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Title: The future's not set.
Fandom: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Spoilers: Reference to 2x10: Strange things happen at the one-two point
Disclaimer: FOX owns the characters.
Summary: "... I think we need to define some parameters about us."
Prompt: In her dreams on Christmas Eve, Sarah is visited by three different terminator’s, only she’s not given a glimpse of her own past, present, and future – she’s shown Cameron’s instead.
AN1: For Ann, darandkerry, "This year has proven to be a bumpy ride for you. I figured you could use a present."
AN2: A very special thank you to ariestess for the beta and her enthousiasm to help me with my Christmas surprise.
AN3: This is my first TSCC story, so I'm feeling a bit nervous, but I'm taking the plunge anyway.
“I’m not -- staring at you, “ Sarah said pensively.
An intense pair of green eyes stared at the back of the Terminator, unable to read a single sign because of its rigidness.
Slowly the machine pushed herself from her bed, and straightened its cover before turning around in order to face the older woman. A sad smile curled her lips as she once again was reminded that this bed was only in her room to keep up appearances.
“Yes, you are,” Cameron replied absentmindedly.
It was her bed nonetheless and it gave her sense of home despite the fact she never slept in it. However, this was something she could never explain, because of its implications. The girl knew what it meant, but the Connors were not ready to understand, let alone accept, the possibility that she felt emotions.
“I am not, Girlie.“ Sarah responded in a light tone of voice. “And since when do you have eyes in the back of your head?"
Cameron’s eyes met Sarah’s.
“I have not, because if I would, that would make me an anomaly.”
The cyborg’s last retort hit Sarah like a slap in her face and subconsciously she stroked her cheek with her fingers.
This was not how things were supposed to be. Sarah’s goal had been a complete different one when she’d first entered Cameron’s room. Her intention had been to persuade Cameron to join the Connors’ minimalist celebration of Christmas Eve with a single candle and a glass of wine.
The awkward silence between them seemed to last for an eternity as they kept their eyes transfixed on one each other.
Finally Sarah broke their gaze in total shock, and said in a ragged whisper, “That was meant as a joke. I didn’t mean…”
Cameron interrupted her as she made her way out of her room. “I understand the concept of humor. It may not be apparent, but I am often amused by human behavior.”
The older woman refused to be diverted by the girl’s monotone statement, because she had seen the one thing she’d never expected to see on the face of a Terminator; Sarah witnessed hurt on Cameron’s face.
It was what Sarah believed to be the girl‘s pain that made her stop Cameron from walking away. While she grabbed Cameron’s right hand, she stumbled, “I’m sorry, believe me I didn’t mean to hurt….”
Sarah failed to continue when the Terminator freed her hand with a surprisingly gentleness. Cameron laid her hand on Sarah’s shoulder and gave it a little squeeze. “Your vocal modulations deviated by 0.27 deciHerz, be assured your apology is accepted.”
With that final remark a perplexed Sarah was left alone.
“Mom, what are you doing in Cameron’s room?”
Sarah barely registered John’s voice and she had to make a serious effort to snap out of her dissociative state of mind.
When she finally freed her psyche, she turned to her son and said in an anxious tone, “John, listen to me. Something is wrong --terribly wrong with Cameron.”
John observed his mother carefully and he was not quite capable to keep his anxiety levels down when he asked, “What do you mean, has she gone bad again?”
His mother shook her head in frustration. “No, no, that is not what I meant.”
A sigh of relieve escaped the boy as he encouraged his mother to keep on talking. “Well, what do you mean when you say something is wrong with her?”
“John, she acts and speaks like a robot.”
For a few moments John was completely speechless and he looked at his mother in complete disbelief. He tried not to laugh, but couldn’t help himself as he cried out, “I’m sorry to break the news to you, but she is a robot, Mom. A very scary robot, every now and then.”
Sarah failed to see the humor of the situation. She pushed her son aside, determined to find out what was wrong with Cameron.
John stopped his mother in her tracks.
“School turned her down for the annual Christmas play.”
John had been as shocked as his mother right now, when he’d heard the news. Not for the reason that the drama teacher had turned Cameron down for the part, but for the fact she’d applied for a role in the first place.
“When did this happen and how come you haven’t mentioned this before?” Sarah inquired while her brain worked overtime trying to fit in the pieces of the girl’s odd behavior for the last two weeks.
“Hey, I didn’t realize this would be such an issue to you. Besides Cameron didn’t tell me this herself, Riley did as a matter of fact,” John replied defensively.
The mention of Riley’s name distracted Sarah for a second, but there was a more urgent situation at hand and she decided she would deal with this girlfriend-stuff some other time.
