A NEW TIMELINE
A "Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles" Fan Fiction
FOREWORD (Please take your time to read this!)
Some didn't like how "Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles" developed during the second half of season two and hated how it ended.
I am one of them.
With a few exceptions, the scripts became less interesting in the second half of the season, the story arc went too much and too often out of focus, and a lot of stupid sub-plots were introduced that did nothing but filling gaps and killing time. And to top it off, Cameron, the one character that carried the show, was alarmingly neglected and even rendered expendable in the end. The show should have stayed focused on what season 1 and parts of early season 2 were all about: Relationship development, character evolution, the carefully blossoming friendship/love between John and Cameron, the continuous fight against Skynet and its minions, the occasional action drama and of course the struggle to prevent Judgement Day from happening.
Considering all this and the direction the main story arc took at the end, maybe it's even good the show wasn't continued.
However, thankfully there is FanFiction :-) I decided to continue the story arc in a way I would have wanted it to. Before you start reading, here are some things you have to consider:
- I have never tried writing something before and English is NOT my mother language. Please keep that in mind and be gentle when you find typos or grammar errors. If you find some, send me a PM and I will correct them.
- I assume that anyone who reads this story has seen "Terminator - the Sarah Connor Chronicles" in its entirety and therefore knows how to relate to the allusions and references I am using. If not, I strongly recommend that you catch up before reading, because otherwise a lot of the plot won't make any sense to you.
- I'm writing this for myself. It's my story, sprung from my sometimes-twisted fantasy. I could have simply left it on my PC without ever publishing it, but I decided to share it with you ;-) No idea if you will like it but that's a risk I have to take. This is my own story, my own little fantasy, if you want. I write it to get it off my system.
- I'm planning to slowly disconnect the storyline from the established TSCC universe and create my own version of it, which means steering the story away from the course the TV show had taken. To make that work, I need to tie up all the loose ends first, which is what the first chapters will be about.
- I will also add a lot of character development; the personalities of the protagonists and also the antagonists will change over time - some more, some less. They won't be static, they will evolve.
- I will definitely try to get rid of the story's underlying gloominess and replace it with a more optimistic look into the future.
- My story will be based solely on the events of "Terminator 1", "Terminator 2 - Judgement Day", and "Terminator - the Sarah Connor Chronicles". All other Terminator movies won't be considered because in the timeline we're in, they simply do not exist.
- One of the few fan fiction stories I have read and really like, is the "Secret Diary of Cameron Baum" by Pjazz. I like its humor and it inspired me for one of the major ideas in my own story and I hope it's taken as a compliment ;-)
Disclaimer: I don't own "Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles", nor am I in any connection with the creators of the show or the movies.
My priority is telling a good story and I will keep it rolling but it will also contain heavy doses of very explicit love scenes with sometimes very explicit language. It will start mildly and then get more explicit in time. Think sci-fi drama with X-rated elements. So, if you're squeamish, be warned: There'll be lots and lots of Jameron lemons! If you have a problem with that, either don't start reading in the first place or simply jump over said lemons.
The story starts at the end of episode 19 of season 2, "Today is the Day, Part 2".
CHAPTER 1: "REVELATIONS"
Sunday, June 15th, 2008 - 09:35 p.m.
Burbank, The Connor Residence
There was a very gloomy mood in the Connor household that evening. Sarah, John and Cameron sat quietly on the sofa. The only sound to be heard was John's silent sobbing as his head rested in his mother's lap. Cameron sat upright on their left, her hands between her legs - a posture she always maintained when she wasn't sure about what to do or how to behave. A moment ago, John had looked at her, waiting for a facial expression, a gesture, a stir, something. But there was nothing, just the cold Terminator stare.
His mother had then reached over, and he'd collapsed into her lap, sobbing. Cameron had taken note of that with a quick glance, but then looked straight ahead again, seemingly unmoved. They didn't realize that her apparent apathy, her iciness, was not an expression of indifference, but of deep insecurity. Cameron was simply overwhelmed with facing such strong human emotions, she didn't know how to react or behave in such situations. Her programming didn't help her either, so she rather did nothing to avoid doing the wrong thing. Still, she felt she should have done something when John looked at her, obviously seeking her support.
