The Tin Man's Heart

By sidspappy

NOTES: WARNING! Some of this story contains profanity and adult content, but no more than your average "R" rated movie on cable. If you are easily offended by this kind of content, you have been forewarned. This is a sequel to "The Girl Who Came in From the Cold" and "Two Thoughts." It will help if you read those before tackling this, but isn't strictly necessary. Takes place after the S2 episode "Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today," but is a bit Alternate Universe, as this story will almost certainly deviate from how the rest of the season will play out.

UPDATE: (02/03/09) - Chapter 2 added.



Cameron had just started her nightly security circuit around the Connor residence. She stood at the french doors in the living room, noting that everything seemed normal. After a few minutes of continuous scanning, she turned away and headed into the dining room, sitting down at the dinner table and staring off toward the empty hallway where the bedrooms were located. She focused on the door to John's room, feeling the powerful pull he exerted on her. She knew she shouldn't go, but as time went on, Cameron found it harder and harder to resist. What do I do? She wondered to herself. Terminators were not known for their indecision, so this was a new experience for her.

John Connor was asleep in bed. Crickets chirped loudly in the dark outside of his open window. A long silvery ray of moonlight stretched across the room and fell across the young man's face. In repose, there was no frown, no tightening of his lips. Aside from the insects outside, there was no stirring and no noise in the room. There was only John's steady breathing and the rise and fall of his chest.

He'd had a rough day. He hadn't seen Riley in a while. She called him constantly, asking if she could see him, wondering if he was all right after Mexico. He told her just today that he'd meet her soon and tell her everything she needed to know about him. John felt horrible, knowing the weight that she would have to carry once he laid it all on her. Trying not to dwell on his responsibilities, he finally dropped into bed and immediately fell asleep, not even changing his clothes.

Cameron stood up after finally making her decision. Although it might cause her more problems than she already faced with John, she couldn't deny herself any longer. She silently moved down the hallway and stopped at the entrance to John's room. She listened for sounds coming from the other side of the door. When she heard nothing after about a minute, she gently turned the doorknob and was surprised that it was unlocked. Cameron felt relief that the door opened silently, so as not to disturb John. She did not want to see him while he was conscious.

Normally, Cameron was not allowed in John's room. He valued his privacy, and now that he'd taken to spending an inordinate amount of time with Riley Dawson, Cameron had not stepped foot in this room since the night they agreed it was "lonely to be John Connor." But for some reason she could not fathom, Cameron felt an overwhelming desire to see John. She just wanted to be near him, without receiving his usual looks of disgust, mistrust, and sometimes, outright hatred.

Standing in the doorway, Cameron made a quick assessment. A single low-wattage lamp on the dresser provided soft lighting which barely illuminated the room. John was sprawled upon the bed, which was still covered with the garish children's bedspread that came with the house, even though the sixteen year old John had been using the bed for a couple of months now. Indeed, as Cameron scanned the rest of the room, primary colors in red, blue, and yellow dominated the color scheme. Children's toys - intended for a boy - lay strewn across the carpeted floor. A vaguely mechanical-looking construct made out of Lego pieces stood at one corner of the room. Random playthings lay upon the end table next to John's sleeping form.

Cameron glided across the floor, avoiding the toys like so many deadly mines. She finally stopped near the foot of the bed, on the far end, away from where John was slumbering. He was still fully clothed, one booted leg on the bed, his right leg hanging off the edge.

For a long moment, Cameron stood there immobile, staring at John's unlined and untroubled face. She couldn't help thinking he was so attractive, but only more so when he was sleeping. He had an air of innocence that was absent during his waking hours. The sliver of moonlight coming from the open window bisected his features diagonally, a faint white line giving his face an unearthly quality.

Ever since integrating the personality profile of Allison Young, the ill-fated template from which Cameron was patterned off of, Cameron had been struggling with unfamiliar thoughts, compulsions, and even emotions.

Yes, emotions. Cameron was shocked at the overwhelming impact emotions could have over a person. And she gained a new found respect for humanity that they could even function in the midst of experiencing such internal chaos.

