DISCLAIMER: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its characters are the propert of James Cameron and Fox. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: Up to mid-season 2, with some AU elements.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Just Another Day in Paradise
"Beep, beep, beep!"
"Mfhrgnm" Sarah growled, reaching blindly for the alarm clock. Only semi-conscious, she jabbed randomly at the buttons, remembering in a sleep-fogged way that one of them was supposed to shut the damn thing off.
Cheerfully insistent, the clock ignored her efforts, continuing in its onslaught until her uncoordinated assault succeeded in knocking it off the night table. Swearing bloody vengeance on the shrieking appliance and its myriad mechanical descendants, Sarah groped around on the floor for the cord and yanked it spitefully out of the wall, choking the alarm off mid-beep.
Quiet good, much better. Why in the hell had she even set the stupid thing? And why was she still so damned tired?
Hanging out over the edge of the bed, halfway between getting up and going back to sleep, Sarah was still puzzling over those questions when she was distracted by a warm hand slipping over her side, and soft lips pressing gently against the back of her neck.
Oh right that was why.
Mystery solved, Sarah submitted, growling contentedly as Cameron pulled her in from the edge of the bed and curled comfortably around her. Reaching back she tugged the girl's arm more firmly over her waist, and laced their fingers together.
Two weeks now she'd been letting Cameron spend the night in her room and it had taken almost that entire time for John to get sick of pounding on her door to wake her up in the morning. The alarm clock had been his solution, and the expression on his face when he'd wordlessly thunked the box down onto the table in front of her had been almost worth the aggravation of having the stupid thing scream at her every day.
"Mmmm?" Sarah shivered as Cameron's breath tickled her ear.
"That is the third time you have shut off the alarm this morning."
"Fine," Grumbling, she reluctantly pushed the blankets back. "I'm up." Her attempts to disentangle herself met with some resistance however. "Cameron," She huffed. "I can't get up if you're not going to let go of me."
Smiling wickedly, -one of her newer expressions, and fast becoming a favourite-Cameron rolled over top of Sarah and braced herself on her forearms, effectively pinning the other woman beneath her greater weight. "I set the clock forty-five minutes ahead. John won't be up for another thirty minutes."
"Why" Sarah's question was cut short by Cameron's mouth coming down on hers. Surprise lasted only as long as it took the girl to transfer her weight to one arm so that she could use the free hand to trace Sara's face before sliding long fingers down along her jaw to stroke her neck over the pulse point, and then further down, lingering briefly to caress a taut nipple, then sliding lower over her stomach
Tangling her hands in the terminators hair, Sarah returned the kiss fervently, and arched her back to meet Cameron's touch. As rational thought fled, she suddenly realized just how much she loved the alarm clock.
"We really shouldn't make a habit of that." A half hour later (terminators kept very precise time), wrung out and sticky, Sarah peeled herself out of Cameron's arms and sat up, swinging her legs out over the side of the bed.
"Why not?" Cameron released her lover reluctantly, trailing a hand down the woman's sweat slicked back.
"Because," Sarah twisted around to catch Cameron's roving hand by the wrist and tucked it firmly back against the girl's chest. "You may not sleep girlie, but some of us need a little of it now and then and I'm running on empty here."
The doe-eyed terminator sighed and laid back against the pillows, unabashedly enjoying the view as Sarah rose from the bed without bothering with a robe, and crossed the room to rummage in her dresser for something to wear.
"You should sleep while John and I are in school." Cameron stated definitively after a moments thought. "Then you would be well rested."
Sarah snorted, slamming one drawer shut and pulling open the next one. "Right! And Skynet's going to just sit back and twiddle its thumbs while I sleep all day, just so that I can spend all night having sex with you?"
"Skynet doesn't have thumbs It's a computer."
The hairbrush didn't have a chance of hitting her. Dodging it fluidly, Cameron caught the hastily flung missile as it passed and slipped out of bed with a wounded pout that weakened Sarah's resolve even as she recognized it for the sham it was.
"Cameron " She warned, pressing back against the dresser.
"Sarah ." The metal girl mimicked, gliding over and placing her hands on the dresser to either side of the other woman before leaning down and tilting her head to nibble suggestively at Sarah's neck.
"Shouldn't " Shuddering as Cameron's teeth found a particularly sensitive spot, Sarah swallowed and tried again. "Shouldn't you be getting dressed you know for school in your room?"
"Mmmm " Cameron pulled back just far enough for her limpid brown eyes to meet Sarah's faltering green stare. "Many humans that are a part of a couple provide a drawer for their partner If I had a drawer in your room, I would not have to go back to mine to get dressed." She pressed forward, pinning Sarah against the dresser. "Then we could shower together."
Cold reality slapped over Sarah like a bucket of ice water, and she shivered as the heat sparked by Cameron's proximity drained out of her in an instant. Clenching her teeth against the stab of that loss, she pushed the terminator roughly away from her. After a moments resistance Cameron, realizing she was in earnest, acquiesced, backing up with a look of far more genuine hurt then her earlier pout.
"No." Sarah shut her eyes, carefully containing the irrational swell of panic in her breast. "You are not human..." Taking a deep breath she fixed Cameron with a steely green glare. "We are not a couple. This," a sweep of her hand took in their nudity, the rumpled bed and strewn clothing. "This is not a relationship do you understand me?"
Cameron's eyes darkened and she opened her mouth as if to speak before closing it again in the face of the other woman's unwavering stare. Slowly so slowly that Sarah ached to see it, her face and body stiffened, masking the traces of humanity that she had been working so hard to acquire, until nothing but a terminator stood in front of her.
"Thank you for explaining." The flat, emotionless voice struck Sarah like a physical blow as Cameron turned on her heel and left the room leaving Sarah to collapse back against the dresser. She gripped the edge in suddenly numb hands just to stay on her feet, hoping desperately that there was no one upstairs to witness the naked terminator's exit.
Breakfast was awkward. Not that it was ever anything else lately but there was a different flavour to the tension around the kitchen table this morning. John didn't like different. Over the last few weeks, the three of them had worked out a good system. Sarah and Cameron did their best to pretend there was nothing going on between them, and John neglected to notice how bad they were at it. Usually, it worked just fine. The giving of the alarm clock, even without explanation, had been an aberration John was in no hurry to repeat. The truth was that the whole situation still kind of wigged him out, which is why he was trying really hard not to look too closely at why this morning seemed even more uncomfortable than usual.
Clinging desperately to that ignorance with both hands, the future saviour of humanity bolted his Fruit Loops as fast as possible and kept his eyes trained on the cereal box. Whatever was going on between his mother and Cameron today, he really didn't want to know.
It was the former that finally broke the silence. "Did you need a ride to school this morning John?" Sarah asked as she sat down with her coffee and a plate of toast, obviously aiming for casual, and coming up a little short.
John looked up from his breakfast reluctantly to glance between his mother and the terminator. Cameron was sitting opposite him, hands resting precisely on the tabletop, eyes fixed on some point over his head. She was the only one without breakfast which you know, made sense because she didn't eat, but lately Sarah had made a habit of putting something in front of her at mealtimes anyway, even if it was only a cup of coffee, just to show that she was part of the family so the lack of it was telling. As was his mother's question. With respect to their silent arrangement, John had adopted the habit of leaving for school about ten minutes before Cameron did. What went on in those ten minutes was another thing he didn't want to know, but here Sarah was, offering him a ride like she couldn't care less how Cameron was getting to school.
He shrugged; the standard teenage response to uncomfortable situations, "S'okay Riley's coming by. We were going to bike over together."
"I see " Silence settled over them once more as Sarah trailed off, and John shifted uncomfortably, his ears straining for the crunch of bicycle tires over gravel that would signal his escape.
"Aren't you going to ask me if I need a ride?" Cameron's voice was brittle in her old monotone way, something that John hadn't heard in months and he looked up quickly enough to see his mother flinch under the terminators unrelenting focus.
Oh a fight then. The phrase 'lover's quarrel' came briefly to mind and he squashed it ruthlessly before it could take root and sprout mental images he really didn't need.
Making a smooth transition from guilty to ticked off, Sarah ducked out from underneath Cameron's stare with an angry shrug of her own. Rising wordlessly from the table, she dumped her untouched toast into the garbage and snagged the Jeep's keys off the wall by the door before throwing them down in front of the silent terminator.
"You're a big girl." She snapped. "Drive yourself." Point made, Sarah snatched her coffee cup off the table and stalked outside, slamming the screen door and startling the ever-present pigeons enough to scatter them in a tangle of confused cooing and loose feathers.
John and Cameron exchanged weighted glances, and he held up a hand to forestall any explanation she might have made. "No. I don't want to know what that was about. Just try to fix it before one of you brings the house down around our ears."
Cameron executed the third shrug of the morning, her shoulders moving stiffly under the thin straps of her purple tank top, and picked up the keys. "I will try not to break the house." Grabbing her backpack on her way out, Cameron paused to hold the door open for a worried-looking Riley, before disappearing down the steps to the driveway.
"Hey John," the blond girl dropped her purse on the table with an uncertain smile and flopped down into Cameron's vacated seat. "I passed your mom out there and she looked like, beyond pissed. Are you guys fighting about me again?"
Shaking his head, John put his dishes away in the sink and returned the cereal box to the cupboard. "It's not you this time." Snapping the kitchen light off and picking up his own bag, he led Riley out the door and down to the garage. "I think she and my sister got into it this morning they're being even more non-communicative then usual."
"Wow that's a first." Riley swung a leg over her bike and put on her helmet, pulling the straps tight before fastening the clip under her chin. "Usually they're so in sync. It's actually kind of creepy."
John snorted as he wheeled his bike out the garage, his own helmet already in place. "You noticed that huh?"
"It's hard not to they both have that uber-scary focus thing going, like nobody would dare mess with them you know?"