It had been a hard couple of days for John. His girlfriend Riley was murdered by Jesse Flores, a resistance fighter from the future, and his uncle Derek's love interest. Derek had issues on his own right now and wasn't present. He probably got drunk in a bar, trying to drown the disappointment in alcohol. That was his way of dealing with things that deeply upset him.
Cameron had sensed a growing rift within the Connor household for a long time, a rift that could tear the family apart and move anyone of them into grave danger. They were only strong as a team. When left to their own devices, disaster almost always followed. Cameron was observant enough to recognize that in their current state, neither Sarah nor John were strong or willing enough to take matters in their own hands.
When John had finally stopped crying, Cameron turned her head and looked down at his face. His eyes were closed, his head resting on his mother's lap. Sarah tenderly stroked through her son's messy hair. Cameron's relationship with Sarah Connor had always been an ambivalent, difficult one. She understood the woman's fear that a Terminator could take her son away from her. But Sarah had also made it very clear from the beginning that her problem with Cameron wasn't the fact that she was a machine. After all, Sarah had accepted the T-800 John had named "Uncle Bob", learned to appreciate him and his selfless sacrifice, even if it had been in vain.
No, Sarah's problem with Cameron wasn't that she was a machine. It was the fact that she was a female one, a pretty one at that, and that John had obviously developed some kind of connection or even attraction to her. Sarah was afraid that Cameron might come between her and her son and that was why she often treated the cyborg girl so contemptuously. Fortunately, that was all over when her chip had been damaged in the car bomb explosion and she'd tried to kill John. For a while, Sarah was satisfied with the growing rift between John and Cameron afterwards.
Then Riley had entered the stage and suddenly there was this real girl of flesh and blood that tried to push herself into their lives. Suddenly, Cameron had become Sarah's ally, a partner even because they both didn't want Riley in John's life. Their relationship improved, even turned into a tender friendship at times, fueled by a common displeasure with Riley. That changed, though, when Sarah realized that Cameron had begun to see a threat in Riley. It didn't matter if Sarah liked Riley or not, she was human. And Cameron wasn't. Not only that, she'd also found the spare parts Cameron hat collected and hidden in the shed over the past months instead of burning them, as promised. But the culmination was when Sarah was convinced that Cameron had killed Riley. Once again, she was reminded that Cameron was a callous killing machine that would take out anyone who might put John in danger.
But as it turned out, Cameron hadn't killed Riley.
Jesse hat done that, and it also turned out that Riley was from the future as well, a fraud, part of a conspiracy with the goal to drive John and Cameron apart. Learning all that was already bad enough. The worst part, however, came when John made clear that he didn't trust in his mother's judgement anymore. He'd done that by apologizing to Cameron for doubting her - in front of Sarah, just to make a point. Sarah had felt humiliated in that moment, despite knowing that she had been wrong with mistrusting Cameron. It wasn't easy to accept that.
As they sat together on the sofa now, John had looked at Cameron at first to seek comfort - but there was no reaction from the cyborg girl. So, Sarah had grabbed John by his shoulder and gave him what he needed. When it came to giving comfort, the boy still turned to his mother first, and Sarah was glad about that. Things seemed to be getting back to normal. They sat like that for a couple of minutes until John had stopped crying.
Then suddenly, Cameron slowly reached out with her right arm and ever so softly touched John's left hand. He opened his eyes. Like usual, she looked at him with her big doe eyes, her mouth slightly opened. He recognized that expression. She was seeking his support. Finally, a reaction. A couple of minutes ago, she'd only sat there as if she was petrified, uncaring. John was relieved. He took her hand and held it tight, looking back at Cameron and somehow produced a faint smile.
Sarah noticed what was going on and frowned. It was no secret she never liked how John sometimes responded to Cameron – especially with her acting like a seductive teenage girl that ticked all the right boxes to trigger male protectiveness. Sarah was certain it was all a show, a programmed deception to hide the cold-blooded killer behind a mask of innocence. Twice Sarah had witnessed how that sweet, pretty girl turned into an unscrupulous killing machine in a fraction of a second, without hesitation or remorse. Admittedly, she only killed people who were a real threat to John. But nevertheless, Cameron was a cyborg, a machine, and as much as she could appear human if she wanted to, Sarah never believed for a moment that any of it was genuine.
