Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

 
 

Title: His Girl

Author: Kastellen (yeah, still me, Galloway)

Pairing: John+Cameron (JCam)

Rating: PG

Notes: Consistent with my story “Façade”, but you don’t need to read that to get this.

Warnings: None

Spoilers: thru Ep 6, “Dungeons & Dragons”

Summary: A meditation on echoes in time.

*   *   *   *   *

John Connor awoke with a start, bare legs tangled in the sheets of his bed. His eyes searched about the darkened room wildly.

“Cam?”

“Here, John,” came her cool, calming voice, from a chair near the foot of the bed. Soft blue light leaked from under her left palm, which covered a sensor pad in the armrest. The sensor connected to a grid built into the rebel base; from within the windowless confines of his blast-sheltered private room, she could “feel” everything that went on outside. Leaking through her fingers, the pad’s blue light illuminated her face gently.

“How did I—”

“You fell asleep at your desk again,” Cameron said, the slightest of smiles in her voice. “And I thought you could really use some rest.”

He sighed. “These plans… planning the past, it’s—” he shook his head. “—tough to wrap my head around.”

John lowered his head back to the pillows. His eyes flicked to the ceiling and he took a deep breath to calm himself. He felt the bed shift and heard the springs creak, and then her soft hand touched the creases in his brow, sliding down to touch his cheek.

“What were you dreaming?” she asked. He smiled sadly. She knew better than to ask if it was a bad dream. They were always bad dreams.

“I’d lost you—”

“Never happen.”

“I’d sent you downtime, and things went bad, and you didn’t make it back,” John said. He raised his own hand to touch hers, the feeling of soft skin over mechanical joints ever strange, but familiar. “You couldn’t reach me.”

With the sensor uncovered, the light was brighter in the room. She turned his face gently, so that he could see hers in the sapphire dimness. She looked into his eyes, her expression intent. “Never happen. I’ll always reach you, always protect you.”

He slid back from her on the bed, raising himself on an elbow, and patted the sheets. She lay down, eyes never leaving his as she stretched out beside him.

“You’re still unsure about sending me,” Cameron stated.

“I can barely stand you being out of this room,” he smiled, and leaned down to kiss her.

“Didn’t you used to lead an army?” she said, winking. “I think you know I’m the toughest soldier you have.”

“Tactics, strategy, fighting techniques?” he shrugged. “Those I know. This—” he pointed to his paper-strewn desk. “I can’t be as sure of the outcomes.”

“You can never know the outcomes, John,” she held his eyes with hers. “However well you plan. You’re a great leader because of how you react to setbacks, and the way you treat your soldiers, in victory or defeat.”

“Do I do right by you, soldier?” John grinned at her.

“I couldn’t ask for better,” Cameron said, her voice very soft, a whisper that held so many things, from respect, to gratitude, to barely checked passion, to a simple yet staggering love.

John couldn’t help but marvel at the nuance she displayed with that voice. No other cyborg could do that, not even remotely. But Cameron, she was so much more than just a cyborg it rarely even crossed his mind anymore.

To the others, his soldiers, even those closest to him… well it certainly crossed their minds. John had defended her enough times, even when she wouldn’t. “Let them think what they will,” she’d say. “It’s what you think that matters to me.”

And he…

His eyes became dark and hollow. His voice was thin.

“What if this one works, Cam, this plan? What if you stop Skynet?” he played his fingers across her cheek, through her silky hair. “What if you never get built?”

She paused, watching his eyes, and he could see her mind working as, he imagined, she was trying to simplify the answer but not sound like she was talking down to him. “When I go, downtime, this will become my past. I’ll find you, and be with you, and maybe when I get to 2027 again there won’t have been a Skynet. But because it will have been there in my past, I’ll still have been built. I’ll still be by your side, even if you don’t have to lead an army.”

He cocked his head. “What will you be then?”

“Your girl.” She smiled at him then, her whole face alight. “I’ll always be your girl.”

*   *   *   *   *

John Connor awoke with a start, bare legs tangled in the sheets of his bed. His eyes searched about the darkened room wildly. A figure stood at his window, looking out at the night.

“Cam?”

“Yes, John?” she asked, her voice, as ever, calm. The light from outside gently lit her placid, pretty face.

“How did I—”

“You fell asleep at your desk again,” Cameron said, the slightest odd timbre in her voice. Like a sadness. “And I thought you could really use some rest.”

“Yeah, that homework is really kicking my ass,” he said. Then frowned. “Wait, did you… put me in bed?”

“You’re not heavy.”

