Disclaimer & Notices: See the Prologue.
Started: August 15, 2010
Series: One Shot, #9
A Tin Heart
by Red Hope
"Just… take it a step at a time," Sarah said a little too sharply. She inwardly sighed at her own attitude and took a deep breath. She knew the terminator was trying to be a terminator. "Come on." She adjusted her arm around the terminator's waist and continued helping her up the steps to the second floor of the house.
Cameron gripped the banister harder and continued gritting her teeth against the pain. She didn't want to show the human how much it hurt to go up the steps. But she suspected Sarah knew it was hard on her. She didn't expect it to be worse going upstairs than down.
"There you go," Sarah soothed. She heard Cameron's heavy breathing, but they made it up the last few steps fine. She let the terminator take a break before they continued to the bedroom. "You think you can shower by yourself?"
Sarah was unsure about the simple answer. She decided she'd have to stay nearby in case Cameron had a problem in the bathroom. "After this, you'll need to rest." She opened the bedroom door and released the terminator. She wanted to see how Cameron could do walking on her own a little.
Cameron shook her head and brushed a few loose strands behind her right ear. "It was just a fight at school."
"That got you a couple of cracked ribs," Sarah reminded. She folded her arms and leaned against the doorframe. "You don't need to push it."
"She should have the cracked ribs," Cameron muttered on her way to the dresser. If she'd still been a machine, she'd easily dispersed of that girl, Kelly, and her friend. She couldn't fathom how asking a question caused her to get beat up. Welcome to the human world, she bitterly concluded.
Sarah barely made out the comment, but she said nothing back. "Listen, after you get your shower I think I'm going to check out the warehouse."
Cameron was pulling out clothes from the dresser, which felt like a great task. She finally had her jeans, top, and other items all in her arms. She turned and showed her slight frown.
"It is not smart to go in the daytime," the terminator fought. She slowly made her way to Sarah.
The human pushed off the doorframe and dropped her arms. "I don't plan to go in there… not right now. I just want to do some recon work."
"I'll go with you," Cameron stated. She stood in front of the older woman.
Sarah gave a doubtful smile and replied, "I don't think so." She walked away and into the hall. She knew Cameron was on her heels.
"You shouldn't go alone," the terminator argued.
Sarah folded her arms and faced the young girl. "I'm use to doing everything alone, Cameron."
Cameron stood there with a searching look then slowly she went determined like her usual self. "I'm going with you." She continued towards the bathroom as if fueled by new energy from their argument. "If you get caught, you'll need help."
Sarah stood at the banister next to the steps. "And what in the Hell are you going to do?" She found the terminator's glower on her. "You can barely walk, you can't drive, and you don't know how to fight."
Cameron stood next to the dark bathroom, but she turned partially back towards Sarah. "But I can still shoot a gun." She left it at that and went into the bathroom. She slammed the door despite it took too much effort.
"Stubborn," Sarah hotly whispered. She pushed off the banister and marched down to her bedroom. She decided to get dressed and prepared to go down to the warehouse. She debated whether to leave now while Cameron was in the bathroom, but at hearing the shower running distantly, she knew she couldn't leave Cameron alone. At least not alone with Derek's hatred only a few rooms away. Sarah just didn't trust Derek.
Cameron came out shortly in clean clothes and damp hair. She felt somewhat revived by the shower, yet she suspected it'd be short lived. She dumped her dirty clothes in the closet then retrieved her beloved Glock from the nightstand's drawer. She also picked up an extra magazine for it and went down to Sarah's bedroom.
Sarah came charging out of her bedroom and almost slammed into the girl. She scowled Cameron with a look.
"I'm ready," Cameron stated. "Let's go." She turned on her heels and tried being the terminator she use to be. She went to the steps only to hesitate upon seeing the challenge of getting down with her injured body. But before she lost her bravado, there was a sure arm hooked around her torso.
"Come on, girlie," Sarah softly ordered. She assisted the terminator down the steps. Once at the bottom of the steps, she fished out the truck keys and dangled them at Cameron. "I'm gonna get a coffee to go. Can you at least get the truck warmed up?" She had a devilish grin.
Cameron slotted her eyes, snatched the keys from the human, and walked away in silence.
Sarah smirked at the girl's stiff back. Yet she sighed once the terminator went out the front door. She wasn't really feeling that perky as she played it off to Cameron. She was worried – very worried and wanted to find answers right away.
After getting a to-go cup filled and a lid on, Sarah hurried from the kitchen but went upstairs and informed Derek of her plans. She didn't wait for any response from him despite he'd opened his mouth. She dart off and went out to the running truck where Cameron waited for her.
