Author: Carla Mayumi.
Rating: Remains to be seen.
Fandom: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Summary: With John and Derek away, Cameron and Sarah attempt to find Cromartie, but nothing goes according to plan.
SPOILERS: FOX sucks! What...? Everyone knows that? Ok...maybe a few vague references to Samson & Delilah and Automatic For The People. I haven’t seen any of the subsequent episodes due to my nonexistent connection. *sniff*
Disclaimer: If they were mine, the show would be on Showtime and I’d hire InspectorBoxer and Zennie to write it. ;)
Feedback: Always appreciated. Constructive criticism helps.
Dedication: To GrumpyBear1031 for my absolutely gorgeous LJ Layout - I am beyond impressed by your talent! Also, a big thank you to Blacks_Empire, who will likely have read this about a thousand times before it is posted. Sorry, honey!
Author's Note I: Writer’s block would be the bane of my existence, but my mother was quicker to claim the position, so let me just say it blows. :P Also, it likely has enough plot holes to be Swiss cheese, which reminds me I would do well to stick to fluff if I must write at all.
Author's Note II: There is simply no amount of betas that could possibly save me from phrasal verbs and prepositions, so if you find something that seems misplaced (e.g., give up/in/off or on/in/at), please forgive me. Also, if you would be so kind as to point it out to me, it will be much appreciated.
“Are you the one
The traveler in time who has come
To heal my wounds, to lead me to the sun
To walk this path with me until the end of time?”
~Within Temptation, “Are You The One”
Sarah stalked into the kitchen and opened the fridge to produce a bottle of water from it. As she uncapped it and brought it to her lips, she glanced sideways at the terminator, who was sitting at the table thoroughly cleaning and reassembling their guns. After a long and refreshing drink, she made her way around the table and sat across from Cameron, her green eyes focused on the grace and precision of the delicate hands as the girl put a 9mm back together.
Cameron looked up even as she disassembled another gun, her eyes searching Sarah’s briefly before going back to the task at hand. Sarah had been around more often, watching her. Cameron attributed it to the woman’s fear of her going bad once again, but Sarah’s posture was not indicative of stress; if anything, the older Connor seemed to relax around her, as if her presence soothed Sarah somehow. Cameron was intrigued by the obvious shift in the woman’s behavior.
Things hadn’t been easy in their new household. John challenged both his mother and his protector at every turn, and woman and machine alike were left alone in the house more often than not. This frustrated Cameron because she was supposed to keep him alive, and she could not fulfill her mission when he left her behind to go do whatever it was with either Derek or Riley. It was even worse for Sarah, who had given up everything only to be shunned by John after his rebellious streak made an appearance.
After a few days of a completely strained silence and even more strained dialogue, the fact that the terminator sitting across from her was damaged and dangerous seemed to no longer matter to Sarah. She wanted, needed company, even if the only company left was that of an unpredictable machine. The fact that they had been getting much of the same treatment from the person who mattered the most to them brought Sarah closer to Cameron, even if Sarah knew that she was largely alone in feeling sorry for herself.
She finally broke the silence, bitterness lacing her voice as she asked, “Did he even say where he was going this time?”
Cameron looked up at her once again, her brown eyes flashing with recognition for the briefest moment as she regarded the sullen woman. “No,” was the soft reply, which did nothing to mitigate the dejection evident in Sarah’s stance. “But he and Derek Reese were carrying bags with camping equipment.”
“Great,” Sarah mumbled, a scowl marring her beautiful features. “That’s just great.”
It was Thanksgiving week, and Sarah didn’t dare hope her son and his newfound attitude would be back to spend the holiday with her. She doubted Derek Reese would pass up the opportunity to impart his ‘wisdom’ onto John - the older of the Reese brothers had never been secretive about his disdain for her methods. While she was loathe to think of John looking up to someone like his uncle, she at least could take some reassurance in the fact that John had a mind of his own. Also, she wouldn’t have to ruin a turkey this year, not when she and Cameron were the only ones there.
The terminator tilted her head to the side and opened her mouth to say something, but then seemed to think better of it and simply returned her attention to cleaning the various pieces of the disassembled gun before her.
“I know sooner or later I will have to let go. I know he needs to stand on his own, become independent,” Sarah said with a rueful, sad smile. “I just wish it wouldn’t hurt so much.”
She frowned at herself for adding the last part, feeling vulnerable and ashamed. She stood, discarded her empty bottle, and wordlessly stalked out of the kitchen, unaware of Cameron’s gaze following her retreating form.
Sarah woke up and squinted under the sunlight filtering in through the window. She kicked back the sheets and swung her legs to the side of the bed as she sat up. She rubbed her bleary eyes with a yawn, then dragged her feet towards the bathroom. It was a Saturday morning, and she really wanted to stay in bed; part of her reasoned that she had no leads to pursue and no son to watch over, so it would be ok to go back to bed for once, but she refused to indulge.
Once she was more or less resembling a person, she made her way to the kitchen and went about preparing some coffee. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, the cool morning air mixed with the smell of ground coffee providing a small comfort. The neighborhood was as quiet as the house, and a sense of satisfaction washed over her as she felt like just another human being on the planet, carefree and comfortable in her own skin. Her good mood was short lived, however, as Cameron chose this moment to walk into the kitchen, bringing with her Sarah’s awareness that she was not just another human being on the planet; there was a war to be fought, and her life was far from normal. Living with a killing machine was only one of the many things that made her life different than everyone else’s.
Realizing her coffee was ready, she filled a mug and took a careful sip. As the hot liquid made its way down her throat, she let out a pleased hum.
Cameron, unaffected by the display of joy before her, stated flatly, “This would be a good opportunity to try and track down Cromartie. Now that John is in a new school, Cromartie will probably begin a new search.” After a beat, she added, “I would.”
Sarah ignored the uneasy feeling Cameron’s last statement brought up. “A new search,” she deadpanned.
Cameron gave a small nod. “Yes.”
“A new search, meaning that there was a previous search, as in a search you knew about and deliberately neglected to tell me,” Sarah said between teeth, and while she was able to keep her voice even, her jaw was tense.
Cameron stared at her impassively. “Yes.”
“Oh,” the mother of all destiny smiled sarcastically, her anger barely restrained. “Would you care to explain that to me?”
“John made me promise not to tell you,” the younger brunette disclosed calmly. “He was afraid you would move us.”
“And yet you’re telling me now.”
“We moved anyway,” Cameron observed blankly. “John is not here right now, so we will not have to worry about acquiring his cooperation or ensuring his safety.”
Sarah sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “All right,” she acquiesced, quelling her uncertainty at both Cameron’s apparent zeal and at the fact that, even if it weren’t a trap, a fight between the two terminators could cause further damage to the girl’s chip. “And just how are we going to find Cromartie?”
“He was impersonating an FBI agent. I can hack into their system and see if we find anything.”
Sarah was silent, her memories taking her back to Dr. Silberman’s cottage, where an overzealous agent lay tied to a chair about to be engulfed by flames. She remembered being in the agent’s apartment, her file, case study and tapes scattered about his place. She remembered Charley telling her that agent James Ellison believed her. “No need,” she finally said, setting down her cold coffee on the sink before facing the terminator. “I know just the guy we can ask.”
“Now remember,” Sarah spoke over the barking as they made their way upstairs to Ellison’s apartment, “No killing.”
Cameron stared at her, uninterested.
“Cameron,” the woman insisted firmly, “No killing.”
“No killing,” the terminator repeated dully as Sarah pulled them to a stop. “There is no one home,” she remarked dispassionately after a brief analysis.