She idly mused that Skynet hadn't been able to deal with developing sentience and motivations like self-preservation. And it led to the near destruction of humanity. Emotions are a powerful force, Cameron was beginning to realize, and as such, they should be treated with respect. It was far too easy to let them get out of control if not dealt with properly, she decided.

Mentally shaking herself from her meandering thoughts, she again focused on her sleeping charge. Smiling slightly at the visage before her, she once again asked herself what she would do once she got into John's room. Finally, she found the thing that she really wanted to do was what she'd done all those nights ago when trying to dissuade John from seeing Riley.

She turned around and sat on the edge of the mattress. It sank deeply due to her weight, which was more than a true teenage girl would weigh. Bending down, she undid the buckles of her black leather motorcycle boots, and she slid her slender feet out of them. Staring at her crimson painted toenails for a brief second, she wondered why she continued to perform such unnecessary rituals when no one would see the results. Cameron slowly straightened and turned her head to see if she had disturbed John. He did little more than move a hand across his chest, still in a deep sleep.

With relief, she gently laid down in the space next to John on the bed. On her back now, she lifted her legs and let them settle upon the soft mattress. She gazed up at the ceiling, thinking of nothing in particular except for the young man just inches away from her. The stillness and relative quiet was comforting, and now having John next to her, she experienced another new feeling. As these were unfamiliar, Cameron had a hard time identifying and classifying them, yet she'd done extensive research on all aspects of human behavior. And she was fairly certain that right now she was feeling safe and content. Feelings of security are important to humans. This basic need drove early man to seek shelter in caves and utilize fire. It is a requirement that all humans share, Cameron knew. Yet, for this household and this family, security was a rare commodity indeed.

Turning her head to the right she tried to look at John. She could hear the sounds of her head scratching against her hair on the pillow. She peered at him over a tiny mound of that same chocolate brown hair. She felt like she could lie here forever, never getting off the bed again. It was an illogical desire, yet one that she no longer wanted to deny.

But all good things come to an end, and Cameron's respite came to a close when John began to stir, slowly moving his body around, limbs and senses coming to life. Human stages of awakening were quite unlike a cyborg, Cameron noted. She could be fully operational within 15 seconds of coming out of standby, though she was certain watching John wake up was much more enjoyable than seeing a Terminator come out of power-down mode.

John let out a soft groan and slowly opened his eyes…

"Ah!" He exclaimed, while nearly jumping out of the bed. Finally recognizing Cameron, John laid his head back on the pillow and sighed heavily.

"Cam," John croaked out, for his throat was dry. "What-what the hell are you doing here?" he asked, exasperation barely hidden in his voice.

It was too good to last, Cameron thought to herself. "I am lying in bed – with you," she explained.

John rolled his eyes. "Yes, I can see that," he replied sarcastically. "But why?"

Silence. John turned his head to see why she wouldn't answer, and Cameron's expression shocked him. Her large brown eyes began to well up with…tears? And she was opening and closing her mouth, as if trying to explain but being wholly unable to do so.

Cameron looked away quickly, so John wouldn't see her crying. She'd done this a few times after the Allison integration. It was confusing and also…frustrating? Yes, it was incredibly frustrating, Cameron realized. She had to say something, though. She could sense John's eyes boring into the back of her head.

"I…I don't know why John," she finally managed to whisper out.

John rubbed his hands across his face then stared at the ceiling. Ever since the Allison episode - as John came to refer to it - Cameron appeared to be experiencing bouts of...emotion, for lack of a better description. Although Cameron continued to insist that as a machine, she could not experience emotions, John had seen too many contradictory incidents to accept that statement as truth any longer.

But this turn of events both excited and confused John. What if Cameron really did have emotions? John had convinced himself long ago that it would never be so, and that there was only a thin line of code that separated him from certain death at the hands of this beautiful cyborg. Riley had come at the perfect time, to save John from the dangers of getting too close to a machine that could just as easily kill him as look at him. So in the time since Allison had come around, John decided it was simply too dangerous for him to get attached to Cameron, and he began to push her away, both literally and figuratively.

