Title: A Little Less Lonely
Fandom: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Disclaimer: I don't own them.
Notes: Takes place after 2x06 "The Tower is Tall, But the Fall is Short", but doesn't really include any spoilers for the episode other than the stunning beautiful porch the Connor's new house has attached to it ;)
Sarah pointed her toes towards the end of the bench, stretching them out like a ballerina before she relaxed against the cushions underneath her once more and tipped her head back so that she could just see the stars lightening up the night sky past the edge of the porch roof.
It was quiet out there, surrounded by the gentle floral scent of the flowers around her. The house, the yard, the garden, the porch, they were all so beautiful, so warm, and so comfortable.
It was a dream home, designed and maintained to bring tranquility and calm to those who resided there. If there was any place that Sarah should have been able to relax, it was there. But even as she sat on that beautiful bench, on that beautiful porch, looking up at the beautiful stars, surrounded by beautiful smells, she was tense, and anxious, and worried and scared.
Just as she always was.
It didn't matter where she lived, what surrounded her, or how sweet smelling the air was. She would never relax, never feel safe; never be truly content. The things that surrounded her were not important. They were not the cause of her distress and they would not ease it. And she feared nothing would … but death.
Sarah breathed in deeply, her muscles tensing as she sensed movement by the door that opened into the kitchen. She knew that it was likely one of the members of her household, but training and experience had conditioned her to automatically react as if every movement was a threat, and more often than she would have liked, it was.
She relaxed slightly when she made out Cameron's figure hovering in the doorway. The kitchen lights were on, casting Cameron's face in darkness, so that all Sarah could make out of the Terminator was her silhouette. But, she had been around Cameron long enough that her silhouette was more than enough for her to know with complete confidence that it was Cameron she was looking at.
A week before, when Cameron had wandered off in the grocery store, captivated by sprinklers sending faint clouds of mist down onto vegetables in the produce section, Sarah had realized that she was able to recognize the Terminator under almost any circumstances. They had spent so much time around each other that the cadence of her step, the way her head was cocked to the side, her ear, or the movement of an arm was enough for her to be able to pick Cameron out of a crowd.
The only person whose mannerisms she was more familiar with was John.
"I'm really not in the mood to be studied," Sarah said wearily, her voice low. She didn't need to speak loudly. Cameron's robotic ears were capable of easily picking up her words.
Cameron tilted her head to the side, studying Sarah for a moment longer and then moved out of the doorway and onto the porch.
Silently, she made her way towards Sarah. When she reached the edge of the bench she sat down and crossed her legs, and then leaned back against the side of the bench. After that, she tilted her head back and stared up at the night sky, staring up at the dark blanket above them as Sarah had been doing moments before.
Sarah looked down at her, staring at her for a moment. Cameron looked so impossibly human at moments like that. With the moonlight dancing over her gamine features and her dark eyes wide with curiosity, she was one of the most beautiful creations that Sarah had ever laid eyes on.
Most of the Terminator's Sarah had come across were built with functionality in mind, purpose over pleasure. But Cameron was different. Cameron was a work of art. Cameron was beautiful, and Sarah often found herself resenting the machines attractiveness because she couldn't help but respond to it.
Humans were attracted to beautiful, delicate, fragile, lovely things. It was coded in her DNA to be awed by Cameron. She looked at those large, child-like eyes and she wanted to trust them. She looked at her soft, pink lips and she wanted to brush her thumb against them to see if they could possibly be as soft and inviting as they looked. Her eyes took in Cameron's soft chestnut hair, and she wanted to bury her nose in it and breathe in deeply. She looked at that slim, delicate body and felt the need to protect it even though she knew the urge was completely ridiculous.
Cameron was not a whimsical, pixyish, social awkward yet strangely endearing woman-child. She was a machine, a killer, and using barely a fraction of her strength she could turn Sarah's bone to dust.
And yet, despite knowing all of that, despite repeating such things in her head over and over again, Sarah found her lips turning up in a bemused smile as she watched Cameron stare at the sky.
"What are you doing?" Sarah asked finally, just barely controlling the urge to gasp when Cameron's eyes tracked towards her.
"Looking," Cameron responded softly, her voice a silken whisper.
"At what?" Sarah asked, leaning back against the pillows on the bench, breaking the gaze Cameron had initiated.
It made her uncomfortable to stare into Cameron's eyes for too long. The longer she looked at them, the more human they seemed to become. The harder she found it to resist the pull of them, to resist the urge to just fall a little further until...
"I don't know," Cameron said, tilting her head back as if she hoped to find the answer above her, among the stars.
"You don't …" Sarah began incredulously before catching herself.
Cameron didn't understand incredulousness. If she repeated Cameron's words back to her, the Terminator would just confirm the statement or repeat it.
"Why were you looking then?" Sarah asked wondering why she bothered. Trying to decipher Cameron's thought process was an impossible task. If she lived a thousand years she doubted she would ever understand how the girls CPU worked.
The thought calmed her a little.
"Because you were," Cameron replied as if it was the most logical thing in the world.
"Oh," Sarah breathed out, not sure what to say.
