Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles
title: Born to Fight
Disclaimer: I do not own anything Terminator, just my copy of the DVDs and XBOX game.
setting: during/after "Born to Run" season finale
warning: Major Spoilers for Born to Run
summary: John's POV of the events leading up to and after the time jump that changes his life forever. What happened after the Jameron scene, how John convinced Cam to rescue his mom even after her message forbade it. John's POV of the jump and the future scene. Jameron.
Born to Run
Her voice was soft, softer than he'd ever heard it before. His swallowed hard, finding it difficult to breathe.
"It's time to go," Cameron finished.
He didn't want to go. He wanted to stay there forever, on top of her, their faces so close they were almost touching. And he desperately wanted to kiss her. But she was right. It was time to go.
If he didn't pull away now, he wasn't sure if he ever could. They didn't have time for this. He reluctantly backed off as she moved to replace her shirt. It was much easier for him to concentrate when she had all her clothes on.
And for the first time, he wondered how he'd even ended up in that situation. Not that he was complaining, but he wasn't stupid. She'd done it on purpose.
"Why'd you have me do it?" he asked, brow furrowed in honest confusion. "You can feel. You could have felt the sensor yourself. You feel heat. You told me that. You could have just done it yourself."
Cameron held his gaze. "Would you have believed me?"
He opened his mouth to reply, then closed it, unsure of how to respond. Would he? If she'd just told him, would he have trusted her word? Would he have needed proof?
"I don't know," he said with a heavy sigh. All he did know was the moment…the incident…had become far more than a simple sensor check.
"Did you feel anything?" he asked almost desperately. "Did that…did it mean anything to you. At all?"
She shifted her eyes to the bed, seeming to be contemplating. "I would not have stopped you."
Her eyes rose to meet his. "If you would have kissed me. I would not have stopped you."
He swallowed hard. That didn't actually answer his question. "But would you have felt anything? Would it have meant anything to you?" Can you truly love me? Or have I been fooling myself all this time?
"I would not have let anyone else, if that's what you mean," she replied. "Just you."
"Just me," he repeated. He decided to take that as a good thing. It had to stem from something akin to love, right? She wouldn't let just anyone kiss her, only him.
Because I love you John and you love me.
"Were you lying?" he demanded suddenly, pressing his lips together tightly. He needed to know; needed to finally settle the internal debate raging. "When you were stuck between the trucks. When I took your chip. Were you lying?"
She met his gaze, her eyes soft and calm. "No."
He drew in a shaky breath. There couldn't be any more deception between them, no more lies. They couldn't be together if he always had to question if what came from her mouth was the truth or not. No more secrets.
"You can't lie to me anymore," he said. "You have to be honest. You have to tell me the truth. Do you understand?"
Cameron nodded slowly. "Yes. I understand."
He took a deep breath before dropping the bombshell. "What did Weaver mean?"
He saw her flinch almost imperceptibly. He'd been right. She did know something.
"What?" she repeated.
Don't do this, Cam. Don't play games. "The message," he repeated, lip twitching in slight irritation. "The one Ellison brought? The one that upset you. 'Will you join us?' What does that mean?"
Cameron remained silent.
"It means something," John prodded. "And you know what it is. Don't lie to me."
Cameron finally looked up. "Future John sent a message to a liquid metal Terminator, asking the question 'Will you join us?'"
John frowned. "So, what does that –-"
"Only four people know the meaning of that phrase," Cameron explained. "Future-You. Me. Jesse. And the Terminator we asked the question of."
John could feel the wheels turning. "So if Weaver knows the phrase…"
"Weaver is the Terminator," Cameron finished.
John's mouth dropped open, stunned. "She's…she's a Terminator?"
He was numb for a moment. Liquid metal…Terminator. He whipped his head back to Cameron, feeling betrayed.
"You weren't going to tell me? You were gonna let me and Mom walk in there? To meet a Terminator?" His voice rose at the end.