"Oh I know " John kicked off and let his bike coast down the slope after Riley's, pulling up to ride beside her as they both hit the road and turned towards the school. "I know."
Absorbed in each other's company and their respective worries, neither of them noticed the car that had been parked across the street pull slowly away from the curb and follow them into town.
Sarah remained standing outside on the back patio long after the last few dregs of coffee in her mug had gone cold. Staring out over the sunlit yard and listening to the birds, she simply drifted. Reality, a nasty cold and biting thing, was locked inside with the guns, the alarms, and the bloody writing on her basement wall.
She'd heard the door of the Jeep open and slam, and the skidding of tires over gravel as Cameron pulled away. Then the bright and human voices of John and Riley following soon after. Their words were muffled by distance, but the normalcy of their tones soothed her frazzled nerves. Despite what her son believed, Sarah didn't object to Riley because she was jealous of his affections for the girl but in her more honest moments, she could admit to herself that she was jealous that he seemed to have managed to snatch some kind of life for himself out of the chaos of their existence.
The truth was, in the past 16 years, Sarah had run away from every human relationship that had ever been offered, only to end up in the arms of one of the very things that she was supposed to be fighting against. The truly sick and frightening thing about it was she was somehow managing to fuck up even that twisted relationship. A feat which should have been impossible even for her.
It had been fine when it was just sex a way to purge the tensions of their lives, to find some comfort in a fragile existence. Now now Sarah had to face that it was threatening to become something more than a casual affair and she couldn't let that happen. There was no place in her life as it stood for an actual relationship, particularly with a homicidal female cyborg, who may or may not even be capable of she wouldn't call it love; commitment was perhaps a better word. If Cameron couldn't see that well, Sarah was used to being the bad guy, even when it hurt.
Startled out of her fit of self-destructive brooding, Sarah came around the corner of the house to find a huffing, puffing and still very pregnant Casey on her back step.
"Casey what are you doing climbing those stairs?" Sarah crossed the last few feet and caught her neighbour's elbow, easing her down onto the edge of a flowerbed.
"There was no answer at the front door " Casey gasped. "I wanted to invite you to a barbeque tonight and I didn't want to miss you "
Sarah stared down at the nearly asphyxiating woman, feeling simultaneously helpless and bizarrely touched. "And you couldn't use the phone because ?"
"I did " Casey's breathing was easing now and she managed to look up, squinting in the bright sunlight. "There wasn't any answer."
Satisfied that she wasn't going to have to perform CPR in the near future, Sarah relaxed, sliding her hands into the back pockets of her jeans and shaking her head in exasperation.
"Why the sudden urge to grill?"
"Trevor wanted to come by try out the whole family thing, maybe see if it sticks or not. I thought if I had, you know "
"Some back-up?" Sarah supplied into the silence.
"Yeah." Casey admitted sheepishly. "Do you think that's weird?"
"I've seen a lot of weird in my time, and wanting to have a few friends on your side doesn't make the list." Dropping down onto garden wall beside Casey Sarah put an arm around her shoulders and squeezed gently. "Don't worry, we'll be there."
"Thank you!" Casey breathed gratefully, patting her swollen belly and looking around the overgrown gardens. "Once this little guy makes his appearance I'll owe you some weeding or something."
"I'll hold you to that," Sarah promised following Casey's glance. "I'm hopeless with plants "
"I thought maybe that's what you were doing back here "
"No." Sarah smiled tightly. "Just trying to figure out some of my own family stuff."
"Well, I may be a whale in floral print right now, but my ears are still working. You want to talk about it?"
Sarah hesitated. Strangely enough the idea of sitting down with Casey over a cup of tea and blurting out the whole mess was more tempting than terrifying It had been a long time since there had been anyone in her life that she could really talk to.
"I've got a kettle and some Earl Grey tea " Casey coaxed, smiling.
Why not? Sighing resignedly Sarah stood up and stretched a hand down to help the other woman to her feet. "You read my mind but first let's see if we can get you back down these stairs in one piece."
In the middle of a crowded and noisy cafeteria, Cameron sat alone, staring down intently at a plate of rapidly-cooling French fries as if she expected them to hold the answer to all of her problems. Experience had taught her that she needed to make at least some pretence at eating lunch while she was at school, but she found the practice to be a waste of time and money even on a good day, and this was not a good day.
She did not mind eating at home. Though she understood Sarah's cooking to be less than adequate, she appreciated the sense of inclusion. Here, she was only eating so that she didn't look like a freak or an anorexic. Apparently anorexia put you on their radar and that would make Sarah angry.
A lot of things made Sarah angry. Cameron did not think that she would ever find an end to the many different ways to evoke that particular reaction in Sarah Connor. Wrinkling her nose she picked up a soggy French fry, put it in her mouth, chewed and swallowed.
"Hey Cameron!" Morris, John's friend and Cameron's long-time admirer, slid his tray onto the table across from her and sat down with a shy smile.
"Why're you sitting all by yourself eh?"
"I don't have any friends." Cameron answered simply, resolutely ingesting another French fry. She knew it was a bad thing to say, John would be annoyed, but she didn't feel like pretending to be an average teenage girl today. What was the point of convincing everyone she was human when the only people whose opinion actually mattered to her knew it was a lie already?
"Well, I'm your friend " Morris' reassurance sounded a little forced. Cameron knew it was because she had made him uncomfortable by telling the truth. Humans rarely wanted to hear the truth.
"No you're not." Cameron replied simply. "You want to be my boyfriend." She looked up, pinning him with an indifferent stare. "It's not the same thing."
"I uh " Morris seemed at a complete loss for words so Cameron went back to eating her lunch. After a few moments, realizing that wasn't going to be enough to make him leave, she raised her head again and continued.
"I am not interested. It is usually considered inappropriate to conduct a sexual relationship with more than one partner Therefore I am unable to accommodate you." She paused, and then remembered human protocol. "I am sorry." She wasn't, but she understood that it was polite to say so.
"So " Casey began, walking out onto her porch from the kitchen and handing a cup of tea to Sarah before settling herself awkwardly into her own chair. "Is it about John?"
"No " Cradling the warm china between her hands, Sarah smiled faintly and shook her head. She'd noted with some amusement that even people who were under the impression that she had two children, always seemed to know on which one the bulk of her worry rested.
"It's Cameron actually. We had a fight this morning, and we both kind of lost our tempers." On the way over, and while the kettle was boiling, Sarah been piecing together a way to word the problem so as not to send Casey running to phone Children's Protection Services. "She thinks I don't see her as a real person."
"Well " Casey stirred sugar into her cup. "She isn't, is she?"
Startled, Sarah looked up warily, trying to gauge where Casey was going with that little observation.
"I mean " the blond woman amended, oblivious to Sarah's scrutiny. "She's a teenager right? After twelve we're all practically aliens, and no one's really human again until they hit at least twenty."
Breathing a sigh of relief Sarah sipped her tea. "That's the problem She wants to be treated like an equal, but she's only seventeen, and still very naïve."
"I get that about her " Casey mused. "The naïve thing I mean. John's really just your average kid you know? A little more polite than most maybe, and kind of intense, but normal " She paused. "Cameron's different, she's got this vibe, like everything is brand new, and she's got to soak it all up, good or bad. She always seems to be trying to figure out where she fits in, where she stands with people. It's like she wants so badly to be whatever everybody expects her to be, but at the same time she can't help but be herself. It's almost as if there's this war going on inside of her "
Casey trailed off, seeming to sense that she might be stepping out of line. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be analyzing your kids like that "
Sarah realized she was staring and blinked hastily. "No it's fine." Her hands were shaking a little so she put her tea cup down and crossed her arms. "It's just I didn't realize you'd had a chance to get to know Cameron so well."
"I haven't really I mean, I've seen a lot more of John, but she kind of makes an impression."
"She does that," Sarah murmured under her breath.
Casey took advantage of the pause in the conversation to bustle inside and refill their tea cups. She returned with a plateful of assorted cookies balanced between her belly and an elbow.
"Here, take these before I drop them. We can't talk on empty stomachs."
Sarah obliged, manoeuvring the loaded plate out from around the cups and setting it safely down on the wicker table before accepting her tea.
Settled once more, this time with a handful of Oreo's resting on the swell of her stomach, Casey picked up where they'd left off.
"Not that it's any of my business or anything," she twisted open one of her cookies and licked out the icing. "But it sounds like Cameron's trying to assert herself like maybe she's figured out who she wants to be and she needs you to see that."
"Is that something you went through with your mother?" Sarah asked, nibbling on a piece of shortbread to hide her unease. It was a little eerie how accurately Casey had summed up Cameron's inner battles, and her own role in them.
"Wow like, all the time." Casey confirmed. "We had some real screaming and plate-throwing tantrums before I finally moved out. Didn't you have any of those with your mom?"
"No " Sarah looked down at her tea, tilting her hands to watch it swirl around in the bowl. "My dad left us when I was just a kid, and my mom worked really hard to keep us going. We didn't really have much of a relationship. I left as soon as I was old enough got a job as a waitress, and never went back."
"Rough " Casey reached over and squeezed her shoulder.
"Yeah." Sarah shook her head and looked up, managing a smile. "So you see, I'm not really an authority on mother-daughter relationships."
"Hey, you got this far. Now comes the scary part, letting them grow up."
Sarah snorted, but she was grinning as she sat back in her chair and fixed Casey with a suspicious eye. "So how'd you get so wise and knowing? Last time I checked motherhood doesn't start until the baby is outside the womb."
"Oh me, I'm still close enough to that scary teenage time that I can relate " She paused to rub her belly. "Cameron's going to be fine She just wants to make sure you're taking her seriously."
"Hey are you calling me old?" Sarah deflected playfully, while inwardly she was musing over Casey's words. Was that really what this whole drawer thing was about? Was Cameron trying to force Sarah to acknowledge her as an individual? It was possible. So why did that idea scare her so much more than a straightforward difference of opinion on whether or not they were actually in a relationship?
