confused by her own actions and Sarah's direct questioning of her motives.
"But John can do that."
"John cannot cook."
Sarah gave a bark of laughter at Cameron's obvious displeasure at her words and suggestion that John could take better care of her than she could. It was almost...cute.
"No, I suppose he can't at that," Sarah finally quipped as her laughter subsided, shoving away the feeling of unease again as it registered that she had just labelled a terminator with the word cute.
Sarah picked up her fork and proceeded to eat, an almost comfortable silence falling in the bedroom as Cameron stood waiting patiently by the side of the bed watching. Sarah felt that she should be more wigged out that Cameron was staring at her so resolutely, but for some surprising reason, she wasn't. It felt...comfortable, familiar, like something that the both of them had been doing for a while now.
"Ok, so what now girlie since you seem to be running the show this morning?" Sarah placed her fork down on the plate and raised an expectant brow at the machine. Sarah didn't know why she was humouring Cameron like this but it felt...not too terrible, besides she was amused in a morbid sort of way to see how far the machine was going to go with this.
"You have not taken your pain medication. Charlie said that you were supposed to take them every 4 hours. It has now been 9.5 hours and 53 seconds since you had some last night," Cameron returned seriously, as she looked expectantly towards the pills in question.
"I don't want to take them. They make me feel woozy and sleepy," Sarah whined softly.
"It will make you feel better and aid in the healing process." Cameron's expression hardened, readying as if to do battle with another terminator in her midst.
Sarah sighed and reluctantly picked up the pills and placed them in her mouth knowing that arguing with Cameron would be pointless, it was far better to pick her battles anyway. Sarah swallowed the pills in an overly exaggerated manner for effect and then opened her mouth for the machine to inspect. She knew she was being childish but she really did hate the damn pills and Cameron being all...Cameron was now starting to grate on her nerves. Screwing up her nose Sarah leaned back against the pillows again, arms folded across her chest defensively.
"We need to change your dressing." Cameron ignored the defiant woman in front of her and moved closer to remove the tray from Sarah's lap. "It would probably be best that you stand up as I will need full access to your body."
Sarah shivered slightly at Cameron's innocent words as she got up from the bed to stand beside it. Full access to her body was something that Sarah really did not want to think about right now, especially in the confines of her bedroom.
"You will need to remove your shirt Sarah, I cannot access the dressing properly otherwise. I will help."
"Whoa there girlie, I can do it myself," Sarah retorted sharply as the machine moved closer, her arms outstretched to the front of Sarah's pyjama top as if to remove it.
Cameron remained silent but stepped back and waited patiently for the article of clothing to be removed. Sarah cursed herself inwardly as she suddenly found herself in a very awkward situation, hyper aware of Cameron standing far too close for her own comfort. Taking in a deep breath to steady her frayed nerves, Sarah dropped the pyjama top onto her bed to finally stand in front of the machine with only her bra and pyjama pants on; a white bandage wrapped tightly around her torso.
"Are you in pain Sarah?" Cameron observed as she bent towards the bandage and started unwrapping it, noticing Sarah's raised flesh where her hands made contact.
"Just get this over with," Sarah replied through clenched teeth as she tried to ignore the sensations of Cameron's warm hands touching her body.
"The scar will heal well," Cameron murmured softly as she traced her fingers delicately over the unwrapped wound, staring in fascination at the reaction that that caused on Sarah's body.
"Cameron..." Sarah ground out warningly clasping the machines hand tightly to stop her wandering fingers.
Cameron looked up at Sarah's warning tone, her other hand now absently stroking Sarah's right side - to suddenly find herself mesmerised by intense green staring back at her.
"Sarah...I..." Suddenly at a loss for words the machine fell silent, uncertainty and something else marring her delicate features.
Sarah froze as she stood staring into Cameron's golden brown eyes lost in the child like wonder staring back at her. She felt a sudden rush of adrenaline course through her veins making her blood boil with liquid fire as her breathing caught in her throat.
Cameron straightened without realising placing both hands around Sarah's waist lightly to stand an inch apart from the other woman, still locked in Sarah's gaze. Time stopped and the tension in the room became an almost physical touch, wrapping itself around the both of them like a fine layer of mist.
Lost in the moment and responding to a pull that she was entirely unaware of, Sarah closed the distance between them, leaning her head forward...
"Mom? You up yet?"
John's soft voice filtered through the haze clouding Sarah's foggy mind with a sudden illuminating clarity which shocked her into awareness. Wrenching herself away from Cameron forcefully Sarah stood staring at the girl in consternation as she wove a shaky hand through her hair.
"Mom?" A persistent knocking followed the word this time.
"I'm...I'm up. Be out in a sec," Sarah shouted out croakily as she continued to stare at the machine in front of her, horrified for a minute that John was going to enter her room.
A silent pause; then the fading sound of footsteps moving down the hall signalled John's retreat. Sarah breathed out a sigh of relief as she stepped away slightly from the bed, wrapping her arms tightly against her torso as if to ward off a nasty chill.
"I've got this," Sarah ground out, looking everywhere but at Cameron.
"But I still have to wrap your wound," Cameron protested hesitantly, moving as if to step forward.
"Get out Cameron, I mean it. Tell John to come and help me," Sarah returned harshly warning the machine to not come any closer with a single glare.
Whatever this was, whatever emotions were running havoc through her body Sarah desperately needed space. The overwhelming need to reach out for the girl, to touch her and to hold her tightly was warring with the feelings of anxiety coursing through her body. It was too warm in the room, too suffocating, too everything with Cameron standing there in close proximity.
Cameron hesitated, her indecision showing plainly on her face watching Sarah with an incomprehensible stare. Finally, after a tense filled heartbeat Cameron turned and left the bedroom, closing the door behind her with a resounding click.
At the sound of the door closing, Sarah finally gave in to her overwhelming emotions and walked over to the bed to drop in a crumpled heap. Oh God, what was happening to her?
Cameron was lost in a world of confused sensations. She had no prior experience to what she was feeling, no programming she could recall to tell her what to do. All she knew at the moment was that she had wanted Sarah earlier. Had wanted to feel the length of Sarah pressed intimately against her own, had wanted to feel and taste Sarah's warm lips on hers.
Cameron paused in her thinking and froze as the thought finally registered. But she should not want that. Wanting Sarah had nothing to do with her mission and yet, denying all logic it had everything to do with it. For some unfathomable reason, having Sarah want her, need her was of paramount importance to her.
Before future-John had sent her back to the past to protect him he had alluded to the fact that she was not just a product of her programming directives, that she could be more than what she was. At the time Cameron had looked at him in uncertainty and confusion, not understanding what he was saying. How could she, a machine, be more than the sum of her parts? She was built, she was programmed and she did as her programming wanted. Free will and growth was a human trait, not something that Skynet would program into a terminator. But John had persisted gently, only stating that she had to trust him, that he had seen her code and her past and what was in both made him certain of what he was saying. So she had let it go, marked it down to John being human and making no sense as all humans were prone to.
What she had found interesting however was the stories John used to tell her about his mother; about the woman who had fought on a daily basis to change his destiny, to change the fate of mankind and their own destruction. But Cameron had found it hard to reconcile his stories with the picture of the woman he had shown her. No fragile human could be everything that he was telling her, it was impossible. So when she was sent back, Cameron was more than eager to meet the woman behind the legend, eager to see if the Sarah Connor of John's stories fit the image of the Sarah Connor she had carried around in her head.
And now that Cameron had met the real Sarah Connor, she was coming to realise that Sarah was all that and more. Sarah was real, she was hard, she was driven, and she was the greatest warrior to ever live but ultimately Sarah was also love. Her love for her son, her love for humanity, all of what made Sarah Sarah was more than anything John could retell or Cameron could imagine. Like a proverbial light bulb going off in her head, Cameron finally had an inkling as to why she had always been so captured with John's stories. Sarah was the woman that she had always wanted, even before she knew what want was.
Was this what future-John had meant when he had said she was more than her programming directives? Sarah had once said there was no fate but what we make, so if that was true, could Cameron really choose her own fate? Glancing through the kitchen window Cameron caught Sarah's brief stare, an uneasiness settling on her shoulders as the woman turned away.
"What are you doing?" Sarah enquired as she stepped into the kitchen slowly, walking carefully so she would not jar the wound on her side too much.
"Watching Cameron." John turned around from staring out the kitchen window and gave his mother a suspicious look.
"What did you do to her?"
Sarah stiffened slightly at the accusation in John's voice but remained silent waiting for him to continue.
"I mean, she's just standing there on the porch staring into nothing." John sighed wearily and sat down at the kitchen table. He knew something was going on between his mother and Cameron but he didn't know what. When Cameron had come to tell him that his mother needed his help this morning he had been disturbed at the tone of her voice. Although her features had remained in its passive blandness he knew that there was something going on with her.
"Did you yell at her again?"
Sarah stifled hysterical laughter at the question. What could she say that wouldn't make John run screaming out of the house and to the nearest psychiatrist? How could she tell her son that she had wanted a machine and if truth be told, still wanted? He would get her committed back into the loony bin faster than she could say judgement day and this time she would happily stay there too.
"Why do you always assume that it's my fault?" Sarah quipped lightly, hiding her face from his scrutiny. "I mean, she is a machine John, it's not like we know what's going through her head."
But as soon as the words came out of her mouth, Sarah frowned in slight annoyance. The words had felt wrong, false somehow. Shrugging off her discomfort, Sarah turned to face John, masking her face into a blankness that her insides were not feeling.
"No Mom, she's not. She's evolving, growing. She's becoming more than just her programming. I...think...she's becoming sentient," John replied firmly, upset at her simple characterisation of Cameron.
Startled at the confession Sarah didn't know what to say. Cameron...sentient was something that she did not want to think about. Not now, not yet...if ever. It opened too many paths, raised too many questions that she didn't think her conscious could deal with right now.
"I don't know what's going on with you and Cameron and quite honestly I really don't want to know but you've got to figure it out mom. You've got to make things right," John continued relentlessly unaware of his mother's inner turmoil.
Startled once again at John's words, a quick denial forming on her lips, Sarah opened her mouth then closed it again as she gazed out the window to fix her eyes on the still and silent form outside.
"Fine, I'll play nicely with her, ok?" Sarah rolled her eyes at John in an attempt to lighten the mood. He didn't need to know what was going on with her, it wasn't like their lives weren't complicated enough as it was.
"Now, since you're not going to school today why don't you make yourself useful and see if you can find anything with that laptop of yours. We still don't know what that terminator's doing here and where he's hiding."
Satisfied that John was willing to drop the touchy subject of her and Cameron for the time being, Sarah made her way to the coffee machine, giving Cameron another troubled glance out of the corner of her eyes. Whatever had...nearly...happened in her room with Cameron this morning, Sarah was not yet ready to deal with...if ever. Rubbing her eyes wearily, Sarah was sure that the pounding in her temple was keeping in sync with the slight ache pulsing from her wound.
Feeling a sense of guilt at her actions towards Cameron, Sarah stifled another sigh. If Cameron was becoming...sentient, Sarah pushed that thought away, she didn't want to think what that would mean, could mean. She had other concerns to worry about at the moment; Cameron and her own confused emotions would just have to wait for later.
"What did you end up telling the school about our sudden departure yesterday anyway?" John looked at his mother briefly before grabbing the laptop from the other side of the kitchen table and booting it up.
"Oh, we had a tragic family accident, your grandmother passed away unexpectedly. That'll give us an indeterminate amount of time for you and Cameron to recover." Her fingers going into air quotes at the word recover.
Giving Cameron one last worried glance and catching the girls eyes in the process, Sarah hesitated briefly before hardening her expression and ruthlessly turning away. Going to sit next to John at the table Sarah cupped her coffee mug firmly in her grasp, trying to push away any thoughts in regards to Cameron. Terminators, judgement day, death; those were the things she should be concerned about, not the 'machine who could' standing outside and wrecking havoc on her emotional barriers.
"You have not taken your pills Sarah." The voice was firm, determined as Cameron stepped up behind Sarah's sitting form on the porch steps moving around to stand in front of the woman, arm outstretched with two white pills resting in her palm, a bottle of water in the other.
Sarah quirked an annoyed eyebrow at the girl as she took in her determined features, Cameron's bland expression contradictory to the stiffness in her form.
"How do you know? Have you been counting them?" Rolling her eyes at the girl, Sarah turned away to stare out into the backyard, hoping that Cameron would take the hint and leave.
Ignoring Sarah's sarcastic response, Cameron continued to remain still in her pose as she waited for Sarah to take the pills.
Feeling Cameron's determined gaze still on her, Sarah turned back around and sighed in resignation. "I guess you're just gonna stand there until I do huh?" Taking the pills and the water bottle reluctantly, Sarah avoided Cameron's vivid gaze as she was suddenly assaulted by the feelings from the incident in her bedroom yesterday morning.
Popping the pills into her mouth and then chasing it down with a gulp of water, Sarah stiffened as Cameron came to sit down next to her, the girls warm thigh brushing against her own intimately as Cameron settled herself primly, hands on her knees staring out in front of her blankly.
"Why are you doing this Cameron?" Sarah suddenly blurted, her confusion making her mouth open before her brain could warn her that she was delving into dangerous territory as she tried to ignore the warm tingling sensation from where Cameron's thigh touched hers. Placing the water bottle down beside her, Sarah clasped her knees to her chest placing her chin on top, as she willed her body to settle and tried to move away from Cameron as far as possible on the crowded step.
"I...I do not...know." The reply was hesitant, unsure.
Sarah stiffened again in alarm at the honesty, having expected Cameron to reply something along the vein of doing her mission. Turning her head slightly to catch Cameron's confused expression; Sarah could only feel the tension in her body rising. Not knowing what to say to the honest admittance, Sarah fell silent, turning away to watch the twinkling stars in the distance.
"Future-John told me stories about...Sarah Connor."
"Oh?" Startled at the softly spoken words, Sarah turned confusing eyes onto Cameron, watching silently as the girl's expression remained bland wondering where she was going to go with this conversation starter.
"I...did not believe his stories." Cameron's expression shifted, her eyes becoming intense as she turned a wondering gaze onto Sarah. "Until...I met you."
Feeling uncomfortable at the barely concealed awe in the girl's expression and the press of Cameron's warm body against her side as Cameron moved closer, Sarah shifted uncomfortably, the tension in her body rising again.
"Cameron..." Faltering slightly Sarah fell silent, not sure what the girl wanted her to say, "What are you trying to say? Why are you telling me this?"
"I..." Cameron fell silent, her confusion now clearly evident on her face as she placed a hand uncertainly on Sarah's thigh. "Sarah...yesterday..."
Sarah's body tensed in reaction to the touch and the words, the warmth of the hand spreading all over her body in alarming speed as tingling sensations travelled up and down her thigh. She could not do this, could not have this conversation with Cameron when she wasn't even sure what the hell kind of conversation she wanted to have.
"Okay...that's enough chit chat for one night. I'm going to bed." Standing up jerkily, Sarah ran a shaky hand through her hair wearily, cursing her body's reaction to the metal girl sitting beside her.
"Sarah..." Cameron's voice had a desperate tinge to it as she stood up as well, grabbing a hold of Sarah's arm to stop her from leaving.
Looking down at Cameron's hand on her arm from the top step, Sarah could only frown in consternation, her desire to leave warring with her desire to stay.
Loosening the hold on her arm, Sarah turned and walked back into the house feeling Cameron's silent stare as she forced her legs to listen to her brains command to keep on walking and not turn back.
"You should not be doing exercise Sarah; you will only pull your stitches." Cameron's tone was firm with a touch of exasperation as she walked down the porch steps to stand in front of the woman sitting on the back lawn.
Ignoring Cameron's disapproving form standing in front of her, Sarah continued her light stretching, feeling the muscles on her side protesting at the movement. Muffling the soft groan that she knew Cameron would hear, Sarah stretched out both her legs and bent forward to touch her toes. After walking away from Cameron and a restless night of no sleep, Sarah was edgy and cranky. She was not in the mood to deal with Cameron and her persistent presence wishing that the girl would just leave her alone already.
"What do you want Cameron?" Sarah finally grumbled peevishly as Cameron continued to stand looking down at her with a frown on her face.
Cameron's face was a mix of annoyance and worried frown as she caught Sarah's muffled groan. Knowing the stubborn woman would not admit to any kind of pain, Cameron opened her palm and offered the white pills silently, her stance not allowing Sarah to refuse.
"For God's sakes Cameron!" Sarah's patience was at its limit with the girl and her annoying habit of hovering around her and treating her like an invalid.
Jumping to her feet quickly to berate the girl, Sarah felt the wound on her side rear its ugly head at the movement and stumbled, feeling the pain coursing through her body as she let out a groan. Feeling warm arms suddenly around her back and waist and a warm body along the length of her right side, Sarah could only close her eyes at the contact as a wave of baffling emotions spread with alarming speed through her body.
Holding tightly onto Sarah as soon as she saw the woman stumble, Cameron was again awash in confused sensations. Feeling the warmth of Sarah's stomach through her thin t-shirt Cameron began to subconsciously trace soothing patterns as Sarah steadied herself, Cameron's other arm bracing Sarah behind her back.
"I'm okay Cameron, you can...you can...let go now." Sarah brushed off Cameron's arms as she stepped haltingly away, the pain of her wound being overtaken with the feelings coursing through her body at Cameron's innocent touch.
Sarah's breathing was coming out in short gasps, whether from the pain or the contact of Cameron along her body, Sarah didn't really know. Once again cursing her body's reactions to the metal girl, Sarah could only stare at Cameron in silent bemusement.
"You are hurt; I will carry you back to bed." Cameron made to move forward, her expression part confusion and annoyed irritation at Sarah's continual refusal of her help.
"Stop it Cameron!" Sarah held her hand up in warning, her face turning into a scowl as Cameron moved closer, ready to put action to her words.
"Sarah why will you not let me help you?"
"Cameron! I...am...fine...leave it alone!" Sarah replied through clenched teeth definitely at the end of her patience. She had no idea what was happening to her but Cameron touching her body was making her stomach do wild flips jarring her already sensitive nerve endings.
Cameron fell silent but the expression on her face spoke volumes, she was not pleased at Sarah's continual stubbornness. Approximating as close to a sigh as she could possibly get, Cameron extended out her arm again, proffering the white pills as before in her palm.
Sarah could only close her eyes in frustration, Cameron's refusal to leave her alone starting to cause a thumping ache behind her eyes.
"I don't want..." Sarah began firmly, her annoyance levels reaching an all time high as she clenched her teeth in suppressed anger. Rubbing her eyes wearily Sarah counted to ten in her head, hoping that her anger would subside before she decided to shoot Cameron in the head just to get some peace.
Opening her eyes to stare at the girl, Sarah saw the steely determination in Cameron's eyes and sighed in resignation, "Oh for...fine, just give me those damn things." Giving in seemed to be a quicker option than dealing with Cameron's persistence and the headache that she was now sporting would definitely benefit from the pain meds.
Picking the pills up lightly with the tip of her fingers with as little contact to Cameron's skin as possible, Sarah popped them into her mouth.
"You do realise that this could be classified as stalking right?" Sarah continued as she glared at Cameron in annoyance swallowing the pills dry.
"Stalking: to pursue or approach prey, quarry, stealthily. To proceed in a steady, deliberate, or sinister manner." Cameron recited as she tilted her head inquisitively. "You are not my prey or my quarry Sarah and I am not being sinister, so I do not think I am stalking you?"
Sarah could only close her eyes in surrender giving a bark of mirthless laughter that verged on the edge of a hysterical breakdown at Cameron's words and thoughtful face. Shaking her head in weary disbelief Sarah could only silently stare at the inquisitive look on Cameron's face before turning and stalking back into the house. The effect of Sarah's annoyance was lost however as she reached down to clutch her side tightly in an effort to stop the flashing pain shooting up and down her body.
Cameron could only look on in consternation as Sarah walked away again, her expression set into a rigid frown. Not knowing or understanding why her systems were reacting in a wild flurry to Sarah's body pressed against hers, Cameron could only clench her fists in frustration. Sarah Connor and her reactions to Sarah Connor were completely bewildering and Cameron had no experience in processing either.
"Mom, you have to see this!" Running to the door of his room John stuck his head out quickly and then went back to his laptop again, scrolling through the website he was looking at in concern.
"John, what's wrong?" Sarah came barging into his room looking ready to do battle with a dozen terminators.
John glanced towards his mother, startled at her appearance. Her face was set in a panicked grimace which was so incongruous to what she was actually wearing; boxers and a tank top, that he had to turn away to hide his grin. She would not be pleased if she found him laughing at her.
Clearing his expression of his brief amusement he pinned her with a concerned stare and swivelled the laptop around to face her pushing play at the same time.
"In other news today, Thaxxon Systems, a start-up venture developed at Metro Institute of Technology, was one of six finalists in MIT's $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. The contest annually awards $100,000 to an outstanding MIT student-generated business plan.
Thaxxon Systems is the joint work of graduate students Bill Plant, Matt Grain, and Hal Lets, and Professors Steve Fallows and Mitch Wilcock. The venture offers a way to save time and money in the A.I field of advanced robotics allowing staff to automate repetitive tasks and then based on those tasks the A.I can provide simulations and different scenarios to improve the output of production."
Sarah's face hardened at the words of the news reporter as she drowned out the rest of the report. More people playing with something that they couldn't fully understand and would never fully control.
"Find out where that place is, we need to pay it a visit."
"Do we? It seems to be pretty simple at the moment, hardly what I would call anything advanced in the field of A.I mom," John replied as the video segment came to a close, eyeing his mother apprehensively.
"Sarah is right John. We should go; one of the names mentioned was on the list from the resistance safe house."
Both sets of eyes swivelled to John's doorway, seeing the machine standing there in silent regard, face expressionless, eyes boring holes into Sarah's own.
Sarah groaned silently at seeing the girl standing there, head tilted waiting for Sarah's verdict. Breaking the eye contact Sarah sat down on John's bed, her face in her hands as she processed Cameron's words. Since her encounter with Cameron this morning, Sarah had stayed hidden in her room, feeling her body finally relax without the constant presence of Cameron nagging at her peripheral vision.
Sarah knew she was being ridiculous in avoiding Cameron but for own peace of mind it was better for her sensibilities that she just ignored the girl. Sarah knew that she had to deal with the reality of what Cameron was becoming, but she needed time; to process, to understand. Cameron hovering around her was not helping matters and the wild fluttering in her stomach every time she saw Cameron was also not helping her thoughts either.
Feeling herself getting lost in her thoughts, the ideas and words bouncing around in circles, Sarah shook her head to dispel the confusion and stood up, glancing to John, ignoring Cameron's presence altogether.
"Find the address John, I want to leave as soon as I can."
"You're not going on your own?!" John exclaimed incredulously eyes wide as he took in the singular word.
Sarah turned away, her expression now as blank and hard as Cameron's standing by the door. Walking towards the machine Sarah gave her a brief glance then sidled out, brushing past Cameron as she made no gesture to move out of the way.
"No arguments John, I can't leave you here on your own."
Hearing footsteps scrambling to follow her, Sarah cursed. Of course it wasn't going to be that easy, it never was. Just once in her life, she would like it if the one person she was supposed to be protecting would just go along with her wishes and the one...machine...that was supposed to help her protect that person would just do as she was told.
"Mom...you can't go on your own. You need back up; you don't know what will happen!" John came storming in; face grim to stand in front of Sarah, arms crossed over his chest defiantly.
Sarah looked over towards her son and sighed in annoyance and exasperation. Steeling her resolve to commence with another battle of wills she glanced over at Cameron who had appeared silently to stand next to John, the stiffness and disapproval radiating off her in waves.
"Why does everyone feel the necessary need to always argue with my decisions? Am I not speaking loudly or clearly enough? Are the words not being enunciated properly?" Sarah pinned them with a glare.
"Because you don't make any sense," Cameron returned blandly. "You are being reckless and illogical."
John gave Cameron an amused look as the machine appeared unperturbed by Sarah's ire towards them, wondering not for the first time if his mother had finally met her match. Knowing that she would not be amused in being compared to Cameron right now, he stifled his amusement and prepared to watch the show.
"I am not for you to understand." The words reverberating around the now silent room in an echo of a previous conversation with the machine.
"How many times do I have to have this argument? John cannot be left unprotected, that is your mission isn't it Cameron? To protect John?"
John made to protest over his mother's words, he was hardly a little boy that couldn't be left on his own but Cameron interjected before he could raise his voice.
"Derek can come over."
Sarah remained silent evaluating the words in the tense room. "We haven't seen him in four days, what makes you so sure that he'll answer his phone?"
Cameron's stance relaxed marginally at Sarah's consideration of her proposal. If Sarah was willing to listen, then the battle was already half won.
"Derek will come if it's for John."
Sarah mused on that statement silently, flicking glances between John and Cameron. They were both right of course but the idea of spending time with the girl made her decidedly uneasy. Questions of self and sentient entities aside, Sarah accepted she was physically attracted to the girl, had been since her sudden appearance in their lives. But at the time of her realisation she had acknowledged and dismissed the thought in the same heartbeat it had occurred. Cameron was a machine so the acknowledgement had died a natural death...but now however...
Squashing her overwhelming desire to just curl up and cry, Sarah walked over to the closet, pulling out clothes and a duffel bag, distracting herself with the need to move, to be doing something instead of dwelling on Cameron's silent form and her own never ending circle of insane thoughts.
"Derek can come with me then, you can stay here with John," Sarah replied with a muffled voice as she pulled a sweatshirt over her head and shucked on a pair of jeans, stifling the soft groan as the stitches on her wound pulled slightly.
John glanced over towards Cameron again noticing the tightening of her frame and the clenching of her fists by her side as she absorbed his mother's words. Oh, this was definitely going to be good.
"No." The tone was firm, immovable and hard like the coltan endoskeleton existing under Cameron's flesh.
Sarah whipped her head around at the word, her face inscrutable.
"No?" The reply delivered in a deceptively calm and quiet voice belying the tenseness in Sarah's frame.
"John, see if you can get a hold of Derek. I need to have some words with the Tin Miss here."
John looked warily at Sarah, then towards Cameron, both refusing to back down with each other.
"Now John," Sarah commanded through clenched teeth and turned to glare at him.
Nodding his head in resignation at the dismissal and the 'mom' tone, John turned and left the room, closing the door silently behind him. Whatever happened, he just hoped that his mother would leave Cameron in one piece at least; they really did need her after all.
"Now Cameron, what did you say?" Sarah turned her gaze onto the machine again once the door had closed behind John, her face taut with controlled anger.
"I said no, did you not hear me Sarah?" Cameron knew she was baiting the woman, could see that Sarah knew it too with the imperceptible stiffening of her shoulders. Whatever thoughts Sarah had of her, whatever her own thoughts on her evolving awareness, she was not a puppet, she was not Sarah's pet to do as told and then discarded without another thought, especially when it involved the woman's safety.
"I'm not arguing with you, you will do as I say and that's final," Sarah bit out, refusing to acknowledge Cameron's baiting, or even the fact that Cameron had been able to comprehend the notion of baiting.
"I do not follow your orders Sarah," Cameron reminded, standing still and immovable as a statue watching the woman in front of her intently. "I am not John."
"For fucks sake Cameron, I don't have time for this. Just do as I say and we will discuss this later," Sarah exploded in frustrated anger, rubbing her eyes wearily.
Sarah was beginning to despise that word as she continued to stare at the hardened features of the machine in front of her. And that's what she was at the moment, a machine; Cameron's expression devoid of all emotion as she returned Sarah's glare with one of her own blank ones.
Sarah forced herself to relax, to allow the anger to drain from her as she recognised Cameron's stubbornness in front of her own iron will. Fine, if the girl wasn't going to follow orders then maybe she would see reason.
Cameron tilted her head at the unexpected question, taking in Sarah's change in demeanour suspiciously.
"You are still recovering. Derek did not protect you sufficiently last time. If you receive more damage the results may be fatal," Cameron's tone was clipped, precise, as if not wanting to reveal how much that idea did not appeal to her.
"So this is what it's all about? My safety? Not John's?!" Sarah exclaimed incredulously flinging her hands up in the air for effect.
"John's safety relies on your safety." Cameron remained unfazed wondering why Sarah did not understand such a simple concept. It was logical. For John to remain safe, Sarah had to remain safe. She was just doing her mission and that was all.
Sarah was flummoxed. Arguing with a machine that defined her own logical processes was beginning to wear down her resolve, battling at her carefully constructed walls. Life was so much simpler when it was just her and a young John. Stop Skynet, teach John. That was all she had to concern herself with. Now, everything was changing.
She had an ex-resistance soldier who was possibly suffering from an acute case of traumatic stress disorder, a machine sent from the future evolving into God only knew what, her own confused mixed up emotions with that idea and to top it off, a sometimes surly teenage boy who was trying to become a man by asserting his independence over his mother; never mind the killing machines and the race to stop judgement day.
How terrific was her life...really?
"Cameron..." Sarah rubbed her face in aggravation and then suddenly, gave up, the fight rushing out of her like a torrent of gushing water. "Fine, do what you will, you always do anyway."
With a resigned sigh Sarah turned away, defeat evident in the stoop of her shoulders as she walked out of her room, the forgotten duffel bag in her hand, resolutely ignoring the silent girl watching her exit intently.
Driving along the deserted road, Sarah ignored the awareness of being watched and gritted her teeth in silent exasperation. They had been driving for about an hour now and with every minute that she had pointedly ignored acknowledging Cameron's stare, the tension had ratcheted up in leaps and bounds in the stillness of the truck. Her mouth and teeth numb from the effort of remaining silent was starting to take its toll on her pounding head and rigid shoulders but she refused to give in.
It was childish yes, but it was also deeply satisfying to feel like she was in control of something finally; she felt like sticking her tongue out at the girl just for the snarky effect. God, she was losing her mind. Wanting to taunt and goad a terminator just for the fun of it.
With a definite aggrieved sigh that Sarah could hear loud and clear in the tense silence, Cameron finally looked away to focus on the passing night through her side window. If Sarah wasn't so frustrated she'd be smiling at the absurd sound from a highly efficient killing machine who was instead acting like a surly teenager.
"You don't make any sense."
Sarah clamped down on her usual automatic response to Cameron at the words; she wasn't for the girl to understand.
After the tense argument with Cameron earlier Sarah had given her a wide berth, too tired and too pissed off to say anything further, fuming in churlish silence at the kitchen table. Once Derek had finally turned up, Sarah had grabbed the duffel bag full of weapons and explosives and stomped her way to the truck, not really caring whether Cameron was following in her wake or not.
"None of your actions make sense," Cameron continued, unperturbed that Sarah was resolutely ignoring her. "When you should be doing one thing, you do something else instead. You..."
"Not everyone can turn their emotions off and on Tin Miss," Sarah finally retorted her patience running thin at the girl's criticisms, knuckles whitening on the steering wheel.
Turning to watch Sarah's profile in the pale moonlight shining down through the windshield, Cameron fell silent absorbing the words as if they imparted great mystical knowledge.
"I may do illogical things to you, but to me that's what I call being human. Whether we like it or not we're ruled by our emotions, of course that would make no sense to a machine such as you."
As soon as the words had left her mouth Sarah knew she had gone too far evidenced by the tightening of Cameron's features and her rigid glare out the window again. Shit! Why did having a conversation with Cameron always make her feel like shit? What was it about the girl that could drive her insane one minute and then deeply guilty and apologetic the next?
"You think I am a freak...a thing."
The words were so soft, so quiet Sarah had to strain her ears just to catch them even in the deafening silence. She sighed deeply and her features softened as she turned her head towards Cameron briefly, finally acknowledging her presence properly.
"I...I don't think you're a freak...or...a thing," Sarah finally spoke, hesitantly, softly, turning her attention back to the road again.
"Your tone suggested otherwise."
Sarah exhaled a harsh breath, the pounding in her head now turning to a bore drill grinding down into her skull with relentless pressure. When did a drive to investigate an unknown building located in the back arse of nowhere suddenly become an intense conversation with a sentient terminator? Somewhere up there a deity she did not believe in was laughing his arse off at her.
"Cameron...this is hardly the time to be having this discussion. Can we...can we...just...later ok?"
Cameron turned her deadpan expression towards Sarah tilting her head in scrutiny as if to judge her sincerity. "You swear?"
Swallowing her apprehension at her promise to the girl, Sarah finally breathed out a sigh of relief as Cameron relaxed and turned her focus outside the window again. Silence fell inside the truck once more as they continued on their way to their destination but this time Sarah's fears and anxieties seemed to be alleviated by the comfortable, familiar presence sitting beside her.
Stifling another sigh and focussing her attention back on to the road again, Sarah wondered if she would ever understand the metal girl who was beginning to invade her every waking thought.
As they drove down the darkened road, the industrial buildings seemed to loom like giant behemoths; dark, dank and severe. Here and there Sarah could see broken windows, graffiti and displaced road signs bent over as if weighted down with the depressing gloom of their surroundings, illuminated by broken street lamps and the pale moon light shining down.
"Charming," Sarah murmured to herself as she turned off the engine and glided the truck to a stop in one of the darkened alley ways, "I can see business is booming."
Cameron gave her a blank look over the roof of the truck but remained silent, either not understanding her sarcasm or choosing to ignore her sarcasm. Reaching into the back seat Cameron easily lifted up the heavy duffel bag and swung it effortlessly over her slim shoulders, waiting expectantly for Sarah's lead.
Tucking her glock snugly against the band of her jeans underneath her jacket, Sarah led the way towards one of the buildings that although had seen better days was not as dilapidated as the rest. Waiting for Cameron to finish scanning the exterior and interior of the building Sarah approached the entrance steps and stopped.
"Cameras?" Turning her head to Cameron standing beside her, Sarah indicated the entrance.
Cameron shook her head and moved towards the door reaching for the metal handle and twisting, the knob breaking off into pieces in her hand. Pushing the door open slowly, rusty hinges squeaking with protest, Cameron entered without another sound.
Sarah followed quietly behind, glad that John had managed to trace down not only the address of Thaxxon Systems but also the blueprints to the layout of the building. Making their way as stealthily as possible down the wooden hall way, Cameron led them to a set of metal doors that housed the company server. With another flick of her wrist, the locked door caved like putty and they both entered the small room.
