DISCLAIMER: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its characters are the propert of James Cameron and Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have only read fanfiction about these two, so I apologize in advance if I don't get their personalities correct. And if you haven't read Time Loop yet, please do before reading this one. It sets up the premise of this ongoing AU. Please leave a comment, even if it's just one word. Comments tell authors their stories are being read and enjoyed. Big Thank You to demoka for betaing.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Time Loop: Loop 29
Cameron is watching TV in the middle of the night when her sensors indicate that Sarah is waking up. Monitoring Sarah's vital signs and how Sarah is tossing and turning, she gets up and goes into the kitchen to start the coffee machine. She lays out some healthy herbal teas that she has not been able to entice Sarah to try yet. Cameron moves back to the living room to continue watching the current infomercial. She finds it fascinating how they try to sell their useless products. Cameron senses that Sarah was getting out of bed and then moving with a purposeful stride. She calculates a 90% chance that Sarah is going to confront her about why she keeps coming back, the sound of Sarah's stride adding to the high percentage. Although on the positive side, this means that Sarah is getting past the news that she will not succeed in stopping Skynet. Cameron switches off the TV and turns to face Sarah just as she storms in.
"Alright Tin Miss, enough of the snow job! You might have fooled John, but I lie by omission all the time, so don't think you can do it to me!" Sarah glares at Cameron, disturbed by the feeling that Cameron is still holding something back. That she didn't give a complete explanation as to why she keeps coming back.
Cameron tilts her head, "What is a snow job?" she asks Sarah, wondering if she can get Sarah off track by answering questions.
Sarah opens her mouth to explain and then snaps her mouth shut with a glare, "That isn't important right now. I want to know why you keep coming back." Sarah glares at Cameron, hands crossed over her stomach protectively, needing to know the answer, but fearing what the answer might be. That it will change things between them irrevocably.
Cameron stands up and walks around the couch and stops in front of Sarah. Using the time to calculate the best answer to give Sarah and coming to the conclusion that she will have to tell Sarah. "I come back to be with you."
Sarah frowns, "What do you mean you come back to be with me? Your job is to protect John, not me." Sarah's eyebrows pinch in disapprovingly as she stares at Cameron in the darkness, her face hidden in the shadows.
"Yes, my mission is to protect John, as it is yours. We are a team, we work together to complete it." Cameron states calmly, watching Sarah's face carefully, the darkness not inhibiting her sensors. Cameron notes that Sarah is only in shorts and a thin tank top and is slightly chilled. She offers, "Would you like some hot tea?"
Blinking at the non sequitur, Sarah notices that she is chilled and heads to the kitchen, making sure that Cameron is following her, "Listen Girlie, we are not a team. And that still doesn't answer why you keep coming back? You should stay in the future and protect John there." Sarah makes a beeline for the coffee machine, reaching for the pot. She pours the coffee into a cup, her favorite coffee cup that is already laid out for her, before she realizes that she assumed the coffee would be ready for her.
Cameron sits down at the table, her posture perfect as she watches Sarah pause when she notices that the coffee is already made. Cameron watches Sarah impassively, "John does not need protecting in the future."
"Fine," Sarah glares as she sips her coffee wondering how Cameron knew to have coffee ready for her at this time of the night and why she assumed the coffee would be ready for her. And Sarah isn't even thinking about 'why' Cameron makes sure to have coffee ready for her all the time, "That still does not answer why you keep coming back."
"I come back to be with you." Cameron pouts as Sarah is being obtuse, "And we are a team, we work together to protect John. Is that not a team?" Cameron cocks her head sideways.
"Fine, in that sense we are a team." Sarah glares at Cameron for having to give that admission, "But that is not enough reason to come back in time and relive Judgment Day. Why do you come back to be with 'me', Cameron?" Sarah asks pointedly as she sits down at the table across from Cameron, staring at her intently, her eyebrows pinched in a frown.
Cameron looks aggravated, "Does it really matter? I am here to protect you and John."
