DISCLAIMER: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and its characters are the propert of James Cameron and Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is an entry for sinandmisery and shiplessheathen's Finish It All Off Ficathon. Special thanks to mysensitiveside for being the most awesome beta in the whole wide world.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By carpesomediem


It was wrong. Cameron was a machine. She was metal and wires and synthetic flesh. She was computer chips and programming and Sarah couldn't - wouldn't let herself - think of things in any different light. But then Sarah thought of the T-100 model, the T-100 model that saved her and John's lives. She shook his hand; she shook the hand of a fellow warrior and let him go all the same. She held John as he mourned the loss of the machine. She was sure that if Cameron suffered a similar fate, she'd have to hold John for that loss as well.

But who would hold her?

Sarah's thoughts betrayed her. She had tossed and turned until she gave up trying to fall asleep. She thought of the machine's arms wrapped around her waist, holding her upright as she cried. As she mourned a fictional loss. 'You don't cry for a machine,' she thought. But John certainly cried when the T-100 was gone; it took him months to get over the loss. Would it take her months, too?

"Stop it, Sarah," she said aloud, shaking her head violently. "Just stop it." She sat up, cracked her neck and drew her knees to her chest. Sarah closed her eyes tightly, willing away the images of Cameron's arms wrapped around her. The feel of the Terminator's synthetic skin against her own, warm unnecessary breath on her neck and the lingering wonder if Cameron was thinking the same thing she was in that moment.

Sarah groaned in frustration, stretched her legs back out and lay down on her side. When she finally fell asleep, she didn't dream of Cameron. Instead, she dreamt of Cromartie, just like she did every night. Cromartie was somehow her escape. No matter how bloody the dream ended, Sarah was grateful to wake up terrified for the loss of her only son instead of in love with his salvation.

"Have you been standing there all night?" Sarah asked, startled the next morning. She'd opened her bedroom door to find Cameron blocking her exit.

"Yes," came Cameron's monotone reply. She cocked her head to the side, studying Sarah's reaction.

"What?" Sarah responded angrily. "Why? What are you doing? Don't you have somewhere to be?"

"It is Saturday," Cameron replied, shrugging. "There's no school today. Derek took John to the store."

"To the store?" Sarah crossed her arms. She was utterly confused as to why Cameron felt the need to be her personal bodyguard when her son's life was the one at stake. "You should've gone with them. Cromartie is still out there. Still looking for John. Or did you forget, standing out here watching my door instead of John's back?"

"I…" Cameron was at a loss for words. She didn't know how to respond to that. "I will make you breakfast."

"I don't need you to make me breakfast," Sarah sighed, frustrated by the useless conversation she was having. "I can make my own breakfast, thank you very much." She decided if words weren't going to force Cameron to move, she'd have to do something a bit more physical.

"Did I do something to upset you?" Cameron grabbed Sarah's arm, causing the older woman to jump and go on the defensive. Sarah yanked away from the grip, stumbling backwards into the wall.

"Don't ever touch me," Sarah practically growled, her skin on fire and not in the way she wanted it to be.

"Why has your temperature risen?" Cameron asked innocently, taking a step forward. "Your heartbeat has risen significantly as well. Are you aroused?"

"…Am I what?" Sarah stuttered, rolling her head back against the wall. 'This is not happening,' she told herself, 'This is so not happening.' "I'm aggravated! You're ruining a perfectly good morning that I could be spending by myself. Now, just leave me alone." She made her way past Cameron without another word, storming into the kitchen to make something to eat.

Cameron just stood there, monitoring Sarah's vital signs before she slipped out of sight. The Terminator nodded to herself and proceeded to her room to go over the results.

It was wrong. Sarah was a human. She was tissue and blood and flesh. She was all heart and instinct and gut reaction and Cameron couldn't – wouldn't let herself – think of things in any different light. She'd felt things, she'd known things; she'd seen events play out before her and she studied them. But this, this was different. This pull she felt towards Sarah Connor was tangible; despite her processing, despite her mission, it was real and it was developing with frightening simplicity.

Cameron was sure humans would call this "falling."

When a human has feelings for another, they began to fall for that person. It was the beginning stage in the courtship ritual on the way to a permanent relationship. But machines do not have relationships with humans, her processing reasoned. They have missions. And her mission from future John was set in stone; there was no deviating from it. If John died, so did Sarah. Cameron could not – and would not – let that happen.

Now, Cameron spent the nights on look-out, trying to reconcile how her programming had somehow betrayed her. It had somehow corrupted itself; it had somehow switched on something Cameron believed only humans to understand. Cameron now believed she felt desire, that she was falling for Sarah Connor. And there was nothing she could do to fix the malfunction.

So, every morning after the sun rose and John left the house, Cameron stood vigil outside Sarah's room. Since Sarah could never know Cameron's motive, she felt this was the closest she could actually get to her. It was so wrong, but so very right. Cameron only wondered how long it would be until her programming further degraded and she took a step forward she couldn't take back.

The End

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