It unnerved her a little when Cameron would mimic her actions in an attempt to blend in or understand humanity. She wasn't exactly an exemplar of a well-adjusted person, and if Cameron was capable of learning and developing emotions, Sarah wasn't sure she liked the idea of her modeling herself after an emotionally crippled, paranoid, loner with a far too intimate knowledge of fire arms and everyday household materials that could be used to make explosives.
"Was there something up there?" Cameron asked after a minute of silence.
"No," Sarah said listlessly, automatically answering the question even though her mind had started to wander again. Answering Cameron's questions, even though it was sometimes tedious, was usually much less taxing in the long run.
"Were you thinking?" Cameron asked a few seconds after that.
"Yes," Sarah responded, her head tilted to the side, away from Cameron, her eyes focused on the tops of the flowers just peeking over the porch wall.
Cameron was silent for a while after that, and Sarah thought that perhaps, for once, the girl had run out of questions and painfully obvious observations.
"Penny for your thoughts," Cameron said breaking the silence, and out of the corner of her eye Sarah could see her shift, could see her angle her body to the side so that she was better able to make out Sarah's figure.
"Been studying Ben's Big Book of Axiom's again, I see," Sarah murmured turning to look at Cameron despite herself, a small smile touching her lips.
She couldn't help it. It amused her terribly when Cameron used colloquialisms.
"I'm not familiar with that book," Cameron said, her eyebrows scrunching together in an amazing approximation of bewilderment.
Sarah knew that Cameron was scanning her memory banks for any reference to Ben's Big Book of Axiom's, but she looked like a confused kitten.
Sarah was overtaken by the powerful urge to stroke Cameron's cheek, and it took all of her willpower not to tear her gaze away from the Terminator and flee from the porch.
"It was a joke, Cameron," Sarah said tiredly, knowing that it could sometimes take Cameron a while to run through all of her memory files.
Cameron was silent for a moment.
"It was not funny."
Sarah rolled her eyes, but chuckled softly before shaking her head. The Terminator could be so cluelessly charmingly at times. It was terrifying.
"What are you doing out here?" Sarah asked, not wanting to think about her genuine, but utterly befuddling, occasional affection for Cameron.
"Keeping you company," Cameron said, her gaze steady and focused as she held Sarah's eyes.
"Why?" Sarah asked feeling like that was every other word out of her mouth when Cameron was around.
"You looked lonely."
Sarah closed her eyes as Cameron's words washed over her and she breathed in and out deeply three times before opening them again.
She didn't want to think about how desolate and alone she must have looked that Cameron, in all of socially dysfunctional glory, had been able to decipher her mood.
She really didn't want to think about the fact that out of all of the people in that house, that more and more Cameron was the one that made the attempt to talk to her about her feelings and therefore was the one she found herself talking to or venting or musing with when she couldn't keep her thoughts to herself anymore.
And she really, really, really didn't want to think about the fact that since Cameron had come out on the porch she didn't feel nearly as lonely or depressed as she had been before.
"You gonna cheer me up?" Sarah asked trying to keep her tone light though there was a slightly chocked quality to her words.
"Yes," Cameron said in her deadpan monotone, her eyes focused intently on Sarah.
Sarah's lips parted, a sarcastic question about how Cameron planned on cheering her up halfway between her brain and her mouth when Cameron reached out and took her hand, cradling the appendage in her own with an almost painful tenderness.
Sarah breathed in deeply, blinking rapidly as she looked down at their joined hands.
Cameron's hands were warm, and the skin that covered them was incredibly soft, like a baby's. Cameron's index finger moved against the back of Sarah's hand, very gently, hesitantly stroking her skin.
Sarah trembled slightly, her hand twitching where it lay between Cameron's. She felt like she should rip her hand out of Cameron's grasp, but she didn't really want to. It felt good to feel someone's hand holding her own, to have someone over her comfort, no matter how tentative or awkward the gesture was.
The contact was so sweet. It had been a very long time since Sarah had felt something so sweet and she had to squeeze her eyes closed to stop tears from leaking from her eyes.
"Do you want to talk?" Cameron asked.
Sarah knew that the girl couldn't have missed the emotional upheaval going on inside of her, especially with their hands clasped like they were. For all she knew, Cameron was reading every biological process happening in her body through their joined hands. But even if Cameron was, she didn't care. She didn't want to let go of the girl's hand. She couldn't … yet.
"No," Sarah said, the mortification that had begun to well up inside of her when she realized just how much Cameron's touch was effecting her, increasing as her voice cracked.
Cameron said nothing in response and Sarah was grateful.
Sarah tilted her head back, allowing her eyes to drift up to the porch roof.
The porch was silent once more and Sarah was thankful for that.
Sarah stared up at the dark surface above her and felt her heartbeat began to slow. A minute after that she found that her vision was beginning to blur, and following that a warm, peaceful blankness began to blanket her mind. And she was grateful for that too.
But despite that, and the sweet smell of the flowers around her, and the gentle warmth of the night, and the beauty of her surrounding, at that moment more than anything else Sarah was grateful for the warm fingers twined with her own. More than anything else she was grateful for the girl beside her who, for if only for a few minutes, made her feel so if she wasn't completely alone.