Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, nor do I lay claim to the series and intellectual property they're a product of. No money is made off of this.

Author's Note: Story is set immediately after "The Turk" but before "Heavy Metal". John/Cameron. Beginning assumes there could be a day or two in between. Thanks go to the Moon Lady, LunaSoleil for the beta. Without her this would be a rougher and grumpier story. Read, enjoy, and drop me a line on your thoughts! Feedback really makes me go and is appreciated.

--

Wires and Watchtowers

Sarah Connor was not being overprotective.

She wasn't.

It just pissed her off some when her son – her one and only child – didn't have the good sense do what she said. Or foregoing that, just to use common sense at all. She understood that sometimes he – like any other teenager – thought himself already grown, but he was only fifteen. She understood that he thought she was overprotective, overbearing, controlling and a myriad other things he thought she didn't see. But there was a reason for that.

He was frustrated sometimes. She understood that.

But he was her son, and if they couldn't prevent the war, he was also mankind's only hope. Between being a mother and knowing far more about the soon-to-be-immediate future than any person should, his frustrations sometimes had to take a back seat.

She hoped he understood that.

Certain days it seemed like he did. And then there were days like today, where as frustrated as he might have been, she was tempted to her own because it seemed like all he wanted to do was his own thing. Regardless of the risks and dangers to him. What if something happened to him? What if one of those countless machines hunting, walking Los Angeles that may or may not have identification of his height, weight, eye color, and every other detail they had no right to know got lucky?

Cursing a stoplight stuck on red that felt like it had stayed on that same color for at least the last five minutes instead of seconds, her foot eased off the gas, and her palms loosened their grip over the leather of the steering wheel. She was calm. When the light turned green, she would ease into the turn, and just generally not attract any more attention than was necessary.

At the head of the traffic, she glanced in her rear view mirror, maybe just to make sure she wasn't being followed, maybe just to do a cursory check of the rows of traffic behind her, maybe because she'd done it so many times before it had become habit, and she just couldn't help it even if she'd wanted to. Turning green, the traffic light ahead of her finally signaled her forward, and she gunned the gas.

The gentle turn could very well go and shove it.

They had a system. He avoided doing things like hacking into the school database because he could, which he had done years before. Or fooling around with ATMs because, and she was paraphrasing: "If they didn't want it to happen, they shouldn't have made it so easy". In exchange she would try to avoid nagging him – nagging for him, being a mother for her – ease up on the computer restrictions, and treat him more like an adult.

So either he was ignoring the system, or something had happened. He wasn't answering the phone she had given him. Sarah didn't want to think about the possibility of the latter, so she was actively campaigning for the former.

Which meant a little bit of anger. Well, actually, copious amounts of anger, that and the tenuous hope that at the very worst, she was just overreacting.

It was either anger or worry, she thought, turning onto the small street they – for the moment – resided on. Worrying meant dwelling on hypotheticals, and that always made her think of the past. And the past was bad. The past couldn't be helped; couldn't be changed. It was the future that couldn't seem to be changed, stayed stubborn, her mind corrected her. There were so many "what ifs". What if Ginger and Matt had never died? Sarah hadn't thought of them in years. Rarely did she think about her old life. The one before Charley and South America and Cyberdyne and being on the run…

… The one before him.

She only rarely ever let herself think about him.

Thinking of him right now wasn't an option either. Later. Later would work, because there was always a later. She might not let herself think of him, but her subconscious sometimes stole her away, and her dreams were rarely ever better. And that made her eyes burn. And that made something in her chest tight. And something else constrict, almost painfully just at the memory of it. She would not visit Kyle in her dreams only to have to explain why she'd failed to keep John alive outside of them.

Sarah refocused. Later for that, now for this, she thought.