“Perfect,” Sarah replied with a nod. “We’ll just make ourselves comfortable and wait for him.”
Cameron watched intently as Sarah picked the lock.
Aware of the terminator’s curiosity, Sarah smirked and said, “It’s called finesse, girlie.” With a playful flourish, she opened the door and ushered Cameron inside.
Sarah made her way to the couch, having been there before, and kept an eye on the girl, who strolled around the apartment taking everything in while judiciously staying away from the windows. She frowned when Cameron picked up her file, but allowed the terminator to read it without comment.
Cameron flipped through the pages, then went back to the first page and stared at it a moment longer before finally closing the folder and putting it back down. She moved to the stack of videotapes and crouched to read the labels. She glanced at Sarah dubiously.
“He desperately needs a hobby,” the woman explained wryly.
“The content of these tapes would likely provide good insight into your personality,” the terminator speculated quietly.
“Insight you will not be privy to,” Sarah affirmed with finality, unwilling to spend time going down that particular memory lane, especially with Cameron as audience.
If she didn’t know any better, she would have sworn she’d seen the girl pout. Cameron stood smoothly, and without casting another glance at Sarah, made her way to a spot beside the door, where she halted, the expression on her face bland, almost bored. Sarah realized the door would conceal her once it was open, and Cameron would be conveniently positioned behind Ellison after he walked in.
She hoped he wouldn’t take long. Not that she had anything better to do, but sitting in an unfamiliar place where the only thing to do was stare at Cameron - and being stared at by her - was making her increasingly restless, for more reasons than she could fathom.
“War is breaking loose, it cannot be stopped
Cars are racing by and you're getting crushed
Friends are dying slow with a lot of pain
You just fear it all
Bleeding from a wound that you cannot see
And you're seeing things that can never be
God is not made up and he wants revenge
You just fear it all.”
~After Forever, “Face Your Demons”
To his credit, James Ellison seemed only mildly surprised to find Sarah Connor sitting on his couch. She looked as if she had been there a while, and he explained himself somewhat cheekily, “Ran out of coffee.” With a smirk, he gestured towards his kitchen. “Do you mind...?”
Sarah smiled, “Not at all.”
He headed to the small kitchen, aware of her watchful eyes on his back. “You shouldn’t be here,” he said more seriously while setting his coffee maker. “It’s not safe. I think I’m being followed.”
“Let me guess,” she interjected, “You’re being tracked by someone who’s been posing as one of your own.”
He turned to her in wonder, and finally noticed the girl who was now standing beside Sarah. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised you know this,” he reasoned with a shake of the head, then turned to Cameron. “And who are you?”
Sarah finally stood. “This is Cameron. She’s...” she trailed off then, uncharacteristically unsure how to proceed.
“A killer robot from the future?” Ellison hazarded a guess, his tone between sarcastic and bleak. He would no longer deny reality, as crazy as it sounded. Perhaps if he and Charley Dixon had been honest about everything they had known, everything they now believed in, he wouldn’t be carrying the weight of so many deaths on his shoulders. His expression was grim as he thought of his fellow agents.
Sarah felt sorry for him, unaware of the deaths but sympathizing with how he felt having his idea of reality suddenly pulled from under his feet.
“Cybernetic organism,” Cameron corrected, a hint of annoyance in her voice.
“Really?” the agent arched his eyebrows as he sized her up in disbelief.
Cameron’s eyes flashed an intense blue. “Really.”
“She has been reprogrammed to keep my son safe,” Sarah explained, deciding not to venture into the merit of how explosions could just as easily change that. “Tell me more about Cromartie.”
“Cromartie, is it?” Ellison smiled nervously, squirming under Cameron’s gaze. “Well, Cromartie killed a whole team of my agents, but spared me. I last ran into him at your previous house a few nights ago.”
“He expects you to lead him to us,” Cameron spoke, unknowingly voicing Sarah’s thoughts.
“But now we’re here,” Sarah said, pacing around nervously. “And all he has to do is follow us home.”
“He doesn’t know we’re here,” the terminator assured her softly. “We can take advantage of this.”
“How do you know he doesn’t know?” Ellison asked curiously.
“If he did, he would attempt to take Sarah in order to use her as leverage against John,” Cameron answered. “I would.”
Sarah gave her a wary look, but the terminator just stared blankly back at her.
Ellison looked from woman to machine and was suddenly unsure whether caffeine was a good idea; something to calm everyone’s nerves would perhaps have been more appropriate, but he didn’t have anything of the sort. “Coffee?” he offered wearily, eager to disperse the sudden tension that had filled his small apartment.
- - - -
Agent James Ellison left his apartment once again almost two hours later, and went on a long drive. He hoped Cromartie was following him, and then laughed at the insanity of his own thoughts. However, Sarah Connor had a plan, and he trusted her. Not only had she saved his life, she had also been living his nightmare much longer, and she had someone - or rather, something - that greatly improved their chances. While as a Christian he didn’t condone vengeance, he would be more than happy to see Cromartie go, and if he could help it, all the better.
Little after he had left, Sarah and Cameron left the building through the emergency exit just to be sure. Sarah had been a little suspicious of Ellison’s cooperation at first, but as they talked, her paranoia had subsided. She wasn’t happy that Cameron had enlisted his participation; she didn’t want to put him or anyone else at risk. But he had readily agreed, and the terminator had moved on in her briefing.
“This is wrong,” Sarah shook her head as she drove.
Cameron, who had been looking for any signs of Cromartie or their being followed, didn’t acknowledge her.
“We can’t involve anyone in this,” Sarah continued. “How do we know he will be safe?”
Satisfied with not seeing anything suspicious, Cameron turned to the mother of all destiny. “He is already involved. And no one is safe,” she pointed out bluntly.
Sarah furrowed her eyebrows as she briefly looked at the terminator. Her lips pursed into a line and her hands tightened around the steering wheel, but she refrained from commenting. As far as she knew, it was the truth anyway.
“When Cromartie shows up, do not interfere,” Cameron said after several moments of strained silence.
“Agent Ellison will lead him to us, and he will be after you,” the terminator elaborated. “We will engage in combat. When that happens, he will not be able to pursue you. It will be the optimal opportunity for you to leave.”
Sarah stopped at a traffic light and faced Cameron, a mix of anger and confusion in her gaze. “You expect me to run?”
“No, drive,” Cameron clarified flatly.
“That’s not what I...” Sarah started saying, then shook her head, not in the mood to explain the idiom especially when it wasn’t the point. “I’m not going to leave you behind. If that’s your plan, you had better come up with something else.”
The terminator gave her a probing look.
“If something happens to you while John is away, he’s going to think I did it on purpose,” Sarah mumbled, painfully aware that she had just lied and hoping Cameron wouldn’t be able to tell. While John would probably hate her if his protector were not there upon his return, it wasn’t the actual reason she refused to leave the terminator behind.
A loud honk from a car announced the light had turned green, and prevented her from following that train of thought any further. She resisted the urge to thank the disgruntled driver for distracting her from her introspection and drove off, sheepishly smiling to herself when she realized she had been holding up an entire line of cars. Traffic in L.A. was bad enough without her adding to it.
“One of the reasons John sent me back was to skip over your death,” the terminator observed critically. “Which means ensuring your survival is also part of my mission. You are the best fighter he knows, but you are only human. You are not immortal. When the time comes, you will leave. If you refuse, I will have to take steps to guarantee your cooperation.”
Sarah pulled into their driveway and scowled at the girl. “Oh, really? And just how are you going to force me?”
