Chapter 01: The Cat and the Fiddle

It was eight o'clock in the morning and a faint mist had settled over the Calabasas highlands, hiding the already secluded house in a cloud of obscurity. Anyone driving down the 101 Freeway would have a hard time spotting the building, even without the morning mist. But the eyes of weary truckers were not as acute as those of a stray feline. The cat narrowed his eyes at the all-but-invisible glow of the distant house and licked his lips, knowing that dinner lay ahead.

In less than ten minutes, the young cat had scurried down the hill and into the surrounding fields, stealthily approaching the small house. For the last three months, this cat had been forced to fend for himself after his owner died, leaving no provisions for his future care. It wasn't easy to go from being waited on to scrounging for scraps, especially with the ever present threat of men from the local pound. With no other option available to him, the cat had abandoned the cities in favour of smaller settlements where detection was less likely.

Little did he know that attempting to infiltrate this particular house was more hazardous than blatantly stealing a cop's donut from his hands. But desperate times called for desperate measures, as the occupants of this house knew only too well. Satisfied that the coast was clear, the cat skulked from the long grass and sped over to the garbage cans. One single sniff of the air confirmed the presence of edible food and the cat wasted no time in pouncing up at the can, his back legs scrambling as he lifted himself unceremoniously into the trash.

The cat searched through the various leftovers and was a little surprised by the large quantities of uneaten pancakes amongst the discarded food stuffs. Feeling like he'd hit the jackpot, the cat tucked into the unwanted flatbreads with wholehearted appreciation that would have brought a smile to their maker's face. The cat was so involved in his eating that he did not immediately notice the large shadow that now loomed over him. Once he did, however, the cat spun around and looked up to see a human with long brown hair.

The human stared down at him with a slight frown and tilted her head to one side as if considering something. The cat simply stared back, waiting for the tell-tale signs of impending danger. He had been raised by humans, so he wasn't as cautious as the other felines he'd met on the street, but this particular one was slightly… odd. She had a scent that was did not belong to any human, though he'd smelt it many times before, every day in fact.

The strange human continued to stare down at him, her head tilting to the other side, not blinking once since she'd caught him thieving her leftovers. The cat decided it might as well make the first move and offered the human an inquisitive "meow". The human looked taken aback by the greeting and froze for a second before suddenly reaching into the trash can and grabbing the cat by the scruff. She lifted him out and held him at eye level for a moment before casually lowering him to her side as she strode into the household.

It was warm and smelt homely, triggering blurred memories of his old life of comfort and peace. The human carried him into the room with the noise box and dumped him on the comfy chair, where another human sat with his eyes half closed. This human was a male specimen, no older than the one who carried him indoors. The male opened his eyes and blinked a few times before glancing down at the cat, who sat patiently on the cushion, his tail swishing from side to side curiously.

"I found this cat rummaging through our trash."

The female's voice was whispery and carried a hint of innocence, but her tone was flat and unnaturally precise. The male looked from her to the cat and raised an amused eyebrow.

"You found it in the trash."

"Yes."

"And you put its dirty paws on the couch, lovely."

The cat hadn't the first clue what the humans were saying, their dialect was as alien to him as his was to them. But he understood tones and certain facial expressions. The male was half-amused half-annoyed at the female, who remained eerily unemotional. She grabbed him by the scruff once more and held him aloft, causing the male to wince sympathetically before placing his hands under the cat's forelegs and relieving the female of holding him.

He placed the cat on his lap and looked him over, as humans often did with animals, checking for any signs of illness or irregularity. The cat allowed the male to handle him, not wanting to be thrown out into the cold so soon. The human gave a satisfied "hmm" before tickling the cat's ears in the same manner as his owner once did. The female sat down next to the male and watched with slight confusion as the cat began purring at the attention.

"What is it doing?"

The male switched to the other ear and smiled as the cat's purring increased, both in volume and frequency.

"It's called purring, Cameron. It's what cats do when they're happy. You wanna try?"

