A/N: So it's been awhile…which is really an understatement. I think I was burned out on some of the hopelessness surrounding the return of TSCC (in any form.) Which isn't to say I ever actually lost hope, but there were times when it was too much of an uphill battle. So I immersed myself in the Supernatural fandom, writing a bit for that, and have doubted and regretted some of the things I've written for this story. My style has changed a lot, and my thematic and tonal focus has shifted slightly. As far as plot goes, that's fairly well planned out. But character arcs and story bridges (is that even a thing?) are a little murky. With news of the probable return of TSCC in some form (most likely TV movie, possibly feature film), brought new hope and life into this story. I still can't promise regular updates, but I do believe that you won't be waiting so long between updates this time around.

As far as this chapter and the ones immediately following it, it may be a bit of a bumpy road, a transition from one style to another. I'm still not clear on how it's all going to balance out, but I'm determined to finish this story and am excited about the things I have planned. Feel free (in fact, I encourage it), to review and include your specific likes and dislikes. Do you like where the characters are going? Do you like the tone, or do you prefer how it used to be? What or who do you want more of? Things like that.

Finally, thank you all for sticking with me and continuing to push for new updates. At the end of the day, it's what keeps me motivated.

Everyone was gathered in the auditorium. The bleachers were pulled out from one of the walls. In the middle of the space stood a microphone in its stand. John peeked through the door, trying not to psych himself out. It wasn't working. He hadn't realized how many people were now residing here. He'd briefed himself on the higher-ups, those that he would be working with directly, but he hadn't had time to go over all the profiles. He knew there were some there who would be completely taken off guard. The cooks and agricultural/livestock specialists came to mind. They weren't here to fight or change the world. At least as far as John knew. Of course, the military personnel and scientists would be shocked as well, but at least what he was about to reveal to them would be somewhat expected, what with all the secrecy.

He couldn't wait any longer, he knew that. He spared a glance at Cameron, trying to soak in as much of her as he could before entering the lion's den. She gave him a slight nod, the only sign of support she could risk without letting anyone in on the exact nature of their relationship. They were alone in the hall, but there were cameras in all the public areas. Cameras that were accessible to a number of people. So instead, he flashed her a quick smile before opening the door and pulling the cart he'd brought behind him. He placed the cart within reach once he'd approached the microphone. As soon as he'd entered the auditorium, the room had gone silent. Only a few select people knew who he was. Knew that they were following a leader who was still a teenager. He's sure most of the others still don't know that he's the guy. The one they're waiting to hear from. They'll know soon enough.

Foregoing any introduction, John pulled the sheet off the cart to reveal the disabled Triple-8 that had been sent to terminate Dawes. The terminator still showed signs of destruction. Wires and metal were visible in many places. There was chatter and interest coming from the bleachers, which was to be expected, but from this angle, they couldn't even see the cyborg parts. The chatter increased once he hit the button that controlled the rotation of the slab. The terminator was tied down tightly to ensure that it didn't fall off once the slab it was rotated almost 90 degrees so that the group could see the machine almost as if it were standing up.

John took a deep breath before turning his attention to the group in front of him. From his files he knew that most of them were scientists and soldiers. A small handful occupied 'housekeeping' jobs. All of them were in attendance, though. John had insisted on that. He wanted everyone to know fully what they were getting into. To be prepared.

"My name is John Connor. And this used to be a fully functional Terminator series 888. It's one purpose is to kill. I'm going to teach you how to destroy it before it can complete its mission."

John preoceeded to explain everything he knows about terminators. He didn't mention the future or Skynet, though. Because that would require having to explain time travel, and that just wasn't going to happen. He had to force himself to face the bleachers, to look at everyone who was currently staring at him like he was crazy. But none of them left, which actually kind of surprised him. When he finished, he paused and reached into his pocket.

"This is what a chip looks like." He held up the Dawes terminator's chip. "It's been wiped clean, with only basic motor and cognitive functions remaining." He reached over and turned the cart so that the chip opening was visible to the group, then he inserted the chip. "It will take a few moments for him to boot up," John said as the terminator, indeed, booted up. Almost immediately after he said it, the terminator's eyes opened up and the everyone in the bleachers gasped. Other than that, it was silent. John turned back to them. "Everyone, meet our first official terminator recruit. Our goal is to disable as many of the terminators we come in contact with as possible, making every effort to recycle them to our advantage. If it's between life and death though, don't hesitate to blow the fuckers to hell." John smirked, hoping to lighten the mood. He earned himself a few hesitant chuckles, but not much more.