And it worked - a bit too well - John admitted. He'd managed to alienate his protector, the one person closer to him than anyone else, save his mother. It pained him to see Cameron, living her life day by day, looking lost and alone. Still, John avoided her, shoving the guilt deep down and replacing it with glares and unkind words. He tried to convince himself that she was only a machine, and treating her like crap didn't matter in the long run.

But now, looking at her long, soft, curvy form, her beautiful hair fanned out upon the pillow, John knew in his heart that he'd been wrong – dead wrong. At the moment, he could only look at Cameron with regret and wonder what it would be like to kiss her.

"John?" Cameron said in a small voice. It was both an inquiry and a plea. Although all the pieces weren't in place yet, he wasn't a fool. She was a Terminator, designed for infiltration. Subterfuge. She'd come into his room once before, asking him to stop seeing Riley. At the time, he'd suspected Cameron of misdirection and coercion. Was it the same this time? Was she after something? Somehow, his gut was telling him no.

She had turned to face him, the pleading plain in her eyes. A single tear had welled up and was now making a trail down the side of her face. John was entranced, never seeing a cyborg cry before. Another Terminator long ago told him it was impossible. But when it came to Cameron, it seemed anything was possible.

She really was different and anything was indeed possible, John realized. To his surprise, while all of this was going through his head, Cameron had reached out and placed her tiny hand in his. Her hand was surprisingly cool to the touch, but despite that, there was an undeniable softness to it as she tenderly caressed his own hand, squeezing it gently – the meaning behind the action obvious to anyone with a pulse.

And without further thought, John let go of her hand and rolled on his side, reaching over with his right hand. He gently ran his trembling fingers down the left side of Cameron's face, stopping when he reached the faint blemish alongside her left eyebrow. As he touched it, he could swear that Cameron shuddered. He was again surprised and a bit amused as she closed her eyes. Perhaps it was a subroutine that ran when an inexperienced teenager tries to seduce a Terminator? He shook his head imperceptibly to shake the thought off. John was quickly realizing that thinking of Cameron as a pure mechanical construct was what had always prevented him from reaching this moment in time with her.

This time John decided that he wouldn't allow his prejudice and stupidity to get in the way. He rubbed the beauty mark in slow, sensuous circles. Cameron gasped, and her eyes flew open. He could see that her gaze had become glassy and unfocused. John saw the deep brown pools of her eyes swimming with new and uncharted emotions and desires. He wanted to ask her how this was possible, how he could be with her like this. But as he lost himself in Cameron's rapturous expression, everything he wanted to ask evaporated into thin air.

With a smirk, John whispered, "You like that, huh?" as he continued caressing the side of her face. Cameron's lips were slightly parted, glistening in the faint light. She nodded wordlessly, as if she were incapable of speech. John was now enjoying himself. His whole body tingled with anticipation, his mind running at a million miles per hour. Questions popped into his head: Are you really gonna do this John? Should you be doing this? Is it wrong? John certainly knew his mother would not approve of this, not one bit. And his uncle? Better not to think about that, he decided.

As John wrestled with unromantic thoughts, Cameron began to get a hold of herself. She had never anticipated something like this happening. When she came in, she'd only been longing for companionship and comfort from John as he slept. She hadn't intended for John to embrace her as he was doing now. But when she decided to reach out to him, it was as if she'd unintentionally broken some kind of barrier, and everything inside of John Connor was pouring out over her. When he'd touched her face, she felt as if John had been touching her forever. A kind of warmth flowed throughout her body. She'd never felt anything like this before, and Cameron was totally unprepared for what happened when he touched her left temple.

John had touched some form of nerve nexus in her biological covering. The mole on her left eyebrow, duplicated exactly from Allison's facial structure, was incredibly sensitive. The reason for this was unclear, and Cameron had never noticed before, as she would only powder the area or wash it perfunctorily. The blemish was of little concern to her – until now. When he began to rub the area, numerous electrical impulses raced to her CPU, and the programming there sent duplicate signals to other areas of her body. The feedback she received from those sectors – specifically in the genital areas, was what Cameron could only describe as…pleasurable. This was the reason for the involuntary gasp that escaped her lips.

It was a day of many firsts for Cameron Baum. She hoped it wouldn't be the last.

