DISCLAIMER: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its characters are the propert of James Cameron and Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: When I mentioned that this series was taking a dark turn, ralst asked if they were going to kill each other. No, but what a great idea! Thanks, ralst. And thanks as well for the beta!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SERIES: Sixth part of the Mixed Emotions series.

Russian Roulette
By zennie


"Come on, Tin Miss," Sarah commands as she walks briskly through the kitchen, passing the table where John and Cameron are working on their homework and tucking a 9mm in the waistband of her jeans, snug against the small of her back. "Recon," she explains as she tugs on a jacket, disappearing out the back door before the confused look on John's face forms into a question.

A few seconds later, Cameron slips through the door and waits silently, her head cocked to the side as she regards Sarah in the pale moonlight. Sarah doesn't say a word; without looking back to see if Cameron is following, she slides through a break in the fence and is gone. Cameron catches up with her, automatically lengthening her strides to keep up as Sarah leads her through a maze of side streets and back alleys, the scrape of her boots on pavement the only sound she makes. Cameron has gotten used to the silence in the last week; John is the only one who talks to her anymore, although she caught Sarah watching her several times, the look in those green eyes intense and unreadable.

Cameron ducks beneath a door broken off its hinges as they make their way into a deserted warehouse. The few safety lights still working cast a cold blue glow onto a mosaic of twisted trees made out of rusted metal and runes of bright graffiti. Cameron analyzes the different textures and colors and finds a certain beauty in the juxtaposition of elements; it reminds her of mixed media artwork her teacher brings into art class.

She does not have long to admire, however, as Sarah grabs her and slams her against a wall with enough force to rattle loose plating above their heads. A click of metal on metal reverberates through the silence, the sound of the safety snapping off. The pressure Cameron feels against her skull is Sarah's 9mm, nestled tightly against the metal plate covering her chip.

Sarah's face is inches from Cameron's, her teeth bared and her eyes cold. In the dim blue light, Sarah's pale skin looks bone-white, offsetting a dark lock of hair fallen across her forehead in perfect contrast. Cameron sees the beauty in this too, in the play of light and dark across the bones of Sarah's face. She wants to reach out to toy with that lock of hair and tell Sarah how beautiful she is in this light, but the look in Sarah's eyes stops her. This is not her Sarah, Cameron realizes; she's seen pictures, stills, of Sarah during her time in the mental institution, and her eyes had the same look in those images as they do now: wild, desperate, trapped.

"If I pulled the trigger right now, what would happen?" Sarah searches Cameron's eyes, for what, Cameron does not know.

"The gun would go off."

The gun knocks against Cameron's head forcefully. "Would it penetrate the cover over your chip?"

Cameron calculates the caliber and force of the bullet, the density and strength of the metal alloy, the distance. "Not the first bullet," she answers truthfully. "If you emptied the clip. Maybe."

"And you would stand here and let me do it?"



Cameron considers and answers simply, "I trust you." Sarah's look is openly skeptical, so she elaborates, "I trust you to do what's right for the mission…"

"What if it's not for the mission? What if it's for my peace of mind?" Cameron sees the muscles on Sarah's forearm tense as she tightens her hold on the 9mm. "My sanity?"


"Bullshit." The muzzle of the weapon presses harder against Cameron's temple.

"I could never hurt you. Or John." Cameron tries the truth, unsure if Sarah's state of mind is conducive to rationality. "If I tried to stop you, I might harm you. I can't do that." Cameron stares into those green eyes, wondering what facial expression would reassure Sarah. Her repertoire is limited, and she wonders if she has learned anything to handle Sarah Connor on the edge of madness, Sarah's grip on her weapon so tight that the muscles of her arm tremble and strain.

"I would rather die than hurt you." Cameron reaches out and strokes Sarah's cheekbone and wonders why it hurts her when Sarah flinches away from her touch. "And if my presence is causing you pain, then…" She closes her eyes and waits. Her vision blinks out when her chip is removed, and Cameron wonders if this will be any different. That would be anti-climactic, she thinks, given the violence of Sarah's intended actions.

For long moments, Sarah just stares at Cameron, who waits patiently for her execution. Sarah is not sure what she expected when she brought them here, but this, this wasn't it. A fight maybe, to take out her frustrations. Sarah half-expected not to live through the night, because threatening Cameron brings with it the very real danger of exposing the killing machine beneath. Like putting a single round in the cylinder of a revolver, Sarah's earlier plans bordered on the suicidal.