Her son’s news came down to her like some sort of ‘aha-experience’ and she exclaimed mysteriously, “I knew I was right.” And in her second attempt, Sarah rushed out of the room with her son right behind her.
“Mom, please, stop. Why is this so important to you?” John called from behind his mother and with an extra stretch he took hold of her shoulder, forcing her to slow down.
Sarah came to a stop, realizing she’d asked herself the same question over and over again for the lost couple of days.
She turned around and faced her son in silence.
“Why, Mom? Why worry? She’s doing her job, she tracks down possible leads to Skynet, she still protects me -- protects us.” John’s voice trailed off when he saw the tormented expression on his mother’s face.
Sarah shook her head. Running was all she had known for the last sixteen years, from others, herself, until she couldn’t feel anything, simply to protect her son, so he could save mankind. Why wasn’t it working now, why was she this upset by Cameron’s behavior? She didn’t have the answers to all these whys.
“I’m not sure, John.”
He watched his mother walk away with her head bent and her shoulders slumped.
Now he was worried.
Sarah found the Terminator out in the garden, standing barefoot in the snow. She didn’t want to startle the girl and, acknowledging the irony of the gesture, she nevertheless cleared her throat as she made her way over to Cameron.
“I heard about the school play.”
Distractedly Cameron tried to mold a snowball, but didn’t succeed for her hands radiated too much heat.
“My drama teacher said I lacked emotion.”
Sarah remained silent, embracing herself to keep warm and waiting for Cameron to tell the rest of the story.
However, Cameron remained quiet, and after a few minutes Sarah softly spoke, “I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get the part.”
"Don’t be. My programmers didn't clutter me up with pithy human trivia. They programmed me with far more important data."
Sarah not only heard the girl’s loneliness, she psychically experienced this feeling and this took her by complete surprise. She felt an urge to take the girl into the protectiveness of her arms, but at the same time she understood the impossibility of that situation, and therefore she kept her distance.
The Terminator turned around and captured Sarah’s attention with her wide brown eyes. She dropped the rest of the snow, wiped her hands dry on her jeans and took a step toward the older woman.
Sarah regarded the girl expectantly when she entered her personal space.
Cameron studied the brunette’s green eyes assiduously.
Without realizing it, Sarah was holding her breath.
The Terminator registered all of Sarah’s bio-signs and stored them in her databank for future analysis.
Sarah’s surroundings started to fade as she only had eyes for this enigma standing in front of her.
Now it was the cyborg’s turn to clear her throat.
It was the first time Sarah heard her name spoken out loud by Cameron and she felt a tug at her heartstrings.
“You do realize that your appeal to my humanity is pointless.”
Tears gathered her eyes as Sarah rushed off to the house.
Cameron watched Sarah leave, while she repeated the same words silently like she had done one thousand and twenty-one times during the past thirteen days; ‘Sometimes is better to tell a lie, for the truth might be too hard to handle.’
John had watched the interaction between his mother and Cameron, but he couldn’t grasp what transpired between the two of them. When his mother rushed by him, barely acknowledging his presence, he felt completely frustrated and decided to take matters into his own hands.
Just as Cameron entered the house, he snapped, “Something on your mind?”
Cameron observed the future leader of mankind without expression, while her CPU almost crashed from not knowing how to handle this complex emotional situation. Endless combinations of data from her memory-banks just didn’t suffice to tell him about these emotions she’d been experiencing for the last couple of weeks.
However, John’s stern look somehow forced her to answer. “Yes, but you're not going to like it.”
“That’s never stopped you before.”
Since she couldn’t determine what John’s reaction would be once she told him about her emotions and that they all concerned his mother, Cameron decided to completely ignore his final remark and made her way to Sarah’s bedroom.
When he saw the direction the Terminator was going, he said in an angry voice, “Hey, what the hell do you think you’re doing.”
Without turning around Cameron whispered, “Something I should’ve done much sooner.”
Barely acknowledging his presence, Sarah rushed by her son towards her bedroom and she slammed the door with a tremendous bang. As she threw herself on her bed, frustration and anger collided in her body, draining her emotionally.
Sarah closed her eyes for a few seconds, and when she opened them again she sensed a presence in her room. In one fluent movement she grabbed her gun from under her pillow and jumped of her bed.
“Nice night for a walk, Sarah Connor.”
In complete bewilderment Sarah stumbled backwards, attempting to flee her room. When she crashed against a wall, it was only then that she noticed the door of her bedroom was gone.
“Come with me if you want to live -- um, understand,“ the voice ordered from the far corner of the room.
Sarah recognized the voice. “Impossible. Uncle Bob?”