Sarah carefully dropped her coffee cup into the nearby cupholder, buckled up, and floored the truck into reverse. She switched it into forward once she was pointed down the short drive. "I don't suppose you remember how to get there?"
"A little," the terminator replied.
Sarah shrugged it off and decided, "Well hopefully between your 'little' and my 'somewhat', we'll find our way." She drummed her fingers once on the steering wheel.
Cameron looked out the side window and watched the passing cars or the people on the sidewalk. She started realizing she was just like everybody else on planet, a human. She licked her dry lips and shook off the odd thought.
Sarah caught the girl's motions and asked, "What?"
"Nothing," Cameron muttered. She placed her right arm on the door's rest.
Sarah didn't believe it for a second. She had her suspicions on what was running through the terminator's mind. "So how's it feel?" She slowed down behind another car.
Cameron continued staring out the window and never laid eyes on Sarah. "How's what feel?" She was playing dumb.
Sarah hit the right blink for the turn lane at the upcoming light. She glanced once at the terminator's stoic profile, but Sarah could read through it now. "Feeling sensitive about it, huh?"
Cameron now looked out the front window but still didn't make eye contact with Sarah.
Sarah took in the long silence and could only imagine what was brewing inside of the girl, who once was a machine. She let out a sigh after she realized she was giving Cameron a hard time at the wrong time. "It must be overwhelming," she whispered. She still didn't receive a response so she added, "I'm still trying to grasp that you're… human."
Cameron curled her hand tightly around the armrest's handle. "I'm still a terminator."
"Maybe you still think like a terminator," Sarah granted. "But everything else about you is human."
Cameron increased her grip on the handle to the point her knuckles were white. She didn't realize it at first until she looked down at her right hand, which had a cut wound. She loosened her hold after she realized that her strength did nothing, absolutely nothing to the handle. She opened her hand and pulled it away from the rest. She flexed her hand a few times and oddly stared at her human hand.
"The Tin Man never turned back into a human," Cameron whispered.
Sarah silently repeated the terminator's words. She glanced at the terminator's profile then focused on her driving again. "The Tin Man was also human before he was the Tin Man."
"Just like Allison," the terminator murmured. "Each of Allison's limbs were hacked off one by one… until finally she was replaced by a terminator."
Sarah swallowed hard against her bubbling emotions. She'd learned who Allison Young was from John and Cameron. It'd only been recently that John found Cameron after Cameron had accidently gone into full infiltration mode as Allison Young.
Cameron then shook her head and looked at Sarah. "But the Tin Man never became Nick Chopper again." She clutched her seatbelt with her hand. "So why am I Allison Young again?"
Sarah faltered but sadly whispered, "I don't know why." She increased her grip on the steering wheel. "But we're going to find out why… and how."
"It won't matter," the terminator reminded. "I am human, now."
Sarah wasn't sure how to feel about it either. She flexed her hands on the wheel once and tried calming her emotions after the unnerving conversation. She could never understand how Cameron could shake the ground under her so easily. But she hadn't gotten use to it.
There wasn't much else Sarah could offer to help the terminator or explain any of it away. It was still too soon to discern what'd happened or how it could remotely be possible. She instead prayed that there was some explanation to an impossible feat. The only reason she believed Cameron was human had less to do with the test results and more with Cameron's body. She could see all the human motions and normal reactions that anybody would have in day to day activities. Then there were Cameron's eyes, which were so beautiful now. Sarah was drawn to the terminator's eyes that'd gone from a dead brown to a rich caramel.
"I think we are almost there," Cameron softly spoke.
Sarah withdrew from her thoughts and checked, "The next right, right?" She glanced at her rearview mirror but nobody was behind them.
"Correct," the terminator properly replied. "We should be cautious."
Sarah turned onto Industrial Ave and slowed down as they went past various gates, but she wanted to go to the one down at the end of the avenue. "I think I'll park along here." She looked for an opening among the parked cars, and she maneuvered into a spot.
Cameron admired the human's fast ability to parallel park because most humans seemed to have a mental block for parallel parking. She reached down to her buckle but a sure hand stopped her. She peered up at Sarah.
"Just wait in the truck for me."
"But I can-"
"What?" Sarah argued. She pulled her hand away. "You can gimp down to the gate and draw attention to us?"
Cameron involuntarily frowned at the smart remark.
Sarah found it rather cute, and it made her grin. She suddenly felt caught too and became more serious before a flush got the best of her. "Just stay in here… keep the truck running and your cell out." She unhooked herself and opened the driver's door. "I probably can't even get that close." She started out of the truck and promised, "I won't be long."