The female tentatively reached out and gave a small scratch behind the ear, but received no praise from the cat, leaving her a little dejected. The male sighed mockingly and stroked the cat's head.

"I'm guessing you're not really a cat person."

The female leaned away and placed her hands on her lap, her face blank once more.

"He is a possible threat to us."

"What? How can it be a threat, it's a cat? And how do you know it's a he?"

The female pointed to the cat's under-body, making the male's face redden slightly as he looked without thinking.

"Oh… that's how. Trust you to be as invasive in his privacy as you are in mine."

"He isn't from around here. He might have an owner who is looking for him. He could lead someone here. We should kill him before he poses any problems."

The male held the cat away from her and frowned disapprovingly at the female.

"He's harmless. He isn't wearing a licence, so that means he's a stray. No one is gonna come looking for him, okay?"

The female opened her mouth to speak but decided against it, conceding to the male's authority.

"Okay. I won't kill him. But what are we going to do with him. Lock him up maybe?"

"Nope, I've got a better idea…"

The male handed the cat over to her and she took him awkwardly as the male got to his feet and gave a yawn as he stretched his legs and back, his joints clicking in the process. He then made to leave, but the female stood up and called to him.

"Wait! What am I supposed to do with him?"

The male turned around, an amused expression on his face.

"You're going to learn to look after him."

He raised his eyebrows fleetingly and grinned at her before turning back towards the kitchen. The female frowned at him and then turned her attention to the cat who was hanging uncomfortably in her steely grip. She stared into his eyes, her brow knitted together in confusion as she was at a loss as to what to do with him.

"What is your name?"

The cat simply stared at her, not understanding a word she was saying. The female's frown deepened as she gave the cat a small shake, as if this would prompt an answer, but when it didn't, her shoulders drooped slightly as a faintly exasperated look flickered across her face.

"This is going to be problematic."

--

James Sherman glanced at his watch for the sixth time in the last twenty minutes, desperately wishing his shift to end before his boss delegated the last minute duties. But in keeping with his luck, the boss poked his head out of his office and narrowed his eyes at James.

"Ah, Sherman, I was hoping someone might still be around. We got a John Doe awaiting autopsy in storage five. Take care of it, will you."

James pretended to be on his way out, hoping that his boss might take the hint, but he knew it wouldn't work. It never did.

"Did you hear me, Sherman?"

"Loud and clear. I'll get right on it, boss."

"Good man."

James let out a sigh as he slouched down the corridor to cold storage room five, reserved for possible murder victims and suicides. Picking up his apron, James stepped inside, shivering against the cold and took up the note board left by the previous occupant. He scanned the list, finding three different Does until coming upon the one in question: John Doe, Serial number 553524#, possible murder/suicide victim. Not wanting to drag this out, James opened the storage unit and slid the tray three quarters of the way, allowing him to examine the upper body.

He flicked on his audio recorder and cleared his throat before beginning. God, my life sucks, he thought to himself.

"Time is eight eleven am. Subject John Doe; real name unknown, brought in on the third of October with a direct puncture to the heart."

James unzipped the body bag, wincing against the waft of cold air and the smell of decay.

"Injury was fatal, exact time of death unknown. Possible victim of homicide or suicide, prognosis suggests the former. Given the angle in which… Whoa, bloody hell…"

James couldn't believe his eyes; the wound that he'd seen days before was now completely healed. Not just healed either, there were no signs of scarring or any indication that this body had had a gaping hole in its chest. James stared down at the corpse, at a loss as to what to make of this discovery. He didn't have very long to ponder, however, as his previous opinion was proven correct. His life really did suck.

The corpse's eyes suddenly flew open, a dim purple glow emanating from within the deep black of its irises. Before James could so much as breathe, the corpse grabbed him by the throat and squeezed, crushing his larynx. James Sherman's lifeless body dropped to the floor with a heavy thud, the product of too many Twinkies during lunch hours. The corpse breathed deeply, his chest heaving from the stress of rebirth.