“’Impossible’ is a word that humans use far too often,” the T-800 commented, while it stepped into plain sight. “I said I’d be back.”
The T-800 didn’t waste another second and it simply took Sarah by her arm and forced her to step through her bedroom window. “I’m here to take you to John Henry. Follow me, Sarah Connor.”
Sarah lost her balance and when she got back to her feet, she stood in front of a huge video-wall filled with binaries, flashing at randomly.
“What’s this and who is John Henry,” Sarah asked curiously, while her initial anxiety slowly subsided.
The T-800 stood behind a panel and after it had pushed several buttons, images appeared on the big screen.
Images of Cameron.
Sarah’s eyes grew big when an image of a much younger version of Cameron filled the complete video-wall. A woman was standing behind her, holding her arms protectively around the girl’s waist. Sarah studied both faces; they were smiling, they looked so happy.
Her vision started to blur, when Sarah slowly started to realize what was shown to her on this picture; they looked so familiar.
While she blinked her tears away, the image was gone and the screen was again filled with flashing zeros and ones.
“I like your gun.” A seductive voice whispered into Sarah’s ear as it slowly toyed with the gun’s handle, firmly tucked at the back of Sarah’s waistband.
A voice from a loudspeaker filled the room. “Meet Hastings, Terminator model T-X. Infiltration model with few words, but all the more body language.”
The machine wrapped its arm around Sarah’s shoulder, but she was too absorbed by next the series of pictures to even register this inappropriate gesture.
Cameron stared at her. Pain, anger, fear, sadness splashed across her face as she kept relaying the same message over and over again, translated in zeros and ones.
“What is she saying,” Sarah cried out loud, and as she finally became aware of the T-X, the brunette stepped sideways to shake off its arm from her shoulder.
The T-X took a single step to narrow the distance between them. “Her mission has come to an end. She saved your son; she saved the future of mankind.”
Sarah looked away from the screen and regarded the T-X in complete disgust for she knew what coming next.
The cyborg monotonously continued. “She cannot self-terminate.”
“No.” Sarah’s cry filled the entire space, resonating so loudly she had to cover her own ears with both her hands.
“No, there must be another way,“ Sarah whimpered. “Bring me to this John Henry.”
Pictures kept coming. Sarah could barely keep up with the speed the images were projected. Cameron smiling. Gone, next . Her own face appeared, she was shot. Gone. Next . Cameron was carrying her. Gone. Next. Cameron’s expression while holding her in her arms. Gone. Next. Cameron’s face in close-up. Gone. Next. Concern. Gone. Next. Affection. Gone…
“I am here, Sarah. I am John Henry.”
Sarah spun around.
She almost collapsed from the sight of her adversary.
“You understand reality…,” Cromartie started to say.
Sarah tore herself away.
“… but you choose to ignore it.” A voice continued, slowly morphing into Cameron’s.
Sarah tried to muffle a cry, but as she opened her eyes she stared into a pair of beautiful brown eyes.
Cameron reached for Sarah’s hands. For an instant Sarah hesitated, but as their hands were joined, she relaxed, while Cameron softly rubbed the knuckles of the older woman’s fingers.
This dream, this journey or whatever just happened was beyond her comprehension, but Sarah let her thoughts flow and for the first time since she’d met Cameron, she actually looked at her.
This girl, this woman had learned to understand so much about human emotions, that she’d even tried to push her away with her unapproachable behavior, in order for Sarah to come to terms with the way their relationship was evolving.
"Cameron, we have to talk about this... I think we need to define some parameters about us."
“Don’t fight this, Sarah.”
Sarah looked away. She had tried her best to fight it, because she was too afraid to surrender, too afraid for the unknown.
Cameron caressed the side of her face.
“Look at me.”
Sarah slowly looked up until their eyes met.
The look in Cameron’s brown eyes showed her everything--no apologies, no requests for forgiveness, just the truth.
In this flash of clarity, Sarah realized that since John was born, she’d merely existed, but now she felt alive. Even if only for today, even if just for this minute. She existed in the moment, with no past and no future. Like she could pretend the rest wasn’t there, that nothing else mattered, just the two of them.
Sarah reached out her hand and, for a brief second, she slowly let her fingertips run up and down Cameron’s finely sculpted arm, before closing the final distance between them.
It was the lightest, sweetest kiss she had ever experienced. Sarah lost herself in that simple brush of lips, finding the answers she needed, had been aching for to find.
As Cameron deepened their kiss, Sarah completely surrendered and she knew that in this sweet exchange, it wasn’t just about getting through the night. It was about hope for a tomorrow.
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