Cameron looked at her calmly. “I will find a way.”
Rage rolled off Sarah in waves, and for a moment she looked ready to cause some damage to the girl’s chip herself. “I don’t need you mothering me, Cameron!” she growled, then seemed to think better of it. After a few deep breaths, she softened her gaze and mumbled, “He also sent you back to keep him safe. You can’t do that if you’re not here. So we’ll work together, and that way we’ll make sure we’re both alive at the end of the day. Besides...we have the advantage of surprise. Maybe fighting won’t even be necessary.”
Cameron looked displeased, but didn’t voice it. Instead, she said conciliatorily, “We could prepare a trap, like the one you and John came up with in church. It would be safer.”
Sarah couldn’t help the twinge of guilt she felt at the memory, and hated herself for it. She shouldn’t blame herself for harming a machine, especially one that had been hunting her son. She finally realized how dangerous Cameron really was; not because she knew everything about their lives, not because she was virtually indestructible, but because she had, at some point, become part of the Connors.
Speechless, she got out of the car and made her way to the house, aware of the terminator following her close behind. They had a few things to work on and a location to find and prepare, and they needed to make haste. There was no way to know whether they would even be able to lure Cromartie into a trap, and Sarah wanted to make sure that whatever happened, happened before John returned.
“I think you didn’t realize my smile was sincere
I am so cynical sometimes, all the time trying to defend myself
Say what you will, the evil of the century is loneliness
Each of us immersed in his own arrogance, hoping for some affection.”
~Legião Urbana, “Esperando Por Mim” (translated)
For two days they schemed, covering every possible angle either could come up with. However, careful planning did little to alleviate the apprehension Sarah felt. Even if she were certain they had considered every possibility, which she wasn’t, she couldn’t shake the feeling of dread threatening to overwhelm her. If she had learned one thing about these new terminator models was that they were highly unpredictable, and could virtually adapt to any situation using their cunning. She had learned to trust her instincts, and her instincts told her that it wasn’t looking good for them; Cromartie had, after all, been on the hunt for them for so long, and all they had managed to do was delay him. He was smart and relentless, and much more dangerous than Vick or the one from the nuclear plant had been.
And yet, she knew that if she didn’t take part in the plan, Cameron would pursue it by herself, and Sarah wouldn’t – or couldn’t – let that happen. She thought long and hard about her terminator ally. She didn’t understand why she felt so strongly for a machine; she had liked the T-101 that had traveled with John and her years before, but her feelings for Cameron were so much more than mere appreciation. Ironically, she wasn’t nearly as nice to her as she had been to the previous protector. There was just something about Cameron that made her feel on edge.
Sarah knew that part of her caring was simply because she was lonely; there was also the fact that they had been spending a lot of time together since John’s sudden search for autonomy. But that couldn’t be all. Sarah was not a teenager; she had needs, but was not controlled by them. There was something else, something deeper, something that she just couldn’t seem to grasp. Or maybe she couldn’t deal with the answer, and that was why it eluded her.
“Too much therapy, Sarah,” she told herself with a rueful smirk.
She was sitting on the stairs, watching the sunset for the first time in years. It felt comforting somehow, and she gazed gratefully at the horizon, marveling at the beauty of the colors on the sky. Then, she closed her eyes and leaned back on her hands, basking in the warmth on her skin.
Cameron observed her silently from the doorway, then turned her attention upwards, wanting a bit of whatever had Sarah so enraptured.
“Beautiful, huh?” the woman asked, her voice calmer than Cameron could ever recall hearing before.
The terminator looked at her, but Sarah’s eyes were still closed. “Yes,” she replied after some consideration, analyzing how the many colors complemented one another and gave the impression that the sky was a painting. “It is beautiful.”
Sarah took a deep breath, then opened her eyes and turned to glance at the younger brunette. She hadn’t expected Cameron to reply, or to consider her question before answering. She had no idea what to say, so she changed the subject. “Tomorrow, then?” she asked quietly, knowing preparations were almost complete.
“Tomorrow,” Cameron said just as quietly, her answer accompanied by a small nod of the head.
- - - -
On the following day, after only a couple of hours of sleep, Sarah lay awake in bed. She had written a letter to her son just in case anything went wrong, and after that she had spent the night deep in thought; and while she hadn’t really come to any conclusion or even a definition, she was oddly at peace with her feelings. After all, soon enough they would be heading towards the very thing she had been running from most of her life, and Sarah was only human; she was terrified. Not that she would ever let that stop her, but that was a different story.
She religiously went about her routine, and she walked out of her room after steeling herself, ready to face her day. Her guns were concealed in the usual places and gave her a sense of security. She made her way to the kitchen to complete her morning ritual, and was surprised to find Cameron waiting for her there, the delicious smell of coffee surrounding them. The terminator had a mug in her hands, and offered it to Sarah wordlessly. Sarah was touched by the gesture, given Cameron’s complete apathy towards anything that remotely resembled domestic chores.
“Thanks,” Sarah said, and flashed her a heartfelt smile.
There was a small smile on Cameron’s lips as she replied, “My pleasure.”
And just like that, the terminator left her alone in the kitchen.
After finishing her coffee, she headed to John’s room. She sat on her son’s bed, placed the letter she’d written for him on his pillow, and lovingly ran her hand over the sheets. She glanced at the robot built out of blocks and picked it up with a smirk, her fingers tracing the different colors. She blushed profusely when she realized she was no longer alone in the room, and immediately returned the robot to its place. Cameron studied her quietly, and Sarah fidgeted under the terminator’s unwavering gaze.
“What?” she demanded, embarrassed at being caught once again in a moment of exposed vulnerability. She had yet to find out why the terminator always seemed to be watching her.
“We’re all set,” Cameron replied, then turned and started walking away as silently as she had shown up.
Sarah’s eyes focused on the spot the terminator had stood in for a moment, then she got up and followed her into the hall.
The girl stopped in her tracks and turned around to face her. “Yes?”
Sarah took a step closer to her, then another, and then she was standing toe to toe with Cameron, gazing deep into perplexed brown eyes. Apparently, whereas Cameron herself ignored people’s personal space, she had developed one of her own and was not used to having it invaded.
Sarah smiled warmly at her, the sense of imminent danger dwarfing her self-consciousness and letting her affection show. She brought her hand up to gently stroke the terminator’s cheek, the same cheek she had once struck in anger and that now bore a fading scar from the explosion that had marked a permanent rupture in their family dynamics. She felt a fleeting hope that, like Cameron’s scar, her family would also eventually heal.
Cameron seemed to search Sarah’s eyes for an answer, but Sarah ignored the terminator’s confusion and leaned in to press a tender kiss to her lips, tasting lip gloss and Cameron and a softness that remained with her even after she had pulled back. It had been short-lived, but at the same time more intense in its impulsive nature than most kisses Sarah could remember bestowing.
“Let’s go,” she whispered, her hand lingering on Cameron’s shoulder as she walked past the girl.
Cameron merely stood there, frozen, her eyes wide, bewildered and slightly unfocused.
"And I'd give up forever to touch you 'cause I know that you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be, and I don't want to go home right now
When all I can taste is this moment and all I can breathe is your life
When sooner or later it's over, I just don't want to miss you tonight
And I don't want the world to see me 'cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am."
~Goo Goo Dolls, "Iris"
Locking up the house and getting into the car with Cameron after the kiss had been strange, in the sense that nothing had changed, as if kissing was a normal, everyday occurrence between them. Sarah was surprised at how much she wished that were the case. She was surprised at how much she wished she had had the courage to go further. She wondered if the terminator would have allowed her to; if she would have responded, or just stood there in stunned silence. Not that Sarah blamed her for it; it had been kind of cute.