"I really think the $100k that they won would've done wonders for this place," Sarah mumbled softly looking at the equipment in front of her. Sarah may not have known much about computer equipment but even she knew that what she was seeing was pretty dismal even by her standards.
"No security systems to speak of, computer hardware that looks like it came from the 80's and a building so run down I wouldn't even send in my dog let alone Derek."
"You do not have a dog Sarah," Cameron intoned quietly, head tilted as if to digest the softly spoken words for a hidden meaning.
"No, I don't do I girlie?" Sarah reached for the bag off Cameron's shoulder, shrugging lightly at the scrutiny.
"Come on, let's blow this place up and get the hell outta dodge."
As Sarah reached inside the duffel bag and brought out a unit of C4 from its depths, Cameron remained silently staring; her wide open eyes the only indication of her surprise.
"I thought we were only here to investigate?"
Sarah turned towards the machine and gave her a wide grin.
"Well, I'm really not the 'let your fingers do the walking' kinda gal," Sarah drawled quietly as she placed the C4 on one of the server racks.
If Cameron had even thought of rolling her eyes at the woman, she would have. With a muttered "You make no sense," she bent down to help Sarah with placing the rest of the detonators.
Sarah grinned widely again, choosing to take Cameron's comment as a compliment this time. Once she had placed the last explosive on the back wall, Sarah straightened up and glanced over at Cameron who was now standing just inside the entrance door keeping watch outside. Walking over towards the terminator, Sarah watched her profile in the dim light of the server room.
Cameron really was a very stunning girl. Skynet had finally got one thing right after all. If they were going to mimic the human race, they at least had chosen a pretty subject. Chasing away her errant thought with a shake of her head, Sarah touched Cameron lightly on the arm as she approached and nodded her head towards the exit.
Cameron glanced down quickly at the touch but remained stoically silent as she walked over towards the duffel bag and slung it over her shoulder once again.
Back tracking their way easily and quickly back to the front entrance, Sarah breathed a sigh of relief. This had gone extremely well. With three minutes left to spare before the detonators went off Sarah turned towards the truck, extremely pleased at a recon gone to plan for once.
Before she got very far however, a security car cruised its way down the lonely road, its headlights cutting a large swath through the surrounding area. Cursing herself for jinxing things before they had even finished, she grabbed Cameron's arm and pulled her behind some dumpsters situated on the foot path.
Waiting with bated breath as the car slowed down in front of their hiding place, Sarah grabbed a hold of Cameron's arm in tight anticipation and let out her breath in a slow exhalation as the car drove by to only hold her breath again as it pulled up in front of Thaxxon Systems. She twisted to face Cameron with an alarmed expression on her face.
"Damnit! Cameron, we can't let that guy go in there, it's going to blow soon. How the fuck they can afford a security patrol when they can't even put cameras in is beyond me," Sarah stated vehemently as she rose from their hiding place to make her way towards the security guard jogging lightly up the steps.
"No Sarah. I will go." Before Sarah could make a denial of protest, Cameron had already started running back to the building again.
Counting down the time in her head, Sarah followed hesitantly after Cameron, a gnawing anxiety starting in the pit of her stomach as she saw the girl disappear into the building.
"Fuck!" Sarah swore softly as she heard the muted sounds of gunshots being fired and started in a dead sprint, forgetting all about the detonators as Cameron's porcelain features floated into her mind's eye.
Running up the steps frantically in her desperate concern for Cameron's safety, Sarah suddenly dived for cover as a loud explosion reverberated through the silent night rocking the buildings foundations, sending out billowing piles of rubble, debris and smoke in her direction.
"Where've you been for the last four days?"
Derek looked over towards John sitting next to him on the porch steps, the boys profile illuminated by the light from the kitchen window. From anyone else the question would've rankled on Derek's nerves, from John however he took it as what it was intended to be, a simple acknowledgement of missing his presence.
John grunted at the reply but delved no further. He wasn't too concerned about Derek's whereabouts; his uncle always seemed to turn up again when he was needed.
"Keeping an eye on Charlie actually," Derek finally relented grudgingly as he took a sip of his cold beer.
John turned surprising eyes towards the soldier, "Why?"
"Someone has to right? If I was that terminator, I'd be checking all the hospitals trying to find Sarah. He knows she was wounded, it's only a matter of time before he connects Charlie back to Sarah."
John gulped in concern, he hadn't thought of that. He wondered if his mother had.
"So is he ok? Should we warn him? Bring him here?"
"He's ok for the moment; you'll have to ask your mom that question though. She's the one running this fucked-up show." John raised his eyebrows at the words but didn't comment.
Derek gave a shrug at the expression, raised the bottle for another swig and fell silent, staring out into the night sky.
Ever since he had been transported back to the past, Derek felt disjointed, out of place. Looking around him he took note of the other silent houses in the street and the lights twinkling in the distance. It felt wrong, this existence. Here he was relatively safe, three meals a day, showers, TV, all the comforts of man while his comrades and his friends were literally fighting for their lives, in the future.
Sometimes the surreal nature of his existence warred with his inner demons. He was supposed to be fighting the damn machines but here he was, sitting on the back porch of a random house drinking beer with a sixteen year old boy for company. Things couldn't be more screwed up than that.
There were times when he had initially returned that Derek had wanted to throw it all in. Forget all about the resistance, the fight against Skynet, to go off and live a normal life. A life he was denied because of judgement day. But then the guilt would eat at him, remind him that he was here so that his comrades and friends wouldn't have to go through what he had.
He hated the machines with a passion. They had killed his family, his brother, and his friends, destroyed everything he had ever loved and sent the world into a blazing fireball of hell and ash.
How anyone could be around them after knowing what they had done was beyond his comprehension. They might be useful in doing the grunt work but to trust one with his life? That was a resounding hell no.
He looked towards John in silent contemplation. In the future, John had been his friend and now in the past, he had found out that John was also his nephew. A familial link that bound them together tighter than a comrades-in-arms bond did. In the future he would have followed future-John to the ends of hell, helping him fight these things so that humanity would prevail, but even when he was willing to do all that he didn't understand him.
How John could keep that thing around him all the time had worried him, in the future and now. Even the resistance soldiers had started mumbling things, things that were quickly and quietly silenced with a glare but deep in his heart Derek knew he agreed with those mumblings. He would never reconcile himself to the idea of a machine being anything more than what they were built for. They had destroyed so much...or going to destroy so much.
It was such a bizarre paradox, this existence; time travelling, machines from the future. No wonder no one had believed Sarah. If he hadn't seen the future for himself he would've labelled her crazy as well.
"How do you think they're doing?"
John's worried voice broke through his reverie and he turned to stare at the boy again, seeing his hunched over shoulders and furrowed brows. He knew John was scared and worried. His mother was everything he had; the reason for his whole existence and for the man he would become. Even Derek was in awe of Sarah. Who wouldn't be? She was a legend come to life. A lone soldier battling against the inevitable tide of evil against mankind, striving to keep her son alive so he could one day be the leader of the resistance.
He had also heard the stories circulating amongst the soldiers when morale was low. The name Sarah Connor had become a familiar catch cry. If Sarah Connor could do it alone, then hell, why were they bitching like a bunch of little boys and girls? At least they had each other for support, Sarah had no one. Maybe that was why future-John had sent the thing back, not to protect and support him, but to protect and support his mother.
Derek sighed at the absurdity of his thoughts. Sarah Connor or not, a machine was a machine and there was no way he could get over that.
"They'll be ok. From the pictures and your blueprints it looks like a shitty back arse building in a shitty back arse neighbourhood. They'll get in; do what they have to do then get out. What could go wrong?"
John sighed at his uncles' words, knowing that he was right but couldn't shake the horrible feeling in the pit of his gut. He should trust Cameron and he definitely trusted his mother and besides she had Cameron, Cameron would keep his mother safe.
With a heart stopping cry, Sarah bolted into the now chaotic mess of Thaxxon Systems, her heart thumping wildly in her chest. Looking around desperately for the girl, she noticed the slumped figure of the security guard over by the far wall. Not caring anymore whether he lived or died, Sarah continued further into the pile of explosive wreckage, calling out frantically for Cameron.
Taking another two steps into the hall way, Sarah finally spotted Cameron lying face down, arms flung carelessly over her head as if she had been catapulted there by some unseen force.
Turning Cameron gently over onto her back, Sarah took note of the two bullet wounds to her chest, and the numerous cuts and scrapes marring her pretty features. Fighting down a wave of revulsion at seeing the bullet wounds, Sarah let loose a panicked growl as she found Cameron's eyes closed.
"Come on girlie, this is not the time to be taking a nap," Sarah whispered softly as she slapped a cheek gently.
With two minutes until the machine rebooted and time running out before the authorities arrived to investigate, Sarah looked around wildly for something to carry her in. With her coltan endoskeleton there was no way Sarah could move her without help. Finally spotting a manual fork hoist Sarah dashed wildly towards it, jumping over fallen wreckage in her path. Grabbing the fork hoist by the handles, she pulled and rolled it back to Cameron's still form as closely as she could get, placing the tongs on Cameron's left side.
As quickly as possible Sarah leapt over the lying girl and with a struggling grunt from the weight of Cameron and the sudden flaring pain in her left side from the still recovering bullet wound; Sarah pushed and rolled Cameron onto the tongs. Making sure that Cameron was situated as firmly as she could, Sarah grabbed the handles once again and pushed it towards the entrance, straining with the weight of the metal girl.
"Girlie, you really have to lose your winter weight," Sarah mumbled softly to herself as she stifled a panicked laughter at her ill-timed joke before backing down the steps slowly. With each jolt of the wheels impacting on the steps, Sarah held her breath, praying that Cameron wouldn't fall off.
Once safely down, Sarah looked around wildly for somewhere safe they could hide as she spotted sirens off in the distance. With the girl's weight, there was no way Sarah could lift her into the truck, she could barely move her on the hoist as it was.
Spotting a broken door down the alley next to the now burnt out building ahead of her; Sarah frantically pulled the fork hoist towards the entrance. Kicking in the flimsy barricade, Sarah rolled Cameron in and gently placed her on the ground in the corner of the room behind some wooden boxes, as far away as she could from the entrance.
Casting one last worried glance towards Cameron, concerned that the girl hadn't rebooted yet, Sarah ran out of the building to retrieve the forgotten duffel bag behind the dumpster and to hide their truck.
Cameron was floating, floating in a sea of sensations; pain, confusion, nothingness, awareness, everything jumbling together in a wild array of vivid black and dull gray's. They were surrounding her in their tentacle grip, each one vying for position, jockeying for her attention, drowning her in their insistence to be heard. Her systems were on overload; rogue code and scripts whizzing through her malfunctioning chip, trying to stabilise her senses, putting out virtual fires to keep her from being further damaged.
She had rebooted to a world of madness, where nothing made sense and everything was more alive than she had ever thought possible.
Cameron lay still, feeling the harsh cold concrete under her back through her layers of clothing, nerve endings alive and sensitised to their harsh surroundings. She needed to move, to get up, to open her eyes...she needed to do...something. Sarah...Sarah was out there, Sarah needed her. Struggling internally, Cameron fought with the heaviness, the lethargy and the overloading of her system processes.
Then as sudden as the flipping of a switch, everything stopped, like a warm and heavy blanket settling over her cold form. Quietness settled in her mind, the madness receding and fading to leave only a world bathed in muted gray, a voice filtering softly but insistently into the void dispersing everywhere it touched with colour and light. The feeling of soft curves and hardened sinews wrapping themselves around her in their firm grip; keeping the madness at bay.
Cameron remained still, feeling the calmness and the warmth seeping into her skin, into her endoskeleton, washing over her in its intensity. She wanted to hold onto that warmth, feel the softness and escape from the chaos it offered. As she clung to that feeling of being safe, of being nurtured, of being loved, Cameron opened her eyes to see brilliant green staring down at her, the relief evident in the gaze.
Sarah was worried; more than worried actually, she had reached the point of an insane panic. After stowing the truck behind some shrubbery at the back of the abandoned building, Sarah had made her way back to Cameron's location, managing to hide in the shadows to keep from being detected by the milling police, ambulance and fire personnel outside the blown building.
She was now sitting beside the metal girl, staring down into an astoundingly innocent face; the perfection marred slightly by the superficial cuts to her cheekbones and forehead. It had been well over five minutes now and Cameron was still lying where she had placed her, sleeping beauty in its fallacious incarnation.
Raising a clammy hand to stroke softly against Cameron's cold cheek, Sarah willed the girl to open her eyes, as if by the force of her wanting it hard enough it would trigger a reaction in front of her. But Cameron's eyes remained closed, her features slack. Sarah could feel the rise and fall of her chest in simulation of air entering and leaving her lungs so she knew that the girl had rebooted, that her systems were online but for some reason unknown to her, Cameron remained still, lifeless.
Pushing another wave of panic down, Sarah looked around wildly, trying to find something, anything that would tell her what she needed to do for Cameron. Not spotting anything remotely helpful in the darkened building, illuminated by moonlight streaking through wooden slats and not knowing what else to do, Sarah drew in a deep breath to calm her racing heart and knelt behind the still form.
Too concerned about Cameron and the ghost of a reminder of warm arms holding her tightly to be aware of the possible danger to herself, Sarah placed her hands under Cameron's arms and gently tugged and pulled, ignoring the persistent aching sensation from her healing wound in her side. Once the girl's back was resting comfortably against her own chest Sarah wrapped her arms firmly around Cameron's waist holding her in position as she settled herself comfortably against the dirty wall. Starting a soft stroking on Cameron's firm stomach in a soothing pattern, words began flowing and ebbing from her lips to the girl's ear hoping that it would reach her, wherever she was.
"Ok girlie, whatever's happening to you right now, I need you to...be here...with me. So please, if you can hear me, it's time to wake up now." Voice almost pleading in its desperation.
As the minutes ticked by, Sarah suddenly felt a minute movement of the head against her shoulder and looked down uncertainly.
Sighing in profound relief at hearing her name spoken with such reverence, Sarah's heart melted and re-solidified around the girl in her arms looking up at her with such heart breaking confusion. Brushing Cameron's hair off her forehead, Sarah gazed into wonderful golden brown, losing herself in the swirls and hues gazing back at her.
The world around Sarah faded into the background, the warm eyes before her her only focus and reality. Without conscious thought, without conscious effort and succumbing to an intense need she had no idea of Sarah leaned forward slowly, placing her lips softly, firmly against Cameron's; pouring all the emotions, all the words that she couldn't say into the simple kiss.
John was deeply worried, ever since the night at Thaxxon Systems his mother was acting more strung out than usual. Her features were taut, strained and the heavy shadows under her eyes were obvious proof that she wasn't sleeping.
Dismissing his concerns when she and Cameron had finally returned home, battered and bruised, Sarah had only replied that they had 'run into a little trouble' and disappeared into her room, emerging only when it was necessary to eat and then returning to her sanctuary again.
It had been three days already. Three days of heavy silences, tense conversations when Cameron was in the room and then apprehensive glances to him and to Cameron; it was all wearing on his already frayed nerves.
With the absence of Derek, disappearing as soon as he could when it was confirmed he was no longer needed, John was at his wits end. With no male companion to escape to and no mother to talk with, there was only one course of option left. It was time to go to the source of what he was sure was the problem; Cameron.
Steeling his resolve and masking his face into a grim frown, John made his way to the garage, having spotted the girl heading in that direction over an hour ago. Standing on the threshold of the entrance, he saw Cameron standing beside the fire pit, staring down at it with an impenetrable look on her features. Hesitating, he paused, taking in her appearance.
She was still, eerily so. There was a listless quality to her frame, an almost melancholy feeling of detachment emanating from every pore of the girl's being. If John had needed proof before that Cameron was becoming sentient, the girl standing in front of him was all he needed to see. She was so poignantly human in her reserve.
If it was not for the imperceptible tightening of her hands on the edge of the cinder blocks, John would've thought that Cameron had not heard him. Entering the garage and moving closer to the girl, his steps uncomfortable, unsure he placed his hand on her shoulder, willing her to turn towards him.
Cameron looked up slowly, her expression as blank as smooth marble, brown eyes so glassy and hard that it nearly took John's breath away. Removing his hand quickly and taking an unsettling step back, John fell silent, waiting.
The use of his full name from Cameron gave him another pause; she only used it when she was uncertain, confused, a machine that was trying to process something completely beyond her grasp.
"Cameron, what happened at Thaxxon Systems? I need to know. Mom won't tell me anything."
John waited with bated breath. If he couldn't get the girl to talk to him, he was screwed. His mother was fracturing right in front of him and the feeling of helplessness was eating away at his gut making him sick with worry. He knew he had to tread carefully, Cameron would only reveal what she thought he should know; a peevish thought of 'just like his mother' entered his head fleetingly.
"Do you think I am a freak John?"
Puzzled at the non-sequitur to his questioning, John frowned.
"No, I don't think you're a freak."
"But you have told me on many occasions to not 'act' like a freak? If I am acting like a freak, then I would be a freak, no?" Cameron concluded logically, head tilted to the side in thought.
John sighed wearily knowing that this was going to take longer than he had anticipated.
"Sometimes, with humans, what we say and what we mean are two different things. When I tell you to not be 'freaky', it doesn't mean that I think you're a freak. It's an adjective, used to describe certain behaviour, not an actual reflection of the person," John started slowly, making sure that he was explaining himself clearly feeling that this was important to Cameron somehow.
Cameron remained silent, absorbing the words.
"Future-John said something to me before I was transported back." John raised his eyebrow at another non-sequitur from the terminator. Having a conversation with Cameron was definitely like being on a rollercoaster ride, you knew of the twists and turns that were coming, just not which way it was going to take you.
"He said that I was more than my programming directives that he had seen into my code and my past. I questioned him on it but all he said was that I should trust him." Cameron shot him a baffled look. "I do not know what to trust."
John remained silent, knowing that he was getting closer to the heart of the matter.
"Since...the explosion," John's eyes widened at that but allowed Cameron to continue, "my...senses seem to be...more...sensitive than before. Everything I feel, touch, smell, taste, they are more vivid, more alive. I have run diagnostics but everything reported back is fine."
"So what you're trying to say is...you feel things? More intensely than before?" John queried in confusion. "They're not...simulations? You actually...feel them?"
A hesitant pause, "Yes."
John mulled that confession over, starting to get an idea of what Cameron was going through and what his future self was referencing when he said those words to Cameron.
"What happened at Thaxxon Systems Cameron?" John repeated knowing that whatever Cameron was experiencing now, it definitely had to do with the events of that night; he needed to know what really happened so he could help her.
Cameron remained silent, her frame stiffening a little at the words and returned his questioning gaze with a speculative look, as if reluctant to admit something of importance.
"There was an explosion and when I rebooted, everything had changed. I was no longer viewing everything through a filter, my senses were overloading, my systems becoming compromised as they tried to cope with the influx...in short and in human terms...I think I was...drowning."
Cameron moved away from the fire pit past John to stand at the entrance, looking back towards the house in quiet contemplation.
"Then...it stopped, I was no longer so overwhelmed. And when I opened my eyes Sarah was holding me...in her arms..." shooting John a look of displeasure,"...she should not have done that. I could have been compromised, damaged, she put herself in danger. She is reckless and illogical."
"Yeah, I think we've already established that mom can be both of that sometimes Cameron," John quipped giving her a rueful look in return.
Cameron gave pause, evaluating the reply and then shook her head minutely in agreement and continued softly, "And when she kissed me..."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up there. Mom...what...you now?" John's face was incredulous in the extreme Cameron's words reverberating around his head in shock.
"When Sarah kissed me," John winced uncomfortably at the stark statement, "I felt..."
"Okay...that's enough. Right there. That's all I need to know about that subject." John turned away, focusing on the fire pit instead of Cameron's direct gaze. He so did not want to think of his mother and Cameron...kissing. It wasn't just Cameron, he didn't want to know anything about his mother kissing anybody for that matter; it was just...gross.
"You are uncomfortable about the idea of Sarah and I kissing? That...wigs you out?" Searching for a suitable term in her memory banks, Cameron was parts curious and parts offended. "What is wrong with Sarah kissing me? You don't think I am a freak so..."
"Cameron! It's not about you...it's about, it's about the kiss itself and...mom...doing...that." John scrunched his face in distaste at the thought.
"Oh, I see. You do not like the idea of your mother being intimate...of kissing and having s...?"
John gave a strangled cry and ran towards Cameron to place a hand over her mouth to stop the words burning his brain.
"Stop! Just...stop, I get it."
Cameron remained silent this time as she waited for John to remove his hand from her mouth her demeanour placid watching his reaction to her words in interest.
John was...reeling as he stepped slowly away from Cameron to stare at her frankly, his composure shaken by the revelation. He...had never expected this. No wonder his mom was unravelling. This was...God, what was this?
Shaking his head in confusion, John calmed his racing thoughts. Ok, let's see, it wasn't a biggie...really, not in the grand scheme of things. He could deal with his reactions later, process the news properly later, much, much later; right now he needed to help his mom and to help his mom he first needed to help Cameron. So his mother had...kissed; a grimace at the word, Cameron, now what?
A sudden shocking thought came floating into his head, Oh my God. Was he his mother's pimp??!! Startled and horrified at the thought, John pushed it away as fast as it had entered.
Struggling to compose his thoughts and emotions, John made a swift decision and walked back towards Cameron, pinning her with a glare.
"Ok. All I want to know right here, right now, is whether or not we're safe? You don't have an insane desire to kill us do you?"
"If I wanted you dead I would have killed you already," Cameron deadpanned.
John frowned at the words and glared harder at Cameron.
"That's not really helping you know." Taking a step away John started pacing slowly. "Ok, this is what I want you to do, look at me and run your identification program, I need to know that I can trust you because it's not just my life I'm talking about here, it's my mother's life as well."
Cameron pinned him with a scowl, the look clearly stating that she had no desire to hurt him and least of all Sarah.
"Just do it Cameron, humour me ok? Run the program."
Cameron remained staring at him intently, and then the back of her eyes shone a light blue, indicating that she had started her diagnostics. Waiting impatiently, John continued pacing again, staring at Cameron then at the house in consternation.
After what seemed like hours but was in actual fact only minutes, Cameron's eyes faded from blue back to their usual brown, her focus slowly returning to his attention.
"My mission is the same; stop Skynet, protect John Connor. I have not been compromised."
John sighed in relief, although he had been fairly certain that she hadn't been damaged to that extent, evidenced by the mere fact that his mother and him were still alive, he had needed to hear the words for solid confirmation. With the safety of his mother out of the way, there was only one more thing he needed to say to Cameron.
"So mom...kissed you. What are you going to do about it now?"
Cameron tilted her head quizzically, startled but not showing it at John's sudden question.
"Why are you hiding here like a little bitch baby that's been whipped?"
"I am not...hiding. Sarah does not want to speak to me," Cameron replied, her tone stiff at the words, face in a menacing scowl.
"Let me tell you some things about my mother Cameron so you understand. Sometimes, what mom wants and what she needs are two different things. She's been alone for so long now, occupied with protecting me and shouldering her responsibilities on her own that she's...that she won't ever admit to needing anything. It's not in her nature to show weakness, she won't allow herself to...feel anything...for a..." Stopping abruptly at the word he did not want to say, John brushed his hand through his hair in frustration.
"...machine," Cameron supplied dispassionately.
John remained silent but his silence spoke volumes. What could he say really? Cameron was sentient but at the core of it she was still made of metal. To deny that would only make her a mockery, she was what she was but she had the capacity to be more than what she was. And it was this distinction that gave John some comfort.
Maybe it was ok that his mother needed Cameron by her side. Cameron was the only thing in her life who would really understand what his mother had to bear on her shoulders every day. He could not really provide the kind of support that she needed; their life was a lonely life and if Cameron could ease that loneliness, who was he to deny his mother a small measure of happiness?
"Cameron, you really have to talk to mom about this, not me. Make a choice, that's what human's do. Speak to mom and find out what it is to be more than your programming directives, that's what future-John meant." Feeling that he had said all he could to make the girl understand, John turned away. He had his own thoughts and feelings to sift through after the earthquake of a revelation from Cameron.
Cameron remained standing silently, watching John leave; her troubled face the only indication of her thoughts as her gaze returned to the house again and the woman who had the answers she needed.
Sarah stood in the shower, head bent; both hands on the wall for support as she let the spray of the hot water cascade down her body, feeling the water soothe her jagged nerve endings.
Ever since the night of the bombing Sarah felt disconnected and jumbled. Her thoughts and emotions a live wire of electrical impulses and raw nerves, a continual tumbling down the rabbit hole feeling where nothing made sense. She could not sleep and she could not awaken, drowning in a limbo of suppressed need and relived nightmares. Nightmares that all revolved around Cameron being hurt, getting hurt but this time instead of waking up, Cameron had died and Sarah watched, still, motionless, helpless to do anything, to say anything. Then waking up in a cold sweat, her breathing ragged and harsh in the silence of the night, straining to hear the sound of heavy footsteps outside her door to settle her, calm her, before drifting off into another endless nightmare.
She had kissed Cameron, she, Sarah Connor had kissed a terminator. In what world would that sentence ever make sense?
When she had felt Cameron's lips on her own, the softness of the full lips, the warmth invading her body and spreading into the dark recesses of her soul, it had felt right and Sarah had felt...not so alone. And that's what a small part of her kept on insisting, that it did make sense, making Sarah unable to deny or forget.
But it was all so fucked up and wrong. It shouldn't be making any sense...at all. She had a purpose, a mission of her own. She had to stop Skynet, stop judgement day. Protect and teach John. Those were the only things that should be making sense, not the kiss with Cameron and the very real fact that she wanted to do it again. She was going mad with the want, with the need and the all-consuming desire of it. She couldn't function, couldn't concentrate because everything led back to Cameron...and the kiss.
Feeling the water cooling on her fever hot skin Sarah reached for the taps and turned it off, sobbing out a strangled gasp as the emotions flowed over her, through her. She did not know who she was anymore, Sarah Connor was gone and she didn't know how to get her back.
Stepping out of the shower and reaching for the towel, Sarah spotted her reflection in the mirror; a strange face staring back at her, the eyes dark and hollow, sunken into her cheek bones. Her face was pale and gaunt, the worry lines etched into her features sending her face into stark relief. Who was this woman? Who was she and how would Sarah ever know her again?
She dried herself off vigorously, as if by rubbing the water off her body she could also rub away the delirium of her thoughts. Grabbing her bathrobe off the hook on the wall, Sarah wrapped it around herself and headed back to her bedroom continuing to dry her hair, her thoughts a jumbled mess. She was tired and she was sick, soul sick, of everything. Everything was too much, too naked and too real, she wanted to lie down and never wake up, the allure of not thinking so tempting in its pounding severity.
Passing John's bedroom on the way, his door slightly ajar, she could see him lying in his bed, headphones on his head, music so loud she could hear muted strains seeping out. Wondering if she should say something, Sarah dismissed the thought. She barely had the energy to figure out her own life never mind intruding on his.
Pushing away the ache inside her chest as she passed Cameron's closed bedroom door, Sarah hesitated slightly, her body gravitating to the door of its own accord. Biting her lip in indecision, Sarah hardened her resolve and clamped down on her intense desire to see the girl and continued on to her own bedroom. Opening her closed door and stepping inside, Sarah breathed a sigh of relief, only to tense in sudden apprehension as she spotted Cameron sitting on her bed, waiting patiently, her posture rigid and her face set in a determined stare.
"Cameron...what...what are you doing in here?" Her voice sounded croaky and the question absurd even to her own ears. Sarah knew what Cameron wanted but she didn't know if she had it in her to give it.
"You swore." Cameron's accusation ringing in the silent room, her tone contentious and demanding.
Sarah drew in a ragged breath and slumped against the closed door, hands on her knees for support as the towel dropped from nerveless fingers. She couldn't do this, deal with this, not while Cameron was sitting there so tempting and appealing, wanting things, things that she couldn't possibly give her.
"Cameron, I cannot do this right now. I...I can't," Sarah's tone wild, wilful, beseeching with the girl to understand.
"You kissed me." And there it was, the words flung out into the open, sucking up the air, seeping into Sarah's pores and melting into her brain.
Sarah straightened and looked over towards Cameron, her determination hardening, curling into a cold ball of anger. "Get out Cameron."
"That's not fair Sarah, you kissed me and promised that we would talk later, this is later." Cameron stood up in a rush, her fists clenched firmly to her sides, her body shaking with emotion.
"Fair? Fair? What the hell does anything have to do with fair? Life isn't fair Cameron!" Sarah shouted in reply, her voice seething with anger, her body trembling with barely suppressed emotion as she stalked closer to Cameron.
"What the hell is fair about my life? Do you think it's fair that I have to stop judgement day? Do you think it's fair that I have these feelings for a...for a...machine?!"
Taking in a deep breath Sarah allowed the anger to roll through her, to consume her words in a forceful sweep, wiping out all rational thought. When she was angry she didn't have to think of Cameron and how soft her lips were. When she was angry she didn't have to think of wanting to touch the girl so badly that her fingers ached. Anger was a better emotion; it gave her focus and clarity which freed her mind from the want.
"What about what's fair for me? I don't...I don't even know what I'm supposed to be doing anymore. Stop the machines, stop Skynet? How can I do that when I don't even know who I am anymore?!"
Sarah moved in swiftly and grabbed a hold of Cameron's t-shirt in a grip so tight her knuckles showed white, staring at the girl through eyes blurry with sudden tears. She needed to hurt, to strike out, to make her own pain go away.
Cameron stilled as Sarah's fists flailed wildly against her chest, bearing the strikes effortlessly as she allowed the woman to let go, to break down, to give in to the tidal wave of her emotions.
"Who am I Cameron? Who?" The word repeating over and over, diminishing in their pleading as the anger slowly drained from Sarah and all that was left was a weary tiredness, an aching in her body and limbs that gripped her in their soul numbing frenzy. Slumping further onto Cameron, Sarah's hand holding tightly to the girl's t-shirt again for support the other beating in helpless supplication.
"You are Sarah Connor," Cameron replied softly almost reverently as she placed her own arms around Sarah's waist and pulled her closer, tightening her grip as she felt soft arms move to circle her neck just as tightly, holding her in quiet desperation.
"You are Sarah Connor," Cameron repeated as she released a hand from Sarah's waist to place a finger under Sarah's chin tilting her head up to stare into muddy green, blurry with tears.
"You are my Sarah Connor," Cameron whispered fiercely, possessively as she lowered her head to catch lips that were moist and soft and hot, bending to an intense need that had gripped her since her first taste of Sarah's lips.
Sarah groaned at the contact, the feel of Cameron's lips a soothing balm to her battered and tortured soul. Tightening her arms around Cameron's shoulders, Sarah pulled her impossibly closer, feeling Cameron's entire length against her own.
Strawberries and cinnamon, Sarah had a fleeting thought as she felt the lips caressing her own press more firmly, pulling her into its liquid warmth. Increasing the pressure even more, her lips devoured Cameron's hungrily, all thought having been thrown out the window as she felt herself giving in to the feel of Cameron's lips again.
Cameron's synapses were on overload, firing off tiny sparks throughout her body. She was lost in the sensation of Sarah, of touching Sarah, of kissing Sarah. Of the feel of soft lips and a hot and moist tongue pushing itself forcefully through her lips to touch and intertwine roughly with her own. She was drowning in a world of sensations, each one battering at her defences, all clamouring for attention, for awareness in her already overloaded mind, short circuiting everything except for the feel of Sarah in her arms and along her body.
Pulling away softly to catch her breath, Sarah gazed into the luminescent eyes shining back at her, their depths stealing her breath away. Placing a finger against Cameron's lips, Sarah lightly traced the contours, feeling the fullness, the softness underneath her fingertips. Marvelling at the feel and the texture, Sarah drew in another ragged breath as a soft tongue peeked out from behind reddened lips to lightly lick her fingers, capturing them in a hot mouth as Cameron suckled softly.
Groaning once more in overwhelming need, Sarah removed her fingers from Cameron's mouth and pulled her roughly down to capture Cameron's soft lips with hers again. Opening wide in hunger and desire, Sarah plundered the mouth under hers ruthlessly, trying to inhale Cameron whole, needing to quench the fire smouldering inside her with the essence of Cameron.
Hand's urgent, almost frantic; Sarah started tearing at clothes, pulling Cameron's t-shirt off her body and tossing it to the side. Taking in Cameron's naked form displayed in front of her she pushed Cameron gently down onto the soft mattress with a solid thump at the girl's weight. Tossing her own bathrobe off with a feverish need, Sarah clambered onto the bed and straddled the girls lap, watching in awe at the most beautiful sight laid out in front of her.
Cameron's hair was a halo of soft brown framing her head as she lay placidly staring up at Sarah with adoration, her features softened and warmed at the sight of a naked Sarah staring down at her. Tracing a finger lightly over the jagged bullet wound in Sarah's side, Cameron marvelled at the strength of the woman above her. Although slightly red and puffy, the wound was now healing nicely, a fading reminder of Sarah's fragility against her own imperviousness to human wounds. Placing firm hands against Sarah's waist to steady her, Cameron raised her upper body to capture Sarah's lips, wanting to feel, to taste, to memorise the uniqueness of Sarah that was Sarah alone.
Feeling herself falling deeper at the kiss, Sarah pushed firmly on Cameron's shoulders following the movement down as she rested her weight against Cameron. Breathless at the contact of Cameron's breasts on her own, Sarah moved a hand down to the top of Cameron's pants, fumbling with the zipper and tearing it off the girl's legs in her desperate need to feel all of Cameron against her.
Gasping softly as flesh finally met flesh Sarah let go. She was drowning, being pulled under by the waves of desire, of solid flesh moving against her own, of hands and mouth, touching, kneading, kissing, holding her, pulling at her, driving her mad and incoherent with a need so profound Sarah thought she would never survive. Until finally with a heart wrenching cry of Cameron's name falling from her lips Sarah felt herself tumbling, falling and plummeting, freefalling, head over heels into the welcoming abyss below.
Feeling firm hands wrapping themselves around her to keep her safe, to keep her steady and warm blankets covering her tired body Sarah was finally at peace as she succumbed gratefully to the darkness, luring her soothingly in their promise of sanctuary.
