John? John you can't do this. You don't know what you're about to do.

He's not sure how long he stands there, feet bare against cold tile, the big mirror showing him a bruised and beaten version of himself. The feeling that a change is needed on top of the one that has already occurred within.

He was prepared to use his pocket knife if he had to, but a cursory check of the drawers under the sink yields a pair of scissors. Slight hesitation before the first cut, pulling the hair from his head with the scissors open at the ready, dead eyes reflecting back at him.

He doesn't know who that person is anymore.

Snip, snip.

No John, you can't do this. You're not doing the right thing. This is not the right thing John.

He wonders about the right thing as hair flutters downward in front of his face, strays sticking to the cuts on his cheek. How they had gone through the battle of fighting the future with an unspoken creed of innocent lives must be spared at all costs.

Oh, they'd failed in that from time to time. Dyson, Andy Goode, Derek's men, and that girl he couldn't save at school.

Innocence was the furthest thing from what he saw in Sarkissian's eyes as he screamed and pistol whipped Mom right in the face. How he grunted with rage as his knee shot out, catching ribs that still felt sore. That cold death grimace he'd over ever seen on a machine.

Snip, snip.

Things are good now, things are fine now. I ran a test. Things are good now. I'm fixed now.

He wonders if that's all killing is to them, the machines, if the ending of a life is nothing more than problem solving. Sarkissian was going to kill them both, he has no doubt in his mind about that, and he did what he had to do so save Mom.

Honestly, he doesn't remember exactly what he did, what sounds were made. He never felt the man's last breath escaping. It's probably good that he doesn't, the details don't matter because he was a problem, a threat.

One swift move and the problem was solved.

Snip, snip.

You can trust me now. Everything's good now.

The look on her face in the van, constantly asking if he was alright, the distinct feeling that she wasn't talking about possible injuries. She wanted to know how he felt. About doing what he did, about Cameron's blank stare, looking at him like he was just another target, and the way his stomach dropped when she lifted that gun.

Her demand for an answer before the sound of metal and glass colliding.

She doesn't know. She doesn't…

There are several things Mom doesn't know about him. Things he's sure she thinks she does. One little detail he's learned today, one that would crush her if she knew, was that his hands were steady.

Killing Sarkissian, he didn't hesitate, didn't flinch, didn't blink. He was a problem, a threat, and then just a body lying on the floor. One second he was there and the next he wasn't. She kept asking if he was alright. She wanted to talk about what happened, he didn't, knew he couldn't tell her about the machines. About how maybe, just for a second, he understood.

How that scared him more than actually killing a man.

He finds clippers in another drawer.

Buzz, buzz.

I'm good now, I'm good. I ran a test. Everything's perfect. I'm perfect.

Mom wanted to talk about Cameron, what happened to her, some kind of reset protocol and she just another machine with a mission.

Kill John Connor.

Kill him.

The pang of sadness, the tinge of regret, immediately followed by the flash of anger.

She knew them, she knew everything.

After all they'd been through, after all they'd accomplished, she was suddenly nothing more than their biggest threat.

Buzz, buzz.

I'm sorry for what I did. I'm sorry. It wasn't me. You have to understand it wasn't me. That wasn't me.

Cutting into her scalp for the second time wasn't any easier than the first. Hands shaking, the knife too dull, and the other tool ill prepared. His failure to do what was needed when it because it wasn't her walking him through it this time. He knew what to do but he didn't have her assurance that it was alright. That she could do her job and come back. It rattled him.

He could kill a man to save Mom, but he couldn't kill her to save himself.

Buzz, buzz.

You can't let this happen John, you can't. Please listen to me. Listen to me, I don't want to go. Please John, please.

Another accident, another narrow escape before she's pleading with him. It's a trick, he knows it's a trick, Mom's yelling a constant reminder of the fact. Still he hesitates. Ten seconds ago she threw a wrench at him; ten seconds ago she was hunting him down like an animal.

Now she sounds like that girl he met in New Mexico, the one whose dad sold tractors, the hot girl who took pity on the new kid.

He still hesitates, does not want to do what needs to be done. Not with her.

John listen to me, I don't want to go. Please. John. Please. I'm good now. Listen to me, I don't want to go. I'm sorry.

Twenty people are dead because of him and no matter what Derek tries to tell him about people refusing to accept the reality of the situation, his mind is made up.

It's his fault.

They carry death with them sure, but she was different. She is different. He made her, he sent her back, there was damage to her chip but he can fix it. She can be repaired, he needs her.

Derek looks at him as if he's lost his mind, and it's not the first time.

She saved his life, she saves his life.

Mom's turn now.

She knows what he did, even says she's proud and almost sounds like she means it. But fixing Cameron is not an option.


Burn her.

He turns the clippers off.

That wasn't me. I'm fixed now. I ran a test.

Watching her there in that rusted out shell of a car, he already knew he wasn't going to go through with it. Derek asking for the chip, his silent refusal to hand it over, he could see worry and suspicion in Mom's eyes but she kept quiet.

One touch of her hand and he knew what he would do, said sorry, but was not sorry. Pulling the gun was admittedly dramatic but it got his point across. He wasn't going to give her up. And when he gives it to her, makes her promise, she gives it right back.

Everything's perfect.

The sink is a mess, blood still sticky on his face, when Mom knocks on the door, thinking this day could somehow be solved with a sandwich. She needs him to know something he already knows. What they do, why they do it, how they do it. It's all for a reason, and nothing about today can be changed.

He knows this, has always understood it to a point. That the lying, cheating, and stealing has always been about saving the world.

They're alive yes. It's enough, yes.

Yes, he's listening.

Staring in the mirror, that kid with the shaggy haircut and the gleam of hope is gone. He's not sure who is staring back at him now, the future leader of mankind or someone else entirely.

You can trust me.

He finds her sitting on one of the chairs staring up at the Jesus statue, briefly wondering if it actually means anything to the machine inside, or she simply has no other functions to perform at the moment. He takes a seat next to her, she turning her head to acknowledge his presence, looks at his hair but doesn't comment.

One of the staples in her cheek is missing, a shiny silver reminder of why he shouldn't trust her stares back at him from underneath the split flesh. He lifts a hand to the wound, gently pushes the skin back together.

"You can't do that again," she says. "If I go bad you can't bring me back."

His hand drops from her cheek, eyes locked into hers, doesn't say anything to her demand. Sure, he made her promise but knows he wouldn't be able to do the same.

I love you. I love you please…

"Can I ask you something?" He says.


"Don't lie."

"I won't," she replies. "Promise."

"What kind of cake were you going to get?"

For some reason he needs to know. Needs reassurance that it's still her in there, that yes, he is the world's biggest idiot for bringing her back, but wasn't entirely wrong for doing it.

She's different, she's special, he needs her.

She looks at him for a moment, as if she's actually thinking it over.

"Chocolate," she answers. "Your favorite."

He wants to laugh but finds that place inside of him suddenly empty. Instead he just runs his fingers through his freshly shaven head and sighs.

She's still looking at him, moves her hand over his and he lets her.

I love you John, and you love me.