Disclaimer: Dont own them...

Title: Birthdays and Builtdays
Author: Dakota423
Rating: T
Summary: A small follow-up to A Fighting Chance. John and Cameron discuss birthdays and John muses on his family. John/Cam, mention of Derek/Sarah.

Author's Note: I started writing this because today's my birthday as well, and I felt rather like John did in the season finale. I don't think you need to have read A Fighting Chance to understand what's going on, but it would prolly help, as the events in that happen before this. Mostly a rant, but has some good character-dives as well. Enjoy!


"I'm sorry I couldn't get you a cake."

John looked up from the burn he was sterilizing to meet her eyes. "It's okay, Cam. Really."

Cameron nodded and fell silent, letting him continue cleaning the wounds she'd received from the explosion. They weren't that bad, but John had insisted.

"Please, just let me do it. As a birthday present."

"John?"

He tore a piece of tape from the roll with his teeth and used it to secure the gauze on the wound in her thigh. His face flushed slightly as he touched her; she was only in her bra and underwear, after all.

"Yeah?"

"When is my built-day?"

He sat back on his heels and smirked up at her earnest face; the missing half of her features has ceased to disturb him.

"I dunno. You tell me."

Her face went blank, an expression he had come to attribute to deep thought. After a few seconds, she focused on him again.

"I cannot find my issue date. It was erased from my files during reprogramming."

John shrugged. "All right then." He picked up the washcloth next to him and started dabbing at the remnants of her cheek. "Guess we'll just have to make one up."

She held very still, but John could see agreement in her eye. When he pulled away to get some antibiotic ointment, she asked, "Will I get presents?"

He had to laugh at that one. "Sure. You want the flak jacket I got last year?"

"That would be a tight present."

"So you said yesterday."

Admittedly, it seemed like forever ago that they'd had that conversation. In less than twenty-four hours since then he'd wiped out the entire L.A. traffic system, been held at gun-point, and had watched his five year old father play baseball. It seemed almost too surreal for even him.

"John?"

"Hm?"

"What do you want for your birthday?"

He capped the Neosporin and thought about it. "Honestly?"

She cocked her head, as if she didn't understand why he would lie to her in the first place.

"I'm just glad you're all right," he said softly, looking at the floor. Cameron was silent, processing. John took the time to clean up the mess he'd made and straighten up the first-aid kit. When he stood, she stood with him. They stared at each other for a while, then John jerked his head to the door.

"Go get some clothes from my room; yours are too tight to wear over the bandages."

She nodded and left. John sighed heavily and sat down on her bed. He wondered why she had one if she didn't sleep, but then he figured it was pointless to ponder. She wasn't a pet, like Derek said. She was human enough to warrant a bed, even if she didn't use it.

He heard the shower turn off down the hall; heard muffled voices that sounded like his mom and uncle. He wondered what they were talking about, wondered if he should tell Sarah that Derek knew they were family...

"John, is this all right?"

Cameron was standing in the doorway, a t-shirt pulled over her small frame. She was holding a pair of pajama pants in her outstretched hands, asking permission. He smiled at her and nodded.

"Yeah, sure."

She pulled the pants on, and John breathed a sigh of relief. He hadn't known how much longer he'd last with her half-naked. It hadn't been bad when he was patching her up, but once that distraction was gone, he was hopeless.

Hey, he was sixteen, he was allowed to think like that.

"John?"

He met her eyes. She was staring at him, intent on something. He frowned.

"What?"

She walked up to him, her face blank. "I found you a present."

He swallowed heavily for some reason; his eyes were wide. "What is it?"

She kissed his cheek and left.


John picked at his plate, doing his best to contain the laughter threatening to burst from him.

Some birthday this turned out to be.

They'd forgone the cake, had settled instead for some stale Chips Ahoy! and freezer-burnt vanilla ice cream. There were no candles, no presents, no balloons or banners that proclaimed a special occasion. There was only the four of them -- soldiers, displaced in Time, struggling, suffering, living and fighting for a future.

Family.

He'd dreaded this day, feared his mother had forgotten. He looked over at her now, saw how she was smiling at him. A real smile, too, not her usual sad, strained one.

He looked at his uncle, who was standing close enough to his mother that their hands just barely touched. He couldn't feel any more grateful to this man than if he'd saved his life. He'd taken him to the park and showed him his father; it had been the best birthday gift he'd ever received. But he'd done the impossible as well: he'd managed to break through the wall around his mother's heart, and his nephew couldn't even begin to find the words to express his thanks.

His eyes finally settled on the person next to him. She was watching him with a small smile on her lips; the half of her face that had been mangled in the explosion seemed to disappear behind that smile. It was a smile that was all his.

She was all his.

He'd spent the better half of his birthday patching her up, cleaning her wounds and removing shrapnel from her synthetic skin. She had protested the entire time, insisting that she could do it herself, but he wouldn't let her. She had scared the hell out of him, made him sick with worry the minute he'd seen the Jeep engulfed in flames -- the least she could do was let him fix her up.

Now she was sitting next to him, ever faithful, gazing at him with mix-matched eyes: one deep chocolate brown, the other glowing blue. Human and machine, blood and metal. The only girl, he realized, that he could ever really love.

The only one that would ever truly understand.

Surrounded by family…

With the exception of living with Charlie, he had never felt more at home. He'd wished billions of times, over and over, for normalcy, for a chance to be like every other kid he knew. But now, sitting with his apocalypse-raving mother, his soldier-from-the-future uncle, and his robot protector, he couldn't have felt any more normal.

Sure, the ice cream was disgusting and the cookies were brick-hard and tasteless. And yeah, tomorrow would mean continuing the search for Sarkissian and the Turk. Skynet would always be there would always hover over their shoulders until it was destroyed for good. But tonight… tonight they were going to forget, if only for a while.

It was surreal, and it screamed 'dysfunctional,' but it was his life. He railed against it, against his Fate. But tonight, in that moment, it was all right. He wouldn't have it any other way.

"Happy Birthday, John."

He smiled, looking around at everyone. Smiling faces. It had to be a dream.

"When is my built-day?"

Some birthday, indeed, but he couldn't have asked for a better one.


(Author's Note: Well, not as well put together as the other one, but I definately enjoyed writing it. Please REVIEW and tell me what you think!)