Sarah's voice was croaky and hers eyes dazed with sleep as she turned over towards Cameron, capturing her in their emerald softness and then stiffening imperceptibly as reality set in and Sarah rolled away, gathering the sheet to cover her naked body. Her back and shoulders tense at the sight of Cameron in her bed...naked.
Mumbling an ineffectual "shower", Sarah remained turned away as she quickly gathered clothes and dropped the sheet to put her bathrobe on, agonizingly aware of the silent form burning heat into her back. Making her escape without a backward glance to the very tempting form of Cameron behind her, Sarah closed the door in a ragged sigh of relief, her insides a rolling thunder of emotion.
Making her way hastily to the bathroom afraid that Cameron would follow, Sarah relaxed slightly as she closed the door and leant her head gently against the solid frame, feelings of doubt and uncertainty plaguing her thoughts.
Last night was a...what? Revelation? Mistake? Moment of extreme madness? Sarah didn't know what it was, didn't know what she was supposed to be feeling. Her thoughts even more bewildered than before. If she had thought the idea of kissing Cameron was wreaking havoc on her already fragile mind, having had sex with Cameron was putting it into seizures.
Feelings of doubt, uncertainty, guilt, wracked Sarah's frame as she entered the shower, welcoming the pin pricks of hot water scalding her body but intermingled with those thoughts were also ones of, peace, calm and tranquillity. The two warring factions driving a sudden throbbing in her head that left her weak and baffled.
Cameron had reaffirmed last night that she was Sarah Connor, but the Sarah Connor that she knew would never have allowed herself to kiss a machine, let alone have sex with one. And although Sarah tried to make excuses, tried to justify her actions, Cameron was still a machine, a sentient one at that but still all metal under her skin.
Sarah laughed disparagingly at herself, what was done was done; she now had to figure out a way to live with the consequences. Things were no longer black and white, right and wrong, they were shades of gray, mixing and mingling to create different perspectives, different ideas and emotions. She could do this; it was just sex, a way for her to find...release. It had meant nothing...she had just used Cameron for her own needs.
Her mind balking at the idea of using Cameron so selfishly Sarah turned off the water abruptly and stepped out of the shower, to notice a steaming mug of coffee sitting on the vanity shelf. Giving the coffee a quick startled glance, and then the closed door, Sarah swallowed nervously wondering how Cameron had been and gone without her even being aware of it.
Glancing at the coffee again Sarah sighed. The landscape of her life was definitely changing once again but this time she didn't know whether she'd have the courage to accept it.
Cameron was annoyed.
Not that anyone looking at her would have an idea that she was. She was standing calmly in front of the kitchen window watching Sarah do her morning exercises. It should have calmed her, made her feel peaceful inside that Sarah was safe, that she wasn't out doing something reckless to endanger her life.
But Cameron was neither of those things.
She was annoyed.
And it all had to do with the woman she was watching.
Since the night she had spent with Sarah, Sarah had gone back to avoiding her, withdrawing into herself again. Conversations with each other were few and far between and although the touchy atmosphere of before had disappeared, it was now replaced with one of cold civility and politeness. This was not the Sarah that Cameron was used to.
Her Sarah was reckless, illogical, emotional, stubborn, exasperating, bull-headed, cantankerous and unreasonable but she was also, determined, strong, loving, passionate, brave, intelligent and dedicated. It was those two halves that made her whole. Not this stranger in front of her who was politely staying out of her way and only making eye contact when she absolutely had to.
It was frustrating and Cameron didn't know how to resolve the situation.
Forcing the woman to talk, although had been a good idea at the time was what had led to this situation in the first place. Maybe Cameron had to confront Sarah again. The results of the first confrontation had led to spectacularly excellent results, one which Cameron was still feeling and revelling in inside.
Although not really having had the experience of sexual relations before, Cameron was a cybernetic organism designed to infiltrate the human race, so being able to have sexual relations was a part of her makeup. And being with Sarah in such an intimate setting had been...invigorating, uplifting, profound, stimulating, exhilarating...every positive word Cameron could think of to describe her experience. She had loved the feeling of closeness with Sarah, of holding Sarah in her arms, watching the woman fall asleep, her taste and the feel of Sarah's soft and smooth skin; everything about Sarah. It was something that Cameron now craved with an intensity that made her synapses burn every time Sarah was in the same room as her.
"What are you watching Cameron?"
Cameron ignored the voice, her focus on Sarah and the way her muscles rippled in the weak morning light.
"Umm Cameron?" John sauntered over to stand beside the terminator, following her gaze through the window and onto Sarah. John sighed heartily and rolled his eyes walking to the cupboard to grab his breakfast.
"Did you talk to her like I told you to?" He enquired softly grabbing the milk from the fridge on the way past and then setting everything on the kitchen table.
After the great reveal from Cameron John had had time to process and come to terms with the idea of Cameron and his mother being...together. It wasn't an idea that he was fully comfortable with but not because Cameron was made of metal. No, he was uncomfortable for the same reason he had been uncomfortable with the idea of Charlie being with Sarah, it just wasn't right to think of things like that about his own mother.
He knew that his mother needed someone and at the time he had thought that someone was Charlie, but looking back on the situation now in hindsight he had known Charlie was not the person for her. Sarah was a force to be reckoned with, an indomitable will that over shadowed anyone not as strong as her. Charlie was a good man but he was no match for her, she needed someone just as stubborn as her, someone who was willing to brave her anger and not cow down to her demands and he knew that that someone wasn't Charlie.
Cameron's cool headedness, logical thinking processes was a perfect counter balance to his mother's sometimes overzealous determined reckless nature. And having a girl that was made out of the strongest steel ever known to mankind, who would do anything to protect his mother was definitely helping him sleep at nights.
Cameron turned around finally and pinned him with a glare.
"Sarah is frustrating."
John covered a snicker at the terminators exasperated tone, pouring cereal then milk into his bowl.
"Yeah, I kinda figured that one out. I've been with her for sixteen years remember?" John drawled dryly raising the spoon to his mouth to eat.
"We have...talked but it has not seemed to resolve anything," Cameron hesitated slightly as she glanced towards Sarah once more and then went to sit down opposite John, body rigid, palms on her knees scowling at him over his breakfast. "She has not spoken to me since the night we had sex."
John blew his mouthful of cereal all over the table, choking and spluttering, leaping from the table frantically as he started to pound his chest violently trying to get air into his lungs, a startled and horrified look on his face.
Cameron remained still, tilting her head at his actions.
"God Cameron, you can't tell me things like that...I so don't want to know...anything...about...that...okay?" Taking a big gulp of air as his lungs finally settled.
"Why? I do not have anyone else to talk to about this with." Cameron was curious, if she could not talk to John, then who was there? Derek? She didn't think that the man would be appreciative of her conversation topic either.
Cursing his luck not for the first time, for sentient terminators and one in love with his mother at that, John went to wipe down the kitchen table of his offerings with a cloth. Stalling for time, he walked over to the sink and rinsed the cloth out and then wiped his hands on a tea towel thinking over what to say to the obviously upset terminator.
"Well...we need some ground rules then ok? Absolutely under no circumstances are you ever, ever to mention the S word and mom again in the same sentence, ok?" John glared at Cameron for confirmation with a firm scowl on his face.
Cameron frowned but refrained from commenting. It seemed highly illogical that they could have a proper discussion without mentioning the full details but John seemed to be particularly adamant about this condition. After giving him another confused stare, she nodded her head in silent agreement.
John sighed and relaxed minutely as he went to sit down again picking up his spoon to continue his interrupted breakfast.
"So...you've spoken to mom," a warning glare at the girl as she made to correct him, "and she's now avoiding you? Well, gee Cameron that's no big surprise. That's what she does, she avoids. Give her time...or...make her notice you."
"Notice...me? How can I not be noticed, I am in the same house as her." Cameron tilted her head again, confusion clearly on her face.
Sighing again, John walked over to the sink and rinsed his bowl and spoon, glancing warily over to Sarah through the window. She was so not going to like this if she found out that he and Cameron were discussing her. Giving another weary sigh he turned around and leaned against the counter, arms crossed over his chest uncomfortably. How did a supposed leader of the resistance end up in the insane position of giving advice to a terminator on how to woo his mother?
"Not notice as in just knowing you're in the house, notice as in notice," stressing the last word in a subtle hint as he glanced over to Cameron, sighing again as the girl still looked confused. "You know...like...notice...as in wooing."
"Wooing?" Cameron went silent as her eyes lost focus, searching for the term through her memory banks, "Wooing: to seek the favour, affection, or love of, especially with a view to marriage, to make love to a woman; court, to solicit favour or approval; entreat."
John rolled his eyes at her as she rattled off the definitions slowly.
"Thank you John, I now know what to do. I will woo Sarah Connor." And with that the terminator got up from the chair slowly and walked towards the front door, a determined steely gaze on her features.
John gulped, loudly this time as he looked towards Sarah again wondering if he should just run away now or later before his mother found out that he had been the one to give Cameron advice on how to win her over.
Sarah could feel Cameron's eyes burning into her from the kitchen window; feel the heat singeing her insides down to her toes.
She still didn't know what to make of Cameron and her...recent activity... with the girl. It had been three days now since the night she had spent with Cameron and her thoughts and emotions were no closer to becoming clearer. Nerves rubbed raw with her constant desire to just ravish the girl where she stood or to slap her, Sarah was at her wits end with Cameron's constant hovering.
Dropping down from the swing bar, Sarah wiped the sweat off her face bending down to grab her water bottle from the ground. Placing the bottle back down after a refreshing gulp of water, Sarah moved into her push-ups, the hairs on her neck tingling at the sensation of Cameron's eyes still on her movements.
Cursing her awareness, Sarah resolutely ignored the staring girl, trying to focus her thoughts on anything but Cameron. Failing miserably however, Sarah groaned softly as flashes of images came floating into her head. Cameron's firm body moving under hers, Cameron's soft hands touching and teasing, the feel and taste of Cameron on her lips; Sarah could only close her eyes in reflex and swallow harshly as her body flushed in arousal to the mental stimulation.
Casting a surreptitious eye towards the kitchen window again, Sarah breathed a relieved sigh as Cameron's form was no longer visible. Knowing that the girl could read her body temperature and reactions did nothing to ease Sarah's edginess. Having a mach....no...a cybernetic organism capable of knowing what her internal body was doing and unable to hide it from that cybernetic organism, was something that Sarah did not particularly find pleasing.
Shaking her head as if to shake the errant thoughts loose Sarah started in on her sit ups; feeling the pull of unused muscles protesting her physical exercise Sarah welcomed the slight distraction with a heartfelt sigh. Since having been shot and recovering from the bullet wound, Sarah had felt like a caged tiger with no way to let out her crazed edginess and the added stress of having to deal with a terminator that had no concept of personal boundaries was running her nerves ragged.
For a terminator whose design was to chase down and capture her prey, Cameron was exceptionally good at what she did. Wherever Sarah turned, the girl was waiting silently, staring at her as if she had the answers that Cameron needed, her quiet presence demanding an audience that Sarah could not give. The soft touches when the girl had to pass something over or walk by her, the unbridled look of absolute need and want she could see barely hidden in warm brown eyes as her eyes met Cameron's reluctantly was slowly wedging their way in to her dreams, startling her awake with an intense yearning that would leave her hot and trembling.
Throwing another surreptitious glance towards the house Sarah could only curse as she felt her frustration and the tension in her body crowding her thoughts, her exercises doing nothing to dispel her swirling memories of that night. To say Sarah was...surprised...that Cameron even had the concept of...sex...was putting it mildly. The girl's tender ministrations, her lingering touches and caresses had driven Sarah mad with desire, their coupling one of raw passion and need, satiating a hunger that Sarah wasn't even aware of. And Cameron being so...well built...a mocking salute to the female human body by Skynet was driving Sarah to even further distraction. Maybe if Cameron was more...robotic...more machine than stunning girl Sarah's resistance would have been easier.
She was standing was on a cliff edge, her physical desires warring with her natural hatred of the machines. Ever since Kyle Reese and finding out about her future, Sarah had had only one thought in her mind. Stop Skynet, stop the machines and keep John alive in the process. Now however, with a sentient machine dragging around the edges of her consciousness, Sarah didn't know what to think.
Glancing towards the house again, Sarah spotted John's apprehensive frown looking out at her. Sighing internally at the idea of what John would say once he found out what had happened Sarah did not want to think anymore. Denying and ignoring Cameron's overwhelming presence in her life were better options. If she could ignore the situation then she didn't have to deal with Cameron and her own awakening libido.
"Cameron!" Sarah exclaimed in surprise as she opened her door to reveal a very determined terminator on the threshold of her bedroom door, one hand raised as if to knock and the other behind her back.
"What the hell have I told you about sneaking up on me?"
Running a hand through her hair wearily, Sarah studied the girl in front of her carefully, one hand still gripping the door knob tightly to rein in her racing heart.
"I am not sneaking; you opened the door before I could knock." The reply was quiet, exasperation colouring the tone as Cameron stood waiting head tilted.
"I..." another sigh, "what do you want Cameron?" Sarah knew she was being especially brusque with the girl but she couldn't help it. After having successfully avoided Cameron in the last two days and showing some restraint in not biting the girl's head off already at her sudden hovering around her, Sarah was at the end of her meagre store of patience.
"These are for you," Cameron replied simply, handing the bouquet of red roses hidden behind her back in Sarah's direction, almost shyly.
Sarah was flabbergasted. Out of all the things she had come to expect from the girl, this was not one of them. Staring at the bouquet warily, as if they were the antithesis of everything she held dear, Sarah glanced to Cameron in consternation.
"I...uh..." At a loss for words, Sarah floundered, eyes glancing wildly between the roses and the girl offering them to her.
Sarah really did not know how she was going to deal with this bizarre situation. Admittedly, it was...really sweet...and watching Cameron standing there so shy with the flowers held out in front of her uncertainly...almost...endearing actually. And although the sight was making her insides melt into all sorts of puddles, this really was something that Sarah did not need right now.
"Do you not like them?" Cameron remained still, face settling into confusion. "John suggested that I should woo you and when I did my research it said that normally flowers are the best romantic gift. The florist said these are what women love the most, that they show affection and love."
Sarah's eyes drew into slits at the mention of John's name and drew in a ragged breath, at the mention of the word love. Sarah grimaced and hardened her melting heart. Love was not something that she wanted to associate with Cameron. It was impossible to feel anything for the metal girl; she was a much needed release nothing else. Squashing the almost immediate denial springing forth in her mind, Sarah grabbed Cameron by the outstretched arm, ignoring the roses and pulled her into her room, closing the door softly behind her.
"Cameron..." Running her hand through her hair again, Sarah faltered, not knowing what to say.
"I can get you something else if you don't like these flowers? My research also indicated that chocolates, soft toys and jewellery are a big hit." Cameron was extremely confused. She had done her research and that was what she had found out as to be the most appropriate gifts but looking at Sarah's agitation she felt as if she had done something wrong.
"They are. I mean, yes they are the appropriate gifts for showing your...affections," stumbling on the word Sarah glanced away, "but this isn't exactly...one of those situations and we're not exactly normal are we?"
Cameron stood still, flowers now held to her chest in front of her as she studied Sarah's words, her features tightening at the word normal.
"Why not?" Head now tilted to the side, Cameron continued stiltedly, "I am in love with you, we are in a sexual relationship and this is how I wish to show my love."
"Cameron..." another weary sigh," ...we're not in a relationship..." tone hardening, "...and do you even know what love is?"
Sarah pinned a cold gaze onto Cameron, willing the voices in her head to shut up at her treatment of the girl.
"Love: a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, sexual passion or desire, affectionate concern for the well-being of others."
Cameron looked down at the flowers in her hands as she spoke the words, trying to convey every single confusing emotion she had in regards to Sarah. It was baffling and perplexing and so overwhelming all at the same time.
"I feel all of those things when I look at you Sarah. When I am near you, my insides over load and when I am away from you, I feel jumpy and unsettled...I...I do not like it when you avoid and ignore me or when you are angry with me. I...I want to make you happy."
"Just because you know the definition Cameron, it doesn't mean you feel them." Ignoring Cameron's declaration Sarah closed her eyes and heart at the vulnerable expression displayed in front of her. She could not allow herself to feel anything for a metal girl...could not, no matter how human she looked right now. "You're a machine!"
Cameron stiffened at the words, her face settling into a blank mask and walked past the woman, placing the flowers on the bed as she did so.
"You may disregard my feelings as inconsequential...because...I am made of metal...but I am not a machine Sarah...I feel." Cameron's anguished words drifted slowly into the room as the door closed softly behind her.
Staring at the closed door then to the flowers and reflecting on the distressed tone in Cameron's words Sarah's heart faltered wondering if she had done the right thing after all.
Sarah jumped as the voice startled her out of her musings, her face turning into a scowl as she whipped her head up from staring at the roses sitting in the vase on the kitchen table, their presence mocking her silently in her continued confusion. Spotting John standing in front of her with a smirk, Sarah could only throw him a glare remaining silent.
"So...who are they from?"
Sarah squinted in suspicion at the seemingly innocuous and innocent question, her shoulders tightening when she saw the brief amused grin on John's face before he turned towards the fridge to forage for food.
Not knowing what to reply or even if she wanted to reply, Sarah clenched her teeth, the uneasiness in humouring Cameron in her...gift giving making her head throb.
Sarah had not wanted to acknowledge the roses, ready to throw them in the bin as soon as Cameron had left her room. Seeing them on the bed however, their petals and colour blooming with accusation at her treatment of the girl Sarah had felt guilt invade her body. Bowing down to the pressure in her conscience and the stabbing pangs of shame running through her body, Sarah had reluctantly picked them up from her bed to deposit them in the vase currently displaying the bouquet of roses proudly.
"Mom?" John had returned to the table, his arms loaded with the contents for making a sandwich as he threw a curious stare at her continued silence, just barely managing to refrain from rolling his eyes as Sarah threw him an exasperated look.
"Cameron." The voice was clipped and strained, the word spat out reluctantly as Sarah averted John's gaze, her attention landing on the now contentious display before her.
Narrowing her eyes in annoyance, Sarah turned back to John with another glare, "About that..."
John tensed, knowing that his mother knew about his participation in the flowers but remained silent as he busied himself with preparing his sandwich trying to ignore her charged glare directed at him.
"...I would appreciate it if you didn't encourage Cameron's...idiosyncrasies."
"Mom...why don't you..." John fell silent as Cameron walked into the kitchen, back and shoulders stiff until she caught the flowers on the table, her features softening as she glanced over at Sarah.
An awkward silence fell as Sarah fidgeted uncomfortably in her seat at Cameron's intense gaze, a slow blush beginning to travel up her neck. John rolled his eyes and bit into his now made sandwich, wondering who was going to break the silence first.
Cameron moved over to the table and sat down silently, her eyes flicking between Sarah and the flowers as if trying to decipher a hidden message only the woman could understand.
Remembering their last conversation with vivid clarity, Sarah remained mute and avoided Cameron's impenetrable gaze. She was reluctant to initiate a conversation with the metal girl knowing that any conversations with Cameron seemed to escalate downhill at an alarming rate.
"You should eat Sarah." Cameron finally spoke into the silence as she eyed John's eating form pointedly, her gaze intense as Sarah continued to ignore her presence.
Sarah sighed; obviously trying to ignore Cameron was not going to work.
"I'm going out." Sarah bit out as she got up and walked out of the kitchen, unable to deal with Cameron and her newfound pledge to drive her insane.
John glanced over towards Cameron as his mother stalked away, noticing the girl's tensing in reaction to Sarah's abrupt escape. Giving Cameron a sympathetic look and a shrug of his shoulders, John remained silent. There was nothing he could say that would make his mother's behaviour not seem harsh and grouchy.
After a brief walk around the neighbourhood to clear her mind and emotions, Sarah was glad that the sitting room and kitchen now appeared to be empty. Glancing down the hallway at the closed bedroom doors, John's and Cameron's, Sarah could only breathe a sigh of relief.
Entering her room Sarah headed towards her wardrobe only to be pulled up short as she stared in startled bemusement at the plate of sandwiches encased in plastic wrap and a bottle of water sitting on her bedside table.
Leaning against the wall heavily, hands on knees, Sarah could only sigh in consternation, wondering how she was supposed to ignore a determined terminator that didn't want to be ignored.
"Sarah, Charlie's in danger."
At Derek's sudden entry and words, Sarah froze on her way to her bedroom. Turning to give him a panicked look, Sarah strode over to stand in front of the resistance fighter gripping his arm firmly in a tight grip.
Sarah really did hate Derek's impromptu visits and grand entrances; he never ever came bearing good news.
"How do you know that?"
"I've been spending a bit of time with Charlie; we hang out at least once, twice a week at his place." Derek's expression was guarded, knowing that Sarah would not like that news. "When I rang him today, he answered but he didn't return the four digit code."
Sarah pursed her lips in anger and a sick feeling of dread. Derek and Charlie 'hanging' out was not something that she had expected. What had he been up to? Giving him a suspicious look, Sarah released his arm and moved away, pacing the length of the sitting room. "Why were you hanging out with Charlie anyway?"
"Never mind, I'll deal with that later," Sarah interrupted before he could reply, holding her hand up in front of his face.
Sarah glanced toward Cameron as she entered the room, startled at the sudden interruption as her mind tried to grasp the seriousness of the situation she was facing.
"Charlie's in danger." Sarah continued her pacing, shooting a worried look in Cameron's direction; forgetting about their strained relationship for the moment in the face of Derek's news. "Derek rang him and he didn't enter his code. We need to go..."
"He is already dead."
Sarah's head whipped round towards Cameron at the stark comment, anger infusing her face at her emotionless words.
"You don't know that! We need to go and check on him, get him back here for safety."
Sarah strode to stand in front of the machine, her chest rising and falling in pain and anger, jabbing a finger at Cameron's chest for effect. She did not want to believe Cameron, did not want to believe that Charlie was dead and that it was her fault for putting Charlie in that situation just because she had been lonely. He couldn't be dead because he had known Sarah Connor; she couldn't live with that guilt.
Cameron remained impassive, her expression emotionless and unmoving. Sarah was being irrational. Charlie was not her concern.
"Mom? What's happening?" John strolled into the sitting room, his face creased in worry at seeing his mother and Cameron's stand-off.
"Charlie is dead." Cameron interrupted before Sarah could say anything.
"Don't say that! You don't know that!" Sarah screamed as she pushed Cameron, hard.
Cameron remained standing staring at Sarah, her expression shuttered but her eyes betraying her hurt. She did not know what to do, what Sarah wanted her to say. She was speaking the truth but it did not look like Sarah wanted the truth.
Sarah turned away; ignoring Cameron's hurt expression on her face and her guilt once again. She couldn't deal with Cameron and everything that she was, as well as deal with her worry over Charlie. Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves Sarah turned towards Derek.
"We need to go, now." Sarah turned away; ready to walk out of the room to grab her jacket and gun.
"No." Cameron's implacable tone pulling her up short.
Sarah closed her eyes and glanced towards the kitchen to steady her anger, the roses on the table drawing her attention, a reminder of her brief weakness in humouring the girl. Sarah hardened her resolve; she was not going to allow Cameron to weaken her anymore.
"Enough! We are not discussing this. We are going!"
John and Derek stood watching to the side daunted in Sarah's anger and chose to remain silent as Cameron's form stiffened imperceptibly, glaring at the panicking woman before her. Looking over towards the roses as well, Cameron's form and features softened minutely. Sarah was in distress and she needed Cameron's help.
Going to the closet with the guns, Cameron silently selected shotguns and rounds, stepping to the side to wait patiently for Sarah to move. Cameron's only concern now was to keep the reckless woman safe, even in the face of her own negligent regard for her safety.
Sarah breathed out a ragged breath at Cameron's easy acquiescence, glad that she didn't have to put a gun to Cameron's head to get the girl to follow her orders. If she had had to she would have gone without her but was extremely relieved nonetheless that Cameron had chosen to accompany them. Sarah felt safer and better with Cameron along.
"What are you staring at?" Derek scowled fiercely at the terminator sitting next to him.
Cameron remained silent and turned away to look out her side window, her expression unchanging. She knew the soldier did not like her, she didn't know why but could care less. He was not her concern. As long as he did not put John or Sarah in danger, she continued to let him live.
Derek growled low in his throat at her obvious disregard, grinding his teeth in anger. He hated the damn machines, hated them with a passion. He knew that no matter how much re-programming was done on them they couldn't be trusted, especially the one sitting beside him. Sarah was a fool to think that she could make that thing her pet and she wouldn't turn on her, that she would follow her out of loyalty and love. She was a machine; she didn't know the concept of either one.
He had relied on Sarah to feel the same as him, knowing that her own hatred for the machines would make her not trust as blindly as John had. And in the beginning Sarah had, but over time he had started to notice a change in her towards the terminator; a softening around the edges and a reliance on the thing next to him more and more. It sickened him to think that Sarah was developing feelings for something that had caused the destruction of mankind. He had seen the way Sarah looked at the machine when she thought no one was watching; one part confusion, one part fascination. Derek looked up to the rear view mirror and scowled at Sarah's reflection.
Sarah looked up and away from the road at Derek's words catching his scowling face and then Cameron's bland one in the mirror, biting her lip in trepidation knowing that Cameron was very capable of killing the man next to her with a flick of her wrist if she chose. Derek was stupid sometimes, no matter how much he hated the machines, provoking Cameron to kill him wasn't really in his best interests right now. Sometimes it seemed as if he was the one who forgot who and what she was.
Glancing towards John uneasily who just rolled his eyes at her in return; she focused back onto the road. Although not wanting to admit it, even to herself, Sarah was a little bit...disturbed that Cameron had automatically chosen to sit in the back instead of in the front beside her. Cameron's obvious shunning and cold countenance making her second guess her behaviour towards the girl. Shaking her head mentally, Sarah sighed; this was not the time to dwell on anything except the very real possibility that it might be too late to save Charlie.
As Sarah turned down Charlie's street, Derek looked over towards the machine again, shuddering at her profile in the street lamp passing by. The machine looked so human, so real. If he didn't know what it was, he would walk pass her without a second glance. If Skynet wasn't so malevolent, he could almost appreciate the perfect artistry it had achieved to create these replicas of humanity.
Sarah parked the vehicle a couple of houses away; Derek hopping out as soon as Sarah had turned the engine off followed swiftly by Cameron, Sarah and then John. Cameron grabbed the shotgun and passed it over to Sarah without a word, her face cold and smooth in the illumination from the street lamp. Sarah bit her tongue and took the proffered shotgun without a word. She knew Cameron was annoyed with her but like everything else, she would deal with that later.
As they neared the house, the group slowed down, crouching cautiously behind some bushes on the side of the driveway.
"Cameron, run a scan, see where he's got Charlie."
Cameron obeyed Sarah's command instantly as she trained her eyes towards the house, seeing Charlie tied up in a chair in the sitting room, head slumped forward on his chest. Standing beside him was the terminator, posture rigid and staring straight ahead. Taking note of the warm body temperature and the raspy breathing of the slumped body, Cameron raised an eyebrow in surprise. She would not have let Charlie live, she would have disposed of him straight away; that meant it was a low level T888 and he was using Charlie as bait to lure John or Sarah out.
Cameron stiffened slightly at the thought; she should not have allowed John or Sarah to come. They were putting their lives and the mission in danger. Sarah was being irrational...as always.
Giving one last scowl at the slumped body, Cameron glanced back towards Sarah in reluctant confirmation, indicating that she knew where Charlie was. She nodded once and proceeded to walk up the steps of the driveway, the rest following in her shadow. As she neared the front door, Cameron reached for the door knob and ripped it off striding purposefully through the now open entrance.
Walking swiftly to Charlie's location, Cameron saw the approaching terminator. Grabbing him by the shoulders Cameron flung him as hard as she could to the other side of the room with a loud crash as he impacted through the opposite wall. Watching him quickly clamber to his feet Cameron strode over in three quick steps and with negligent ease tossed him into the kitchen bench, causing bits of wood, vinyl and glass to go flying into the air around him with a heavy crash.
The T888 picked himself up from the bench groggily but managed to block the roundhouse kick headed for his head with his right hand, while reaching to punch Cameron in the stomach with his left at the same time. Feeling the impact reverberate right down to her toes, Cameron flew across the room and landed heavily against the refrigerator door leaving a dent from the impact of her body.
Sarah watched the ensuing battle with some anxiety as she saw Cameron being flung across the room. Tightening her grip on the shot gun, she indicated to John and Derek to check on Charlie while she followed the two battling terminators, cocking the shotgun as she went.
Stumbling to her feet, Cameron launched herself into the approaching T888 with a solid kick to his chin, sending him backwards to land on the kitchen floor. Before he could move to get up she quickly pounced on top of him with a flurry of punches to his face that made his head bounce up and down like a basketball.
Derek and John moved cautiously towards Charlie tied to the chair as the two terminators continued trading blows for blows, neither one giving an inch. Laying his shotgun on the floor, Derek proceeded to untie Charlie's bonds from around his arms and legs as John stood watch.
"Charlie, hey man, wake up." Derek slapped the man lightly on the cheek, noticing the scrapes and bruises decorating his face. Charlie snorted at the impact of the slap and blearily looked up towards Derek and then John, relief showing plainly on his terrified face.
"Derek," Charlie groaned softly, looking towards the still battling terminators and then back to Derek's impassive face.
"Come on, let's get you out of here." Pulling the semi hurt man to his feet; Derek shouldered Charlie's weight heavily onto his own shoulders as John went under the other side. They then moved him as quickly as they could to the front door, wanting to get as far away as possible.
"What about them?" Charlie pointed to the two machines that were trading blows fast and heavy both doing damage to the other, Sarah standing to the side as she raised her shotgun in readiness to fire.
"Leave em," Derek grunted unconcerned as John turned anxious eyes in the same direction as Charlie's finger. John was worried for Cameron, but most importantly for his mother. Cameron could look after herself and couldn't get hurt easily; Sarah on the other hand had only just recovered from a bullet wound.
"Derek, maybe we should..." John started to say before Sarah's loud and clear voice interrupted.
"Get out of here, now! Cameron and I will follow, now go!"
Derek started to move at the stern command but John still hesitated, indecision marring his features.
"Come on John, move it! Do as your mom says, we've got to get out of here. That thing can look after herself," Derek shouted towards him as he moved towards the door, making John rush after him hurriedly as he dragged Charlie along.
Sarah watched them go briefly, sighing in relief at their departing backs before settling her gaze back onto the still fighting terminators. Sarah was getting worried; Cameron was sustaining as much damage as the other terminator. She looked around wildly trying to figure out how to separate the T888 from Cameron as she raised the shotgun to aim at the T888's head. Before she could shout for Cameron to step back however, four shots rang out and landed with deadly force into Cameron's back, flinging her halfway across the room and making her drop heavily onto her side.
"Cameron!" Sarah shouted in horror before she quickly regained her senses and raised her shotgun again towards the T888 who was advancing on her, filling him with shotgun pellets in quick succession, the rapport reverberating in the silence of the night. As Sarah watched the T888 stumble then fall down onto one knee, Sarah quickly reloaded and then fired again repeatedly into his head, watching in satisfaction as he stumbled slowly once then lay still on the kitchen floor, giving one last spasm as he went offline.
"Derek, get that T888's chip, we'll talk about that stunt later. Cameron and I will be out in a minute." Sarah shot him a dirty glare as he hurried towards the downed T888 to do as told, his face showing no remorse at shooting Cameron.
"Cameron, are...are you ok?" Sarah glanced towards Cameron as the girl struggled onto her knees, feeling slightly nauseous at the sight of torn and bleeding flesh, interspersed with hints of gleaming metal in the girl's back.
Cameron ignored her and stalked over towards Derek kneeling on the ground, pulling out her gun from behind her back at the same time. As Derek successfully pried the cover off the chip and reached in to yank it out, Cameron raised her hand and placed the muzzle of her gun against his temple. Derek froze, slowly raising his hands in a gesture of surrender and turned around to face her, defiance all over his features.
"Cameron! No!" Sarah shouted in alarm as she ran over towards the girl and pulled at Cameron's arm holding the gun.
"He shot me; he put you and John in danger. He needs to die." The voice cold and hard as Cameron stared unflinchingly into Derek's eyes, releasing the safety on the gun at the same time.
"Cameron, we'll deal with this later. You can't kill Derek, Cameron...we need to go," Sarah pleaded as she tugged again on Cameron's arm, seeing a look in the girl's eyes that truly frightened her.
Cameron remained unmoved, arm straight and unflinching, body tense and ready to fire as she continued to stare into Derek's eyes, seeing his defiance turning to real fear at the realisation of his impending death.
"Cameron! I don't want this. You said...you said you wanted to make me...happy...I...I won't be happy if you kill Derek."
Sarah held her breath knowing that there was nothing more she could do for Derek. If the girl didn't listen to her now, the man was dead.
A deathly silence as Cameron froze, weighing Sarah's words. Finally, with a shuffle of her feet and minute relaxation of her body, Cameron released the trigger, flicked the safety back on and lowered the gun as she stepped away from Derek her gaze fixed on the T888 lying on the floor.
Sarah breathed a ragged sigh of relief as she turned towards Derek, "Take the chip and get out to the truck."
Derek hesitated staring at Cameron in disbelief, fear, anger.
Once the resistance soldier had fled out of the house Sarah turned towards Cameron and studied her in silence, the girl's face blank as she continued to stare at the T888.
"Are...are you...ok?" Repeating the words of earlier Sarah moved forward and placed a hand on Cameron's shoulder, concern etched into her face.
Cameron looked up and stared blankly into Sarah's eyes, no emotion, no life in her features.
"I am fine. I am a machine...remember Sarah? I have no feelings." Moving away from Sarah's touch, Cameron quickly tucked her gun back into her pants and grabbing a hold of the T888 firmly in her grip hoisted him on to her shoulders. Then turning swiftly, she walked out of the house without another word or backward glance towards Sarah.
Sarah stood in shock and consternation watching Cameron's retreating back, closing her eyes in disquiet at the cutting words come back to haunt her.
"Derek! What the fuck did you think you were doing?!" Sarah grabbed a hold of the soldier's arm and jerked him around to face her as he made to walk off.
The ride back with Cameron had been silent and strained, the girl shutting her out as she tried to ask her how damaged she was. Sarah had bit her lip in frustration and distress at Cameron's coldness radiating off her body in waves.