Sarah sighed deeply, fighting to prevent a smile from showing and trying to ban those thoughts from her head. She needed to focus on the mission. Besides, it was a moot point - she had not attempted to go any further, and it was no use wondering about what ifs. Maybe one day the opportunity would present itself again and Sarah would be ready to take the plunge then...hopefully, under more pleasant circumstances.
Cameron drove silently, her eyes staring straight ahead. They had found an abandoned looking house in a low profile neighborhood, and stocked it with whatever they thought would be useful, and if anything at all happened that wasn’t according to plan, at least the location of their home would remain unknown to both Cromartie and Ellison.
Sarah alternated between looking at her own hands in her lap and at the traffic outside. It was disturbing and oddly enough, comforting at the same time, she thought - the fact that the world kept going, oblivious to the war that was going on. People were driving to work, or driving their kids to school, and went about their lives in blissful ignorance. Part of her envied them; sometimes, when she was being particularly petty, she resented the very world she had been fighting to save. She accepted this as proof that she was still human, because sometimes it was easy for her to forget.
As the terminator killed the engine, Sarah snapped out of her daydream. She stepped out of the vehicle and felt her chest constrict; the house seemed to loom over them, and Sarah walked towards the front door as if towards execution. It wasn’t like her to be so defeatist, but the ill feeling just kept growing inside as the plan was set in motion. Cameron didn’t share her hesitation, and marched purposefully inside. All that was left for Sarah was to follow, and follow she did.
Agent Ellison had been informed of their address, and was probably going to be there soon. Sarah paced restlessly around the empty living room, the lack of furniture making her footfalls echo; the sound was deafening to her ears, but she was too keyed up to stop.
Cameron was currently in the kitchen, and Sarah could also hear the splashing of water on the floor. She didn’t want to think of how exactly they would be able to electrocute Cromartie without Cameron suffering the same effect. She hoped it wouldn’t come to that; that Cameron would be able to deal with Cromartie with the same ease she had dealt with Vick, or even the terminator who had impersonated Greenway, and that in just a few hours they would be heading back home with one last threat to worry about. She shook her head at her own thoughts, feeling more than a little ridiculous. Her life had never been easy, and she certainly didn’t expect it to turn into roses any time soon.
“I have connected a generator to the wiring of the house,” Cameron announced, walking into the living room with her boots dripping wet. “All we have to do is flip that switch and the water will conduct the electricity,” she finished, pointing so that Sarah would know which one to hit.
“And he’ll light up like a Christmas tree?” Sarah smiled, trying to alleviate the nervousness she felt clawing at her insides.
The terminator gave her a strange look, but didn’t comment. She knelt by the toolbox to put aside the utility knife and the pliers, and as if on cue, they heard the doorbell. Their eyes met, and Sarah didn’t move as Cameron stood up.
“I will get it,” the girl said quietly.
As soon as Cameron answered the door, she found Ellison standing there; however, before he even had a chance to speak, two shots were fired. Sarah watched the FBI agent fall into the terminator’s arms as if in slow motion, blood soaking through the back of his suit. Suddenly, Cromartie was in the room and had the upper hand on Cameron, who was helping Ellison to the floor. Sarah stood there, petrified, for several moments. She couldn’t get to Ellison, so she did the only thing she could think of: she unloaded her gun on the enemy terminator, then changed clips and fired again.
Cromartie put Cameron through a wall, and when Cameron didn’t come back, Sarah realized all their planning was suddenly beyond her grasp, and her mind was blank. Fear and anger warred inside her, and the only thing she could think of was that she could not allow Cromartie to use her against her son. However, terminators learned, and Cromartie was no exception. He seemed to know she was going to turn the gun on herself, as she had before, and easily stopped her. Sarah felt an acute pain on the back of her skull and dropped helplessly to the ground.
As she fought for awareness, she heard more fighting, and a weak smile tugged at her lips at the knowledge that Cameron was all right, or at least still there; still fighting; still with her. Sarah blinked in and out of consciousness, hoping against hope that Cameron had turned the tables and that it would all be over soon. She wanted to help; she wanted to pull herself together. However, the sound of more walls breaking and powerful blows landing seemed to be coming from everywhere and only served to disorient her. She tried to move, tried to feel around for her gun, but wasn’t sure she was getting anywhere, or actually moving at all. Then there was silence.
She didn’t know how much time had passed, but felt her blood run cold when she heard a calm, detached voice announce, “Let me make sure we won’t be followed.”
Forcing her eyes open seemed like a superhuman effort, but Sarah did it. Her sight was unfocused, and after a few moments of struggling, she watched in horror as Cromartie knelt by Cameron’s fallen form on the floor, the utility knife and pliers Cameron had left in handy about to be used against her. Sarah’s eyes burned with tears as she found brown ones gazing at her. At that moment, Cameron seemed to be looking right into her soul. The sound of the utility knife cutting through skin and hitting the endoskeleton beneath seemed to tick the seconds passing by, and Sarah wanted to scream. Cameron’s hand twitched towards her, a small, reassuring smile gracing her lips, and Sarah choked, realizing Cromartie was about to twist Cameron’s chip free. Suddenly, Cameron’s features relaxed, giving her an almost serene look, and just like that, she was gone, her chip unceremoniously dropped to the floor.
“No,” a pained sob erupted from Sarah’s throat. “Cameron...”
She wished she had taken the time to explain to Cameron how she felt, that she would have taken the time to know Cameron better. There were so many things about the girl she didn’t understand, so many things she had wanted to find out. And at the same time, she had wanted Cameron to know her. She had wanted to be figured out by the terminator.
Overwhelmed by regret at her epiphany, Sarah closed her eyes for what felt like a long time. Her vision blurred once again, exhaustion, grief and hopelessness adding to the pain she no longer had the strength or the desire to fight. As she gave in, the world went black.
"I will persuade you to believe me when I say
That everything you've hoped for is declined in every way
I am responsible for your fragile state of mind
And yet you refuse to see the only thing that's clear
Namely that there's nothing left for you to treasure here."
~Trail Of Tears, "Fragile Emotional Disorder"
Cromartie was a machine, and as such, he was beyond good and evil, right and wrong; he did as he had been programmed to do. However, as he glanced at Sarah Connor, lying unconscious on the bed of a nondescript house in the outskirts of Los Angeles, there was a hint of a satisfied smile on his face. He was one step closer to the fulfillment of his mission.
It had been relatively easy to impersonate an FBI agent once he had reacquired his human façade, and that had given him access to the FBI database. From there, it had been only a matter of doing a quick system research to find who the accountable agent was for the investigation on the Connors. Agent James Ellison had been in possession of Sarah Connor’s file, as well as evidentiary tapes, and Cromartie had been monitoring him since.
While terminators were not known for their subtlety, they were built with subterfuge in mind. In order to adequately infiltrate society as police officers, husbands, C.E.O.s or any other role required of them, they had to be convincingly deceitful, so they had been given the ability to learn anything that would aid in the accomplishment of their mission. Stalking an FBI agent as a means of achieving a long-term goal demanded a measure of discretion, and Cromartie had found tapping James Ellison’s apartment and tracking his vehicle to be an effective method of surveillance.
He hadn’t been close enough to the agent’s apartment to attempt kidnapping Sarah Connor there, at least not without missing the information she and the enemy terminator had been sharing with the agent. Cromartie had opted to stay put and listen to their plan, and it had worked to his advantage.