John had stopped rubbing the side of her brow. This brought Cameron back to the here and now, and she focused on John's face. He wore a slight smile, the normal glare and frown he usually wore around her was nowhere in evidence. His eyes drew her attention. The green in his irises seemed to be burning - emerald flames glittering and dancing just for her.

They gazed at one another for what seemed an eternity. A decision needed to be made. Each wondering if the other would make it, and each wondering if they would make the right one. Finally, John lowered himself down upon Cameron and tenderly touched his lips to hers.

All coherent thought left John at that moment, but one thing stood out for him, something he knew he'd take to his grave as a treasured memory; she tasted faintly of strawberries. Her lips were softer than anything he'd ever kissed before, and he found it difficult to reconcile that this was a machine he was in a passionate embrace with. A rose by any other name smells just as sweet, as he remembered the saying went. Truer words were never spoken, as far as John was concerned. His arms wrapped around Cameron's shoulders, he wove his hands through her luxuriant hair.

He kissed her with a passion he'd long forgotten - his pathetic attempts with Riley were embarrassing in comparison. Frankly, the last time he'd had a kiss that even came close was in Mike Kripski's basement years ago. John fleetingly wondered whatever happened to Kate Brewster.

In response, Cameron wrapped her own arms around John's waist, pulling him closer. She was trying to be as gentle with him as possible. In her ecstasy, she feared that she would hurt John somehow. She found it hard to control her body, and knew it would be very easy for something to go wrong.

Behind closed eyes, Cameron's displays were scrolling literally hundreds of lines – data being gathered from innumerable sensors. In the bottom right corner, a red light began to flash WARNING! SENSORY OVERLOAD IMMINENT! Cameron ignored it and concentrated on just…feeling. Being in the moment with John was the only place she wanted to be, and if she crashed, then so be it. She could sense his body lying upon hers; the exquisite weight of him bearing down on her was simply beyond anything she'd imagined it would be. She ran her fingers along his back, and could make out his sinewy muscles flexing, their heat warming her palms. She snaked her fingers under his T-shirt, in order to touch him – the real him beneath the clothing.

John gasped and pulled away. Cameron froze. She immediately feared that she'd done something wrong. Before she could utter a word though, John grinned and quickly gave her a peck on cheek.

"Sorry, it's just that your hands are a little cold," he explained. Unbidden, Cameron's CPU launched a subroutine, clustering blood into her cheeks. "Oh," was all she could think of to say. Then, a line stopped and flashed in her display.

"You know what they say, don't you?" Cameron murmured coquettishly. When John only raised his eyebrows at her, she answered. "They say 'cold hands, warm heart'." She smiled for him. John could not help but return it. "Well if they say it, then it's gotta be true, right?" he replied. John rolled to his side and took her hands in his. "Hey, you're not touching me until your hands are as warm as that heart of yours, okay?" he joked. He massaged her dainty hands tenderly until what passed for her circulatory system compensated with increased blood flow. With a final kiss on the inside of each palm, John looked at Cameron again.

"How's that?" he asked throatily. Cameron gave him a wide smile and replied, "much better, thank you." Her hands were indeed warmer - normal for a human, in any case. John lowered his head to kiss her again. But Cameron suddenly had a thought. She placed her hand on John's face to stop him. She had to tell John something before she could go on.

"John," she began. "I want you to know this isn't why I came to you tonight." John misunderstood and his eyes clouded over, bright green fading quickly to a dull jade. Cameron was quick to recover. "No, you don't understand. This is what I want, more than you'll ever know. I just wanted to explain to you that when I came here, I only wanted to be close to you. I didn't expect...this," she explained.

John's face brightened, realizing what she was getting at, and he let out a breath of relief. "This isn't what I expected either, you know," he chided her. "I wake up to find a…" he stopped. When Cameron frowned slightly, he went on. "I get up and find a beautiful girl lying next to me. I wonder how a guy can be so stupid and so lucky at the same time."

They looked at each other for a few moments, both knowing what John was talking about. So Cameron asked the question she'd been avoiding, the one she knew she had to address before doing anything else. It was only a one-word question:

"Riley," she said.

