Disclaimer & Notices: See the Prologue.
AN: So here's the last chapter. Sorry for the delay! For those that follow "I, Human", it should be getting an update next. Thank you all for the feedback and support on this story. I hope y'all enjoy it!
Started: July 13, 2009
Ended: August 15, 2013
Series: One Shot
by 4Kennedy & Red Hope
Cameron pulled into the usual parking spot for the Jeep at the house. She shut off the vehicle then collected her blue gift and retrieved the empty duffel bag after she climbed out of the car. She marched right up the brick steps and into the house's front door. She paused and performed an audible scan. She detected somebody was upstairs, and they were coming downstairs down. Cameron knew it was Sarah by the footfall.
Sarah Connor made it to the landing between the steps, and she paused once Cameron came into her view. She held onto the banister then her eyes lowered to the blue gift.
Cameron studied Sarah briefly but also looked at the present in her right hand. She curiously gazed back up at the older woman.
Sarah detected the terminator's slight confusion about receiving a gift. But Sarah deflected it by softly suggesting, "Why don't you put it on the dining room table for now." She came down two steps and held out her right hand. "I'll take the bag." She received it and went back upstairs.
The terminator listened to Sarah but slowly went to the dining room table. She still eyed the gift in her hand until she set it on the table. Her curiosity was growing by each nanosecond. She then heard Sarah coming near her so she turned her head to the right.
"John should be home shortly," Sarah mentioned. She looked from the gift to Cameron. She hoped the terminator was not detecting her accelerated heartbeat ever since she saw the present in Cameron's hands. She prayed she was making the right choice after many nights of tossing and turning, but she knew it was more the fact she was not sure how Cameron would take it. Alternatively, what it could mean to Sarah once it was given to Cameron, what it could change for them.
Cameron noticed Sarah's searching look and expression, though she was unable to say what the other woman might be looking for. Cameron contemplated about bringing up the subject of her buildday or more specifically of Sarah and John celebrating it. And even in the traditional Connor way. It intrigued the terminator just as much as the content of the gift. "I will take care of the computer network of the port. My name and the video footage of the surveillance cameras need to be deleted," she said instead of pursuing the issue of her buildday right now. There would be time for it later.
"Yeah, we shouldn't leave any electronic traces," Sarah agreed and nodded. Again, her eyes wandered back to the present on the table. A fresh wave of nervousness washed over her as she thought of the evening ahead of her. Sarah could feel her heart beating extremely fast against her ribs and her palms were sweaty. She needed some physical distance from the girl. "I'll prepare dinner in the meantime. Is there…?"
Sarah bit her bottom lip as heat rushed into her cheeks. She had barely stopped herself from asking Cameron what she wanted for dinner. They both had come a long way since they had first met, but there were still some lines left uncrossed. The terminator rarely ate and did not have any favorite meals. It would be a big leap for Sarah to ask if she had a special wish for dinner. A ridiculous, unnecessary leap.
"Yes?" Ever so slightly, Cameron inclined her head to the left and studied the human, wishing that once again she could touch Sarah to read her vital signs. In a small frame on the right side of her visual field, she replayed the incident from this morning. She had reached for the other woman, but Sarah had pulled her hand away and glared at her warningly.
"Never mind." Sarah waved the issue away, turned around and started heading towards the kitchen.
"The mission… ", Cameron began to get Sarah's attention once more, to prevent her from leaving. It worked; the human stopped and looked over her shoulder back at her. "It was an irrational waste of time for all parties involved," she stated, her tone uninflected. It was also irrational that Cameron's living tissue reacted with a warm, stretching sensation in her chest when she calculated how much time John and Sarah had invested in preparing for today. She decided that it secretly pleased her, but kept her expression blank.
Sarah could not hinder the small, affectionate smile spreading across her lips. "No, it wasn't," was all she revealed and disappeared into the kitchen, before something stupidly sentimental would come out of her mouth and she definitely wasn't that kind of a woman.
Sarah busied herself in the kitchen, which came with an unfamiliar feeling of excitement and anticipation. Not that she would ever admit this to anyone aloud, but she actually enjoyed taking care of the preparations for the last part of Cameron's buildday. Moreover, she certainly had not thought that she could be completely absorbed in a task that was not related to saving the future.
There were several cooking and baking books, which the previous occupants of the house had luckily left behind, scattered and every surface was occupied with kitchen utensils and ingredients. It looked like a war zone, devastation dominated the scene and Sarah Connor was its detonation center.
