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.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for smallfandomfest.

Seeing the Wood for the Trees
By shyath


John munches on his toast uneasily, glancing first at his mother and then at Cameron. When neither acknowledges him, he turns to Derek with a beseeching look. His uncle simply shrugs, downs his coffee in one noisy go and stands up to leave for wherever it is he likes to spend his free time at. John scowls and resists the urge to blow a raspberry at Derek's retreating back. Putting down his half-eaten toast carefully, he gives himself a quick, hopefully effective pep talk: Alright, time to be a man about this because obviously you cannot depend on your uncle. Channel your future self, John. Channel the future saviour of humankind. Alright, you can do this, you can do this! "So," he starts out in a painfully cheerful tone. "How are we this morning?"

Sarah glares at him and Cameron gives him this look that makes John feel not quite unlike a bug – a squashed bug – a very much dead, squashed bug.

John reaches for his toast again and announces bravely, "Alright, I'll just finish breakfast then and -" Sarah's glare increases in intensity and Cameron's look has shifted for the worse. "Or maybe not," he decides wisely. He quickly gets up, knocking the back of his chair against the wall. "Oops, sorry," John offers sincerely, cursing inwardly as he picks up his bag and makes for the door. He is about to ask whether Cameron is coming or not, but opts against it.

"Well?" Sarah demands in a barely restrained growl as soon as the kitchen door has swung shut behind John.

"It was not my fault," Cameron replies flatly, meeting Sarah's eyes defiantly.

"Did I not tell you to stop?" Sarah hisses, her fingers itching for her gun.

Cameron frowns. "He would not have heard us."

"Yes, he would!"

"If you are so worried about John walking in on us having s -"

"You will not finish that sentence!"

"Are you ashamed of us?"

Sarah reels back. "It's not a matter of shame -"

"Then why are you keeping us a secret?" Sarah could have sworn there is a hint of hurt in Cameron's expression, in her tone, but terminators cannot feel hurt. Can they? No, they cannot.

Sarah feels the imminent onset of a migraine. "It's just -"

"Then maybe we should stop." Cameron pushes back from the table and gets to her feet much more gracefully than either Derek or John did.

"What?!" Sarah stands up as well, blinking a couple of times – hoping that she has misheard the terminator.

"You are concerned about John finding out about our relationship. The solution is, of course, to cease having a relationship." Cameron tilts her head to the side. "It was nice while it lasted, Sarah Connor."

"That's it? You're dumping me?" Sarah asks incredulously.

Cameron takes a step back. "I do not like being your dirty secret."

"You don't have feelings. How can you tell whether you like or dislike something?" Sarah accuses, feeling very defensive and vulnerable as her arms cross over her chest.

Cameron looks steadily at Sarah and she says evenly after a while, "You are correct. I am a terminator. I do not possess the capacity to feel."

"Get out," Sarah whispers, gesturing blindly at the door. Her eyes feel hot, wet – is she crying? "Get out."

Cameron remains standing where she is and makes no motion to leave. "Are you sad, Sarah?" she enquires, her voice immaculate and impossibly cadenced.

"Get out," Sarah hisses, looking up and at Cameron, not quite able to bring herself to care if the terminator sees her tears. "Just get out of my sight. Leave!"

Cameron takes another step back. This time there is no subtle fluidity in her limbs, no attempt at emulating human motion and expression. Cameron feels, looks and acts more like the terminator she is than she has ever done.

The door clicks shut quietly and Sarah allows her tears to run more freely. I am not crying, she thinks desperately even as she tries and fails to brush away wetness from her cheeks, not because of a terminator anyway.

John sighs. "I miss Mom," he says morosely, pushing away his paper plate.

Derek grunts noncommittally, chewing away at his slice of pizza.

"And I miss Cameron," John adds.

Derek chokes and coughs and attempts what John suspects to be an impossible combination of the two. "Wha -" he wheezes. Taking a healthy swig of his beer, Derek tries again, "What are you talking about?"

"I miss Mom and I miss Cameron," John repeats.

"Yeah, I heard the first time, John," Derek growls sarcastically. "Why are you missing the robot for?"

"She's not a robot and she has a name." John sighs. "Haven't you noticed that neither of them have been coming to meals recently?"

Derek rolls his eyes. "Your mother eats. And the robot doesn't need to."

John exhales raggedly. "That's not what I'm trying to say and you know it. I miss Mom's burnt cooking. As for Cameron, I just miss her. She hasn't been going to school either. She just lurks around the house. Mom, she doesn't even glare at me when I bring her food." He looks at Derek. "Do you think something happened between the two of them?"

Derek shrugs. "Women are strange like that. And the robot's probably just being – true to her nature, I don't know. I'm not an expert in either, am I?"

"Something must have happened between them," John maintains.

"Sure, John," Derek answers indulgently. "Now, finish your pizza."

"Hey," Sarah calls out softly, walking cautiously towards Cameron.

Cameron does not turn around from where she is sitting on the swing.

"You're ignoring me, huh?" Sarah whispers, coming to a stop just a footstep behind Cameron.

"I do not wish to quarrel, Sarah," Cameron says clearly.

"I'm not here to start a fight."

"What is it that you are here to do then?"

Sarah shifts her weight from one foot to the other. "To apologise."

"You have no need to apologise to a terminator."

"Stop that! Just – just don't say that." Sarah takes a deep breath and places her hands on Cameron's stiff shoulders. "I'm sorry." Sarah leans in and wraps her arms around Cameron when the girl makes no move to detach herself from Sarah's trespassing limbs. "I wasn't ashamed of us. I was just – I – I don't know, I don't want John to disapprove of me, of us – I – I was being selfish, sorry, and I took it out on you. I couldn't see the wood for the trees."

"You should give John more credit."

"I know." Sarah sighs and presses herself more fully against Cameron's back. "And I was wrong to say that you don't have feelings. I'm sorry. I was lashing out."

Cameron brings her hands upward and over Sarah's. "I understand. You were hurt." She squeezes Sarah's hands ever so gently and Sarah is touched (yet again) how tender Cameron is when it comes to her. "I was hurt too. I lashed out too."

"I'm sorry," Sarah repeats.

"I apologise as well. I attempted to imply that our relationship meant nothing." Cameron turns in the swing and smiles at Sarah. "It meant everything to me."

Sarah moves a hand up to cup Cameron's cheek. "I, uh, I lo – lo – I love you," Sarah says quickly before she loses her nerve.

Cameron blinks. "I love you too, Sarah," she says simply. "You make me feel more human than anything or anyone ever did, ever would."

Sarah leans in, close enough that she can see herself reflected in Cameron's eyes. "Isn't it ironic that you make me feel the same? I love you, Cameron."

John sprays water all over the kitchen windows. He blinks a couple of times, rubs his hands hard across his eyes and looks again. "Derek? Derek, I think Mom's kissing Cameron. Uh, I mean, Cameron's kissing Mom. They're – they're kissing each other. Derek?" John turns to find his uncle snoring on the couch. Oh well, he thinks, turning back to look at the two women again, at least it looks like they've made up. He scrunches his face suddenly. Wait, ew, I'm watching my Mom kissing. He turns away quickly and heads back to bed, attempting all the while to erase the traumatic memory. Well, at least Cameron's hot. No, still ew.

The End

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