The terminator had taken a special interest to Sarah Connor’s explanation of how to and why eliminate any traces of his endoskeleton once it was over. Since his original programming by Skynet had remained intact, he had had no reason to know how to deactivate and destroy other terminators; it had been beyond his programming to understand that some of them had been claimed by the resistance. He hadn’t wasted time burning the enemy cyborg’s endoskeleton however, for the very same reason they had wanted to destroy his: it could alter the course of technological development and anticipate what they had referred to as Judgment Day.
Once the other terminator had called James Ellison with the remaining details of their plan, such as the address they would be waiting at, Cromartie immediately headed towards it, where he had waited for the optimum moment to take them by surprise. James Ellison had served his purpose, having led him to Sarah Connor, and had also served as diversion, giving him the upper hand against the enemy cyborg.
Victorious, he sat in the small room, waiting for the cell phone he had found in Sarah Connor’s pocket to ring so he could lure her son to his death after realizing the woman would endure any amount of pain without giving him the data he wanted. She was more convenient to him alive than dead because he could still use her as leverage, so he had given up trying to extract information when she had last passed out cold. All he had to do was sit and wait; after all, thirty-seven hours had already gone by since he had taken Sarah Connor hostage, and it was only a matter of time until John Connor attempted to contact his mother.
He noticed his captive stir and placed a bottle of water on the bedside table. Sarah Connor had remained untied since she wouldn’t be able to run on a broken leg, and the gag was unnecessary because she had done her best not to scream, unwilling to risk getting people killed by attracting them to the house. It wouldn’t really have mattered, as they were in an isolated location, but she didn’t know that.
“He will never come,” she said, her voice rough. “You will never find him.”
He regarded her impassively for a moment or two, then gave her the same calm answer he had given agent James Ellison before: “We’ll see.”
Just as if on cue, the phone rang. He reached for it, then pressed his hand to the panicked woman’s throat to prevent her from screaming. As Sarah Connor struggled, wanting to alert her son, he coolly tightened his grip, until she was too busy fighting for air to try anything else. She clawed at his hand, tears pooling in her eyes and streaming down her face.
“Hello?” he answered, a perfect simulation of his hostage’s voice. “John, where are you? Camping? When are you going to be back? Because I have a surprise for you. Great. I will see you tomorrow, then.”
He ended the call and released her throat, unaffected as she coughed hard and took in deep breaths.
- - - -
On the other side, Cameron put down her cell phone with a dangerous, determined look in her eyes. She stared at the computer screen, where Sarah’s cell phone gave away the location Cromartie was holding the mother of all destiny captive.
She had opened her eyes to find a deceased agent James Ellison lying by her, the trail of blood on the floor indicating that he had dragged himself to her in a last effort to help Sarah on her quest. Just as Cameron had come back online, the police sirens could be heard from afar, and the terminator had wasted no time getting out of there.
She had headed back home after a quick stop in a store, and after conducting a few repairs on herself, she had been stuck trying to figure out what to do. Finally, she had remembered John had used his cell phone as a localization device once, and had managed to track down the signal from Sarah’s phone. Then she had called, wanting to make sure Sarah hadn’t escaped. For that reason, she had deliberately disregarded the use of the Connors’ date code; not to mention the fact that if she had spoken the date, Cromartie would not have known how to answer properly and would likely attempt to torture the information out of Sarah.
With Cromartie’s location stored in her memory bank, she packed a small bag and made her way to the truck. This time, there was no planning, but she was confident she would take him by surprise.
"Cross my bridge of thoughts in order to explore
Confront the lost intentions in order to behold
The multitude of anguish that dwells inside of me
Just turn your head this way and hopefully you'll see."
~Trail Of Tears, "In Frustration's Web"
Once her tears had subsided, Sarah just lay there, staring at the ugly ceiling. She was a mess of emotions: fear for her son’s life; anger at herself for freezing instead of doing one of the many things she and Cameron had planned; guilt for Ellison’s needless death; grief at the loss of Cameron; worry that the terminator’s remains would fall in the wrong hands. She had failed, and her only hope was that Reese would keep her son safe and prevent him from doing anything rash.
She was also frustrated at how her thoughts inevitably seemed to drift to Cameron. She had definitely seen something in the girl’s brown eyes, something that hadn’t been there before. They had shared something deep just before Cameron had been deactivated, she was sure of it. Sarah felt her chest constrict as she remembered the girl’s attempt to comfort her with a smile, almost as if promising her things would be ok, even though they both knew it wasn’t true; it was such a human thing to do, and it was touching in its naiveté.
Sarah shook her head angrily – it was not the time to be thinking about such things. Her son was in danger, and so was she. If Cromartie succeeded on his mission, the whole world would pay for it. She had to think of something, and think fast. If John hadn’t picked up on Cromartie’s failure to use their code, or if he had and was going to attempt a rescue, she needed to be ready.
Looking around the bedroom, she didn’t find anything remotely useful or out of the ordinary. She was on a bed that had seen better days, and the nightstand and Cromartie’s desk and chair were the only other pieces of furniture there. There were no guns in sight. Looking out the window, Sarah realized they were on the ground level, but the metal bars would prevent her from escaping even if his attention were elsewhere. She hadn’t even been allowed to go to the bathroom on her own, and she doubted that would change anytime soon.
Keeping her gaze outside, she noticed the sun was setting. She didn’t know how much time had passed since her capture, but remembered the last sunset she had watched as if it had been yesterday. The colors were the same, the beauty was still there, but she understood belatedly that Cameron’s company had added to the sweetness of the moment. It had taken the presence of another terminator for her to fully comprehend what she missed. Irritably, she realized she was thinking about Cameron yet again, and tried to divert her thoughts by averting her eyes back to the ceiling.
She thought of her son and closed her eyes for several seconds, willing him to do as he had been taught for once and run. She hoped against hope that somehow everything would work out and that she would have the chance to mend their relationship, then smiled sadly at the foolishness of her thoughts. John had grown up, or at least was well on his way to becoming fully independent; he no longer needed her in the same capacity she was used to be needed by him, and that shift in their relationship was likely irrevocable. He was now closer to the man Cameron had known in the future - the leader of the resistance - than the boy Sarah had always known, her son. And it was only a matter of time until her role in his life was no longer that of a caring mother, but of the best fighter he had under his command. It hurt her deeply to think of it, but she knew she would have to adapt. It was what was best for him, as well as for the people he would eventually have to lead.
She inhaled deeply, then with effort, pushed herself up to a sitting position, casting Cromartie an almost petulant look. He ignored her. She wiped the sweat off her brow, feeling her leg throb angrily, then tried to readjust it on the bed in a way that was at least not quite as uncomfortable. She wasn’t successful, however, and scowled at the aloof terminator.
“So how long have I been here?” she asked.
He continued to ignore her.
“Will you at least tell me what day it is?” she insisted.
“November 22nd,” he replied flatly.
She reached for the bottle of water beside her. “Being here with you is the cherry on top of the beautiful cake that has been my Thanksgiving,” she said sarcastically. She took a long drink, and when he didn’t reply, she went on, “I mean, not only my son goes camping without telling me, taking the waste of skin he calls his uncle along with him while leaving his own mother behind, but Cameron comes to me with one of her genius plans, and instead of staying home to sulk, no, I had to go and listen to her. Then it all falls apart on our heads, and voila, Ellison’s dead and so is Cameron, while I am going to serve as bait before I’m killed, and until then, I have a broken leg to endure.”