"Not old " Casey protested, and Sarah dragged her attention back to the conversation, teasing the younger woman about her verbal misstep until their earlier topic was forgotten.
"Excuse me sir, are you looking for someone?" Officer George Martin, a veteran of the high school security gig, knew trouble when he saw it, and this guy in the tight fitting suit, wandering around in the foyer, had extra paperwork written all over him.
"Yes." The man turned, offering the officer a thin-lipped smile. "I am. Do you know this girl?" He handed Martin a picture of a young woman dark hair and a somewhat vacant expression. Martin recognized her as the girl with the metal plate in her head, the one with the note that she practically shoved under his nose every morning, as if he couldn't be expected to remember her from day to day.
"I'm sorry." Martin handed the picture back. "I can't give out information on the students to random people off the street You understand."
"She's my niece."
Martin very much doubted that, and he shifted uncomfortably; the pile of paperwork in his head getting bigger with every second. "Do you have identification to that effect?"
"You know, proof that you're related to her. We can't be too careful."
The man twisted, and for a moment Martin thought he might be getting off the hook. But in the next second he was staring down the barrel of a gun.
"Thank you for your time."
While Cameron was doing her best to drive Morris away so that she could brood over Sarah in peace, John was trying to track the terminator down. A little uneasy about his metal sister's state of mind at breakfast, he felt the need to reassure himself that she wasn't quoting the dictionary, interrogating Guidance Counsellors or anything else that was likely to start up the Post-Traumatic Stress rumour again.
Tailed by the tirelessly chattering Riley, John took his search to the cafeteria and spotting Cameron sitting with Morris, he made it into earshot just in time to overhear her explanation of disinterest in the baffled teenage boy.
Seeing the potential for some extremely awkward future conversations, John groaned and almost ran the last few steps, determined to rescue his friend before any more damage was done.
"Morris, Cameron! Just the people we were looking for." Grinning a little wildly he pulled a pole-axed Morris to his feet and pushed him over to stand with Riley.
"Listen man, Riley needs a hand in uh "
"The library!" Riley cut in, not really sure what was going on, but happy enough to help. "I've got like, a dozen fines and I really need to get this book out for English. Could you borrow it for me?"
"Um sure?" Still a little stunned Morris allowed himself to be dragged off without much protest.
"Great! You're a life saver." Riley gushed as they left, pausing only to give John a wink over her shoulder.
Relieved, John dropped down onto the cafeteria bench, staring at his "sister" with complete disbelief. "What the hell Cameron? Are you trying to make my life even more difficult?"
"He wouldn't go away." Cameron explained testily. "He is very persistent."
"So would it kill you to humour him a little?"
"No. It wouldn't kill me."
Stalemate. They stared at each other over the table, John fuming and Cameron completely neutral outwardly at least.
"Look, we both know that you're not this dense anymore, so could you please cut the robot crap for a few minutes and try to talk to me like a normal human?" John caved first, almost begging.
"But I'm not a normal human." Cameron replied, striving to remain implacable but realizing that some shred of what she was feeling had come through when she saw John's eyes widen. Comprehension replaced the frustration in his expression and softening, he reached forward to rest a hand on hers.
"Cameron whatever happened between you and Mom "
"It's not important!" Cameron jerked away, standing abruptly and shoving the bench back with a screech of metal over tile. Ignoring the sudden silence around them she picked up her tray and stalked off, leaving John to scramble after her.
"Cameron!" Without thinking, he grabbed hold of her elbow and spun her around, jerking them both to a halt.
Dropping the tray Cameron rounded on John, catching a fistful of his shirt and shoving him roughly away from her. Startled, he stumbled and almost fell, Cameron took a step forward and the sirens wailed.
"Attention Students! This is a security alert. We will be implementing a lockdown. Please remain in your classrooms. Students in hallways are to return to the nearest classroom. This is not a drill."
In the chaos following the announcement, John and Cameron's confrontation was forgotten. Almost instantly they were the only point of calm in a sea of milling panic and the frantic dialing of cell phones.
"John." What had been a threatening approach became a steadying hand as Cameron stepped to his side. "Something's wrong." Her pronouncement was punctuated by a flurry of muffled gunshots from another wing of the school.
"Well no shit Sherlock!" he answered, looking around for a way out of the tightening knot of terrified students.
"Who's Sherlock?" Cameron, understanding John's intention if not the reference, took his hand and led him effortlessly through the crowd. Most of the people she pushed aside didn't even notice.
"Never mind." John followed the terminator to an open space beside the doors. Everyone seemed to be trying to get as far away from the exits as possible so they had a little breathing room.
"I will find out what's going on." Cameron almost yelled, leaning in close enough to be heard. "You will stay here."
John looked mutinous, but after a moment he reluctantly nodded and took out his cell phone. "I'll call Mom, let her know what's happening."
"Tell her to bring the guns." Cameron affirmed.
"John?" Giving Casey an apologetic smile, Sarah switched her cell phone to her other ear and stepped off her neighbours porch, walking quickly out of earshot.
"What's wrong? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, but there's something going down at the school we heard gunshots and they're locking everything down."
"Gun shots?" Sarah's heart clenched. "Where's Cameron? She should be with you "
"She went to find out what was going on "
Lowering the phone for a heartbeat Sarah swore softly before raising it back to her mouth. "I'm on my way, don't do anything stupid, and if Cameron comes back tell her I said to stay with you."
"Okay Mom "
After a hasty goodbye, Sarah thumbed the talk button off and stuffed the phone into the back pocket of her jeans. Panic threatened to choke her and she shoved it down with practiced ease. Adrenalin was kicking in, crackling along her nerve endings and imposing an artificial calm in its wake.
Spinning she confronted a worried-looking Casey standing at the top of the porch steps with both hands over her belly.
"Is everything all right Sarah?"
"Fine." She forced herself to smile. "Can I borrow your car?"
The hallways were dark. Emergency lights glowed greenly along the corridors, but their faint illumination was barely sufficient for human eyesight. Activating her night vision, Cameron stepped over the still body of one of the high school's security guards. A brief scan told her that he was dead, isolating the cause as bullet wounds to the head and chest. Execution shots. It was doubtful that a human would have been able to see well enough in the semi-darkness to have made them. Looking down the hall Cameron identified the unmoving forms of two other uniformed guards. The likelihood of her target being another terminator was steadily increasing.
If she was right, it would be searching the building systematically, looking for John among the students cowering in their classrooms. The locked doors would mean nothing more to it than they did to Cameron. Pulling up her termination programming, and the blueprints for the school, Cameron constructed the terminators most likely strategy.
It would first eliminate any threats, so that it could search for John without interruption. That meant killing all the security guards, and from the looks of things it was well on the way to accomplishing that. Then it would go from room to room, performing facial structure scans on all of the students, only killing them if they proved a threat to the mission. Terminators were not built to be cruel, only efficient.
Faint sounds of gunfire drew Cameron down the hallway. Keeping the school layout up on her HUD, she began to run.
Despite Casey's willing cooperation, Sarah cursed the precious minutes it took to get the keys to the woman's little Neon and then send her away so that she wouldn't have an audience while she took it home and loaded it with an assortment of guns, charges and ammunition.
Meanwhile, even while she prepared for Armageddon, she was hoping none of this would be necessary. Maybe the shooter was just some maladjusted teen with a grudge and Cameron would take him or her out and that would be the end of it.
Maybe it was all a big misunderstanding but she doubted it.
As soon as she was back on the road, Sarah retrieved her cell phone and dialled Derek's number. The ex-resistance soldier had been absent more often than not lately, but he was still her best bet for back up in a situation like this.
He answered on the fourth ring. "Sarah " he paused to punch in his three digit code, confirming his identity. "What's going on?"
Sarah responded first with her own code, trying to keep her hands from shaking as she pressed the tiny buttons. "We've got a situation Someone's got a gun at John's school and they're locking the place down tight. It could be just a kid "
"But it could also be Cromartie." Derek's intuition took the same leap that Sarah's had.
"We don't know that. John's okay so far, he's laying low, Cameron's checking it out."
"Shouldn't the Tin Can be watching John?"
Sarah resisted the urge to snap in response to the venom in Derek's voice. Thanks to his recent scarcity at the house, she'd been able to keep him from finding out about her and Cameron and this wasn't the time to blow it by being overprotective, not when she needed him.
"If it's Cromartie, then she'll be keeping him as far away from John as possible and if it's not, then he's in no more danger then anyone else."
"Less," Derek snorted. "He knows how to duck."
"First thing I ever taught him." Sarah agreed, turning a corner and coming within sight of the school. "I'm almost there, I'm going to try and get inside, can you-"
"I'm on my way." Derek cut her off. Neither of them was comfortable with asking for help, and they both tried to avoid saying the actual words whenever possible.
"Call me when you get here."
Sarah switched the phone off and parked a half a block down from the school. The police were already swarming around the building like angry hornets and the last thing she needed was to get tangled up with them, but she had to get inside somehow. John was in there, and Cameron.
The thought of Cameron going up against Cromartie alone and without a weapon made her shiver despite the warm California afternoon.
Cameron found the other terminator in the gymnasium. He'd pursued the last security guard through the boy's locker rooms and out onto the basketball court, where the wounded man had taken refuge under the stands. Blood, in drips, smears and splatters stained the gleaming floor under her boots as she approached, unheard under the cover of the officer's whimpered pleas.
Cromartie stood in front of the bleachers, gun trained steadily ahead of him, and a picture in his other hand. "I am looking for the girl and her brother. Tell me where they are."
"I don't know who you're talking about!" The man almost squealed, scrambling back as far as he could go under the dubious cover of the wooden seats. "I just started here last week. I don't know any of the students yet!"
Cromartie pulled the trigger, burying a bullet in the human's leg and eliciting another panicked scream. "Where is the girl?"
