Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles

title: To Be Or Not To Be

author: River2027

Disclaimer: I do not own anything Terminator

setting: sequel to "Wherefore Art Thou", set after "Brothers of Nablus"

genre: drama/adventure

rating: T

warning: This is the sequel to "Wherefore Art Thou, John Connor". If you have not read it, you may be confused. Spoilers for "Brothers of Nablus"

summary: Sequel to "Wherefore Art Thou". John and Cameron go on a class field trip to Canada. Unknown to the Connors, Cromartie has learned their aliases and tracked down their school, learning of their Canadian vacation. John/Cameron

Author's note: Okay, I think I've finally got this story ready. Took a little longer than I thought due to Thanksgiving vacation. Thanks for being patient with me. :) I want to thank everyone who read "Wherefore Art Thou" and asked for this sequel. Chronologically, it's set after "Brothers" since Cromartie is still alive (as Cromartie, not John Henry), and Riley is still just a normal girl without a secret agenda.

Special thanks to LittleAlbatross. You suggested telling what happened when Riley got out of the closet, which inspired part of this chapter.

I also want to thank King Steve for suggesting Riley's extended stay in the closet.

Chapter One:

We Should Move to Canada

John Connor had been careful not to miss English class again. Even though his participation in the school's production of Romeo and Juliet had prevented him from failing, he still wasn't about to take any chances.

Besides, he had to keep an eye on Cameron, who had spontaneously enrolled in all of his classes under her former alias, Phillips.

Riley still held a sore spot for Cameron ever since John's Terminator protector had locked her in the props closet the night of the performance. Of course, not only had Cameron locked her in, but she'd purposely forgot to let her out. Ms. Darbus had found her late that night during the reception when she went to put some props back. Riley had been more than a little ticked and John had felt a little guilty for not remembering to make Cameron release her…

Everyone had attended the reception after the performance. John had actually been surprised that his anti-social mother and uncle had agreed to attend. Cameron had tried a cookie and Derek…well, Derek was just happy to be eating something besides pancakes for dinner…

John had still been on an emotional high from his onstage experience with Cameron. So, naturally, he hadn't even given Riley's whereabouts a second thought. Not until she had stormed in with Ms. Darbus.

Being Riley, the first thing she did was stalk over to Cameron, scowling with resentment. "Thanks for locking me in."

"You're welcome," Cameron stated.

John rolled his eyes, but then Riley turned her angry gaze on him instead. "You didn't even think to come look for me?"

John instantly felt defensive. "I was onstage! What could I have done?"

"How about after? I was in there for four hours!" Riley shouted. "You didn't even wonder where I was?"

John hesitated. He was at a loss to explain how he had forgotten about her. Was it because he was still focused on Cameron, a machine, rather than his living, breathing, very angry human friend? "I…I don't know…"

Cameron was looking from Riley to John, apparently analyzing their behavior. "Are you threatening John?" she asked Riley.

"What are you gonna do about it?" Riley countered angrily. Cameron took a menacing step towards her, and John quickly grabbed Riley's wrist and led her towards the refreshment table.

"Okay, let's not get into this," he said, trying to placate Riley. "It wouldn't end well, trust me."

Riley glared at him, then back at Cameron. "Why? You don't think I could take her? I'm a brave spooky ninja, remember? You agreed with me."

John shook his head. "And she's a psychotic killer-woman. Remember what I told you about the mood swings? Violence would ensue, trust me."

Riley seemed to have calmed down a little. Calm, as in still seething, but no longer inclined to bite his head off. "I thought you were different, John."

"Hey, I'm sorry, okay?"

"Sorry isn't good enough John. You left me locked in a closet."

John threw up his hands. "It's not like I locked you in!"

"No, but your weirdo adopted sister did."

It's not like I could have stopped her, John thought to himself. He took a deep breath. "Riley…"

She held up a hand, cutting off any further attempt to make amends. "I have to go."

John had felt hopeless as he watched her walk away.

That night, he had lain in his bed, simply staring up at the ceiling and thinking. Even after Sarah had told him off in the car, Derek had continued to berate John when they had finally arrived home. His uncle had insisted on reminding John that Cameron wasn't human, how she wouldn't ever be human. He'd tried to convince John that she had been merely acting, nothing more.

John had fought him passionately, but he realized it was a lost cause. Derek would never change his mind concerning Cameron.

But the more he thought about it, the more he realized that his uncle was right. Cameron hadn't displayed any different emotion or behavior towards him since the play, at least none that he'd seen, and John began to wonder if his uncle was right about Cameron; he began to wonder if her acting that night was just…acting…

"Mr. Baum."