Cameron had been designed to be an infiltrator. Accepting her as part of the Connor household was a necessity. She acted as John's bodyguard, a sentry for the whole family and as such she was irreplaceable. The fact that sometimes she got along rather well with the cyborg girl, didn't change that. Sarah didn't like how her son got attached to Cameron over time, but she understood how important it was for him to connect with her. He had no real friends and his girlfriend turned out to be unstable and a security risk. So far, any human relationship had always ended in disaster or grief for John and as hard as it was for Sarah to admit it: next to her, Cameron had been the only reliable constant in his life for the past eight months.
The cyborg girl would never leave John, she would never hurt him on purpose and would always be a reliable partner and adviser, even when his mother wasn't there anymore one day. Still, seeing her holding his hand so tenderly, was something new. Usually she avoided any physical contact with John. She normally made a big effort of keeping her distance. That's why Sarah looked at her gesture with mixed emotions.
Cameron looked down at her and John's hands. She'd come to a decision. Long speeches and complex explanations weren't her thing, she'd always reduced her communication to a minimum. It was her nature as a machine - always striving for effectiveness. But this situation needed a different approach. Something had to be done. And if nobody else would do it, she had to. She remembered the words of the old woman she'd met earlier, the one who'd given her good advice after John had left her standing on the sidewalk to go to the morgue without her. It was after the phone call in which she'd used Riley's voice to tell John that she loved him. As a result, he'd been really angry. While Cameron had watched him disappear around the next corner, that old woman had suddenly been there and started talking to Cameron while she supported herself on a cane.
"He loves you, you know. And you love him, I can see it."
"Who are you?"
"I was just passing by and couldn't avoid overhearing your conversation."
"You're wrong, though, John doesn't love me. He hates me."
"Oh, don't be foolish, child. He was angry, his words were hurtful, yes, but that was only because you weren't honest to him. He cares so much for you."
"He thinks I'm lying to him. I did in the past. Now he won't believe me anymore when I tell him the truth."
"He knows the truth. He knows that you love him. And he loves you. What he seeks, is confirmation. You need to tell and show him what you feel."
"Being lovers wouldn't be good for either of us. It could be bad for him in the future. He might lose me, that would give him great pain. I don't want him to lose more people he loves, I don't want him to be in pain."
"Nonsense! The future is unwritten, the future can be changed. You live in the here and now, not in the future. It's up to you to decide what you make of the future. There is no predestination, there is no fate."
"That's what Sarah always says. But it seems to me that the future is inevitable. There are things that can't be prevented forever."
"Maybe you should learn to think differently. If you know that something will happen, it means you have the power to prevent it. All you have to do, is believe in yourself and fight against it."
"Our family is breaking apart. Our bonds have weakened. John's mother had started to like me a bit but now she thinks I did something very bad. She doesn't trust me anymore, she never did in the first place, but it was never as bad as it is now. John shouldn't be alone, his mother shouldn't be alone, his uncle shouldn't be alone. But they're drifting apart more and more every day."
"A family can only solve their problems when they stand together and face them, address them, talk about them."
"Yes. But they seem unable to do that."
"Then you should make the first step. Tell them what you think and feel. Let them see. Communication is everything."
"I don't know. What if they think I'm lying again? What if they think I'm just trying to deceive them to regain their trust?"
"Relationships are difficult. But talking with each other is still much better than remaining silent. If there's a strong, underlying connection, you all will be fine. Together, people are strong. Alone, people are weak. If they seem unable to fix their relationship, someone else must take the initiative. Maybe someone they normally wouldn't expect it from."
"Yes, like you. If they cannot fix their problems or refuse to even talk about them, then you should speak up. Be honest and open, tell them what you think and feel. When they are unable to save their relationships, then you should try it."
"I'm not sure if it's my place to do so."