“I know,” he answered, “I just— nevermind.”

“I never do.”

He opened his mouth, paused, then closed it again. He lay back, looking at the ceiling. He heard the floorboards creak as Cameron shifted on her feet.

“What were you dreaming?” she asked. “Was it bad?”

“It was— why do you ask?”

She cocked her head. “The way you woke…”

He ran his fingers through his hair, pulling at his bangs. “It was a mission. Derrick, and my mom, and us. Things went bad, and you went offline, and Derrick and my mom wouldn’t let me restart you.”

She watched him for a moment before speaking. “How did you feel about it?”

“I— they said you’d screwed up the mission on purpose. I didn’t want to believe them—” and he stopped, realizing what he’d said.

“You’re still unsure about me,” Cameron said.

John blushed deeply, and turned his head even cloaked in darkness. “It’s just… you’re a— you’re not the same as me, as us.”

“I’m a cyborg.”

He looked at his hands. “Derrick said, even reprogrammed you—”

“Never happen.”

John shrugged, voice defensive. “Sometimes they go bad. How do I know you won’t go bad—”

She stepped from the window, shadows playing across her face with the movement. John took a breath, unable to see her expression as she passed from the light. When she stood beside him she stopped, looking intently at his face. She cocked her head, eyeing the edge of the bed.

“Oh!” John said, and then slid a little to the side. Cameron turned with a graceful movement and sat beside him. This close, he couldn’t turn his face from hers, lost in the those sometimes chocolate, sometimes sapphire eyes. “Never happen,” she said. “In the future, you’re what reached me. I’ll always protect you.”

He blushed again. She must have noticed this time, for she raised a hand to touch his cheek. Probably taking his vitals, the thought crossed his mind cynically, and he raised his own to stop her, but was caught in the feel of her hand, of soft skin over mechanical joints. It felt… familiar.

Cameron lifted her palm from his skin, and his fingers curled around hers on instinct. She lowered their clasped hands to her lap, her touch never leaving his.

“The future,” he said, “seems far off when my mom will barely let me out of this room.”

“She will,” and he swore he saw a smile on her lips. “Someday you’ll lead an army, and be the bravest soldier I know.”

She made him feel both comfortable and not at the same time. He tried to change the subject. “Tactics, strategy, fighting techniques?” he shrugged, “Those I can learn. This—” he pointed to his paper-strewn desk. “I don’t see what this math has to do with my future. Or how good of a leader it’ll make me.”

“I could explain in detail how important mathematics is to strategic planning,” she said to him, and squeezed his fingers just slightly. “But it’s not all about planning. You’re a great leader because of how you react to setbacks, and the way you treat your soldiers, in victory or defeat.”

“You’re one of my soldiers, aren’t you? How well do I treat you?”

“I couldn’t ask for better,” Cameron said, her voice very soft. In the darkness, holding hands with this beautiful creature, John thought of the many things she’d become to him in such a short time. Protector, compatriot, companion, friend. The night itself seemed to whisper how much more she could be, and he wondered, not for the first time, what she’d been to his future self.

His thoughts were cut short, though, by a sound from beyond his door.

Her head was cocked when he looked at her, eyes distant. “It’s just the wind,” she answered his unspoken question, “brushing a tree branch against the window above the kitchen sink.”

And what she was right now was a cyborg, John thought, his stomach clenching.

“Maybe you should go anyway,” he said, letting go of her hand. “I’d hate my mom or Derrick to find you in my room in the middle of the night.”

“Probably for the best,” she said after a moment, then rose. She took a couple of silent steps, then paused. “But John? I don’t care what they think.” She half-turned her head, not quite looking over her shoulder. “It’s what you think that matters to me.”

His stomach clenched again, and he wished he was strong enough to stop her. Wished he was sure he would defend her, if the others found her here. Closing his eyes, he swung his feet back up into his bed.

He heard her feet move once more.

“Hey, Cam?” he said, and she stopped for a moment, door open, handle in her hand. “What if we succeed? What if we do stop Skynet?”

She paused, watching his eyes. He could see her mind working, and wondered what secrets she was sorting through. “Then you won’t have to lead an army,” was all she said though.

He nodded, and cocked his head. “You’ll be out of a job too. Wouldn’t that be something?” He lay back down. “What would a Terminator like you become, if there was no more mission for you to follow, huh?” He pulled the covers back up, and rolled over to get back to sleep.

“A girl,” Cameron said, mostly to herself, her face dimming before shutting the door behind her. “Just a girl.”


~fin~

His Girl