A/N I don't have an exact timeline for this story only that it takes place sometime after Brothers of Nabulus and goes AU after that. Just sort of got the idea for the plot and tried to find a spot to introduce it. I don't plan on having it make much difference but other characters will show up so I felt it important to throw that disclaimer out there. The first chapter is mainly background and a little introspection that I felt was important to introduce but I'm planning on moving into more humor and romance with a little adventure thrown in. Anyway, thanks for clicking and I hope you enjoy the story.
Legal mumbo jumbo: I don't own Terminator or any of the characters associated with it. Just doing for fun.
"We need to get away from here for awhile." Sarah Connor said, striding into the living room, dragging her suitcase behind her.
"Why? Nothing's happened. Things are almost normal, at least as normal as they can be for the future savior of mankind, his cyborg protector, his uncle from the future, and his own mother whom the state of California has deemed certifiably crazy." John Connor finished with a sarcastic smile.
"Watch it." Sarah growled back. Not many people called Sarah Connor crazy and walked away uninjured. Her son was the only exception.
"Mom, we've been over this. There was no way anyone could trace us back here. Cameron went over the car with a fine tooth comb. She does every time we come back from a mission."
Cameron chose that moment to enter the room, casting a quizzical look in John's direction. "I did not go over the car with a comb. I simply scanned to see if any residual electromagnetic fields were able to be detected. One would indicate the presence of a tracking device. However, if you would allow me to borrow your comb, I will make another prompt inspection of the vehicle."
John rubbed his eyes. "No, Cameron. It's just an expression. I meant that you did a thorough search." John looked back at Cameron. Wait for it...
Cocking her head slightly to the left, Cameron simply replied, "Thank you for explaining. It makes sense now that a plastic comb would be unlikely to detect magnetic fields."
Rolling her eyes, Sarah re-entered the conversation. "Regardless of her tactics, we're laying low for awhile, John. A few weeks at most; maybe only a week. We're all running at fumes at this point. We need to recharge and re-focus. Our mission isn't our life all the time. We're allowed a break every now and then. All I ask is that you, in particular, stay aware. Get upstairs and pack." Sarah ordered.
"Ok, mom. First answer me these two questions, where are we going and how are we going to pay for it? We don't have many diamonds left and the cash is drying up too."
Sarah pursed her lips. "I don't know for sure. I thought maybe we'd look a little closer to the coast, maybe take in some sea air. Plus, we only have to worry about renting someplace, not buying it. I'd rather our names not be in some database either. I think we all know that cash makes people look the other way when necessary. Besides, I'm not planning on going far, just getting a change of perspective and maybe a little break for all of us."
"My mother, a beach bum. This sounds suspiciously like a vacation. Do Connors take those?" John couldn't help but grin. "This should be interesting." With that, John turned and walked towards the stairs.
Sarah narrowed her eyes as she watched Cameron's gaze follow John all the way up the stairs. She had been standing quietly by the window observing the mother and son exchange. When she could no longer see him, her brown eyes snapped back towards Sarah's green ones. Sarah didn't know what to make of John's bodyguard anymore. She wasn't quite human but neither was she completely terminator. Ever since the car bomb things like Riley, Cromartie, and countless other issues had caused Cameron to experience limited emotional reactions. Sarah could see it in her eyes more than anything. Eyes that used to seem like limp, brown pools now sparkled with life and even happiness at moments. It disturbed Sarah to a certain degree. Especially when something had to do with John. She'd seen the way the cyborg would look at John when she thought nobody was watching her. Her gazes for John then seemed almost tender. Even worse would be the looks that John would give her when Cameron wasn't looking. Looks that she thought had stopped for good. Glances that seemed almost...longing. Sarah still didn't trust her completely. She couldn't. Cameron was made to be an infiltrator. No matter what it seemed like, the terminator had to be mimicking what she'd seen. She couldn't feel...could she?
"Yes?" Cameron asked politely.
Snapping out of her thoughts, Sarah shook her head. "Nothing. Go pack as well."
Cameron watched as Sarah shook her head and walked back towards her bedroom. Hearing footsteps outside on the porch, she pulled her nine millimeter from the back of her jeans and leveled it at the door. Scanning the frame, she detected a thermal image matching the size and height of Derek Reese on the other side. Still, she kept her pistol aimed. The door opened and Derek came in.
