Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles
title: Wherefore Art Thou, John Connor?
Disclaimer: I do not own anything Terminator
setting: after "goodbye to all that"
warning: contains spoilers for "allison from palmdale", "goodbye to all that" and of course "romeo and juliet"
summary: John is forced to enter his school's production of Romeo and Juliet. To his dismay, Cameron spontaneously enrolls in John's school under the alias Cameron Phillips and is understudy for the role of Juliet, who is being played by Riley. John/Cameron
What's In a Name?
John was sitting in his English class for the first time in…well…a long time. His English teacher Ms. Darbus was lecturing about some play that the class was supposed to put on. Some kind of drama, skit thing.
John wasn't paying attention. His mind was on more important things, like the list of names written in blood in his basement, what Martin Bedelli was doing at this moment, or if Cameron had located Cromartie yet. So he was entirely unprepared to see Cameron enter the English classroom. His teacher looked up at his Terminator protector.
"Ah, here's the new student," Ms. Darbus said cheerfully. "What's your name?"
"Cameron Phillips," came the reply. John frowned. Phillips? Why had she reverted to Phillips? She was supposed to be his sister! Cameron Baum!
Riley must have thinking along the same lines. She shot him a confused look, and John wanted to disappear. How was he going to explain this? Why was Cameron here now? Did his mother even know she was here?
Cameron took the empty seat behind John, and he suddenly found it very hard to concentrate.
"Mr. Baum," Ms. Darbus said, startling him from his thoughts. "May I see you after class?"
John nodded slowly, ignoring the snickers of his fellow classmates who assumed he was in trouble.
"Mr. Baum," Ms. Darbus said slowly, tapping her pencil on the table in a way that John found very irritating. "You must think that English is not important. This is the first time you've attended my class in two weeks."
That long, huh? John looked at the floor. "I'm sorry, I…"
"No excuses," Ms. Darbus cut him off. "Since you believe there's no value in my class, I have decided that instead of detention, I will punish you in a different way. We are having a school drama coming up, Romeo and Juliet, which we are studying. You would know that if you came to class."
John shifted nervously as she glared at him. "Since you don't," she continued. "I have assigned you the lead role in this play. You must come to class and rehearsals or else you will fail my class. Mr. Baum, this is your last chance to redeem yourself."
John groaned inwardly. "Who's Juliet?"
Ms. Darbus looked at her attendance sheet. "I was thinking I might assign that role to your class-skipping buddy Riley. Or maybe the new girl, Ms. Phillips. She could use something to make her feel more welcome. A starring role should do that…and she's certainly a good choice for the role of Juliet."
John bit his lip. If there was one thing Cameron could not do, it was act. Acting required facial expressions which wasn't one of her strong points. Hearing her alias also reminded him that still needed to talk to her about the whole "Phillips" last name thing. Riley was certainly going to have questions.
Ms. Darbus was waiting for his consent. John sighed. It wasn't like he couldn't afford to fail English. But he could hardly see his mother consenting…even if the world was ending in a few years.
"Fine," John said reluctantly. "I'll be in your play."
Riley cornered him when he left the English classroom.
"Dude, what's with you?" she demanded.
"I got forced into the school play," John said, hoping she wouldn't bring up Cameron. "It was either that or fail the class since I don't attend it anyway."
"I meant about your sister," Riley corrected.
John opened his mouth to speak, but he saw Cameron walking over out of the corner of his eye.
"I'm not his sister," she stated.
Both Riley and John stared at her in confusion, though John's glare held a little more anger. Riley looked to John. "But I thought you said…"
"I am staying with the Baums," Cameron said. "But I'm not his sister. I have no family. His mother took me in."
Riley looked surprised. "What happened to your family?"
"My father was an architect and my mother was a dancer," Cameron said. "They were both killed."
"I'm sorry," Riley said. She leaned in towards John. "I should've known. You two don't really look alike."
John shrugged, feeling uneasy with the way Cameron was now staring down Riley. "Hey, uh, Cam, why don't you go find out where your locker is?"
