DISCLAIMER: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its characters are the propert of James Cameron and Fox. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

A Photograph of Your Smile
By shyath


It all started, as this sort of things always happens to be, with one of Cameron's questions.

"Will you stop fussing, John?" Sarah grumbles as she adjusts the timer on the camera once again.

"Why do you not have a photograph of John and you?"

Cameron, John and Derek are sitting (more like squashed together) on the living room couch. Cameron, for her part, is sitting with her back ramrod straight and her expression painfully stiff. John, on the other hand, looks torn between being embarrassed and indignant. The rather half-hearted blush colouring his cheeks seems to be a testament to the conflict – or maybe a confused compromise instead. Derek, as to be expected, looks like he would rather be anywhere else but where he currently is – wedged between John and the armrest – alternating the target of his glares from Cameron to Sarah and, at one point, even his own shoes.

"Would it be possible to have a photograph of all of us together taken?"

Sarah sighs. Why, why, oh why has she agreed to this? She usually is a lot better at ignoring or rejecting Cameron's suggestions. "John, stop that fidgeting at once. Derek, would it kill you to stop glaring? Cameron, you – why don't you try smiling a little?"

Cameron looks startled. "Am I not smiling?"

Sarah bites the corner of her bottom lip and steps around the camera. "No, you're not," she tells Cameron gently, ignoring Derek's disbelieving snort. She stops in front of Cameron, bends forward a little and places both of her hands on Cameron's cheeks. She likes, loves that Cameron's eyes always, always focus on her right away when she does that (not that she does that all too often – oh, who is she trying to fool?). Swallowing a little, she whispers (she hopes it is not that noticeable – the way her voice has gone husky and the way her fingers tremble a little on Cameron's cheeks), "Smile for me, won't you?"

Cameron does. Sarah is not much for poetry and she never quite considers herself as romantic either. However, in that moment when Cameron's smile appears – no, blooms, she feels like she can most definitely wax poetic and she can most definitely be romantic. She feels like she has transformed into a puddle. There is this warm, threatening to border on feverish, feeling inside of her – and she does not quite know how to describe it (or maybe she simply does not want to) – but it is a pleasant feeling; this formless and liquid and overwhelming sensation. All she wants to do is sigh, melt and just let the moment stand (and not necessarily in the order prescribed).

Derek clears his throat – loudly – and Sarah returns to earth more than a little reluctantly. "Right," she says aloud, straightening, removing hands that feel like they have been burned (branded, perhaps). "Right," she repeats, not quite sure whether is she trying to address her flustered self, a blissfully unaware Cameron, a furious Derek or a blushing John. "I'll just quickly check the timer again."

"It would be very nice to have a permanent image of your smile, Sarah."

The photographs turn out surprisingly normal, Sarah observes as she spreads out the photographs from the other day on the kitchen table before her. As normal as any dysfunctional family would look like on film, she supposes.

Derek is glaring pointedly at a point away from the camera. John is staring right at the camera – his smile frozen and a little less natural than it perhaps could and should be. Cameron – Cameron looks just right, just perfect (though, by now, even Sarah has to admit that she is heavily biased on the topic). It does not however show in the pictures how the two of them were holding hands throughout the whole thing (or worse, how quickly her heart was beating – both worried and thrilled that neither John nor Derek had yet to notice the intertwined hands behind their backs).

"Are those the photographs?" Cameron's voice comes from somewhere behind Sarah.

"Yes -" Sarah begins to answer, turning around as she does, but her lips promptly bump into something very soft, very pliable and just the right amount of wet. "Cameron!" she hisses, the heat rising in her cheeks immediately as she realises that she has just bumped into Cameron's lips. She can see very clearly where Cameron's lip-gloss has become a little smudged from the collision.

Cameron is grinning and looking quite pleased with herself. "Hey, Sarah." She has this glazed look in her eyes, one not quite unlike what a high school student drunk on love would have in his or her eyes (and if Cameron were not a terminator with a mission, Sarah would have found it easier to believe, but why is she with Cameron then? why is she with a terminator? and why does she like it, need it maybe – the desperation, the intensity of her feelings can only be ascribed to necessity, right? how else can, will she justify their relationship?).

"John or, worse, Derek could have seen us!" Sarah maintains indignantly.

Cameron tilts her head to the side. "They are both currently in the garage," Cameron reports. "Neither John nor Derek could have seen us," she assures Sarah as she leans steadily forward.

"What – what are you doing?" Sarah asks cautiously, leaning away.

"Mom?" John's voice suddenly floats in from beyond the kitchen door.

"No, you're not," Sarah tells Cameron firmly, pushing at Cameron's shoulders to encourage her to stop, but once Cameron has decided to do something, it is difficult to stop her. "John is coming, Cameron."

"Yes, I am," Cameron responds, looking and sounding more than a little amused. She brings up a magazine she must have been carrying around and holds it just a little bit away from their faces. The kitchen door begins to open just as Cameron presses her lips to Sarah's and any complaint Sarah might have had vanishes in the warmth of Cameron's lips.

When Sarah's mind finally registers John's voice, she becomes starkly aware of two things: Cameron's missing heat and how quickly the terminator can move when she puts her mind to it. Glaring at an innocent-looking Cameron now sitting all the way across the kitchen table, she turns to John and manages to say, "What is it, John?"

"You were starting to worry me, going all dazed and frozen like that," John says with a chuckle. He then gestures at the photographs. "I was just wondering if you had the photographs with you. You obviously do. Derek was asking if you'd mind him taking a quick look."

"He didn't look all that enthusiastic when we took them," Sarah remarks.

"Well, you know him. He's really bad at being honest," John answers with a shrug. "Do you mind?"

Sarah glances at Cameron. "No, go ahead."

It is only when John's footsteps have died away that Cameron speaks up once again. "May I keep this photograph?" she asks, revealing one that she has obviously taken from the pile John has just left with.

"Which one is it?"

Cameron's cheeks redden a little as she pushes the photograph towards Sarah. It is a picture of the two of them. It was one of the preliminary photographs she took when she was just testing the settings on the camera. Their faces are a little blurry in it, a little too close to the lens – not exactly a model photograph.

"There are better ones to choose," Sarah comments.

"But this is the only one with the two of us alone," Cameron tells her in a small voice.

Sarah's heart hurts a little when it expands all too quickly after hearing Cameron's reason. "We can take a better one later."

"You promise?"

Sarah wonders briefly where the confident Cameron who had stolen a kiss from her earlier had gone, but she supposes it does not matter. "I promise." Cameron blushes a little more deeply at that and the smile that follows is genuine, blinding. "We'll take as many as you want."

The End

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