NOTES: Takes place during "Complications".
SUMMARY: Cameron decides to intervene before John makes a terrible mistake with Riley.
DISCLAIMER: All characters herein are the property of someone other than me. No profit has been earned.
The dream was old and ugly. Looming shapes moving in darkness, shadows rushing, chasing her through the dank corridors of a never ending building, the world beyond a jagged wasteland frozen in nuclear fire. Every choice she made was a wrong one, dead ends scrawled with mishmash riddles of rusty blood as her pursuers loomed up behind her, the floor giving way beneath her feet into a deafening black abyss.
The voice echoed out in the cavernous void. She tried to open her eyes, the dream around her enveloped in a cloud of white before her vision slid into focus. What was real in the dream now made no sense, her surreal rescue a mundane reality as Sarah Conner opened her eyes. John was watching over her, a damp cloth in his hand that he used on her brow, drawing out the heat as she lay wrapped in her bed.
"How are you feeling?"
"How do I look?"
"Like crap." He offered her a spoon, its reservoir filled with a bright green liquid. She swallowed it down.
"Wish I felt that good." She shifted her body in the bed, working out the kinks as she tried to swallow away the bitter tang of the medicine.
The three of them had arrived home yesterday, Derek having opted to make his own way back to avoid them all travelling together but she suspected it was just to keep away from Cameron. She wasn't certain how much he knew about the machine and John, but she dreaded the inevitable confrontation. One more brushfire she'd have to put out.
She remembered how bone-weary she had been upon their return and that John had to help her up the stairs, feeling sicker than she could ever remember. She had fallen asleep almost instantly after he'd tucked her in, the role-reversal a seamless transition.
Sarah began wondering what had been happening between now and then as her eyes moved down her son, spotting red marks along his neck that had not been there the last time she saw him. Her whole body tensed as she realized Cameron had been staking her claim, marking him outright now for all to see.
The girl in question suddenly appeared, carrying a serving tray with a jug of liquid.
"It's re-hydration fluid." She placed the tray down before pouring a glass. "Drink one cup every half hour, or right after you vomit."
Sarah's eyes looked the machine up and down, detecting a matching set of marks along her neck. She felt like vomiting now and tried to get up, desperate for diversion.
"No, no, no. Where you going?" John pushed her back down, his strength like Superman's in her weakened state.
"We have to go back, now."
"Mexico. There's thermite in the garage. We need to burn Cromartie's body."
He shook his head. "Cromartie's dead, you destroyed his chip."
"You have to incinerate him John. It's the only way to be sure."
"He's buried in a hole in the middle of the Mexican desert and his chip's been obliterated, I think we're pretty…"
"Safe?" Cameron interjected. "It's not safe, John."
Half a laugh escaped his throat. "She's starting to sound like you."
"She's right." Sarah's insides twisted, not from illness. "Cameron, will you excuse us for a moment. I need to talk to John."
Cameron's eyes narrowed, curiosity creeping through her before she shared a look with John, turning and walking off without a word after receiving his nod. Sarah couldn't help but wonder where they had found equal ground to start a relationship, their roles so often reading like master and servant; something she knew her son would never be comfortable with.
"Sit down." Her tone brook no defiance.
Discomfort welled up inside him, fearing the worst as he sank down on the bed, perching at its edge and trying not to look at her. Sarah heaved herself up into a more dignified position before levelling him with humourless eyes.
"I'm going to ask you something now and I don't want you to lie,"
He swallowed his nerves, bracing his back with steel. "Okay."
"How many times have you and Cameron had sex?"
The air in John's lungs abandoned him and his cheeks turned bright red. Her scrutiny never altered, holding him in place with eyes set like laser beams.
"Urr… I ah… don't really think that's your…"
"I'll decide what's my business, John. Especially when it comes to my only son. How many times?"
He bit down hard.
"How safe has it been?"
He felt like dying.
Kill me now.
"Then you're an idiot, John."
Nerve returning, he grasped at straws for a quick victory. "Mom, I really don't think I'm going to catch anything from Cameron."
She gave him a pitying look. "I was thinking more along the lines of one of the other consequences, John."
His brow furrowed and she watched the cogs turn before the burst of realisation appeared. If he was red before, now he was purple.
"Mom, I really don't think she works that way."
"Really. How absolutely certain are you about that, John?"
He couldn't help noticing how many times she'd used his name.
John's stature deflated, the truth of her statement ice water to his head and a torque to his jaw. "Right." He nodded his affirmation, voice filling with a sad sense of finality. "You want it to stop. You want us to stop."
"I didn't say that."
Before she could say anything more, John's temper flared, startling her with its fervour.
"Y'know, my whole life has been carved in stone before I was even born, mom! I get up every morning and wonder if what I'm doing was always what I was going to do. If that's so then I'm just going through the motions, right?!"