"Tin Can." Derek replied by way of greeting, brushing by her, tucking his own gun into the back of his jeans. Not my name but still better than metal bitch, Cameron surmised.
Cameron lowered her weapon. She couldn't deny it wasn't Derek based on those two words. "Get packed. We're going away for awhile." she stated in her monotone voice. With that Cameron strode off towards the stairs.
Derek shook his head with a slight sneer towards Cameron's retreating back. Heading into the kitchen, he opened the refrigerator and took out a beer. Twisting the cap off, he took a long pull. He needed it after any interaction with the metal. He'd spent most of his life fighting the machines. He always wondered if the future John Connor was crazy for re-programming them. This John had tried to tell him about Cameron's developing emotions before but the whole thing bothered Derek. If what John was saying was true, she might be even more unstable then he thought before. He trusted John, well somewhat. His vision was still being clouded by...it. A pretty covering but all metal underneath. He'd been happy with the way John had treated it lately, ignoring it and treating it like the machine it was but even he could sense the turmoil beneath the future leader's exterior.
Sarah came back into the kitchen, interrupting his musings. "We need more money."
"Doesn't everyone?" Derek asked sarcastically. "How much?"
"Enough to get us a few days, a week or so undercover. Somewhere we can lay low for a few days, maybe take it easy."
Derek started laughing. "A vacation? Sarah Connor wants to take a vacation? This is too much. Maybe we can all spend some quality family time, play board games, watch John get closer to the metal. Or maybe better yet, we can go on a double date. We can go to the movies and get ice cream." Derek shook his head and sneered. "Kid needs to get his head in the game. He acts more like John Baum than John Connor these days."
Sarah started laughing as Derek slowly joined in. He failed to notice Sarah moving closer to him. Derek took no notice of her movements until it was too late. She grabbed his collar and slammed him against the wall. "Don't you ever talk about my son that way." Sarah hissed through gritted teeth. "He knows what she is and he knows who he is. I don't know what to think about Cameron right now, but John needs her. If he needs her, we need her." Slamming him against the wall again, she continued. "You don't want to mess with me right now. We're all exhausted. It doesn't help that you keep leaving for days at a time without letting anyone know where you are." Letting go, she walked back into the center of the kitchen and slumped over the island counter.
Derek shook his head to clear out whatever cobwebs remained after Sarah introduced the back of his head to the wall. He fidgeted nervously, keeping his eyes on her, not really caring to re-awaken the beast inside Sarah Connor. She was more of a mama bear than any other woman he'd ever known. A tough as nuclear nails mama bear. The one woman who he knew could take him down easier than he'd care to admit. Feeling the need to make some sort of peace offering, he hesitantly spoke up. "About the money...I think I can help with that." Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a small, felt bag and tossed it on the counter next to Sarah's hands. Spilling the contents out of the bag, Sarah narrowed her eyes at the glittering diamonds.
"Where did you get these?"
"Remember Moishe? The fence who had our diamonds from before? I went back later to see about 'persuading' him to return our property. Someone beat me to it. Guy was dead, shop was tossed but not everything was taken. So I just helped myself to the stock he had left since he had no more need of them. I was saving them for a 'rainy day' in case we needed to increase our weapon stock." Derek conveniently left out the part about his AWOL girlfriend Jesse being the one to gun down the stolen goods dealer. He felt that he shouldn't mention her presence in the past to Sarah yet. He didn't buy the fact that Jessie came back just for a rest but since he didn't know anything concrete at the moment he'd just keep his mouth shut.
Sarah scooped the diamonds back into the bag, tossing it to herself before nodding. "This will do...Thanks, Derek. We should only need a little bit." A smile nearly crossed her face before the warrior mask settled back over it. "Pack your stuff. Beach vacation." With that, she left the room.
Derek took another swallow of his abandoned beer on the counter behind him. Great. He thought to himself. Sun, sand, surf, and metal.