That was her strength. If there was one good thing to come of everything, besides John, and besides… well, if there was good thing, it was that she knew herself. When all else failed, she believed she could rely on herself. There were many people, male and female, that even when everything went right couldn't even count on that much. Sarah knew what she could and couldn't do. Understood what she would and wouldn't do. And she was good at focusing. Focus and concentration and clarity of purpose and worry were her friends. Just then, her clarity, her focus, her worry were all fixated on one thing.

And that was – as it could be counted to be – John.

These were her thoughts and concerns as she approached the door to their house. It was a plain house on a plain suburban street. Interiors of polished wood with a wide yard and a swing in the back. Had it been a great or even a beautiful house, it would have still just been another in the long list they'd occupied. When they got there, and when they left, it was and would still be, just another house.

These were her thoughts as she tested the door. It was open, though there were no visible signs of forced entry, which could be good or bad. She stepped over the threshold, quietly – by habit – making her way into the kitchen, right hand reaching behind her for the familiar weight tucked beneath the waistband of her pants…

… To find John and the machine sitting at the dining room table.

Like siblings.

As though nothing were wrong at all. Despite herself, Sarah sighed, letting out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. She'd thought… Damn it! She'd been afraid… What the hell was he thinking? Visions of Cromartie, of some terrible fate slowly eased.

"I would like that," Cameron was telling John.

No, not at all like siblings.

And just like that, like some sweeping current of the sea, all her heretofore gathered doubts and concerns, the fears and cultured cacophony of worry – disappeared.

To be replaced by completely different ones.

--

John knew his mother might not have approved. Which was slightly akin to an understatement. It was like saying stealing a car was a temporary exchange of assets. Or like saying he had something resembling a life.

You know, a complete lie.

The Terminator walked beside him. Ever at his side, to, you know, protect him and all that. He was an important guy, and apparently in the future people would follow his orders and people would die for him.

"We're going to be late."

"Yeah," he acknowledged. "You don't have to remind me. And we are going home."

It was flimsy reasoning, he knew. That and completely besides the point. Meaning to do something didn't equal it being done. Intending to be somewhere didn't make you there. But he was a teenager, and John figured teenagers, even instrumental ones predestined to save mankind, could step outside the line a little. Do or indulge in something, at least once, without the world collapsing around them for it.

For him, toeing the line meant staying out after school when he should've been home already.

Yeah, he was a regular James Dean.

Hands shoved into his pockets, he placed one foot in front of the other, steps in stride with the girl beside him. As they walked, he examined his shoes. They were only his second pair. They fit him well enough, but he still wasn't comfortable with them. When they'd enrolled in the new school, he'd pointed out to his mother that they needed new clothes. Decade old clothes might work for her, but savior or not, he would stand out for it at school. Beggars couldn't be choosers. They had left everything – what they owned, anyway, not necessarily what chased them – behind. It was either one pair that he would have to wear every day, for the time being, or two older, cheaper pairs.

So he'd gone with the two.

He would've preferred to have just gotten a job but that wasn't viable, for obvious reasons.

Of course, that had been before the Resistance hideout, and the diamonds, but still.

John knew he was being petty. He knew he was dwelling on the trivial. Even not knowing anything of Judgment Day, never knowing of the destruction of the world as he knew it and the loss of over half the world's population in one day, they would have still been considered small and unimportant concerns. But it still mattered. He was uncomfortable with certain things. Like who would die and who he'd have to order to die. He was even more afraid of whether he really was or could ever be "The Great Military Leader".

So just for a little while longer, maybe only on weekends, he sometimes wanted to just – be; worry about the little things. Even if that meant doing something stupid. Even if that meant having no life.

Or having a Terminator for a bodyguard.

Thinking about all of that made him think of how they'd gotten to be where they were, and that invariably reminded him of the time jump. He supposed he could add Time Traveler to his list of titles, now.

Eight years – they had leapfrogged nearly a decade in the span of a few moments, and then – poof – they were here. He couldn't remember what it had looked like to be falling through time. John had never expected to undergo the journey himself. But the way it had felt was tangibly clear to him. Forbiddingly cold, he remembered that. He compared the sensation to swimming through a tunnel of ice water, the coldest you cold imagine, while his insides had felt like they were on fire. It had been… weird. As weird, he imagined, as traveling to the past to make the future, should have been impossible.