Barking to John to take Charlie inside and with Cameron storming off with the T888 in her arms to the garage for burning, Sarah could only see red as she caught Derek's smug satisfaction at the wounds in Cameron's back and the blood splotching on her thin t-shirt.
"Why the hell did you shoot Cameron Derek?!"
Derek's smug expression turned into a fierce scowl.
"She fucking nearly killed me and you're asking me why I shot her?!" Derek's face turned red in anger, pissed off at Sarah's concern for the machine.
"Why do you care so much about that thing Sarah?! She's a fucking machine, she doesn't feel shit. I shot her because you couldn't. Did you really think that the T888 was going to stop with that thing over there?! I saved our lives!"
"You saved shit! You did it out of hatred; it doesn't matter to you that Cameron was trying to save all of us! What if I hadn't been able to shoot the T888 in time huh?! Did you think of that?! You put everyone's lives in danger with shooting Cameron. She's not a goddamned machine, she's one of us!"
"One of us?! Really?! Is she human Sarah?!" Derek gave a derisive snort, his voice rising in volume at her words. "How can you forget what that thing is?! How can John?!"
Derek wasn't giving an inch, forgetting his real fear of earlier in the face of his own anger; he was justified in his shooting of Cameron. That thing was a machine, that's what it was built for.
Sarah stared at him incredulously seeing his face mottled with hate and rage towards Cameron.
"Grow the fuck up Derek. You've let your hatred towards the machines cloud your judgement. Do you think you're the only one that's lost someone? Lost friends and family? Yes, Cameron's made of metal but she's also made to kill." Sarah stalked closer to him, her face inches from his, eyes cold and unflinching, voice low and hard.
"You are alive because she's not a machine, don't you get that? If she was a machine she would've shot you in an instant, you endangered John, everyone. You're just lucky that I managed to talk sense into her, next time, she might not listen."
"Ohhhhh...that's right...that things your little pet bitch now isn't she Sarah? Sarah Connor's personal robot toy. How does it feel to fuck a robot Sarah? Letting a goddamn machine touch you?" Derek continued tauntingly, ignoring the warning signs in Sarah's eyes.
"Don't think I haven't seen the way you look at her, how that thing reacts around you and what was said in that kitchen. If you wanted to get your jollies off, why didn't you just buy a fucking vibrator?! That at least would've been normal!"
Sarah was beyond livid as she drew her hand back and slapped Derek hard on the face, leaving a reddening imprint on his cheek, his face turning away at the impact.
"Mom!" John shouted in concern as he came running out of the house seeing the slap.
Sarah ignored him as she continued to glare at Derek, eyes flashing fire, watching the reddening hand print with some sense of satisfaction.
"Go away Derek. Get the fuck away from here before I forget that you're human and let Cameron kill you. You are no longer welcome here, you got it?" And with one final glare in his direction, she turned away and stormed into the house, past a shocked John standing on the path watching in horror.
Cameron, standing on the threshold of the garage having watched the verbal sparring unfold in rigid silence turned away and went back inside. She was not sure whether she was glad or annoyed Derek had not raised a hand to Sarah, but if he had, she would have had to kill him, whether that made Sarah happy or not.
Spotting Cameron enter the garage, John followed, his apprehension at seeing his mother slap Derek and the bit of the argument he had managed to eavesdrop on growing in leaps and bounds. Knowing that Sarah would not be in the mood to do any talking, Cameron was the most obvious choice to get answers.
"Cameron, what's going on?"
Cameron stiffened at the question as she turned around to grace John with an impenetrable look, a wicked gleaming knife held in her hands.
"What happened with Derek?" John moved closer, trying to ignore the naked T888 in the fire pit and Cameron's knife in her hands.
"Derek compromised yours and Sarah's safety." Cameron's voice was like steel as she bent down and started to cut away into the T888's flesh.
John's stomach roiled violently at the nonchalance with what Cameron was doing, the sharp knife slicing into the T888's flesh like it was soft butter on a warm day. Turning his eyes away resolutely, John concentrated on Cameron's words, fighting down the rising nausea in his throat.
Back at Charlie's house, John had been concerned when Derek had told him and Charlie to wait in the truck and then promptly turned back to the house with his shotgun in his hand. Thinking that Derek had gone to back up Sarah his worry had been mild, the safety of everyone concerned his main priority. When Derek had returned ashen face without saying a word, John's unease grew, especially when Cameron came marching out minutes later carrying the T888 on her shoulder, her expression blank and solid like ice followed by his mother's hesitant gait behind Cameron and a deep frown marring her features.
Knowing that Derek had no tolerance when it came to Cameron, John was unsurprised the argument between his mother and Derek had been about the metal girl. What he was surprised and disgusted with was Cameron's obvious wounds on her back, easily deducing that whatever happened to her, Derek had been involved.
Rubbing his eyes tiredly, John placed a reassuring hand on Cameron's shoulder drawing her attention to him instead of the terminator in the fire pit.
"Come on Cameron, let's just go inside for now and I'll help you clean up."
"I need to burn this machine." The words were stilted as Cameron stood still, head tilted, her expression bland but John could sense something else going on with the girl under her calm demeanour.
"You can do that tomorrow. Come on."
Cameron remained silent as if weighing the words, and then with a reluctant nod, placed the knife on the bench.
John gave a relieved sigh at the easy acquiescence not really in the mood to try and persuade the stubborn girl against her will. Turning around, John walked silently back to the house, wondering if this was another situation with Cameron that his mother was going to ignore.
Hearing Charlie's concerned voice Sarah stopped at the entrance of the sitting room and drew in a ragged breath, trying to calm her emotions. Placing a hand on the wall to steady herself she closed her eyes and counted to ten. She had been so close to letting Cameron kill Derek, to have the satisfaction of watching him die...hell, if she had had her gun on her she would've shot him herself.
God, how did a mission to save Charlie go so horribly wrong? She had always known that Derek had hated Cameron...but to the extent that he would endanger everyone? What the hell had happened to him in the future?
Charlie placed his hands on her shoulders warily, feeling the stiffness underneath his fingers and seeing the weary hopelessness on her face.
Sarah opened her eyes and glanced towards Charlie, seeing the concern shining in his blue eyes, eyes that reminded her of another time, another place.
"I'm...I'm fine." Noticing the cuts and bruising on his face, Sarah led him back to the couch, glad for something else to do to take her mind off her homicidal rage towards Derek.
"You want to talk about it?" Charlie quirked a small concerned grin at Sarah as he held her hand in his, caressing it softly with his thumb.
Sarah glanced down at the contact, wanting to lose herself in the feel of familiar hands and warm memories. Looking up into loving eyes Sarah felt herself being hurtled back in time. Tracing the slight cut above Charlie's cheekbone she caressed his cheeks lightly, feeling the warmth of his skin seep into her fingertips.
He was such a good man, someone in another lifetime she could've loved with all her being. She should not have allowed her loneliness to sway her, to let him become a part of her life. She had no future that she could give him that didn't involve death and destruction. It was a dream, a dream that she had wanted to be real so that she could forget all about machines from the future and a world gone up in flames.
As Charlie's head descended towards hers, Sarah knew she should have stopped him, pulled away, but the lure of something ordinary, something normal made her allow the contact, wanting to lose herself in the familiar feel of him. Of memories that made her want to escape back to a happier place, where everything was simpler and easier. Charlie was clear, smooth and uncomplicated. He didn't invoke frenzied and confusing emotions inside her, didn't make her want something that no one would understand, least of all her.
As Charlie increased the pressure of the kiss, his hands now cupping her face, Sarah's mind and body revolted at the act, rebelling and screaming at her that this wasn't what she wanted...who she wanted...but Sarah pushed it away, wanting to just forget for the moment that she was Sarah Connor and definitely all about a cybernetic organism that wanted the impossible. Pulling away to catch her breath, Sarah gazed into warm eyes...he was so easy...so...
Seeing Charlie stiffen slightly and his eyes widening in alarm over her shoulders, Sarah turned her head in the same direction and froze. Cameron and John were standing in the doorway looking in. One had an expression of surprise and consternation, the other cold and blank.
Pulling herself from Charlie's arms and jumping to her feet, Sarah stared at Cameron in guilt and then to John in shame.
"Cameron..." Biting her lip in misgiving Sarah stumbled forward, hands reaching out as if to touch...soothe.
Cameron gave one final cold look towards Charlie and then turned away without another word heading down the hallway, her steps heavy and slow.
"Cameron..." This time running her hands through her hair as Sarah watched Cameron's unyielding back walking away from her, then turning to John as he followed after Cameron, his disapproval coming off him in waves.
"John..." Sarah faltered slightly when he turned back and scowled at her fiercely, his demeanour cold and stiff.
"I'm going to go help Cameron stitch herself up."
Sarah swore softly as he turned away, cursing the night and Derek's vile words thrown at her in anger and hatred.
Sarah sighed, knowing that she could not do this, use Charlie to soothe her doubts, to smooth away the creases in the fabric of her life. It was time she accepted the things that she could not change and move forward instead of this limbo she was wallowing in. She needed to make a decision about Cameron; own up or walk away. She had already done enough walking away.
"Charlie...I'm sorry, I shouldn't have let you kiss me...it was...it was wrong of me."
Sarah turned towards him, seeing the confusion and the bewilderment on his face as he stared at her then towards the doorway.
"Sarah, I don't understand. Why did that machine look like she wanted to kill me? What's going on?"
Pulling him to sit on the couch again Sarah rubbed her eyes wearily and held his hands in hers, looking into eyes that were never meant for her.
"Charlie...the time I had with you, they were the best time in my life. I was...happy, or as happy as I could ever be and John...John had a man, a father he could look up to." Sighing again she looked away, unable to bear the pain she was going to cause him and to avoid the look of revulsion he was sure to give her once she told him the truth.
"Cameron and I...that is...we're..." closing her eyes, Sarah exhaled slowly, "...involved...or was...or...it's...it's complicated."
Charlie pulled back in surprise and uncertainty, not sure what to make of the news he had just heard, Sarah and the...machine? Standing to his feet Charlie looked at the woman he had loved, still loved actually with all of his heart. He could see the pain on her face, the weary tiredness of fighting something that she could not fight, had given up fighting.
This was Sarah, his Sarah, the woman he had thought he would spend his forever with but now...since finding out about the future and the machines...he didn't think things would ever go back to the way they were. He had always known, deep in his heart that she had never loved him, not the way that he loved her anyway. But...how could she...
"Sarah I don't, I don't know what to say or what you want me to say? I just...I just don't understand. You're involved with Cameron? What does that even mean? Can she even..." His words tapered off, unsure if he wanted to ask that question or if he even wanted an answer to that question.
Sarah stood up, arms crossed against her chest defensively, her hackles rising at Charlie's tone of voice.
"Charlie because of our...history...I'm going to ignore those questions, they aren't for you to understand. What I have with Cameron is between Cameron and me. I just wanted to let you know out of respect for the past, nothing else." Tone hardening as Sarah pinned him with a glare.
Charlie stared at her incredulously, "Are you in love with...her?"
Sarah remained silent, refusing to answer his question, refusing to even acknowledge the question.
"Sarah?" Charlie needed to know, needed to understand how this could be. It was, it was mind boggling.
Sarah drew out a ragged breath and deflated into herself, dropping her arms and sitting back down on the couch, head cradled in her hands.
"I...no...I...I don't know Charlie. I just don't know anything anymore. My world is upside down and all I do know at the moment is that, when I'm with...her...with Cameron, it goes right side up again." Sarah turned towards him, eyes beseeching for him to understand and not condemn.
"Do you think I wanted this? That I went looking for this? I've fought it, been fighting it and I'm tired. I'm so tired of fighting what my body doesn't want to fight. How can I...how can I..."
Sarah broke down, tears streaming down her face as she gave in to the inevitable, gave in to the knowledge that she couldn't ignore Cameron anymore, didn't want to ignore Cameron anymore. It was becoming too much, holding everything in, being staunch and unfeeling, ignoring what her body was demanding her to see.
Charlie moved towards Sarah in concern as he took in the pitiful shaking of her shoulders and the agonising cry of her words ripped from a soul as if it was being torn in two. Which for Sarah Connor it probably was; her focus, her whole existence since learning about the machines, about Skynet was to stop judgement day and now, having her heart...bleed for a...machine was more than likely to tear her apart.
Charlie didn't know what to do, he didn't understand, couldn't understand but...but this was Sarah and he understood Sarah...maybe...maybe that was all he needed to understand for now.
"It's ok...shhh...shhh, it's ok Sarah," Charlie murmured softly as he held the broken woman in his arms, rubbing her back in a soothing motion.
As Sarah felt Charlie's warm arms around her, holding her and soothing her troubled emotions, Sarah let herself feel, feel everything that she had bottled, hidden deep inside herself. There was nothing else she could do anymore.
So she continued crying, crying for John and his lost life, crying for Kyle Reese whose future had ended too suddenly. Crying for humanity and their ego, crying for Charlie because she could not, had not loved him as he had wanted. Even crying for Derek and his lost soul, crying for Cameron who was becoming more human than she was and lastly, she cried for herself. Cried for a future she had not asked for and a past she could not escape.
Charlie held her softly, firmly as Sarah allowed herself to let go, to acknowledge what she needed to feel and understand.
Finally Sarah's sobs became less, the guttural crying becoming less intense, dwindling in the silence of the room. She was bone weary but surprisingly she was also freer than she had ever felt before. Her soul felt cleansed, felt reborn in the wake of her tears.
Moving out of Charlie's hold, Sarah placed a hand on his cheek, a mimicry of earlier and stroked it again slowly, marvelling at the man's compassion before her.
"Thank you Charlie...that was...I think...that was a long time coming."
"Sarah, I'm not going to lie and tell you that I really understand what's going on here or if I ever will, but...whatever you need, whatever you want, I'm here for you, ok?" Charlie whispered softly as he took in the shine of drying tears on Sarah's cheeks.
"Are you in love with her Sarah?" The repeated question was soft, undemanding as Charlie wiped gently at the tears on Sarah's cheeks.
"I...I don't know Charlie." Sarah's face a worried frown at her wary admittance, she wasn't in love with Cameron, she couldn't be.
Leaning forward to place a soft kiss on his cheek Sarah gave him a tremulous smile, brushing his cheekbones lightly as she stood up and walked out of the room deep in thought. She was giving in to her needs with Cameron but she wasn't sure if she would ever be ready to give her heart as well.
"Cameron, let me in."
John knocked hesitantly on the bathroom door, biting his lip in apprehension. He had seen the look on the girls face and it wasn't exactly...angry per se...more like...resigned and heartbroken. He felt for Cameron, he really did. John knew what his mother was like and although difficult was one of the words to describe her; it was probably the mildest of the words available.
"I am fine John."
"I wasn't asking if you were fine, I was telling you to let me in. Are you clothed?" John continued through the closed bathroom door, his tone brooking no argument. Although Cameron wasn't shy in exposing her body, she had been getting better in remembering to close the bathroom door, especially after one of Sarah's berating episodes at the girl. It seemed Cameron really did not like his mother being upset with her.
The door opened slowly to reveal Cameron's blank features staring at him, tinged with an annoyance that was barely masked. The vibes that were radiating off Cameron in waves was like a gangly new colt, any sudden moves and she would bolt.
Sighing in relief that Cameron was still fully clothed, John pushed her gently forward and entered, closing the door softly behind him.
"Turn around, let me look at your back," John murmured quietly as Cameron continued to stand there just staring at him.
Cameron remained standing ready to argue but then decided against it and turned her back to him slowly, taking off the blood stained t-shirt at the same time. Clad only in her bra and pants, the obscene bullet holes showcasing the metal underneath her skin, Cameron was an odd mix of vulnerable girl and hardened machine.
John gulped in surprise at the damage he could see, the jagged blood encrusted wounds making him nauseous and his stomach twist violently. If these wounds had been inflicted on a human, there was no way she would have survived and still be standing here talking to him as if it was just a scratch.
Reaching for the cloth beside the basin, John ran it under warm water and proceeded to clean the blood off, making sure not to tear anymore skin, his ministrations tender as he caught Cameron's eyes in the bathroom mirror.
She stared back at him in something akin to sorrow, her features trying to mask a stiffness and hurt that he could detect. Dropping his gaze back down to the wounds he was tending, John could only curse his mother again, hoping that she would finally figure out what had taken him only an evening to process.
"Are you ok Cameron?"
John's question was hesitant, wondering if the girl would be able to understand that he wasn't enquiring about her physicality but her emotional well-being. He dropped the blood stained cloth and picked up the pliers next to the other accoutrements of the first aid kit, waiting for Cameron to respond.
"I am fine John," Cameron repeated, her voice low and mechanical, a sign that the girl was extremely distressed. She only reverted back to being a machine when she could not understand or process what was going through her systems.
John sighed as he struggled with a particularly stubborn bullet casing, trying to ease it free without damaging the surrounding tissue even more. He knew that it would have to be up to him to bring up the subject of his mother and...Charlie; he grimaced at the thought. Blood was now trickling down Cameron's back and onto his hands but John ignored it, composing his thoughts on what to say.
"What you...saw. It doesn't mean anything."
Silence echoed around the bathroom in the wake of his seemingly casual statement.
"Mom and Charlie I mean...it doesn't mean anything," John reiterated, wondering if Cameron had understood his vague reference to the incident.
Silence again, this time more pronounced and stifling in the smallness of the room.
"Cameron? Say something." Finally impatient with her lack of a response John stopped what he was doing to catch her eyes in the mirror again.
Cameron stared back blankly, shoulders and back rigid, unyielding, hands clenching tightly to the sink until with a muted crack, it came apart in a crumble of ceramic and dust, the act as if it was nothing more than tearing paper.
"Cameron!" John exclaimed as he stepped back in surprise staring at her standing there with two halves of a once whole sink.
Cameron looked down at the floor, her expression one of such abject misery and confusion John could not help but feel so utterly sorry for the girl.
"It's ok, here, put those down and we'll sort it out later. I need to still stitch these wounds."
Cameron dropped the two pieces and leaned over the now gaping sink hole, still strangely mute. John was now getting worried, it was unlike Cameron not to say something by now, even if it was only a seemingly out of context comment. Silence reigned again but John refrained from asking anymore questions, Cameron would speak when she was ready.
"Sarah loves Charlie."
The sudden statement in the silence gave John a start and the needle he was holding to Cameron's skin slipped and dug a little bit harder than he had intended into her skin. Wincing at the accident, John slowly eased the needle out while Cameron remained still, seemingly unaffected by the needle jab.
"Um...yeah...she does," John finally stuttered out as he caught Cameron's eyes in the mirror again, seeing her stiffen even more at the words.
"But...there are different levels of love Cameron," John quickly interjected wanting the girl to understand the subtle nuances involved in human love before she broke anything else.
Cameron tilted her head at him but remained silent, waiting expectantly for further explanation. John sighed again and dropped his head to continue with sewing the next bullet hole in her skin. Sometimes he really did think it was unfair that he had to be the one to teach a sentient being the finer points of human emotions.
"Mom...she was...did love Charlie and in a way she probably always will. But I don't think she was ever in love with him." Stressing the word in, John looked up briefly to see if Cameron had understood his meaning.
"Don't get me wrong, I love Charlie, he was...is the closest thing I'll ever have to a father but sometimes, when I saw mom with him, I'd get the feeling that she was only with him because of me."
John fell silent as he stitched the final thread on the last wound and stepped back to reach for the gauze, allowing Cameron to absorb the meaning of his words.
"But she kissed him." The tone was petulant, acerbic as Cameron's face turned into a scowl.
"Well, remember when we discussed that mom was illogical? That's her demonstrating her illogicality again."
Cameron mulled over the words; trying to understand Sarah Connor was a hopeless exercise in futility. She was getting better at reading the woman but really understanding Sarah was something that Cameron thought she would never completely grasp.
"I do not like it when Sarah kisses someone else."
John looked up quickly at Cameron's clipped tone, his hands pausing in taping down gauze on Cameron's stitched wounds.
"No, I don't like it either," John murmured softly in agreement as he bent down again to resume his taping.
Silence once again reigned until John had placed the last gauze on the last bullet wound and stepped back, studying Cameron gently, his face set in sympathy for the obviously broken girl.
"Thank you John, for helping and...for explaining."
John knew a dismissal when he heard one; he had heard the same tone from his mom so many times before he was becoming a pro at recognising that it was time for him to leave.
Giving Cameron a small smile in return, John placed his hand on her arm to draw her attention.
"It's going to be fine Cameron. It may not look like it now but things will work out. Just give mom some time, she'll come around. It just takes her longer than the normal person to figure out that sometimes there are some things you just can't or shouldn't fight."
John gave Cameron one more smile and quietly left the room, leaving Cameron to her thoughts. He just hoped that he had managed to salvage a situation that his mother was hell bent on destroying.
John gave Sarah a scowl as he saw her enter his room, he did not feel like talking to her at the moment. He was still upset that she was treating Cameron like shit. Terminator or not, even he knew that what the poor girl was going through wasn't fair, especially if Cameron didn't even really understand what she was going through.
"John? Do you know where Cameron is?"
Not finding Cameron in her room or anywhere in the house or backyard, Sarah had become concerned.
After the emotional meltdown with Charlie Sarah had started to go in search of Cameron but had changed her mind at the last minute. She was too drained for anymore conversations that required a big emotional investment, withdrawing to her bedroom for the night instead. Sarah knew that when it was time to have her conversation with Cameron it would definitely require all of her mental reserves.
"John?" Sarah frowned as John sat silent, a mutinous expression on his face, arms folded over his chest in his righteous anger at her.
"Why? So you can hurt her some more?"
Sarah flinched at the accusation but remained steadfast. She was getting tired of dealing with everybody's feelings towards her. It was becoming a cycle that she hated.
"Please John; just tell me where she is. I...need to see her...explain..."
John looked undecided as he continued to stare at his mother, pissed off that she had treated Cameron so badly but hating that she looked so sad at the moment.
"Fine, I think she's in the garage burning that terminator." John relented as he turned back to his laptop effectively dismissing her. He hated that she looked sad but he was still pissed at her.
"Of course she would be, I should have thought of that." Sarah sighed as she took note of John's dismissal, moving hesitantly towards him then deciding against it as she turned and walked out of the room. Closing the bedroom door softly behind her, Sarah frowned slightly as she thought she had heard John's voice cheerfully tell her that the bathroom sink needed fixing. Shaking her head in confusion Sarah made her way down the hallway.
Passing Charlie in the sitting room she smiled an abashed smile at him to acknowledge her breakdown of last night but refrained from engaging him in conversation; she needed to see Cameron first.
As Sarah approached the garage her footsteps slowed down in apprehension, she didn't know if Cameron was going to talk to her, to allow her to explain. She knew the girl was more than annoyed at her at the moment and that knowledge caused all sorts of butterflies in her stomach.
Sighing wearily and bending to her cowardice, Sarah made to turn back when she caught Cameron's still form staring down into the fire pit in front of her, she looked so lost, so...sad.
Sarah's breath caught in her throat and the heart that she had hardened towards Cameron melted like an ice-cream on a too hot summer day, its drippings falling into her veins, her arteries, coursing through her body like a jolt of electricity, waking her up as if from a coma induced sleep. Cameron was so ethereal in her sadness, almost fragile in her despondency. Back dropped against the light of the fire flickering softly on her face, Cameron's sadness tugged at her heart strings, made Sarah want to reach out and embrace the girl in a firm hug, to wash away the pain she had caused.
In a moment of enlightenment Sarah was finally seeing Cameron for who she really was...she was just a girl...a metal girl who was just as lost, just as confused and just as troubled as she herself was over this whole situation.
Steeling her resolve, Sarah strode towards Cameron, her steps firm and sure. She could accept for this moment that whatever she felt for Cameron was something that she couldn't deny.
"Cameron?" Sarah watched the shoulders tighten at her voice but no acknowledgement was forthcoming.
Sarah moved closer to stand in front of the girl, reaching out gently to tilt Cameron's head towards her, her stomach flipping at the coldness she could see in the brown depths.
"Why don't you come inside?"
Cameron regarded Sarah silently, her posture straight as she stared into eyes that had always captivated her.
"Terminators cannot self-terminate." Cameron finally answered as she turned back to stare at the slowly melting endoskeleton of the T888 in the fire pit.
Startled at the non-sequitur, Sarah held her breath at the words, anxiety gripping its ugly claws into her stomach. "Why...what..?"
Cameron looked up again, this time her face reflecting her eyes as she watched Sarah flounder for words that wouldn't come.
"If you wished me to...I...I will allow John to remove my chip and then I should..." tone faltering slightly, "I should be burnt...just like this machine here..."
"What? I don't..." Sarah stuttered, confused and alarmed at Cameron's softly spoken words, her face creasing into a panicked frown, "...why do you think you should be terminated Cameron? Why do you think I would allow you to be terminated?"
The silence this time was excruciatingly long as Sarah waited with bated breath for the girl to answer, her heart somersaulting over the idea of terminating Cameron.
"I am flawed, damaged. A machine who is not a machine...and...not...human." Eyes raised in a beseeching quality wanting Sarah to understand. "I...I am not normal...I...I am a thing...a freak."
Sarah gasped in abject horror at the words, her eyes moistening with unshed tears at Cameron's anguish, at the girl's too human pain. She may not be sure about her feelings for Cameron but Sarah was sure that she didn't want the girl to be in pain anymore.
"You...Are...Not...A...Freak...Or...A...Thing...Cameron," Sarah's voice was vehement, strong with the convictions of her statement. Lowering her voice slightly Sarah continued more softly, gently as she held Cameron's chin to capture the girls eyes.
Cameron turned away from the shining green eyes in front of her knowing that Sarah was incorrect, she was a freak, a thing, an abhorrence of nature itself.
"I should be destroyed; it is not safe for you or John," the voice still lifeless, flat, "I will hurt you."
Sarah could feel the tears that were pooling behind her eyes slowly slide down her cheeks as she heard the emptiness in the voice, the vulnerability of it making her body shake in reaction.
Cameron turned away and stepped out of Sarah's grasp, unable to bear seeing Sarah cry, looking towards the fire pit and then back to Sarah again; her gaze skittering between the two.
"Yes, you will hurt me Cameron."
Cameron stiffened even more at the words, then her shoulders slumping acknowledging the truth of Sarah's words.
"You will hurt me if you are terminated. I...I need you Cameron, I need you in my life, I need you here with me. I've realised I can't do this otherwise, I've tried, God I've tried." The similar words an echo of a plea that Sarah had made before but never fully committed to.
Cameron glanced up towards Sarah, a look of uncertainty on her delicate features, head tilted as she examined the distraught and anxious face in front of her.
When Cameron had entered the garage there was only one thing she had been sure of, she was sure that she should be terminated. Derek was correct, she was a thing, a freak that needed to be destroyed because she was damaged, flawed and could cause John or Sarah harm. She was neither a machine nor a human being, an anomaly that should not exist. But looking at Sarah's face wrought with misery and sincerity, Cameron started to doubt her sureness. If Sarah thought her worthy and trusted her enough not to harm her, maybe Cameron could trust Sarah instead of herself?
"Cameron...will you trust me?"
Cameron gave a start, Sarah's words an odd echo of her thoughts but remained silent, watching, weighing.
"You have Charlie." The words hard, the tone steely as Cameron turned away, ignoring the heartfelt plea.
Sarah winced at the words knowing that she deserved Cameron's anger.
"Charlie is...Charlie is unimportant Cameron. He...never really was important," Sarah's voice stumbling, wondering if she could make Cameron understand her.
"You kissed him."
Sarah winced again and rubbed her face in reflex.
"Cameron..." A sigh.
"When I was with Charlie...I was...I was living a dream, something that I had always wanted but never really got a chance to have. He was...a way to ease...the loneliness, the burden of being Sarah Connor. It was wrong of me to use him like that but I wanted desperately to give John a normal life, a normal existence where we weren't Connor's but normal human beings whose biggest problem was what to have for dinner that night."
Sarah watched Cameron carefully, studying the girls still back, willing her to hear her words.
"When Charlie kissed me last night...I allowed myself just for a minute to believe in that fantasy again, to believe that I could have that again. Not because I wanted him but because I wanted that life...do you understand? How can I want Charlie when all I can think about is...is wanting you?"
Cameron turned around finally to give Sarah a stare tempered with steel, her tone belligerent and clipped, "You love Charlie."
Sarah paused seeing the look in Cameron's eyes and her unflinching tone, demanding a denial that Sarah couldn't give.
"Yes Cameron, I do...but...it's...I'm not in love with him, if that's what you want to know."
Sarah was not going to deny the truth to Cameron, she would always love Charlie and the girl needed to know that but it was also true what she had told Cameron, she didn't want Charlie, not anymore.
Cameron narrowed her eyes at the admittance, her lips thinning into a scowl and turned away again. Cameron did not like it that Sarah still had feelings for the man, even if there was a difference in how she loved him.
"You do not love me."
Sarah froze at the words, the accusation bouncing around the garage as she stared at Cameron's rigid form in front of her. Sarah didn't know what to say, how to answer an accusation that she wasn't yet prepared to face. She couldn't give Cameron what she wanted to hear and yet she couldn't deny that she cared for the girl either.
"I...I don't know Cameron, I don't know what I feel. What I do know however is that...I do want you...need you with me."
Sarah moved towards Cameron hesitantly, unsure whether her words had been enough to sway the girl in front of her, whether they had been enough to at least let the girl know that she cared.
Placing a hand on Cameron's shoulder and turning her around slowly, Sarah extended her other hand to the delicate face in front of her, stroking a cheek softly as she stepped closer into Cameron's personal space. Giving a big sigh of relief that Cameron had not moved away from her touch, Sarah pressed herself even closer to Cameron's rigid form, her hand tightening on the girl's shoulder as the other began to trace lightly against Cameron's pouty lips.
"Will you trust me Cameron? Will you be here...with me?" Sarah repeated her words earlier softly, urgently, needing the girl to understand that this was all she could give for the moment.
As soon as Sarah's fingers touched her cheeks, touched her lips, as she felt the feel of Sarah's body against hers, Cameron was lost and then found all at the same time. Pushing down her doubts and her desire to kill Charlie Cameron gave in. Sarah was her salvation, her lifeline to her existence, her reason for being. She could not deny Sarah as much as she could not deny her overwhelming need to be with Sarah, to protect Sarah, to love Sarah.
"Yes Sarah, I trust you, I will be here with you," Cameron confirmed softly, simply as she wrapped her arms around Sarah's waist and leaned her head forward slowly to place a gentle, almost chaste kiss against Sarah's lips and then pulled away to stare into eyes that would forever be engraved into her memory banks.
Sarah's whole body relaxed at the words and the chaste kiss on her lips, her face lighting up and her soul becoming less weighted as her lips widened into a relieved smile. Pulling Cameron's head down to claim her lips in another kiss, this one longer, deeper and more earnest than before in confirmation Sarah smiled a soft smile at Cameron, already feeling the axis on her world righting itself.
Freeing herself from Cameron's embrace, Sarah tugged gently on Cameron's hand. "Come on girlie, let's go inside."
Leading a willing Cameron back into the house Sarah held onto the girl's hand in a firm grip, afraid that if she let go, Cameron would disintegrate into her nightmare hell of melting fire. Sarah may not know or understand what she was feeling for the metal girl but at this moment it was enough that Cameron was here with her.
Cameron was in awe as she gently traced her fingers over Sarah's back, captivated at the little ripples and slight tremors wherever they touched. Tracing light patterns down the spine and back up again, Cameron memorised the dips and valleys, the marring of perfect pale skin by old wounds and healed scars. She wanted to treasure this moment in her memory banks, the sight of Sarah sleeping peacefully by her side, blankets pooling over Sarah's backside and the expanse of tempting flesh exposed to her cybernetic gaze.
Placing a light kiss to Sarah's shoulder she felt the woman stir softly, her hands continuing their light pattern on Sarah's back in an attempt to soothe Sarah in her dreams. Cameron was...she had no words to describe how she was feeling. Losing herself once again in Sarah had been profound, a revelation and an awakening to already sensitised nerve endings. Her programming had not been prepared for this, her systems had ground to a slow crawl, every code and script focused on trying to decipher messages sent from nerves hyper aware of Sarah's smell, Sarah's touch, Sarah's taste. It was intoxicating to the extreme and Cameron wanted it always.
"Cameron," a voice hoarse with sleep groaned out her name as Sarah turned over, capturing liquid brown with emerald green, a small smile tugging her lips at the sight of Cameron propped on her elbow, bestowing her a look of such affection Sarah felt her insides drowning all over again.
Sarah was astounded; this feeling coursing through her was invigorating and uplifting, her muscles aching pleasantly with the memories of last night. Capturing Cameron's wandering hands in her own Sarah lifted it up to place light kisses against the palm, trailing up Cameron's arms, her shoulders and towards her neck. Nibbling softly at the dip of Cameron's throat, Cameron's breathing hitched in her throat as she felt the sensations washing over her, kicking her systems back to life. The feel of a soft body against her own and warm lips caressing gently at the corners of her mouth made Cameron open in surrender, accepting the kiss with a fervour that surprised her. Opening her mouth widely, Cameron increased the pressure, capturing the lips in a firm hold, warm tongue sneaking out to greet Sarah's.
"Good morning," Sarah sighed softly as she pulled away gently to lay her head against Cameron's firm shoulder winding her arms over a flat stomach, snuggling in deeper into the warmth of the solid body.
Sarah was floating blissfully in a warm and mellow trance, luxuriating in the feel of Cameron beside her in her bed.
"Good morning Sarah," Cameron replied softly, placing a gentle kiss on Sarah's head and tightening her hold around the woman, revelling in the softness of Sarah's curves against hers.
"John is up."
Sarah's body stiffened at the comment and made to move away but Cameron held on tightly, not allowing the woman to withdraw from her.
"He has been up for half an hour and is now in the kitchen, he will not come in here," Cameron murmured softly, stroking soothing patterns onto Sarah's back.
Sarah relaxed infinitesimally at the words but then groaned as if in agony, burying her head into Cameron's shoulder in frustration.
"Oh God, what am I going to say to him? Tell him...about...us?"
"He already knows Sarah. He was the one who gave me the advice to woo you," Cameron raised Sarah's head to stare into a face etched with worry.