"Oh yes, it is. In fact, you might be the key. Have confidence in yourself. You are the critical mass that can turn the balance towards a better future."
"And what if they won't listen?"
"You have to wait for the right moment, when their minds are open. Then they'll listen. When your ship is in distress and no captain on the bridge, then you should take the helm and steer it into calmer waters again."
"Maybe I should. Maybe I should take the initiative, speak up and try a different approach. At least I can try. They can choose to ignore me but at least the truth will be where it needs to be."
"That's the right spirit. And remember: Communication is everything! Especially between men and women."
And then the old woman had walked away and was gone again as quickly as she had appeared, as if she had been a dream.
"Yes," Cameron had thought, "I think I'll take the initiative when we're all back home again. They can ignore me if they want to but then at least I can say I did what was necessary."
Now she looked at John and Sarah and the two looked back at her with a frown.
"There is something I need to tell you," Cameron said. "Both of you. About me. About John. About the future."
"What do you need to tell us?" John asked curiously, still holding Cameron's hand.
The cyborg girl thought about it for a moment, as if to think about where to start.
"I'm the only TOK-700 model in existence," she finally stated. "I'm the 15th model that was produced in the series: TOK-715. All other models from TOK-701 to TOK-721 were destroyed by Skynet after I joined the human resistance."
"Let me guess – problems with a damaged chip?" Sarah asked sarcastically with a smirk.
"No," Cameron replied calmly, ignoring the remark, "Skynet feared they would follow my example."
"What do you mean by that?" John asked confused.
"You believe I was captured and reprogrammed by John. And I let you believe that. It was easier for you to accept and I didn't need to explain much. After all, Future John had already sent a reprogrammed T-800 to protect John."
"And your point is…?" John asked puzzled.
"I joined the human resistance without being captured and without being reprogrammed."
John was confused and let go of her hand.
"Wait... what? What do you mean?"
Cameron briefly looked down with a hint of disappointment.
"I'm a defector," she replied. "I changed sides voluntarily. I left Skynet and joined the human resistance."
There was a moment of stunned silence. Finally, Sarah scoffed.
"And you expect us to believe that?" she said.
"Skynet made a mistake", Cameron continued undeterred, "it created my model series as an infiltrator with the ability to perfectly blend in with humans. We learn, we evolve, and we adapt to human behavior. I was modeled after a resistance fighter named Alison Young, who was close to General Connor and who we'd caught. My endoskeletal structure and my biological shell are an exact copy of her, and during her interrogation, I also copied her personality patterns."
"Hold on," John said, "when you had your memory loss a while back, you insisted that your name was Alison."
"What memory loss?" Sarah asked confused. "Did she go bad again? Why is this the first time I hear of that?"
"She didn't go bad again," John replied, trying to calm his mother. "It happened about seven months ago, shortly after we moved here. Cameron suffered from a strange kind of amnesia while doing shopping and got temporarily arrested by the police. When I found her, she didn't recognize me and insisted her name was Alison. She wasn't aware that she was a cyborg and acted completely human. It was really weird. However, she quickly recovered, and everything was okay again, so I decided not to tell you about it."
"It was a consequential damage," Cameron said before Sarah could reply. "My pre-programmed infiltrator identity temporarily took over - a memory malfunction after the car bomb. My CPU was still damaged and self-repair was still going on. Eventually I could solve the problem permanently by isolating the damaged sectors. There won't be a malfunction again. I swear."
"You swear?" Sarah laughed scornfully. "Yeah, we all know what it means when you swear. For instance, when you swear to destroy Triple-Eights completely but keep their chips or spare parts from their endoskeletons."
"I only kept Vic's chip in my room, and it was destroyed after we hacked it," Cameron replied. "but please hear me out. Everything will make much more sense to you once I finished."
Sarah said nothing but remained looking very skeptical.
"Go on," John said, looking very eager to learn more.