The voice shook John from his thoughts and he looked up to see Ms. Darbus standing right in front of his desk, her eyes boring into him.

"Would you kindly remind the class what I just said?" she asked.

John felt his face flush and he looked down at his notebook, only to realize he hadn't taken any notes.

"Uh, no," he replied.

Ms. Darbus sighed and folded her arms across her chest. "I see now would be an excellent time to discuss the extra credit opportunity since some of us are about to fail the test…"

John felt several eyes on him and he sunk lower in his seat. Cameron was observing him from the next row over. She was wearing her favorite leather jacket, the purple one she'd been so intent on getting back from the guys who robbed their house.

There's one to run by Derek, he thought. You say Terminators can't form attachment, look at Cameron with that stupid jacket. He wondered if she had felt any attachment towards him.

"In response to the amazing production of Romeo and Juliet," Ms. Darbus began. "And especially to the incredible, heart-wrenching performances of John Baum and Cameron Phillips…"

John didn't miss the death-glare Riley shot at Cameron.

"I have decided that we will take a class trip," Ms. Darbus finished. John raised his eyebrows. A field trip for extra credit?

"What kind of class trip?" Jason Reynolds asked. "Does it have anything to do with learning?"

"We will be going to Stratford, Canada to watch Shakespearean plays."

Riley rolled her eyes. "Sounds like a good time will be had by all," she muttered sarcastically.

Cameron had perked up, looking interested, and John remembered what she'd said about moving to Canada. He held back a smile. How's that for irony?

"Why Canada?" he asked.

Cameron answered instead. "William Shakespeare was born 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. The Canadian city, Stratford is named after his birthplace and there is a famous theater located there where many of his dramas are performed."

"Very good, Ms. Phillips," Ms. Darbus said, pleased. "At least someone was paying attention in my class. Anyway, this trip will not be a requirement, but I will reward a great deal of extra credit to anyone who participates. And, believe me, some of you need it." She directed her gaze to John.

"Hey, you said if I did the play that I would pass," John countered.

"No, I said you would definitely fail if you did not," Ms. Darbus corrected. "You have still not redeemed yourself as far as schoolwork goes. But at least your attendance has improved."

John scowled and sat back in his desk, arms folded.

Going away to Canada? His mom was so not going to approve…


"No. It's too dangerous."

John sighed. He had seen this coming. "Mom, come on," he protested. "It's only for six days. And I really need that extra credit."

Sarah shook her head again, signaling the end of the discussion. "It's not safe."

"Not safe from whom?" John protested. "Cromartie will never look for me in Canada! I'm safer there than I am here!"

Cameron nodded her agreement. "I told you we should move to Canada."

"So you're saying there aren't any Terminators in Canada?" Sarah questioned.

"There are," Cameron replied. "But they have no directive to hunt John. They don't know what he looks like."

John nodded. "And again, I say, awesome!"

"Remember the other part of that equation?" Sarah countered. "If they find out who you are, they know what to do."

"Mom, they won't find out," John tried. "How could they find out?"

"You don't know how many Terminators Skynet has sent back to find you. Cromartie could have a way of contacting others. And if he finds out you're going to Canada…And did you forget the Triple 8 who was sent back for Martin Bedell? Or for Dr. Sherman? There could be a Terminator stationed in Canada too."

"Cameron'll be with me," John objected. "I'll be safe!"

Sarah's furious eyes snapped up and John instantly felt foolish. "I know," he muttered. "No one is ever safe." The Connor family motto…

"Come on Sarah," Derek spoke up. "Let him go. We'll keep busy here. Any Tin Cans in Canada probably won't be able to find him anyway."

"Cameron found him," Sarah replied. "Cromartie found him."

"They were looking for him," Derek countered. He took a step closer. "You have to let him go. John's not a little boy anymore. He has to cut loose, learn to stand on his own two feet. He needs some space."

John met his mother's gaze. "You say you want me to have a normal life. Now do you understand why I don't believe you?"

Sarah looked away.

Everyone was silent for a moment, awaiting the verdict, John keeping his eyes trained on his mother, Derek looking from John to Sarah, and Cameron curiously watching all three of them.

Finally Sarah spoke, "You have to promise me that Cameron will be with you at all times."

A small smile lit John's face. "I promise."

Sarah shifted her gaze to Cameron. "Keep an eye on him. Make sure he's safe at all times."

"No one is ever—."

Sarah scowled. "Don't use my own maxim against me, Tin Miss. You just keep him as safe as possible."

"I swear."


