The Way We Were

Part 1: Our Own Little Heaven

Disclaimer: I don't own the terminator franchise. Wish I did.


"Cam?"

"Yes John?" she replied looking up, her chocolate eyes shining brilliant blue for the fleetest moment like they always did when answering his call.

"You done with those? Ready for the condensed sit-rep yet?" John nodded to the mess of papers occupying her table: reports containing notes and figures of all sorts, memos from field officers, casualty lists, suspected terminator factories and whatnot.

"Almost. I just finished decrypting Derek's god awful handwriting so I'm only approximately 87 percent done, give or take a 2 percent margin of error."

John chuckled at the thought of his uncle, General Derek Baum. They had agreed on the surname early in the war to mask his true identity from his younger, future self. In time the battle hardened soldier had matured into the role of Tech-Com Field Commander almost perfectly, second only to Connor himself in terms of military strategy and cunning. His experience in two wars (the result of living through Judgment Day a second time) proved invaluable in the field where circumstances called for split-second decisions, saving men in his command from certain death and snatching victory from the face of overwhelming odds numerous times. John's biggest issue with him was that curiously, none of the missions he personally led brought back any endoskeletal salvage fit for refit and subsequent reprogramming, which taking into account everything the man has been through, was understandable.. though a bit wasteful in John's eyes.

Additionally, Derek still had some lingering issues with the fact that Cameron was with John 24/7, blissfully unaware that she practically ran half the show. He was uncomfortable with the cyborg barely leaving his side for any more than a lingering moment and yet refused to even consider the ramifications of what that particular situation implied. However, the machine in question having saved his life (not to mention his nephew's) more than a handful of times before Judgment Day and during the early days of the resistance had softened him up a bit, smelting his white-hot hostility of her into a begrudging tolerance of sorts. John had even caught him addressing Cameron by name several odd times, resulting in an almost humorous silence between the three of them while the peculiarity of the moment hit home. Yes, John thought, such was the nature of the world's smallest miracles in this living hell they were fighting so hard to get out of. Or maybe his uncle was just getting old. Hell, they were all getting old.

Except for Cameron. She was still... well Cameron, ironically the one thing, no... the one person in Connor's life who had served as an anchor for his humanity through the insanity of the war. Though physically the beauty of her features hadn't aged a day since their time in school, much else was different. Her capacity to learn had grown exponentially throughout the years, eventually bypassing her original programming. A spark of sentience brought along by the horrors of Judgment Day had, in time begat her the ability to experience genuine emotion; emotion far removed from the mimicry that other infiltrators used to fulfill their murderous objectives.

In the years that followed she had felt joy and sorrow, John remembering so vividly how tightly she had clung to him the first time the tears fell. He had comforted her then, stroking her hair while she sobbed, their roles reversed, the protector becoming the protected for a time. As she matured emotionally, so did the depth of the love she had for him grow as well, once kissing him with such unbridled desire that John's lips were sore for days. This newfound passion also translated into a blind, searing hatred for those who sought to do him harm: Cameron once pulverizing the head of a T-800 that had wounded her man with a lucky ricochet into scrap metal. Armed only with a bar of coltan and furious vengeance, the servos in her arms continually hammered away at the enemy, azure eyes burning hot with rage until the grinning death's head of the endoskeleton was no more.

After these came the more complex building blocks of the human persona: learning to laugh and more importantly, the process of figuring out what to laugh at, and of course what NOT to laugh at was awkward at first. This was followed by a growing fondness for sarcasm. Finally even jealousy reared its ugly head; he couldn't believe it at first, but John still shuddered at the memory of him frantically explaining to a near-irrational, blue-eyed monster of the importance of the other females in Tech-Com high command. Yet no matter how 'human' she had become with John, the machine in her was never made obsolete, for to the rest of the world at large she continued to act like the rest of her kind: a cold, unfeeling, hellspun hyper-alloyed messenger of death.

Smiling at the thought, John wouldn't have had it any other way.

"I fail to find the humor in this.. chickenscratch." she piped in, jolting John from his train of thought. She eyed him and the offending memo alternately, her brow furrowing in consternation. "Anyway Derek wants you to know that sector 04A is clear of hostiles, and that the hunter-killer assembly line there has been razed to the ground."

"As expected. Good." John looked up. "What else?"