"Now, I've already told you how to do this, but I wanted you to see now that I'm telling the truth. These machines are out there, and they are fully functional and poised to kill. I have a plan to stop them, and to stop those responsible for their destruction. But I need your help. Humanity needs your help. These machines are simply pawns, programmed to do what they're told, to complete their mission." He gestures to the terminator. "This is Adam. He is programmed with knowledge and only one mission: to protect us. As he grows and learns, his understanding will evolve to automatically include the protection of non-threatening entities and to neutralize those he deems as threats. However, with new programming, there are sometimes glitches. If you notice anything strange about any reprogrammed terminator, please don't hesitate to report it. For now, though, Adam will spend most of his time isolated from the rest of you, spending time only with a few of my most trusted advisors."

John turned to Derek, who was standing to the side of the stage, and gave him the nod. That was Derek's cue to untie the terminator. Up until now, he had simply stared straight ahead, unassuming. John said to him, "Adam, you can take the cart and follow Derek." With a nod, Adam followed the request and soon both were gone from the gymnasium.

John began pacing back and forth on the stage. This was the hard part, the part that really mattered. He needed to win them over. He looked up and the first thing he saw in the corner of the room was Cameron. She was standing there, stiff as ever, but there was a softness to her eyes. Something that came from true emotion, not something easily faked. Feeling more confident, he purposefully sought out his mother. He found her in the opposite corner, appropriately enough. She gave him an encouraging nod and a rare smile, and he knew he was ready.

He looked straight at the group in front of him. "I grew up being trained to fight. For so long, I resisted, but now I'm grown and I'm ready to accept what I must do. I've lost a lot of people in this fight. My father, before I was born, and another man who was the only father figure I ever had in my life. I lost my childhood and any semblance to a normal life. I've lost friends and strangers, all whose deaths weigh on me every day. But I've made my choice. It's time to make yours. Those that are controlling the terminators are determined to take this world away from us, but I'm not going to let them. Are you? Now, I know you've been told there's no going back, that you've signed the contract and you're in this for good, but I'm here to offer you a way out. I don't want anyone here who doesn't want to be here. None of you know where this facility is, and I'm willing to trust that you'll keep this operation a secret. If not, we have ways to protect ourselves, but I really hope if you decide to leave, you'll keep this one promise. You have 24 hours to decide. If I don't hear from you, I'll assume you're staying."

After a brief pause, he continued, this time looking directly at his mother.

"Remember, there is no fate but what you make."

It had been a long day, full of activity and anxiety, and all John wanted to do was get something to eat and take it back to his room where hopefully Cameron was, finished with her rounds. But as soon as John entered the mess hall, he knew he wouldn't be getting out any time soon. Not for the reason he originally feared. Sure, everybody took notice of him, but almost nobody actually paid any attention to him aside from an initial glance or two.

No, he would not be leaving the mess hall because Danny Dyson was there, just sitting down at a table by himself. There was no one in line, so John quickly got his food and stood behind the chair across from Danny. "This seat taken?"

Danny looked up, somewhat startled, and then looked around. "Doesn't look like it." Though he didn't exactly seem keen on John taking the seat either. But since Danny wasn't outright saying anything about it, John sat down anyway.

There was a long moment of awkward silence, each young man waiting for the other to speak. Not that neither had anything to say, but instead there seemed to be a game of chicken taking place. Whoever spoke first would lose, though who knows why.

In the end, Danny lost. "That was a nice speech you made," though by his tone John was sure the sentiment was in no way sincere.

"You were there?"

Danny looked at John, perplexed. "It was broadcast throughout the whole compound."

"Oh," was all John could say to that. He'd have to have a talk with John Henry later about running things like that by him first.

"I know you don't believe me," Danny said, completely out of the blue. But John let him talk, listening to him intently, careful though not to let on just how intently. "I really don't know why Skynet wants me, dead or otherwise. I know you think I'm building something or planning something, but I'm not. I never wanted anything to do with any of this, but I guess now I don't have a choice."

"You always have a choice." And even as the words left his mouth, John knew they weren't true. They're forcing Danny and Tarissa to stay here. There's not much choice in that. Danny seemed to understand that John noticed his mistake, because he didn't say anything about it. John, instead, changed the subject. "I know what it's like, you know? To grow up without a father, to have your life taken over, taken away, by Skynet. By machines."

"Yet you sleep with one."

The blow comes swift and hard, and John's fairly certain Danny doesn't know the exact nature of his relationship with Cameron. He's simply testing a theory, and John won't take the bait. He simply ignores Danny's comment. "I'm just saying I know what it's like. Parts are different, but the overlying theme is the same. I never wanted this, any of it, but now I'm seeing that I never had a choice." Danny scoffed, but John cut him off. "I never had a choice because what choice is there? How could I have turned away, knowing I could have done something? What kind of life would that be? It certainly wouldn't be better. I'd constantly be looking over my shoulder, worried someone or something would come for me. Or worse, that they'd finally succeeded in beginning the destruction of the world. So, you see, there was never any choice. But you don't have to be me, you only have to stay here, be safe. I'd say that's a hell of a deal."