Jason Corvain. That was his name, as he now recalled.

Jason took a moment to steady his breathing, his mind racing with questions and system checks, too many to answer all at once. After a moment, he took one long and steadying breath before calming his thoughts into order. With the brief chaos quelled, Jason turned his mind towards running a self-diagnostic.

Running… Circulatory system fully functional… Heart fully repaired… Cerebral functions fully restored… Warning: Neural net compromised.

Jason was always one to take the good with the bad, but that last part was troubling. Like any true cyborg, Jason couldn't survive without his cybernetic components, and learning that the better half of his brain was currently unstable is not something he wanted to know. And then came the short term amnesia, though thankfully Jason could fix this problem easily enough. He tentatively probed his neural net, wary of any sudden negative feedback, and carefully accessed his memory subsystems.

He reversed the recordings back by several days, coming upon his last memory of which he was fully aware. He paused and played back the recording, seeing through his own eyes as John Connor charged him and they both stumbled over the edge, the boy managing to grasp the railing whilst Jason plummeted to the ground. He never touched the floor, however, as he landed on an exposed pipe, which punctured his heart and ended all life as he knew it.

Life, it seemed, was not totally lost to him, however. His cybernetic enhancements had kept his brain alive whilst his body did what was necessary to repair itself, but not without a price. Jason winced and let out a shuddering cry as his head throbbed painfully and his vision blurred for a few seconds. His neural net had been strained beyond its capacities and was now slowly degrading; he would only last for a few precious weeks before it failed altogether, rendering him vegetated, a fate far worse than death in his opinion.

Jason closed his eyes against the pain, which he could no longer inhibit, and flexed his muscles as they quickly weaned out of entropy. After several long minutes, Jason climbed out of the body bag and dropped from the tray, his feet feeling the harsh cold of the storage room floor. Nothing would ever be the same again, he was slowly dying, but his mission remained. His mission would be fulfilled before his end would come.

Jason crouched down next to Sherman's body and began removing his clothing and personal effects, including his wallet and car keys. Once fully clothed, he approached the storage door and cautiously peered out into the corridor, his eyes darting from left to right for a clear coast. Satisfied that no one was around to spot a corpse leaving the morgue, Jason crept down the corridor and took the nearest fire exit into the dark alley behind the building.

He started down the alley, a map of the local area appearing in a sidebar in his peripheral, but stopped short as his head flared with pain once more. Jason fell back against the grimy wall and stifled a cry of anguish as he felt his skull splitting in half. He slid to his haunches and clenched his fists against the pain as it slowly subsided into a dull ache. A chill breeze blew across his face and the rustling of newspapers met Jason's ears, but the only thing that stood out amongst the background noise was the almost inaudible sound of fine fabric caressing equally smooth skin.

Then that faint smell alerted him to her presence and he knew that his troubles had only just begun.

"I guess I have you to thank for my survival."

Jason's voice was hoarse from lack of use and his throat stung from the dry exertion. He kept his head down and drew in on himself in defiance of the cold, which was slowly replaced by human warmth as he felt that familiar presence kneeling beside him. A soft hand brushed his hair out of his face and he was greeted with a sympathetic smile from the girl with brown eyes.

"I told you I wasn't going to give up on you. Why start now?"

Jason smiled faintly and met her gaze, the pain becoming little more than a memory.

"No reason I can see. Except maybe when you consider that my time is rapidly diminishing."

Cameron smiled again and stroked the side of his face affectionately.

"Oh, sweetheart, you're not going anywhere."

A nearby rustling drew Jason's attention and he snapped his gaze to a pair of trash cans as a homeless man peered out of his make-shift home, a look of incredulity on his filth-ridden face.

"Dude, who're you talking to?"

Jason looked to his side but Cameron was gone and the cold air had returned to bite at his flesh.

"No one, I was talking to no one."

Then it happened, something he couldn't explain; the sound of a violin playing somewhere in the distance. Jason attuned his ears to try and locate the music's source, but his mind was still buzzing and concentration was not an asset he possessed at the moment.