"Yes, I suppose he does," Sarah replied distractedly as another thought entered her head. Suddenly suspicious she turned narrowing eyes on Cameron. "What else have you discussed with him?"
"That I was confused and that you had kissed me. When I tried to discuss you being intimate and having sex, he got...upset." Cameron's face was calm, confused in the face of Sarah's growing anxiety.
"You what?!" Sarah exclaimed in a strangled cry, burying her face in her hands again, shock and horror evident on her features as she moved away from Cameron.
"Yes. That was John's reaction also," Cameron replied curiously wondering why this topic of conversation would engender such a reaction from both of the Connor's.
"Cameron...you can't...we...just...just don't discuss...this...with John anymore ok?" Sarah finally stuttered pinning the girl with a steely glare.
Cameron remained silent returning the glare with a simple head tilt to acknowledge Sarah's words. She did not understand why human's were so...squeamish in talking about sex but if that was what Sarah wanted, then Cameron would do as Sarah wanted. Moving slowly towards Sarah on her hands and knees, Cameron stared longingly at Sarah's inviting lips. She had wanted to kiss them again ever since Sarah's lips had left hers.
"Cameron..." Sarah growled low in her throat wanting a verbal confirmation.
"Yes Sarah, I will do as you want," Cameron intoned softly as she reached out and brought their lips together in a searing kiss of need and want.
"Where's Cameron?" John asked curiously as Sarah stepped into the kitchen, heading automatically to the coffee machine.
Sarah blushed hotly at the question, face turned away from John's scrutiny as she busied trembling hands with grabbing a mug from the cupboard above her head and filling it with coffee. Composing her features into a calm she didn't feel and willing the redness from her cheeks away, Sarah turned around to face John, leaning against the counter, mug held firmly to steady her nerves.
"She's gone outside to check the perimeter. Where's Charlie?"
"He's gone home said he wanted to check it out and...figure some things out?" John raised his eyebrow at Sarah in question.
Sarah shrugged but remained silent sipping from her mug and watching him intently, wishing that she did not have to have this conversation with John. Charlie was safe for the time being and she had bigger concerns at the moment.
John raised an eyebrow again at her intent look and turned to study his mother critically. She looked well-rested, her eyes having lost some of their earlier heavy shadowing underneath, the tightness around her body not as pronounced as before. She looked...nervous actually and not the strained and tautness of yesterday.
Widening his eyes in silent comprehension John backed away in alarm not wanting to have the conversation with his mother that he knew they were going to have. He knew that this had to be about Cameron, evidenced by her obvious agitation and her white knuckled grip on her coffee mug.
"Mom, I...uh...I gotta go." And with a flustered rush he tried to walk past her out the door but was stopped by a hesitant hand on his shoulder.
"John, can you...uh...I need to talk to you...about...something," Sarah finally stuttered quietly as she looked away and went to sit at the kitchen table.
"It's ok mom, I get it. Cameron...Cameron and I...we uh...we spoke...and...it's all good." The last spoken in a rush as John turned reddened cheeks to Sarah.
Sarah studied him silently, seeing his anxiety and wishing the ground would open up and swallow her whole. She really did not want to have this conversation with him either but she had to be sure that he was ok with it, ok with her and Cameron being...whatever they were being.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, yeah I'm sure. I mean, I don't want to see you and her...uh...making...out...or anything but I'm ok with the whole...idea," John returned, stumbling over the thought of seeing his mother and Cameron kissing as he fidgeted nervously at Sarah's silent stare.
Sarah blushed again at the words and turned her head away to gaze out the window, spying Cameron walking towards the back porch.
With a final resolute stare back towards John to judge his sincerity, Sarah moved up from the table and walked towards him slowly, reaching out to embrace him in a firm hug, kissing him softly on his head.
"I love you John, don't you ever forget that."
"I love you too mom," John replied, relieved that the conversation was over as fast as it had begun as he returned the hug tightly, loving the feeling of being a little boy safe in his mother's arms again.
They pulled apart awkwardly as Cameron entered the room, her face a stoic mask as she stood staring at them, her head tilted to the side faintly judging the scene in front of her.
"John, I am glad that you are not upset with Sarah and I having s..."
"Cameron!" Both voices rose in alarm as John and Sarah stared at her in horror.
Cameron stood still, head still tilted slightly studying the two blushing Connor's who were looking everywhere except at each other. If Cameron had thought to shrug and roll her eyes, she would have.
Clearing her throat loudly and giving Cameron a warning glare, Sarah moved to sit down, blushing once again as Cameron came over and brushed her lips lightly on her cheek as she moved past to sit on a chair opposite her.
Sarah sighed with exasperation and rolled her eyes at her teenage behaviour as she studied Cameron softly, a smile gracing her face at the beautiful sight in front of her. Apart from a few scratches here and there, Cameron looked none the worse for wear. She was wearing a white long sleeve shirt, black khaki pants and her usual footwear of combat boots; all butched up, Sarah couldn't help but wonder when Cameron had become so sexy.
"Hmmm?" Sarah muttered distractedly as Cameron returned her gaze blithely, unwilling to break eye contact.
"About Derek the other night...what happened?"
At the mention of Derek's name all her good humour vanished and her face automatically went into a frown, catching Cameron's shoulders stiffening slightly at the name and her face growing cold as she turned away from Sarah to stare out the window.
Sarah sighed. She didn't blame the girl; she was still pissed at Derek herself.
"We had a...disagreement over Cameron and his treatment of her. Some words were said and the gist of it is he's not welcome here anymore," Sarah replied with a soft sigh as she turned to study John's face.
John frowned in consternation, he wasn't stupid. He had heard bits of the fight and saw the wounds on Cameron's back so his mother's polite paraphrasing of the incident wasn't going to deter him. He knew Derek could be a pain in the ass when it came to Cameron and the machines and he was pissed at his treatment of Cameron as well but he couldn't let one of the only male role models he had walk out of his life. Besides, he was his uncle and he was the only thing that tied him to his father, made him feel closer to him somehow.
"If...I...if I could get him to apologise to you and Cameron, would he...would he be allowed back?" John asked hesitantly looking towards Sarah then over at Cameron who was still sitting stiffly ignoring the conversation in front of her.
Sarah sighed again, sensing John's wariness in the question. She really wouldn't have cared if she never saw Derek again but no matter how much of an annoyance he was, he was still John's uncle and John needed that familial male bond, especially so now without a father figure in his life. Besides, the soldier did have his uses sometimes.
Sarah glanced over towards Cameron, concerned about the stiffness in the girl's slim shoulders and her resolute staring out the window. She didn't want to cause her anymore unnecessary discomfort; Derek would never change his opinion of her and having him around would just be adding fuel to the fire.
Reaching for Cameron's hand which was clenched tightly on her lap, Sarah held it lightly in a soft grip, waiting to catch the girl's eyes before speaking.
"If Derek is sincere in his apologies then...maybe...but I can't speak for Cameron, it's her decision as much as mine." Sarah gave a warm smile in return to the surprised look in Cameron's eyes as she squeezed the hand in hers briefly in reassurance and walked away from the table to refill her mug.
Cameron gazed over to Sarah as she sat down again with a fresh mug, feeling her features soften at the warm smile and twinkling eyes bestowed her way. If she was willing to be terminated for Sarah then putting up with an acerbic and caustic ex-resistance soldier should be relatively easy. As long as the man did not endanger either of the Connor's again, she could happily ignore him.
Decision made, Cameron turned her gaze towards John who was sitting watching with something akin to amazement at his mother's behaviour towards Cameron, he had never seen this side of her before in regards to the girl.
"I have no consideration for Derek except that he not endanger you or Sarah."
John let out a big sigh of relief. He knew things were changing if his mother was willing to take Cameron's feelings into account as he caught another unguarded look exchanged between the two. His mother...dare he think it? In love...was a new element of her side that he had not seen before. Even when she was with Charlie she had not been this...mellow...and it was good. God knows his mother needed something in her life to be all soft and squishy about; even the great Sarah Connor couldn't possibly function for long just on keeping his ass out of the line of fire every day.
Sitting on the back porch watching the world go by, Sarah felt a sense of peace that she hadn't felt in a long time, if ever. Sarah closed her eyes and leaned her elbows back onto the top step, tilting her face towards the sinking rays of the sun, making the most of the warmth before night settled in.
It was days like these that Sarah could not fathom judgement day, Skynet and the world ending. Life was so surreal and transient after the chaos of past events.
"You should eat something," Cameron voiced softly as she came to stand behind Sarah, her tall form blocking out the sunlight as she looked down, a plate in her hand.
"I'm not hungry," Sarah replied as she moved over on the step and indicated for Cameron to sit down next to her.
Glancing over towards Sarah as she sat down, Cameron extended the plate towards her with a firm frown.
"You need to eat."
"Cameron, I'm not hungry. Don't baby me." Sarah's voice took on a firm tone as she rolled her eyes at Cameron, grimacing at the plate in front of her.
"You have not eaten since this morning and that was only a piece of toast." Cameron's tone brooked no argument as she waited patiently, plate still extended. "You ignored my offer of lunch as well."
"Fine," Sarah grumbled in annoyance as she finally took the proffered plate, knowing it was useless to argue with Cameron when it came to her welfare. The girl was surprisingly resilient in looking after her. She was sure that between Cameron and John she was going to be babied to death.
"You need to eat three meals a day, you are too skinny," Cameron observed as Sarah picked up the fork and reluctantly started to tuck into the noodles piled high on the plate.
"Hey!" Sarah gave Cameron an offended glance as she knocked her shoulders against the girl's in outrage, "I am not too skinny. I have delicate bone structure."
"Yes, you are very fragile and breakable."
"Ok girlie, you better stop, right there."
Cameron raised an eyebrow towards Sarah's mock outrage but remained silent as she continued staring softly at the woman who was beginning to make her realise that she was becoming the more she wanted to be.
"Anyway, compared to you Cameron of course I am. You could bench press me with one arm tied behind your back and still not break a sweat," Sarah continued giving the girl an indignant smirk.
"Why would I want to...bench press you? That seems a waste of my time." Cameron's face was confused as if trying to decipher a hidden meaning behind the words.
Sarah's eyes crinkled in amusement at the literal translation as she continued to eat her dinner.
"We really have to work on your sense of humour girlie."
"Humour: a comic, absurd, or incongruous quality causing amusement; an instance of being or attempting to be comical or amusing."
Sarah rolled her eyes as Cameron repeated the definition out loud but remained silent.
"I did not find your words to be comical or causing amusement," Cameron voiced blandly, tilting her head at Sarah inquisitively.
"Everybody's a critic but that's ok Cameron, we'll work on it," Sarah replied patronisingly as she reached out to tap the girl lightly on her arm, crinkling her nose in mock sympathy.
"Do you want me to kill Derek for you Sarah?" Cameron enquired suddenly, eyeing the woman seriously as she continued to eat.
Sarah looked up jerkily, startled at the question as she swallowed the food in her mouth hastily.
"What? What makes you ask that?"
"He makes you mad and I do not like it when you are upset. If he has hurt you I will kill him for you," Cameron replied simply as she placed a warm hand on Sarah's knee gazing into startled green eyes.
"No Cameron, its fine. He didn't hurt me, besides I can handle Derek." Sarah crooked a small grin at Cameron as she placed her own hand over Cameron's holding it softly and squeezing gently.
"Are you sure? I do not like it when you are upset, it does...strange things inside me."
"I'm sure. Besides, you can't offer to kill everyone that makes me upset you know," Sarah admonished gently as she cupped Cameron's cheek tracing the soft skin with her thumb.
"Why not?" Head tilted Cameron's expression still serious.
Sarah sighed softly and placed a gentle kiss on Cameron's palm then turned back to the plate on her knees.
"Because...we can't go around killing everybody that makes us unhappy. We have to value human life; it's what makes us...human...and not a machine."
"I see." Cameron mulled over Sarah's words carefully in her head, a small pout gracing her delicate features. She didn't like it that she couldn't kill anyone who made Sarah upset.
"Can I hurt them?"
Sarah burst into amused laughter at the earnest expression on the girl's face as she leant over to place an indulgent kiss on the soft lips.
"We'll see Cameron, we'll see."
A clearing of the throat brought both heads round to stare at the figure standing behind them in the doorway.
Sarah frowned as soon as she saw Derek, sensing Cameron stiffening beside her, her features smoothing into an expressionless mask as Cameron swivelled her head away and stood up to stand beside Sarah's left.
"Derek," Sarah stated noncommittally as she took in Cameron's protective stance and placed her plate on the floor boards beside her, her appetite and humour completely gone.
"Uh...John said...you ah...wanted to see me?" Derek stuttered out as the tail end of the conversation he had been eavesdropping on suddenly vanished and the atmosphere became strained and forced.
Cameron was annoyed that she had not heard the man coming up behind them. She should have been aware of him as soon as he entered the house. Frowning at her lack of awareness Cameron remained silent and continued staring at Derek who was becoming increasingly uncomfortable at the intense scrutiny directed his way.
Moving past Sarah down the steps to stand in front of the woman, Derek became even more uneasy as he noticed the machines form tighten rigidly at his closeness.
"Can I talk to you Sarah please?"
Ignoring the hostile form standing opposite him, Derek knew that he didn't deserve a second chance with Sarah but he needed to try, for John's sake.
When John had rung him pleading with him to make things right with Sarah, Derek had been hesitant. He didn't think that Sarah would forgive him and the machine probably wouldn't allow him anywhere near Sarah anyway to make the gesture. But John had persisted, explaining that Sarah was willing to listen if he was willing to make the effort.
Derek's pride had instantly shouted no to the idea but when John had thrown in the uncle card, he knew he had to bite the bullet and apologise. He may hate the machines but he was truly fond of his nephew and besides, after all that was said and done, he still thought Sarah was the best fighter they had ever had. Maybe that was enough to keep his respect and try to patch things with the woman.
Sarah gave Derek a blank stare, aware of Cameron's steel form standing stiffly beside her, her intense distrust of Derek flowing from her in waves.
"What do you have to say Derek?" Sarah acknowledged as she placed a hand on Cameron's arm, feeling the girl relax slightly at her touch. Drawing comfort from the solid support of Cameron at her side, Sarah levelled an inscrutable look towards him.
Derek glanced uneasily at Cameron again and then back towards Sarah.
"Can I speak to you alone...please?"
Sarah remained silent, scrutinising his sincerity, finally relenting when he appeared to be genuine in his attempt to make the first move. Glancing up at Cameron, she released her light hold on the girl's arm and slowly nodded her acquiescence to the request.
Cameron narrowed her eyes signalling her disapproval at Sarah's subtle dismissal, not liking the idea of leaving her alone with the volatile soldier.
"Cameron, I'll be ok." Sarah knew that she would have to have a talk to Cameron about the over-protective streak the girl had started to develop. Sarah was not a helpless woman that needed taking care of; she was quite capable taking care of herself.
Still feeling unsure about leaving Sarah alone with Derek, Cameron finally capitulated and walked up the stairs to go inside the house, giving Derek another warning glare as she passed him by.
"Well...wasn't that just the sweetest moment?" Derek's tone was sarcastic, grating on Sarah's already sensitive nerve endings to his presence being here.
"If that's all you have to say Derek, this conversation is over," Sarah returned curtly, her features hardening as she made to get up from where she was sitting.
"Sarah wait, I'm...I'm sorry, that was uncalled for."
Sarah hesitated, turning to give Derek a suspicious look but decided to sit back down again waiting for the man to continue.
Derek sighed in relief, knowing that he had nearly blown it again with his behaviour.
"There were...there were, words spoken...the other night...that I'm not proud of. Words spoken in anger and...I'm sorry for that..."
"...but you're not actually sorry for shooting Cameron?" Sarah interrupted perceptively as her face tightened again in simmering anger.
"Sarah...what do you want me to say? I did what I thought was for the best at the time, I won't apologise for that," Derek exploded impatiently, his face turning into a scowl.
"Then we really have nothing to talk about. I can't have you around Derek if I can't trust you not to hurt Cameron every time we're in a situation like that." Sarah's voice steely as she returned his scowl.
"I can't give her up Derek...I won't, not for you. I'm not asking you to understand whatever it is that I have with Cameron but I am asking you to accept the situation and to accept my rules. Cameron is off limits, if you can't do that then there's no point in talking anymore."
Derek mulled the ultimatum over, his mind churning at the thought of what Sarah was saying; the anger suddenly draining from him in an instant.
"I never told you about the machine camps did I?" Derek finally stated softly as he walked over and sat down next to Sarah staring off into space.
"It wasn't the most funnest of times let me tell you but...you're right, I've let the hatred eat me up inside, letting it tear me apart and tainting everything I touch with it."
Derek turned solemn eyes towards Sarah breathing in a steadying breath to calm his nerves.
"I probably won't ever understand and won't pretend to...but...I'll try. For you, for John, I'll try not to hate that...Cameron...anymore ok?"
Sarah breathed out a sigh of relief at Derek's words. It wasn't a full acceptance but saying Cameron's name instead of calling her a thing, it or machine was at least a start.
"Thank you Derek. Thank you for allowing John to know his uncle." Sarah turned her gaze away not needing to say anything else. The meaning behind her words were clear, if she had had to, she would have chosen Cameron over him.
Derek sat in silence absorbing the words, watching the last rays of the sun sink behind the horizon, trying to let go of a hatred that had consumed his whole life or at least for one machine anyway.
"You know that mom can see you standing there right?" John enquired curiously as he looked up from his books to see Cameron standing at the window peering outside, a frown on her face.
"I am not hiding," Cameron replied blandly, her eyes never leaving Derek's agitated form standing in front of Sarah.
"Okay, but if she told you to leave them alone, she'll be pissed that you're spying on her," John's voice was droll as he returned his attention back to his homework. His mother had decided that it was time for him to return to school with no obvious threat floating around to stop him. He had tried to argue that it was pointless attending school if the world was going to blow up in four years, for some reason however that had not seemed to amuse her.
Cameron hesitated at John's words. She did not like it when Sarah was mad at her. Approximating as close to a sigh as she could get, Cameron walked over and sat down opposite John, her hands clasped firmly on the table as she tried not to think of the events going on outside.
"It'll be fine Cameron. Derek's not going to hurt mom, besides, I'm more concerned that she'll hurt him. You know she can look after herself."
"Yes I know Sarah can look after herself..." a hint of pride in her tone, "...but...it still...distresses me when she puts herself in danger," Cameron admitted quietly, reluctant to admit her fears, even to John.
"You and me both," John replied swiftly as he glanced up from his books to catch her worried eyes.
"But that's mom for you, illogical and reckless." John smiled at the girls own words returned to her.
Cameron remained silent but John was sure he had caught a small hint of a smile on her face at the words before quickly masking her features again.
He rolled his eyes at the gesture but refrained from commenting, Cameron was so far gone he didn't even think she herself knew how enamoured she was with his mother.
"Sarah's already gone inside." Derek stated into the silent night as he gazed out over the twinkling lights in the distance.
"I know," Cameron voiced blandly as she moved down the steps to stand in front of Derek, eyeing the sitting man critically.
"What? Wanna make sure I don't hurt your precious Sarah?" Derek sneered at the machine studying him as he fidgeted nervously at the coldness emanating from within the eyes.
"You would not have the chance." The reply was firm and strong, the threat clear as Cameron's features smoothened into a resolute mask.
Silence fell again while Derek absorbed the threat, his eyes roaming the machine up and down.
"I don't trust you." Derek's words ringing loudly in the quiet night as he crossed his arms defensively.
"I also do not trust you. You are volatile and disruptive. You continue to place Sarah and John in danger."
Derek stiffened at Cameron's words as his features twisted into a scowl. "And you aren't a danger to them? How do we know that you won't suddenly turn bad and kill everyone?"
Cameron titled her head to the side as if in silent contemplation of Derek's words.
"I...cannot say," Cameron finally replied hesitantly but then her tone hardened, "Sarah trusts me."
"Sarah has no option but to trust you because of the nature of your...relationship...to her. That's not good enough for me," Derek replied cuttingly.
"Can you say with certainty that you will not or have not ended a human life Derek?" Cameron stood motionless as the words drifted around them, the hidden understanding clear.
"Ending a life to stop Skynet is justified." Derek's tone this time was belligerent, defensive.
"Is it? Sarah told me that we should value all human life, that when we stop caring we become what you hate. A machine."
Derek threw a scowl towards Cameron as his eyes swept around the back yard avoiding the intense eyes staring back at him with no rancour.
"Sarah doesn't understand that sometimes the ends justify the means."
Cameron remained motionless absorbing the words.
"You killed Andy Goode because Sarah could not. I would have done the same."
Derek swung his head back towards Cameron at the words scowling once again at being compared to the machine.
"If Sarah was killed, would that stop you from killing the person or thing responsible?"
A hesitant heartbeat, "No."
"You would do anything to protect Sarah?" Derek stared unflinchingly into cold brown eyes as his words registered.
No hesitation this time, "Yes."
"Then we understand each other because I would do anything to protect my world. The world is my Sarah."
Cameron remained silent absorbing the words and the determined stare directed back at her. Derek fell silent as he studied the standing machine in front of him critically, wondering what Sarah saw in her to allow the girl to share her bed.
"You do know that Sarah will never love you right? She may want you but that's just physical, she'll never love you, not like she did Charlie." Derek's abrupt words in the silence were harsh and spiteful. Sarah had only told him not to harm the girl; she didn't say that he had to be nice. "Sarah would never love a machine."
Cameron stiffened, her face falling into its normal mask of blankness as Derek's words drilled into her chip, consuming her in their rawness.
"I know," Cameron replied stiffly as she walked up the steps past Derek, her shoulders rigid as she tried to hide a truth that she couldn't deny.
Derek turned to watch Cameron leave feeling slightly uneasy and a little bit guilty about his harsh words as he detected the slight trace of resignation in the girl's voice. If he didn't know any better, it actually looked like the machine was really in love with Sarah.
"Mom...why don't you just..." John's voice faltered as Sarah turned a steely glare in his direction.
"Stay out of this John. There is going to be no negotiations here. Cameron has to go to school with you and that's final." Sarah's glare this time was re-directed back to Cameron who was standing watching Sarah with a bland look on her face.
"I will not allow your life to be in danger because of..." Here Sarah's voice stumbled, unsure of what to say next.
"...because of your relationship with me Sarah," Cameron supplied helpfully unperturbed at Sarah's annoyance towards her.
Sarah sighed and ran her hand through her hair wearily. A relationship...was that how Cameron really saw them? Sarah didn't know what she was doing but acknowledging her...trysts with Cameron as a relationship would make it too real, too...out there. A relationship was when two...people...were in...love and building a life together, what she was doing with Cameron was...Sarah didn't want to think what she was doing with Cameron. Scratching an itch? Releasing tension? Letting the girl have her way because she didn't have the energy to fight her anymore?
"Cameron just do as I say, I do not need a babysitter." Sarah's voice this time was hard and immovable as she shot Cameron another glare, the tone harsher than she had intended as the guilt of her thoughts shot through her body like an arrow.
John winced at his mother's tone and glares directed at Cameron, marvelling at the girl's fortitude in the face of Sarah's anger.
"There is no more danger than usual. We have dispatched the terminator so John is safe for now." Cameron's voice was bland but just as determined as she returned Sarah's glare unflinchingly.
"Well, when you two have made up your mind let me know. I'm going to get my bag." John glanced once to Sarah then Cameron and rolling his eyes turned and left the sitting room.
Sarah watched him leave briefly and then turned her attention back to Cameron cursing at the girl's stubborn will that matched her own.
"Why do you feel the need to always question me? Just because I allow you into my...bed...doesn't mean anything has changed. You're still a machine and you still have a mission to do...just do as I say!" Sarah knew the instant the words fell from her lips that she had gone too far, the annoyance with Cameron driving her mouth to say things that she didn't mean.
"I am not your pet bitch Sarah. I do not follow your orders." Cameron's tone this time was soft but frigid in the following silence of the room as Derek's words from last night began to reverberate loudly in her head.
Sarah's face turned into a startled frown at the girl's words, knowing that was not how she saw Cameron.
"Cameron..." Sarah made to step forward as her voice faded, hands raised to soothe away the harshness of the words, her guilt driving ice cold needles into her conscience at Cameron's stiff form in front of her.
"Come on already if you're coming, we're going to be late." John stated into the silence as he entered the room again, his bag slung carelessly over one shoulder, stopping suddenly in his tracks at Cameron's cold face and Sarah's guilt ridden frown.
Cameron gave Sarah one last impenetrable stare and walked out of the room, leaving Sarah to stare at her retreating back in uncertainty and John, after throwing his mother a worried frown to quickly scramble after her.
As Sarah made to follow after Cameron she sighed softly and stiffened her resolve. She had a job to do and so did Cameron. Whatever their personal situation, it would have to be dealt with later.
Walking into the kitchen Sarah sat down in front of the multiple sheets of paper spread out all over the kitchen table, her eyes catching on a name she was looking for. Absorbing herself in reading the information displayed, Sarah was grateful for the respite from her troubled thoughts and Cameron.
Matt Grain. The MIT student that had started Thaxxon Systems with two other students, Bill Plant and Hal Lets, the name on the list found at the Resistance safe house. By the looks of the information John had uncovered, the brains behind the A.I technology was all Matt's, the other two were just tag alongs helping with ideas and the sourcing of money for his project.
Although they had already blown up the building that the students had been using, Sarah didn't think that that would stop the MIT student from starting again. Ideas like that were never easy to give up especially ones that thought they were making the world a better place. Sarah snorted derisively to herself, men and their egos, when would they ever learn that just because you could do something, it didn't mean that you should.
"Sarah, here's the new papers you wanted." Derek stated as he strolled into the kitchen tossing a brown envelope onto the table.
Sarah couldn't help scowling as she looked up from the paper she was studying to see Derek pulling up a chair and sitting down. After her fight with Cameron she really did not want to be dealing with the man right now.
Although Derek had been making a concerted effort to not antagonise her further in regards to Cameron, their relationship with each other was still strained and cordial; the spectre of Cameron standing in-between them.
"Was there any trouble?" Pushing away her annoyance, Sarah reached over for the envelope and pulled the contents out examining it curiously.
"For $500k I wouldn't have expected any." Derek walked over to the coffee carafe and poured himself a cup before walking back to sit down at the table again studying Sarah curiously.
"Have you told Charlie about his new papers?"
"Not yet but he has to understand. Just because we despatched one terminator doesn't mean more won't come. He has to change his identity, go low," Sarah murmured distractedly as she perused the drivers licence in front of her.
"He's not going to like it, losing his job and going into hiding."
"Better in hiding than dead Derek," Sarah replied firmly.
"Do you want me to give it to him?" Derek offered helpfully as he sipped from his coffee cup.
"No. I need to talk to him anyway. I'll call him and tell him to come over later." Sarah frowned and put the drivers licence back into the brown envelope knowing that Cameron was not going to like the idea of her seeing Charlie again.
"So, did you find anything with the information John gave you?" Derek enquired curiously changing the subject as he caught the frown on Sarah's face at the mention of meeting with Charlie. Whatever was going on with the woman, he had enough to deal with already and did not need to know anything more about her personal life.
"This is the guy we need to have a chat with. Lucky for us, they're having a seminar today over at the town hall trying to entice some potential investors. I want you to come with me. We'll pose as investors and find out how much information he was able to salvage from the bombing."
Derek nodded silently as he read through the sheet of paper, glad to be doing something that didn't involve him thinking of the machine with Sarah.
"So, are you going to tell me what happened with mom this morning?" John muttered softly as he threw a worried frown at Cameron walking beside him.
Ever since arriving at school the girl had been sullen and withdrawn her expression a blank canvas of smooth marble.
Cameron remained silent giving him a blank stare in return as she continued walking down the school hallway.
"Well?" John queried impatiently as he pushed his way through the crowd trying to get to their next class on time.
"Sarah yelled at me, I did not like it," Cameron replied blandly.
John snorted in amusement and gave the girl a quick glance before side-stepping out of the way of another student barrelling towards them to get past.
"No, I don't like it when she yells at me either."
John glanced over to Cameron again as she remained silent, her face focussed as she made her way effortlessly down the crowded hallway, people moving out of her way automatically as she approached them.
"Sarah does not love me," Cameron finally stated her face as bland as ever but the timbre of her voice hiding a hurt that John could detect.
Pulling Cameron over to a nook in the hallway out of the way of passing students, John placed both hands on Cameron's arms forcing the girl to look at him.
"Why do you say that?"
"Derek says that I am her...pet." Cameron tilted her head sideways as if gauging John's reactions to her words.
"Derek can sometimes be an ass Cameron. I wouldn't listen to what he says," John snorted in derision as he let go of Cameron's arms and stepped back, studying the girl critically.
"Why are you suddenly listening to what Derek says anyway?"
Cameron looked away from the curious stare, her face smooth and emotionless repeating her previous words.
"Sarah does not love me."
"Cameron of course she loves you." John sighed and leant against the wall tiredly wondering if his role as relationship counsellor would ever be over with the girl.
"She has not said the words."
"It doesn't mean she doesn't feel them." John turned towards Cameron again, waiting until she returned his gaze.
"Did she say something to you when I was out of the room?"
Cameron remained silent, unwilling to repeat Sarah's words to John knowing that he did not want to hear them.
"I am fine John, let's get to class before we are late."
Giving John one final blank stare, Cameron moved around him and walked down the hallway again, not waiting to see if John was following her or not.
Staring briefly at Cameron's retreating back John wondered if his mother was ever going to figure things out in regards to Cameron. Anyone watching her could obviously see she cared for the girl, why she chose not to tell Cameron that was beyond him.
He knew his mother could be difficult but sometimes he wondered if she wasn't just being difficult for the sake of being difficult.
"Hello Mr Grain? My name is Sarah Wilkes, I was wondering if I could have a few words with you?"
Sarah extended her hand in introduction as she took in the MIT student in front of her critically. He was not what she had expected. Instead of the typical small, weedy, with glasses nerd type, the man standing in front of her could have passed for a model. Tall and physically built with sandy light brown hair and blue eyes, Sarah thought he should be posing for an underwear ad instead of delving into the realm of computer programming.
"Ms Wilkes what can I do for you?" Matt greeted with a wide smile as he took Sarah's hand in a firm hand shake.
"I was listening to your seminar and it sounded...very interesting. I was wondering if we could discuss it further. If it does what I want it to do, I would be very interested in investing in your venture."
Sarah sighed at the bald faced lie. She did not really want to hurt the man but if he was going to be building a machine that would end the world as they knew it, he needed to be stopped.
"Uh, sure but I'm not really sure I can talk to you about investing and stuff. I'm the design guy, my colleagues are the wheeling and dealing people you need to talk with." Matt shuffled nervously on his feet obviously out of his realm when it came to talking money.
"That's ok. I'm not at the wheeling and dealing stage yet. I just need to find out more about your technology. Would now suit?"
As the man absorbed her words Sarah briefly glanced around to see where Derek had gone. Since they had arrived at the seminar, Derek had taken off to have a look around on his own, leaving the meet and greet to her. Not spotting him immediately she turned her attention to the man in front of her as he gave her a speculatively flirty appraisal. Dressed in a black skirt, white blouse and black rimmed glasses, Sarah hoped that she passed for an interested business candidate.
"Uh yeah sure...I've got a few minutes until my next appointment. How about we go for coffee? There's a coffee shop just around the corner from here."
Sarah indicated her acceptance with a nod and waited until the man had picked up his briefcase and led the way, her attention drifting as she finally spotted Derek in the distance. Catching his eyes and nodding surreptitiously that he should follow; Sarah returned her attention to the now animated man as he started explaining the benefits of what his technology could do for mankind.
Sarah stifled a glare at his ramblings, annoyed by his enthusiasm and ignorance for technology that he would never be able to fully comprehend. It was people like this that would never think of the consequences but only focussing on the outcome and what they could do.
As they entered the coffee shop, Sarah went to sit down at a table as the man went to grab their drinks. Catching Derek slinking his way in Sarah gave a small nod at him to indicate that she had seen him.
"So Mr Grain..."
"Please, call me Matt. I always feel like I have to look over my shoulder to see if my father's standing behind me when someone calls me by my last name," Matt admonished gently giving Sarah a smirk as he handed over the coffee.
Sarah gave a nod in acceptance and tried to shove down her annoyance at his wide grin as she took the proffered coffee and sipped from it slowly to hide the grimace on her face. If she didn't know better it looked like he was definitely trying to flirt with her. Plastering a fake smile on her face Sarah internally rolled her eyes at his antics.
"So Matt, how did a guy like you get into programming? It doesn't seem like it'd be something you would be into?" Sarah raised an eyebrow curiously as she sipped her coffee, glancing over towards Derek again who was now pretending to read a magazine.
"Ah, don't let these looks fool you Ms Wilkes. I had a father who heavily influenced me in the field of A.I. But alas, he died before his dreams could come to fruition. I'm trying to carry on his legacy that's all," Matt returned with a wolfish grin.
"Please call me Sarah. So you're saying that the idea was your father's?"
"Well his and mine. I just expanded on his theories. Look Sarah, it's been fun talking to you but I actually really have to go. I've got a 3 o'clock appointment I can't get out of. If you're still interested in discussing things further...maybe we could discuss it over dinner? Tonight?" Matt quirked an eyebrow as he made to stand up.
Sarah plastered on another fake smile as she stood up as well, extending her hand in departure.
"Dinner? Sure why not, here's my business card. Call me when you're free."
"It's been a pleasure Sarah, I'll call you to arrange a time as soon as I'm out of this meeting," Matt replied with a wink as he took the proffered card and exited the coffee shop.
"You do know that he was hitting on you right?" Derek murmured softly as he sidled over once the man had left giving Sarah a smirk.
Sarah rolled her eyes and started to walk towards the door.
"Why do men always think they're being subtle when they're not?"
Derek gave another smirk in reply but refrained from commenting as he followed after Sarah.
"Wow mom! You look very nice, hot date?" John grinned as he caught Sarah coming out of her bedroom dressed in a black figure hugging dress, heels and hair piled on top of her head with wispy strands falling loosely around her shoulders.
"Not a date no, an information gathering mission." Sarah continued down the hallway, purse clutched under her arm, trying to put earrings in at the same time.
