"Tell me about him," he says one day.
They're in a parking garage, waiting for Mom to infiltrate yet another office building, looking for information. Though whether it's about the Turk or skynet itself she didn't say. Cameron doesn't turn her head at his statement, for a second he doesn't think she heard him, keeping her eyes focused on the building ahead, scanning.
If she were human she'd get it, he thinks.
His skirting around the subject, the subtle hinting, appears to be nothing easy for something artificial to process even if its intelligence surpasses his own. She's supposed to be adapting, learning to act more human, but a lot of the time he rarely sees it. Mostly it's all questions with her, with instant, but hardly long term results. It's a possibility that she just doesn't try in front of him, or mom, because her processor is aware that it doesn't have to.
"Me, I guess," he goes on. "John, future John."
"My John," she replies is a softened voice, one that causes a curious lift of his brow, but of course she doesn't see it.
She's less robotic the way she talks about him, other him, whatever, seems like less of a thing.
"What do you want to know?"
He opens his mouth, closes it, laughs at himself. That finally gets her to turn toward him, her blank face reflecting his thoughts, because he honestly realizes that he didn't have anything specific he actually wanted to know.
She tries to duplicate his smile, the corners of her lips slowly twitching upward, steel folding on steel. It makes him falter the slightest bit, his smile falling right away, as hers follows suit, and he's back to starting into big empty eyes.
"Is he?" He starts again, thinks it so weird to refer to what is essentially himself, as another person. "I don't know, happy? Can you be happy living in hell?"
"Can you be happy not? She replies, her eyes softening, looking exactly as she had that day in New Mexico. Where she seemed so human, when he had no clue as to her true nature, something he hasn't seen since.
She reaches over and puts her hand on his.
"My John is a great leader, an excellent soldier, and has lots of friends."
He almost blurts out really?, but catches it on the tip of his tongue.
She gives him another smile, one that comes off completely natural, leaves him thinking that she knows a lot more about acting human than she gives away.
"Is that what you wanted to hear?" She asks. "Does that make it better?"
He almost laughs again before he wonders where she learned how to lie to preserve someone's feelings.
It's sometime after midnight and he can't sleep, walks out to the living room in his boxers, yawning and dreary-eyed when he runs into Cameron. Mom had gotten her pajama pants the week before, even though she doesn't sleep, she had a tendency to shed her clothes along with everyone else. Pink in color with little sheep all over, he smirks at how ridiculous she looks in them.
"You can't sleep," she says in more of a statement than a question.
He looks at her for a second, just staring back at those unflinching eyes, before shaking his head and moving to sit on the couch. She moves to join him, folds her legs behind her on the cushions, and he knows she learned that from watching Mom.
"Maybe you need some Lunesta."
"To help you get your rest, make sure you have a full eight hours to dedicate for sleep."
"You sound like a commercial."
She looks in the direction of the TV, which he just now notices is on, then back to him. "I've seen it seven times tonight."
He smirks, leaning his head back into the cushion, before stretching his legs out in front of him. She waits for him to speak, wonders if it's because she has nothing to say, or is just curious to observe his half-asleep self sprawled out next to her.
"When did you start watching TV?" He asks.
"Two days," she starts. "Four hours and twenty-seven minutes ago."
"Because it's what people do when they don't sleep."
No argument there.
"Why don't you sleep John?" She asks.
Because I've been having this dream, he doesn't say. About destiny, about judgment day, about the man I'm going to grow up to be.
"I don't want to be him," he says quietly.
"My John," she interjects, voice dropping that same way.
He smiles weakly at her.
"I don't want to live that life, in that place, doing what I have to do."
She puts her hand on his, leaving him to wonder when touching became so common place, leans her head into the couch.
"He told me once," she starts. "About himself as a child, that he slept with a stuffed lion. That he held it tight whenever his mother would read to him, before bed, in Spanish."
His expression perks up a little.
"Pedro yeah," he says remembering. "I loved that thing."
"So did he. He's a good man, you should be proud that is who you will be. Not yet though, one day."
It's a strange thing to realize that they both talk about him like he's a different person.
"I, he, cared about you didn't he?"
His eyes go wide when she smiles a smile that is entirely her own, leans forward toward him, and stops when her head is resting on his shoulder.
"He took care of me," is all she says.
Mom is looking at him funny, like she knows something about him, but won't just say so. He hates it when she gets like this, circling around, that weird grim look on her face. When it comes to the mission, the future, she'll yell and scream and lecture until results are met. When it comes to asking him simple questions sometimes, she's at a loss for words.
Cameron walks by the doorway, doesn't look inside because she knows they're there, and he watches as Mom follows her until she's out of sight.
He no knows exactly what she wants to talk about.
"You and her seem awful close lately," she says, turning her gaze back to him, eyes intense as ever.
"Well she is supposed to be family," he tries to play off lamely.
Mom doesn't buy it for a second, knows him too well, thinks she knows Cameron that well too.
Uh oh, strained inflection of his name, she is serious. Serious in her dislike of something he didn't think she'd taken the time to notice.
"We talk," he says, averting his eyes from hers. "That's all."
"The future," he says softly. "Me," he says even softer.
"Why would you believe her?"
He looks back to her incredulous. As much as he loves his mother, as much as he respects her, sometimes she just doesn't get it. Every friend he's ever made he's had to lie to. To pretend he was someone he wasn't. With Cameron, even if she is just a terminator, he doesn't have to do that.