John came into the kitchen through the back door, kicking the door shut with his foot and immediately came to a short stop when he saw the state of the kitchen and his mother. He looked around the room wide-eyed and mouth slightly agape. "Okay, whoa! What the hell?" He was balancing a large, pink box on his hands, but there was no free space for him to put it down. Shaking his head in wonder, John asked, "What did you did you do with my mother and who the hell are you?"
"What? It's not like I never cooked before," Sarah said with a shrug, dismissing the whole situation as nothing out of the ordinary. She wiped her hands on a red-white plaid towel and threw it over her right shoulder, before she quickly set some used bowls and plates into the sink, pushed flour and sugar boxes aside to make enough room for John to put the large box down.
As soon as John had his hands free, he used the opportunity to peak into the pots on the stove and also glanced into the oven. "Yeah well, but it never actually smelled or even looked good. Usually everything looks kinda cremated." He raised his hands in surrender, pulled his mother in a one-arm hug and kissed her on the forehead. "No offence, I love you."
When John's arm dropped from her shoulders, Sarah slapped him playfully with the kitchen towel. "Watch it, young man. Otherwise you'll have to go to bed on an empty stomach," she warned him, but could not suppress to laugh.
"There's always the possibility of ordering in," he reminded Sarah. "Besides the future leader of mankind needs his strength." John smirked at her, but even as his remark was meant to be just harmless banter, he watched the features of his mother becoming sober. "Sorry, I didn't mean to…" he began to apologize.
Sarah patted his shoulder and squeezed it shortly. "It's okay. No gloomy thoughts today."
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence between them, which John broke as he opened the fridge, rummaging somewhat through it and stored the box in it for cooling. With his hands still in the fridge and his back towards Sarah he asked, "How did Cameron's solo mission go? Did she say anything?"
"I would say it was a complete success on our side. Whereas she thinks that it was a complete waste of time for all of us." Sarah's gaze dropped to the floor and hid behind her untamed locks, when the image of Cameron flashed behind her eyes. Again, she felt a sentimental smile creeping on the lips. Fuck. She was not old enough for suffering from hormonal unbalance due to menopause, was she?
John closed the door of the fridge and turned back towards his mother. "I don't think Cameron really sees it like that, she just wants us to believe she does." As Sarah lifted her gaze and looked at him sceptically he added, "It's…. complicated to describe." He left the part out where he feared that Sarah might not be that ready to hear the explanation.
"Try me," Sarah challenged him, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
"O-okay." He played a little for time by opening one of the top drawers, taking a glass and filling it with water directly from the tap. "She knows that she's supposed to be all rational and zero and ones and no…," John immediately interjected his mother as soon as he sensed her protest. "Before you can even ask, it's not a malfunction or something like that. It's something else." He took a sip water and then continued, "Cameron feels, she has sensations… I don't know to what extend or how it works, but she does. I have watched her behavior, she's changed, she's different. You must've noticed it too." He waited for Sarah to respond to his assumption, but she gave no sign whether she'd picked it up or not. "Therefore, my take is that up to now she prefers to let us believe that she's not much more than a highly developed calculator."
"Why?" A shiver ran down Sarah's spine and something absurd like... Was that truly hope prickled in the pit of her stomach?
"What do you think?" John asked back, not giving his mother an answer and leaving her alone in the kitchen to ponder over everything he had just told her.
"Do you require any assistance?" drifted Cameron's voice sometime later over to Sarah, who jumped slightly. "John told me you are cooking and baking."
Sarah had her back to the terminator, washing the dishes and bowls, which she had used to prepare dinner and to mix the duff for the cake."Why is everyone acting as if that's a fucking miracle?!" Briefly, Sarah glanced over her shoulder at Cameron. If her harsh tone had hit the terminator, she did not show it. With a deep sigh, she turned back to the sink and dipped another bowl into the foamy water.
"It is an uncommon demeanor for you. You rarely spend more time than absolutely necessary if any at all with preparing meals." Cameron approached the human, but stopped when she was standing three feet behind Sarah.
"That's because I usually have bigger concerns than playing housewife." Sarah huffed and scrubbed the inside of a glass bowl so hard and fast that water splashed. She did not wanted to be angry with the terminator, especially not today. She was not even sure if this was the correct label for what she was feeling. Whatever it was, it influenced her mood and, at the moment, not for the better.