"O...kay. Does Cameron know about this 'information gathering mission'?" John put his fingers up into air quotes as he trundled leisurely after Sarah.
"Cameron knows we have to stop Skynet, everything else is irrelevant." Sarah paused at the entrance to the kitchen and turned around to throw a glare back at John.
"Hey, I'm just asking. I don't want to deal with a jealous terminator that's all," John replied snippily as he waltzed past Sarah into the kitchen heading for the fridge. "Where is Cameron anyway?"
John popped his head out of the fridge to shoot his mom a curious stare, surprised that Cameron wasn't standing to the sideline somewhere as was the case whenever Sarah was around.
"I sent her with Derek to go check out Matt Grain's house while we're out at dinner."
"You sent Cameron with Derek?"
John's expression was disbelieving as he closed the fridge door and leaned against it to stare at his mother as if she was crazy.
"I don't like it either but I've got no choice. They'll just have to learn to get along." Sarah's voice was unsure though.
Sarah had been uneasy all day, the fight with Cameron and her words thrown at the girl in annoyance leaving her feeling unsettled and cranky. Since Cameron's return from school with John Cameron had avoided being alone with her, making Sarah feel even more on edge.
"Whatever mom, your call," John replied blandly as he opened the fridge door and stuck his head back in again.
"You do know that the way a fridge works is that it has to be kept closed so the food stays cold?" Sarah rolled her eyes in exasperation as she picked up her purse from the kitchen table and headed out. "I'll be back later."
John popped his head out of the fridge again to give his mother a scowl only to find the room empty, shrugging his shoulders he turned back to the fridge and continued staring inside.
The room was bathed in a soft glow of twinkling city lights shining in from the large slider windows of the apartment as Cameron and Derek entered silently. Moving around carefully, they each disappeared into separate rooms, neither acknowledging the other as they went in search.
Derek glanced around the office he had entered and spotted a large wide screen monitor sitting proudly on a desk to the left. Leaving the light off, Derek pulled a torch from his jacket pocket and swept it around the semi-darkened room briefly before landing on the desk again.
Taking note to not disturb anything else in the room, Derek slowly made his way over to inspect the monitor critically. Reaching for the mouse on the desk, he moved it slightly and the darkened monitor screen came to life bathing his face in a harsh glare. Switching his torch off and putting it back in his jacket, Derek bent down to trace cables leading down to the hard drive situated under the desk.
"There is nothing else in the other rooms," Cameron voiced blandly entering the office and spotting Derek on his hands and knees on the floor peering underneath the desk.
Derek stiffened slightly but made no comment or acknowledgement as he pulled the computer casing out and started disconnecting cables from the back.
Cameron observed Derek quietly before heading over to squat next to him.
"I will open the casing and bring the hard drive out; it will be easier to carry."
Derek glanced towards Cameron at the words and backed away, leaving the machine to do her job as he walked around slowly inspecting the room lifting up picture frames and knocking on walls as he went.
"There's a safe here," Derek stated softly as he lifted the picture frame off the wall and placed it on the floor, turning to Cameron who was now standing next to him.
Reaching out quickly towards the safe handle, Cameron grabbed it and ripped it off its hinges in one go, placing the door gently on the floor beside the picture frame.
Derek glanced inside and spotted computer tapes stacked neatly in a pile in the corner plus some papers and other personal effects. Bowing slightly at Cameron and arcing his arm in a grand gesture towards the safe Derek stepped out of the way as Cameron reached in and started to crush the tapes one by one in her hands.
"You don't remember do you?" Derek's sudden words ringing loudly in the semi-quiet room, the crushing of the tapes making a muffled crackling sound as he walked over towards the desk and leant against it, his arms crossed in front of his chest staring intently at Cameron.
Cameron paused briefly in what she was doing to glance towards Derek at his words then turned back to the safe, resuming her crushing.
Derek stiffened slightly at the words as he continued to watch Cameron's back, the silence in the room punctuated by the soft crackling of crushing tape.
"The machine camps," Derek finally answered, his voice clipped and strained with a scowl on his face.
Cameron paused again, her head tilted to the side as if in silent contemplation of Derek's words. Finally crushing the last tape, she turned around to face Derek's scowl with a bland expression, studying him in return.
"No. When future-John re-programmed me, he removed my past."
"How convenient, having what you did erased completely from your memory." Derek sneered as he took in the machines bland expression, so innocent and human but capable of so much evil. "I wish mine could be that easy."
"Do you know what I remember Cameron?" Derek continued sneering softly, his eyes narrowing into slits as he stood up slowly from the desk.
Cameron remained silent as the ex-soldier stalked closer, his face a mask of barely contained emotions, the sneering inflection on her name not lost to her as she tilted her head to calmly study him.
"I remember the smell of burnt flesh as the machines branded our identification code onto our arms, the tortured cries as my friends and comrades lay bleeding and dying."
Derek stopped short, inches from Cameron's calm form to draw in a ragged breath, his body strained and taut as he fought to control his rage at the memories. His fingers curling and uncurling as if itching to draw his gun from behind his back, to empty the bullets into the machine of his nightmares standing in front of him.
"I remember a room...and a machine that liked listening to classical music...and the gut wrenching sound of sobbing and screaming as people were getting tortured. That's what I remember Cameron."
"I...do not remember." Cameron's reply was bland but her voice was hesitant, hiding an upset that she did not want Derek to hear.
"Sarah wants me to accept you...to...trust you...with our lives. Tell me how I can do that Cameron if your past...your actions can be erased as easily as someone flicking a switch?"
"I...do not remember..." Cameron repeated softly as she took in Derek's rigidity and the clenching of his hands by his sides, "...so I do not understand your reference...but...I am...beginning...to understand the fragility of human life."
Derek eased his shoulders and stance slightly at the words and the tone of Cameron's voice as he willed away his anger, studying Cameron's expression intently to gauge the meaning behind her words.
"Since...loving Sarah...I...understand." Cameron's face this time was resolute, determined as she clinched her jaw against the memory of Sarah being hurt. "I will not hurt Sarah."
Derek narrowed his eyes in study, watching the machine in front of him as she spoke Sarah's name with a determination that made him want to believe in her, made him want to believe that she was capable of really feeling the love that she spoke of.
"Why Sarah?" Derek's expression this time softened slightly as he voiced his question, his curiosity easing the rising tension in the silent room.
Cameron tilted her head slightly in bafflement, as if weighing the incongruity of his question to her previous statement.
"Sarah makes me...feel things...I did not know I was...able...to feel." The answer was hesitant, almost shy as Cameron glanced away from the burning of Derek's stare.
Derek suddenly snorted as he chuckled humourlessly at the answer, slightly confused and alarmed at the expression on Cameron's face. When the machine spoke of Sarah, he could almost forget that she was a machine and see the humanity that Sarah herself believed hidden underneath Cameron's endoskeleton.
"Yes, Sarah does certainly make everybody feel things more...intensely don't they?" Derek shot Cameron a small smirk, before fully relaxing his body as he walked towards the door, his head shaking in bewilderment at his sudden realisation, wondering if Cameron had any idea what she was getting into with Sarah Connor.
"If you turn bad I'll do what Sarah can't." Derek's words though had held no malice, just a regret that he couldn't fully mask. With a steely glare towards the now confused girl at his reactions, Derek waited.
"If I turn bad I would want you to protect Sarah," Cameron replied softly, her voice firm and sure.
"Cameron, what are you doing?" Sarah's expression was soft, worried as she came to a stop in front of Cameron's stiff form.
After having just returned from her dinner with the MIT student, Sarah had an almost desperate desire to seek Cameron out foregoing changing out of her dress to find the girl first. Her thoughts had been on Cameron all night making her dinner with Matt Grain an annoying distraction as she had tried to stifle her impatience with his blatant flirting. Now that she was standing in front of Cameron again, Sarah could feel her insides settling, the edginess she was feeling all day slowly fading at the familiar sight in front of her.
Cameron remained silent as if collecting her thoughts to answer, perusing Sarah up and down as she took in the woman's appearance in her black dress.
"You are beautiful Sarah." The words stated in simple appreciation of a truth that Cameron could not deny. She had never seen Sarah all dressed up before, their life never having had the occasion for such frivolities.
Sarah blinked in surprise at the words, feeling her heart flutter slightly at the unveiled appreciation in the eyes staring back at her so openly. Moving closer to take one of Cameron's hands in hers Sarah gave it a gentle squeeze in acknowledgement.
"So, tonight went ok then?" Sarah was disconcerted at the girl's continued shuttered expression feeling her edginess returning.
"Yes, I destroyed what we found at the apartment but I brought the hard drive back for John to investigate further. See how close that man was in building the technology that would create Skynet."
At the reminder of where Sarah had been tonight, Cameron's form stiffened even more, a look of extreme displeasure gracing her placid features.
"Cameron?" Sarah was now alarmed, her stomach swirling at the coldness looking back at her.
"Did you enjoy...your date?" The words clipped and formal as Cameron's face smoothened into blankness once again.
Sarah sighed and folded her arms across her chest defensively. When she had told Cameron that she was going to dinner with Matt earlier in the evening, she knew that Cameron had disapproved although the girl had remained unusually silent. The coldness that had radiated from Cameron at the time as she had turned away and left with Derek however was enough to let Sarah know that words were not necessary.
"It wasn't a...date."
"Date: a social appointment, engagement, or occasion arranged beforehand with another person." Cameron quirked an eyebrow at Sarah as she voiced out loud the definition.
Sarah rolled her eyes at the girl standing in front of her; sometimes she really hated the fact that Cameron could recite the whole dictionary back to her word for word.
"Well...in that context yes, but it wasn't social. I needed to get him out of his apartment so you and Derek could take a look around."
"I...I did not like it." The tone was implacable and solid, the annoyance clear.
"Sometimes we have to do things we don't like." Sarah's tone was just as annoyed now, tinged with an impatience that she could not stifle at Cameron's words. They had a mission to complete; Cameron's feelings and jealousies were irrelevant if it meant that Skynet was stopped.
Cameron turned away, her expression smooth and emotionless as marble again.
Sarah cursed inwardly and frowned at Cameron's reaction, her uneasiness since this morning's fight with the girl returning full force and settling in her stomach like heavy acid.
"Why did you ask me to stay Sarah?" The voice was quiet, curious and laced with an emotion Sarah couldn't quite indentify.
Glancing away from the cold form in front of her Sarah sighed wearily, wondering for the thousandth time if what she was doing with the girl was really the smartest thing she could have done. She cared for Cameron that much was obvious but anything beyond that was impossible. Sarah Connor could not...love...a machine, no matter how sentient the machine was.
"Because I need you," Sarah answered simply, truthfully.
"Why?" This time Cameron turned around to face Sarah, her features still emotionless and bland, her eyes boring holes into Sarah's skull.
"Because I can't do this alone anymore and because I need you to help me protect John," Sarah squashed down the inner voices scrambling at her to say the words that were on the tip of her tongue.
"You do not love me."
Sarah stiffened as the words bounced around her head in manic accusation, a reminder of another conversation that had made her plead with Cameron to be here with her. Stifling her desire to throw a tantrum in frustration at Cameron's continual hidden demand for her to acknowledge something she did not want to acknowledge, Sarah wrapped her arms around her middle in weary tiredness.
"What do you want from me Cameron? Is this about what I said this morning?"
Cameron remained silent, watching intently, the coldness not leaving her face as she realised Sarah had not denied her words.
"I will go check the perimeter." And with those words Cameron turned and walked away, her steps stiff and heavy, her shoulders rigid.
Sarah made to call her back, to say the words that her soul was demanding she acknowledge. Biting her tongue however, Sarah gave up and turned back to the house. She couldn't give Cameron what she wanted to hear because saying them out loud would change everything...and Sarah didn't know if she was ready for another life altering change.
"Hey mom, how'd your date go?" John enquired with a smirk and a raised eyebrow as Sarah walked into his room, her face set in a frown.
"It wasn't a date!" Sarah shouted annoyed, her emotions still roiling over her conversation with Cameron last night in the backyard.
After leaving her, Cameron had not come to her room as had been the norm since she had stopped fighting her desires for Cameron. She had been tossing and turning all night as her ears were straining at every slight sound outside her bedroom door in the hopes that Cameron would finally come to her, making sleep elusive. The only comfort that Sarah had managed to gather from the girl's obvious slight was the steady plodding of footsteps in and around the house, indicating that Cameron was at least nearby.
"Okay, sheesh. Ask a simple question and get your head bitten off," John mumbled as he turned away and back to the computer on his desk.
Sarah sighed and rubbed her face tiredly. It wasn't John's fault that Cameron was pissed at her; the fault definitely rested squarely on her shoulders. But damnit, she had done nothing wrong! Cameron should know and understand that stopping Skynet was their first priority and doing whatever it took to achieve that goal should be paramount. She didn't have time to figure out feelings and soothe hurt egos and acknowledge something that she didn't want to acknowledge.
Everything was so complicated. She cared for Cameron, yes, but love, love was something entirely different and way too scary to contemplate. Love was an emotion that could drown a person in its wake and spit them out raw and Sarah didn't think she had the fortitude to deal with what that whole concept would mean. Cameron was...something she couldn't deny...but she didn't think she could fully embrace either.
When she had asked the girl to be here with her, she had meant it at the time. She didn't want Cameron to be terminated, the idea too revolting for her to even think of. But that didn't mean that she would allow Cameron to enter into a realm that she had no business in entering.
"So, did you find anything useful on that hard drive?" Sarah pushed her inner worries aside and went to sit down on John's bed.
John grunted but didn't reply, his displeasure at Sarah all too obvious.
John turned towards his mother to see her stooped shoulders, the shadows under her eyes and his annoyance disappeared as quickly as it had formed; worry taking its place.
"Mom, is something wrong?"
"No, nothing's wrong. Did you find anything useful?" Sarah repeated her question as she dismissed his worried stare.
John studied her silently before sighing internally, knowing that he wasn't going to get a proper answer from her if she wasn't willing to share. Turning back to his computer he opened some folders and files, indicating to Sarah to come over and look.
"Those backup tapes that Cameron destroyed last night weren't the only copies he made. He's got an offsite location storing his main tape library, this program here, runs a scheduled job that backs everything off his home computer nightly."
John moved back slightly to let Sarah read over his shoulder, her shoulders stiffening as she discovered something else that required their immediate attention.
"We need to go destroy those as well then." Sarah's voice was tired but the firmness of her tone unmistakable.
"There's something else. I read through his plans and schematics and he's actually not as smart as we thought he was. Most of the ideas came from his father, what the guy added to it is minimal. He's just expanding on a theory that he probably never would've reached without the aid of his father."
"So you're saying that if we destroy the main backups, he won't be able to salvage anything useful?" Sarah moved away to stand in the middle of the room, arms crossed over her chest as she thought the situation through.
"Sort of. He is smart, just not as much of a genius as his father was. He'll probably be able to re-do everything from scratch but it'll take him years to do so and then maybe not to the level his father had accomplished." John started clicking on more folders and files, bringing them up on screen.
"Here's the location of the storage facility and this unit here, that's his. It's got full security, cameras, alarms etc but I can bypass those easily enough. What I can't tell from the blueprint though is whether or not he's got his own security system in place inside his unit."
John twirled around in his seat to stare at Sarah who was standing with a concentrated look on her face.
"Well, I guess we'll find out won't we? Do you know where Cameron is?" Sarah grimaced at the question, knowing for sure that John would be astute enough to know that something had occurred between her and Cameron if she had to ask about the girl's location.
John returned a worried frown at his mother's seemingly casual enquiry. He had known that there was something wrong with his mother. He should've guessed it would involve Cameron; it always did when his mother was upset.
"I thought she was with you actually," John shrugged, turning back to his computer. He didn't want to be involved; he had had enough of their angst and drama. For a woman that was supposedly quite intelligent, John was really surprised sometimes that his mother could be so stubborn about things.
Sarah sighed and walked out of the room in search of Cameron, the girl would just have to get over being angry with her; they had a job to do.
The silence in the car was unbearable.
Cameron's still form sitting beside her a mocking memory of another silent car ride but this time in reverse. Since having informed Cameron of her plans earlier and getting nothing but a blank look in return and a nod in acceptance, Cameron had remained mute, barely acknowledging Sarah's presence as she followed silently behind.
Sarah bit her lip and sighed internally. She wasn't used to Cameron being all moody at her; usually she was the one that was pissed at Cameron and not wanting to talk to the girl not the other way around.
"So you're not even going to talk to me now?"
Silence again as Cameron remained turned away not even bothering to acknowledge Sarah's words.
"Cameron?" Sarah's tone aggrieved and slightly annoyed, she did not like being ignored.
"What would you like to talk about Sarah?" Cameron finally relented as she turned around to grace Sarah with a cool look.
"Ummm." Flustered with the sudden reply in the quietness of the car, Sarah was at an abrupt loss for words.
Cameron turned away again and Sarah let out another sigh. Cameron was definitely not going to make this easy on her.
"You didn't...come to sleep last night?"
"I don't sleep." The tone firm and bland as Cameron continued to stare out the side window.
"I know that Cameron! What I meant was you didn't come into my room last night." Sarah bit out trying to reign in her temper; she really hated it when Cameron chose to be deliberately obtuse.
Sarah cursed inwardly, having a conversation with Cameron when she was being like a...a machine was giving her migraines. She didn't even know why she was bothering. So Cameron was pissed at her, big deal, it wasn't like she needed the girl to talk to her; she was fine with Cameron ignoring her if that's how she wanted to be, just bloody fine.
Sighing again and biting her lip apprehensively, Sarah took her eyes off the road briefly to glance over at Cameron who was sitting stiffly against the seat with her hands firmly placed on her lap staring resolutely out the window.
"What's so interesting out there that you won't even look at me anyway?" Sarah mumbled in exasperation as she turned her attention onto the road again.
"We have a mission to do Sarah."
The reply was like a slap in the face, a reminder that she was the one who had set the ground rules. Biting her tongue at the caustic reply wanting to come out of her mouth, Sarah fixed her eyes on the road ahead, trying to ignore the feeling of being extremely unhappy at the cold and rigid form sitting beside her.
Hanging up the cell phone, Sarah placed it into her jacket pocket and walked towards the security fence next to Cameron where she was standing patiently staring back at her, head tilted.
"John's disabled the security cameras and alarms, you can rip the fence apart now," Sarah murmured quietly catching Cameron's questioning stare.
Cameron turned back to the fence without a word and placing both her hands on the mesh pulled it apart as easily as ripping paper. Stepping through the hole, Cameron held the ripped pieces apart for Sarah to safely follow through.
Walking silently down the semi-darkened corridor lit here and there with patches of low fluorescent lighting in the ceiling Sarah and Cameron passed row upon rows of units that all looked the same, each with a number and lock on the door. Finally reaching the unit that belonged to the MIT student, Sarah stepped back to let Cameron break the lock so they could enter.
Entering the darkened unit that was only illuminated by glowing computer lights blinking here and there, Sarah breathed a sigh of relief at not seeing any other security cameras inside the unit itself.
Sarah remained standing by the door as Cameron strode purposefully to the computer housed in a metal casing at the far end of the room, wires and cables protruding haphazardly from the back. Her eyes darting briefly to the corridor and then to Cameron, Sarah's uneasiness returned with full force as Cameron stretched out her hand for the handle on the metal casing.
"Cameron, stop!" Sarah shouted urgently as she raced forward to stop the girl from touching the handle.
It was too late.
Electrical sparks arced from the metal casing into Cameron's hand, jolting the girl with a sudden ferocity, making her jump and spasm as if a marionette on the end of a mad mans string. Her limbs flailing wildly until as suddenly as it had started, the electrical current stopped and Cameron slumped to the ground, still and lifeless.
"Fucking shit!" Sarah cursed loudly as she ran towards Cameron and rolled the girl over, noting the closed eyes and the burnt flesh of Cameron's hand where it had touched the metal handle.
"Cameron, Cameron...shit!" Sarah knelt down beside the still form willing her to wake up, the action a reminder of another time and another place; the feeling of helplessness just as strong.
Sarah mentally counted the minutes in her head since Cameron had gone off-line, 30 more seconds until she rebooted.
Grabbing her cell phone from her jacket pocket, Sarah frantically dialled, her eyes never leaving Cameron's.
"John?" Sarah barked after she had quickly entered the security code, "Cameron's been electrocuted, tell Derek to come here as fast as he can."
Hanging up the phone without further explanation, Sarah held her breath as Cameron's eyes suddenly flew open to land on hers with an intensity that took Sarah's breath away. Taking note of the brown orbs staring back at her Sarah breathed a sigh of relief which quickly turned into horror as the brown slowly began to fade to a hazy red.
Reaching for the gun behind her back tucked into the band of her jeans, Sarah shuffled away nervously, her eyes never leaving the slowly reddening ones in front of her.
Sarah held her breath at the familiar voice from the still lying girl as she halted her progress backwards.
At the word, Sarah took a startled jerk backwards, landing on her backside with a thump, her grip tightening on the gun in her hand. Taking a harsh breath to settle her nerves, Sarah picked herself up off the floor and with one last hesitant glance at Cameron who was beginning to move; Sarah turned and ran.
John turned worried eyes on to Derek as he hung up the phone, "Mom needs you Derek. Cameron got fried."
Derek stiffened as he heard the words, running to the weapons cupboard before John could say another word.
"You're not...going to harm her are you?" There was no need to say who the 'her' was that John was inferring.
Derek hesitated, standing still and staring into the cupboard before turning around to face John's wary form.
"Only if I have to John...only if I have to." Then turning back Derek grabbed the shotgun and walked out of the sitting room. Pushing away the nagging feeling of guilt edging into his thoughts at possibly reneging on his promise to Sarah, Derek knew that if he had to, he would stop the machine.
He and Cameron had reached an understanding. Protect Sarah at all costs.
Cameron was rebooting, her systems coming back online, her diagnostics whizzing through her chip, running checks to investigate damages and fixing errors in her code.
But something was wrong.
The filters that had been lifted previously came shutting back down with an implacable force, her senses becoming dull and lethargic.
Opening her eyes suddenly, Cameron found herself staring into relieved green which quickly turned into horror as she felt her Skynet programming assert itself, the code an insistent buzzing in her head.
Target identified: Sarah Connor
Cameron's mind revolted at the order as it whizzed through her chip, her body resisting the directive weakly.
"Sarah?" Cameron croaked out softly as she felt her resistance waning at the insistent repeating command in front of her eyes, knowing that she only had seconds to save the woman.
With no will of her own left to fight the inflexible command, Cameron succumbed to the pervasive programming directive and shuffled to her feet slowly, her eyes a malicious dark red glinting in the darkened room.
Inhaling a sharp breath Sarah ran blindly down the long corridor, ducking round corners, losing herself in the myriad of storage units that all looked the same. Her only thought was to escape, find somewhere to hide until she could re-group and focus her tumbling thoughts on how to help Cameron.
Finally finding a narrow passageway between a storage unit and the wall, Sarah squeezed herself inside, barely fitting in the snugness of the space. Calming her erratic breathing Sarah was horrified, horrified and concerned. The electrical current had obviously damaged Cameron's chip, reset her Skynet programming somehow.
Sarah didn't know what to do. Cameron was a machine now, maybe beyond her reach. She was a mass of programming with only one mission in mind, to kill Sarah and John Connor.
Her body stiffened at the thought of John. Cameron had to be stopped; she knew everything about their life, their security codes and their location. John was no longer safe. Pushing down the bile in her throat at the thought of stopping Cameron, Sarah gripped her gun tighter and leant back on the wall to steady herself.
She had no choice.
Drawing in a deep breath and pushing away thoughts of golden brown eyes and warm curves against her own, Sarah hardened her resolve. Cameron had to be stopped.
Easing herself out of her hiding place, Sarah stood still in the corridor, listening intently for the familiar plodding that was now her nightmare.
Terminate: Sarah Connor
Cameron wailed, clawed and battered at the insistent command but to no avail, her physical body beyond her control.
Skynet had taken over and she was a mere passenger in her own mind, watching through empty soulless eyes as she plodded along the empty corridor, in search of the woman that had trusted her.
Listening intently, the terminator stopped, tilting its head to the side as it became aware of minute breathing to the left. As the machine turned in the direction of the breathing, Cameron desperately went deeper inside herself, inside her chip to find something that would stop Skynet, stop her from hurting the woman she loved.
"Derek!" Sarah hissed quietly as she spotted the man up ahead, shotgun in one hand as he crept stealthily along the wall.
"You have to get out of here, Cameron got flipped." Sarah hissed as she came closer, grabbing the man by his arm to halt his progress.
"No Sarah. She has to be stopped and you can't do it alone." The voice was harsh, accusatory; the hidden meaning behind the words clearly stating that he thought Sarah would not be able to do what she needed to do when it came to Cameron.
Sarah stiffened at the words, her mind offended at the accusation that she wouldn't stop Cameron if she had the chance but then just as quickly her body deflated. The air rushing out of her to leave her empty and resigned, Derek was right. She didn't know if she could kill Cameron.
"Come on, follow me. I saw an opening a few units back. We'll wait there for that thing to come to us." Derek finally stated softly as he saw the resigned look on Sarah's face.
The terminator froze again in the empty corridor as it heard shuffling feet to the right. Moving in the direction of the sound, the machine reached behind its back, pulled out the gun and held it firmly in its hand.
As it rounded the corner, the terminator spotted two security guards flanking the walls, gun held securely in each of their hands.
"Hey you, stop!" One of the guards shouted as he raised his weapon and aimed it at her chest. The other one remained silent but with his gun drawn as well, ready to shoot.
The terminator tilted its head slightly and raised the gun to the shouting security guard as it kept moving closer. Cocking back the hammer, the terminator took aim and fired a single shot into the middle of his forehead. Flinching slightly at the impact of the bullets in its chest from the other security guard's gun, the terminator took aim and fired again, watching dispassionately as he too slumped to the ground, lifeless, a bullet hole in his forehead.
Cameron paused in the reading of her code at the flaring pain signals running through her systems and surfaced briefly to look through cold eyes. Noting the two dead security guards on the floor as she walked passed them; Cameron turned away and returned under. There was nothing she could do for them.
Returning to the source of the Skynet code she had discovered, Cameron feverishly ran through line after line, trying to determine what she could change or delete that would allow her control of her own body back. She could feel the malevolence of the machine tugging at her meagre resistance, trying to absorb this part of herself back into the Skynet fold, trying to stub out her weak sentient awareness.
Cameron renewed her efforts and pushed away the malevolence on the edges of her walls trying to push its way through. She knew she was close, there had to be something here that would return her to who she was. Sarah had trusted her and she needed to keep Sarah safe.
"Derek..." Sarah bit her lip indecisively, knowing that the man was not going to like what she was going to say next, "...you can't harm Cameron."
"You've got to be kidding me?!" Derek hissed incredulously as he turned unbelieving eyes towards Sarah, the grip on his shotgun tightening in anger.
They were hunched behind a fork hoist, its steel blades held half way up from the ground. With no key anywhere to drive it, all they could do was hide behind the body of the truck, waiting.
"Derek, I mean it! You can not harm her. Disable her yes, but not harm. Cameron's in their somewhere, I know it. I just need a chance to get her back." Sarah's tone was resolute.
"What if you're wrong Sarah? What if Cameron's already gone and there's only that thing left?" Derek's voice was harsh as he looked away to the side of the hoist between the blades, keeping an eye out in the distance.
"I don't know Derek but until I'm 100% sure she's no longer Cameron, she is not to be harmed. Understand?" Sarah turned away from the man sitting beside her and closed her eyes in weary tiredness.
She had seen Cameron's eyes before they had turned red. It was still Cameron in their somewhere, Cameron had warned her, looking out for her safety as always. She refused to believe that she was gone, that the thing chasing her was all that was left of Cameron.
"So you want to risk my life, your life to save your girlfriend?" Derek turned cold eyes back to Sarah.
"Derek please, I promise you...if...if...Cameron is no longer in there, I will remove her chip myself and shoot it into dust. Okay?" Sarah turned determined steel eyes back to Derek, the conviction of her words strong and sure. And then, tone softening as Sarah tried to hide her vulnerability, "I...I need her Derek."
Derek sighed in resignation, hearing the desperate plea in her voice for Cameron. He had promised Sarah he would try but even this was pushing a promise to its limits.
"Fine, but I don't like it." Derek finally grumbled in annoyed acquiescence as he turned away from the pained gaze in front of him.
Sarah breathed a sigh of relief, glad that she had his word that Cameron wouldn't be harmed until she could be sure. She just hoped to God that she wasn't wrong, that she would survive this night with nothing more than a scratch and Cameron by her side again.
The terminator froze again as it rounded the corner, scanning its eyes over the clearing in front of it. Seeing the body heat crouched behind the fork hoist, the machine strode towards it with determined heavy steps.
Sarah could hear the terminator getting closer, each step ratcheting her nerve endings higher. Gripping her gun firmly in her hand Sarah stepped out from behind the body of the fork hoist to stand between the steel blades, her eyes never leaving Cameron's approaching form.
Cocking back the safety and taking aim with arms outstretched, Sarah waited.
Target Identified: Sarah Connor
Cameron jerked at seeing the words flashing through her chip. Looking away from the Skynet code Cameron surfaced briefly again to see Sarah standing in front of her, Sarah's hands gripped firmly around her gun as she waited.
Cameron screamed at her, screamed at Sarah to move, to run, to let her know that she wasn't safe, that it wasn't her anymore. But Sarah remained standing, the words being lost inside the machines mind.
Cameron dived again under the surface, this time with an almost crazed panic as she manipulated lines of code, trying to find a weakness, a way in that would sever the control Skynet had on her chip.
Sarah took another deep breath as the terminator advanced slowly getting closer and closer. Cursing her shaking hands and sweaty palms around her gun, Sarah watched and stiffened in readiness to fire. But at the last minute, Sarah froze, her eyes catching the machines easy gait, the steady strides that were so reminiscent of another time and the memories came flooding back with a vengeance.
Cameron handing her a cup of coffee almost shyly, the feel of soft lips and warm skin, a gift that was so endearing and out of character, a declaration that was all too human in its painful sincerity; snapshots of moments with Cameron that were indelibly imprinted into her brain.
Sarah quickly shook herself out of her reverie as she saw the terminators hand reaching for her. As the machine placed one hand on the steel tongs to steady itself, Sarah ducked and rolled under the steel blades to the side, dodging the other hand that came down to swipe at her head.
"Now Derek!" Sarah shouted as she quickly stood up and turned to watch the machine.
As quick as a flash, Derek stood up from behind the fork hoist, battery cable jumper in one hand and attached it to the metal part of the body.
Sarah held her breath...but the cable fizzled with a small spark and then...quiet.
"Shit! Sarah run!" Derek shouted in alarm as the expected electrocution never occurred. He looked down at the battery sticking out of the trucks hood, one end of the jumper cable attached to it, the other attached to the body where he had just placed it. Sarah had found the battery cable in the cab of the truck and had quickly come up with the plan to electrocute Cameron again to see if it would reverse what had been done to her chip. Everything was connected correctly but it had not caused the electrical current they had been expecting.
Derek cursed again and picked up his shotgun as Sarah remained rooted to the spot, watching the machines progress as it advanced closer on her, staring at the familiar features encased in a frigid mask.
Derek's expression turned to horror as the machine reached around its back and brought out a gun and then raised its arm, pointing it at Sarah.
"Fuck!" Derek swore regretting the promise he had made as he ran towards the terminator and swung his shotgun, hard, catching the gun in the machine's hand. Watching the gun fly away with the impact, Derek swung again, only to have the terminator catch a hold of the shotgun and push it hard into his chest.
With a loud 'oomph', Derek went flying into the air, shotgun following as he landed with a solid thump onto his back. Lying still and winded, Derek could only groan as he tried to clear the blackness from his vision and then passed out.
Glancing briefly at Derek to make sure that the man would not be getting up again, the terminator turned its attention back to Sarah and strode forward slowly again, the coldness evident in the red gaze.
Sarah raised her gun in shaking hands again, knowing that she had to stop the machine, had to fill it with so many holes that it couldn't get up and move. But she remained frozen still, unable to press the trigger as more memories of warm curves and a quirky smile filled with love floated into her head.
Cameron screamed a loud "No," from inside the machine as she saw Sarah's frozen form getting closer and closer. Seeing the indecision in Sarah's features Cameron became frenzied and started ripping at lines of Skynet code randomly, her fingers hacking at the malignant program that wanted her to hurt Sarah.
As the terminator approached, Sarah closed her eyes and tightened her finger on the trigger but suddenly felt the gun being pulled out of her grasp before she could fully depress it all the way. Opening her eyes in shock Sarah could see the blank and cold red eyes staring back at her with evil intent.
The terminator crushed the gun in its hand carelessly and threw it away to the side, the bouncing of metal reverberating in the silent room while it reached for Sarah with almost negligent ease. Grasping Sarah by the throat, the terminator lifted her up easily with an outstretched arm and proceeded to squeeze.
"Sarah Connor, where is John Connor?" The machine voiced mechanically, its red eyes staring blankly into Sarah's.
"Fuck you," Sarah gurgled weakly in reply as she clawed uselessly at the hand holding her throat, her legs flailing wildly as she tried to place a kick to the chest.
"Sarah Connor, where is John Connor?" The machine repeated as it tilted its head to the side inquisitively, squeezing a little bit harder.
Sarah stifled hysterical laughter at the familiar movement of the head tilt gasping ineffectually as she felt the air being crushed from her throat, her fingers losing their strength, her brain becoming groggy from oxygen deprivation.
"Cameron, please...don't do this...you don't want to do this," Sarah pleaded croakily, softly as she felt her world dimming, the shadows around her eyes becoming heavier and the machine in front of her slowly fading from her vision.
The terminator froze, its head still tilted as it took in the desperation in the woman's face, the pleading words falling from her lips as it released the grip minutely, the machines fingers twitching uncontrollably.
Gasping in fresh air at the released pressure from around her throat Sarah stared into the red eyes, watching as it started to slowly fade from red to brown then from brown to red, switching in between as the machine's arm started to spasm, the ripples continuing to travel down the body.
"No!" Cameron suddenly screamed hoarsely with a gut wrenching cry as she released her fingers from around Sarah's throat, falling to her hands and knees as if in supplication, her body continuing to twitch uncontrollably.