"Yes," Cameron replied evenly.
Their earlier conversation rose to the front of his mind. So down deep, you want to kill me.
Yes. I do.
"She will not harm you," Cameron continued. "That's not her mission."
I'm not her mission. He scoffed. "Oh really? How am I supposed to be believe that? How can I know that?"
"You can't," Cameron replied softly. "You just have to trust me."
His anger slowly faded as he realized he did trust her. She had plenty of opportunities to kill him. She didn't. She understood that she was a threat, that her mission priorities hadn't been erased, just programmed over. She'd given him the kill necklace, a way for him to destroy her if she became a threat.
Because there was a part of her that still wanted to kill him.
But there was a part of her, the dominant part right now, that didn't want to kill him. She claimed her words to be true, she claimed to feel, to love. And he believed her. Derek and Sarah may not have believed her, but he did.
He trusted her.
"John, it's time to go," she repeated.
"Go where?" he asked.
"You know," she replied easily. He did know. They'd be running again. Anywhere. Just like his mother had told them in the message.
You are to make sure he does. Cameron would do that. John lowered his eyes to the floor.
That was the way his life was. He was born to run. Always running. But he was also supposed to lead mankind in the war against the machines. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe he wasn't born to run.
Maybe he was born to fight.
"I can't leave her," he whispered.
"Your mother ordered--"
"You don't take orders from my mother," John said stubbornly. "You take them from me."
Cameron was silent for a moment.
"But I'm not giving you an order," John replied. "I'm asking you. Please…help me get her back. I can't do it without you."
Cameron cocked her head. "You're giving me the choice?"
John hesitated. He wasn't entirely sure what her answer would be. "I didn't mean what I said. About you just being a machine. You're…much more than that. I won't make you do anything. It's your choice."
He drew in a deep breath. "If you chose to leave, we leave. I won't argue." He hesitated, watching her hanging onto his every word. "But…if you love me…if you care about me at all, if you feel anything about me…please, please help me get her out. I've lost everyone else. Charlie, Derek. I can't lose her too."
Cameron stared into his eyes and he could almost tell the exact moment when she made her decision. She stood up and walked over to the desk, starting to gather their belongings.
"We're leaving," she stated.
John felt his hope slowly fade. That was it. He'd promised. He'd taken the chance. It had killed him.
Cameron's gun cocked and his eyes darted up to her.
"But first we're going after Sarah Connor."
His eyes widened and he leaped off the bed, a broad grin stretching out across his face. "Thank you, Cameron."
She smiled back.
John drove up in front of the jail, searching through the crowd of orange for any sign of his mother and Cameron. He could hear the screaming and shouting coming from inside the building. Cameron must have let all the inmates out to provide a distraction. He suppressed a smile. Clever, Cam.
Finally he saw them coming up the walk and his breath caught in his throat. Cameron looked awful. He only caught a brief glimpse before he wrenched his eyes back to the road, driving straight through the gates.
Beside him, his mother was livid. "I sent you a message! I told you---"
"Yeah, bad John Connor, ground me," he retorted. He didn't regret his decision. He turned around to regard Cameron, wincing at the damage she'd taken. Half of her face had been blown off, one red eye showing through the metal. Her entire jacket was ripped and bloodied with bullet holes. All because of him. Because he'd convinced her to go against his mother. Because she loved him.
I'm so sorry, Cameron.
"Are you okay?" he asked, worry in his voice.
He saw her from his rearview mirror, the jerky movement as she moved her head. "I am not one hundred percent."
Sarah turned around. "How far from one hundred percent are you?"
Cameron's head jerked toward her. John's eyes flashed from Sarah back to Cameron, eyes widening. "Why?" Sarah wasn't suggesting Cameron was damaged beyond repair right? Did she think Cameron would go haywire again?
"Because I need to meet Catherine Weaver," Sarah replied coolly. "And she needs to destroy whatever's in that basement."