Even for Cameron it was not hard to tell that something had changed Sarah's mood since earlier. She did not comment on it though and stepped right beside the human. She sensed how Sarah stiffened. Without asking again, Cameron simply took a fresh kitchen towel out of one of the bottom drawer and began to dry the dishes.
"You don't have to do this. It's your buildday," Sarah offered, her tone much more gentle as she had hoped it would come out.
Cameron just continued to dry the dishes. "But I want to." And it was settled, finally.
They worked together in a silence, which quickly became companionable. Sarah concentrated on washing the dishes and handed them to Cameron. Each time her fingers brushed against Cameron's slender ones, she became calmer than earlier and softly smiled.
"I didn't mean to snap at you," Sarah apologized. She turned halfway and made eye contact.
Cameron turned as well and relaxed her otherwise stoic features. "You are under a lot of emotional stress and pressure. It is a plausible reaction." It was not her usual monotone. Cameron allowed a hint of compassion to shine through. "I understand."
Again, Cameron noted the searching of Sarah's eyes. She did not know what to make of it. Instead, Cameron decided to follow the simple, but not weak impulse, the moment caused in her system. She put the kitchen towel down, her eyes never leaving Sarah's in the process, and slowly raised her right hand to Sarah's face.
Sarah froze when she saw the movement of Cameron's hand, though she did not flinch. She held her breath. Her heartbeat easily picked up twice as much as speed; she could hear its wild drumming in her ears. Fleetingly, Sarah wondered why and when exactly her body and her instincts had turned into traitors. Should she not be running, should she not be fighting, and should she not prevent what was obliviously about to happen?
Those thoughts vanished as soon as they had crossed her mind, which went completely blank the second Cameron's hand landed on her cheek delicately. The touch was so tentative that it barely deserved the description.
"Cameron?" Sarah asked hushed, when nothing further happened.
As soon as her name had left Sarah's lips, Cameron covered the mistake of letting her fingers linger on the human's face and ran her thumb over Sarah's cheekbone. "Flour," she explained and showed her white powder covered digit.
It took Sarah another second before she actually realized what had just transpired between them. She quickly turned away again from Cameron, pushed her hands back into the water and began to scrub another plate. With her head downcasted and her cheeks burning hotly, she mumbled, "You could've just told me."
"You are correct," Cameron granted. "I apologize." She took the last, clean dish from Sarah. She put it away, like the previous ones, and decided to leave the kitchen. "I must complete my homework for school tomorrow."
Sarah peered over her shoulder. Normally, she would holler a response because Cameron was so far away. However, she knew Cameron's keen hearing so she replied, "I'll call you and John down when the dinner is ready."
Cameron paused at the base of the steps. She clutched the rail, almost tight enough to damage it. She stared down at her hand then seemingly forced her hand to release the wood. Step by step, Cameron went upstairs and made up her mind to get the schoolwork done before dinner.
Briefly, there were movements on the second floor but it quieted down, and Sarah focused on her task to get dinner done. She was under stress to not only make it, but get it right too. There were too many burned meals notched under Sarah's cooking belt. Just for once, Sarah wanted to get it perfect. A timer's alarm caught her attention, and she hurried over to the oven. Opening the door, she studied the cake and grinned happily.
"Not bad for a gun slinging mother," Sarah muttered. She pulled out the cake and let it cool, like the recipe told her. In the meantime, she prepared the ingredients for dinner.
The afternoon wore on into the early evening, and the Connor home was filled with wonderful smells that even enticed the terminator. A quarter after seven, Sarah called down her son and Cameron to the dining room. She told John to get drinks for all of them while Cameron sat, stiffly. John also helped his mom deliver the food to the table.
Cameron canted her head after John placed the plate in front of her. She coolly stated, "Crangon crangon."
John was seated and oddly stared at his protector. "Shrimp," he corrected. He suspected Cameron stated the shrimp's scientific name.
"Yes, brown shrimp," Cameron concluded.
Sarah sighed. "It's shrimp scampi."
Cameron tilted her head the other way. "I have not experienced shrimp before."
"Well, you're about to experience it," John teased. He waited until his mother picked up her fork.
Sarah started and enjoyed the first mouthful of shrimp and rice. She tasted the garlic, butter, shrimp, and white rice all at once. John's pleased hum was an excellent sign.
"Wow, Mom." John shook his fork a few times at his plate. "This is awesome."
Sarah smiled, proudly. "Thanks." However, she looked over at Cameron, pensively.
