Written as 2 separate gift drabbles but linked by a common theme: Sarah has nightmares, unsurprisingly. Some are worse than others. Meanwhile, Cam doesn't even sleep.
Sarah's dreams were often terrifying. The worst one, though, wasn't one filled with the horror of Armageddon, nor the aftermath of nuclear war where the war against the machines raged against the burnt landscape. No, the worst one was the one in which she saw her son die.
It was never exactly the same dream. Sometimes a T800 opened fire and she watched John die from multiple bullet wounds while she was held back by staff from the mental institution. Sometimes a T1000 drove a police car at them, and while Sarah was left somehow unharmed, her son was crushed beneath its wheels. Other times her subconscious fears about Cameron surfaced and Sarah sipped coffee at their dining table while the pretty female Terminator strolled over from the dishwasher and calmly plunged a carving knife into John's heart.
Sarah would wake, heart pounding, and reach for her gun. Once she calmed enough to persuade herself it was just a dream, and not to be so foolish as to disturb her sleeping son, she would either try to go back to sleep or get up and exercise. Chin-ups helped her clear her mind, putting all of her body's resources into the physical activity.
There was one variation that chilled her more than most, one that no amount of chin-ups or push-ups would ever block out. The one in which she lay, pinned to the floor by a length of steel through her thigh. Too weak to cry out, she could only watch through the half-open bedroom door as John came home and called out. Couldn't look away as a terminator that was her exact replica greeted her son. Saw the malicious gleam in her doppelgänger's eyes as it wrapped John in a hug. Heard the crack as the counterfeit Sarah snapped John Connor's neck.
Tonight Sarah was doing chin-ups as if her life depended on it. Still the image of her dead son falling from the Terminator-Sarah's arms kept rising up to taunt her.
"Why are you awake?"
Sarah glared at Cameron. For a machine with a Coltan endoskeleton she could walk quietly when she wanted to. Sarah ignored the question and dropped to the floor, heading to the kitchen for a glass of water.
"You dream," Cameron said as Sarah watched the glass slowly filling up.
"Yes." Sarah drained the glass quickly. "And I don't want to talk about it with you."
"I can't dream," Cameron said. It was a simple statement of fact, yet there was something in her expression that seemed to suggest she wanted a response. Sarah was in no mood to try and explain anything about the nature of nightmares; the machine had an encyclopaedic brain to consult about the facts, and the personal experience side of things she'd have to get from someone else.
"You're lucky," Sarah told her, and pushed past the Terminator.
Cameron tipped her head, filing away this snippet of information for later consideration.
Sarah closed the bedroom door behind her, and curled up on the bed, one hand wrapped around a Glock, and finally slept.
Cameron didn't sleep. She didn't need to. She could keep watch the whole night over the Connors. She could watch late night TV and wonder at the kind of minds who thought up infomercials. She could clean the weaponry – though Sarah trusted no-one else to do this correctly and would only clean her own guns again later. She could dance, trying to understand what the meaning was behind the movements, because humans ascribed meanings to everything.
But she couldn't sleep, not the way humans did, and she couldn't dream. And she wondered what it would be like. If she weren't a machine, she might have been jealous.