Title: Under the mistletoe
Fandom: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Summary: As Christmas is coming closer even the Connor household gets into the seasonal spirit.
Disclaimer: I unfortunately don't own them; they belong to FOX television and Warner Brothers.
Notes: Written for the Christmas Whislist at passion-perfect. The wish by charrua33 was 'Getting caught under the mistletoe'. Thanks to my wonderful beta reader gsr-rocks!
At quarter to seven in the morning on the first of December, the sun began to rise slowly over the horizon. The air was still chilly from the relatively cold night.
A shiver was running through Sarah's body and goose bumps covered her bare arms as she stepped onto the porch. She breathed in the fresh air deeply, trying to let her mind be cleared and the last remnants of one of her usual nightmares be scared away.
Of course it wasn't working that easily. Nothing was ever easy, especially not when it came to her life, anyways. So she started her morning routine, hoping to ease her mind at least somewhat with some stretching, a lot of pull-ups on the metal swing set, push-ups on the damp grass, and at last some T'ai-Chi-Ch'uan exercises.
At some point during her workout Sarah became aware of a familiar tingly feeling in her neck. Someone was watching her and she knew exactly who it was.
It was always her.
Sarah could feel how her muscles tensed. It was a mystery to her why the terminator had made it kind of a habit of watching her. It was annoying to catch the girl using every opportunity to analyse her, when she thought she wasn't paying attention to her.
That's why she had told Cameron to stop doing it and to find another hobby. Her sarcastic tone was, like always, lost on the terminator.
Sarah didn't even bother to ask for an explanation, for the reason why the terminator seemed to have such an interest in her and ticked it off as an odd quirk of Cameron's programming. She assumed that there were a lot of things she didn't know about the terminator and she surely didn't care about Cameron's intentions as long as she did what she was supposed to do: Protect John and support them trying to prevent the creation of Skynet. Their daily business.
Everything else that went beyond that was not within reach for Sarah; she didn't want it to be. Every time she caught a short glimpse of what laid underneath Cameron's programming, when she seemed like a normal girl and it made her forget what she really was, it scared and disturbed her. The only logical response for her was to push it away as far as possible.
Still the terminator kept studying her, not as obvious as before and a little more subtle, but Sarah could feel the secret looks, just like she did feel it right now. Years of fighting and running had sharpened Sarah's senses; she needed to be cautious and aware of her surroundings in every moment. Cameron was observing her from the kitchen window, hidden behind the curtain, using only a small slit to see outside. It made Sarah growl in frustration.
When Sarah had finished her training, she wiped away the sweat on her forehead with the back of her hand and went into the house through the backdoor, which led into the kitchen. She really needed Cameron to understand that she couldn't keep staring at her all the time. There was no legitimate reason for it; nothing excused behaviour like this. It made Sarah nervous. It sent a trickle of cold fear down her spine, it made her heart rate kicking up slightly and her stomach flutter.
Entering the kitchen, Sarah spotted the terminator sitting at the kitchen table, looking up to her from a school book in total innocence.
"Good morning," Cameron greeted her, lifting the right corner of her mouth into a barely visible smile, which nonetheless didn't go past Sarah unnoticed. "Coffee? I made it the way you like it."
Did Cameron try to twist her around her finger? Now that was just cheating.
"Oh no, I'm not going to be fooled by that," Sarah said glaring at her. "I told you to stop studying me like a damn lab rat, girlie, and don't pretend that you weren't, because I know you were watching me again," Sarah told her with a warning finger pointed at the terminator, her voice strained and angry.
With a furrowed brow she saw Cameron's gaze drop, her eyes now focused on the table top, giving the impression of an abused animal, shying away from her.
It made Sarah even angrier. She was angry with Cameron, for getting constantly better in simulating human behaviour, triggering sympathy in her where it was totally wasted on her. A terminator surely didn't bother whether she felt some sympathy or not. Though Sarah tried to never let it show through and covered the slightest hints with unnecessary harshness, verbal and physical, towards Cameron.
And Sarah was angry with Cameron's programmer. Why did they have to make her so perfect, so appealing? Wouldn't she blend in easier if she was looking more ordinary? It was distracting and deceptive.
"I'm sorry that you feel uncomfortable about it. I just… " the terminator started, but hesitated briefly before she continued. "… like to watch you."
"Why the hell would you? Are you cataloguing me for future reference in case you go evil terminator and want to kill me again?" Sarah snapped at her sarcastically. Cameron could kill her anytime without knowing a thing about her; the human body was fragile.