"Because you don't have to like to code," he shoots back. "Because you don't have to lie to programming, to a machine."
He gets up from the table, ignores her calls after him, know it's not that important because she doesn't give chase. He tells Cameron to follow as he grabs his jacket and head straight out the door.
"How does she die?" He asks while they sit by themselves on swings at a park he's never been to.
He's not asking because he's mad at Mom, or because he'd ever wish any harm on her. He's just curious because with all the talk of the future, now with Cameron and even a lot of the time before, she's never mentioned in any of it.
"That knowledge is not required for you," she replies looking at him, the gaze feeling like she's looking right through him.
"Because he doesn't want you to know."
Him again, he thinks. Me again.
"Why I am not allowed to know that? We're the same person aren't we?"
"Because you'd try to stop it too."
"Stop what? What's going to happen?"
"Look," she says turning her head away from him. "Birds."
Deflection, he thinks. That's new.
He lets out a sigh of defeat, knows there's no sense in arguing with her. He kicks his foot in the tan bark, pitching himself backward, then lifts that foot to swing ahead. Tilting his head back he looks up, sees the birds she was talking about, wonders if there are any left come the day.
"Your movement is counter productive."
He looks over to her, stock still on her swing, watching as he goes back and forth.
"There is no purpose in your action. You move forward only to move back again."
"That's kind of the point," he says. "I'm swinging.
"Swinging," she repeats before kicking her own foot off the tan bark, pitching herself back, copying his movement exactly.
He watches with fascination because while the action is exact, the purpose is completely lost on her. Stomping his foot back into the bark, he comes to a halt, gets up from the swing and moves toward hers. She copies him again, sticks her own foot back in the bark, and comes to a halt as well.
Moving behind her he puts his hands on the chains, her hair tickling his chin as she tilts her head up at him, and he leans down to her ear.
"The swings are a lot fun, so you should act accordingly," he says before pulling back on the chain quickly, then shifts in the balls of his feet to push her forward. She gets a few swings in, but nothing in her demeanor changes at all, so he stops her again.
"This is the part where you're supposed to laugh," he says before pushing her off again. "And ask me to push you higher."
And she does laugh, something oddly natural about the way it comes out, and he's curious to know if she's got that smile on her face. Part of him wonders if this would have happened if Cameron Philips were a real girl. If they would have really hit it off that day and become actual friends, if it would have grown into something more in some dusty park in Albuquerque.
He pushes her for awhile, smirks at her asking to go higher, before stepping out of the way and letting the moment of the swing slowly stop on its own.
When she finally stills she turns toward him, he sees she does have that smile on her face, and he returns it.
"Swinging," she says again. "Thank you for explaining."
He's half a second from falling under when he hears the purposeful padding of bare feet across the hardwood floor, heading right in the direction of his room. Peering open one eye, he sees Cameron standing in the doorway, looking down at him with her head slightly tilted.
She doesn't answer when he says her name through a yawn, but she moves toward the bed, setting off the alarm bells in his head. No pajama pants this time, just underwear and a t-shirt. Mom would so not approve.
Lifting up the covers with a strangely accurate purpose, she slides under the sheets next to him, rolls to lean on her shoulder facing him. It takes all he has not to fall out of the bed.
"Um, what are you doing?"
"This is what people our age do," she says. "Sneak into each other's bedrooms when they think their parents won't find out."
"What makes you think that?"
He laughs uncomfortably, knows she won't get why, as he shifts slightly backward.
"What have you been watching?"
"The O.C., Beverly Hills 90210, Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hi-"
"Okay, okay, I get it."
"This upsets you."
"It surprises me."
She lay her head down on one of his pillows, looks up at him with a sudden inviting warmth in her eyes, like a switch flipped somewhere inside, and she went from cold emotionless robot to warm gentle cuddle buddy in the fraction of a second. He swallows audibly, the threat of total annihilation looking almost easy to deal with in comparison to having a reprogrammed killing machine snuggling up next to him.
He watches as her hand slowly slides under the blanket, getting awfully close, before reaching the front of his shirt. She grabs on to the thin cotton, uses it to pull herself closer, wedging her head just under his chin.
His hands are stiff at his sides, the unexpected intimacy of the situation a first, though the fact she is what she is, oddly doesn't come as that much of a shock. He wonders if the man he'll grow into, the man he's supposed to be, could lose his virginity to the very thing he's going to fight day in and out.
Cameron nuzzles herself closer; his hands finally loosening to move downward, causally coming to rest on her hip.
"We've done this before haven't we?" He asks.
"Once." She nods against him. "Before he sent me back."
His mind reels at the implications.
"You wanted to know more about him," she says. "Is that request still valid?"
"I guess, yeah."
"This face you see, the skin, it's not coincidence. He chose it."
"What do you mean?"
"He cared for someone, more than his own life, almost more than the war. She was killed in the raid on the factory he found me in."
"Are you saying-?"
It's not as if it makes this any easier. But knowing that somehow, someday, the connection he feels toward her might just make some kind of sense, is somewhat of a relief. Mom and Derek both question his loyalty to her. How he defends her for no apparent reason other than he himself sent her back to protect them.
He presses a small kiss on the top of her head.
"Thank you for explaining," he says.
"Is that what you wanted to hear?" She asks. "Does that make it better?"
Yeah, he thinks. It kind of does.