When the day of the trip rolled around, John was beginning to feel excited. Six days to be a normal kid, to hang out with his friends, to get away from it all. Six days where he wouldn't have to worry about the fate of mankind hanging on his shoulders.

Cameron loaded their suitcases and John brought the carry-on aboard the bus. They'd decided to share his backpack since Cameron didn't need anything besides clothes. John had filled it with junk food, his cell phone, and money. He'd managed to talk Cameron into leaving the 9mm at home, saying that it would cause a mess of problems when they tried to cross the border.

Cameron soon joined him inside the bus, sliding past several other students who were getting situated in their own seats.

"This is unsafe," she complained, studying the bus seats as she sat down next to John. "There are no safety harnesses."

"Seat belts? No, it's a bus."

"That's unsafe."

John rolled his eyes. "I can't help that."

Riley brushed past John's seat, refusing to meet his gaze. John sighed. How hard could it be to maintain relationships? Riley couldn't stay mad at him forever could she?

Ms. Darbus quickly called out attendance. There were twenty-four students participating in the trip. As the bus began rolling out of the parking lot, John leaned back in his seat.

"How long is this going to take?" he asked Cameron.

"If we go the posted speed limit, approximately thirty-six hours, four minutes. Without stopping for food."

"We're not stopping for the night halfway or anything?"

"No. Ms. Darbus will eventually take over the driving," Cameron replied. "We don't have money to stay at a hotel. And it would take much longer to reach our destination."

"You'd think the school would have rented us a charter bus or something," John grumbled. He glanced back at Riley, who was sitting alone two rows behind, staring out the window. "I'm gonna go talk with Riley okay?"

He didn't miss the frown that flashed across Cameron's face, but to his surprise, she didn't say anything.

"What?" he asked. "You're not gonna lecture me about her being a 'security risk'?"

Cameron kept her eyes forward. "No one likes a nag."

John gazed at her quizzically, but merely nodded. "Yeah."

"What am I supposed to do while you are talking with Riley?"

John shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe you could read the dictionary or something."

Cameron started to reach for their backpack, but John caught her hand. "Wait, you actually brought the dictionary on our field trip?"

Cameron looked at him blankly. "I don't sleep."

"So you've said. But you can't read it in front of people. You'll look like a freak."

"What should I read then?"

"Don't we have any other books? The Wizard of Oz or something?"

Cameron looked away. "No."

John tried to gauge her reaction. "Does the Wizard of Oz bother you?"

Cameron didn't reply. John leaned back, confused at her reaction. He hadn't considered the possibility that Cameron would dislike the reference. Did she compare herself to the Tin Man? Did she know she didn't have a heart?

Cameron kept staring out the window, and John hesitantly left her side and walked back to where Riley sat alone.


Jessica Duncan strolled down the hall toward her locker, catching sight of a tall stranger walking into the school. He looked vaguely familiar, like from a TV show or something. She shook it off. Everyone had a twin, right?

The stranger stopped at the first student in reach and stated in a dull monotone, "I'm looking for John Baum."

The kid shook his head helplessly, and the man instantly moved on to the next kid. "I'm looking for John Baum."

Jessica stepped forward. "John Baum? The guy who played Romeo? He's in my English class. He's way intense. I hear his mom's a complete mental case."

The stranger cocked his head, staring at her in a way that was slightly unnerving. "Where is he?"

"He went on that Canada trip," Jessica explained. "They left about an hour ago. You just missed them."

"Canada?" the man repeated.

Jessica stared at him again. This guy is a nut…"Yeah, Stratford for some Shakespeare thing. It sounded totally boring, so I didn't go…"

"Is this him?" The man held up a black and white photo that looked like it was pulled from a security camera. Was this guy a cop? Jessica nodded slowly. The man took out a second one.

"Do you know this girl?"

Jessica nodded. "Yeah, that's his weirdo adopted sister, or something like that. Cameron Phillips."

The man quickly replaced the photos and plastered on a fake smile. "Thank you for your time."

He quickly hurried off, leaving Jessica confused.


Cromartie sat silently at his computer, uploading the photos of John Connor and the female cyborg.

He swiftly located the computer contact information for a T-888 near the Canadian border. Its primary mission was to find and destroy one of John Connor's future allies.

He quickly transmitted the two photos to the Triple 8, along with the following instructions:







author's note: I'd actually written this part before "Brothers of Nablus" premiered, so to me it was kind of ironic when Cam said "we should move to Canada". Anyway, I hope you guys like it. Cromartie's POV isn't exactly as good as I would have liked, but it is really hard to write a Terminator's viewpoint, and I have great respect for those of you who can do it accurately.