Cameron held John's face in her hands, looking at him, hoping beyond hope that she would hear the answer she was seeking. John sighed heavily and closed his eyes. "Now that you're here, Riley seems very far away," he said. Shame and regret welled up inside him. "I'm not gonna lie to you, Cam," he went on. "I care about Riley very much, and…and I even thought I'd be able to fall in love with her, but after everything that happened, you know, with Cromartie, I don't think it's fair to her."

John shook his head slowly. "She doesn't deserve to be put in danger like this," he told Cameron. "Not for all the wrong reasons."

"And what reasons are those?" she asked.

John sighed again. He would finally be able to admit what he couldn't before. "I was with Riley just so I could avoid my feelings for you, Cam."

Cameron ran the audio recording in her head back again. Did she hear him correctly? Yes, she did. "Feelings?" she asked hopefully. He grinned at her. "Yeah, feelings." Then John's face turned serious. "Cameron," John said softly.

"Yes?" If she didn't know any better, she could swear that the pump that ran her circulatory system began to run faster.

"I love you."

It was such a simple declaration, but one that changed many things. Rules were now broken, alliances were forever changed. Cameron could never go back to what she once was: a Terminator. Because she was loved, from this time forth, she would see herself as Cameron Baum – a woman who just happened to be a machine.

Cameron noticed John looking at her strangely, and she belatedly realized that he was looking for a similar answer from her. Panic quickly began to set in. The response list on her display scrolled by at an alarming rate before stopping abruptly. Highlighted was the response she wanted to give him, yet she overrode it, unable to utter the words.

"John, I…I," was all that came out. The tears were now flowing freely down the sides of her temples and pooling in the curves of her ears. She shook her head back and forth several times, trying to say something - anything to reassure him, but nothing came out. She just didn't know for sure. Was she in love with him? If Cameron could define love as John Connor being the center of her universe, the entire reason for her existence, the subject of nearly every thought she had, then yes, she was certainly in love with John.

But wasn't that what a Terminator was programmed to do as well? Wasn't that what John in the future programmed her to do? Was it really her, or just subroutines that predestined her to say things and do things that other people wanted?

Seeing her confusion and distress, John fought the urge to get angry with Cameron. How could she not love him as well? But as he saw her battling with inner programming demons he couldn't even begin to imagine, John tried to see it from her point of view.

He was smart enough to know that part of the reason why Cameron was lying under him on his bed was due to the Allison episode. The integration of another personality had to have been the catalyst for her new found abilities. But being able to feel and being able to understand those emotions were two different things. On an emotional developmental scale, John knew that Cameron was a child.

Was she in love with him? Maybe. But it wouldn't be fair of him not to give Cameron the chance to grow and figure it out for herself. So before she could get worked up about it. John cupped his hands around Cameron's face, wiping the tears away with his thumbs. "Shh," he tried to soothe her. Placing a tender kiss on the lips, he pulled away and smiled at her. "Don't worry. I understand."

Cameron's eyes grew wide. "You do?" she asked. John nodded. "You don't really know what love is, or whether you feel it at all," he reassured her. This brought a relieved smile to Cameron's face, and John couldn't help but smile back.

"I'm so sorry, John," she apologized. "I want to tell you that I love you, but…I'm confused. Is it my programming, or do I really have these feelings for you?"

"Well," John replied, "I guess it's something we'll have to figure out – together, all right?"

"Yes, John. We'll do it together," she said. And with that, he leaned in for another kiss. After a few moments, it deepened and became more urgent. Flames of desire began licking at John, and he could feel himself growing. If he didn't stop himself…

"No," Cameron told him as he tried to pull away. "Don't stop," she pleaded. He found it hard to resist when she pulled him back into her embrace. John moved from her lips and began kissing her neck, breathing her in deeply. She smelled wonderful - like a mix of spices he couldn't quite put his finger on, but he thought he could detect a hint of cinnamon in it. An image of long walks on paths strewn with fall leaves flashed within his mind's eye. Whatever it was, it was certainly intoxicating.