In the second it took Cromartie to react to the unexpected voice from behind him, Cameron was in motion. A swift kick knocked the gun out of his hands, and she followed it up with another to his midsection that sent him flying back into the bleachers.
Bending down Cameron reached under the seats and dragged the bloody man out from his hiding spot, shoving him none too gently towards the doors.
"Run." She instructed, already sweeping up the gun and turning and climbing up the steps towards the recovering Cromartie.
Not waiting to be asked twice, the officer limped as swiftly as possible out of the gym. He waited until he was well clear before pulling the radio out of his belt and calling for help.
Sarah cradled the phone between her ear and shoulder, listening to it ring as she pulled the duffle bag full munitions out of the back seat of the car and slung it over her arm. It rang six times before going to voicemail and Sarah cursed at the soft but flat tones of Cameron's message, before hanging up and stuffing the phone into a back pocket.
She didn't really know why she was bothering. If the girl was hunting Cromartie, she'd probably consider it inefficient to stop and answer a phone call, but Sarah couldn't help herself. Every time she blinked she saw Cameron's broken and bloody body lying at Cromartie's feet and the mental image was making her sick to her stomach.
Locking the car, she headed cautiously towards the back of the school where the police surveillance seemed to be the thinnest. She kept to the edges of the property, moving in and out of the narrow line of scrub brush that lined the school yard.
If her memory of the school blueprints that she'd had John print out back when they first registered were accurate, then there was a back wall with a door and a line of windows within fifteen feet of her cover just out of sight of the parking lot. Providing Derek arrived in time to give her a distraction she should be able to get in there.
The door was a write off, it would be locked up tight, and her preferred method of dealing with locked doors was currently on the wrong side of this one and not answering her damned phone, so it would have to be one of the windows. Hopefully they didn't all belong to classrooms She didn't relish the idea of trying to force her way through a crowd of panicking teenagers.
Reaching her chosen vantage point, Sarah crouched down, easing the bag into the long grass beside her and watched the two police officers posted at the door across the yard. All she could do now was wait for Derek to call, or hope for some other opportunity to present itself.
If Cromartie was inside, and Cameron had already found him She might get there in time and she might not all she could do was take the first chance that was offered, and hope her little Tin Miss held out long enough to be rescued.
"Kick his ass girlie " Sarah whispered under her breath.
Derek drove his truck up to the high school cautiously, keeping in mind the fact that it was crawling with cops and he was a wanted fugitive. Damn crazy Connor needed her head examined, wanting to go in there. She should have just told the metal to bust John out and be done with it. It wasn't any of their concern if Cromartie tore the place apart, so long as he didn't get what he was after.
Nobody ever asked for his opinion though. Sarah paid more attention to what that metal bitch thought than what he did. John too. Damn machines were taking over already. He supposed that's why he was keeping Jesse and her mission to himself. He didn't want to know the specifics, and he couldn't bring himself to help her directly, but he wasn't going to stand in her way either, not when she made so much sense.
Derek scanned the parking lot for a space that wasn't in direct line of the cops, his gaze lighting on a familiar vehicle, and an even more familiar EMT pacing out in front of it.
"Dixon." He pulled up beside the ambulance, leaning out of the window. "You sure get around when there's trouble."
Charley whirled, his right hand going instinctively to his waist where Derek was pretty sure he had some kind of gun stowed. Recognizing the ex-soldier after a few tense breaths, he relaxed back against the side of his vehicle.
"That is my job. What are you doing here?"
Derek snorted. "Same reason you are. There's a woman around here somewhere with more balls than brains, trying to get herself killed again."
Charley wilted, rubbing his hand over his brow. "It is John's school then I wasn't sure."
"Yep." Derek shut the truck off and jumped out, clapping Charley on the shoulder. "Relax, she can handle herself. If she needs you to give her a band-aid, she'll call."
Irritated by the dismissive response, Charley looked up just in time to see Derek disappear behind the ambulance. When he heard the rear doors snap open he swore and followed, finding the other man already rummaging around in the back of his vehicle. "So what are you going to do?"
Slipping into a twin of the uniform Charley wore, Derek shrugged. "Me? I've never been much in the brains department either. I'm going to help her get inside so that she and that metal sidekick of hers can do their thing, then, providing I don't get arrested, I'm going after John."
Watching Derek do up the buckles of the black and yellow suit, Charley wrestled with himself before coming to a decision. Without a word he pulled himself up into the ambulance and dug out a portable med kit in a bright yellow bag. Slinging it over his shoulder he hopped back down onto the pavement and met Derek's questioning look with a scowl. "If you're going inside, my band-aids and I are coming with you."
"You sure?" Derek fastened the last clasp and jumped down, passing the EMT on his way back to his own truck. "I wouldn't want you to tarnish that every day hero image of yours. I'm not exactly planning to ask the cops to look the other way nicely if you know what I mean."
"Well what are you planning?" Charley ignored the baiting, and followed.
Derek unsnapped the cover over his truck bed and started pulling out charges. "I figured I'd start by blowing up a couple of cars...see if that gets their attention." He turned to grin humourlessly at a dumbstruck Charley. "You still coming?"
Charley swallowed, eyeing the other man's handful of explosives. "Yeah " he managed, focusing on John and Sarah. "I guess I am."
Once she'd exhausted the ammunition of Cromartie's small handgun, Cameron quickly lost the upper hand against the larger and stronger terminator. Without weapons or back up, she had only speed and agility against his greater size, strength and reach, and they weren't enough to keep her out of his grasp for long.
Cameron felt splintered wood pierce her back as she hit the stands for the second time. Her fall drove the edge of the broken seat deeply under her skin, where it caught against the metal of her endoskeleton. Pulling herself free, Cameron ignored the input from her pain receptors and the blood quickly soaking her tank top, managing to roll out of the way just in time to avoid a blow from a length of steel railing that Cromartie had wrenched from the bleachers.
Lurching unsteadily to her feet before he could recover, the smaller terminator used her brief advantage to fling herself at his back and send them both crashing to the floor. Even as they grappled over the primitive length of metal, Cameron knew she was fighting a losing battle. She also knew that Cromartie needed to eliminate her as a threat before he could pursue his primary mission of killing John. Her mission therefore was not to win, but to keep the terminator occupied long enough for Sarah to get to John and take him to safety.
With that in mind, she fought less to cause damage and more to prevent damage to herself, thus delaying the inevitable.
Ripping the metal club out of her hands, Cromartie flipped Cameron onto her back and straddled her, pinning her arms to her sides, in much the same way that she had held the terminator Vick while she pulled the chip out of his head.
Cromartie didn't have a toolbox, but he didn't really need one. Holding the steel bar above his head, he prepared to bring it down with enough force to penetrate her metal skull and smash the fragile chip nestled inside.
Cameron knew it was useless to struggle, but she tried anyway, writhing against Cromarties grip, and twisting her head around. As he raised the bar, she squeezed her eyes shut and called up a recent memory of Sarah, allowing the full sensory recall to replace all other input. If she was going to be destroyed, she wanted it to happen with the feeling of her lover's lips on hers, and soft arms cradling her close, as if she was something precious instead of a soulless killing machine.
Sarah was just about ready to try her luck with the security guards when her cell phone buzzed against her hip. Trying to move as little as possible, she eased it out of her pocket and flipped it open. She looked down long enough to see that it was Derek calling before raising the phone to her ear.
"Talk fast, we're running out of time."
"I know. The boys in blue out here are getting ready for some kind of push. I think there's been contact with one of the security guards from inside the building." Derek explained quickly, breaking off to whisper something that she couldn't hear.
"We can't let that happen." Sarah responded, ignoring for now the possibility that Derek wasn't acting alone. "If it's Cromartie in there then they'll be slaughtered."
"Don't worry. In about two minutes they're about to have a whole lot more to think about." The ex-resistance fighter sounded pleased with himself.
"What did you do?"
"Never mind, just be ready."
The phone went dark in her hand as Derek hung up and Sarah rolled her eyes at his blatant show boating. This was exactly why she never sent him and Cameron on missions together. Neither one of them had any gift for keeping a low profile.
Her suspicions were proven correct when a series of explosions from the parking lot made her flatten herself in the scrub while the two police officers below her shouted and began urgent conversations with their radios.
After a series of hissing and crackling exchanges, one of the men headed for the front of the school at a run, leaving the other alone at the door. This was exactly what Sarah had been waiting for, and she took advantage of the fact that his attention was focused in the direction of the explosions, to sneak across the short distance between them and come up behind him.
A sharp blow to the back of the head with the butt of her 9mm Beretta sent the officer to his knees and Sarah lost no time wrestling him the rest of the way down and then pinning him there with her boot on his neck. Cocking the gun she pushed the muzzle against the back of his head, taking care to stay behind him where he couldn't see her.
"I don't want to shoot you." Sarah reassured him. "But I will if I have to." She waited for a trembling nod before continuing. "Good. Now, I need you to tell me everything you know about what's going on inside."
"White male looking for two kids, a girl and her bother. He's shot most of the guards and he's got some kind of hostage in the gym."
"A hostage?" Sarah pressed her foot down harder.
"A student. A girl I think, brunette guy inside says she came after the shooter. That's all I know!" He protested as the pressure on his neck increased.
Sarah backed off a little, letting the man catch his breath. "All right. I want you to listen to me very carefully. I'm going to leave you here and you're not going to move or speak until your friend comes back. Do you understand me?"
He nodded frantically. Keeping the gun trained on him she walked backwards until she reached the discarded duffel bag. Picking it up slowly, she hung it over her shoulder and walked carefully back around the officer on the ground to the wall of the school.
With half of her attention still on the cop, Sarah used the rest to open the bag and exchange her Beretta for a Mossberg 500 rifle. Zipping it closed again, she scanned the available windows at the base of the wall, and picked out one that looked big enough for her to fit through but small enough that it wasn't likely to lead anywhere conspicuous.