But Cameron's quiet declaration explodes through Sarah's head like a grenade detonation. Strung out from a week of jagged sleep and waking nightmares, Sarah's tenuous balance between the paranoia that drives her and the sensitivity that tempers her is ripping her apart. Her responsibility to keep John safe, at all costs, wars with a nagging guilt at her treatment of Cameron. She can't keep it together; she is condemned on almost all sides: condemnation from John, because she hasn't figured out a way to stop Skynet and save the world, condemnation from Derek, for a multitude of sins, and condemnation from herself, because the one thing she wasn't supposed to do was have feelings for a machine. In fact, the only one not condemning her is the one under her gun.

And she was wrong, when she said Cameron didn't value human life. Cameron obviously values some life, hers and Johns, even at the expense of her own. It is all too much to make sense of anymore, where the line between human and machine is drawn, and Sarah is so tired to trying to figure it out.

Cameron expects the angry recoil of a bullet against her skull, but not warm lips against hers; it takes her a moment to realize that Sarah is kissing her, deeply, hungrily. The contrast of the cold steel against her temple and the open-mouthed kiss jolts through the nerve receptors in Cameron's skin and she shivers. This must be what it's like to be human, she thinks, to live and love on the razor's edge of death.

The barrel of the gun retreats as Sarah pushes Cameron further into the wall and continues her relentless assault, her hand roughly tangling Cameron's hair. Cameron can feel the gun heavy against her leg as Sarah lets it dangle from her fingers, forgotten in the urgency of her desire. Sarah pulls back from the kiss and Cameron notices her eyes have lost a little of their madness. "I should kill you."

"You should." Cameron's response comes out somewhere between a statement and a question.

Sarah brushes a stray lock behind Cameron's ear and leans in for a kiss. "I can't." She whispers against Cameron's lips, admitting her weakness once and for all. "I wish I could."

Cameron hears the need for reassurance in Sarah's voice. "I will never hurt you."

"Can you promise that?"

"Yes." Cameron sounds so sincere and Sarah wants to believe her. But mostly, she is tired of trying to repudiate her feelings for Cameron. It is a battle she seems destined to lose, so when Cameron asserts, "I will never hurt you," Sarah accepts it without a fight.

Sarah hugs Cameron to her and presses a kiss against her forehead before whispering, "I hope not." Cameron relaxes into the embrace, seeking her own reassurance in this, the first time Sarah has hugged her like she hugs John, like she is precious and loved.

Sarah loosens her grip but seems reluctant to let go, her hands clasped behind Cameron's back in a loose embrace and her forehead resting against Cameron's. She's surprised at how tired she is, at how the simple act of acceptance can be so exhausting. But the madness has retreated and Sarah feels almost lightheaded without the weight. "We should get back. John is probably worried about you."


"He thought I was taking you out to dismantle you."

"He wasn't wrong," Cameron says and Sarah chuckles. "But why would he be worried about me and not you? I'm the scary robot."

"But I'm his mom. Much, much scarier."

"So you're a scary human?" Cameron attempts a joke and is happy when Sarah gets it and laughs. "So we're like compatible." The kiss she gets in response causes a cascade of lights to flicker across her optics.

They slip out of the warehouse the way they came, brushing dirt from clothes and weaving their way through back alleys. Cameron stops Sarah in a dark corner on a side street. "I missed you," she says, solemnly, sweetly, and for a second, Sarah doesn't see a terminator or killing machine, but just Cameron, as beautiful and as flawed as any other person.

In the half-shadow of an overhanging tree, only Sarah's eyes catch the streetlight, a beautiful contrite silver-green, as she apologizes, "I'm sorry."

"I shouldn't have lied."

"Just don't do it again."

"I won't," Cameron answers seriously, her lips already tilted up to capture Sarah's.

Sarah is unsure how long they kiss in the shadows, like teenagers on a date, before a car turning onto the street brackets them in a flash of light. Sarah chuckles and hides her face in Cameron's hair. "Come on," she says, pulling Cameron into an alley, "I don't want to get arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. Or…" and here she smiles one of her ironic half-smiles, "for statutory rape."

"That law does not apply; I'm…"

"According to your driver's license, you're 17. And my daughter. And last time I tried to explain to the authorities about killing machines from the future, I ended up in a mental hospital."

"According to your police file, you blew up a building."

"That too."

They walk in silence for a few moments, and then Cameron says, smugly, "I don't carry my license, and I totally look 18."

As they slip behind the garage, Cameron catches Sarah's wrist, stopping her in moonlit space. "I want you to understand. I, you make me want to be better. I want to value human life, because you do."

Cameron's hand is still on Sarah's wrist, so Sarah slides her hand up so that their fingers are loosely intertwined. "I understand," she says quietly. Sarah's smile quirks up into a mischievous grin as she deadpans. "Thank you for explaining."

Cameron cocks her head and analyzes Sarah's expression a second before getting the joke. Her small smile is a mere twitch of her lips, but for once, it feels genuine and real.

The End

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