Cameron was still on her first taste of it. She was rolling it over her tongue, chewing slowly, and analyzing every bit of data. After a swallow, she met Sarah's curious stare. "It is excellent." She enjoyed the flavor, especially the shrimp.
"What you think of shrimp?"
Cameron looked at John and answered, "Despite it's a shrimp, it is a big flavor."
John choked on his food and stared at Cameron. Did his protector just crack a joke?
Sarah snorted and grinned at the terminator.
John drank his water then hoarsely stated, "Touché."
The terminator said nothing else and instead focused on the dinner. She ate rather slowly and savored the special dinner. She was starting to understand why humans ate, and not just to sustain life. If Sarah Connor cooked this well every meal then Cameron would eat more frequently, for pure pleasure.
After dinner, Sarah cleared the table and put the candles on the cake. As she did so, she smiled at the fact that Cameron ate everything. It was a risky meal to make because not everybody liked seafood. But Sarah's gamble had paid off.
"Hey, Mom I got the presents on the table," John announced. He stood in the doorway between the kitchen and dining room.
"Alright." Sarah left the cake and returned to the dining table. She sat down between Cameron and John. On the table was her small, blue gift and then John's gift. Sarah had no idea what John had gotten for Cameron, and she was curious.
"Start with mine." John pushed his to Cameron.
The terminator took it but narrowed her eyes at him. "Should I first shoot it with my Glock?"
John laughed and shook his head once. "It might explode if you do that."
Cameron hoped it was not another practical joke. She noted it was small and rectangular. When she lifted it, she analyzed it was only an ounce in weight. It was safe, most likely. Quickly removing the paper, Cameron turned it over and pulled up the top of an envelope. After she pulled out the slip of paper, she read it for a minute.
"I thought you might like to learn how to... really fight." John smirked at his protector. "Not just throw you opponent into walls."
"What is it?" Sarah was trying to read the gift card.
"It's six lessons of jujitsu over at Sai's." John propped his arm on the table and leaned his head in his hand.
"Really?" Sarah took the gift card after Cameron was done. She thought it was a great idea, considering how terminators fought, including Cameron. She returned it and teased, "Think you're flexible enough for it, girlie?"
John looked at his mother and offered, "You outta see her dance moves. She's more flexible than both of us put together."
Sarah blinked and looked at her son. "What?" She was unaware of Cameron's ability to dance. She was about to ask more until John cut her off.
"Open Mom's next." John handed the small box to Cameron. He was relieved that it distracted his mother from the earlier conversation.
This time, Cameron carefully unwrapped the gift. She noted how Sarah grew anxious, and it made her wonder what the box held in it. She pulled off the lid and stared at the round, metal coin shining up at her.
Sarah licked her lips and twisted her fingers together on her lap. She steeled her worries and explained, "It's a Connor Coin."
The terminator retrieved the coin from the box and held it in her palm. She turned it over several times and memorized every part of it. "What does it mean?" She looked at the two Connors and ran her thumb over the two "C"s located on the side facing her.
John thought his protector meant the "CC" stamped on the front face. He shrugged and tempted, "It could mean Connor Clan... Connor Club... Connor Coin." He glanced at his quiet mother then back to the terminator. "Or maybe Cameron Connor."
Cameron sharply looked up after John's last explanation.
Finally, Sarah found her voice, which was slightly shaky. "They've been in our family for years." She reached into her pocket and produced one.
Like his mother, John pulled out his and set it on the table next to his mother's coin.
Cameron followed suit and placed her coin triangular to the other two.
Sarah was about to speak again, but she faltered after she looked at the three coins. For an instant, the elusive three-dots that she had been chasing for months hit her in the form of the three coins. Her quicken heart rate made her body feel weak until she pushed aside her thoughts, and fears. She scooped up Cameron's coin, which ended the vision of the three-dots.
"We carry these with us at all times," Sarah told Cameron. "And we put them under our heads at night." She then displayed hers more closely to the terminator. "Mine has saved my leg once."
Cameron now noticed the dent in it made by a bullet.
"Only a Connor carries this." Sarah handed Cameron's coin back to her. "Welcome to the club."
Cameron felt the coin warm in her hand. She was amazed that Sarah had given it to her and made her a Connor. She stared at it, not sure it was real.
Sarah stood up and returned the coin to its home. "I'll get the cake." She signaled John to grab the dessert plates.