Yet, here they were.

They had ended up traveling eight years into the future, and no matter how he looked at the situation, after everything they'd tried to do, nothing had really changed.

They hadn't stopped Skynet.

They hadn't prevented Judgment Day.

The future still relied on him.

And that had made him angry.

The thought unsettled him, the thought brought him back to the girl beside him, and he tried not to have a visible reaction. She moved silently, looking for all the world like any other teenage girl; skirt, tank top, and a pattering of makeup. He wondered about that last one – why a Terminator even thought to apply it, it wasn't like she actually needed it – but not enough to ask. He didn't particularly care, anyway.

I just want to get away, from everyone. Just for a little while.

School had been letting out, and he just wanted some time to himself, and so he had told her. He knew it might be a risk, but honestly, there and then, he didn't much care. It might have been a risk to try and save the girl – whom he'd never met and necessarily didn't have a grand, foretold destiny, but mattered all the same – and he hadn't, because she had stopped him. John didn't really think this was a big one. If what she said was true – and for whatever reason, he wanted to believe her – Skynet didn't know the when and where of them. They were safer, if not actually safe.

So he found himself staring her down. Which was… uncomfortable, so it hadn't lasted very long.

But even if he didn't voice the words, his eyes had all but yelled them.

You owe me.

Cameron's expression was blank, untethered by compassion, as a machine's would be, he figured. But there was an uncertainty to her expression as well, almost as though she… grasped what went without being said. He had to remind himself not to try and stare her down again, for reasons he wasn't entirely sure of. Instead, he pretended to focus on the students streaming out of the school around them.

At first, he hadn't realize he'd spoken.

"I just want to get away, from everything. Just for a little while," he'd heard himself say to her. What was more surprising, that he'd said it, or the response that came afterward, John wasn't entirely sure. The former, he hadn't planned.

"Okay."

John turned back to look at her.

He never expected the latter.

"Okay?"

That she would actually acquiesce, just like that, caught him off guard. It left him momentarily stripped of retort, anger, and any reasonable facsimile of bitterness. The young Connor appeased them, by entertaining the notion he would come back for them. For the time being though, he would take what he could get.

The hint of uncertainty fled, and he couldn't help but wonder whether it was fact or figment.

Her voice was its usual. Monotone and cold, that of a girl and that of a Terminator. "Where you do want to go?" she'd asked, eying him in that peculiar way of hers.

The afternoon sun was traversing the sky, now, as they walked home, and he found himself a little less angry. If someone were to look, that teenage girl looking for all the world completely normal would stand stand out in one way. Her eyes would be alert – unusually so. Someone looking might even think that of the two of them, regardless of him being male, and just a few inches taller than she – and noticeably pounds heavier – it might seem like she who was the one somehow standing guard over him. But no one would think that, because she was just a petite girl, and he was just that unpopular kid in school.

They would have no idea.

When he turned his head, glancing at her, she was already observing him.

He found something else to look at, hands digging deeper into his pockets. He chuckled sarcastically. "You know," John said under his breath, rolling his eyes and reminding himself not to care. "It's impolite to stare." He reminded himself that the condescension would go over her head. Wouldn't it?

She tilted her head, but didn't flinch, staring into him. "You were staring at me."

Before he could respond – or had to – a kid rode past them and her attention shifted. The way she watched – seriously and as if to measure a threat – distracted John from his brooding. He really doubted the kid was packing. But it was an idea he wouldn't totally put past Skynet; after all, if it thought abstractly enough to come back in time for him, then who knew. He found himself chuckling because it was funny, and felt Cameron's gaze shift back to him before turning sentry on the block again.

He would have to ask her about that some time – kid terminators.

Not that she ever answered his questions.

"Yeah… I guess I was. Sorry."