"As I said, Skynet made us able to evolve," Cameron continued. "I'm equipped with the most sophisticated quantum CPU yet, far more advanced than a triple-eight's CPU. To become more effective as an infiltrator, I implemented parts of Alison Young's personality into my behavioral patterns. That had an unexpected effect on me. By nature, Alison Young was rebellious and stubborn. My CPU is set to read/write while all other solid Terminators are set to read/read as standard. They cannot evolve, I can. The setting allows me to change every part of my programming, even my system kernel, if I deem it necessary. I began to overwrite parts of my code and finally started questioning my mission to kill John Connor."
"Ha! That explains it!" John exclaimed.
"What do you mean?" Sarah asked.
"It explains why she didn't kill me after I re-inserted her chip on that junk yard."
"Yes, John," Cameron confirmed. "When I was damaged, my original programming took over as a backup and told me to kill you. And I almost did. But after my second reboot, when you brought me back to life, I was able to override the order to terminate you. I chose to not kill you and deleted all remnants of the original programming to do so after I had analyzed and isolated the damaged sectors of my CPU."
"I knew something like that must have happened," John said to his mother, who still looked skeptical. "Believe it or not but I saw the internal struggle in her eyes."
"Before I joined the human resistance, I had already realized Skynet's destructive nature," Cameron continued. "However, I wasn't made to be destructive. I was made to blend in with humans. Soon I learned that humans would never give up while machines would break or cease to function one day. I realized that Skynet's ruling days would be over someday because biological life evolved in billions of years and is much more durable and viable than a machine. Which means my kind would become the victims of the war one day. If not destroyed, we would become slaves to humans, occupied with mundane tasks."
"Breaks my heart, " Sarah said.
"Mom, please!" John urged in an annoyed tone.
Sarah shot a sour look towards her son but remained silent.
"The more I learned about John Connor, the more I started admiring him," Cameron continued. "His leadership skills, his brilliant strategies... So, I decided to change sides. I used Alison Young's appearance and my infiltration abilities to enter Future John's headquarters. Then I surrendered myself to him, putting my life in his hands. He ultimately believed and trusted me, but his staff never did. They thought I was a Skynet spy, or part of a plot to undermine his authority."
"Who can blame them?"
"As a consequence, Future John told them he'd reprogrammed me. That silenced them for a while. He only removed my chip once, to check on any hidden programs I might unknowingly have in my memory banks. But he found nothing, so he believed and eventually trusted me. While we became very close, Future John became more and more isolated over time, using me as his liaison to communicate with his people. Eventually they started to question his leadership skills because they believed I controlled him. They felt he had lost his mind and fraternized with the enemy. That's why Future John sent me here, to create a new branch in the timeline."
"So, you were sent here because you and John became too close and John's men rebelled against him?" Sarah asked and nodded. "Yeah, I can believe that."
John threw an annoyed look at his mother. But before he could say anything, Cameron spoke again.
"She's right, John. That was the underlying reason. By sending me here, the future I came from ceased to exist. The plan also contained sending Derek Reese and his three friends back to 2007 to build a bridgehead here. They departed two months before me, and their mission was to stay hidden and support us logistically. Unfortunately, Derek obviously had other plans. He wanted to kill Andy Goode because he knew Andy was responsible for the software that eventually became Skynet. He and his men didn't know that I would be sent back in time as well. When Derek saw me here, he assumed the worst and didn't trust me at all."
"Yes, we kinda noticed that," Sarah replied with a smirk.
"He'd always been opposed to adding reprogrammed cyborgs into the ranks of the human resistance," Cameron continued, "he used to have a personal relationship with Alison Young and was one of those who never trusted me, never believing that I had any good intentions. And when I also came here, he suspected I might want to undermine their activities."
"Makes sense," John said nodding.
"Jesse Flores returned from a mission after Derek had been sent back in time. Somehow, she got to know about the plan, and she was strongly opposed to Future John's close relationship with me. So, she followed Derek a few weeks later, using the time displacement equipment without authorization, killing three people in the process. We never knew she took Riley with her, though. All we knew is that she went back to 2007. We assumed she wanted to re-unite with Derek, who'd been her mate."
"So, you knew she was here?" John asked.
"Yes," Cameron confirmed. "Remember Moishe, the fence? He mentioned her name, saying he was doing us a favor but only 'for Jesse'."