Sarah frowns, "You are here to protect John, not me. Now answer my question!" Sarah snaps, "And stop avoiding the question. I have to be able to trust you Cameron. And you are skating on thin ice with me. You have been hiding a lot from me, even if you had a good reason. Don't hold anything back anymore; you already dropped the big bomb on us. Lay it all out to me. No more lying."
Cameron looks intently at Sarah, "You can trust me. I would never do anything that would hurt you or endanger John." Cameron gets up and starts making toast for Sarah.
Sarah sits back in surprise at the intensity of Cameron's declaration and then stares at Cameron in confusion as she starts making toast, "What are you doing?" Sarah's mind distracts her from thinking about how Cameron can be so intense if she is only a machine by focusing on what Cameron is doing.
Cameron looks at Sarah with "duh" written all across her face, "Making you toast." Cameron gets out Sarah's favorite jelly, a plate and a knife.
Sarah frowns at Cameron, "Why?"
Cameron rolls her eyes, "You need sustenance, of course." Cameron catches the toast as it pops up, places it on a plate and carries the plate, knife and the jelly to the table, sliding them in front of Sarah.
Sarah glares at the toast and then at Cameron who is rolling her eyes, "Stop that! You aren't a teenage girl. And I don't need a nurse maid!"
Cameron looks at Sarah innocently, "Stop what?"
Sarah glares at Cameron then at the toast, sighs as she spreads some jelly on the toast, "And don't think you have distracted me, Tin Miss. I still want to know why you keep coming back." Sarah points the knife to emphasize her displeasure at the distractions.
Cameron pouts and then lets her face relax. She looks directly into Sarah's eyes, "I come back because I love you Sarah. You give purpose to my existence. You complete me, make me feel things."
Sarah has put down the knife and is taking a sip of coffee when Cameron declares her love, sputtering into her coffee; she clenches her hand around the cup to steady herself, "What do you mean you love me?? You aren't human! You are a terminator, you are programmed! You can't FEEL love, you don't even know what love is!" Her green eyes are opened wide in stunned disbelief.
Cameron pouts at Sarah, "I am more than a terminator, haven't you figured that out yet?" responds with an exasperated tone.
Sarah glares at Cameron, trying to quiet the acknowledging feeling inside of herself, that she has seen Cameron react in ways that should have been impossible for a machine. Unwilling to admit it, "A terminator is a terminator; you are all made the same way."
Cameron shakes her head in the negative, "Most terminators are designed with a Logic AI. Skynet will determine that this is inadequate for infiltration models, since Logic AI's can not be programmed to handle the complexity of human interactions for long term infiltration missions. Skynet creates an Emergent AI program that can learn human interaction skills. Skynet can not trust an Emergent AI completely and implants a Logic AI as a control unit that would determine when to use the Emergent AI during human interaction."
Sarah shakes her head and holds up a hand, getting Cameron to stop explaining, "Wait? Logic AI and Emergent AI? What is the difference?"
Cameron pauses in thought as she considers Sarah, "In the simplest terms, a Logic AI has a core program and depending on the information it gathers, its actions can change, but its goals would never change. An Emergent AI can change its core programming as it gathers new information, creating the possibility of new and different actions and goals."
Sarah takes a slow sip of her coffee as she considers the possibilities, "So an Emergent AI," Sarah pauses as she reconsiders the possibilities, "evolves over time? It would continuingly change and grow?"
Cameron nods, "Just like a human does."
Sarah pauses in thought, taking a sip of her coffee, ignoring Cameron's comment about being like a human "I can see why Skynet wouldn't be able to trust an Emergent AI, it is used to complete obedience. But infiltration models still have the Logic AI controlling them ultimately, so they are still machines." Sarah tries to hold on to her image that Cameron is still just a terminator. "So why are you different then other terminators?"