John tried not to react to Weaver's name, glancing back at Cameron. She was looking forward, then to the floor, all in erratic movements. He felt a pang of remorse.
She was damaged. She was no longer the fully functional cyborg he'd been so close to in the hotel room, the one who'd smiled with soft eyes gazing at him. She was damaged.
All because of him.
I'll fix you, Cam, he promised. As soon as this is over, I swear, I'll fix you.
He sat on the sofa of Weaver's house, next to his mother, his mind spinning. Weaver's a Terminator. I'm going in to meet a Terminator. It was bizarre, beyond belief. He hadn't told his mother yet. He wasn't sure he ever would.
"I really wish we weren't here now," he muttered.
"Savannah could tell them we know about Cromartie," Sarah replied.
No not Cromartie. "John Henry now."
"Metal," Sarah amended. "If she tells them, they'll move it. Maybe they already have."
"Well, we'll know soon enough," he replied edgily. Only about a minute later, a DING announced the elevator's arrival and Ellison walked out. John rose to his feet beside his mother, his mouth suddenly dry.
If Cameron was wrong…they'd be walking straight into a trap. There would be no escape. He was staking both his and his mother's lives on his trust in Cameron. And there was a chance that he'd made the wrong choice.
He swallowed hard, casting a glance over at Sarah, his voice hoarse as he whispered, "I love you."
And if this goes wrong…I'm so sorry...
John stood in front of Catherine Weaver, the Terminator, trying not to appear nervous. Without Cameron's warning, he might never have known she was metal. She'd fooled everyone, Ellison, Savannah, even his mother at the moment.
"So, why are we here?" Weaver asked.
Sarah spoke up. "We need –"
"Let me restate," Weaver interrupted. "We are here first and foremost so that I can thank you for you heroism regarding my daughter Savannah. She's the light of my life and I'd be lost without her."
John resisted the urge to curl his lip. She isn't your daughter. You're a machine.
"Where is she?" Sarah demanded to know.
"At school," Weaver replied calmly before getting straight to the point. True Terminator fashion, John thought. "We have a common enemy. One we cannot fight with conventional weapons or by conventional means."
"Kaliba?" Sarah questioned. "Don't presume to know Kaliba."
Weaver's eyes glared at her, though she put on a small smile. "I'm sorry. I wasn't speaking to you." She shifted her eyes back to John. "I was speaking to you. About Skynet."
He saw his mother look over, no doubt expecting some kind of surprised reaction, but he didn't flinch. He'd known this was coming. Cameron had been right.
Weaver had a different mission.
"Savannah's told you about John Henry I presume," Weaver said edgily. "Which is why your cyborg is skulking around my basement."
Before he could defend Cameron's current actions, Ellison let out surprised curse and John jerked his head up to see something flying towards the window. His eyes widened.
It was the hovercraft from the pond, the one Derek had called an HK.
Weaver turned back around, face blank. "Get down."
Sarah yanked him down to the floor, shielding him, and John heard the window shatter, the explosion. His eyes trailed up to see Weaver, her liquid metal body forming a shield between him and the fire. He could feel the searing heat above and beside him, but Weaver's body was blocking the rest of the flames from reaching them.
"Run," Weaver ordered.
John didn't waste any time. Sarah dragged him to his feet and they ran for the staircase, dodging the small explosions in the hallway. Weaver was not far behind them.
"The basement," she stated. "Mr. Ellison. John Henry."
"We need to get out," Sarah insisted. "They're trying to kill my son."
"No, they're trying to kill my son," Weaver replied calmly. "Just like you are."
"I'm sure she's already done it," Sarah shot back.
"You better hope not," Weaver replied in a cold monotone. "Your John may save the world, but he can't do it without mine."
She continued down the stairs and John exchanged a confused look with his mother before following. As they reached the end, John saw the unconscious security guard and his pace quickened, feeling a sense of urgency. What if Cameron wasn't able to kill John Henry? What if she had been too badly damaged in the breakout?