"My locker is number 285," Cameron stated. "It's down the hall on the left side, fifteenth in the row. Combination 5-16-7."
John gritted his teeth. "Well why don't you go put your English book away?"
He didn't know if she got the hint, but she did nod and turn to walk towards the lockers. John let out a breath. Now would come the questions...
"That's not weird for you?" Riley asked. "Having some strange girl live in your house?"
How do I explain this? "She's not a strange girl," John admitted. He frowned, realizing that wasn't exactly true. "Well, I mean, she's not a stranger. I've known her for a long time. We were, um, neighbors. That's how she knew my family."
Riley hesitated. "What's wrong with her? I mean, does she have some kind of mental illness?"
"Oh," John said, racking his brain for a plausible explanation for Cameron's odd behavior. "Not really. She was one of the smartest kids in her class, so the government…abducted her and ran tests…did things with her brain….they, uh, kind of…programmed her…to be a living weapon…"
Riley looked confused. "What?"
"Yeah, so she's mentally traumatized," John adlibbed. "And some times she gets into these weird mood swings…and she can get violent. So don't be alarmed if you ever see that."
"How'd she escape from the government?"
"What?" John asked.
"The government who experimented with her brain," Riley said. "How'd she escape?"
"Oh," John said. "My mom broke her out."
"Yeah, she infiltrated their headquarters and managed to escape with Cameron," John said.
"Wow! Your mom is hardcore, dude."
"Yeah, she's really...tough," John agreed.
"So, is she alright? Your sister, I mean," Riley said.
"Oh, yeah, she'll be fine," John assured her. "Just…if she seems quirky…don't think anything of it. She might start talking about…you know…the end of the world or things like that…and she gets confused occasionally…with her name. One time she told me her name was Allison Young and another time she said it was River…"
John stopped before he got to rambling again. Riley raised her eyebrows. "Thanks for the heads up." She glanced at the clock. "Whoa, time for class. I'll see you around."
"Yeah," John muttered. He kept on a smile until Riley disappeared, then slammed his fist against the wall. "Gah! I sounded like a bumbling idiot!"
He looked around.
Where the heck was Cameron?
John found Cameron coming out of the girl's restroom. He stormed up to her, grabbed her wrist and led her outside where no one could listen in. When they were finally alone, he turned to her angrily.
"Why did you say that?" he demanded.
Cameron looked puzzled. "What?"
"That, back there, in class!" John was practically shouting. "Why didn't you say you were Cameron Baum?"
"I don't know," Cameron replied calmly.
"If this is more of this 'Allison from Palmdale' crap, it needs to stop," John ordered. "Just how many aliases do you have? When we first met, you said your father sold tractors and your mom stayed home. Now, he's suddenly an architect? And your mom's a dancer? Where does that come from? You didn't even answer Riley's question as to how they died!"
Cameron turned to him sharply. "They died during Judgment Day. Everyone did." She turned back and continued walking.
John narrowed his eyebrows. "Who did? Cause they're not your parents. You weren't born, remember? You were built. You don't have a father or mother."
"They're Allison's parents," Cameron replied.
"Again with Allison," John muttered. "Listen. You're not Allison. You're not Cameron Baum. And you're not Cameron Phillips either. Cameron Phillips died the day Cromartie came to my school!"
He paused, fuming. Cameron had stopped momentarily, and she wouldn't look at him.
"Cameron Phillips was killed by Cromartie," he added furiously. "She was shot twice in the chest. You...You're a machine!" he spat.
Cameron still remained emotionless, though John could tell he had hurt her. Her pace quickened and she would not look at him. He closed his eyes, trying to calm himself.
All this because of a name? What's in a name? That was one of Juliet's line, he recalled. That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Why had he blown up? Yes, her new identity caused problems for him and Riley. Another girl lived at his house and she's not his sister. Yeah, definitely problematic.
You're not Allison, you're not from Palmdale, you're from the future! You're a machine!
How can a machine feel hurt?
author's note: This is my first multi-chapter fanfic. It gets better, more John/Cameron in the next chapters. And thanks to everyone who reviewed my other stories; I'm glad you liked it.