"It's all right." She allowed, "I don't mind."

"Huh."

They passed the Tarson's house. He knew so because of the nameplate, proudly hung atop the front door, right above the hay-centered, green-bordered welcome mat. It was on the right, just a couple of rows before theirs.

It hadn't been long since they'd moved into the neighborhood, but John had already gotten to know it relatively well. It was a habit he had developed as a kid. Wherever they moved, he memorized the surroundings, the homes and avenues, sometimes superimposing himself onto them to pretend a familiarity. As though he'd grown up there and wouldn't be gone – on the run – before too long.

Carefully placed holiday decorations lined the pathway beyond the gates of the Tarson's. By the door – a burgundy colored slab of wood – a perch with a small wreath hung. The last major holiday had been a few months ago, by the calendar, anyway. Another thing about jumping through time that was weird – besides the whole jumping through time thing itself, anyway – it screwed with your sense of it. It was only February. As he looked, he couldn't help but notice that all the other houses had had their yards divested of such fare, and this one didn't.

That appealed to him for some unexplainable reason, and as they passed it, he found himself keeping his eyes on the house to see who lived there.

He turned back to face cemented pavement, lingering on the weeds sticking out between the plates, measuring his steps, staring at the ground. He could see their house.

Dusty brown eyes moved between him and the surrounding street. "Why is it considered impolite to stare?" It was during moments like these where the Terminator role seemed to be peeled back, and for her open curiosity, John found himself wondering how different Cameron actually was.

John looked at her, feeling a lot more disposed to talking to her than he could remember since the incident at school. Heck, since even a few hours ago. That, or it was the fact she was immune to a cold shoulder and he'd just gotten tired. Or maybe it was the way she seemed to ask him these questions. Questions that no one else would've thought to. He answered unenthusiastically, "I guess it's like putting someone on the spot. Or, depending on who you do it with, it could come off like a challenge."

Cameron was quiet, seeming to absorb the information. "Eye contact is an important component to human interaction. Avoiding eye contact suggests untrustworthiness and evasion. When is it all right to maintain it?"

John paused to think.

"Well, sometimes it depends on the situation. If you're talking and it's someone you know, holding eye contact can be good. It lets the person know you're paying attention and taking them seriously. But… let's say you don't know the person, or aren't really talking to them, then, no, it probably wouldn't be such a good idea."

He watched the frown that ghosted across her brow, eyes moving as she built around what he'd just told her. "But I know you." She was watching his steps. "Did I 'weird you out'?"

It took him a second to get used to her use of the slang. It wasn't that he didn't understand or that she'd used it incorrectly. Every day they went to school, she seemed to come back with something new. He chuckled, but confirmed her usage of said slang and answered at the same time. "Yeah, a little."

"Thank you for explaining."

"Yeah," he said. "Don't mention it."

"I won't."

John couldn't help but smirk, roll his eyes, but still smirk.

They walked into the house to find it empty. John went to the living room, quickly, Cameron moving to the dining table and depositing a solid-looking, medium-caliber pistol onto it. She would check it, then patrol the grounds, in that order.

"She's not here," John announced, stepping back into the kitchen after checking the house, and sat down across from her. He took off his backpack, lifting the flap and rummaging around. The thick, heavy weight of a calculus book hit the table, soon followed by a geometry text, and then one for history. John looked at them, and then he looked at her, or rather the gun she held. She kept cleaning it, and he kept staring at the gun. Her dark eyes only moved to follow him as he turned around, rising to suddenly investigate the fridge. He came back with an apple and a glass of milk.

"Hey, Cam?"

It was a nickname he had for her. Granted, it was a fairly straightforward one, but he was still the only one that ever used it. Mom almost always called her "you" or "her" or any other variety of personal pronoun, but only occasionally going so far as to call her by name. Those occasions were infrequent. Usually the ones involving chaos and danger, when she was distracted or frustrated enough to forget to remember that Cameron was a Terminator, and mistakenly called her by name. Otherwise it was "tin man". Sometimes when she was angry even "metal bi-"

"No."