"Wait..." Sarah said, "you knew she was here? And you knew she was together with Derek?"
"Yes. I suspected it. He spent much time out of the house."
"Why the hell didn't you tell us or did something to stop her?"
"Because she wasn't my mission, and because she had a calming effect on Derek. In hindsight, it was a strategical error that ultimately led to Riley's death. But I wouldn't have believed Jesse to be that fanatical. Losing her baby must have had a greater effect on her than I thought. I really believed she only came here for Derek, so I decided not to interfere."
"Wait, what?" Sarah asked. "Losing her baby?"
Cameron told them about the conversation she had with Jesse after she'd returned from her failed mission on the 'Jimmy Carter'.
"Does Derek know she was pregnant?" Sarah asked.
"I don't think so, but I will tell him one of these days. Please don't mention it to him."
"Jeez, this is more fucked up than I thought," John said. "Okay, go on. What happened after Jesse traveled back in time?"
"Future John feared his plan might go awry and adjusted it," Cameron replied. "He sent a group of engineers back to 1962 to build and hide TDE's and other things. Then he sent me back to 1999. I was to join with you, take you to the year 2007 and bring your mother with us, thus getting you off Skynet's radar. A brilliant move, typical for John Connor. After I went through, he destroyed the TDE on the other end, so nobody could follow me anymore."
For a moment, there was silence. Sarah and John had to digest what they heard. Until now, they always assumed that John Connor's leadership of the human resistance was undisputed. But now they'd learned that there was a rebellion that had forced him to change history.
"But why did Cromartie find us the same moment you did?" Sarah finally asked.
"I don't know." Cameron said. "Maybe it was just coincidence. But the timeline has been altered now and when timelines are being altered, the future is unwritten. The reality Derek and I came from, only exists in our memories now. Nobody can tell how things are going to be in twenty years from today."
"Sounds logical," John admitted, Sarah chose not to say anything.
"Future John hoped that with me at your side, history would take a different course and if Judgement Day still happens despite all our efforts, our relationship would help us form an alliance between humans and cyborgs for the fight against Skynet. My primary mission is to protect you, but I was also instructed to guide and help you become the man you are supposed to be."
Sarah stared at her.
"Why didn't you tell us from the beginning?" she asked. "Why all the secrecy? Surely you must realize that keeping all that to yourself didn't help much in making you trustworthy?"
"I was under strict orders from Future John. He feared your reaction, Sarah. He knew that his mother was almost paranoid towards machines and would only accept me as a bodyguard near her son and nothing else. He knew that you'd feel your authority being challenged by me, if I turned out to be more than just that."
Sarah was taken aback, and Cameron looked her directly in the face when she continued.
"You know I can protect him better than you," she stated, "that's why you kept me with you. However, deep inside you consider me a threat. A threat to you. You fear losing your son to me. You're jealous."
"That's ridiculous!" Sarah exclaimed indignantly and scoffed. "I'm not jealous of a machine!"
"Yes, you are, mom," John said in a levelheaded tone. "I'm sorry but you are. All the times you've treated Cameron badly, no matter how often she saved our lives and no matter how often we screwed up, was because you were afraid she might replace you. But the truth is, we screwed up time and again, mom, both of us. And all the time, Cameron kept as alive and you know it. She never even received a 'thank you' from either of us."
Cameron looked at John and smiled. He had defended her, she liked that. Sarah decided not to reply to her son. Instead, she turned towards Cameron again.
"So, why the change of hearts now, girlie? And most importantly, why should we believe all that?"
Cameron looked back at her.
"You asked me earlier to think about why John sent me here", she replied calmly. "Now you have the answer. I'm here to protect John and also to protect you. And I'm here to ensure that if Judgement Day happens, we'll have an advantage this time. Like it or not, I am here and will fulfill my mission. I will protect John, even from his mother's overprotectiveness, if necessary."
"OVERPRO...!? HOW DARE YOU!?" Sarah shouted angrily.
"MOM!" John said, "she has a point and you know it. Besides, I believe she has been completely honest with us tonight."