His fists balled up handfuls of the bedclothes, anger subsiding as it began its familiar slide into despair.
"You think my head isn't in the game. You're wrong! My head is nowhere but in the game! I can't think about anything else! I can't sleep at night!" His face collapsed into his palms. "Right now is the only time I can ever be happy, and I'm so tired of moping around and settling for second best. If the future's going to happen the way it supposed to then my days of happiness are numbered. I don't want to waste them,"
"I want to be happy, mom."
He went to leave, already regretting his display. He was pulled back down when she grabbed his arm.
"How happy does she make you? Really?"
John felt the change in her tone, perched somewhere on a fence between rejection and acceptance, her eyes selling it better and it filled him with hope. All the emotion bubbled up from deep inside him, following the wake of his anger, it all playing across his face before it burst out of him in a heartfelt confession.
"I love her, mom."
He never realised how much he had wanted to tell her. To tell the whole world.
Sarah regarded him in silence as she felt her world come full circle, the reflection in John's eyes a mirror to the past, seeing herself at his age and all the undying love she had felt for Kyle. Love that burned, permeated, lasted a lifetime. It was a side of John she'd never seen before and it made her heart ache because of it, relief flooding her in the knowledge that he had finally found some real joy in his life.
If it had to be with Cameron, the machine, then she'd find a way to live with it.
"Then I guess we better change her name back to Phillips," She smiled at his surprise. "No point freaking people out."
John's embarrassment fled out of him in a strangled laugh and he pulled her into a hug, never loving her so much as he buried his face in her neck and wrapped his arms around him.
"You mean it?"
"I just want you to be happy and safe, John. At least with Cameron I know you'll be both."
He squeezed her tighter. "Thanks mom."
They stayed wrapped together as Sarah felt the pieces of her world click back into place, returning to some semblance of what had been before like a tattered jigsaw. John could feel her settling, the tension in her bones giving release to feel heavy in his arms as sleep began to reclaim her.
"Just put my mind at ease, will you?" Her voice was anything but pleading. "From now on, when you guys are together; install some double glazing, alright?"
Cameron Phillips watched Los Angeles flash by on fast-forward, wind and sunshine whipping past the open window as the truck headed down the road on the way to Mexico. She dipped her hand into the passing air, feeling the particles flow through her fingers like a stream of water as she scanned the passing buildings. There were so many people in the city. Before returning to the past she'd found it hard to imagine people out in the open all day, going about their business, socialising, eating, pursuing their own interests.
She was about to close the window when she froze, eyes widening as her scanners detected something that set off every one of her warning systems, red lights flashing across her HUD as the vehicle began to slow.
She turned and faced her companion. "Let's stop here and get supplies."
John looked across as he brought the car to a halt at a set of lights, following her arm to where it indicated a nearby service station that doubled as a convenience store.
"Good idea. I'll get supplies; you get gas."
He turned the truck onto the forecourt, sliding it next to a gas pump and switched off the engine. Before he could even undo his seatbelt, Cameron was upon him, kissing him senseless as her arms entwined themselves around his neck, pulling her body out of her seat and onto his lap in a silken move. John felt frozen, surprised at her sudden affection before melting into the embrace, losing himself in her, any need for explanation forgotten as he slid his hand beneath her top and caressed his way up her back.
After a while she kissed him one final time, stretching the last one out until their mouths had finally parted and they were nose to nose, staring into his eyes with that strange little smile.
"Okay… what was that for?" He laughed; never more pleased that they were taking a field trip together.
She shrugged, very nonchalant. "No reason."
As she stepped out of the vehicle without another word, John's brow scrunched together. What had all that been about? He felt how turned on he'd become and realized for the first time just how long a drive it was to Mexico.
He entered the store and scanned the aisles as he picked up a basket, filling the metal carrier with several nondescript items; water, magazines, some sandwiches, a ridiculously sized bag of Doritos. His mothers' words remained an unrelenting echo in the back of his mind when he happened upon the healthcare aisle, mercifully secluded as he found himself before a shelf of contraceptives.
He'd never brought any before and was slightly daunted by his array of options, the descriptions on the tiny packs not the least bit enlightening. Settling on a choice he then agonised over quantity. How many would he possibly need? One thought of Cameron and his hand swept out, sliding a dozen packs into the basket.
He headed for the checkout, grabbing one more pack before he went and turned out of the aisle, walking smack bang into Riley Dawson.
His muscles froze and he couldn't breathe, panic pumping through his veins as she recognised him.
"John! Hey! What are you doing here?" She beamed, lighting up her whole face.
"Uhh… just getting some… things. For later…"
Her eyes descended and examined the contents of his basket, her brow furrowing before her gaze returned to his eyes, eyebrows reaching halfway up her forehead.
