author's note: Drabblish oneshot I completed a while ago, exploring John's character and his possible connection with Cameron.

Two Machines

Sometimes, when the two of them were watching TV together, or doing the dishes, or putting groceries away, John would find himself staring at Cameron, trying to picture what was underneath her clothes. He was imagining what he would see if he could get underneath them, underneath her skin and hair and flesh, if he could see past the pretty face she'd taken from some poor dead girl named Allison. He thought of the cold, hard metal masked just beneath the surface of her smooth, supple skin, her gleaming alloy skeleton that no ordinary bullet could pierce, the sinister glowing blue eyes hidden behind her benign brown ones. John thought of the machine. He forced himself to think of it, every day, in order to keep himself alive, shoving aside whatever else his screwed up psyche wanted to think of it as. Some days it was harder than others to make himself believe that the machine was Cameron.

It wasn't the machine he was interested in, though. Some days, when John watched her, and the way she'd express something akin to curiosity at the most mundane things, or the way she'd tilt her head to the side while speaking to him, or the way her lips would part, ever so slightly, almost as if in awe, when she encountered something new—he'd find her balanced so precariously between being the machine and being something else that John was forced, suddenly, to stop thinking of metal skeletons and glowing eyes and start wondering what lay underneath that. John wished he could get deeper, into her blood, past both the flesh and metal and see what was really there. He pictured glowing cords and neon tubes and circuits, electricity igniting shimmering wires that snaked through her body like veins and coursed through her like a pulse. If he could see all of that, everything underneath, then maybe he'd be able to see what made her… Cameron.

He was only kidding himself, though. John knew that even if he could see underneath everything, all he'd see was metal and wires. He wouldn't see anything that anyone could call a soul, or human, just cold, hard machinery. Lights and clockwork. The one thing that he wished so desperately he could see was something that couldn't be seen.

Sometimes when John stared at himself in the mirror, he tried to imagine what lay underneath; under his skin and flesh and blood and bone, under the organs churning away inside of him, under the trillions of cells that made up his body. He wondered, if he could see inside himself, would he be able to see what made him John Connor, the future savior of the human race, the boy trying so desperately to become what everyone needed him to become? Or would he only see a complex map of neurons firing at random, billions of spindly cells meshing together, chemical processes reacting to external stimuli… machinery.

John knew that Cameron only protected him because it was written into her programming. It was her mission, her purpose, the reason for her existence. Every time she risked her life to protect him, every time she put herself between him and some other crazed cyborg, it had nothing to do with anything but her programming. It had nothing to do with anything like what anyone could call love. She did it because she was compelled to, because the machine that made up her soul commanded it. Choice, John knew, had nothing to do with it.

One day, John knew, he would grow up and save the world. He would save all of humanity from the wrath of the machines. He had known this since he was very young, and there was never any question about it. It was his destiny, his purpose, the reason for his existence. Choice, he knew, had nothing to do with it.

Once, John found himself staring in his bedroom mirror, looking at the boy who would one day become General John Connor, leader of the human resistance, when Cameron silently stalked into the room. Without saying a word, she, too, looked at herself in the mirror, tilting her head slowly, ever so slightly to the left as she stared intently, as if she was trying to see the exact same thing John had been a moment before. Instead of shouting at her to get out, he glanced back at the mirror, at the two pale reflections in the glass. He stared and stared, but all he could see was two machines, staring back at him.

author's note: Anyone who reviews is simply awesome.