With a last glance to make sure the officer hadn't turned around, she smashed the chosen window with the butt of her rifle and shoved the duffel bag through first, using it to clear the shards of glass from the edges of the pane before she slid down after it.
Falling into darkness, she dropped lightly to the floor, ending up in a low crouch while she waited to see if her entrance had been noticed. Nothing. Sarah pulled a flashlight out of the bag and flipped in on, sending the beam around the room. A storage closet perfect.
Easing slowly and quietly to her feet, she stepped over to the door and listened carefully for any sound from the other side. It was silent. Probably a hallway then, the classrooms would be packed with students.
The door opened easily at her touch, revealing the expected hallway beyond, a long corridor lit only by green emergency lights running along the edges of the ceiling. It looked like a setting for a horror movie. Pushing that observation aside, Sarah picked up her bag and slipped out of the closet, closing the door gently behind her.
Neither direction seemed overly promising. Sarah had only been inside the school a couple of times, and never in the basement, so she was more or less lost, but if she could get to the first floor, than she could probably remember the way to the gymnasium
Picking left for no other reason then that was the direction she was looking when she made the decision to move, Sarah shouldered the duffel bag and began walking swiftly down the hall.
Thanks to either intuition or blind luck, she found the stairs hidden behind an exit door after only a single turn. Shining the flashlight up into the stairwell, Sarah could see the switchback of staircases extending up and out of sight in the grey green darkness. There didn't seem to be anyone on them, so she started climbing, striving to keep her footfalls from echoing up the tall empty column.
At the entrance to the first floor Sarah repeated her listening trick, the last thing she needed was to run afoul of the police, or a group of terrified teenagers. Everything was still deadly quiet. Pushing the door open slowly, she made sure that the muzzle of the rifle went first as she stepped out into the hall.
Intent on looking for trouble at eye level, Sarah nearly tripped over the body lying slackly across the floor.
"Shit!" She sidestepped at the last minute, hissing the expletive through clenched teeth as she knelt to look for a pulse. Nothing but cold clammy skin met her searching fingers. The man was definitely dead. Shining the flashlight past him, Sarah spotted another slumped form about twenty feet down the corridor.
"Just like fucking breadcrumbs." Wiping her hand off on her jeans Sarah rose and followed the grisly trail through the school. She had a sneaking suspicion where it was leading, and she could only hope that she'd find more than bodies at the end of it.
She was almost at the gym when she found her first survivor. The officer was curled up against the wall, a radio clutched to his chest as if it was the only thing keeping him breathing. Glancing down the hall behind him, Sarah saw streaks of blood leading back to the double doors of the gymnasium. Clearly he'd dragged himself away from his assailant and Sarah felt a small stirring of kinship with the man gasping at her feet.
Realizing that this was the informant the man outside had referred to, Sarah crouched down, conducting a swift examination that her patient didn't seem to notice. There was a bullet hole in his leg, and another through the bicep of his left arm. Neither injury was lethal, but he'd lost a lot of blood. Retrieving a knife from her bag she hastily cut a few strips of cloth from his pants and bound the wounds as best she could. It was all she had time for, and if she hadn't had the nagging suspicion that they might need this man later, she wouldn't have taken it at all.
A sudden crash from behind the doors at the end of the hall sent Sarah scrambling to her feet. She left the man where he lay, snatched up her rifle and the bag and sprinted for the gym.
Abandoning any pretence of stealth, Sarah hurtled through the doors just in time to see Cromartie holding a steel bar over Cameron's head. The girl lay frighteningly still, trapped between him and the cold, gleaming floor. Heart beating painfully against her ribs, Sarah had a fraction of a second to aim before she let fly with a stream of bullets at his upraised arm.
Cameron was jolted back into awareness when the weight on top of her suddenly shifted, followed less than a second later by the sound of gunfire as she returned her external sensors to full power.
Snapping her eyes open she took advantage of Cromartie's momentary distraction and twisted underneath him. Belly down, she braced her hands against the floor, pushed back and heaved the other terminator off of her. Bullets thudding into him with the sharp clang of metal on metal, Cromartie lost his grip and fell to the side, giving Cameron room to roll out of fire range and spring lithely to her feet.
"Cameron, catch!" The familiar voice brought the metal girls head around with a jerk, and she plucked the Glock 17 out of the air, swinging it around to fire on Cromartie in a single smooth motion.
Still firing, she slowly backed up until she was standing beside Sarah, covering the other woman while she bent to dig around in the bag for more ammunition.
"You should run." Cameron stepped deliberately in front of Sarah as Cromartie regained his feet.
"I'm not leaving you." Sarah snapped another magazine into the Mossberg 500 and fired at the steadily advancing terminator to underscore her point. "We take him down, and then we both go."
"What about John?"
"He'll be a lot safer with Cromartie dead!"
Then there was no more time for conversation as the terminator closed in on them. Without a weapon he was forced to use brute force, reaching past her gun to grab Cameron's wrist and jerk her away from Sarah.
Tossed aside, Cameron hit the floor hard but managed to get back on her feet in time to see Cromatie lift Sarah by the throat and snatch the rifle out of her hands. Turning, he brought the gun around to bear on Cameron but she was already inside his guard, pressing the Glock right up against his metal skull and firing directly into his chip casing. At such close range the bullets tore through the already damaged endoskeleton, penetrating the protective shielding and irrevocably destroying Cromartie's brain.
Cameron wasn't fast enough to catch Sarah before she fell, but she managed to keep the dead weight of the terminator from landing on top of her. Shoving Cromartie's limp body away from them both, she dropped to her knees beside Sarah.
The other woman was unresponsive. Her eyes were closed and her pulse, when Cameron found it, was weak and thready. Cameron ran her fingers over Sarah's head, looking for any damage she might have sustained when she fell. Not finding anything there, she gently probed her throat for injury caused by Cromartie while he was holding her up. Everything seemed more or less intact, and when Cameron pressed a hand to Sarah's chest she could feel her breathing.
Reaching both arms underneath her lover, Cameron easily lifted the other woman off the floor, cradling her closely against her chest. She'd only taken a few steps when Sarah started coughing, clutching at Cameron's shirt as her eyes fluttered open.
"What Cromartie did we..?"
"Cromartie has been eliminated." Cameron reassured the woman in her arms, stopping and setting Sarah back down on her feet when she began to struggle. She kept her hands on Sarah's waist though; ready to snatch her up in an instant if she looked like she was going to collapse again.
"I need to see!" Sarah pushed against Cameron's chest until the terminator stepped aside, sliding her hands around to support Sarah from the side so that the woman could get a good look at Cromartie's crumpled body.
Pulling away, Sarah stalked across the floor, stopping beside the metal corpse to give it a good solid kick in what was left of its head. Then she turned and fled back into Cameron's arms, wrapping her own around the girl as tightly as possible.
"I thought he was going to kill you." She murmured against Cameron's blood-soaked shirt. Her usual stoic façade disarmed for once by the close call and the after-effects of oxygen deprivation.
Gently stroking Sarah's tangled hair, Cameron held her close. For now their fight from this morning was forgotten. It wasn't over but neither of them wanted to argue semantics when they could have just lost each other permanently.
"He didn't." She breathed reassuringly, lowering her head to place a soft kiss on Sarah's temple. "We are safe."
"No one's ever safe." Sarah refuted, but the catechism lacked its customary fervour, and she tilted her chin up to catch Cameron's lips with her own. The kiss had far less of passion to it then a need for comfort, reassurance that they had both in fact survived to fight another day.
Cameron recognized that need, learning a little more about being human as she returned the intimacy in kind, making no move to deepen their kiss nor move her hands from where they rested chastely on Sarah's back. For now this was enough, and more than enough.
They might have stayed like that for hours, but duty called in the form of Charley Dixon, who after parting ways with Derek so that the other man could find John, had paused to finish the patched up on the officer in the hallway and then followed the trail of blood into the gym. The EMT barely registered the motionless form of Cromartie. His attention was all on his ex-fiancé, held snugly in the grip of the terminator he'd dubbed the 'very scary robot', their mouths pressed together in what he could only assume was a completely voluntary kiss.
Dropping his med kit with a thump that caused the two to break apart, Charley made a strangled attempt at Sarah's name, but barely managed a choking wheeze. Taking a deep breath, he tried again.
"Sarah? What the hell is this?"
Pulling the rest of the way out of Cameron's arms, Sarah took a couple of steps away and shrugged. "None of your business is what it is. What are you doing here?"
"I came to help!" He bent down, scooping the spilled medical supplies back into the bag and trying frantically to process what he'd just seen.
"I didn't ask for your help." Sarah snarled defensively. Before he'd turned his focus to the bottles and packages on the floor she'd seen the flash of disgust that had cut through the confusion and shock on his face. Despite wishing that his opinion didn't matter to her, Sarah couldn't help the curl of nausea and shame in her belly, and she wrapped her arms around herself, taking another step away from Cameron.
"Fine!" Charley flung the last roll of gauze back into the bag and zipped it closed. Stiff with shock, anger and revulsion, he turned to leave.
"No!" Cameron, silent until now, stepped forward and reached a hand out towards him. "Please. She requires medical attention. I'll go."
Charley stopped and turned, his pride struggling with the need to give aid wherever it was required. Really looking at Sarah for the first time he saw the slowly developing bruises on her throat, and realized from the stiff way she was holding herself that there was probably damage he couldn't see.
"All right " He managed stiffly when Sarah didn't contradict the terminator. "But just so we're clear, I am not okay with this."
"I'm not asking you to be." She replied wearily, turning to address Cameron mechanically. "Cameron, the officer outside the door, he has a radio. Tell him shit tell him "
"I will inform him that the man who assaulted him has escaped." Cameron interjected. "Then I will create a diversion to draw off the police." She levelled a neutral gaze on Charley. "You will allow Derek to use your vehicle and a stretcher to remove Cromartie's body It must be destroyed."