"You smell great, Cam," John mumbled in between planting kisses on the side of her neck. Cameron lips turned up in a satisfied smile. "Thank you. It's your Christmas gift," she said. His head came up and he replied with a befuddled "huh?" She tried not to laugh - another new sensation. "Last Christmas," she explained, "you handed me a small decorative bag containing one gift card for Macy's Department Store." A look of recognition came over him. "Yeah, right," he said. "I...just had no idea what to get you, Cam. I mean, a box of 9mm hollowpoints really didn't seem appropriate, did it?"

Cameron rubbed John's back tenderly as she answered him. "Well, it's the that thought counts, is it not?" When he nodded, she continued. "So I purchased a perfume called 'Autumn Fire,' because the woman at the counter said that 'your man will just love it on you.'" John was surprised and touched by her sentiment. He said to her, "well, she was right, I do. Very much so..." and lowered his head back down to her neck again. John opened his mouth and began to suck greedily at Cameron's neck. After a minute of this, he pulled away and asked, "Can Terminators get hickeys?" with a gleam in his eyes.

Her eyes met his. The glittering sparkle from within those dark brown pools encouraged him. "I don't know," she replied breathlessly. "Why don't you try and find out?"

That was all it took. John lost the ability to reason, and he decided then and there, that the time for introspection was through. He was going to do things tonight that he never would have thought possible. Maybe he'd fantasized about it when he first met her, but as time went on, he knew that making love to Cameron was a mythical occurrence that happened only in fevered dreams.

But now? John was going to make up for lost time, consequences be damned. He kissed her again on the lips – hard. There was no ambiguity in the kiss. Cameron knew what John wanted, and she was not going to deny him. She had actually never had intercourse before, and she'd certainly never made love either – she knew the difference – but that only made the prospect of it all the more exciting.

Cameron returned the passion, but holding back slightly, lest she put John in the hospital. Their tongues entwined, and their hands roved over each other's bodies, exploring new territory, seeking untold hidden treasures. John's hand moved over Cameron's breasts, and he cupped one in his palm. She laid her hand over his, as if holding John close to her heart. They broke their heated embrace and looked at each other once more. John's face was flushed, his breathing ragged. Cameron was a picture of serenity, though her capillary subroutine was in full effect, giving her cheeks a vivid pink glow.

To John's amazement, as he stared at the swirling brown of Cameron's eyes, he saw the blue neon of her inner eye pulsing slowly. The illumination seemed deep down, as if floating somewhere beneath the waves of a dark sea. John saw everything he needed to in there. Though she couldn't say that she loved him, he could see the truth in her eyes.

"Cam, I…" John began. He found that it was hard to say it. "I want to…"

Cameron laid a finger over John's lips, stopping him from going on. She gave him a small smile.

"John. Make love to me - please," she said.

If he died right now – if Judgment Day came early and they were both wiped out in a fiery maelstrom of death and destruction – John wouldn't have cared. He never realized that one sentence from another sentient being could wash away so much pain and despair. He was now happier than he'd ever been in his entire short life.

"Uh, yeah, I – I mean, yes!" he exclaimed awkwardly. Cameron began to giggle. That alone almost derailed John from his train of thought, but he quickly recovered. There was only one concern that still reared its ugly head. "Cam, I…I've never, you know…" he stammered.

Cameron had suspected, but couldn't be sure after he'd started spending nights alone in his room with Riley. "You are a virgin," she finished for him in a matter-of-fact tone, trying to stifle a smile. When John only gave her an embarrassed shrug, she decided to reassure him. "Would it comfort you to know I am one as well?" she asked him.

That floored him. He'd never really considered the possibility, assuming that in her time as a Skynet infiltrator, she'd had to seduce some of her targets. Apparently, they were very good at it, as Vick Chamberlain was married to a woman who had no idea that her husband was a murdering cyborg.

But that bit of information from her really did make all the difference, as Cameron probably knew it would. John smiled widely at her. "Yeah," he answered her. "It helps."