"Where is that coming from?"

The homeless man shook his head and uncorked his bottle of cheap liquor.

"Dude, whatever you're on, I'll give you this whole bottle for an ounce."

Jason regarded the man as the music faded beyond his capacity to detect. A small sting erupted from his middle and forefinger as the serrated blades broke through his skin and he staggered to his feet, the homeless man looking on in awe before the blades severed his main artery and life poured out of him onto the cold floor that he called home.

--

Time: 08.24am

Current Threat Level: None

Time Since Last Threat Detection: 32.5 hours 22 seconds

Cameron watched through the living room window as a flock of birds suddenly erupted from the trees, her HUD briefly flashing a warning before returning to its usual state. Just five more minutes left before she could return to her daily routine. Cameron had come to the belief that maybe the cat that was now hanging by the scruff at her side had a mate in the nearby area. Should this prove to be correct, she would have to capture the female too. Cameron narrowed her vision to focus on a bird as it hopped through the yard, weighing the choice of shooting it before it could perform an aerial assault on the windows with its excretions.

The bird caught a lucky break; however, as Sarah entered the room mere moments before Cameron decided to snap its neck. Cameron remembered Sarah ordering her not to touch a bird that once got stuck in the chimney of their old house and guessed that her conviction would not have changed since then. She deemed Sarah to be a sentimentalist, despite her otherwise aggressive behaviour. Sarah relaxed into the couch and narrowed her eyes at Cameron, who still held the cat in her grip.

"Where'd the cat come from?"

Cameron turned away from the window, convinced that the cat was without an accomplice, and regarded Sarah closely.

"I found it in the trash. He was stealing our food."

"Food that we threw out, he's welcome to it. And don't hold him like that, give him here."

Sarah held out her arms and Cameron placed the cat within reach, allowing Sarah to sweep him up and settle the feline on her lap, receiving a "meow" of appreciation, bringing a rare small smile to her face. Cameron watched as the cat rolled onto its back and purred as Sarah tickled his stomach.

"He has a habit."

Sarah looked up at Cameron with a slight frown.

"A habit? What kind?"

"He was trying to terminate the curtains with his claws."

Sarah raised an accusing eyebrow at the cat, who just continued to squirm under her attention. Cameron remained rooted to the spot, her head tilted to one side, a gesture that was all manner of annoying to Sarah. After a few moments, she couldn't take it anymore and glared up at the machine.

"Will you go and do something instead of standing around like a statue!"

"John told me to look after the feline. He said it would give me something to occupy my time."

Cameron reached out and took the cat from Sarah, her protection programming taking precedence. Sarah sighed and stood up, placing her hands on the cat's underside as Cameron held him under his forelegs.

"If you're going to be a cat-sitter you might as well learn how to handle one properly. Hold him like this…"

Sarah gently pushed the cat onto Cameron's front so that he could grapple her shirt with his claws. She then directed Cameron's hands to his lower body, her left hand supporting his back end whilst her right settled on his spine, keeping him securely in place. Cameron blinked at the change of position, not registering it as any more efficient than her preferred method of handling. But then she took into account the cat's comfort and realised that Sarah was trying to teach her "proper", as in conducive, methods of handling the cat.

"The cat is more comfortable this way?"

Sarah stroked his back and gave Cameron a look of annoyance.

"He feels safer this way. Just don't drop him. Now go annoy John or Derek, give me some peace."

Cameron turned slowly on the spot as Sarah dropped back onto the sofa and closed her eyes, her head resting against a pillow. Before Cameron could leave, however, she called her back all of a sudden.

"One more thing: give him a name. Something you won't be embarrassed to shout out in public."

Cameron felt that hardly narrowed her options, as she had never been embarrassed, nor would she ever be. Regardless, she took Sarah's instructions and began running through multiple lists of possible names and adjusted her grip slightly before heading into the kitchen to ponder over her new pet.