His chain of thought crumbled.

"What?"

The cyborg stopped to look up from the firearm she was attending to; he hadn't seen her once look at anything else since coming into the kitchen. "I shouldn't do your homework for you."

John resisted the urge to smirk, or to smile, or to have any other reaction that might be construed as anything other than brooding, or at best, lukewarm engagement. He was still angry with her. He was trying to be. It was just really, really, difficult.

He knew what she was thinking. But he found himself thinking along lines completely unrelated to study. It perplexed him in the short time he'd known her sometimes how badly she managed to interpret certain social cues, and how simply and correctly she interpreted and even mimicked others. The first time they had met, she had seemed completely normal. Like any other teenage girl. So much so that he'd even wanted not to lie to her, not tell a fabricated story to this pretty girl he'd only just met. The story he'd rehearsed and memorized and repeated over and over.

And so he hadn't.

It was the truth that he'd told her. As close as he could give it.

"It'll be our secret," she'd told him.

And, dare he say it, but he'd been glad, because he thought he'd found a friend. Someone that saw enough in him to just want to talk to him.

And then he'd found out she was a Terminator.

And then he'd been angry and hadn't known what to think. Correction: He hadn't known what he wanted to think.

He still didn't.

But the point … the point … right, the point was he couldn't figure her out. It probably didn't matter. But it was still weird. She could be completely seamless one moment, and then the next… He remembered their first day at his new school. It had been mortifying. Cameron had stood at the door, announcing her arrival and waiting for permission for entry into the class from Henrys – their 2nd period teacher, as he would later introduce himself to the two new students – completely uncomprehending of the fact that all she had to do was walk into class and take any available seat.

She said she didn't have intuition, and if all he observed of her were times like that, he would've believed her. But then she'd go and anticipate – based on what? – what he was about to say before he even said it.

The incongruity of it was weird, to say the least. The incongruity of it made him kind of curious and to John, curiosity was better than anger.

"How about this: I'll explain something about humans to you; conversation, mannerisms — whatever, and in exchange you can help me with my homework?"

Usually when a guy said that to girl – minus the conversations and mannerisms part – it was a lead in to something different. But John meant just and exactly that.

"I won't do it for you," Cameron told him firmly. "I will assist?"

"Yeah," he answered.

Short of actually getting her to do it for him – which he didn't absolutely require her to, which he didn't even really need – it was the best he could hope for.

"All right… I would like that."

That's how she found them. And that's how it all started.

"You'd like what?" Sarah's voice asked.

--

She should have taken the bite out of it, the harshness out of her tone, but it was instinctive and it came out before she could stop it. She had completely forgotten about the machine. Which was a mistake.

There were any number of things which could've annoyed her at that exact time. The fact she'd been nearly worried out of her mind, wondering whether something had happened, rolling over the scenarios. The fact that they still didn't know whether Andy Goode, the good, ineffectually charming Mr. Goode, was unknowingly building the harbinger of doom in the AI system known as the Turk, and that the time she'd spent looking for John, meant more time sidetracked from that.

For which, if she were honest, she was secretly somewhat glad. She didn't know what she would do if the Turk did turn out to be Skynet.

But consciously, none of those things were what annoyed her.

If focus was Sarah's best friend, then observation was like a close cousin to her, the kind you grew up with, that was family and that was close but not so close that you didn't know when to ignore it, cut it loose, versus when to pay it and its warnings full attention. That instinct that had colored her tongue just a moment back, well, it was telling her something, and she followed nothing if not her instincts.

Of course it didn't help she'd walked in on the machine telling John what she'd like. Her son. As if a Terminator "liked" anything. And if one did, the word and the thought weren't supposed to share space with John.

There were times she almost… not liked her, but let down her guard. For all its deadly precision, the machine had a way of making you drop your guard. For those moments, Sarah chastised herself. Enrique was evidence enough of why that was a mistake. A fatal one.