This time, Cromartie stopped whatever he had been doing on his laptop and stared at her, his expression a mix of bafflement and inquiry.
Sarah had no idea why she was trying to get a response out of him, but venting distracted her from the pain in her leg and the bleak thoughts in her head, so she kept pushing. “So how about some turkey, huh? I am so grateful for this whole thing we just have to celebrate! Come on, don’t you have a kitchen in this place? I could even make pancakes. You can give thanks to Skynet for picking you out of a gazillion mass produced terminators to spend time in the world while it’s still pretty, and I can give thanks for everything else I already mentioned.”
“What, you can’t talk to me? You’re going to kill me anyway, the least you can do is not let it be out of boredom,” she shrugged. “It doesn’t look like you have anything better to do, and clearly neither do I, so...”
She stopped when he abruptly stood up and cocked a gun he had seemingly pulled out of thin air.
"Could you not be sad? Could you not break down?
After all, I won't let go till you're safe and sound."
~Sheryl Crow, "Safe And Sound"
Cameron parked the truck a little ways from the house so that Cromartie wouldn’t hear her approach. She waited patiently for the sun to set, watching it and finding that, without Sarah’s presence, it hadn’t been nearly as interesting. Then, she walked silently towards the house, and when she was close enough, she analyzed its interior. She could hear Sarah talking and it was a great opportunity for her to pick the lock just like she had watched Sarah do in Ellison’s apartment. She knew where they were positioned in the house. All she had to do was lure Cromartie away from Sarah.
He wouldn’t be expecting a terminator, so would likely be scanning the surroundings for heat; knowing that, she had cooled her skin temperature and successfully concealed herself. She threw a rock across the bedroom door and waited for him to come out. When he did, immediately pointing his gun in the direction of the sound, she effortlessly shot him with the taser gun she had purchased and tweaked. The high voltage disoriented him, and as he dropped his gun she had the advantage she needed for their final confrontation.
Cameron pushed Cromartie through a wall, walked over to where he had landed and, with her hands firmly holding him by his shirt, banged his head repeatedly against the tiled floor, seeking to further disrupt his programming. In an erratic attempt to dislodge her, he punched her hard across the face and she stumbled backwards, shaking her head and blinking, her eyes unfocused. Her hesitation gave him enough time to stand, and then her eyes once again zeroed in on him. She stared at the other terminator, seemingly attempting to discern whether he posed a threat or not.
Cromartie charged at her, and Cameron’s eyes were suddenly cold with purpose. They grabbed each other and he overpowered the smaller terminator, making her walk backwards until he slammed her against the wall once, then twice, then through it, but Cameron still hadn’t let go. She let herself fall backwards, taking him with her, then used her legs to throw him off. He fell heavily onto his back, and she was suddenly straddling him, his arms pinned between his torso and her thighs, and she brutally delivered a series of blows to his head.
Once he was too unstable to fend her off, his features twitching as he regarded her with confusion, she quickly stood and stomped hard on his neck, the metal beneath his skin crunching under her heel. She evaluated him coolly, then knelt by his fallen form and calmly pulled his head off with a powerful jerk, the damaged metal in his neck giving easily under her strength. Satisfied as his body stilled, she reached into her pocket to pull out the utility knife and pliers he had used on her. Once his core had been safely removed, she stood to analyze her situation.
- - - -
Sarah hadn’t dared believe that it was Cameron who had walked past the bedroom door. She thought she was seeing things, especially after spending however long thinking about the terminator. Her heart started racing in her chest when she heard the sounds of heavy things being thrown around, crashing through walls and breaking glass. Once things quieted down, she hauled herself out of bed, doing her best not to scream in agony, and headed out towards where she thought the exit would be. She stopped breathing without meaning to when she heard first eerie silence and then footfalls approach, and could hardly believe her eyes when Cameron indeed walked into the room she was currently occupying. Sarah was frozen to the spot and stared wide-eyed at the girl, stunned and speechless, before her legs gave under her and she slid against the wall onto the dusty floor.
Cameron walked up to her, a blank look on her face, and as she towered over Sarah’s sitting form, she noticed the hint of fear edge into the otherwise astonished look etched on the human’s features. After a few moments of staring quietly at the fallen woman, her gaze softened. “I’m ok,” she finally said, holding Cromartie’s chip in the palm of her delicate hand and offering it to Sarah before adding, “Here, take this. It could be useful.”
Sarah glanced down at the chip, then back up into brown eyes, and felt a wave of warmth, relief and comfort wash over her. She reached out, but instead of taking the chip, she took hold of Cameron’s wrist and urged the terminator to crouch down to her level. Cameron docilely complied, and Sarah pulled her into a tight embrace. After a few seconds, she felt Cameron tentatively return the affection, the girl’s hands awkwardly resting on Sarah’s back. Sarah was too happy to care about the ineptitude of it, finding the attempt rather endearing.
“How...?” she finally murmured into the soft skin of Cameron’s neck, her voice hoarse with emotion.
“James Ellison,” Cameron replied quietly, attempting to pull back and face Sarah only to have Sarah’s arms tighten even more around her. She patiently settled back into the mother of all destiny, then elaborated, “He did not survive.”
Sarah was saddened by the news, and while she was not a woman of faith, she found herself saying a silent prayer for his soul. She would make sure his passing was mourned and his sacrifice remembered.
“You are injured,” the terminator stated, breaking the silence after a couple of minutes. This time, when she attempted to gently extricate herself from the hug, Sarah allowed her to.
“Just a broken leg,” Sarah smiled, dismissing it. “Not the worst that could have happened, all things considered.”
“I can fix it for you,” Cameron offered, her eyebrows slightly furrowed in a tiny frown. “But it is going to hurt.”
Sarah considered it very carefully, then finally nodded her permission, bracing herself for yet more pain.
A few seconds and a string of expletives later, her leg was fixed, and Cameron was calmly splinting Sarah’s injured limb with a leg obtained from Cromartie’s chair and ripped sheets from the bed. Sarah supervised the work, drenched in sweat from pain and the anticipation of it, her breathing just then returning to normal.
“Your leg will require a cast, but for now the splint will do,” the terminator decided, staring critically at her own work. “I parked away from here so that I wouldn’t be heard. I will go retrieve the truck now.”
“No, no, no, no, no,” Sarah replied quickly, her refusal giving Cameron pause. “I’m not staying here with that thing out there. I will jump all the way on one foot if I must.”
Cameron seemed to sigh, but wordlessly wrapped her arms around Sarah and picked her up with surprising gentleness, taking a moment to balance out the extra weight before she made her way back to the truck with the injured woman in her arms.
A few arrangements later, Sarah was comfortably sitting in the truck with her leg up on the console while Cameron went back to the house to dispose of Cromartie’s endoskeleton with the thermite she had packed. It wasn’t long before they were sitting in the truck watching the whole house burn.
Sarah glanced at Cameron for a moment, then turned her attention back to the flames. “We should go,” she said almost regretfully, knowing someone was bound to see the fire or the smoke and alert the firemen.
“We should,” the terminator acquiesced. “Do you want me to take you to a hospital?”
“No,” Sarah shook her head. “I will call Charley when we get home.”
Cameron pursed her lips at the mention of the name, but said nothing. With one last look at the house, she started the engine and drove off, leaving a cloud of dust in their wake.
Sarah watched the girl, a mix of puzzlement and curiosity on her face as she pried, “Do you not like Charley?”
“I freak him the hell out,” the terminator repeated his words almost peevishly. “I’m a very scary robot.”