--

John finished drying his hair and gave a wide yawn as he staggered out the bathroom and into his bedroom, only to find the Kid sat there reading a letter. John frowned at the youth and cleared his throat audibly, making the boy jump out of his skin.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"

The Kid smiled mischievously and held up one of the letters.

"I'm reading your luuurve letters from Riley. What's a 'yarn collector' and why does she keep going on about 'carrots and apples'?"

John gritted his teeth and snatched the letter from the Kid's hand, tearing it in the process. The Kid chuckled and grabbed the others before bolting towards the door, but John caught him around the middle and tore the letters from his grasp before hurling him out into the corridor.

"Stay the hell away from my room, you hear me?"

The Kid picked himself up and brushed his clothes, an amused smile on his face.

"Whatever you say, 'Cat Fancy'."

John made towards the youth but he darted down the stairs, laughing maniacally as he went. John stood framed in his doorway for a moment before turning into the room and gathering the letters together. He rifled through them and was about to put them back inside his cupboard, but instead he screwed them up and pocketed them, deciding to burn them later.

"I see the rebel phase has begun."

John spun around to find Derek standing in his doorway, his arms folded behind his back, as was his custom.

"Kyle was the same, you know. Except his struck in the middle of a raid on our base."

John sat down on his bed, consciously projecting the image of curiosity so as to hear more about his father. Rarely did his uncle speak about Kyle, and he wasn't going to waste an opportunity when it presented itself.

"Yeah? How'd that work out?"

Derek snorted and took a step inside, his eyes misting over as fond memories flashed in his mind.

"He blew the head off of three 'rubber skins'."

"Really?"

"Yep. Clean off, all in a row, one shot. For all of us who saw it, we all agreed to try and beat his shot, but none of us ever came close. Not once."

John smiled as admiration welled inside him.

"Well let's hope the little guy will be a skilled marksman one day. Something good has to come out of his behaviour. At this rate I'm gonna have to get a lock fitted to my door, if only to keep him out."

Derek's eyes flashed and a faintly sardonic smile crossed his face.

"What about Cameron? You gonna lock her out too?"

John frowned at his uncle, knowing full well what he was getting at.

"I take it you heard us last night."

"I did. So… what were you guys talking about at three in the morning?"

John shuffled slightly and met Derek's glare with one of his own.

"I couldn't sleep. Cameron came by, as she always does, to make sure I was safe."

"And she decided to stop for a little chat?"

"You know her; never willing to let anything drop."

Derek's smile returned as he nodded slowly.

"You know, there really is nothing to stop her from slitting all of our throats in our sleep, yours being the first."

John clenched his fist, a sudden image of Cameron running a knife across his throat flashing before his eyes.

"You're right. There is nothing stopping her… except her. She would never do it. She would never allow herself to do it."

"How can you be sure?"

"Because I know her. I trust her."

Derek took a deep sigh and just stared at John for a long moment before turning back to the door without another word. Once he was gone, John let out long breath and punched the mattress in frustration. He was so very sick and tired of Derek's constant mongering and wished that he could go one day without having to listen to it. But then, Derek was just one of the many voices of caution that were just as valuable as his own conviction. Derek was a constant reminder for him to never forget what she was, and part of him needed that.

--

"Why, oh, why must you continue to lie to yourself day by day? Why can't you just face the truth? You cannot kill him."

Jason adjusted his shirt collar, vaguely aware of her voice at his shoulder. He'd since visited an old store and stolen some clean clothes as well as a 9mm he found behind the counter. He had everything he needed, and he knew where John could be found, yet here he was; fussing over an item of clothing that refused to sit straight. Cameron rested her chin on his shoulder and let out a sigh.

"Are you even alive in there?"

Jason looked up at the mirror in front of him, not seeing her reflected there, although he could still feel her warmth and pressure. He had since given up trying to fight her existence and so settled on not caring instead. And as numb as he felt, her presence still held a soothing element to it, just like old times.