"What exactly did you have in mind for later?"
John glanced out the window where Cameron was pumping gas; perfect stance, perfect figure, the breeze in her hair. God help him.
"Because I'm not really certain we're at that stage in our relationship yet."
He was certain that he had turned every shade of red today; swallowing what felt like a stone as he saw Cameron replace the gas nozzle on the pump and stride across the forecourt toward the store.
"John? Aren't you going to say anything?"
How to do this? How to break up with Riley in as concise a manner as possible and never see her again? Preferably in the seconds before Cameron arrived and things got completely out of hand. Inspiration flashing, the words were out of his mouth the moment they entered his mind.
"I'm sorry, but I'm buying condoms because my mom doesn't want me to get my sister pregnant."
Without another word he about turned and walked away, leaving Riley in the aisle, the universe pulling in around him as he made his way to the till, intercepting Cameron as he went and paying as quickly as possible.
Riley watched the two of them leave, outrage burning through her, moving to the window as she watched them get back into the truck and pull off the forecourt. As they passed she caught sight of the machine, looking at her from the passenger seat with a look of great magnanimity before Cameron raised her hand and waved goodbye, her fingers making a delicate flurry as a sly grin spread across her face.
"You knew she was there?!" John demanded, looking as outraged as confused after the truck had joined the flow of traffic.
"And you didn't think to give me a warning?!"
His shoulders slumped. "Why not?"
"It wouldn't have been as funny."
An unmistakable smirk formed across her mouth when he looked at her, infuriating him as it found its way onto his face. He didn't want to laugh, he wanted to be angry. Cameron sat up and leaned over to him, kissing his cheek as he kept his eyes on the road.
"So… what did you have in mind for later John?" She whispered in his ear.
He followed her gaze to the bag of supplies on the back seat, getting the distinct feeling she was in a mood to play.
"I suppose you're very pleased with yourself now Riley's gone."
"Yes," Satisfaction warmed her face as she sat back down. "Now she's totally scarred for the rest of her life."
John set his jaw but couldn't resist the rise of his cheeks, his shoulders beginning to bounce like he was drilling the road.
Sarah Connor tightened her grip around her pillow as she opened her eyes and listened to the scratchy whispers coming through the baby monitor next to her bed. The voices were a jumble of inane babble, a conversation just beyond hearing that toyed with her imagination.
She rose from the bed and began to wander the house, the rooms of her home as still as death, the world beyond the windows impossible to see through the glare of an afternoon sun.
Her wanderings brought her to a room filled with bassinets, the tiny cots all lining the room like the neat rows of a hospital ward, each one cradling a nest of baby tortoises. She gazed into the nearest, watching the little creatures move about in their cosy realm. A laugh caught her ear, drawing her attention to across the room where Cameron rocked herself gently in a chair, quietly nursing the baby in her arms.
Sarah watched as the machine quietly fussed over the newborn, adjusting the cotton blanket around it as she cradled it in her powerful hands; ones that could crush the life from any human. Sarah felt herself become more unnerved as she watched her, put on edge as its hands reached up to the baby's head, only to stroke its cheek with a gentle finger.
Suddenly she was joined by John, her son's attention consumed by the tiny package in Cameron's arms as he moved next to her. The two lovers shared a brief gaze, Cameron's eyes filling with adoration before they shared a passionate kiss, their attentions soon brought back to the infant as it began to squirm.
She watched as John gently took the baby from Cameron and held it close to him, stepping toward her until they were face to face and Sarah's arms moved out without thinking, accepting the child from John. She looked down into its wrinkled face, meeting brilliant eyes that stared back at her before it broke into a fit of giggles.
Sarah suddenly jerked awake, her body drenched in sweat, the setting sun casting long shadows across the room.
Just a dream. Only a dream.
John keyed the lock to the hotel room, opening the door to the apartment and making his way inside. He dumped his bag at the foot of the bed and immediately tested its springs, bouncing up and down as his eyes inspected the rest of the room. He'd sprung for something a bit classier this time, a real hotel in the heart of San Diego, a view of the bay lit up in twilight just beyond the window.
They hadn't been travelling that long, but John had insisted on staying on the right side of the border, not eager to travel all through the night to the middle of nowhere.
"This is reckless, John." Cameron said as she placed her bag down next to his.
"We should incinerate Cromartie as soon as possible."
He smiled, stepping toward her. "He's not going anywhere, Cam. He'll still be there tomorrow."
Cameron looked vaguely uncertain until he wrapped her in a hug, kissing the side of her cheek in the way that made resistance very difficult.
"You're trying to seduce me."
"Is it working?"
John laughed before pressing his mouth to hers in a kiss, pleased when she responded and wrapped her arms around his neck.