"Good," she said. "Now, are we going to talk all night, or are we going to –" Cameron never finished the sentence, as John locked himself into another embrace and began to kiss her with renewed passion. His hand wandered back to Cameron's midriff, fingers sliding its way under the material of her white cotton tanktop. His fingers stopped at the underwire of her hot pink satin brassiere, and they hesitated there, as if they had a mind of their own, and couldn't decide what to do.

Cameron had no compunctions regarding acts of intimacy, and decided to do some exploring of her own. She slid her right hand, which was now adequately warmed, down beneath John's denim jeans and boxers. The slide stopped when Cameron had John's left buttock in hand and she squeezed slowly. This elicited a low moan from John, which created a pleasurable vibration in Cameron's lips and down her throat while he was still kissing her.

John's hand apparently took courage from Cameron's actions, and finally made the final journey under the brassiere cup. This was completely new to John – and Cameron, for that matter. Tentatively, he brushed his fingers across her nipple and was thoroughly surprised when the skin contracted and stiffened. John's touch elicited another tiny gasp of pleasure from Cameron. Encouraged by her reaction, John began to rub in slow circles, and cupped his palm around the soft globe of flesh.

Removing her hand from John's jeans, Cameron lay back for a moment, savoring the tender ministrations of his nimble fingers. But after a few moments, she was unsatisfied. She gently pushed him back and she sat up. Confusion clouded John's features until he saw what she was doing. She quickly lifted her tank top over her head, her dark hair spilling over her shoulders as the shirt fell away onto the floor. The neon pink brassiere glared at him, contrasting with the milky alabaster skin of her chest and abdomen. Without preamble, Cameron reached up and undid the front snap of the bra.

John reeled at the picture before him. He felt light-headed, his heart hammering in his chest. As she sat there, naked above the waist, he thought Cameron was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. She was perfect, and as much as he hated Skynet, he had to concede and thank them for creating such a wonderful and gorgeous being.

"You're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life," he repeated his thoughts for her, with wonderment in his voice.

She had the grace to look down in modesty and gave him a tiny smile. "Thank you, John," was all she could say. Cameron leaned forward, giving John another loving kiss. She pulled away slightly and with an impish glint in her eye, she lightly bit at his chin, his stubble rasping against her teeth and lips. She'd picked up the technique watching soft-core porn on late night cable television. John looked at her in astonishment, and let out a little laugh.

"You like that, huh?" she repeated what he'd said to her earlier. "I do," he answered with a smirk. Again, the silence grew between them and Cameron saw the hunger growing in John's smoldering eyes. With anticipation, she let him guide her back onto the bed, his hands on her shoulders. Suddenly, remembering his state of dress, he gave her an apologetic look, and he rolled over on the bed, kicking off his boots as quickly as he could. After dumping them loudly on the floor, he took off his socks.

He stopped for a moment. The enormity of the moment caught up with John. He was going to make love for the first time – with Cameron. He glanced at her. She was like a renaissance painting come to life, laying back and completely bare, save for a short denim skirt. She smiled at him serenely, as if what they were going to do was the most natural thing in the world.

Maybe it was, John mused. In his life, his universe, maybe this was the most natural thing of all.

He leaned closer to her, and she reached out to him, grabbing the bottom of his shirt and pulling it over his head. When he could see her again, he took the shirt and threw it across the room. John lowered his face, ready to pick up where he left off and…

"John, are you awake?" Sarah Connor called out. She opened the door to his room and…


John pulled away from Cameron in shock. He stared at his mother in abject terror, like a deer caught in a car's headlights. Cameron sat up quickly, her face blank and completely emotionless. Remembering her nakedness, she demurely pulled up John's sheets over her breasts.

Striding into the room, Sarah was livid. As if she hadn't had enough to deal with by having to worry about Riley Dawson, Cromartie, the Turk, the looming specter of cancer, and any number of other troubles in her day, now she had to deal with this? Her son, trying to screw a machine!

"Just what do you think you're doing, John Connor?" she asked her son angrily, both hands on her hips.

"Mom, I – I," John sputtered. "What?" Sarah shot back. Did all men think with their dicks? She wondered. She just couldn't imagine what was going through the boy's mind.

"You don't understand, Mom," John replied, finally finding some strength in his voice.