It struck him again, that music. The distant violin piece, a song he couldn't name but was no less familiar. Jason once again tried to attune his ears to locate the source, but like before; it went just as soon as it came. Cameron wrapped an arm around him comfortingly and smiled softly.

"It's not all in your head. I can hear it too."

Jason sniffed as a smirk crossed his lips.

"That's because you are inside my head."

He gently broke free of her and began combing his hair, all the while planning his method of attack on the Connor household. An upfront assault would most definitely result in his demise, sneaking in through the back would have limited success, what with John's mechanical bodyguard on watch 24/7. If he had access to a sniper rifle he could just pop one in John's head at the first chance, but acquiring such a weapon would be a long-winded affair and Jason lacked the patience for such a wait.

"Can't you just give it up? Skynet has abandoned you. What kind of life could it possibly offer you in the long run, hmm?"

"I don't have a long run, remember. I just don't want to die without regret. I'm going to kill John Connor, if it's the last thing I do, which it probably will be."

Cameron snuck around to face him and he noticed that she was wearing a dress again, but the colour was not wholly to his liking. Whether or not it was by his will, Jason will always wonder, but her dress turned from pale gold to perfect white in an instant. Were he in a different mindset, he might've been surprised, but he no longer cared for such trivial thoughts. His whole outlook had become more than a little nihilistic since his brush with death.

"You can't. You tried once already and failed utterly. Your mission has failed."

"I'm still capable of completing it."

Cameron smiled sympathetically and reached for his cheek but he moved away from her hand.

"No you're not. You had only one opportunity, and he bested you. Skynet's purpose is no longer yours; surely you must see this now."

Jason gritted his teeth and brushed past her, his anger and frustration reaching boiling point.

"I don't care! I don't care if killing John will ensure Skynet's survival! Who knows, maybe someone else will follow John's example and destroy Skynet anyway! So there's no point! No point to anything anymore! I have to do this, not for Skynet, not for you, but for me! ME!"

Jason took up the 9mm and slammed the clip into the butt, pulling the chamber back to load a bullet, ready to blow Connor's brains out with a single shot. Jason stormed across the room and placed a hand on the door handle but Cameron slid between him and the exit.

"There's another way. There's a cause that lies separate from Skynet, or the Resistance. You don't have to owe your loyalty to just those two. There is a third option, Jason."

Jason leaned forwards, bringing his face a mere inch away from hers.

"I told you; I don't care."

Before she could answer, both she and Jason flicked their attention to the faint violin as it returned in a stronger frequency. This time, Jason was able to get a lock and successfully determined its source, a small building a few blocks away.

"I guess I might as well find out what this is about before I go 'John hunting'. Now move asi-…"

But she had already gone, and a part of him knew that he would never see her again, at least not in that form of being. With a twinge of regret, Jason opened the door and strode out without a second glance; he wasn't going to return to this place.

Tonight would hold a one way ticket for him.

--

John turned over for what must have been the thirtieth time since he'd woken and been unable to slip back into sleep. With a frustrated sigh, he conceded defeat and sat up, wiping the sleep from his eyes and checked the clock, which told him it was just two in the morning. He sat there for several long moments, his mind empty of thoughts as he simply stared down at the columned patterns on his sheets, thinking of nothing in particular.

After what seemed like an eternity, John forced him self out of bed and staggered over to his bedroom door, which he'd kept closed tonight. He peered out into the hall, listening for the steady breathing of his mother, Derek, and the Kid. With everyone accounted for, John tip-toed down the stairs, skipping the second from last that had a tendency to creak.

He fancied pouring himself a glass of milk and approached the kitchen but stopped mid-stride as the hairs on his neck suddenly stood up. In full knowledge of the cause, John turned around to see the top of Cameron's head as she sat motionless on the couch. This was odd, as she normally patrolled the house at this time of night. His curiosity getting the better of him, John abandoned his route to the kitchen and entered the living room, circling the couch.