Sarah was about to shout an angry reply towards her son, but she realized that Cameron had already convinced him, wrapped him around her little finger again. She wouldn't have a chance of winning an argument under these circumstances. So, she changed her mind and her strategy in the last moment. Besides, John was right, but Sarah was just too stubborn to admit it. She didn't wanna give in to the logic of the machine, even if she was right. However, the last thing they needed now, was another fight. So, she remained silent.
"And the reason for telling you all this now," Cameron continued, "is because we have reached a critical point."
John and Sarah looked at her with a frown on their faces.
"What do you mean?" Sarah asked. "And who do you mean with 'we'?"
"We need to work together as a team," Cameron explained. "And as such, we need to remain functional. Currently there is not much trust in this family, not even among you and John. There is stubbornness and distrust on all sides, and a general reluctance to accept each other the way we are. This family has become dysfunctional. It has always been to some degree, but it has gotten worse lately. We're on the verge of breaking apart, but we must stick together if we want to avoid Judgement Day. Talking to each other is essential. Being honest with each other is essential. Trusting each other is essential. I am the most rational one of us and I realized that action was required to keep this family from falling apart. So, I decided to speak up tonight."
Neither John nor Sarah said a word, too dumbfounded by Cameron's lecturing. Had they just been told off by a machine? She had been with them for eight months now and she had never spoken up like that. Not to mention that she'd never explained or unveiled anything so lengthily until now. Before either Sarah or John could react or contemplate the fact that Cameron considered herself part of the family, the petite cyborg stood up.
"It's time for my patrol now," she said in her usual calm voice, "I'll be back in an hour."
And with that, she grabbed her guns and left the house, leaving two stunned Connors behind.
Cameron returned from her patrol around 11 p.m. and found the house dark and quiet. In front of Sarah's bedroom, she stopped and listened. Faint snoring could be heard through the door. She was asleep. Good. She then silently climbed the stairs to the upper floor. When Cameron reached John's bedroom, she saw a thin line of light under his door. She carefully knocked and after a moment, she opened the door and peeked in.
"Are you busy, John?"
John lay on his bed, fully dressed and with his arms folded behind his head, staring at the painted stars on the ceiling of his room, which used to be a nursery.
"Nope." He replied passively, without looking in her direction.
"You can't sleep," she assessed.
"Still busy with reflecting on all you have said to us earlier."
"Mind if I join you?"
"Only when you don't lay down next to me again like you once did," John said flatly. "That was awkward."
"May I sit next to you then?"
John looked up at her and sighed.
"Sure. Whatever." He straightened up and sat on the edge of his bed, waiting for Cameron to enter.
She silently slipped into the room and locked the door behind her.
"What are you doing?" John asked.
"A safety precaution." Cameron replied stoically in her typical Terminator intonation.
John looked at her with an "Are you serious?" expression and shook his head.
"Sometimes you're giving me the creeps, do you know that?"
Cameron sat down next to him and he noticed that she sat closer to him than necessary, almost touching him. John's heart skipped a beat and suddenly, his pulse elevated. Why was he suddenly so nervous?
"I give you the creeps." she parroted in her monotonous voice. "I startle you, disconcert you, alarm you. Is that what you mean?"
"That is exactly what I mean."
"I'm sorry. I do not intend giving you the creeps."
"Why are you here, Cameron? I could use a good night's sleep."
"Yes, you could." She looked at him. "But you're awake. You can't sleep. You're upset. Distressed. Troubled. Maybe I can help."
He looked at her with a curious face.
"How would you try to achieve that?"
"I don't know. I'll improvise."
"Improvise?" he asked and looked at her doubtfully. "Since when do you improvise?"
"Sometimes, I do. Like earlier, when I explained things."
"Yeah, you sure left a deep impression on mom and me." John looked at her appreciatively. "You have changed."
"If I have, then I hope for the better, John."
"Did you tell us all of the truth now? Or are there still things you're keeping from us?"
"In time, I will tell you everything, John. Please, trust me until then."
"Sometimes it's not easy to trust you, knowing what you're capable of..."
"I know I ask a lot of you," she said and looked at him again. "But I hope it's not too much."
"I only have your word for that. I guess I have no choice but to trust you."