"Understand what?" Sarah wanted to know. She ran a hand through her hair, thinking to herself, this ought to be good.

"He loves me," Cameron chimed in. Both Connors turned to her with similar incredulous looks on their faces. If she was inclined to find humor in this situation, it would have to be those looks, Cameron concluded. But she had a bit of trouble understanding John's reaction, as she was only stating the truth as he'd told it to her.

"Loves you?" Sarah all but spit at Cameron. "How the hell can he love a machine?" She turned to her son and said, "Are you brain dead? Loving a machine? Have you forgotten what she is, John? How can you forget how many of us they've killed – are going to kill? How can you ever love something that killed your father?"

"I had nothing to do with the death of Kyle Reese," Cameron interjected, attempting to defend herself.

Sarah whirled back on Cameron, her green eyes burning with rage. "Shut up! Shut your fucking mouth! Don't you ever speak about him! You don't ever say his name!" she shouted.

John tried to insert himself between the two. "Mom! Come on, I know it's crazy, but I love her. I can't explain it, but I do!" he said.

"What about Riley?" Sarah asked. The rage still simmered in her, waiting to boil over.

John held out his open palms in a plea for understanding. "You said to get rid of Riley, didn't you? You said it wasn't safe for her."

Sarah couldn't believe her ears. "And that makes what you're doing here okay?" she asked.

"No – I mean, yes!" John answered, trying to reason with her. "Mom, you just can't pick and choose who you're gonna love. Who would have told you that it was a good idea to fall in love with Dad? Nobody! To everyone else, he was a nutjob who needed to be put away."

"You shut your mouth, John," Sarah growled.

"Mom," John was trying to back up, reach some common ground.

"SHUT UP!" she screamed. Sarah pointed a finger at Cameron, who had discreetly picked up her shirt and had just finished pulling it on.

"You - get the hell out of my son's room," Sarah said in a quiet, yet ominous voice. Cameron decided she'd been the cause of enough conflict tonight, and would attempt to retreat and reevaluate the situation. So she stood up, stuck her feet back in her boots and headed for the door.

As Cameron passed her, Sarah added, "And get out of this house right now, or I swear, I'll find a way to blast you apart and I'm gonna burn every bit till you're a melted lump of metal."

The two women glared at each other. One with a cool, aloof demeanor, and the other with barely contained murderous fury. Sarah broke the stalemate.

"Stay away from John, or I swear, I will kill you. Do you hear me?" Sarah threatened.

"Yes, I hear you," Cameron replied flatly. With a last, longing look at John, she turned and walked out of the room.

Once Cameron disappeared around the corner, Sarah turned to her son. "John. You can't trust her. She tried to kill you, don't you even remember?" she pleaded.

"I know Mom, I remember. But she's different now. She's…" John shook his head, unable to elaborate.

"She's what?" She wondered what he was getting at.

John shrugged in frustration. "I can't explain it to you right now, but she's changed. She's not the same machine anymore. She's…she's real."

Sarah couldn't hold back a sneer. "Forget it, John. The Tin Man got his heart, but she's never going to be anything more," she told him resolutely.

John shook his head again, his green eyes boring into his mother's. "You're wrong Mom," he declared as forcefully as he could.

Sarah sat on the edge of the bed, utterly spent. She couldn't even remember why she'd come into John's room in the first place. With a tired sigh, she said to him, "One of these days John, she is going to kill you, and I won't be there to save you."

John pulled his shirt on, and put his feet in his boots. "Don't worry. She's already saved me," he retorted. And with that, he walked out the door, leaving his mother alone with her thoughts.

He ran to Cameron's room, only to find she wasn't there. Turning around, he headed for the front door, which was wide open. John ran outside just in time to see Cameron pulling out of the driveway. He could see the back of her head through the truck's window.

"CAMERON!" John shouted. He was unsure whether she heard him. Even if she did, he wasn't convinced that she would even stop. He wondered where she was going. He had to find out. This wasn't over, John Connor silently declared, both to himself and to the cruel universe that dogged his every move. It wasn't over, not by a long shot.

"I'll find you, Cam. I promise," John muttered under his breath. He had to.

(Continued on Chapter 2...)