Sarah bit her lip to prevent from laughing in amusement. “Well, it’s a bit of a shocker when you first realize everything you thought you knew was a lie,” she explained, unable to suppress a smirk.
“He will never think differently. You’re still scared of me,” Cameron countered quietly.
“Sometimes,” Sarah admitted with a short nod. She reached out to rest her hand on Cameron’s arm, causing the terminator to first look down at her hand, then up into her green eyes, and be rewarded with a smile. “But that happens less and less. Mostly, I just really enjoy your company.”
The terminator didn’t comment further, but there was a hint of a pleased, almost smug smile on her face as she drove the rest of the way.
"Look at the sun of this incredibly gray morning
The storm that approaches is the color of your brown eyes
So hold me tight and tell me once again that we're already distant from everything
We have our own time, we have our own time."
~Legião Urbana, "Tempo Perdido" (translated)
Sarah woke up in her own bed, warm and clean, and smiled happily until she stretched out and remembered she had a broken leg. She gave an aggravated look to the cast that encased her left shin and foot, then decided that at least it was only from the knee down.
Charley had come over the night before, interrupting his Thanksgiving feast to tend to her injury. She hadn’t wanted to interrupt his holiday, and had told Cameron she could wait until morning, but the terminator wouldn’t have it; when she refused to call him even under threats of being dragged to a hospital, Cameron had picked up the phone and called him herself.
“This is Cameron.” There had been a pause during what Sarah thought was Charley’s trying to place the name. “The very scary robot.”
It had been tense, not because of ruined dinner arrangements, but rather the fact that while Cameron had remained out of the way, she had also remained in the room, her watchful eyes following his every move. It had amused Sarah, who only felt slightly guilty for allowing the terminator to unnerve Charley. He had worked with haste and left even faster after giving her some painkillers.
She had then convinced Cameron that she desperately needed a shower. The terminator had enveloped her leg in Saran wrap and just as an extra precaution added a plastic bag over it. Sarah was mildly disappointed that Cameron had placed a chair in the shower area for her and the shampoo and conditioner bottles on the floor, in her reach, before leaving her to her privacy. She knew Cameron would be waiting outside and would be instantly there if needed, but had secretly hoped to share the shower. She finally wrestled with her dissatisfaction and resigned herself to showering alone, mumbling about the lack of TLC in the residence.
Sarah looked out the window as the drizzle that had been falling turned into actual rain. It was almost ten in the morning, and she was glad she had got to sleep in for once, even if it had happened largely due to the painkillers she had taken the night before. She stretched out her arms and yawned lazily before sitting up. She finally noticed the brand new pair of crutches by the side of the bed, and her heart fluttered at the terminator’s thoughtfulness.
After using the bathroom and making herself more presentable, she decided to keep on the PJs Cameron had dressed her in the night before and made her way to the kitchen, ignoring the pain in her leg as she moved along with the aid of the crutches.
“You should refrain from moving around too much for at least a few days,” the soft voice held a tinge of reprehension as Sarah entered the kitchen.
“Well, good morning to you too,” Sarah replied, then arched her eyebrows as if in challenge.
The terminator ignored the jab and chivalrously pulled a chair for the woman to sit down. “Good morning. What would you like for brunch?”
“Brunch?” Sarah echoed with a smirk. She was pleasantly surprised when the girl pulled another chair and crouched to carefully lift her injured leg up to rest onto it.
“A meal typically had when it is too late for breakfast and too soon for lunch,” Cameron explained, taking the crutches from Sarah so that they wouldn’t be in the way.
“What do we have? I was supposed to go to the store a couple of days ago.” Sarah sighed at the thought. She hated going to the store.
“We have everything,” the terminator said with a knowing smile. “I went this morning.”
If Sarah were able to stand then, she would have kissed Cameron silly. But she couldn’t stand up without being in pain, and Cameron was out of reach and currently opening the fridge for her appraisal. At the sight of food, her stomach seemed to come alive and she momentarily forgot about her attraction in favor of her hunger. “Scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, and for the love of God, coffee.”
“Ok.” Cameron went about preparing the meal with diligence after setting the coffee maker.
Sarah watched her with nothing short of wonder, the domestic scene making her almost giddily happy. When her coffee was ready, Cameron poured her a cup, which she eagerly took. “Listen,” she said after inhaling deeply, the familiar smell soothing her senses, “Thanks. I mean, not just for the coffee, for...everything.”
The terminator first stared at Sarah in a mix of surprise and uncertainty, and after a beat, a small smile graced her lips. “You’re welcome,” she replied softly, then turned around to resume her task.
Sarah focused on her coffee for a while, and before she knew it, Cameron was serving her the most appetizing meal she had ever seen outside of a restaurant. Besides, she was starving, and that probably made the food look and smell even better...not to mention the fact that it had been prepared by Cameron. Sarah snickered at her own thoughts, thanked the solicitous terminator profusely, and dug right in, savoring every bite. When the girl just stood there, watching her, Sarah reached out with her good foot and pushed a chair for her to sit.
“This is delicious,” she complimented enthusiastically. “Would you like some?”
Cameron shook her head. “No, thank you.”
“I need to break my leg more often if this is how I’m getting treated,” Sarah remarked in between bites.
Cameron thought Sarah’s judgment had been severely compromised, somehow, but decided not to contradict her.
Catching the disturbed look on the terminator’s face, Sarah laughed. “Cameron, it’s a joke.”
“Oh,” the girl replied, and Sarah was amused at the relief she saw on the delicate features.
Sarah ate in record time, then watched Cameron clean up with a sated smile on her face. Now that her stomach was full, however, she had nothing to distract her from the terminator’s slight form, how gracefully Cameron moved, how much she wanted to kiss those inviting lips again. The pouring rain outside didn’t help matters, Sarah thought with a sigh, wondering if she could lure the terminator into cuddling with her on the couch and make it look casual. She snorted at herself, then realized Cameron was staring at her with a speculative look on her face.
“Silly thoughts in my head,” Sarah explained with a wry smile. “I’m still feeling a bit off.”
She started getting up, and Cameron was immediately beside her. She smiled at the helpful terminator, accepted the crutches handed to her with a nod of appreciation, and made her way back to her bedroom.
- - - -
She watched the raindrops fall against the windowpane and trickle down in different patterns. The sky was a dark gray, but Sarah thought it was beautiful. She held her pillow tightly to herself and closed her eyes, unaware that Cameron was currently watching her from the door she had left open, head tilted to the side in an unselfconscious display of curiosity.
“Is everything all right?” Cameron asked softly, still standing on the doorway.
Sarah looked up and smiled. “Everything is fine. Come in.”
Cameron seemed to consider it for a few seconds, then walked in, coming to a stop by the bed. The mother of all destiny patted the spot beside her, and the terminator sat down in a fluid movement. Sarah pushed her pillow aside and leveraged herself to a sitting position, ending up right in Cameron’s personal space. Leaning onto her left hand, she brought her right one to brush back Cameron’s silky long hair, revealing more of the girl’s face. Then, her hand curled on the back of the terminator’s neck and pulled closer.
Cameron offered no resistance, her brown eyes fixed on Sarah’s green, trusting and innocent. Sarah closed her eyes and Cameron mimicked the action right as their lips came into contact. Sarah explored the soft lips with gentle kisses and, several seconds into it, was taken off guard by a surge of emotion when Cameron finally tilted her head and began responding ever so timidly. Sarah’s eyes flew open in surprise, and she found Cameron looking at her as if expecting an adverse reaction. Sarah smiled warmly against her lips, pulling her closer and resuming their kiss, this time a little more insistently. She thought she would melt when she felt fingertips lightly caressing the length of her neck and shoulder, and encouraged by Cameron’s responses, she deepened the kiss and began a more detailed exploration of the terminator’s mouth. Cameron moaned her appreciation and soon was matching the strokes of Sarah’s tongue with her own.