John turned away from his suitcase as he heard Cameron's footsteps in the hall. Her light steps paused momentarily near his shut door. He imagined that she was hesitating about entering his room and in his mind's eye could almost see her hand hovering over his door. That was new. She never used to act that way. He sighed. He wasn't sure what was going on with Cameron and he anymore. He knew he cared about her, maybe in a way he shouldn't. He turned a gun on his own mother for her, even after Cameron had spent most of that day trying to hunt him down and kill him. He sighed. How come the most attention I get is from something trying to protect me or kill me? He'd gone against his uncle's and mother's wish to burn her. He knew she was different and not just because she had told him. She meant something to him, something that even he wasn't exactly sure about. In the few months he'd known Cameron, she'd become his one and only true friend. Then she told him that he couldn't be trusted. She didn't understand that he believed his life wasn't worth living without her. After that, he rebelled against everyone, hanging out with Riley more, being more like John Baum then John Connor. He treated Cameron more like a machine, almost getting some perverse pleasure in his dehumanizing treatment of her after he had worked so hard to see her as something different. But in the end, after stomping away from her each and every time, he'd wanted to break down. Why did he do this to himself? Why did he do it to her? He knew he couldn't lie to himself anymore. She was the only one who would always be there for him. More than Riley, more than Derek, maybe even more than his mother. But in the end, he knew he couldn't escape his fate. That didn't mean he had to face it alone though. First, he had to clear the air between Cameron and himself. Things had gotten too complicated, too hostile between them, well, from him to her anyway.
"Cameron, c'mon in. I can hear you out there." John turned back to his packing while Cameron slipped into his room, closing the door softly behind her. "Are you finished packing already?"
"All I need are my clothes. It will not take me long to pack." Cameron replied.
"Just your clothes? Nothing else?" John replied, turning back towards his dresser to get his socks. He knew she couldn't get bored, well maybe not technically, but still he thought she might take a book or something. He wasn't sure how many times she'd read the dictionary but certainly there was something else.
"No, just my clothes and my cosmetics. I already have my nine millimeter and I have you, so I have everything I need." She stated.
John stopped mid-movement, a slight blush coming across his face. He was glad Cameron couldn't see it but knew she could sense it. Evidently, she decided to ignore it as she didn't comment on it. John stuffed his socks into his suitcase then turned to look back towards his protector. Sighing and sitting down on his bed, he patted the spot beside him. "Cam, sit down, we need to talk."
Cameron obeyed, a slightly puzzled look on her face. John gazed at her before mentally kicking himself. It's time to set things straight and get them right again. I've treated her like just a machine for too long. Even if I've felt different the whole time, that certainly doesn't give me any right to act like a jerk to her. No other girl would have put up with it, that's for sure. Wait... Did I just think of her as a girl? I don't know if I've done that since the car bomb. I've been such a jackass to her.
"Cameron...I don't know why I let things get so bad between us. You've never expected anything from me, you take bullets for me, you've saved my life more times than I can count, and you've never complained about any of it." Cameron started to open her mouth but John cut her off. "Hang on just a second. You're not just a machine. You don't do those things just because you're programmed to. You know that and I know that. Whatever happened in the past, happened and I can't change it, no matter how much I wish I could. I was the biggest jerk in the world to you over the past few months. Looking back, I felt I had to pull away from everything. Call it teenager rebellion, call it immature stupidity, call it whatever. The point is, it was wrong and I'm sorry." John paused for a moment before looking into her eyes. "Cam, you're my one and only true friend. I certainly haven't been one to you lately but that hasn't ever stopped you from being there in case I needed one."
Cameron held his gaze for a moment before dropping her eyes. "You don't have to do everything on your own, John. Sometimes it's nice to have help. I appreciate your words and your apology. It also means a lot that you see me more than a machine. Ever since the explosion, I've been developing feelings that I don't always understand. I can't talk about it with anyone else. I know it's lonely being John Connor but sometimes it can be lonely to be me as well." She looked up at him with an almost mournful expression. "You're the only one who ever really listened to me, took the time to try and teach me things. It meant a lot. When you stopped doing it, I felt different. I don't understand enough about human emotions to truly comprehend it but I believe according to my database it would fall along the lines of sadness and depression."