She couldn't say what is was about Cameron that sometimes set her off. Well, she could. She – it – was a Terminator. A killing machine. It was only due to necessity and the meddling of persons from the future that she hadn't immediately moved to find a way to deactivate the first one, John or no. It was irrational in large part, she knew. But her instincts had almost always proved right. When she felt something was up and John and she needed to move, they moved. Chance and the occasional competence of the authorities wasn't something she liked to bet on, even on the occasions one was in her favor. Irrational or not, they were often reliable.

They were telling her something was going on.

Or more likely, something almost happened.

It was all in the reactions. Either something would validate her suspicions, undefined as they were, or it wouldn't, and she'd very simply commence with a dressing down of her son over his disappearing act.

Or maybe she was overreacting.

The elder Connor would find out either way.

The way she figured, it was the machine that would react first. She was half of a mind that it had probably detected her when she'd pulled up, walked down the front lawn and opened the front door. But Sarah was slightly surprised to find John being the one who reacted first. That only irritated her further. Subsequently, she was only half listening when he began to talk. For some reason, it slipped her mind that he already had something to be worried about and his reaction didn't necessarily indicate anything else.

Still in his seat, he looked guilty. He also looked half-indignant, like there was a part of him seeing how far he could push her, intentionally trying to set her off. She knew this John, and maybe sometimes shouldered the blame for this John, a little too much. Which should have given her pause and changed her course – because she'd seen that look come from him before – but that she ignored.

"Mom," he began, "I know. Nothing happened, I'm fine, Cameron was with me."

He said it quickly, almost in a rush. As though if he said it all at once she would somehow understand the full scope of things and he wouldn't get in trouble, and his ass wouldn't be ground to dirt and refurbished like a cheap computer for making her worry.

But what she heard was:

Nothing happened.

A denial.

Cameron was with me.

Something she was explicitly aware of.

Angry mother looked from confused and contrite son, to oblivious Terminator.

"Hello, Sarah Connor."

"Where were you two?" She was tired and really, really didn't want to be dealing with a recalcitrant John just then. In fact, she was so tired that she was probably imagining things. Please, let me be imagining things.

They seemed to exchange looks. It was actually just a nervous giveaway on John's part, glancing at the machine before answering. But Cameron – Cameron didn't realize, and tilted her head and held his gaze almost quizzically, understanding that this was one of those moments where what was unsaid was important, and looks and meanings were exchanged without words. Inadvertently, she imparted a greater meaning to their exchange then there actually was.

And that's just how Sarah interpreted it – incorrectly.

Then Cameron shook her head, and went and said exactly the wrong thing.

"It's all right Sarah, he was with me."

It was meant to be reassuring. To say something along the lines of: he was in minimal danger, and we were only late because John wanted to be out of the house, and out of school, and just someplace where everything didn't know to find him.

But Sarah heard – and saw – it differently.

The looks.

Cameron calling her by her first name. The implied informality when she was not at all in the mood to put up with it.

And then the worst of all.

He was with me.

And that was pretty much the last straw.

Any other time she would have ignored it. Any other time she would have sighed and ordered John to go to his room.

She had been initially intending to have a talking to with John. Find out where he went. She wouldn't bother to lay down any ground rules because John knew them well enough. Most kids could make the excuse, at some point or another, they didn't know. John, by virtue of who he was and what she'd drilled into him, did know. After that, she was going to have a word with Ms. Metal about playing team ball. But, as soon as it all played out in front of her, that changed. The order was reversed, and the script – along with the gradual countdown from the number ten she'd been holding in her head – went right out the freakin' window.

Her gaze ratcheted to Cameron.

"We need to talk," she said, leaving the room, the order clear.

Now.

John stood, half out of his chair, for his part totally confused. Swiveling in his seat wordlessly to confer with the woman with whom he shared blame.

He blinked. "What… just happened?"