"I'm with you there." Charley nodded. "He's already in one of my suits, looking for John."
"I'll call him." Sarah slipped her phone out of her pocket, and toyed with it, finally looking up at Cameron, her eyes conflicted. "Be careful ?"
"I will." Moving swiftly now that they had a plan, Cameron stripped Cromartie of his clothing and pulled his body over to the doors, so that at a glance from those about to flood the school, he would be invisible behind them.
After ducking out to make sure the security guard made his call, she dressed hurriedly in the other terminators clothing, adding a dark hooded sweatshirt from the locker room and tied up her hair. Running with the hood of the sweatshirt up to shadow her face, she would hopefully be indistinguishable from the description given out by the guard.
While Cameron was making her preparations, Sarah let Derek in on the situation, and he agreed to go back for the ambulance and bring it around the rear entrance to the gymnasium once Cameron had drawn off the police. Sarah and Charley would go with him and when Cameron was certain she'd evaded pursuit she would meet them back at the house. She updated John as well, and he assured her he was okay to leave with the rest of the students when they lifted the lockdown.
Ready to go, Cameron turned to take a last look at Sarah before plunging out the back door and into the night. "Wait until they are all gone." She cautioned.
Sarah nodded and the door slammed behind the terminator. A heartbeat later she closed her eyes as shouts and gunfire rang out from the parking lot.
"Hey." Charley laid a hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently. "It'll be okay."
Unable to reply Sarah just looked at him, and after a moment he lowered his eyes first.
Standing in the shadowed doorway to the kitchen, John wasn't sure he'd ever seen anything quite so funny as the scene unfolding in front of him. Cameron, having returned from her game of hide-and-seek with the police, was perched on the edge of the table staring down intensely at an increasingly-nervous Charley, who, to his credit, was trying to remove the many bullets she'd collected on the way home while causing as little tissue damage as possible.
That was amusing enough, but the scene was taken up a few notches by the fact that the terminator was almost completely nude, and a few of those bullets were in some pretty interesting places. Charley was trying very hard not to look at or touch any part of Cameron that he didn't have to, which made for an odd little dance seeing as how he more or less had to touch and look at everything.
Even better, John's mother was watching the proceedings with a death grip on her coffee mug and an expression that wavered between frankly speculative when she thought no one was looking and murderously possessive whenever Charley's hands strayed anywhere questionable.
Caught between two equally fierce female forces, the poor EMT was beginning to crack. When he paused for the thirteenth time to wipe the sweat off of his face and clench his shaking hands, John took pity on him and stepped out into the room.
"Hey Mom, Derek wants to go back to the school and pick up his truck and Casey's car. He needs a couple extra drivers "
"John!" Sarah and Charley snapped in unison, and his Mom came around the table and took hold of his shoulders to physically turn him around and away from the sight of the nearly naked Cameron.
"Oh come on!" John scoffed. "It's not like she doesn't walk around in her underwear all the time anyway. She doesn't care!"
"That's not the point." Sarah cuffed him lightly upside the head and pushed him inexorably out of the kitchen.
"She's your sister!" Charley scolded, halting abruptly when he realized what he'd just said. "Sort of " he amended.
John snorted, but he let his mother usher him away, calling back over his shoulder. "Let's not go into the reasons why her being my sister would seriously up the weird factor."
"John Connor!" Sarah gave him a final shove towards the front door. "That's just about enough out of you!" But there was a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth when she said it, and John grinned back. Somehow having someone else be freaked out about his mom and Cameron made the whole thing kind of hilarious. Maybe it was that misery loves company thing.
"So are you coming?" John asked when he was sure he had himself under control.
"Yeah," Sarah sighed, "I'd like to get Casey's car back before she's over here asking questions." Keeping a hand against Johns chest she leaned back to let Charley know they were going.
After a second the EMT stuck his head around the doorway. "Are you seriously leaving me alone with her?" He whispered, gesturing towards Cameron with a thumb.
Sarah smirked and John couldn't remember that last time he'd seen his mother so playfully malicious. "You're a big boy." She teased. "I think you can handle it."
Twilight was descending rapidly, cloaking the world in darkening greys and stealing the shadows, when they got back with the three vehicles. Derek parked the ambulance in the garage, closing the door on it to avoid undue questions. Cromartie's body was already in the shed, waiting for its final send off.
Sarah took Casey's car over to the neighbour's, pulling into the driveway and parking it behind Trevor's ATV. Trevor Shit. Sarah let her forehead fall onto the steering wheel. The Barbeque Casey was expecting them in she looked at her watch about thirty minutes.
Damn, damn, damn. For a moment Sarah considering cancelling. They certainly had every reason to. It had been a really long day, both she and Cameron were banged up, and there was a dead body in their shed. It really wasn't the time for chips and hamburgers. But the same strange impulse that had goaded her to sit down and spill her proverbial guts to Casey this morning made her want to damn the consequences and just try to have a normal night out with friends.
Well, not normal, but then, she kind of sucked at normal. Sarah snorted wryly to herself. Maybe it was time she accepted that 'normal' wasn't something that was ever going to be part of her life and just admitted that she kind of liked the crazy mess they were living in so long as they were all in one piece at the end of the day.
Acknowledging ruefully that she was quite likely just as insane as they'd accused her of being in the mental hospital; Sarah locked the car and crossed the street to round her odd little family up for a barbeque.
"What exactly am I doing here?" Charley asked, sidling up to John and indicating the general gathering in Casey's back yard with a tilt of his paper plate.
"Eating hamburgers?" John replied with a grin.
"You know what I mean." Charley remonstrated with a sidelong look.
John sighed, resigning himself to one more in-depth conversation then he really wanted to have after spending the better part of the day stuck in the school cafeteria while almost everyone he knew was putting themselves in danger on his behalf. "You're here because she asked you to come." He answered honestly.
Charley winced, rubbing the back of his neck and glancing over to where his wife Michelle was being charmed by a waddling Casey as the pregnant woman showed her the gardens by porch-light. "That's not really a comforting reason."
"No." John agreed. "It's just the truth and the truth is rarely comforting." Case in point, he watched Cameron and Trevor talk shop over the cop's 9mm Beretta while Sarah looked on indulgently. Derek had opted out of the evening, arguing that Trevor was too likely to recognize him, and his mother had reluctantly agreed.
"You've got that right." Charley followed John's gaze, his eyes a little wild. "How the hell did that happen anyway? I mean, I was worried about you forgetting that thing was a machine "
John laughed quietly. "She was too actually. Sometimes I think she got so caught up in making sure I didn't fall prey to my teenage hormones that her own kind of snuck up on her." He shrugged. "It used to bother me I mean, we've never actually talked about it, but it wasn't hard to notice that something was up with them, and eventually I had to ask, and Mom told me the truth and that was the end of it."
"So you don't know how it started?" Curiosity and morbid fascination warred in Charley's voice.
"Nope." John confirmed, eating a chip. "I figure it's none of my business."
"And you're okay with it now? Your mother and Cameron."
"I guess so " John thought about it, realizing that he couldn't remember when awkwardness over what was going on behind closed doors had transmuted into awkwardness over the fact that they were all pretending it wasn't happening. "I mean she's happy. At least, as happy as I've ever seen her, so I'd be kind of an ass if I wanted to take that away."
Charley nodded and John could see the wheels turning in his head as he realized the full import of what he'd said. Happier than when she'd been with him. John felt a little guilty for dropping that particular bomb but he couldn't let the guy keep hanging on when he had a wife who didn't deserve to see her husband still mooning over a woman he'd been engaged to eight years ago. It was also the truth.
Yeah, Sarah had been happy with Charley but she hadn't really been herself. Those six months had been a fairy tale interlude in their lives. Half a year where they'd both pretended they could have something like that. And that's what it had been pretend. Admittedly her relationship with Cameron was a little fucked up, no one could deny that, but John had the feeling it was real, and once he'd gotten past the initial squeamishness slash jealousy, he had to admit that he was kind of glad about it.
"So you're telling me to get over it." Charley sounded resigned and John clapped him on the shoulder with a grin.
"Yup." Pointing his Styrofoam cup at Cameron in high heeled boots, her favourite purple leather jacket over a spaghetti strapped tank top and skin tight jeans, he couldn't resist teasing Charley a little. "I mean honestly, if you had that in your bed would you really care what was going on under her skin?"
Charley opened his mouth but he couldn't frame a denial and John snickered. "Let it go man. They've made their choice, and we can be jerks about it, but it's not going to get us anywhere."
Casey couldn't remember the last time she'd had such a nice evening. Michelle and Charley Dixon were a really sweet couple, and even Trevor seemed to be having a good time. He hadn't expected to find an avid gun enthusiast in the teenaged Cameron, and the two of them branched out from Beretta's to medieval siege weapons without seeming to notice.
Sarah spent a good part of the night on the edge of their conversation, and Casey wasn't sure if she was hovering to keep an eye on Cameron, or just trying to make sure that her daughter wasn't boring Trevor to death. At least the two of them seemed to have patched up their fight from this morning, and after an hour or so Sarah seemed to relax and with a pat on Cameron's shoulder, she left them to their weapons and wandered off to talk to Charley.
Casey took advantage of Sarah's retreat to steal Cameron for some 'girl talk' as she put it to Trevor. He acquiesced good-naturedly enough, promising Cameron that he'd have to have her over to see his collection some time. The girl looked a little doubtful at that and Casey hastened to reassure her as she pulled her away, rolling her eyes at Trevor.
"Relax; he's not trying to get into your pants he actually just wants to show you his guns. He's weird that way."
Cameron nodded slowly. "Thank you for explaining. I find Trevor very interesting, but I am not attracted to him."