Danny looks like he's about to say something, but he stops short, looking past John. From the tinge of disgust and fear in Danny's features, John knows Cameron is behind him. It's the first time in a long time he's not thrilled to see her. She just has crappy timing right now. John turned to invite Cameron to sit next to him, but he doesn't have to because she's already moving to do so. John checks to see how Danny's doing, relieved to see that he's still there—and not rearing up for a fight.

Not that Danny's ever shown any violence towards machines or Cameron, but John knows. He knows the hate that is bred from a life lost to the machines. He's not sure why he doesn't possess the same hate, but he thinks maybe his mother bore the grunt of that. John, instead, channels his hate into Skynet. Uncle Bob taught him that. And now he's trying to pass it on to Danny. That is, if he could stop scowling at Cameron long enough to actually pay attention.

"Cameron isn't your enemy," John starts, hoping Danny is listening.

"Her kind is. They killed my father."

John wants to correct him, to tell him that actually the SWAT team killed Miles Dyson, but he knows that's not the point, he knows it's not what Danny needs to hear right now. "Terminators, machines, they're all programmed, they have no choice, no free will. But I gave that to Cameron, and she's learned and grown so much. All it takes is simply removing the Skynet parameters—"

"Yeah, I know, I heard the speech. But how can you be sure?" Danny has a point, and it's something John left out of his speech earlier, to make things simpler.

"You don't know. I'm not going to lie. Not to you, Danny. Some of them revert back to their original programming. So far, we can only write over what Skynet put there, but I fully intend to fine tune the process, to make it more fool proof." John leaned forward, lowering his voice. "I'm going to tell you something I've never told anyone before. Cameron and my mother know because they were there, but no one else."

Danny leaned forward, almost unconsciously, his interest immediately piqued.

"On my 16th birthday, Cameron went out to buy me a cake." Danny rolled his eyes, obviously thinking John is telling him some story about how human Cameron could be. John continued, though. "This guy had hunted us down and planted a car bomb. Cameron was in the car when the bomb went off. She reverted back to her original programming and chased my mother and me around L.A. This went on for a couple of hours. Finally, we were able to trap her in between two trucks long enough for me to pull her chip out. Everyone wanted me to burn it, to burn her, but I couldn't. I believed in her, I believed that she was just confused, that she just needed a moment, some time to get her bearings. So I re-inserted her chip. And, well, I'm here, alive. I trust her. Despite the fact that, out of her control, she reverted back to Skynet mission directives, I trust that at the end of the day she'll fight to be with me. For over a year after that happened, without my knowledge, she had to constantly fight that programming from overpowering her. But she continued to win, daily. So when you ask me why I trust her? That's why.

Danny was silent, but John could tell he still hadn't gotten through to him. He glanced around the room. It didn't seem like anyone had overheard their conversation and he was thankful for that at least. He stood up slowly. "Come on, Cameron, I think it's time for us to go."

Sarah couldn't help watching her son with Danny Dyson. She didn't trust the kid any further than she could throw him, but part of her was glad John could spend some time with someone his age. It's been awhile. In fact, he's never really had any buddies or a best friend. Yet he is still more social than herself. Or Derek. Any version of him. She thinks maybe he gets that from Kyle. Even hardened as he was when she met him the first time around, there was always that spark, that compassion. Something she sometimes fears she lacks.

For example, right now, as she spies Cameron approaching John and Danny. Sarah is torn. No matter what happens with John and Cameron, she can't be happy. If Cameron were destroyed tomorrow in a fight, Sarah could not rejoice. Because she knows what that would do to John. It would turn him into herself. Possibly a more extreme version, even. Or worse, he would retreat into himself. Either way, she'd lose him forever. But she's not sure she can support him in this relationship. She's not stupid, not even closed-minded. Well, not completely. She sees his point. Cameron is not Skynet. She is—was—a tool. A slave, even. And now she's been reprogrammed and saved John's life probably more times than even Sarah herself has. But that doesn't change the fact that Cameron is a machine. A programmed machine, one which was originally programmed to kill her son. She still has nightmares of John's 16th birthday. Cameron pulling herself up from the fiery remains of their staircase. Cameron chasing them through Los Angeles stopping only to staple her face closed. Worst of all, Sarah's nightmare from the moment Cameron came into their lives only made real on that day, Cameron telling John she loves him. Utilizing her ultimate weapon of manipulation, whether it was a manipulation on her part at the time or not. Or, she should say, whether it was only a manipulation. Cameron could very well have meant what she said, or at least believe as much, but that doesn't mean she wasn't manipulating John.

And that's what is Sarah's true fear. That Cameron will always be John's weakness no matter what form their relationship takes. Sarah fought so hard to keep John from the machines for so long, and now she's not sure whether that led to this or whether nothing could have kept this from happening. Fate is what you make of it, but maybe there are some things you can never prevent.