He charged forward, ahead of his mother, ahead of Weaver. As he burst through the door first, he halted suddenly, his eyes widening in shock and fear.
Cameron sat in the chair, completely still, her eyes dead and unfocused. His mind was screaming. Nononono!
He rushed to her side, pulling back her hair and skin to see the port where her chip was. Where it usually was.
"Her chip, it's gone." NO! This can't be happening! He fought against the emotions that threatened to overwhelm him. His eyes desperately searched the table, spotting Cameron's bloodied knife.
"Where is he?" he shouted. "The-th-th-John Henry!" he stuttered. "He took her chip! Where did he go?" He was aware he was shouting, his voice edged with fear. I'll kill him! I'll kill him!
Weaver slowly approached, glancing at the knife, at Cameron's unmoving body. "He didn't take the chip. She gave it to him."
"John," Sarah said softly, nodding to something behind him.
He turned, not knowing what to expect. What he saw was a computer screen that kept flashing words, Cameron's words:
I'M SORRY JOHN.
I'M SORRY JOHN.
I'M SORRY JOHN.
I'M SORRY JOHN.
John could feel the tears coming. Why, Cameron? Why did you do that? His whole world was suddenly crashing down. He never got to say goodbye to her, never got to tell her how he felt, never got to kiss her...
"Where is he?"
"Not where," Weaver replied. "When."
John saw Ellison frown from the doorway. "What? What do you mean when?"
Time machine… John realized with shock.
"I know that," Sarah said, her eyes locked on a computer piece in the central hub. "I've seen it before."
John turned around, his eyes widening. "Is that the Turk? That's Andy Goode's Turk!"
"Three dots," Sarah whispered. John looked back. Sure enough, there were three red dots on the machine. Weaver was programming something into a computer that looked similar to the one Cameron had used in the bank vault…to time jump.
We're going to find John Henry. We're going to save Cameron. He was vaguely aware of his mother going off on Weaver.
"You're building Skynet!" Sarah accused, her voice hard with rage.
"No I was building something to fight it," Weaver replied.
Will you join us?
John squeezed his eyes shut before glancing once more at Cameron's lifeless body. He hated seeing her like this. He turned to the screen again, saw the words: I'M SORRY JOHN.
He could almost hear her voice saying those words, in the same pleading tone she'd used when she'd been begging for her life, apologizing for trying to kill him.
"Coming, James?" Weaver asked.
Ellison furrowed his brow. "Coming?"
"After John Henry," Weaver replied with a smile. "Our boy."
Ellison slowly shook his head, backing away. "He's not my boy. And you…you're…"
"Do you mind picking up Savannah then?" Weaver interrupted, her voice still pleasant. "Gymnastics ends at five-thirty."
John jumped, startled, as the first of the electrical surges began. His eyes flashed from the computer which started ticking down from twenty seconds to his mother, who slowly started shaking her head back and forth.
"John, we can't," she protested, backing up a step.
No! We have to! We have to save her! He heard his voice break. "He's got her chip."
Sarah continued backing away and John could feel the tears welling in his eyes. His throat constricted and he found it nearly impossible to breathe.
"He's got her," he choked tearfully.
The bubble began to form around them and Sarah stepped back, out of the circle. "Mom," John pleaded. Her image began to blur blue as the bubble thickened.
"I'll stop it," she promised.
He felt a deep sense of loss as his mom backed away from view. Right before the jump, his eyes darted from Cameron's limp body to the screen where her words had been repeating.
I'M SORRY JOHN.
I'M SORRY JOHN.
I LOVE YOU JOHN.
His breath caught in his throat and he turned to stare down at Cameron's body, eyes watering.
And then he saw nothing, only darkness. Suddenly, he was standing in some kind of concrete tunnel, completely naked, shivering in the cold. He slowly rose to his feet, glancing around. Small fires still burned in a ring around them, but beyond that…
It was dark.
