He trusts her.

Though really, he knows there's no particular reason for doing so. Nothing solid to base it off of, other than she's done nothing but protect him like she said she would, from day one.

It's different when she scares him.

When she lies, sometimes, about important things. When suddenly she's right there behind him, for a little while, and he'd never even noticed. When she says something is effective in regards to one of the most disturbing things he's ever seen. When she can tell a person is enjoying the fruits of affection, and somehow look like she's missing out, like she wants to know how it feels.

"What are you doing?" He starts, the alerted confusion slowly creeping into his voice. She wriggles her fingers to offer an answer, taking his words so literally. "When you say things like that…" He trails off, repeats himself.

"Just making conversation," she says.

Since when? His mind screams. Since when does she just make conversation?

And when asks as much, her answer does nothing to settle the uneasiness swirling in his stomach, just something she should do. He doesn't want to think about what she's capable of, what he knows she's capable of, when she feels as if there's something she should do.

Like selling out Morris to some cop who came looking for him, no matter what could have happened to his friend. It's another shot to his confidence in her when she says yes, but it's a kick to the head when she tells him who the cop really was.

She tries to reassure him, that he won't come back, that she wouldn't.

He hates this feeling. The conversation itself so damn unnerving, and the only way he finds assurance is her statement, does nothing to alleviate it at all.

Making a machine who's admitted to lying, promise him anything, seems like the world's biggest oxymoron but he does it anyway, begs her not to say a word. And before she can even reply, Mom walks in wondering what they're talking about.

The few second's silence is enough to set off her bullshit detector, but she doesn't say anything, even keeps a straight face when Cameron says they were just making conversation.

Mom turns her head to watch her go.

He tries not to swallow noticeably when Cameron gives him the wink.


It's not about trust with her.

It's about programming, about directives, about the mission.

She doesn't bat an eye at his idea because it's not her prerogative to do so. Nor does she blink as he lays her down on the bed, cradling her head just so, feeling the burn of Mom and Derek's eyes on him as he takes such care.

Staring blankly upward she tells him what to do, where to cut, and he fights to keep his hand from shaking because her hair feels so real, her skin so soft.

Two centimeters left, one centimeter down.

He wishes he had a scalpel instead of a utility knife, because cutting out a circle with a diameter of twelve centimeters seems a bit more precise than what he has at hand is capable of.

Mom still has her doubts, but they're expected, especially when she asks him to repeat the plan. Still, when she asks if he's sure, he can't say yes. Strangely enough, neither can Cameron.

Starting the incision feels wrong, and the breath he didn't realize he was holding, comes out dancing on shards of glass. No gasps on her end, no tears welling up in her eyes, no cries of pain. He thinks the idea of doing this might be more comfortable if there were some kind of reaction, realizes no, that would just make it worse.

"Push harder," she says. "Down to my endoskeleton."

He makes a semi-circle through her scalp; trying his best to ignore Derek's vocalizing his suspicions, thinking it's her that will start Skynet instead of the Turk. Dropping the knife, his frustrations finally coming to the surface, he turns to him.

"She's a machine," he says. "She doesn't have a soul and she never will."

Derek and Mom don't flinch at his words.

"You don't have to trust her," he goes on. "You can trust me."

Derek doesn't say a word to that, but Mom nods. He thinks that it will have to be enough.

Peeling back the skin flap, not something he ever pictured himself doing, on anyone or anything ever, another ragged breath comes out. When she says good, it's the last word he'd use.

He knows she's a machine, has known since Cromartie shot her in New Mexico, and she magically reappeared to save his life with a pick up. Still, it's one thing to be aware of fact, and another to have it proven in blood and steel under your own hand.

She instructs him on how to remove the chip, but still he finds himself hesitating, feels her eyes staring up at him.

"It's okay John," she says. "It's not the first time we've done this."

It's the little push he needs, as he takes the pliers and twists, those eyes of hers falling away from him.

He stares at the chip, and though he knows better, part of him still can't believe all that she is, exists in one little piece of silicon. One look at her face, truly blank and empty and dead, he's all business wrapping up the chip and heading out of the room.

He doesn't like seeing her that way.


Leaning down on the cold damp concrete, with the laptop open and the code staring back at him, he feels a confidence he lacked just a half hour before. This is what he's good at, what he knows, this is his contribution in stopping judgment day.

Derek hovers over him, doesn't have any questions at first, not until he says she's in, but even then only wants to know how long.

John sighs, thinks there are far too many trust issues being tossed back and forth lately. So he let's Derek know that he believes him about not know his man was following Barbara, a small gesture sure, but at least it's something.

Then he goes and pulls the chip out, looking very much like he was about to toss it into the traffic behind them.

"Derek," he starts, almost wanting to take back his previous words. "Don't."

Yeah, he's listening in no uncertain terms, but doesn't fire back that one day those things are going to kill everybody unless they use every advantage at their disposal. Instead he takes the chip from Derek's hands.

"It's not gonna be this one."

He knows the other man can see he truly believes it.


Mom and Derek aren't around when he goes to reinsert the chip, and a part of him is glad about that. He knows neither would have approved of the five minutes it took him to stop staring at the lifeless husk still resting on the bed before his feet finally came unglued and he moved to sit next to her.

Putting it back in is a lot easier than taking it out. A simple push and twist and it's done. Folding the piece of scalp back over the port, he realizes they don't really have anything to sew it closed again, wonders if she'll have to do it herself once she wakes up, activates, whatever.

Looking down at her, this shouldn't be as hard as it feels. She doesn't have a soul, he'd said so himself, but that still doesn't stop him from stroking her hair, from letting his mind wonder.

She feels so real, the hair running through his fingers, her skin so soft against his.

One-hundred twenty seconds seems to streamline by, and there's the faintest sound of electricity surging, before she shifts, the light crawling back into her eyes. He moves his arm so it's no longer draped over her, sits up a little straighter, but stays close enough to where it seems like he's doting.

He has to know.

"What was it like? What did you see in there?"

There is no hesitation on her end, no lying about important things this time, she tells him she saw everything and he knows it to be true.

He lifts up a hand, fingers almost shaking with the realization that this gesture is taking that extra step beyond, before he moves to caress her face.

It's not the reaction he thought he'd get, which was none at all, but she tilts her head into his touch, lips parting slightly, her face mimicking Barbara Chamberlain's.

Her hand moves in response toward him, slowly running the back of it along his cheek before flipping around, her fingertips whispering the promise she couldn't make before against his lips.

It is affective, he thinks. Even if he isn't being fooled, even if he knows, a machine is fully capable of generating such emotion.

"What is the purpose?" She asks, not taking her hand away. "Of this affection?"

She lies to him sometimes, scares him a lot of the time, but it still comes down to trust. If he doesn't have that with her, he has nothing.

"I don't know," he replies. "Just seems like something I should do."