Sarah hadn't forgotten how Cameron had chased John and her after the car explosion. She hadn't forgotten how the terminator had put a foot on her belly to push the broken piece of glass deeper into her body so that she would cry out in pain for John to help her. And what she certainly would never forget, what hunted her in her dreams, were Cameron's cold, expressionless eyes, which stared down on her like she was an insect.
"No," Cameron assured her quickly, but still didn't look up at her. "I like to watch you because I think you're beautiful." Finally she raised her head, their eyes met and Sarah could see the sincerity in Cameron's brown orbs. They were no longer expressionless. This wasn't a killer machine looking at her, it was simply Cameron.
Something twisted in Sarah's chest, almost violently at the revelation of the girl. It wasn't quite the answer she had expected, so the words hit her completely unprepared. For a few seconds she was at a total loss for words. She just stared at the terminator dumbstruck, mouth open in surprise and bewilderment.
"Don't piss in my neck and say it's raining!" Sarah threw her arms up in surrender, not knowing what else she could reply she stormed out of the kitchen. "God dammit!"
At half past five in the evening on the sixth of December Sarah's mood was finally lifting. After she had been mad at John and Riley for decorating the whole house without asking for her permission, she actually had come to like it.
Sarah was standing in the doorframe of the living room, leaning against the wooden frame with a small, unconscious smile on her lips.
John and Cameron were adding the final touches of the decoration to the Christmas tree, hanging a Christmas bauble here and there and draping it with tinsels. Sarah couldn't even remember when it had been the last time they'd had a tree and she had to admit that the whole scene made quite a heart-warming picture.
"It looks very nice," Sarah commented to Cameron, when the terminator was walking over to her.
After their weird encounter in the kitchen some days ago, her attitude towards the girl was changing slowly. Sarah wasn't quite sure what had triggered it exactly; maybe it was just the stupid Christmas mood she found herself in without wanting to, but it made her feel more relaxed. Her home was more a home now if that made sense.
"Thank you," the girl replied, flashing her a wide smile and making Sarah wonder if it was genuine. "It's a very common tradition. The legend has it that Martin Luther began it about the year 1500. He was walking through the woods, the snow-covered branches of the evergreens were shimmering in the moonlight and he was struck by the beauty of it. Later at home he set up a fir tree. He decorated it with candles in honour of Christ's birth and lit them to simulate the starlit heaven."
Sarah had to smirk at the explanation she'd received without asking for one. She had never really cared that much about Christmas; she couldn't afford the luxury of getting lost in such a sentimental holiday, it was too dangerous. Besides, they never had stayed at a place long enough so that they could call it home. This year everything seemed to be different.
The smirk was wiped away from Sarah's face as Cameron took another step towards her, clearly invading her personal space and coming so close that their bodies were almost touching, their body heat mingling between them.
"Mistletoe," Cameron said pointing above their heads where a sprig of the plant was hanging. "Another common tradition. Exchanging kisses under it is a sign of friendship and goodwill. Whenever enemies met under it, they had to lay down their weapons and observe a truce until the next day."
There was no accusation in Cameron's pitch of the voice, yet it was affecting Sarah. "You're not an enemy, Cameron. You're an alley, you're fighting on our side," Sarah told her, following the need to assure that to the terminator and also to herself.
"I represent everything you hate and fear. No matter how hard I try I will always be what I am," Cameron tilted her head, leaning towards the other woman until they were only inches apart. "But I will fight on your side as long as I'm capable of. I will protect you and John. I promise." Almost in slow motion the girl was leaning in, tilting her head a little bit to the side and closing her eyes.
Sarah felt a light touch of Cameron's fingers on her arm. She took a sharp intake of breath, holding it in pent-up excitement. Cameron was about to kiss her. "I know you will," she whispered, closing her eyes in surrender. After all, she was standing under mistletoe.
But Cameron's lips were only grazing her cheek instead of her lips; the contact lasted not even a second and Sarah's stomach dropped in unexpected disappointment.
"It is also said that if a couple in love exchanges a kiss under the mistletoe, it is interpreted as a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life," Cameron informed her with an unwavering gaze, but Sarah could have sworn that she saw a flash of amusement in the girl's eyes.
However Sarah had no chance to comment the remark, Cameron had already backed off, brushing past her and heading upstairs.
"What?" Sarah asked John, who was grinning at her triumphantly. She could feel her ears burning.
"Nothing," John answered, shrugging and still smiling in satisfaction. "It was just kinda cute and you're red like a beetroot."