"Human casualties have fallen dramatically this week, only two combat-related deaths. Reprogrammed terminator casualties are up 42 percent. However these numbers may be misleading, since up to 80 percent of the fallen metal have their chips still in serviceable condition."

Metal. Since becoming self-aware, Cameron always made a point to differentiate herself from the others of her kind. Referring to them as 'metal' was simply one of the more subtle ways.

"Excellent. How about the veterans? How are they doing?"

"Charlie-Romeo squad reports one unit temporarily out of commission and another with minimal damage; overall performance is at 377 percent compared to the others."

Charlie-Romeo squad was one of Cameron's pet projects which of course, John had to pass off as his own: a handful of reprogrammed infiltrators with their chips set to learning mode subsequently unleashed against their creator, Skynet. The idea was that if any member of the squad was to fall with their CPU still intact (as was usually the case), it would be a simple matter to have their chips recovered and re-inserted into freshly captured endoskeletons; allowing them to continually learn from their mistakes and thus, make them more effective machine-killers.

Unsurprisingly, Derek was vehemently against the idea at first, balking at the thought of metal given free reign on the battlefield without a human commander, most especially concerned about them 'going bad' at the worst possible moments. John countered that these veterans had been with them for months now, and that all the ones that go rogue usually do so within a few days after reprogramming. His uncle then suggested that Cameron could lead the team herself, a suggestion to which John had simply replied "Good idea, I'll lead it with her." This in turn, ended the argument.

"John? You're drifting off again, is everything okay?" Cameron said as she looked at him and walked over, concern for her man etched on her face.

"I'm fine. Sorry. Where were we..." John rubbed his eyes, sensing the weight shift on his makeshift couch as Cameron sat down beside him, feeling her hand on his.

He laughed. "Cam... you don't have to scan me. I said I was fine okay?" Squeezing her hand, he added "Don't worry, I'm just a little worse for the wear."

John brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it. "Yeah so how about CPU-chassis compatibility issues? Wasn't one of the vets originally an early T-600 series? We ended up sticking him in that T-888 endo that shot him up in the first place. "

"No. No problems. It only needed an additional 20.29 seconds to adapt to the unfamiliar chassis on initial boot-up." she replied, wrapping her arm around him and pulling him close.

John shot her a quick look. "Hey I wonder what would happen if we tried sticking you in one of the bigger combat models; it'd be fun to see you do your de-frag routine in those." he remarked teasingly.

"Oh very funny. Don't be a freak. Ballet is not de-fragging. It helps me sort things out, maintain a balance with the information and emotion I've gathered and experienced throughout the day."

Ah yes, her ballet. John still remembered the first time he saw her dance, catching a glimpse of her through a half-open door in their old house. Silently in the darkness he had stood transfixed by the sensual beauty and grace of her movements, the room's soft light illuminating the suppleness of her skin as she turned and swayed. His mind reeled at the sight, yet his body refused to move...

Cameron, sensing her John's mental and physical fatigue changed the subject. "Would you like it if I danced for you right now?"

Connor smiled. "You know what? Yes Cam, I think I'd like that very much."

Their solemn time together was broken by the crackle of the intercom. "Commander?"

John groaned and slapped his forehead. "Duty calls." Briskly, he made a beeline to the heavily reinforced blast door that separated his and Cameron's own little world from the hell outside. Taking a deep breath, he cleared his mind, and in an instant donned the weight of the world on his shoulders. Again, he was the living legend: John Connor, the modern-day messiah of humanity.

He keyed the microphone and barked gruffly. "This better be important Private. I gave VERY explicit instructions I wasn't to be bothered for the next few hours, unless you specifically enjoy being assigned latrine duty." Looking over to where Cameron still sat, he noticed her rolling her eyes and shaking her head.

The voice stammered. "Ye.. yes sir... I mean no sir I don't enjoy latrine duty sir.. but I uh, I understand that... I mean you also gave standing orders that you should be notified immediately in case any of our teams..."

A light went off in his head. Cutting him off immediately, he keyed the mic again. "You're saying one of our teams recovered a TOK-715??"

"No sir... the other one. The uh, the techs said it was a... uh" John could hear paper rustling through the intercom speaker.

John was growing impatient. "Speak up soldier."

"Sir.. they said.. that it's a T-850 Series Model 101."


Author's Notes:

Just in case you folks didn't know, TOK-715 is basically Cameron's model number. And the T-850 Series, Model 101 is Arnold's official designation in the third movie, Terminator 3: rise of the machines.

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