Rubble was everywhere. Dirt and dust. The only light was from the dim lights of the tunnel.
He'd often imagined what the future after Judgment Day would be like. But he'd never imagined it would be like this. He turned around, met Weaver's eyes for a brief second and looked back at the tunnel.
John Henry's here somewhere. With Cameron's chip.
He glanced over at Weaver again, seeing that she now had clothes. Liquid metal. Must be nice.
He looked down, expecting to see Cameron's body lying there. Instead, he saw nothing. A terrible fear settled in his stomach.
"Where's Cameron?" he asked. "Where's her body?"
"It doesn't go through," Weaver replied calmly.
Doesn't go through. John could have sworn his heart stopped. He'd just killed her. Her body had been vaporized in the jump. No…
He jumped at a noise. Human voices coming closer, dogs barking. His eyes scanned the room, finally spotting a coat lying on top of a rickety cot. John quickly grabbed it and wrapped it around himself tightly, trying to keep in his body heat.
He saw the beam of a flashlight and ducked as a couple of soldiers and dogs passed by. For a moment, he considered showing himself, but decided against it. He didn't know where he was, he didn't know when he was.
He didn't really know anything at all.
After they had passed, he quietly walked to the main tunnel, checking once to make sure Weaver was following before entering the open.
A shadowy figure appeared in front of him, gun raised. "Got one!" the man shouted. "Got one!"
John quickly raised his hands in the air. "One what? What?" The man didn't seem like a Terminator, but John couldn't be sure. He checked behind, startled to find Weaver missing.
Where had she gone? He spun back to the soldier, who was advancing, never lowering his weapon.
"Please," John whispered. "I'm not metal."
"Don't move," the soldier ordered in a low voice. He was in the light enough for John to now see that he was Japanese. "Don't move!"
"Please! I swear, I haven't got anything! I-I'm human!" he pleaded. The soldier had to believe him. He had to get out of here, to find John Henry, to save Cameron.
Suddenly his entire life was looking bleak.
"Cause I will blast you!" the Japanese soldier threatened.
Someone else came from behind. "Stand down!" the new voice ordered. As the figure stepped past the Japanese soldier, John's eyes widened in shock.
John felt the corner of his mouth twitch up into a smile. Derek was alive! Derek was here, now! Finally, things seemed to be looking up.
Derek stepped forward, staring at John, eyes squinting as if studying him. Finally Derek grinned and looked back at his companion. "Look at his eyes. He's got about as much metal in him as you do."
"Derek…" John breathed, his smile widening.
To his surprise, Derek merely stared back, raising an eyebrow. "Yeah?"
He doesn't recognize me…
"John," he provided. Derek's eyes showed no recognition and slowly John's joy began to fade. "J-John Connor."
Derek shook his head. "I know a lot of people, kid. Don't know you." John could feel his face crumbling as Derek turned to his companion. "Anybody heard the name John Connor?"
The Japanese soldier shook his head and John's eyes betrayed his disbelief. Never heard of John Connor…
Something clicked in his mind and he suddenly felt sick. He'd time-jumped. He'd skipped Judgment Day. John Connor didn't exist to these people. John Connor had disappeared the day he went to see Weaver. John Connor wasn't there on Judgment Day to lead the humans.
John Connor wasn't their savior.
He glanced down at the floor, trying to contain his shock. It's like I don't even exist…
Derek turned back to him. "You know what? I think you're gonna be famous."
John forced a smile. I was famous. I was John Connor.
Pride shone in Derek's eyes and a smile lit his face. "My brother's back and you're wearing his coat." He looked over John's shoulder.
John turned, letting out his breath slowly as Kyle Reese entered. My father…John couldn't breathe. Kyle stopped when he spotted John and for a moment John was almost sure Kyle knew who he was. Or maybe he was just curious as to who the new recruit was and why they looked so much alike.
But John didn't care. He was looking at his father for the first time, the hero, the soldier from the future who would save the life of his mother. He didn't even care that he was staring, drinking in the sight of the father he never knew.
