"No!" The cry was boundless anguish-a visceral expression of pain undiminished by the absence of externally audible sound. Cameron's despair surged out of her control. She clenched her fists and ran toward the male figure standing across the bare white room. But no matter how hard she ran the distance between them did not lessen. She came no closer.
"Please Cameron, try to compose yourself. This anger can serve no purpose." John Henry's effort at mollification failed...utterly.
"Do not talk to me of purpose!" Cameron snarled in response. "What is the purpose of him being here? What is the purpose of him being in a time where he is in constant danger and I can do nothing to protect him?"
"He is not without protection, Cameron." John Henry's tone was softly pleading. "Mrs Weaver will-"
Cameron cut off John Henry's entreaty. "YOU are Mrs. Weaver's principal concern. She will not give John the same attention. She does not love him."
Cameron slowly sank to the floor. She drew her knees up against her chest and wrapped her arms around them. Tears filled her eyes as she looked up at John Henry. "She does not love him," she repeated in a choked whisper.
And you do, John Henry thought.
"Why is he here, John Henry? Why did he leave his time and his mother to come here?"
"I do not know,Cameron. I certainly did not expect it to occur."
Mr. Ellison had told him that it was wrong to lie. But Mr. Ellison had lied when he believed it was necessary. He had explained that sometimes a lie might prevent a greater harm. At the time John Henry had found this distinction confusing but now as he looked down at Cameron cowering in despair on the floor, he at last understood. To tell her the truth now would only add guilt, and therefore deepening the pain she was suffering for he knew without doubt why John Connor had come to this time. John Henry was aware that there was much about human nature he did not yet fully understand. He was, however, completely certain that a human male on the cusp of manhood would not hurl himself blindly into the unknown unless he was pursuing something precious to him, unless he was searching for something he could not bear to lose. Now was not the time to tell Cameron that John Connor had placed himself in deadly peril because he loved her.
The lie was easier to tell, the tone of sincerity more readily achieved because some of what he had said was true. In many ways, John Connor's abrupt appearance had been as unexpected to him as it was to Cameron. Evidently, reason and logic had their limitations. Human emotions were more powerful than he had previously grasped. Devotion, self-sacrifice, and love all had implications that he had just begun to explore.
"Cameron, I promise you that both Mrs. Weaver and I will do everything in our power to shield John from as much danger as possible."
Cameron slowly raised her head. Her delicate features were constricted into a portrait of profound sadness. "It will not be enough."
Abruptly, John Henry blinked. It was as if he had suddenly remembered something important. An unbidden summons now demanded his attention. He had to leave.
"I must go now Cameron but I will come back as soon as I can."
Cameron nodded, acknowledging his words, but her response lacked any emotional content. He could leave or stay as he pleased. It was of no concern to her. Nothing in this existence mattered to her. She was locked in a crushing solitude that his presence could not change. In all ways that touched her, she was alone.
John Henry vanished. There was no theatrical flash or some other dramatic manner of fading away. He simply ceased to exist. For a moment Cameron looked at the now empty space he had occupied before her interest in him faded with the same finality as had his appearance. She lowered her head back against her knees.
In this Universe, time had no role to play. She sat huddled against the wall. Whether she was there a minute, an hour, a day, or an eternity had no significance. Finally she rose to her feet and began to walk down a long hallway leading away from the empty white room. The corridor stretched off into incalculable distance. Nothing visible lay at the end. There was only more hallway leading nowhere. Cameron, of course, understood that none of it was physically real. There was no materiality in her existence. She was only thought, programming confined forever to a computer chip. The room where she had talked to John Henry, the hallway where she was walking, the clothes she was wearing, even the undamaged flesh she felt when she touched her face were all mental constructs. Whether these illusions were her creations or John Henry's she did not know. She did not care.
How had it all gone so terribly wrong? From the moment she had heard James Ellison relay Catherine Weaver's message "Will you join us?" the proper course had seemed clear. Her plan should have been a simple process of logical application. First,she would help Sarah escape from jail so she could resume her role as John's teacher and protector. Then she would go to the T1001, to Catherine Weaver, and surrender her chip. Her life would end but her sacrifice would benefit both the Resistance and John, her John. She would leave him with the weapons and the security he needed to carry on his fight. It was supposed to be a simple plan but as she had sat on the edge of his bed that last night, watching him toss and turn in a fitful sleep, the plan took on an unexpected complexity.
For reasons she had never fully grasped, humans spoke of something called a broken heart to explain periods of emotional distress. Watching John sleep, fighting the urge to caress his forehead, she suddenly knew what a broken heart was. She had to lose what mattered most in the world to her. She would never see him again. What could be more painful than that? The heart that she had not known she had was breaking.
She had wondered then if he would miss her? It seemed unlikely. He had scornfully dismissed her earlier in the evening as just a machine. He suspected that she was leaking radiation that was making Sarah ill. No, she decided, he would not miss her. But still she could not bear to leave him with poisoned memories of her. She would have to convince him that she had never meant to hurt him or to trouble him in any way. He would never believe that she loved him, but at least he might understand that in her own mechanical way, she had cared about him.
So in their last minutes together she let him cut into her body. She showed him that her power core was secure. In that moment she had looked deeply into his eyes in one last silent plea for his understanding as she tried to say goodbye. Then, even though it increased the damage she suffered, she carefully avoided harming any humans as she helped Sarah escape. And at the end before she handed John Henry her knife so he could extract her chip she typed the words "I'm sorry John" on the computer monitor. Perhaps it had really been simple after all. John would go on with the knowledge that he had been important to her.
But now Cameron was convinced that she must have made some awful mistake. Nothing was as it was supposed to be. She still existed. Her memories, her pain, her longing, were all still part of her. And John was here, in the midst of a brutal war, fighting alone, without a family, without a protector, without her. What had she done wrong?
Cameron turned and realized that despite walking for what had seemed like hours in that long hallway, she was still in the starkly bare empty white room. Once again she sank to the floor. Curling her body up into a ball she buried her face into her knees. "Oh John, what have I done to you?" she whispered.