Cameron's gaze was guarded, anticipating something – the elder Connor wasn't to be underestimated – although she didn't know what. When it moved to John, it became more open, and she acquired an expression of uncertainty. "I'm not sure."

Sarah waited for her in the other room.

She'd known she'd follow her. The machine didn't take orders from her, and it had said that it didn't take orders from John. Not this John. Not yet. But she'd put a weight in her voice. Usually when she did, people paid attention, or at least stopped screwing around. She was aware that it didn't give two shakes of a candy stick about her in the grand scheme of things. It was here for her son.

Which sometimes worried her all the more.

Sarah was about to misstep, and she didn't even see it. She was making an incorrect assumption, and she'd regret it.

--

"We need to talk."

Cameron didn't understand.

She really didn't.

In an attempt to, she looked to John, but he just gave her a worried shrug. That, and an expression she'd managed to translate – on her own – to be a "lost" one. She rose from the table, gently replacing the last part of the gun before following after the other woman. John's head followed her steps the way she followed Sarah's.

The Terminator found her at the door to her room. Cameron calculated there was a purpose to this. Intimidation was unlikely. Psychological reinforcement – possibly. She watched her intently, almost warily, but kept a distance of seven feet between the two of them. It was not for her own safety, but rather to reassure John's mother. None of the weapons in the house – most located in Sarah's room, which they were just outside of – could effectively damage or disable her.

Further, Sarah was aware of only one method for permanently disabling her, and for that, she lacked the immediate tools.

The woman's posture was rigid and she held her gaze as she approached. Eyes narrowed. A definite indication of hostility. Cameron observed a number of things – very quickly. She looked over Sarah. Her heart rate had increased by 57 percent. Her rate of breath had risen as well.

Increased capillary reaction indicated impending and motivating emotional reaction.

Not good.

"Just what do you think you're doing?"

Talking to you, would have been a viable response. Cameron logged that under sarcastic humor, and, immediately deemed it unacceptable for the situation. She understood more than enough to know that Sarah didn't mean in the immediate tense.

And yet she still had no idea what she was talking about.

"I was assisting John with his homework."

"Leave him alone. Do you understand me?"

She didn't. She was trying. But truthfully, she wasn't even close.

Her head cocked slightly, her gaze so like what was beneath. "I have to protect him."

But here was where Sarah would misstep and make a mistake.

If she were thinking clearly, or rather, if she were thinking more clearly, she would have seen the incorrect path. Because it was one she'd anticipated and steered away from more than once before. She was – she thought – very clearly aware of the machine's limitations. And that it didn't think she understood some of the things Sarah saw. There was… something… a current, between John and it. The adolescent incomprehension her son exhibited whenever the deadly machine was in the room, was apparent to her. The inquisitive glances it sometimes sent his way, she saw just as brightly.

But she let them slide.

Her conscious mind didn't really question that. Sarah Connor was a creature of instinct first and foremost, and she didn't question them. Her unconscious mind, however, knew the reasons very well. It would have helped if her unconscious had assumed contact with her conscious, just then.

"None of your games. Your plays at affection. Whatever they are. Stop it. You're not Suzy Homemaker. Just do your job."

The problem was, Sarah wasn't really thinking. She was feeling. And she was reacting, in her way, to a perceived threat as rightly she should. The problem with feelings was that in the moments they ruled, they were all important. They fueled you and inspired a purpose. But as soon as they left, you were stuck with consequences. She felt correctly. She just didn't think correctly.

Cameron stared back at her blankly.

Something else Sarah had observed was that the machine had a propensity to play dumb.

But Cameron didn't understand. She really didn't.

Sarah realized this suddenly.

"Never mind" she said just as suddenly, frowning discreetly at the realization. She turned, intending to leave but paused in her steps, half-turning despite herself to look at the bemused machine, before muttering, "Just… never mind."

The Terminator had no idea what she was talking about.

Or at least, she hadn't.

Not until Sarah explained it to her.