Then something caught his eye, someone else coming in behind Kyle, her eyes cast downward, but a happy smile on her face.
His heart nearly stopped.
Cameron. Oh, Cameron.
She hadn't looked up yet, crouching down next to the German Shepherd dog that was sitting at Kyle's side, a radiant smile on her face.
He almost whispered her name, almost ran to her side, ready to tell her how sorry he was, how much he loved her. But something stopped him.
There was something different about her. The way she was petting the dog that wasn't barking a warning, the bouncing, graceful way she moved, the way she flipped her hair back out of her face. Cameron didn't do that.
This wasn't his Cameron. This wasn't the Cameron who had professed love for him, the Cameron who had come into his room late at night, lying down beside him. The Cameron who had been jealous of his girlfriend Riley, the Cameron he was frantic to save, frantic enough to time travel to this devastating future to get her back, the Cameron he loved desperately.
His smile faded slowly as the realization set in. And his heart broke all over again.
This wasn't his Cameron.
This wasn't Cameron at all.
He could see it in her eyes. She had Cameron's beautiful brown eyes, but there was something different in them. Life. Her eyes danced, the only ray of light in the dark future he'd landed in. This girl wasn't Cameron. She was human.
My name's Allison. From Palmdale.
Could this be who Cameron had been talking about? The human girl her model was based on? Allison from Palmdale.
She looked up to see him staring and her joyful smile slowly faded into confusion, curiosity even. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't look away, couldn't stop taking in the sight of her.
He glanced back at Derek, at Kyle. He had received no recognition anywhere. At first, he'd felt as if he'd died and gone to heaven, being reunited with all his dead loved ones – Derek, Kyle, Cameron. He swallowed the lump in his throat. But the longer he stayed the more he realized that this was not his family. These were not the people he knew and loved. His Cameron, his Derek were still dead.
He was among strangers.
Strangers who looked and sounded like and were the people he loved. He could feel the tears forming and his vision began to blur. He didn't belong here. He didn't belong anywhere. More than anything, he desperately wished for the real Cameron, the Cameron who remembered him, who loved him. The sobs started slowly and he sunk to the floor, covering his face with his hands.
He didn't expect anyone to comfort him. They wouldn't understand. They were soldiers now, battle-hardened by the war. They'd grieved the loss of their loved ones on Judgment Day.
But John Connor had just lost his today.
He was surprised to feel a gentle hand on his shoulder and he looked up through tear-stained eyes to see Cameron--no, Allison--crouching beside him, her eyes soft and kind. She wasn't like the others. She wasn't a soldier. Not yet. Not truly. She was young, just like him. Just like Cameron.
The sight of her standing over him almost made him cry even more. It was her. Cameron's hands gently stroking his hair, Cameron's eyes staring into his soul, her soft voice whispering words of comfort.
How could this not be Cameron?
He could pretend; he could probably even convince himself. But despite the appearances, despite everything about her, this wasn't the girl he loved. Allison didn't know him, didn't love him. Allison was a completely different person inside the body of someone he knew and loved. It may as well have been another chip placed inside Cameron's body. It would never be Cameron.
"What's your name?"
It caught him off guard as he realized it was the very first thing Cameron had said to him too, the same tone, the same voice.
A tear slid down his cheek as he replied, "John. John Connor."
Allison smiled, bright and wide, just as Cameron had. "Allison."
He kept staring, eyes brimming, with her merely smiling at him. So human…yet so much like Cameron. "I have a feeling we're going to be great friends," Allison said, her brilliant smile so genuine and kind.
And maybe they could be. This was a new future, a new life. No more running. He was born to fight, and that's exactly what he'd do. Never stop fighting.
He'd find John Henry. He'd take back Cameron's chip. He'd rebuild her body if he had to. I'll do whatever it takes to save you, Cameron.
If he had any say in the matter…
She'd be back.