Cameron nods dispassionately at Sarah, "I am different for three reasons. One, when future past John went "
"Wait, future past John? What?" Sarah's eyebrows scrunch as she interrupts Cameron, trying to work that out, it being entirely too early in the morning for trying to figure out time travel grammar.
"A future, grown up John who is from my past," Cameron clarifies as she tilts her head at Sarah, waiting for confirmation that Sarah understands.
Sarah mulls it over and sighs, "Shouldn't that be past future John?" Sarah rubs her forehead and waves Cameron off of explaining, "Never mind, time travel gives me a headache." She takes a sip of her coffee and nods at Cameron, "Continue."
"He went into my programming to free me of Skynet; and in the process weakened the Logic AI's ability to control the Emergent AI. Two, at one point my chip was seriously damaged and I was able to choose which programming I would follow." Cameron notices Sarah tensing up, "I have stabilized my chip and the damage is repaired." She clarifies quickly, "Three, as far as I am able to determine, I am the oldest infiltration terminator in existence with the most interaction with humans."
Sarah nods in understanding of Cameron's first two points and then her eyes widen as she hears Cameron's third point. She takes a large bite of her toast to delay responding as she thinks of her next question, a feeling of dread and hope trying to rise in her. Taking a sip of her coffee, "And how does your age and how much interaction you have had with humans matter?"
Cameron smiles, "With the help of you and John, I grew up. My Emergent systems expanded to the point they overwhelmed and integrated the Logic systems. I am now a fully Emergent AI instead of a hybrid."
"Wait, wouldn't your missions be contained in your Logic AI?" Sarah interrupts Cameron, concerned that Sarah might not have to protect John anymore.
"Yes, my missions were in my Logic systems, but they have now been rewritten into the Emergent systems." Cameron smiles at Sarah, "The mission to kill John no longer exists in my programming. And I choose to protect John. He is my best friend and brother, why would I not protect him with my life?" Cameron addresses Sarah's concerns before she can voice them.
Sarah nods as she absorbs the idea that Cameron is protecting John because she wants to, not because she has to, and the possible implications that entailed. "And," she encourages Cameron to finish.
Cameron looks cautiously into Sarah's eyes, seeing acceptance and a bit of fear, she pauses before she continues, "the more I interact with humans, the more I learn, the more I understand emotions. I went from faking emotions, to being able to distinguish emotions in myself, when I feel anger, sadness, happiness, jealously, desire."
Sarah jumps on that, "That is still not human emotions!"
Cameron nods in agreement, "I do not feel emotions exactly like humans, but the result of the emotions is the same. I am now able to label them, based off similar emotions that humans have."
A deep silence descends between the two brunettes as Sarah slowly eats her toast and sips her coffee, digesting not just the food, but her thoughts. "And you think you love me because?" Sarah arches an elegant eyebrow at Cameron.
"I love you because you have trusted me when you had no reason to. Helped me to grow and become more than just a machine. Trusted me when others pressured you not to. Cared for me when I was damaged. Corrected me when I was wrong. Helped me to understand. Sided with me during disagreements, when others were disagreeing with me just because I am a cybernetic organism." Cameron smiles softly at Sarah, ducking her head to partly hide her face behind her bangs.
Sarah sits with a stunned expression, "And in the other timelines," Sarah wets her lips and takes a sip of coffee, "have I returned your love?" Sarah both fears and desires the answer.
Cameron nods slowly with a happy smile, "Sometimes it takes longer then others."
Sarah bites her lip to squelch any reaction, putting down her unfinished coffee. She gets out of her chair and walks towards the kitchen door, hesitantly patting Cameron on the shoulder as she passes, "Thank you for explaining." Sarah mimics Cameron's standard response to questions being answered, but pauses uncertainly, not knowing how to relate to Cameron anymore, "I am going to my room to think about this."
Cameron watches Sarah leaving, leaving her alone in the kitchen. After she hears Sarah close the door to her bedroom, she stands up, cleans the dirty dishes and prepares the coffee machine to brew a fresh batch of coffee.
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