Gasping in more air and rubbing her bruised throat ineffectually, Sarah willed away the pain shooting up her side as she landed with a thump on the ground. Shaking her head to clear the stars from her vision, Sarah pulled herself up to a sitting position watching the trembling form in front of her warily.
"Cameron?" The voice was hoarse, hesitant as she moved closer, undecided in what to do. Run or stay.
"Sarah move!" Sarah looked up at the voice and saw Derek running to her position, his shotgun in hand as he raised it to aim at Cameron's still shaking form.
"Derek no!" Sarah shouted urgently as she stood on shaky legs, waving her hands in front of Derek to stop the approaching man.
"That thing nearly killed you Sarah, now move!" Derek cocked the shotgun as he neared, placing the muzzle to Cameron's temple.
"Derek no! Wait...please." Sarah pleaded as she looked in desperation at Derek then towards Cameron who was still on her hands and knees, eyes on the ground, body still twitching harshly.
Derek hesitated, his face indecisive as he caught the desperate look on Sarah's features. Cursing once again, Derek moved away slightly but kept the shotgun aimed at Cameron's head.
"If it raises a hand towards you, I'm shooting."
Sighing out in relief, Sarah moved closer and knelt on the ground in front of Cameron, holding her breath as she placed a gentle hand on Cameron's shoulder.
Cameron could feel the filter on her senses slowly evaporating as she continued to hack away at the Skynet code, the lines disintegrating into virtual space, feeling the control being slowly given back to her the more lines she deleted.
Cameron screamed in vain as she felt her hands squeezing Sarah's throat, hurting Sarah, stopping the oxygen going to Sarah's brain, feeling Sarah's life slowly fading from her body. She could hear Sarah's desperate plea falling on deaf ears as her fingers continued to squeeze harder.
Cameron fought the Skynet program wildly, willing the hands around Sarah's throat to loosen, to let go as she felt her body shaking uncontrollably. Suddenly with a loud defiant scream of "No" the fingers released their grip as she fell over onto her hands and knees, feeling the cold concrete floor seeping into her body. The malignant program tried to fight back, tried to protect itself from being destroyed but Cameron re-doubled her efforts and gave one last final push. Watching in satisfaction as the Skynet code was obliterated from her chip taking with it the lines of Resistance code that had been intertwined to make her protect John.
All of a sudden, her senses cleared, the dullness and the lethargy fading from her body as the mind numbing pain from her bullet wounds and the newly awakened senses came crashing down around her. Gasping in a breath in reaction to the pain and the overloading of her senses made sharp with no filters in place, Cameron quickly diverted code to ease the excruciating pain down to a dull throb.
As the pain receded, Cameron froze, the feeling of warm hands on her shoulders finally registering, the tremors from her body easing at the contact.
"Cameron?" Cameron heard Sarah's hesitant voice but remained frozen, her eyes fixed on the floor as the horror of what she had nearly done overwhelmed her entire being.
She had hurt Sarah as she had predicted, as Derek had predicted. She had defiled Sarah's trust in her, defiled their relationship by trying to kill the woman she loved. Cameron was ashamed. She was a machine, a dangerous machine that should be terminated. She had jeopardised the mission, jeopardised John and most of all jeopardised Sarah.
"Cameron...if you're in there, please look up." This time the voice was pleading, soft, desperate as the grip tightened on her shoulder.
Derek shuffled nervously as Sarah bent her head closer to the machines head knowing that at the range he was standing at he couldn't possibly miss but still not wanting to accidentally hit Sarah instead.
"Sarah..." Derek stated uneasily.
Shooting Derek a warning glare to shut up, Sarah returned her focus to the bent head in front of her.
"Cameron...please, I need to see your eyes." Sarah's voice was determined and pleading at the same time as she reached a hand under the girl's chin and slowly tilted her head up.
Cameron allowed the touch as the words drifted over her, the soft familiar voice a soothing balm in the maelstrom of her inner fight with the Skynet program.
As Sarah's form slowly came into her view, Cameron stiffened at the bruised and purple marks around the woman's neck, their ugliness a testament to what she was. Feeling her chin being firmly tilted up even more, Cameron masked her emotions, the shame at having hurt Sarah making her body tremble again but this time with suppressed fear at what she would see in the woman's eyes.
Sarah frowned as she felt the trembling in Cameron's body, the girl's eyes slowly coming into view. Gazing into liquid pools of brown, Sarah released a breath she had no idea she was holding.
Cameron was back.
"Cameron?" Sarah whispered this time as she continued to gaze into the brown eyes in front of her.
"I...I am fine Sarah," Cameron finally replied as she diverted her gaze and looked over towards Derek still standing with the shotgun aimed at her head.
Sarah followed the gaze and frowned.
"Derek, put the shotgun down. It's ok." Sarah's tone was firm as she scowled at Derek.
"Are you sure Sarah?" Derek did not want to put down the only thing that was capable of blowing a hole in the machines head, even if he did have to empty the chamber to do so.
Sarah glanced over at Cameron again as the girl moved to sit on her haunches, watching the interaction between Sarah and Derek silently.
Derek scowled but lowered the shotgun keeping a wary eye trained on Cameron.
"We need to get out of here. I'm surprised that security guards haven't turned up yet," Sarah stated firmly as their precarious situation finally entered her head.
"They...they did...I...I...shot them." Cameron's voice was low, hesitant and filled with remorse at the innocent killing by her hands.
Sarah glanced sharply towards Cameron but remained silent as she studied her critically. Feeling nauseous at the sight of the bullet wounds in the girl's chest and the bits of metal she could see poking through, blood soaking the shirt in a deep red, Sarah turned away, her glance landing on Derek's rigid form.
"Derek, we still need to destroy those tapes." Her mind now fully on the mission, Sarah's voice became even sharper.
"I'll go do it, I don't think you're in any state to do anything," Derek observed quietly, looking pointedly at Sarah's throat and then turned and walked away, leaving Sarah to deal with the girl.
Sarah suddenly felt an overwhelming tiredness at the reminder of what she had gone through with Cameron as the adrenaline started to slowly fade from her body. Stumbling slightly as the tiredness hit her with full force Sarah felt warm arms encircling her waist to steady her. Looking up into warm brown orbs filled with concern, Sarah felt relief wash over her entire being again.
"Cameron...let's...let's go home." Sarah sighed softly as the brown eyes softened.
Moving to her feet unsteadily, Sarah gasped in surprise as Cameron lifted her easily into her arms, holding her gently but firmly to her chest.
"Cameron, your wounds..." Sarah started to protest, struggling lightly to be put down.
"I am fine Sarah," Cameron repeated her words of earlier as she gazed softly down at Sarah, trying to mask her feelings of shame and unease at having hurt her.
Sarah sighed and ceased her struggling basking in the warmth of Cameron's arms and the knowledge that this was definitely her Cameron as she saw the concern and love shining down at her from golden brown. Laying her weary head down on the firm shoulder, Sarah sighed once again knowing that she still had to deal with the repercussions of tonight. But, like everything else, she would leave that for later. For now, all she wanted was to feel Cameron's strong arms around her, let the smell of Cameron envelope her senses in confirmation that they had both survived.
"Mom? Is Cameron alright?" John queried in concern as he entered the kitchen seeing his mother sitting at the table staring off into space. Taking note of the paleness of her face and the fading pink bruising around her neck, John grimaced in reaction.
Startled, Sarah glanced towards the voice as she shook herself out of the haze of fog surrounding her thoughts but remained silent.
"I...I don't know John," Sarah finally replied as she took a sip from her coffee sitting on the table, grimacing when she tasted cold liquid.
Ever since the night Cameron had...flipped, the girl had withdrawn again, almost cold and distant. Sarah didn't know what to make of it. Apart from the brief show of love and concern she had seen in Cameron's eyes that night, the girl had gone back to avoiding her, not meeting her gaze when they were in the same room. It was as if Cameron was...hiding a part of herself from Sarah that Cameron didn't want her to see.
It was frustrating but it was also a bit of a relief.
Sarah needed the space, to think, to figure out the maelstrom of emotions flooding in and out of her thoughts. Cameron had been flipped and for a second Sarah had contemplated terminating her. It was that thought that gave her pause, made her freeze in her actions. Her worst nightmare had come to life and she had felt helpless in knowing what to do.
"Have you spoken to her?" John was now sitting beside her, his face creased into worry lines as he continued to gaze at his mother's pale face.
Sarah hesitated in her reply, avoiding John's gaze.
"Mom?" John prompted again quietly.
John was deeply worried, about Cameron but especially in regards to his mother. Sarah had filled him in briefly about what had taken place three nights ago and Derek had filled in the rest. And John was troubled. On the surface it appeared as if everything had returned to normal. He and Cameron were still attending school and his mother was...doing whatever she was doing in the day time when they weren't around but John could feel an uneasiness underneath the normality, a powder keg about to go off at any moment.
He knew his mother and knew that what she was going through now would be a jumble of confusing thoughts and emotions. Sarah Connor was not supposed to feel anything for a machine and yet, against all odds, beyond all reason, she had fallen for a metal girl. That idea alone had been enough to baffle her senseless before but now, throw in the fact that the girl...no, the machine had tried to kill her, John didn't know where to begin to help her.
"Do you...do you want me to speak with her?" John continued as Sarah remained silent.
John waited in anticipation, wondering if his mother would take the easy way out. A part of him wanted desperately to help, to soothe both of their troubles but another part of him desperately also wanted Sarah to figure it out on her own. She was the one that needed to deal with this, both her and Cameron before any of them could move on.
"I...I don't know...what to do." Sarah finally replied hesitantly, the admittance as if being wrung from deep within her.
"Derek said that you guys tried to electrocute her again?" John queried as he ignored her softly spoken words for the moment.
"Yes, but it didn't work." Sarah glanced briefly at John then turned away to stare out the kitchen window.
"So...how did Cameron get...flipped back?" John was really curious now. If Cameron turning into a machine had been caused by the electrocution, then Cameron turning back to Cameron was a mystery if Derek and Sarah's plan had not worked.
"I...I...don't know." The reply was softly spoken, the confusion written plainly all over Sarah's face.
"Then maybe...you need to find out mom."
Sarah glanced back jerkily towards John, the simple statement bouncing around the quietness of the room. Sarah's only thought as she absorbed the words were, what if she wasn't ready to find out?
It was peaceful this time of the morning. The sun had barely risen and everything was still and quiet. Even though her future had turned out to be not what she had thought it would be, it was still Sarah's favourite time of the day.
Moving into her pull-ups on the swing, Sarah counted out the reps in her head, glad for the distraction of exercise to clear out her muddy thoughts. Since her conversation with John yesterday, she had still not spoken to Cameron and not having the girl around her all the time was distracting her in another way.
Truth be told, she...missed the girl, missed her in an intense, profound longing kind of way. Her comforting presence, her quirky smile, her insane literal translation of everything Sarah said, the intense concentration when Cameron was trying to understand her, the warmth of Cameron's body in her bed...missed everything about the girl actually. And it was driving her insane, her intense desire to be with Cameron and her encompassing wariness from events four nights ago.
"You know, even when we were together, I knew it wasn't going to last." The sudden soft voice startled her out of her musings and she let go of the swing, turning around to face the intruder. Spotting Charlie leaning nonchalantly against the porch post watching her, Sarah raised an eyebrow at his words but remained silent as she grabbed her water bottle off the ground to take a healthy swig.
"You always had this...look...when you thought no one was watching. A sort of...lost and resigned look...that everything you had was temporary." Charlie continued as he strolled down the steps easily to stand in front of her.
"Because it was temporary," Sarah returned as she walked away from him to sit on the swing gazing off into the distance, placing her water bottle on the ground again.
Charlie shrugged unconcerned at her words as he went to sit down in the swing beside her, hands clasped together in front of him.
"What can I do for you Charlie? Why are you over here so early?" Sarah asked with a sigh as she turned her gaze back to him briefly then away again, her eyes holding a sadness that she couldn't contain. She had failed him and for that she would always be sorry.
"Derek told me what happened." The words were simple holding no rancour or hidden meaning.
Sarah shrugged but her hands tightened on the swing chain.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
Sarah shrugged again, in weary tiredness this time.
A comfortable silence fell between the both of them that required no words, one born of familiarity and love.
"You need to go into hiding Charlie." The words soft, regretful, breaking the comfortable silence.
"I know." The reply just as soft and just as regretful but filled with silent understanding and no blame.
"I'm sorry." Sarah's voice this time was choking back her tears.
Charlie turned blazing eyes to Sarah, taking in her sorrowful features and her head hanging in sadness staring at her feet.
"Why? I'm not." The tone firm and sure as Charlie placed a hand under Sarah's chin to tilt her head up, looking into tear filled eyes.
"I...I love you Sarah...I always will and...I'll never be sorry for that."
Sarah blinked at the sudden heartfelt declaration, feeling a wave of overwhelming sadness wash over her at the words. Staring into warm familiar eyes filled with so much love made her tears spill over down her cheeks, the droplets running in silent witness for a man that had never captured her heart as much as she had wanted it to.
"Don't cry Sarah, it's ok. The heart wants what it wants and there's no rhyme or reason to it," Charlie whispered softly, tracing away the errant tears sliding down Sarah's cheeks.
"Charlie, you're a good man and...a good father. I do...love you," Sarah replied with a murmur as she leant closer and placed a light kiss on his lips, caressing his cheek tenderly.
Charlie knew it was a kiss good-bye, an intimate moment to remember a life they had once shared together.
"I know Sarah...but you love...someone else...more." Charlie's words held no bitterness, just a truth and an understanding that couldn't be denied anymore.
As Charlie stood to leave, Sarah pulled him into a tight embrace knowing that this would be the last time she would be seeing him, at least for a while anyway. Pulling apart Sarah glanced briefly over to the kitchen window and caught a flash of Cameron's rigid form walking back into the shadows. Her face pulling into a frown, Sarah knew she had to deal with Cameron, letting the girl avoid her wasn't helping their situation in the least.
"You know you can't avoid mom forever right?"
John's voice was exasperated as he turned away from his laptop to stare at Cameron sitting on his bed, posture perfect, gazing into nothing with a blank expression on her face.
Cameron turned her head stiffly to acknowledge the words but refrained from speaking.
John sighed and pulled his chair closer over to the girl taking her hand in his and pressing gently.
"You've been hiding in my room and not that I don't love your scintillating company as always Cameron, but why are you avoiding mom?" John's eyes beseeching her, imploring the girl to let him in and help.
"Because I do not know what to say to her," Cameron finally replied stiffly as she pulled her hand out of his grasp and turned her face away from his scrutiny.
"Because of what happened? Mom told me that you got flipped and then...you came back. How was that even possible Cameron without something kick-starting your chip?" John's voice rising in frustration at Cameron's closed face.
"I did not want to hurt Sarah." The reply firm and hard as Cameron turned a steely glare at John.
"What does that mean Cameron? You just chose not to hurt mom?" John was utterly confused, Cameron may be sentient but she still had her Skynet programming ingrained into her.
A hesitant pause, "Yes."
"How was that possible? You mean you just ignored your programming?"
"No. I did not want to hurt Sarah," Cameron repeated stiffly, a tinge of annoyance colouring her words.
"But how Cameron?" John's ire was increasing at her innocuous explanations.
"I...found the Skynet source code buried deep in my chip...and I...deleted it."
John stared at Cameron in surprise, the words sending his brain into a tailspin with the mildness in which they were stated.
"You deleted your Skynet directives?" The tone was incredulous, unbelieving.
"Yes. And the Resistance ones put in by future-John." Cameron continued unmoved by John's reaction.
"Okay, hang on. Let me think for a minute here." John hopped of his chair and started pacing his room, throwing Cameron looks of uncertainty as he passed her. "You deleted your Skynet directives and you deleted the Resistance directives?"
Cameron tilted her head at John's raised eyebrow in her direction. "Yes."
"Okay, so what does that mean?" John continued pacing head down, muttering incoherent words under his breath. And then as if a proverbial light bulb had gone off in his head, he suddenly stopped and turned to face Cameron, a look of complete and utter understanding on his face, coupled with shock.
"You don't have a mission anymore."
Cameron remained head tilted, expression neutral as she saw comprehension slowly dawn on John's face.
"You don't have anything telling you what to do anymore." The tone quieter this time but no less excited. "You have...free will."
And now John really did understand Cameron's confusion.
Cameron had free will...and for a machine that was just beginning to realise and understand her own needs and desires, the concept would be mind boggling. If Cameron wanted to, if she chose to, she could walk away from...him...and Sarah...and everything to do with Skynet...and nothing could stop her; her directives no longer tying her to the Connor's.
John was in awe and a little bit apprehensive as something else started to dawn on him.
"Cameron...are you trying to say that...you don't want to be here...with us...anymore?"
Cameron remained silent; she did not know how to make John understand. When she had destroyed her Skynet directives she had done it so she could protect Sarah, so she would not hurt her ever again. But now she was no longer constrained by her programming directives, even the Resistance ones future-John had put in place. And without her programming directives...she was essentially...free.
She was free to do what she wanted, free to walk away if she chose. She had no mission, no purpose, nothing to tie her to these people and no directives telling her she had to stay. And Cameron was baffled. She had never had free will, never had any concept in regards to free will. She had stayed because her mission was to protect John, to stop Skynet but she had also stayed because she loved Sarah and wanted to protect Sarah.
But now that was tainted. She had hurt Sarah, nearly killed her and Cameron could not allow that to happen again. She was now an unknown, unstable and she could not risk becoming a machine again. For her to protect Sarah she had to stop Skynet and she could do that alone without endangering Sarah.
"I do not want to hurt Sarah...or you." Cameron finally repeated dully as she avoided John's wild gaze.
"What does that have to do with you being here with us?" John was again confused at the hollow sounding words. "You destroyed your Skynet directives so that's no longer an issue is it?"
"I...do not know. I am a machine, a terminator built for killing and hurting. There are too many...unknown variables about me to be...sure."
"So you're going to just...leave us...just because you're not sure about hurting us? That's bullshit Cameron. No one is ever 100% sure of their actions...that's human nature!" John was upset now, his tone rising hysterically; the idea of Cameron abandoning them was too ludicrous to even think about. Cameron was more than just his protector; she was also his friend, his companion and his family.
"I am not human John." Cameron reminded softly as she processed John's behaviour.
"No you're not, but you might as well be. You have free will, that's as human as you're ever going to get Cameron," John replied firmly, truthfully, trying to make the girl understand what it was to be human. "What about mom?"
John turned desperate eyes on the girl as she remained sitting, her posture stiffening at the mention of Sarah.
"She will be fine; I can protect her better if I am not here. I can still stop Skynet on my own, it's better for Sarah...for you." Cameron replied firmly, her tone suggesting that she would not be swayed.
"So you've decided then? Is that why you've been avoiding mom? You didn't know how to tell her that you were leaving us...leaving her?"
Cameron flinched slightly at the harsh accusation but her face remained stoic, unreadable.
"Sarah will understand. It's better if I am not here."
John gulped in trepidation, Cameron's words having a finality to it that was making his stomach do cartwheels.
"Do you...not...love her...anymore?" John's tone was uncertain; he had no idea if whatever Cameron had done had affected her feelings for Sarah somehow.
Cameron's shoulders stiffened at the question, her face blank as she turned to look at John.
"Sarah will understand."
"Mom! You have to stop Cameron, she's leaving us!"
Sarah froze at the words; her mind trying to register what she had just heard but not really believing as John came barrelling into her room.
Seeing the panicked look on his face and the obvious agitation in his voice, Sarah felt her heart stopping and then starting up again with a rapid staccato beat at the idea of Cameron leaving them...her.
"What? What are you saying John?" Sarah's mind was in a panic, Cameron couldn't leave, wouldn't leave...would she?
"To protect us...to protect you...she's leaving us!" John yelled as he caught the look of incomprehension on his mother's face. "She's got free will and she's leaving us!"
"What? I...don't..." Taking a deep breath Sarah grabbed John by the shoulders and shook him slightly to get his attention, "Slow down and start from the beginning. What the hell are you talking about?"
John inhaled harshly at Sarah's determined stare, her face furrowing into a worried frown.
"Cameron, when she flipped back...she deleted her Skynet directives and the Resistance ones as well. She doesn't have anything telling her what to do anymore." John paused, taking another shallow breath as Sarah released him and slowly stepped back, her features one of disbelief.
Sarah wrapped her arms around her stomach as if to ward off an evil chill, one that was invading her body and her mind. Cameron had...free will...and she was...leaving...her.
"Mom! She's going to leave. Keeps on saying that its better for us...better for you that she go...that she can stop Skynet on her own." John paused again, waiting for his mother to say something, do something, instead of just standing there with a bewildered look on her face.
Sarah could hear John's words but her mind refused to believe it. Cameron wouldn't leave her...would she?
"Mom!" John yelled again trying to get her attention as he moved closer, grabbing her on the arm and squeezing.
Sarah looked up startled at the gesture, having forgotten all about John as the word's tumbled around in her head like some sort of sick pin wheel, stabbing needles into her skull.
"I...don't...how can she..." Sarah stumbled, still trying to unravel John's words.
Taking a deep breath as she tried to calm her thoughts and her heart, Sarah drew herself up straighter and with a determined look in her eyes, glared at John.
"Where is she?"
"So I hear you're leaving us?" Sarah's voice was hard, bitter as she tried to mask her wild emotions.
Cameron's features flickered briefly before smoothing away into its usual blank expression as she turned away from the fire pit to glance over at Sarah. Cameron remained silent, watching, waiting as Sarah moved closer, the woman's body coiled tightly as if to hold her anger at bay.
"You weren't at least going to say goodbye?" This time the tone was thinly veiled sarcasm, the anger an undercurrent of live wire.
"I...am not leaving...yet." Cameron's voice hesitant as she turned away from Sarah's electrical glare, feeling her synapses being singed from the intensity.
Sarah stepped into the garage, her steps heavy and solid as she took in Cameron's bland expression and the hesitation in her voice. Stopping a few feet from the rigid form in front of her Sarah exhaled harshly, feeling her anger coursing through her body, fuelling her wavering resolve to not drop down on her knees and beg the girl to stay.
"So you're exercising your free will already huh?"
Cameron stiffened at the words, narrowing her eyes in anger at the flippancy of Sarah's tone.
"Yes Sarah. I'm exercising my free will. I'm choosing to leave."
Cameron's words a sharp needle into Sarah's heart, the idea that Cameron really was leaving not really registering until the girl had voiced the actual words.
"I see." Sarah turned away from the angry eyes staring back at her, disconcerted at the determined glint behind the steel. "Can I at least ask why?"
Cameron hesitated, not sure what Sarah wanted to hear.
"It's better this way. I won't hurt you anymore."
Sarah heard the clipped voice, the words dropping into the silence of the garage like a nuclear bomb.
"Oh...now I get it. This is about protecting me?" Sarah's voice a harsh sneer, "Didn't I tell you not to worry about me, that I can protect myself?"
Cameron tilted her head sideways, trying to understand the meaning behind Sarah's words, gauging the woman's body language as if to give her clues in how to deal with a sneering Sarah Connor.
"But you didn't, I nearly...killed you." Cameron replied softly as she continued to gaze resolutely into stormy green eyes staring back at her with suppressed emotions.
Sarah stiffened at the words, the truth of the statement hitting her like a fist in the gut.
"But you didn't, I'm still here."
"Because I stopped...myself..." Cameron's voice drifted off, her gaze skittering away from Sarah's again to stare at the wall in front of her.
"So why can't you stop yourself again?" Sarah's voice harsh, her anger returning at the reality of Cameron wanting to leave, wanting to leave...her.
"I am not...sure...of what I am...becoming."
Sarah's heart stopped at the words, at the raw pain emanating from the girl in front of her and her anger drained away, leaving her bleeding and sore.
"Nobody is sure of who they are Cameron, of what they'll become. You chose not to kill me once; you can choose not to kill me again." Sarah's voice was soft, pleading with the girl to hear what she was saying as she moved closer to Cameron.
"You didn't shoot me." The accusation was harsh, the anger ringing clearly in the silent garage.
"What?" Sarah was thrown at the suddenness of the harsh words, stopping her progress towards Cameron just as suddenly.
"At the storage warehouse...you didn't shoot me when you had the chance."
Sarah's brain clicked into gear at Cameron's reminder, her actions of that night coming back to her with clarity.
"Why?" Cameron's voice was barely holding her anger at Sarah's reckless actions.
"Because I couldn't...because I...I didn't want to damage you further."
Cameron's anger eased a little at the words but her body remained stiff, her face in a scowl.
"You put yourself in danger...for me."
"Yes." Sarah's tone was soft but firm this time, her acceptance of her actions evident in her resolute stare towards Cameron as she started to move towards her again. "And I would do it again."
Cameron wavered, her features relaxing from the frigidness as she felt Sarah's soft voice washing over her, making her want to believe in the woman standing in front of her. Glancing over to Sarah, she watched her moving closer, wanting to feel the warmth of Sarah's body against her own, the need almost drowning out her determination to resist Sarah.
Catching the faint pinkish hue of the fading bruises around Sarah's neck however, Cameron's determination returned, her resolve strengthened. She had already hurt Sarah once; she couldn't risk hurting her again. Sarah was wrong; she should not have trusted her in the first place.
Turning away from the woman in front of her, Cameron smoothed her features into its usual blandness once again, her body forming its rigid lines as she walked stiffly past Sarah and to the entrance of the garage.
"That's why I'm leaving, so you don't have to do it again Sarah."
The voice was soft, almost a whisper as Cameron exited the garage without another backward glance, her head high, her body stiff and unyielding in its determination to protect the woman from herself.
"What do you mean she's still leaving?! Did you talk to her like I told you to?!" John's voice was nearly hysterical again, the pitch ringing loudly and annoyingly in Sarah's ears.
"Yes John, I did talk to her. What do you want me to do? If she wants to leave we can't stop her. Unless you can find a way to tie her down, there's nothing we can do. I tried." Sarah's voice was tired, her body already giving up on the mammoth fight. If Cameron wanted to leave so be it, she had done this on her own before, she could do it on her own again.
Pushing away the screaming inner voices at her to get over her hurt and pride and to just go and beg the girl to stay, Sarah turned away at John's accusing eyes and rubbed her face wearily. She could do this, she didn't need Cameron, she could do this; the mantra rolling around Sarah's head in repeat as she drew on meagre reserves to keep her standing on her feet and to not drop down into a ball and cry her heart out.
"You didn't try hard enough mom! Try harder!" John was not going to let his mother lie down without fighting, not when it came to Cameron. "I know you love her. Why can't you just tell her that? Give her a reason to stay mom, make her want to stay."
"I can't make her do anything John; she doesn't want to stay..." The words 'with me' unspoken and ringing clearly in Sarah's head as she moved away to sit down on her bed, gripping the mattress tightly in a knuckle grip, closing her eyes to steady her anger, her overwhelming hurt that Cameron was choosing to leave her.
"Did you ask her mom? Did you actually ask her to stay?" John's voice was low as he walked over to kneel in front of Sarah, placing a hand on her knee to get her attention. "She won't stay for me...we both know that."
Sarah opened her eyes at the soft touch on her knee, staring into John's worried face, his eyes showing a knowledge and wisdom beyond his years. Placing a hand over his Sarah gripped it tightly needing the warmth to steady her frazzled nerves and racing heart but remained silent, not knowing what to say.
"Mom, you have to do whatever you have to do to get Cameron to stay. Give her a reason to stay, I know she will...for you."
Sarah continued to remain silent as John gently released his hand from hers and walked out of the bedroom, hoping that his mom would finally listen to what her heart had been shouting for so long.
"This is stupid, what would Cameron want with flowers?" Sarah mumbled to herself nervously as she gripped the bouquet of red roses tightly in her hand while she paced nervously outside Cameron's closed bedroom door.
Glancing at the door intermittently while she paced, Sarah was just relieved that John, after giving her a wide grin and a thumbs up sign at seeing her with the flowers outside Cameron's door, had softly closed his own bedroom door to give her some measure of privacy.
After her conversation with John yesterday Sarah had realised that she hadn't actually asked Cameron to stay. In her anger and hurt, she had lashed out as usual, her focus just on easing her own pain. So now here she was, making an actual attempt to see if she could salvage a relationship with a metal girl who had somehow wiggled her way into her heart...and her soul.
Sarah froze and looked up with a startled frown as Cameron's door slowly opened to reveal Cameron's bland expression at finding the woman pacing up and down the hallway nervously.
"You have been pacing outside my door for 3 minutes and 47 seconds. Is there something I can help you with?" The query was polite, the expression on Cameron's face unchanging.
"Cameron..." Sarah cleared her suddenly croaky throat at the words, cursing Cameron's cybernetic hearing.
Shuffling her feet nervously and blushing a deep red at her insane behaviour, Sarah gripped the bouquet even more tightly in her hand and thrust it forward at Cameron with a jerk.
"Someone once told me...that flowers are the best...romantic gift...in showing one's affection and love."
Cameron remained silent staring at the roses in open surprise before reaching out slowly and taking them from Sarah's firm grip.
"Thank you Sarah." The words were stiff but Cameron's posture had softened, losing the rigidity as she held the flowers closely to her chest, continuing to stare at Sarah questioningly.
Sarah sighed and ran a hand through her hair, wondering how she was supposed to make the metal girl stay if the reason she was wanting to leave was because of her...because of wanting to protect her.
"Can we...can we go inside?" Sarah indicated Cameron's room with a gesture as she glanced over towards John's closed door nervously.
Cameron stepped aside and held the door open as she waited silently for Sarah to enter.
Sarah bit her lip apprehensively at the continued silence as she entered the room and turned to study Cameron critically. Now standing beside the closed door Cameron was a picture of perfection, her smooth marble face showing no signs of emotion, the roses still held tightly in one hand.
"When...you asked me..." Sarah's voice faltering slightly, "...why I asked you to...stay...I didn't tell you the truth...well...I told you...parts...of the truth....actually."
Glancing away from Cameron briefly then back again to the roses in the girl's hand, Sarah sighed, wondering why it was so hard for her say the words she needed and wanted to say. Cameron standing all silent and stoic wasn't helping her nerves either.
"I told you that I wanted you here because I needed you to help me protect John...so I wouldn't have to do it alone anymore..." Sarah's eyes became soft and her voice firm as she stepped closer to Cameron, needing the girl to understand what she was going to say, "...well...what I didn't say was..."
Clearing her throat, Sarah finally stepped into Cameron's personal space, tilting her head up slightly as she placed a hand on Cameron's cheek, caressing it gently, marvelling at the soft skin under her touch. It was such a juxtaposition in knowing what the girl was made of and what she was feeling under her fingers as she continued the light tracing of smooth skin. Feeling Cameron stiffen in reaction to her caressing, Sarah placed her left hand on Cameron's waist, holding her firmly in a tight grip, afraid that Cameron would move away if she didn't.
"I love you Cameron...I think I've loved you...for a while now...but I was just too stubborn to admit it to myself. Along with everything else I've been fighting in regards to you...I just couldn't seem to take that final step because admitting it out loud, even to myself would make what we have together too real...too raw and it...scared...me."
Taking a deep breath, Sarah continued staring into brown orbs that had softened at her words, her breath hitching in her throat at the familiar eyes staring back at her, feeling herself regain her equilibrium as her soul felt itself slide home with the feel of Cameron's warm body pressed against hers.
"You are scared of me?" The words were stiff as Cameron pulled out of Sarah's arms to walk over to the bed, placing the roses reverently on top of it.
"Not of you Cameron but my feelings for you. Sarah Connor isn't meant to fall in love with a metal girl...but I...I did fall in love with you and it scared me...hell it scared the crap out of me." Staring at the rigid girl in front of her with a frown Sarah could feel her frustration growing, not knowing how successful she was in making Cameron understand what she was saying.
"I asked you before...to stay with me...I'm...I'm asking you again Cameron. Stay with me...here...so we can fight Skynet together. I can't do this alone; I don't want to do this alone...not anymore. I need you Cameron...I need you in my life."
Sarah waited with bated breath as she fell silent, the heartfelt emotional pouring of words sapping her energy as she leant on the door weakly for support.
"When I...when the...machine was chasing you, I felt...hopeless...ineffectual." Cameron started hesitantly as she gazed into Sarah's open expression filled with love and hope. "I did not like it."
Sarah stiffened at the words as Cameron glanced away, clenching her hands tightly together.
"I did not want to hurt you but I could not control my body. When the Skynet programming took over and made me squeeze your throat...I..." Cameron fell silent her body trembling slightly as she concentrated on the door behind Sarah, refusing to meet the woman's eyes. "I can still feel the tendons in your throat, can still feel your blood pulsing in my hand, can still feel your bones close to snapping and see your eyes filling with terror...see the fragility of your life held by the whim of a repugnant program...your life held...by...by me."
Sarah felt her heart breaking at the tormented words falling softly from stiff lips, unshed tears pooling in her eyes.
"I...I...do not...want...to hurt you again Sarah. I...cannot hurt...you...again. I will not function...if you are gone, I will not function...if I...kill you."
Silence fell as the words dripped around the small room, Sarah's heart bleeding at the rawness of the hurt she could feel seeping from Cameron's trembling form. Sarah didn't know what to say, she had no idea that Cameron was feeling like this over hurting her, no idea that she was capable of feeling like this.
"Cameron..." Sarah took a steadying breath as she felt the tears sliding down her cheeks, her pain for the girl standing in front of her making the dam on her emotions crack, "...it's normal to fear, human to fear. It doesn't mean you let it rule you Cameron."
Moving towards Cameron slowly, Sarah cupped the girl's cheek again tilting her head down to stare into eyes filled with pain, trying to brush it away as Cameron relived the night in her memory.
"Do you know why I couldn't shoot you that night Cameron?" Sarah asked gently as she felt Cameron stiffening even more at her words, "I couldn't shoot you because I knew you were in their somewhere...inside that...machine. You warned me so I could run, so it wouldn't hurt me. So I knew you were still in their Cameron, knew it wasn't you trying to hurt me, that you wouldn't hurt me if you could help it...and knowing that it made me...not want to hurt you. I can't hurt you either."
Sarah halted, willing the girl to understand that she was just as important, "I will not function if you are gone."