John felt terrible at that moment. How could she feel this way without having some aspect of humanity in her? It still scared him a bit, feeling this way and caring so much about something (someone he mentally corrected himself) initially designed to kill him. However, he had faced that down before. Time to move on. Without really thinking about it, he reached over and took her hand in his. She looked down at it curiously.
"This is a common sign of affection between two people." She stated.
Smiling, John replied. "Well, yea, it is but it doesn't always have to have such a technical definition. No matter what, you mean a lot to me. I know we can't forget the past few months but I just want to start making things better between us now. Can we start right now and start making things better between us?"
Cameron's eyes met his again before slowly nodding and displaying the barest glimmer of a smile. "I'd like that."
"Great, how about I give you a hand packing your clothes since I'm about done here." John said.
"I don't need your help, John. It will not take long." Cameron said.
"Well, would you like it? Sometimes it's nice to have help." John reminded her.
Cameron smiled. "Yes." With that she got off the bed and walked through the bathroom connecting her room to John's. She glanced back at the doorway to her room, giving John a hesitant, uncertain smile. John looked back at her and returned her smile before getting up and following her, happy that the first cracks were being patched up between them.
John let out an inaudible groan when Cameron opened up her closet and began pulling out more outfits than she could possibly need in even a three week vacation. "Uh, Cam? You do realize we're not moving right? Just going away for a little while. You don't need to bring all of those clothes."
Cameron cocked her head at him. "I am a girl. It is good to have variety." She said simply before returning to the closet and coming back out with several more blouses.
"I, umm...noticed that you're a girl." John blushed as he said this at the same time noticing that Cameron had withdrawn her socks and underwear out of a different drawer. "But really, I think we can cut down on some of this. I mean, we're going to the beach so you probably won't need too many pairs of long pants. You know, just pack some shorts, a few pairs of pants, and some different shirts and blouses. You may want to consider leaving the combat boots at home too. Not really beach attire, you know? Just grab a pair of tennis shoes and some flip flops. Oh, and don't forget your swim suit."
Cameron turned around and looked at him. "I don't swim."
"I know, Cam." John said sighing. "Remember, we'll be at the beach. You'll need to blend in. You won't actually have to swim."
She looked thoughtfully at her suitcase. "I do not have a swim suit. When we get there, will you help me pick one out?"
I wonder why she's asking? She has such a good fashion sense. Well...most of the time. That one time with the dress and combat boots.. Wait, is she actually wanting my opinion on her clothes, especially a swim suit? John slightly shook his head to clear it. "Um...sure. They'll be lots of shops around that sell beach stuff."
Cameron smiled at John. "Thank you. I value your opinion." She turned back to her suitcase, carefully folding her clothes and placing them inside. Almost as an afterthought, she opened the drawer on her bedside table, took out three boxes of ammunition, and tossed them in her open suitcase before closing it and zipping it shut. "It never hurts to be prepared. You should go finish your own packing. All I have left is my make-up." Brushing past John, Cameron re-entered the bathroom and began packing her cosmetics in a small, purple makeup bag.
John shook his head in wonderment before making his way back to his room. Where does she get all this stuff? He had just finished zipping his bag shut when he heard his mother calling from downstairs.
"John?! Grab Tin Miss, and let's get a move on! Derek, stop stalling and get out here." John couldn't make out his uncle's reply but smirked when he heard his mother's a moment later. "Why? Because I said so and if you need another reason, I'll be glad to come in there and get you moving myself. "
John dragged his suitcase outside and sat down on the porch with a sigh. Cameron joined him with her stuff, sitting on the steps a moment later without a word. John could still hear his uncle and mother continuing the "discussion" before they both came out with their own suitcases. Sharing a glance with Cameron, he shook his head. This should definitely be interesting.
A/N. I know that I said it earlier but this chapter probably moves a little slow due to the background and whatnot but I promise the next several chapters will get the story moving at hopefully a better pace. I'll probably change the style a bit and focus on only one or two points of view per chapter as opposed to everyone but some instances may call for other perspectives. I've got a rough outline of how I see the story progressing and I'm working on filling in the details as I go. I'd love to hear your thoughts and reviews on how it's starting up, plot, my writing style, etc. Thanks for reading!