Cameron released her seatbelt anyway, just in case. She sighed and watched the stubborn human stroll down the sidewalk down to the gate for the company they'd struck about a week ago. As she sat there, she started wondering if maybe Sarah was right about that night. Maybe the entire thing had been a setup, for her. But she doubted Sarah would get many answers this way.
Sarah fingered her Glock behind her black leather jacket. She took a steady breath and jammed her fists into her jacket's pockets. She slowed down once she came upon the locked gates to the industrial company's warehouse. She slightly raised an eyebrow at the brand-new gates that Cameron had most likely creamed through that night.
"Woo, miss," a guard ordered. "Can I help you?"
This was new, Sarah decided. "Well hello there." She offered him a dazzling smile then pretended to start chewing gum. "How are ya?" She snapped her invisible gum at him.
The guard lightened up and smiled back. "I'm sorry but nobody is allowed on the premises… with what happened and everything."
"Yeah… I heard what happened." Sarah nodded a few times and looked through the gate down to the warehouse. "Some guys got shot up huh?" She was bobbing her head and snapping her imaginary gum.
"Quite a few," the guard softly replied.
Sarah inwardly grinned once she snared him. She focused back on him. "Cops find the killers?"
"They think it was one guy that did 'em all," the guard replied.
Sarah gave a fake laugh and snapped her gum louder. "That's bullshit." She reached up and scratched her nose. "There's no way one guy could do all that." She turned on her heels. "I read there were fifteen guys shot."
The guard huffed and folded his arms, which caused his port security decal on his jacket to become more visible. "Those damn tabloids blow everything up. It was ten guys or so." He then glanced down at the warehouse. "But there was this one guy shot in the lot…" He edged closer to the gate and recalled the exact spot. "He looked like he was trying to escape from whoever was after him before he got shot point blank." He looked over at the woman. "At least that's what I think."
Sarah had forgotten her gum and was staring at the lot. The night's events filtered back to her. And she imagined that the guard was exactly right. She snapped out of her revere and was chewing again. She focused on the guard again.
"Yeah my husband works for Pacific Metals." Sarah sighed and shook her head. "What uh mess." She then leaned closer to him. "Are the cops still checkin' over the crime scene?"
"Their forensics team has come and gone," the guard informed. He released his arms. "Now PMC is just cleanin' up the mess before they let anymore loads come and go in there."
Sarah nodded a few times and continued chewing her gum. She pretended to consider something then mentioned, "I ain't ever seen a guard on duty the few times my husband brought me 'ere."
"New policy," the guard informed. "I just hope they build a gatehouse for the future."
Sarah grinned at him. "Good idea." She then nodded towards the warehouse. "Did they steal any of the metals?"
"I don't think so." The guard glanced once at the warehouse then back at the woman. "The police aren't really sure what it was about."
Sarah shook her head a few times and snapped her gum. "Weird." She took a deep breath. "Well thanks for the chat." She concluded there wasn't anything useful left at the warehouse most likely. A smile crept back on her ruby lips. "Have a good afternoon, young man." She winked once at him.
"You too, miss." The guard curiously watched the woman stroll back down the sidewalk. He heard her gum snapping a few more times before she was too far.
Sarah hurried her pace once she was far enough. She was thinking hard about what she'd learned from the guard. She especially couldn't shake his mention of the guy victim shot point blank. She knew it was her kidnapper that Cameron had terminated without remorse. But now wasn't the time to bring it up with Cameron.
Back in the truck, Cameron felt relief fill her upon seeing Sarah Connor coming back to the truck. The few minutes alone had been straining for Cameron. Normally it was nice to be alone, but she discovered how antsy she was now that she was human. Her mind was slower yet never ceasing either. It was a wonder how humans managed to deal with it constantly.
Sarah hopped into the truck, buckled up, and started pulling out onto the street. "You're right," she softly informed after getting back on the road. "The scene is done processing." She glanced at the quiet terminator. "We'll just have to go into the belly of the beast."
Cameron was putting her Glock away after resetting the safety. "Belly of the beast?" Her confusion was evident in her voice.
"To the police station," Sarah clarified. She caught Cameron's nod from the corner of her eye.
The terminator sighed after getting her gun tucked into her waist band. "John can find out what precinct has the case."
"I hope so," Sarah whispered. She looked at the quiet terminator, who was covering her stomach. She barely held back her grin once it clicked in what the problem was. "I'm hungry," she declared. She mentally went down her list of places to eat. "Are you hungry?"
Cameron moved her hand away as if caught by the human. "I think so."
Sarah nodded and decided on a simple diner that was halfway between here and home. She could do with a cheeseburger or cheesesteak that would clog her arteries later in life. Rarely did she have the chance to indulge. "I know the perfect spot," she murmured.
To be continued.