He must still be asleep.
Though he can remember waking up, pulling the sheets away and making his way downstairs, still groggy with eyes barely open this can't be real. Walking into the kitchen to the wafting scent of food, table set, and orange juice poured. He must be dreaming.
"Good morning," Cameron says poised over the stove.
Blanching for a second, he closes his eyes and counts to five. What he expects to find when opening them again, is the sight of bedroom ceiling just above his head, the sensation of sheets wrapped around him.
She's still at the stove when he reopens them, looking at him, head tilted in curiosity.
"What are you doing?" He asks.
"Making breakfast," she replies simply. "It's the most important meal of the day."
"Yeah," he laughs. "I've heard that."
She corrects mom's cooking all the time, but there is something distinctly unsettling in witnessing her take up the act herself. First off, she has an apron on. She's a highly advanced cybernetic being, one who blows stuff up, and kills people. Yet here she is making food for him with an apron on.
"Sit," she says pulling him from his thoughts. "It's almost ready."
He sits, still watching.
She could be building a bomb or cleaning a gun and look exactly the same.
Setting a plate in front of him, stacked high with pancakes, eggs, and bacon, the look in her eyes isn't as blank as it usually is. There's purpose in doing this, reason.
She sets butter and syrup in front of him before taking a seat opposite the table.
At first all he can do is stare down at his plate, the vain hope it's not poisoned.
"Eat," she says watching his stare. "The syrup has already cooled by four degrees."
He looks up.
"You heated the syrup?"
That purposeful look again.
They're better than mom's.
Back from the hospital again, pockets full of snacks thanks to Cameron's vending machine magic, he's worried about Mom. She went there for a reason, because she's cracking under severe lack of sleep, and every day those cracks are getting bigger.
Only gone two days and already she found something to fight. The slow realization in his mind that, because of skynet, no matter what happens to them now or in the future, she's always going to need something to fight against.
It scares him.
For the first time since he was twelve, there's the stray thought that she might actually belong in a place in like that.
Sitting at his desk with random circuit boards strewn in front of him, he pushes the thought away and deals with his own need to be doing something. He tries to work for about a minute before realizing it's useless because concentration is asking too much focus.
Tossing the board away he leans forward, resting his head in his hand, and letting out a deep sigh.
Hands on his shoulders suddenly, slight pressure and circular motion easing the tension. Eyes falling closed, he knows who's doing it, who else could it be? It's weird, and probably wrong, but it feels so good he can't conjure up the energy to care.
"You need to relax," she says so close to his ear the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. "Your stress level has spiked by seventy percent."
He wants to laugh at the accuracy, but her thumb hits a sensitive spot, and all that comes out is a sigh, high pitched and girlish.
"You're creepily good at this," he manages to say.
"Practice," she replies.
Eyes snap open but he doesn't shrug her off. Another hint of the future?
"What do you mean?"
Hands keep moving, all stress falling away and heading toward euphoria.
"You and I have done this many times," she replies casually.
"We have huh?"
She leans in close again, so close, lips right next to his ear. If she had breath the chills already running down his spine would be sent into overload.
"It's your favorite part of the day."
They're sitting on the couch watching Donnie follow the portal leaping from his chest into the kitchen, Cameron focused on the screen with rapt interest.
It's because he told her a dream was like a movie, that she watches thinking it could be that very thing. Something abstract and wonderful, with no calculating thought or purposeful execution of command
He imagines Cameron lying down at the end of the day, crawling between sheets and closing off those big brown eyes from the rest of the world, dreaming of Frank the rabbit and waking up in the middle of the night confused and disoriented, reaching for him…
He shakes the thought from his head, looking over to her again, those eyes still focused on the pictures moving in front of them.
It's easy to forget what she is in moments like this, when Mom isn't around to remind him. It's easy to just let his hand drift toward her, to touch what isn't skin, to feel what isn't hair. So easy, he folds his arms to keep from doing those very things.
Cameron turns her head to him.
"You're not watching," she says.
"I've seen it before."
"Do you find it counterproductive to view a movie more than once?"
"No I-" He cuts himself off, not sure how to answer the simple question.
"You should watch," she continues. "It is not how time travel works, but the idea is interesting."