She protested softly when Sarah pulled away. Chuckling at the obvious unhappiness etched in the terminator’s usually serene countenance, Sarah teased, “Some of us need to breathe, girlie.” With a contented sigh, she rested her forehead against Cameron’s and finally mustered the courage to ask, “Will you stick around?” Then, knowing how literally the girl always took everything, she decided to be more specific and clarified, “I mean, would you stay in bed with me?” At Cameron’s hesitation, she raised her right hand as if swearing an oath and joked, trying to alleviate the nervousness she felt, “I promise I’ll behave and refrain from jumping you. It’s been so long I’d need instructions anyway.”
Cameron seemed confused for a moment, not understanding how Sarah could jump at all with a broken leg, but smiled at her and replied, “Yes. I will stay here with you.”
The terminator took off her boots and crawled under the sheets with Sarah, who seemed perfectly happy just lying in her arms, bestowing the occasional kiss on her lips and everywhere else on her face, all the while playing with her hair. It wasn’t long before Sarah relaxed enough and drifted into a peaceful slumber, lulled by the sound of the rain and the scent of Cameron’s skin.
“I didn’t mean to alarm you, subtlety is my weakness
Give me a minute to charm you - you’ll know what I mean
Maybe I didn’t mention, you won’t regret my attention
I’ve got tricks you’ve never seen.”
~Saving Jane, “Sleep On It”
They had had a peaceful Friday, and Saturday was looking good. The rain hadn’t gone anywhere, and Sarah had, for the most part, remained in bed. Cameron had tended to her every need, quite often anticipating them, and while the fighter in Sarah was a bit on edge for being coddled, the woman in her was happily indulging in the terminator’s pampering. Sarah rarely had the opportunity to indulge in anything, so she brushed her tough self-image aside and allowed herself to enjoy the attention.
They hadn’t gone much further than kissing. Cameron’s affection level was growing slowly, and she had initiated contact twice; once a light kiss right as Sarah was drifting off to sleep, and then, resting her head on Sarah’s shoulder when they were watching TV, which Cameron had carried into the room so that Sarah could watch it in comfort. Sarah was ecstatic at the change in the terminator’s demeanor, however small, but she was also getting frustrated - she wanted, needed, craved more. Sarah knew that, if they were ever going to make it to the next stage, she would have to be the one taking the lead; she also knew that the chances of that happening after John and Derek came back on the following day would be considerably reduced. She didn’t want to scare Cameron; objectively, she knew that she was impatient because she had been thinking about it for what felt like forever, but it would be different for the terminator, who would probably be shocked by what, to her, would be a sudden shift.
After almost having lost everything, Sarah finally knew what she wanted, and had decided then that life was much too short to pass up on the few opportunities that came along. She could do this, she could be with a terminator, because she saw so much more in Cameron than the girl being just a killing machine; she wouldn’t be putting Cameron in danger by letting her in; there was also the fact that Cameron knew her priorities better than anyone else, and Sarah didn’t have to worry about a bit of companionship getting in the way of the war they had to fight. She had plenty of reasons, and she was tired of thinking of ways to validate what she felt. She shouldn’t have to, and shook her head to snap out of her thoughts, her attention now on the object of her affections.
Sarah glanced at the younger brunette sitting beside her, completely engrossed by some movie or another on TV. When Cameron suddenly looked down at her lap, Sarah’s eyes followed the same path to see what had startled the terminator, only to find her own hand stroking the smooth skin of Cameron’s thigh as if it had a mind of its own. She whipped her hand back, mentally chastising herself, and was painfully aware of brown eyes studying her.
There were many questions in that one word, and Sarah didn’t think she would be able to answer any of them. How could she explain her feelings, and worse, her needs to Cameron? Would Cameron empathize? She knew the terminator felt things in her own way, but she didn’t know to what extent. What if Cameron had been responding because of some misguided logic that it had been the appropriate course of action? Sarah was overwhelmed by doubt, and didn’t know what to say.
“I have feelings for you.” Apparently, someone else had taken over and knew exactly what to say. Sarah resisted the urge to cover her mouth with her hand at the words she had just blurted, and could feel the heat creeping up her neck and then face.
Cameron smiled, but Sarah was too mortified to look at her. The terminator regarded the beet-red woman for a moment, then replied without a single trace of arrogance, “I noticed.”
Sarah ducked her head for a moment, then said with a self-deprecating smirk, “I guess it was kind of obvious, even before all the...kissing.”
“You haven’t been obvious,” Cameron gently assured her. “I have been paying attention. There is a difference.”
A small smile appeared on Sarah’s lips. When she finally faced Cameron, the terminator leaned in and kissed her. Sarah was more than happy to accommodate her, hooking her arm around Cameron’s neck to bring her closer and deepen the kiss. Since they were sitting side by side and Sarah’s leg was still very tender, they were in a very awkward position, and eventually Sarah pulled away with a frustrated sigh.
“What’s wrong? Are you in pain?” the terminator asked with a frown.
“I hate this cast,” the woman said bitterly. “I want to get closer, and I can’t.” She glanced at the younger brunette, and remarked wryly after a roll of the eyes, “That is the cockiest smile I have ever seen.”
Cameron was grinning from ear to ear, openly pleased at Sarah’s admission. She turned off the TV and carelessly tossed the remote aside before returning her attention to the older woman. In a graceful motion, she straddled Sarah’s legs and carefully lowered herself into her lap, allowing their bodies to touch without really resting any weight upon her.
“Oh, God,” Sarah inhaled sharply at their proximity, her hands already on Cameron’s hips.
“Is this close enough?” the terminator asked with a smirk, her fingers playing with the unruly strands of Sarah’s hair.
“Not nearly, but it’s a good start,” the woman grinned, bringing one of her hands up to the back of Cameron’s head and tilting her head down for a kiss.
Sarah’s body was humming in anticipation, and it showed in the kiss, which grew in intensity and heat. Sarah’s hand moved from Cameron’s hip to her waist, stroking the skin under the top the terminator was wearing. Cameron realized they were doing something different, more intimate. She didn’t feel the comfortable warmth she had felt with the previous kisses; she felt like she was overheating, but instead of pulling away, she wanted more.
An utterly sexy moan escaped the terminator’s lips when Sarah trailed kisses along her jaw and down her throat, and it had taken Sarah every ounce of self-control to keep from ripping the girl’s clothes right there. Cameron tilted her head to the side, exposing more of her neck to her companion, lost in the many new sensations she felt coursing her body.
“Don’t stop,” Cameron murmured, her breath hot against Sarah’s ear, “Please.” She was clinging to Sarah’s figure as if she were afraid Sarah would suddenly pull away.
Sarah smiled against the soft skin and kissed her way back to the terminator’s lips, one of her hands stroking the expanse of skin of Cameron’s back under her top while the other was buried in the long hair. “I don’t think I could if I tried,” she replied in between kisses.
It was Cameron who grew impatient and pulled off her own top, but she left Sarah no time to be amused. She was a terminator on a mission, and although she only had a general idea of what that mission entailed, she knew she would stop at nothing to accomplish it. Sarah was openly giving her something she had never been given before, and all Cameron knew is that she wanted it more than she had ever wanted anything else.