"Good." Casey replied, a little quickly. "I mean " She stumbled a little. "That is, we're not married or anything but "
"I understand." Cameron brought Casey to a halt with a hand on her shoulder.
"Do you?" Casey asked, "Because sometimes I don't even understand it it's kind of complicated." She finished lamely.
"Relationships are complicated." Cameron agreed sagely.
"Yeah " Feeling a little winded Casey sat down on one of the cement benches scattered around her lawn. "Speaking of which, how are things with your mom? Did you two manage to figure things out?"
Cameron tensed and Casey saw her hands clench against the denim of her jeans.
"Sorry " She apologized hastily, reaching up to take one of the teenager's hands in her own. "I didn't mean to pry I sort of bushwhacked your mom into telling me about your fight this morning. She seemed, you know, kind of down. I just wanted to help. I'm nosey like that."
"No." Cameron replied slowly, her face falling. "We haven't figured it out yet."
Cursing her bluntness, Casey pulled on Cameron's hand, urging her down to sit on the bench, and after a moment of resistance, the girl complied, perching stiffly beside the older woman. Casey wrapped an arm around those narrow shoulders and squeezed.
"It'll be okay kiddo."
Cameron blinked, turning her head questioningly, her brown eyes brimming with something Casey couldn't put her finger on. "How do you know?"
Sighing for her lost youth, Casey pulled the girl a little closer. "Because," she replied reassuringly. "She loves you and when you love someone, you can always find a way to work things out."
Despite good food and pleasant, if slightly awkward, company, Sarah was restless. She wandered aimlessly around the gathering, stopping to talk to Charley and Michelle for a few minutes before moving on again. Charley's wife was clearly a little uncomfortable herself, but she was bearing up under it well. Sarah hadn't realized the other woman was part of the deal when she'd hesitantly invited Charley to the dinner, but she found herself surprisingly glad to meet her.
The only person Sarah hadn't talked to tonight was Cameron, although she'd shadowed the girl for a large part of the evening, and kept her in the corner of her eye even when they were at opposite ends of the yard. It didn't take brilliant deductive reasoning to understand what the source of her restlessness was, but Sarah couldn't quite figure out how to close the distance that had risen up between them when she'd stepped away from Cameron in the gym.
So she just watched, strangely jealous of Trevor and Casey's ignorance and their easy interaction with the girl they saw as her daughter. Cameron was doing her very best slightly awkward teenager routine this evening, and Sarah couldn't decide whether to applaud the girl's performance or curse it. The charade was necessary, but it was frustrating to be forced to remain at arms length when she could practically feel the real Cameron pulling farther away from her with every fake smile.
With that in mind, Sarah waited tensely for any indication that Cameron shared her discomfiture. She had almost given up when she finally saw Cameron leave Casey sitting alone on a bench in the garden. The girl paused on the edge of the grass and raised brown eyes unerringly to meet Sarah's own across the yard. It lasted a second no more, but in that single glance there was no artifice, only the barest hint of a question.
Her breath catching, Sarah nodded fractionally and when Cameron left the back yard, moving off into the shadows around the side of the house, she waited only as long as she thought absolutely necessary before following.
The front porch was dark. With all the lights blazing in the back, no one had though to turn the front ones on, but that didn't bother Cameron. Navigating easily with nothing more than the stars and moon for illumination, she sat down on the top step and waited for Sarah.
She didn't have to wait long. No more than a few minutes after she'd settled herself, Cameron heard hesitant footsteps on the porch behind her. She smiled faintly but didn't turn around. The terminator had analyzed her feelings and come to the realization that she wasn't finished being angry yet. It was new, this desire to hang on to something so unconstructive, but her research had indicated that it was not an uncommon human practice, so she accepted it.
Sarah came to stop directly behind Cameron and stayed there for a moment, shifting her weight uncomfortably from foot to foot. Clearly she hadn't expected quite this level of indifference and Cameron found she was taking some small amount of pleasure in her lover's discomfiture. She labelled this new emotion 'pettiness' and resolved to enjoy it.
Finally Sarah seemed to realize that she wasn't going to get a written invitation, and took a little initiative, settling herself down behind Cameron with the terminator trapped between her thighs, and draped her arms around the girls waist, pulling her back and against her chest.
Cameron initially resisted, something told her that she should be making Sarah work a little harder than this, but the human's warmth against her back, and the way the other woman tucked her chin into Cameron's shoulder and nuzzled her neck, completely undid the terminator and she found herself relaxing against her will.
Sensing compliance, Sarah draped herself more completely around the girl, sliding her hands up and under Cameron's leather jacket and tank top to lightly stroke the soft skin above her jeans. She smirked against the neck under her lips as Cameron brought her arms up to rest over Sarah's own, completing the embrace.
They held that position, listening to the rise and fall of conversation from the backyard and the rush of the occasional car from the highway a few blocks away. Cameron felt the last of her anger melt away just as Sarah finally spoke.
"I'm sorry " She whispered softly, running a gentle thumb over the stitches holding one of Cameron's many bullet holes closed.
"The damage is minimal."
"Not about that." Sarah clarified, pulling Cameron a little closer, if such a thing was possible. "I'm sorry about this morning I shouldn't have said what I did."
"Why did you?" Cameron traced her hand down Sarah's arm and pulled one of the other woman's hands away from her stomach so that she could play with her fingers.
Sarah made a soft sound of approval, pressing a small kiss just under Cameron's ear before answering.
"I think I was afraid." She admitted carefully.
Cameron thought about this for a moment, wondering what could frighten Sarah Connor. "Casey says you love me " She ventured cautiously.
Sarah choked on a laugh that was half amused and half hysterical. "She thinks you're my daughter."
"I know." Cameron replied seriously.
Sarah fell silent and the terminator wondered if she'd gone a little too far, asked for too much. She was certain of it when the other woman suddenly pulled away from her and stood up. But Sarah didn't let go of her hand, and when she responded to the insistent tug and got to her own feet, she looked up to see a small, secretive grin on her lovers face.
"Come on girlie," Sarah whispered. "I want to show you something."
They couldn't leave right away. First there were goodbyes to get through, and then Casey needed to hug everyone, including Cameron, which was a strange experience for the terminator and she hugged the woman back very gingerly around her protruding stomach.
Sarah and John offered to help clean up, but Casey wouldn't hear of it, and Trevor backed her up, already clearing the food off of the picnic table, and giving the mother of his child lingering glances that assured everyone present that they would be happy enough doing it together.
Michelle and Charley took their leave a little stiffly, but there was real affection in the handclasp and half-hug that Charley exchanged with John. Michelle and Sarah nodded civilly to one another, and then they were gone.
Walking back across the road to their house with John, Cameron was surprised when Sarah took her hand again. She glanced meaningfully over at the boy, but the other woman just shook her head and laced their fingers more tightly together. Apparently Sarah was finished pretending.
They went in the front door together, walking through to the living room and there was a moment's awkwardness when John turned to look at them, taking in their joined hands and Sarah's resolute expression.
But it was only a moment. Seeming to have come to some conclusion of his own, John grinned and wrapped an arm around his mother, pressing a kiss to her forehead.
"I'm going to bed." He smirked knowingly as he pulled away. "Don't you two crazy girls stay up all night." Expecting the swat from his mother he evaded it deftly and headed upstairs with a smug laugh.
They waited while his footsteps faded up the wooden staircase and down the hall. When Sarah heard his door shut she turned back to Cameron, that strange little smile on her mouth again. "Where were we?"
"You wanted to show me something " Cameron answered readily, a hint of anticipation in her voice.
"Right." Reaching out to click the light off with her free hand on the way past, Sarah led the terminator upstairs.
Cameron was puzzled when they didn't stop at Sarah's room, it seemed logical that whatever the other woman wanted to show her, it would be in there, but Sarah walked by without a glance, only to tug Cameron to a halt outside of the metal girl's own door.
"In here?" She asked hesitantly, her eyes searching Sara's face for some clue as to what she should expect.
"In there." Sarah confirmed, reaching past the girl to turn the knob and push the door open, before turning on the light and drawing Cameron into the room.
Her bedroom was pristine as usual; everything neatly in its place except for one thing. Resting in the middle of her bed was an empty dresser drawer. A brief analysis confirmed Cameron's guess that it was in fact one of Sarah's, and she stepped forward hesitantly to run her fingers around the wooden edge.
"I didn't know what you'd want to put in it." Sarah drawled from the doorway. "So I thought I'd let you take care of that part."
Reluctantly pulling her hand away from the drawer, Cameron turned around, her expression still strangely guarded. "Does this mean that we are in a relationship?"
She tried to keep how much Sarah's answer would mean to her out of her eyes and voice. Before this morning Cameron had not fully understood emotional pain, but she was learning quickly that it was far worse than anything her physical pain receptors could relate to her, and for some odd reason she felt compelled to conceal the depth of her feelings.
It was a doomed effort Cameron realized as soon as she raised her eyes to Sarah's and saw everything she felt reflected in that brilliant green stare.
"Something like that " Sarah managed before she closed the distance between them and caught Cameron up in a fierce embrace that belayed the ambiguity of her response.
Everything that had happened that day, all the anger, worry, stress and pain, evaporated in the instant that Sarah's lips captured hers and Cameron returned the kiss without hesitation, backing the shorter woman up until she was pressed firmly against the wall.
"Good surprise?" Sarah gasped when Cameron's mouth pulled away to trail kisses down her jaw and neck.
"Tight." Cameron answered with a smirk, her brown eyes gleaming as she took hold of the hem of Sarah's shirt and began to pull it up.
"Wait, Cameron " Sarah pushed gently on the terminator's shoulders until she backed up a step. "Not that I'm objecting " She hissed as the metal girls hands slid up and over her ribs. "I'm really not objecting, but before we start taking our clothes off, we should maybe go back to my room."