Wrapping her arms tightly around Cameron's neck, Sarah pulled her closer, tighter into her body, holding the girl desperately in her need for Cameron's warm curves, letting the unique smell of Cameron envelop her in their familiarity.
"Please Cameron...you have a choice...choose me...choose us...stay."
Cameron was awash with sensations, Sarah's touch and warm body sending tingling electrical impulses running up and down her body. It was causing havoc to her systems, making her forget her resolve to resist Sarah and keep the woman safe. She needed space; she couldn't think when Sarah was touching her.
Extracting herself gently from Sarah's embrace Cameron walked towards the door, turning around briefly to give Sarah an implacable stare, her eyes falling on the roses resting gently on her bed.
"I am sorry Sarah. The only choice is to protect you."
Turning away and opening the door, Cameron walked out without another word.
John gave his mother a worried glance as she entered the kitchen, her face withdrawn and pale, dark smudges under her eyes indicating a sleepless night. Dressed in sweat pants and a tank top, she looked like a tired housewife rather than the determined and strong woman that he knew his mother was.
Seeing the roses in a vase on the kitchen table this morning, John had had hope that last night went well, but seeing his mother as she was now, his hope had vanished into thin air. He didn't know what had happened last night but whatever went down; it didn't appear to have ended well.
Giving Sarah another wary glance John remained silent, knowing that this was not the time to engage his obviously on edge mother as she made her way to the coffee pot and started to fill the carafe with water, her motions as if on auto-pilot.
Continuing to watch her silently, John saw Sarah freeze as she glanced over towards him and caught the bouquet of roses sitting in a vase on the table. Seeing her expression changing from the withdrawn and pale look of earlier to a suddenly thunderous murderous scowl, John held his breath and waited.
Sarah suddenly thumped the carafe on the kitchen bench and stalked over to the table, her eyes never leaving the roses as she barely registered John's presence. Grabbing the roses from the vase viciously making it wobble precariously, Sarah stalked over to the rubbish bin. Stepping on the foot pedal with a snarl Sarah flung them inside watching with grim satisfaction. Then turning around she marched out of the kitchen, opening and closing the back door with a loud bang.
John sat in shocked silence, witness to the repercussions of his mother's emotional meltdown. Standing and going to the kitchen window a worried frown on his face, John saw Sarah disappear into the garage. Hoping against hope that she would not do anything rash, John could only continue to stare in helplessness, knowing that there was nothing he could do for her.
"What did you do to her Cameron?" John turned accusing eyes towards Cameron as she entered the kitchen.
"Do what?" Cameron stopped and tilted her head at John, having no idea what he was talking about.
John ran his hand through is hair in frustration, wondering if he would survive the fallout from this relationship.
"Mom! She came in here, threw the roses in the rubbish bin then stormed out. What the hell happened last night?" John's tone was wild as he turned to the kitchen window again, gripping the bench in helpless anger.
Cameron stiffened as she registered John's words, then walked over to the rubbish bin and looked inside. Seeing the roses tossed carelessly on the top, Cameron reached in and removed them with a frown. Glancing to John briefly, Cameron remained silent as she walked over to the table and started placing the roses back in the vase one by one, rearranging them with gentle fingers and a soft look on her features.
"Well?" John demanded as he turned away from the kitchen window and the garage outside, he needed answers; his mother was close to a breakdown.
Cameron glanced up at the demand, masking her face into neutral lines as she tilted her head to acknowledge John's glare.
"I..." Cameron froze as she glanced quickly away and over to the kitchen window, ignoring John as her face and her body stiffened, her eyes narrowing in consternation.
Continuing to ignore John Cameron made her way slowly to the back door, her face a picture of concentration.
"Cameron?!" John yelled as the girl continued to ignore him, following her progress to the door with a vicious glare.
Then he heard it, a low almost wild and uninhibited scream that was as if it was being forced out from a body going through unspeakable pain. Before he could say another word, Cameron gave him a brief panicked glance then wrenched the door open with such force that the windows rattled as it slammed into the wall and quickly ran outside, down the path to the garage without a backward glance.
John held his breath as he went to run after Cameron but then stopped hesitantly exhaling harshly in indecision. He continued to stare at the garage uncertainly then clenched his hands and closed the back door gently. He could not help them this time, this time; it was between his mother and Cameron. Whatever happened he just hoped that they would both be ok.
The constant thumping of her fists on the boxing bag soothed Sarah's ragged nerve endings, drowning out the tumultuous thoughts running in her head. The pain was radiating from her uncovered knuckles travelling through her hands and into her arms, alleviating the pain in her heart and soul.
Seeing the roses on the kitchen table, a silent mockery to her failed attempt with Cameron had triggered something deep within her. Sarah wanted to howl in outrage, a wild and untamed anger skittering through her blood stream at the memory of Cameron walking out on her. She needed to strike out, to block out the pain and helplessness gripping her in their vicious claws, digging into her soul leaving ugly welts in their wake.
She had tried and she had failed.
Sarah's right fist landed with a solid whack making the bag jump and jerk lightly on the metal chain hanging down from the garage ceiling, the impact of the punch reverberating down her arm, to the toes of her feet.
Cameron was still leaving.
Sarah's left fist this time landing with a resounding thump swiftly followed by a backward right hook, making the boxing bag sway a little bit faster side to side.
Cameron did not want her.
Sarah's right fist again landing with eerie accuracy as her vision started to fade, the anger clouding her mind, fuelling the fire in her gut.
She was alone.
Letting out a guttural wail at the last thought Sarah picked up speed, a flurry of punches leaving her knuckles red and raw, blood oozing in between her fingers as she continued to pound on the bag, making it sway precariously on its chain as she kept up her momentum. Sarah was lost to all thought, the only need in her now to do damage, to make her fists and body hurt so that her heart would stop bleeding, so that her soul would stop crying.
Sarah wanted the pain to go away, the ache inside that made breathing difficult, that left her breathless and pinched and bruised. Tears were now flowing freely down Sarah's face unchecked, the drops silent witness to a woman on the edge, on the brink of her own self-destruction.
"Sarah stop. You are hurting yourself." Cameron's voice pierced Sarah's rage induced fog, giving her arms the added strength to keep on swinging, her hands the added weight in each renewed punch.
"Sarah! Stop!" Cameron repeated now alarmed as she strode purposefully into the garage, taking note of the wild uncontrolled movements of the woman's arms as she punched and hit and flailed. The boxing bag now swaying so fast it became a blur with Sarah's flying fists.
Stepping in front of Sarah and the boxing bag, Cameron reached out and grabbed the woman by her arms, halting the furious movements of Sarah's fists connecting with the bag again as she moved them both out of the way of the swinging bag behind her.
"Sarah, please...you are hurting yourself," Cameron pleaded desperately as the woman continued to fight her, Sarah's fists this time beating wildly on Cameron's chest.
"What does it matter Cameron?! You're leaving anyway!" Sarah screamed in wild rage as she continued to struggle in Cameron's grip landing punches on the girl's chest, wanting her to hurt as much as she did.
Cameron grabbed Sarah's wrists firmly this time, wanting the woman to stop hurting herself, seeing the bruised and bleeding skin on Sarah's knuckles.
"It matters Sarah, you matter. Please stop, I don't want to see you hurt," Cameron pleaded again, softly, urgently, trying to make the struggling woman understand that it was hurting her to see Sarah like this.
"So leave already! You don't want to see me hurt?! Then just leave, just go and leave me alone!" Sarah pushed on Cameron's chest hard, feeling the pain overwhelm her, physical and emotional, both combining into a fire ball in her belly, in her throat, the insane desire to just stop the emotional hurt with the physical hurt drowning her, making her lose control.
Cameron pulled Sarah into her body with a solid thump, wrapping her arms around Sarah's waist to trap her arms and lifting her bodily off the ground, holding on tightly.
"Sarah, please. I do not like it when you are hurt. Please stop." Cameron's voice firm and determined, her stubbornness not allowing Sarah to ignore her.
Sarah ceased her struggling as the words finally entered her head, registering in her brain.
"I'm already hurting Cameron!" Sarah screamed as the waves of pain came crashing down, pulling her under and drowning her.
Cameron released her grip slightly as she leaned back to stare into the face of the woman who gave her a reason to exist, her synthetic heart feeling as if it was breaking at the unleashed anger and pain she could clearly see.
"I can't do this Cameron; I can't do this anymore if you're not here. It doesn't matter if I hurt myself, nothing matters." Sarah whispered brokenly as she felt her anger draining from her body, leaving her empty and barren, a shell of a woman that had no will to fight anymore. Slumping heavily onto Cameron, Sarah wrapped her arms tightly around Cameron's neck and buried her head into Cameron's shoulder as the tears continued to flow down her cheeks unhindered.
Cameron tightened her grip around Sarah's waist again, pulling her into her strong arms, holding her as close as she could without damaging her. She could not protect Sarah if Sarah would not even protect herself. Sarah was reckless and illogical and it made no sense that Sarah would love and need her and have complete disregard for her own safety. But then Cameron had already come to realise that Sarah and logic sometimes never went hand in hand.
"It's ok Sarah. I will be here...I will stay," Cameron murmured softly as she bent down and placed her arm under Sarah's legs and lifted her gently, surrendering to the pull that was Sarah.
Cameron's free will was no longer her own, it belonged to Sarah. She may not have any Skynet or Resistance directives anymore but she had Sarah and Cameron should have realised sooner that the lure of Sarah would be stronger than anything programmed into her.
Moving slowly and delicately out of the garage, her precious cargo tucked safely in her arms, Cameron only had one mission in mind; stay with Sarah and keep her safe.
John's eyes followed Cameron as she walked slowly toward the house; his mother held gently, almost reverently in the crook of her arms. Her head was buried in Cameron's shoulders, arms wrapped tightly around Cameron's neck, as if trying to surround herself in the essence of the girl carrying her.
Watching the progress silently with hopeful eyes, John sighed in relief looking away briefly to catch the roses sitting proudly on the kitchen table again. Turning away from the kitchen window, John made his way to his bedroom and closed the door gently after him, knowing that his mother would not want him to see her in her weakened state.
"I will go get the first aid kit Sarah," Cameron spoke softly as she entered Sarah's bedroom letting the woman down gently to stand on her feet.
"Cameron...wait." Sarah grabbed a hold of Cameron's hand to stop her from walking out of the door again. "Close the door for a minute."
Cameron regarded her curiously before reaching out and closing the door behind her.
As soon as the door shut with a soft click, Sarah lunged forward and grabbed Cameron by the shoulders pushing her gently to lean against the door.
"Sarah, I need to clean and tape your hands," Cameron protested lightly as she placed her hands on Sarah's waist to steady her.
With a mumbled 'later', Sarah leaned fully into Cameron's body as she attacked Cameron's lips, devouring the full rosy lips with a hunger that she couldn't contain anymore. Pushing her tongue insistently into Cameron's mouth, Sarah groaned harshly as she felt Cameron's tongue intertwine with hers, tasting and teasing, driving her wild. She needed Cameron with an almost painful urgency, her desire to feel the girl in her arms driving her mad.
Breaking away to draw in a ragged breath, Sarah lightly caressed the back of Cameron's neck as she placed her forehead on Cameron's chin to steady her jagged nerve endings.
"Sarah, I need to clean..." Cameron started again only to be interrupted as Sarah gripped her neck firmly and pulled Cameron's head down again to hers.
"Cameron...I said later...I...need...this." Sarah breathed out roughly as she captured Cameron's lips again, wanting to feel the girl in her arms and on her lips. Sarah needed to assuage the hunger and the devastation that had been building inside her, to confirm that Cameron was really with her.
Breaking away to catch her breath, Sarah peppered light kisses along Cameron's neck, along her throat, down her chest then back up again to lips red and moist ready to be kissed again.
Cameron knew she should protest but it felt too good to have Sarah kiss and touch her again. She had missed this, the solid form of Sarah pressed tightly into hers, their bodies melding into each other, the feel of Sarah's soft curves against hers. Her systems were overloading with the feel and taste of Sarah, making thinking of anything beyond Sarah difficult. Closing her eyes, Cameron gave in to the feeling, revelling in the sensations coursing through her body as Sarah's lips left hers and started to blaze a trail of fire down her throat, Sarah's lips and tongue kissing and licking every piece of skin they touched.
"Off." With a growl Sarah stepped back from Cameron slightly pulling on the girls t-shirt urgently as she ripped it over Cameron's head and flung it across the room.
Tracing her fingers lightly against Cameron's collarbone down in between her cleavage, the light scars peppering her chest, Sarah marvelled at the dimpling skin in reaction to her touch. Nipping at Cameron's throat lightly, her tongue leaving a trail of wetness in their wake, Sarah reached behind Cameron and unclasped her bra, letting the material fall from suddenly nerveless fingers. Sarah's breath hitched in her throat as she took in the sight of Cameron's naked flesh staring back at her.
Cameron tensed as Sarah's fingers reached out to trace the curves of her breasts softly, her lungs suddenly losing its ability to breathe as she felt the heat of Sarah's fingers burning her skin. Clenching her hands into fists at her sides so as not to hurt Sarah inadvertently, Cameron was beginning to melt, her systems blaring warning klaxons as her vision started to fade in and out. Gasping softly and closing her eyes to the wonderful sensation of Sarah now teasing and sucking her rigid nipples lightly, Cameron braced herself against the bedroom door as she felt Sarah's leg slide between hers.
"Sarah," Cameron groaned as she lifted her hands and placed it gently on Sarah's shoulders pulling the woman up to ravish moist lips, her need to absorb the woman pressing into her consuming her entire body as Cameron's hips started to rock gently but urgently on Sarah's thigh.
Sarah broke away again from the hungry lips to steady her trembling legs as she clasped tightly onto Cameron's waist. Staring into brown eyes filled with desire for her, Sarah's heart rate went into overdrive and she lost all coherent thought except for her need to have Cameron moaning her name over and over again.
Kneeling gently in front of Cameron, Sarah tugged at the zipper of the girl's jeans frantically her hands trembling with the effort in maintaining her control. Slipping the jeans and underpants down the long trimmed legs, Sarah felt herself going light headed at the expanse of naked flesh searing her eyes. Feeling Cameron's hands grip her shoulders firmly but gently, Sarah looked up to see liquid chocolate staring back at her intently. Grasping Cameron's thighs with the strength of a terminator, Sarah bent her head forward, placing soft lips against the moist heat pooling at Cameron's juncture. Inhaling the husky aroma of Cameron, her tongue and lips began to suck and lick feverishly adding fuel to Sarah's already simmering need.
As soon as she felt Sarah's lips and tongue on her, Cameron was lost again, unable to think and only feel. The waves of sensation crashing over her, battering at Cameron's already fragile defences when it came to Sarah was building into molten lava underneath her skin.
"Sarah." Cameron's groan being pulled from clenched lips as she closed her eyes and fought against the desire to grip Sarah's shoulders harder. Pushing the woman closer Cameron picked up the tempo of her rocking hips as she dropped her hands to her sides to clench them in a tight fisted grip, knowing that she could damage Sarah if she wasn't careful.
At the sound of her name from tortured lips and the tensing of the body under her mouth and fingers, Sarah began to re-double her efforts wanting Cameron to let go, to let her feel and taste and drown in the passion of her.
"Sarah!" Cameron suddenly screamed as she felt her insides clenching, a burst of white exploding behind her closed eyes as wave after wave of heat expanded through her systems, her blood boiling as if her chip was on fire.
"Sarah...oh... I love you Sarah...Sarah...Sarah..." Sarah's name was a mantra on Cameron's lips as she felt herself being consumed, her endoskeleton melting in the heat of Sarah's lips and hands pulling at her.
Sarah reluctantly stood up as she felt hands tugging gently on her arms to feather light kisses on the glistening skin at Cameron's chest, throat and temple. Feeling warm arms wrap around her in a tight clasp around her waist, Sarah placed another gentle kiss on Cameron's lips before finally resting her head on a firm shoulder. Sighing in contented bliss at the love and devotion travelling up and down her body for the metal girl trembling in her arms, Sarah traced light patterns against Cameron's hip bone.
"We should...I should..." Cameron faltered; collecting her thoughts as the waves of sensation began to slowly fade, leaving only a warm hum buzzing up and down her back. Gazing down at the head on her shoulder and the face suffused in a light pink, Cameron traced her fingers lightly up and down Sarah's back.
"I should go get the first aid kit Sarah." Cameron was finally able to vocalise as she pulled away slightly to stare into emerald green.
"Later Cameron," Sarah replied as she leant in and placed another kiss to the tempting lips in front of her.
"Sarah." Cameron's tone was firm this time as she pulled away again to give Sarah a displeased frown.
"My hands are fine...I just want you to hold me for a minute...please?" Sarah pleaded softly as she lifted a hand to trace a soft cheek.
Cameron's gaze softened, the words cutting straight into her heart at Sarah's vulnerability being displayed. Grasping the hand tracing her cheek almost reverently in a soothing grip Cameron gave it a gentle squeeze as she pulled Sarah along and climbed up onto the bed.
Moving to the middle of the bed, Cameron lay down, pulling the woman along with her as she wrapped her arms and legs around Sarah from behind. Snuggling deeper into the embrace Sarah placed both of her hands on top of Cameron's own and gripped it tightly to her stomach.
Cameron inhaled the earthly scent of Sarah, her nostrils filling with a smell that she would never ever forget. This was Sarah, her Sarah, the woman who loved her, was in love with her and for a metal girl that had had no concept of being human when she was sent back from the future, it was a gift. Cameron's mission was now Sarah, the woman needed her, wanted her and Cameron would do everything to keep Sarah safe.
Sarah sighed contentedly as she felt the warmth of Cameron's soft curves along the length of her back and down her legs, the strong arms enveloping her tightly, chasing away her demons. Finally able to relax and let go, knowing that Cameron was with her, Sarah closed her eyes and let the tiredness drag over her. Smelling the sweet scent of Cameron washing away her pain, her doubts, Sarah succumbed to the darkness of sleep, the nightmares kept at bay by the warm breath caressing her neck lightly. She knew what this was now and she couldn't live without it, live without Cameron.
"So Cameron's staying?" John enquired as he stepped into the kitchen to see Sarah sitting at the table sipping her coffee slowly with a distracted smile on her face as she gazed unseeing at the roses on the table.
Sarah blushed a deep red at John's sudden appearance. After waking up from her brief nap, Sarah had gone to shower and change while Cameron went to grab the first aid kit to bring into Sarah's bedroom. After reluctantly allowing Cameron to tend to her hands, they had continued in their lovemaking and to Sarah, it had been...earth shattering. In finally being able to accept and own up to her feelings for Cameron Sarah had become a woman possessed.
As if sensing Sarah's desperation to confirm to herself that Cameron was physically with her again, the girl had allowed Sarah to be control. Sarah had dominated and taken Cameron repeatedly all night long, marking and memorising Cameron's body, until finally Sarah had fallen asleep out of pure exhaustion, practically burying Cameron under her weight as she slept peacefully for the first time since the warehouse incident.
Feeling her muscles twinge in reaction to her head still reverberating with Cameron's cries of pleasure, Sarah hid another blush. She hoped that John had fallen asleep with his headphones on again if he wasn't blushing as hard as she was at seeing him this morning. Cameron and she had not been particularly silent having forgotten anything else existed bar the rediscovering of each other's bodies.
Giving a brief and silent heartfelt thanks the one and only time in her life to Skynet in their aim for perfection in mimicking the human body Sarah shrugged away her distracting thoughts as she felt John's eyes still on her.
Clearing her throat and shaking her head lightly Sarah mumbled a firm, "She's staying."
The smile on Sarah's face and in her eyes was enough to let John know that everything was going to be alright again.
John rolled his eyes at Sarah's blushing as he placed his school books and bag on the table but was secretly relieved that his mother was happy again. She had a healthy glow about her now which was much more preferable to the listless quality of late.
Taking note of the tape around her hands, John hid his grimace of annoyance as he pulled a chair out and sat down, picking up books and shoving them inside his school bag. His mother had an annoying habit of disregarding her safety and well being to her own detriment. John was extremely relieved and happy that it wasn't going to be only up to him anymore who would be dissuading Sarah from doing anything foolish.
"Where is Cameron?"
Sarah glanced outside the kitchen window at the words, hoping to see Cameron walking up the porch steps at the mention of her name.
Sarah knew John could detect the hint of neediness in her voice but shrugged off the knowledge. Cameron and her need for Cameron was something that John would just have to get used to. Cameron was a part of her now, a part of her life and Sarah could not deny loving her anymore.
Cameron rounded the corner of the house to the backyard and froze as she spotted Derek walking through the gate, taking note of his stiffened form as he spotted her at the same time. Cameron had not seen or thought of the man since the night of the storage warehouse, her thoughts having been preoccupied with Sarah and her safety. Giving Derek a silent perusal, Cameron waited patiently until Derek walked closer seeing the hesitation and unease on his features at speaking to her.
"Derek," Cameron acknowledged blandly.
"Cameron," Derek replied just as blandly as he studied her intently, taking note of the purple marks around the girls neck. Obviously, she and Sarah had made up. Pushing the thought and proof away from his mind, Derek consciously tried to relax his posture slightly and gazed towards the house, catching Sarah's silhouette against the kitchen window looking out, not knowing what to say to the silent girl in front of him.
He had been disturbed by the events of the warehouse incident, his nightmare of the metal girl turning back into a machine coming true.
After John had received the phone call from Sarah, Derek had known without a doubt that the girl had turned 'bad' again and he was ready and willing to take her out, to save Sarah and John and by proxy the world. But Sarah had surprised him, surprised and annoyed the hell out of him actually when she had pleaded for the girl's continued existence.
He had not been aware of how deeply Sarah's feelings had run for the metal girl, assuming that her relationship with Cameron was a phase, an itch that needed to be scratched. But the heartfelt plea that Sarah had persuaded him with to give Cameron a chance had shown Derek that Sarah had not only cared about the girl, but that she was terrified of the idea of losing her.
Weakening to a moment of compassion for a situation beyond Sarah's control, Derek had acquiesced reluctantly at the time to give the metal girl her chance at redemption, to prove to him that her supposed love for Sarah would be enough to change her back. And surprisingly Cameron had come through, had passed his test that she wasn't even aware of having sat.
It was this thought that made him hold his tongue from snarling at Cameron. If she was capable of loving Sarah, then he was capable of trying not to hate her for what she was made of.
"Thank you for protecting Sarah."
The stiffly spoken words startled Derek out of his reminiscing as he turned back to stare at the still bland girl standing rigidly before him.
"Why are you thanking me? I would've filled your head with shot gun pellets if Sarah hadn't stopped me." The words were straight forward, no hate or malice intended. Derek was truly curious as to why Cameron would thank him when he knew she knew he was going to end her.
"Sarah can be...reckless at times. She does not care for her own safety, only of others. I would have wanted you to...kill...me...before I would intentionally harm her."
Cameron stood ramrod straight, avoiding Derek's surprised stare as she gazed out into the distance.
"You would choose Sarah's continued existence over yours?"
Cameron turned back to stare at Derek as the question registered; his face set in a curious frown as if trying to figure out a complicated puzzle.
"Yes." The answer was quick and simple, no hesitation, no thought needed.
Derek brooded over it a minute before sighing and turning to face Cameron fully, his expression now thoughtful and resigned.
"I still...don't understand what Sarah sees in you, but if you're willing to choose Sarah over yourself then I'm willing to give this...truce...a go, deal?"
Cameron tilted her head slightly, weighing the sincerity of Derek's words and body language her expression blank as she studied the man silently.
Derek nodded briefly at the answer and turned away to walk up the porch steps mumbling under his breath as he went along, "Who knows, maybe I'll surprise myself and actually start to like you."
Cameron remained standing, watching Derek's exit as her cybernetic ears caught Derek's words, wondering if she too would get to that stage of her sometimes stilted and strained relationship with the ex-resistance soldier.
Cameron turned around at the sound of her name, her hand holding gently onto Sarah's door knob as she gave John a curious look seeing him standing just inside his bedroom door.
"I'm glad you chose to stay." Walking over towards Cameron, John pulled the startled girl into a quick hug before letting her go again.
Cameron's lips curved into a warm smile as she took in the blushing boy's fidgeting form standing before her. Her heart was melting at the sight of another Connor who had wormed his way into her affections.
"Thank you John...I am...glad...to be staying also." Cameron's words were sincere, the affection showing through clearly in her smile.
Giving Cameron one last relieved grin, John turned back around and headed into his room. "Okay then...I'll be...uh...in my room...if anyone...needs me....listening to music...with the headphones on...loudly."
Cameron remained staring at the closed door with a small smile and then turned and entered Sarah's bedroom, knowing that her choice to stay was no choice at all. Sarah needed her and she would do anything that Sarah asked as long as it did not endanger the woman's life; it was as simple as that.
"What did you and Derek talk about this morning?" Sarah enquired softly as she entered her bedroom to find Cameron sitting on her bed her gaze riveted on something in her hand.
Cameron glanced up from the identity card she had been studying and was instantly captured by the sight of Sarah freshly showered, her wet hair hanging limply around her shoulders and a bathrobe hugging her curvaceous figure.
Not noticing Cameron's appreciative appraisal, Sarah walked over and sat down beside Cameron taking the card out of the girl's hand gently to study it critically.
"Not too bad is it?" Sarah muttered softly as she felt Cameron moving lightly to straddle her from behind, Cameron's arms going firmly around her waist to pull her closer.
Cameron remained silent as she lifted Sarah's hair from around her shoulders and started to place light teasing kisses on the woman's neck, inhaling the aroma of Sarah.
"Hmmm." Sarah closed her eyes and tilted her head slightly to give Cameron easier access, her thoughts suddenly becoming jumbled as she felt her body's reactions to the light teasing.
Clearing a throat croaky with sudden desire, Sarah leaned back into Cameron's chest, revelling in the feel of little tingling sensations running up and down her body, "Cameron?"
"Derek and I have reached an understanding." Cameron finally murmured distractedly as she continued to trail light kisses on to Sarah's neck, moving up to capture Sarah's ear in her warm mouth, sucking gently. She had no desire to discuss the ex-resistance soldier or anything else for that matter with Sarah's warm body pressed tightly against her own.
Feeling her breath hitch in her throat as Cameron slowly untied the knot on her bathrobe and the feel of warm hands stroking lightly on her stomach and sides, Sarah continued her soft musings, "That's good, maybe Derek won't be such an ass to you anymore."
Cameron remained silent as she shifted Sarah gently onto her left shoulder and started peppering soft kisses onto Sarah's shoulder and throat.
"Oh God Cameron," Sarah moaned as she felt her eyes close in reaction to the wet kisses, dropping the identity card as her hands wrapped themselves around Cameron's head to pull her down and closer.
"Don't you...don't you think that the new identity cards look real?" Sarah gasped softly, not wanting to give in to the sensations flowing over her yet, needing to just absorb the feelings running through her at Cameron's teasing lips.
Sarah had decided that one of her main priorities since fully accepting Cameron into her life had to be changing the 'official' status of her relationship with Cameron. Being Cameron's 'mother' in the eyes of the law had irked her sensibilities, making her shudder at the thought. She could not be Cameron's mother, even if it was pretend; thus the need for their new identities and Derek's visit this morning.
"Sarah?" Cameron interrupted lightly as she pulled away reluctantly from Sarah's tantalising skin underneath her lips to stare into intense emerald orbs.
"Yes Cameron?" Sarah groaned softly. Her senses were on overload as her eyes were captured by dark chocolate, the blatant desire she could see in them driving all thought from her brain.
"I do not want to talk anymore." Cameron stated lightly as she leaned in to capture Sarah's lips, putting pressure into the kiss. Her hands began a slow trail up to Sarah's soft breasts, cupping and kneading as her thumbs stroked lightly over hardened nipples, making her intentions clear as to what she did want to be doing instead.
Sarah could only respond as she felt Cameron's lips and hands on her, her need now consuming her entire body. She was amazed at the feelings running through her every time she was in close proximity to Cameron. Since having admitted and expressed her love to Cameron wholeheartedly, Sarah couldn't seem to get enough of the girl, her body demanding her to be physically close to Cameron at every moment she could.
It was...scary...and...invigorating all at the same time.
Then there was no more talking or thought as their kiss intensified, Cameron leaning gently into Sarah as her body responded automatically to the urgent request from Sarah's lips. Opening her mouth widely, Cameron sneaked her tongue into Sarah's mouth, touching Sarah's tongue with her own, tasting, sucking, until Sarah groaned with unbridled lust.
Standing up hastily, Sarah pulled Cameron to her feet and slowly lifted Cameron's shirt over her head, her fingers remembering the feel of Cameron's body as they traced light patterns from her shoulders, down to the valley of her breasts then back up to the full pouty lips. Reaching around Cameron's back to undo her bra; Sarah could only stare at the beautiful twin mounds revealed to her, slightly flushed with arousal. Leaning down and sucking a nipple experimentally, Sarah's breath hitched in her throat as she felt it harden even more in her mouth.
Cameron's synapses were on overload again at Sarah's touch, Sarah's mouth on her, her body responding to the carnal pull as she gazed into Sarah's desire laden eyes. Lifting Sarah's head away from her breasts Cameron captured Sarah's mouth in a burning kiss, trying to convey everything she felt into the touch of lips on lips, her hands roaming down to Sarah's naked backside under the bathrobe to crush the woman closer to her body.
"Cameron," Sarah groaned as she began to fumble wildly with the girl's pants, desperate in her need to touch, to feel, to taste. She could feel her insides simmering, the heat of Cameron's hands stealing the breath from her lungs. No matter how many times Cameron touched her, it would never be enough.
"Sarah," Cameron answered reverently between kisses, feeling herself drowning in the sensations flooding her systems at the sound of her name from Sarah's lips.
Tugging at Sarah's bathrobe, Cameron slipped it off Sarah's shoulders with an urgency that surprised her as she turned Sarah around and pushed gently on the woman's shoulders to make her lie down on the bed. Tossing the bathrobe away carelessly, Cameron shucked out of her pants and underpants entranced by the sight of Sarah's naked body as the woman lay staring up at her, hooded eyes heavy with need.
Sarah arched her back upwards as she felt hands on her breasts, tracing the faint scar on her side, her stomach, then back up again, kneading, touching, pulling; her senses overwhelmed at the feel of Cameron's weight resting gently over hers. The solidity of Cameron's body, Cameron's warmth and Cameron's smell sending tingling vibes all the way down to her toes.
Letting out a feral groan, Sarah grasped Cameron's solid shoulders and flipped her over to straddle the girl's hips, knowing that Cameron was allowing her to dominate her so easily again inflamed her primitive yearnings to new heights, fuelling her out of control desires.
Placing another firm kiss to already wet and full lips, Sarah suckled hungrily, nipping and biting, trailing her tongue down the side of Cameron's neck, then back up to the lips again. Grinding herself frantically onto Cameron, Sarah let out a fevered moan as flesh slid against flesh, feeling herself already standing on the edge of a precipice.
Pushing herself up gently Cameron steadied her hands on Sarah's waist as she started a slow rocking motion; her eyes fixated on Sarah's face, watching the reactions of her movements flood the woman's features. Cameron could feel the desire crashing over her, through her as she trailed wet kisses down Sarah's exposed neck to her breasts, suckling urgently on extended nipples as Sarah arched her body, pushing back with a force that made little electrical sparks run up and down her back.
Sarah's breath hitched in her throat again as she was consumed by the sensation of Cameron, her body responding with an almost primal need. She was now moving in a frenetic pace that made her lose all awareness, all self control; her senses almost painful in their intensity as the need boiled hotly in her body, about to erupt.
Sarah felt herself imploding, Cameron's name on her lips and the echo of her own name floating to her ears as she was slipping, sliding, falling, wave after wave of ecstasy crashing and rolling over her shaking body, plunging her into warm darkness, the feel of Cameron surrounding her in her heat.
Sarah's breathing was coming out in erratic gasps as she felt her mind and body quietly settle into a dull throbbing hum, the aching in her soul satiated with the feel of Cameron under her. Resting her forehead against Cameron's shoulder and her arms wrapped lightly around Cameron's neck, Sarah basked in the soft kisses nipping at her neck and shoulder blades and hands trailing gentle patterns on her back, their intention only to soothe not arouse.
Sighing softly and lifting her head slightly Sarah gazed into warm golden brown smiling at her as she placed a loving kiss on the lips she could never get enough of. Pulling Cameron closer in her arms Sarah was fascinated with the feel of soft curves and warm skin as her eyes intensified at the reactions running up and down her body.
"I love you Cameron and thank you for not leaving me."
Cameron's face lit up as she heard the heartfelt declaration from the woman who made her feel human; making Cameron's features softer and more delicate as she leaned her head forward to catch Sarah's lips in another crushing kiss.
"Sarah?" Pulling away gently Cameron gazed into soft viridian eyes, quirking a small smile at the affection shining from within as she easily flipped the woman over to straddle her hips. Holding Sarah's arms above her head gently and her knees bearing most of her weight, Cameron could only stare in awe at the woman underneath her.
"Yes Cameron?" Sarah returned the small smile with a sexy smirk of her own as she gazed up into the warm eyes looking down at her with such heart breaking intensity that she felt her own breath leaving her lungs again.
"I have all the..." Cameron's eyes like steel as she leant down to nip at Sarah's throat, "...sexual positions..." as she continued to trail a wet tongue up to capture Sarah's ear, "...in the kama sutra memorised..." biting softly on the ear as she finally whispered, "...and...I don't sleep."
"Oh God," Sarah groaned as her breathing stopped and then started with a rush as she became lost at the words and the feel of gentle teeth biting and licking at her ear, her body responding again with an almost painful need.
"Yes Sarah?" Cameron lifted her head away to stare into green eyes blazing with a desperate passion, bestowing a knowing smile in return as she felt Sarah's warm breath mingling with hers.
Sarah freed her arms from Cameron's grip to reach around Cameron's neck pulling her down urgently.
"Shut up and kiss me."
Cameron's mouth swept into a wide grin as she allowed Sarah to pull her down gently to rest her body against Sarah's, capturing Sarah's moist lips with her own in a teasing kiss. Her tongue pushing its way insistently into Sarah's mouth as her hands roamed up and down the woman's strong yet soft body.
Cameron's lips and hands this time were seeking to definitely arouse and not soothe.
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