"You often get your way with women."
He froze as the words left her mouth, pulling back to look at her uncertainly. "Uh-huh. What do you mean by that?"
"In the future you can have any woman you want."
Despite its illogic, John felt that familiar twinge inside him that he had felt before, the first night they were together. "Do you speak from experience?" He tried to make it sound as casual as possible.
"John, are you jealous?"
She reached in and kissed along his jaw. "Are you sure?"
"Did he… try to do anything? In the future?"
"I thought you said you weren't jealous."
"Then it doesn't matter, does it?"
John tried very hard to accept that, burying whatever feelings he may have had about his future incarnation, only to have them spring back up into his consciousness.
"Alright, I'm jealous," He admitted. "When I think about someone else touching you it makes me crazy."
She smiled, pleased with the confession. "Then you know how I feel about Riley."
He did understand; the thought of having something like that hanging over his head was completely intolerable. If Cameron were to have someone else in her life, someone all the laws of God and man said was far more suitable, he'd feel sick to his stomach.
"Nothing happened between us in the future, John. Our relationship was completely platonic."
Relief warmed its way though John's body and in seconds they were kissing again, hands soon fumbling over buttons and fasteners as they shed their nuisance clothing and found their way to the bed.
For some reason he'd felt filled with confidence for tonight, eager for an encounter, like every ingredient was in perfect measure. Maybe it was because Riley no longer haunted them or that his mother had given them her blessing, either way it felt like a perfect symphony as he fell backward onto the bedcovers and pulled Cameron down with him.
Cameron was certain something was different about this as John lifted the clothing over her head, stretching the action of undress out as long as humanly possible as he slowly revealed her ivory flesh, her body warming under his gaze. It was reckless and it was wrong, totally beyond the scope of their mission; but when John was making love to her it made everything feel right.
As soon as she lay naked before him she reached for his collar, undoing his shirt and sliding it from his body, kissing up his chest as her fingers undid his pants, rising up his body as they fell to the floor to be embraced in a passionate kiss.
"We're really good at this." He mumbled, feeling her warmth as she pressed against him, certain their bodies were designed to fit together.
"Yes we are." Her hands moved up his arms as they wrapped around the small of her back. Arms she knew would grow to be huge, make her feel powerless beneath them with this John behind them; making her feel things she'd never imagine doing with anyone else.
She locked her arms around his neck and leaned back, using her weight to pull him down on top of her, feeling the warm blanket sweep around them as John covered her, building her need for him to take her every which way he could think of. Spoil her for any other man. John had some fleeting afterthought of a promise he'd made to Sarah, but the memory soon faded as he pushed inside Cameron, groaning loudly as her legs wrapped around his waist, urging him on.
They felt more certain than ever that something was different; their previous encounters feeling trite compared to this. There was passion but it felt focussed and contained, just at the edge of feeling, their movements not frenzied or indelicate as they'd been before. Cameron opened her eyes and saw him smiling down at her, his skin aglow with colour as it began to shine with perspiration, his breathing reduced to sharp intakes that combined with her own.
Without even realising she released a sob as he pushed more forcefully against the narrow cradle of her hips, instinct breaking through as it sought their satisfaction. His lips found hers, kissing her in brief nips that circled her mouth, teasing her, making her need grow. Her hands drew languidly up his back, his neck, into the bristly locks of hair, gripping tightly, feeling its coarseness as she cupped his cheek.
Cameron had never felt so desirable, so normal, so feminine.
He moved his head down to whisper softly in her ear, his voice shaky. "You okay?"
Her eyes widened, he had asked with such genuine concern as he continued moving against her. She gazed up at him as his head rose up, his smile fading into a look of uncertainty, his motion slowing.
"Yes!" She said, nodding quickly, surprised at her own urgency.
She didn't want him to stop. He could do anything but stop.
"I love you." The words escaped her mouth before she realised it.
She watched as John's face broke into his beautiful smile. "I love you too."
He kissed her fully as they resumed their age-old dance and there were no more words between them, replaced with primitive urgings and indelicate demands as John felt himself hurtle toward the edge before being catapulted over as Cameron reached her plateau. She yelled every obscenity she had ever heard toward the ceiling, rational programming corrupted beyond recognition as they both felt fate and destiny crash together inside her.
John was the first to recover as he lifted his face from the bedcovers, looking into Cameron's eyes where he saw his certainty confirmed. He kissed her more gently than he ever had, what he held in his arms more precious than anything.
"I'll be the best father I possibly can."
She smiled at him, never more in love. "I know you will."
Well that's it. Let me know if you think it warrants a sequel. I was very tempted to end it on the previous chapter because it was such a beautiful ending.
Thank you very much for all your positive support. It's been a great experience.