Things are getting very interesting, he thinks but doesn't say anything.
She sinks back into the couch, scoots just a bit closer, giving him that odd half smile of hers before leaning to rest her head on his shoulder.
Heart beating faster, eyes darting to the door like Mom is going to magically appear there any second.
He almost jumps out of his seat when the phone rings.
Mom calling, just to check in.
The irony that now he can't sleep is not lost.
She stayed home instead of wandering off to do whatever it is she does when he and mom are sleeping.
Alone in the house with her, it should be vaguely comforting.
Instead he lays there in his bed intended for an eight-year-old, staring up at the ceiling and listening to the sound of Cameron wandering all throughout the house, barefoot he can tell, but still loud enough to not be able to close his eyes.
Footsteps in the kitchen. What is she doing?
All the guns are clean, and she never watches TV by herself.
Checking the perimeter no doubt, but he can't think of a reason to continually do such a thing, what's the point in walking around all night? Besides not letting him sleep because of it?
On the stairs now, his eyes widen, no doubt where she's going to end up.
The sound of bare feet moving along hardwood, making a beeline right for his door.
"Humans require at least eight hours of REM sleep," she says peeking her head inside. "Why are you awake?"
He looks at her, just an outline in the dark.
"Someone is walking around the house at all hours of the night," he shoots back.
"Sorry," her voice carries across his room.
If he didn't know better, he'd think she was being sarcastic.
"I could read you the Wizard of Oz," she offers.
"We don't have a copy here."
"The book is not necessary, I know it all."
Of course you do, he thinks.
She moves from the door and immediately he tenses, watching her figure make its way toward his bed, mind whirling at what she would do once she got there.
She settles on the open space beside him, easily sliding along his side, turning her head to face him.
"You need to sleep John," she says a lullaby whisper.
He can't say anything.
She snuggles up against him.
He can't do anything.
"Sleep," she says against his side, "It's alright."
She doesn't get that he couldn't possibly think of doing that in a situation like this, but he puts his arm around her and closes his eyes anyway.
His dreams are wandering, epic, and surreal.
When he wakes up she's still there, head on his chest, listening to his heart beat.
"Remember I told you something strange was going on?"
Another weird almost frantic call from Mom, once again leaving him to wonder why she ever went to the clinic in the first place.
Of course Cameron chooses that moment to walk by in nothing but her underwear, pulling his attention away from Mom's distressed word, taking his breath along with her.
It's not all that surprising, something happened to her roommate and it can't simply be an accident because in their world there's no such thing.
Watching Cameron sashay the rest of the way down the hall.
No such thing…
He walks after her, hastily grabbing her arm and yanking just a little.
"What are you doing? He asks, the words coming out harsher than he intends.
"Going to my room."
"Where are your clothes?"
She looks down at herself as if she didn't realize they weren't there.
"They are currently in the washing machine," she replies. "Standard cycle with fabric softer pre-added."
"I spilled ammonium nitrate all over my shirt and pants."
Pancakes or a bomb, he thinks fleetingly.
"Okay, I get that but you can't just walk around the house like this."
For a second she just looks at him.
"No one is home besides us," she says. "I did not think it would cause distress."
Distress? Nobody talks like that.
"I'm not distressed."
She moves to grab his wrist.
"Your heart rate is elevated by thirty beats per minute, are you having a panic attack?"
"What? No! It's just I, uh-"
He looks down at the floor, noticing the black, six-inch stilettos on her feet.
"What's with the heels?"
She lets go of his wrist but takes a step closer, eyes firm and focused on his, and god that smile again.
"It's alright to look John," she says in a voice that is far too casual for the situation. "I don't mind if you look."
When did he become such a stutterer?
So close he doesn't know what to do, needing her to make the first move, needing to know that he can hold back.
"In the future," he asks, it barely coming out a whisper. "We do this too?"
No hesitation, no need with what she is.
She has the softest skin that isn't skin, under his touch, how he's always wondered. The silkiest hair that isn't hair, falling through his fingers, her head tilting up to him.
Lips on his, so firm and right, the sweetest taste he's ever…
Breaking away from the kiss he gasps for breath, gazing down into her bright eyes and licking his lips.
She gazes right back at him, her face unflinching.
"It makes everything better."