"It must be hard for you." The voice startled Sarah, but she's trained enough not to show her disarmament. She recognized the voice, but didn't turn to greet the woman.

"I'm not sure what you mean."

Tarissa moved to Sarah's side, matching her sight line. "John and the robot." Sarah took a moment to consider Tarissa's observational skills. Cameron isn't even touching John, but then she realized that it's John that is transparent. His subtle, yet obvious if you're looking for it, awareness of Cameron broadcasts his feelings for her. She's sure, though, or at least she hopes, that most wouldn't notice it unless they were already aware of their relationship. Which is why Tarissa's observation is concerning.

Tarissa must sense Sarah's distress, because she explains, "To most, it's common sense. You see a young, handsome boy like that and a supposedly young, pretty, normal girl like her together so much, it gets you thinking."

"We used to tell people they were brother and sister," Sarah said, because she gets it. She knew, even back then, that most people would assume, especially the way they act around each other, that they are romantically involved, so she nipped that in the bud right away. But when John had returned from the future, he'd insisted on changing the story. Sarah knew immediately why John had made the decision, even if he had given other reasons for such at the time.

"From your tone, I assume it wasn't your idea to change the story."

"No. It was John's. He's rising to the occasion, becoming what he was always meant to be, what I fought so hard to keep him from having to become." Sarah's voice cracks a bit, so she takes a deep breath to calm herself. "There's nothing I can do. The damage is done. I should have just sent her away as soon as she came to us. But then…." She trailed off, because she knows what would have happened if she had refused to let Cameron into their lives. John would be dead. And without hesitation, she knows she'd rather John be with Cameron than be dead. There's no contest. And that's the rub. She never saw any other way for this to end. Even when John started spending time with Riley, she saw right through him. He was in denial. She was glad for that, anyway, to know that he was under no illusions. To know that he knew that this thing with Cameron wasn't natural, should not be rushed in to. And as much as she would have loved for him to have fought his growing feelings and deny Cameron, she knew her son. And she knew how he saw the machines, knew he has always had a soft spot for the ones that protect him. As much faith as she has in her son, she still knew there was no way of preventing his falling in love with Cameron.

Because, really, he was probably in love from the moment he met her. Every moment thereafter was a fight on his part not to let himself fall further.

"At any rate," Sarah continued, "there's nothing to be done now. I know my son, and I know what will happen to him if he loses her. Besides," Sarah shrugged, "she saves his life." She echos John's words from so long ago, words that Sarah had always known meant more than what they appeared to mean. She saves his life.

Sarah leaves Tarissa, not noticing that she can't seem to stop watching the table where the two sons and machine sit at.

It's fortunate that Xander Akagi is accustomed to staying up all night, John Henry thought to himself as he moved one of the small pebble-like 'Go' game pieces from its old spot to the desired new spot. John Henry found the game of 'Go' to be fascinating, and found he was pleased that the younger Akagi had suggested it.

It was now late in the morning, and save for a few necessary human breaks, John Henry and Xander had been playing the game since late the night before. At first, John Henry had been unsure about the new challenge. He was fascinated, of course, and looking forward to expanded his intellectual and strategic horizons, but seeing as he had spent so much time being the expert on so many things, it was unnerving to say the least to 'hand the reigns' (to use a human colloquialism) over to Xander.

But the challenge had been refreshing, and although he had yet to defeat Xander in a match, he was still sure he would eventually win against him. According to his calculations, each round of 'Go' yielded an average of a 0.6% increase in his performance. Additionally, it now takes Xander even longer each time to defeat John Henry. It's frustrating, at best, but John Henry is almost glad to know that there is still much to learn in this world.

Unfortunately, just as John Henry was on the cusp of gaining the upper hand, he was alerted to some troubling activity found in his cursory searches of the building, network, and the internet at large. Immediately, he notified Xander that they would have to continue their match at a later time and suggested he take some time to rest, before locating Mrs. Weaver in the building. Once he had, he spoke through the intercom, in such a way that it only was heard in the room she was standing in. "Mrs. Weaver. I have found something. Please come immediately."

John Henry watched as Mrs. Weaver liquified her form and rushed through the halls towards his room. When she arrived, she once again took the form of Catherine Weaver.

"Mrs. Weaver, I have detected some troubling internet activity."

Catherine waited for him to explain.

"Someone has been searching diligently for any information on Sarah Connor. News reports, sightings, even going as far as hacking into government records."

"That is troubling, John Henry. Have you tracked this activity?"

An IP address, as well as a physical address appeared on one of the screens behind John Henry.

Catherine nodded and said, "I will alert John to this at once."

Wexton watched as the notification window on his screen pinged up. His normal scowl turned into a slight smirk as he got up to prepare for his visitors.