"Why?" Cameron was reluctant to take her hands off of Sarah, even long enough to change rooms and she pressed back against the woman's protest to nip at the space between her neck and shoulder while she used those hands to unfasten Sarah's bra.
"Jesus Cam!" Sarah swore, feeling her resistance crumbling, but a glance over the terminators shoulder hardened her resolve and she took hold of Cameron's wrists, and pulled them back down and out from under her shirt. "Double bed Tin Miss." She managed with a tilt of her head at the girl's own narrow twin.
"Oh." Cameron suddenly realized what Sarah was getting at. "That wouldn't be very comfortable."
"But we've had sex standing up before " Cameron argued, taking a hold of Sarah's waistband pointedly.
Sarah groaned. "Girlie, there's a big difference between a quickie and make up sex so would you please stop arguing so that we can go and have some?"
Cameron briefly consulted her databanks for information on make up sex. What she found there brought her to the conclusion that Sarah was right. They would need a larger bed.
"Thank you for explaining." She quipped, and ceased trying to undermine Sarah's attempts to pause their activities long enough for them to sneak back through the hallway, past John's door and into Sarah's room.
"You're welcome." Sarah breathed as she kicked the door closed behind them and pulled Cameron back into her arms. Slipping the purple jacket off over her shoulders, she kissed the metal girl slowly and languorously.
Cameron responded readily to the slower pace, abandoning her earlier intentions to strip Sarah off as quickly as possible, and instead twining her wrists around her lover's neck and pressing as closely up against her as she could.
They kissed as if it was their last chance to do so, exploring each others lips and mouths, biting gently at the sensitive skin and then soothing it with lingering flicks of their tongues.
Cameron shut down all nonessential functions, slowing her processing speed down to human equivalent so that she could fully experience every touch and taste of Sarah's mouth on hers.
When kissing was no longer enough, Cameron brought her hands back down to Sarah's waist, running her nails lightly over the other woman's skin and revelling in the faint shiver under her fingers. Gripping a little more firmly, she brought their hips into closer contact and deepened their kiss, winning a muffled moan from her lover.
Sarah pulled her mouth away to breathe, panting hotly against Cameron's neck. "I think it's time for you to undress me now " She whispered huskily.
Cameron didn't waste time forming an answer. Quickly skimming her hands up Sarah's sides she pushed the tank top up and pulled it off in a single smooth motion. The bra, already unclasped, followed it to the floor a heartbeat later.
Lowering her hands Cameron made swift work of the button and zipper on Sarah's pants, sliding them down over her hips as she nudged the other woman closer to the bed.
Sarah gave way willingly, backing up and stepping out of her jeans as she came up against the side of the bed. Cameron's hands on her shoulders urged her down and she submitted, kissing her way down the terminators neck and chest and pulling Cameron closer until the girl was standing between her knees.
When she had her where she wanted her, Sarah let her hands run down from Cameron's back, lingering briefly at the waistband of her jeans before continuing over her ass and down her legs. The skin tight material hid very little from her fingertips and when she smoothed her way back up she pressed her thumbs to the insides of the terminator's thighs, pulling away just before she reached their joining and teasing a small shiver out of the girl.
In no rush, Sarah toyed with the hem of Cameron's shirt, pushing it up just far enough to lean forward and press her lips to the bared skin. She paid particular attention to the scattered bullet wounds, kissing them tenderly as she moved higher up the girl's midriff until her fingers found the curved edges of Cameron's bra.
Trembling in earnest now, Cameron clutched at Sarah's shoulders, her fingers kneading the flexing muscles as she fought to stay still under the other woman's ministrations. Slowly, so slowly that she had to bite her lip to keep herself from begging Sarah to hurry, Cameron felt soft hands unhook her bra and slide underneath, brushing far too softly over her breasts.
Gasping, Cameron tangled her hands in Sarah's hair and tilted her head back so that she could look down into that hooded green gaze. "Sometimes you seem inefficient." She managed, arching her back and pressing more firmly against Sarah's hands to illustrate of her point.
Sarah laughed softly and pulled her fingers away, teasing the terminator. "What, you don't like this?" She whispered with a smirk, continuing her feather light exploration of Cameron's torso.
"No." Cameron almost whined, digging her fingers into Sarah's neck.
"So what are you going to do about it girlie?" The question was whispered into her skin as Sarah bent her head to nip gently at her side.
Belatedly realizing that she was being provoked, Cameron enthusiastically discarded her passive roll, responding to the challenge in Sarah's voice by wrapping her hands around the other woman's waist and half lifting, half pushing her back and down onto the bed. Straddling Sarah's hips, Cameron transferred her grip to her lover's wrists and pressed them down against the pillows as she leaned forward for a blistering kiss.
Sarah answered the change of pace eagerly, rocking her hips up against Cameron's and whimpering softly against the terminator's mouth.
Not willing to lose the upper hand now that she had it, Cameron drew Sarah's arms further up the bed and pressed them together so that she could secure both wrists with one hand. Then she took her revenge, tracing the fingers of her free hand over Sarah's neck, breasts and stomach so lightly that she barely grazed the surface, leaving shivers and gooseflesh in her wake.
"Not...fair " Sarah breathed, unable to stop herself from arching towards that touch, only to have it dart away from her. Sweat broke out on her skin and Cameron could taste the salty sweetness of it as her lips followed the path traced by her fingers until Sarah was shuddering underneath her.
"So what are you going to do about it?" Cameron echoed, sitting up and releasing her grip on Sarah's wrists.
"I'm going to take you apart." Sarah growled, lunging up and all but tackling the terminator.
Within seconds Cameron's shirt was off, followed quickly by her bra, and she was flat on her back with a far more eager to please Sarah on top of her. They grappled playfully, somehow discarding both Cameron's jeans and their underwear in the process of wrestling for dominance. The terminator being very careful not to damage her lover as they were rolling across the bed.
Because they both knew it worked better that way, Cameron ended up back on the bottom and their laughter faded quickly into moans and whispers as they got down to business.
With her body pressed firmly down on top of Cameron's, Sarah framed the girls face with her hands and kissed the terminator hungrily. The slick coating of sweat between them made it easy for her to slide her leg over Cameron's and she rocked forward, applying pressure to the girl's center even as she pushed herself against a smooth hipbone
Cameron gasped at the contact, sliding her hands down to grip Sarah's hips and pulling her closer.
Pleased, Sarah dropped her head, giving up Cameron's lips to kiss her way down over the girl's neck and shoulder and rounding her back so that she could pass her tongue over a delicately erect nipple while she used her fingers to toy deftly with the other one.
Cameron arched, hooking a leg over Sarah's back, and transferring her hands to the woman's shoulders so that she could urge her downwards.
Sarah knew exactly what the terminator wanted and she complied readily enough, submitting to the girls urging and slipping her fingers gently inside of her, even as she lowered her mouth to envelope that warm wetness.
Cameron shuddered as Sarah's lips and tongue moved over her, and she pushed her hips up to meet the steady gliding of the other woman's fingers. As the pressure built, she clenched her fists in the sheets beside her, not wanting to risk injuring Sarah when she climaxed.
The moment, when it came, was sweeter by far than any they had previously shared, and Cameron could feel tears prickling in the corners of her eyes as she whispered her lover's name and pulled Sarah up for a trembling kiss.
She hadn't realized it would matter, the acknowledgement of their relationship. But it did, and Cameron knew it would never be the same again between them, because for the first time they were coming together without pretending that it was something less than what it was. She hugged the other woman close to her, wrapping her arms around her waist and nuzzling into her neck.
"Don't get too comfortable girlie " Sarah whispered into her ear, cupping the back of the girls head with a gentleness that contradicted the teasing threat in her voice. "You're not quite done yet."
Cameron's reply was distinctly nonverbal, and it was several minutes before either of them could talk again.
When they were both finally sated, they lay tangled together in the sheets, Sarah still half on top of Cameron, her head tucked under the terminator's chin and their legs entwined.
When she'd caught her breath, Sarah craned her neck back to kiss Cameron softly on the jaw. "One of us needs to set the alarm." She whispered resignedly.
"I will do it." Cameron pulled away to reach over the side of the bed, earning a sleepy protest from the dislodged Sarah, and retrieved the much-abused clock. She plugged it back in and reset the time, consulting her internal time keeping programs for accuracy.
"Set it an hour early." Sarah instructed, looping an arm over Cameron's side and dragging herself up to squint over the terminator's shoulder at the glowing timepiece.
"But you will be tired." Cameron warned, hesitating.
"I'll take a nap while you're at school." She responded, remembering their conversation from this morning with a smile.
"What about Skynet?" The terminator asked with mock seriousness as she set the time as directed and lay down, pulling Sarah back into place on her shoulder.
"Fuck Skynet." Sarah murmured, her eyes already closing as she snuggled deeper into the terminator's arms.
"I'd much rather f-"
"Don't even say it!" Sarah interrupted, rousing to clamp a hand over Cameron's mouth. "If I ever find the bastard responsible for your sense of humour I'm going to kill him!" She threatened, her grip turning into a caress as she traced Cameron's lips with weary fingers before stretching her arm back over the girl's waist.
"Sarah?" Cameron asked softly after a moment.
"Mmmhmm?" Came the muffled reply.
"You could get more sleep if we showered together tomorrow. It would be more efficient "
Sarah snorted softly. "No it really wouldn't."
Cameron thought about that for a minute, her eyes widening as she followed Sarah's train of thought. "Can we do it anyway?" she asked quickly.
"That was the whole point of giving you a drawer, remember?" Sarah drawled, yawning.
"Oh right." Satisfied, Cameron fell silent, listening contentedly to her lover's breathing as it slowed and Sarah slipped gently into sleep.
There was still a great deal that had gone unsaid between them, and Cameron was beginning to realize that most of it was going to have to remain that way for now Sarah wasn't going to come easily or quietly, but she could wait. Patience was something that terminators did very well.
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