John stood too, but he smiled at Cameron's awed features, which were the first. "Nice job winning Mom over." He hurried off to get the plates.
The terminator turned the coin through her fingers and studied the "CC" stamped on both sides. She heard the pair coming from the kitchen so she put the coin into her right jean pocket. From over her shoulder, she saw Sarah coming with a lit cake.
John followed and started singing the birthday song.
Sarah sang along too and brought the chocolate cake to Cameron. She set it down gently, took a step back, and ordered, "Make a wish."
"Make a wish?" Cameron echoed.
John set the plates down and suggested, "Blow the candles out and make a wish."
Cameron looked at the burning candles. "Oh... make a wish." She now understood the tradition. She gathered plenty of air behind her lips then blew at the two candles.
They went out instantly. Then they relit in surprise.
The terminator was befuddled so she blew them out again. She glared after they relit a second time. "I need my Glock." She started to get up until a firm hand was on her shoulder.
"It's trick candles, girlie," Sarah explained. She squeezed the terminator's shoulder.
"Thank you for explaining." Cameron instead extinguished the flames by pinching them between her fingers. "That is joke number five."
"Not keeping tally huh?" Sarah pulled the cake to the side and brought out a knife. She cut it up while John sat down and spread out the plates and forks. She put a slice on each plate. "There's just one more thing we have to do to officially make you a Connor."
Cameron tilted her head back so she could see Sarah, who stood over her.
"Are you ready?" Sarah asked, her tone stern and face serious.
"Yes," Cameron firmed.
Sarah was pleased, and she was also quick. She snatched up a slice of cake and swiftly planted it in Cameron's face. For extra amusement, Sarah wiped it over those beautiful, girlie features until she was assured every inch was covered in cake an icing.
John's hysterical laughter erupted in the dining room. He covered his stomach and slouched in the chair, his head back. He had never witnessed anything better. John gained a measure of control and looked at Cameron. He died in a fit of laughter again after he saw the honey brown eyes peeking through the dark cake.
Sarah was so proud of herself. She cleaned her hand with a napkin and dubbed, "You are now Cameron Connor." However, her smirk instantly fell away when angry brown eyes slotted at her.
"Sarah," Cameron growled, for the very first time.
Sarah's right boot scraped across the rug as she took a step away. "Shit," she hissed and bolted just as Cameron launched for her. "Cameron!" she screamed in fear.
The terminator chased after the fleeing human, birthday cake falling away from her face. She was faster than Sarah and caught up when they entered the living room. Cameron grabbed Sarah just as they came to the back of the sofa. She pulled Sarah backwards.
Sarah gave a holler of surprise and lost her footing, going over the sofa. Somehow, Cameron went with her, and they rolled over the sofa top. Sarah grunted when she landed on top of Cameron, who hit the sofa on her back. During the topple, Sarah managed to get a little cake on her chin and neck.
Cameron was relieved when Sarah wiped more of the cake off her face. She held Sarah by her hips and processed the fact that she and Sarah had been horseplaying, like kids. She then stated, "That was the sixth joke."
A smug expression came over Sarah. "You count well." She enjoyed the terminator's messy features and was enticed by the icing on Cameron's full lips. She remembered earlier in the kitchen when they had been this close. However, they were even closer, completely together. Sarah leaned in and this time did what she wanted earlier. She had her cake and kissed it too.
Cameron was unsure at first. She did not respond to the initial kiss until a gentle bite on her bottom lip jarred her systems. She moved her lips with Sarah's until their mouths opened together. Their first kiss was sweet, exceptionally sweet and chocolaty. Then a moan from Sarah stirred a warm sensation deep in Cameron.
Sarah slowly pulled away and licked the last tidbit of chocolate off. She saw the uncertainty in Cameron's eyes. She grinned, playfully and gently teased, "And that wasn't a joke." She followed her words with a brief yet tender kiss.
Cameron was still in awe for another moment. She looked painfully human in that moment. However, it wore off, and she became steely again except for the soft hue in her eyes.
Sarah ignored the cake on Cameron and cupped a coated cheek. "Happy Birthday, Cameron."
Behind the sofa, John stood there and watched the exchange between his mother and protector. He smiled, contently. His birthday plans had worked out so perfect. John was sure that Cameron liked his second birthday gift, his plan for his mother to accept and love her. John mentally patted himself on the back for being an amazing matchmaker.
"And to many more happy builddays," John whispered to the terminator, "Many more."