What he saw made him want to grab a camera and immortalise the moment. Cameron was sitting perfectly still, with the cat curled up on her lap, fast asleep. Cameron barely registered John's presence, her attention stolen by the sleeping feline, her eyes wide with wonder and fascination. John kneeled down and cleared his throat gently, earning him a sharp look from Cameron.

"Hush, you must not wake him."

Her voice was barely audible, a mere whisper, but like anything she said nowadays; John heard it with complete clarity.

"Okay, I'll try not to disturb him then."

John carefully lowered himself onto the couch and leaned against the arm rest, an amused smile crossing his face as he watched Cameron observe the tired cat. As though sensing his gaze, Cameron tore her eyes away from the cat and directed them at John instead. They sat there for a long moment, just staring at each other, both wondering what the other was thinking in that exact moment. It was Cameron who broke the silence, though John would've been content to let it carry on forever.

"I've decided on a name for him."

"Oh? And what might that be? No! Let me guess: Termicator? Model FE-LINE?"

Cameron frowned in confusion and could only conclude that he was being sarcastic, a trait she reminded herself to research into with a little more depth in the future.

"No… I named him Timmy."

"Timmy? Well that's… cute, I suppose."

Cameron ran a finger down the newly christened Timmy's back, his tortoise shell fur smoothing under her touch.

"I've also added him to my protection roster. He's third on the list."

"Third? Who's first, second, and fourth?"

Cameron looked up at John, her finger continuing to gently caress the sleeping cat.

"You are first, then your mother, then Timmy, followed by Marty."

"Making Derek the fifth, that figures. And who's Marty?"

Cameron's eyes flicked to the floor, leading John to believe that he'd caught her in a rare moment of honesty. Then it dawned on him fully.

"Ah, right. So that's his name after all."

"You mustn't repeat it."

"I won't, I promise."

John could've sworn the smile on his face was returned, if only for a fraction of a second. But Cameron was so adept at controlling her expressions that it was nearly impossible to determine whether anything she said or did was born of genuine emotion or not.

"Well, you know; if you're going to protect little Timmy, then you'll have to get used to walking across fences and hiding in bushes."

Cameron tilted her head to one side and regarded John with a look of mock irritation.

"He's not as demanding as you are."

The smile that had settled on his lips slowly faded at her comment.

"Do I look like I need you watching my back all the time?"

"No…"

Cameron ceased her affections towards Timmy and leaned her head back slightly, a small smile on her lips.

"…but I do it anyway."

John shifted in his seat, the Cameron he met fleetingly a few days ago seeming to greet him once again.

"Why?"

"Because I want to."

Before he could reply in any fashion, Timmy stirred and stretched his legs, looking up at Cameron with big eyes as she tickled his belly. John was consumed by the desire to see if there was any hint of that Cameron still inside of her, and decided to find out in the most direct way he could think of at that very moment. He reached over to take her hand but Timmy hissed at him, his fur spiking on his back. John reluctantly withdrew his hand and frowned at the cat. Cameron looked from one to the other, a knowing expression on her face.

"They say cats are good judges of one's character."

John took the remark with a pinch of salt and narrowed his eyes at Timmy.

"Well maybe he has more in common with you than you know."

Cameron frowned slightly in confusion.

"What do you mean?"

John got to his feet, all thoughts of staying up with his robotic friend abandoned.

"Neither one of you makes any sense."

Cameron's mouth opened slightly in response but no words left her and she just watched as John climbed the stairs. Confusion settled in again, as was common whenever she upset John. She had no idea why he was so sensitive towards her lately; maybe it had something to do with whatever she erased from her memory. Cameron could remember nothing of her emotional exploits, having deleted all knowledge of her human template.

Filing this incident under the "Bothering John" folder, Cameron returned her attention to Timmy, who was nudging her with his nose. Looking down at the cat, Cameron found herself comparing him with John, and found that they actually had a lot in common. Both liked to be independent, both were unusually capricious, and neither liked not getting what they desire. The question that plagued Cameron's thoughts for the rest of the night was: what is it John desires that he cannot have?

She may never know.

To be continued…