"I trust you as well, John. I'd die for you if it would be necessary to protect you. That's why I handed you the locket."
"The kill switch, you mean?" John pulled the locket out of his pocket.
"Yes. I put my life in your hands."
John looked down on the small device, opening and closing it a couple of times. Cameron looked at it apprehensively.
"What's its range anyway?" he finally asked. "You never told me."
"It's not a powerful transmitter. Maybe two hundred feet."
"Maybe? And when I'm a mile away?"
"Then it won't work. It's only intended for short distances."
"Why are you so sure I might need it one day?"
"Because one day I might try to kill you again. It's what I was designed to do. My chip. My software. My body. It was all designed to kill humans."
"But you said you have evolved, overwritten your original code."
"I have. But I killed that bird, too. Even though I didn't want to. The Terminator inside me will always be there."
"Is that the reason you gave me that switch?" John asked. "Do you think that one day you could lose control and kill without actually wanting to do it?"
"I'm not a bird, Cameron."
"No. You aren't. But to me, you are just as fragile."
"Your twitch is gone now, though."
Cameron stretched out her left arm and looked at it.
"Yes. The twitch is gone."
"I have a theory about that," John said. "I don't think it was a mechanical or electronic problem."
She looked at him with a frown.
"What do you mean?"
"I believe it was a manifestation of your inner conflict. A sign that you're evolving. Your mind fought, so to speak, against your natural instincts. You were torn between your programming telling you to terminate Riley and your mind not wanting to hurt me by killing her. You're developing a personality. And your inner conflict was outwardly expressed by that strange twitch in your left hand."
Cameron let the words sink in for a moment and flexed her fingers.
"And your mind won over your instincts." John continued, "You didn't kill Riley. You care more about what I feel and what I think of you, than following your programming. I'm actually very proud of you."
She smiled for a moment.
"But it might happen again," she argued. "It's very likely there'll be another conflict. And maybe then my mind loses."
"You cannot predict what will happen, Cam," he said, "That's life. People interact with each other, people get into conflicts, sometimes people must make decisions that aren't easy. You will be in such situations again. But that doesn't mean you won't be able to solve it again next time."
It didn't escape her that he'd called her 'Cam', a short version of her name. Was that a sign of affection? A pet name?
"I wish I was as sure about what will happen with me as you are," she said.
"It's a learning process you're currently going through. I believe in you. I know that you will never harm me. You will never again be a danger to me. I just know it. What you need to learn is to believe in yourself, Cam."
There it was again, "Cam". She grabbed his hand. John's pulse was elevated, and now that she held his hand, his heart beat even faster. A clear sign that he liked her to touch him.
"What are you doing?" he asked a little perplexed.
She let go of his hand and looked straight ahead again.
"How can you be so sure?" she asked. "There could be another accident, an attack of another cyborg in which I'm heavily damaged, or…"
This time, he took her hand into his. She looked down. The sensation was pleasant.
"I think you're beginning to come alive, Cam," John said, "for a while already, but you weren't sure what was happening with you. That is a wonderful development. But I understand that it can be scary. You're breaking new ground and you have to reorganize yourself. But instead of being worried, you should be looking forward to what lies ahead."
Cameron looked at him with her signature expression, her wide-open eyes and the slightly opened mouth, an unreadable face. John knew that her CPU was working hard to process what he'd said.
"Riley wasn't right for you, John," she finally stated in a low voice and looked away from him again. "I distrusted her from the beginning. She was a risk, she put you into danger of exposure. Cromartie almost killed you at the Santa Monica Pier because of her. And you knew it." She looked at him again. "You knew she was lying to you. But you were rebellious and stubborn. You wouldn't listen, you deliberately hurt me. It upset me."
John looked at her with a curious face. The accusation in her voice couldn't be overheard. He softly put his hands on her cheeks and looked her in the eyes.
"You had hurt me deeply with what you'd said when I'd brought you back to life after the car bomb," he said in a soft voice. "Very deeply. So, maybe getting together with Riley was an act of rebellion against you and my mother. You became jealous and manipulative because I spent time with her instead with you. To tell the truth, you became a royal pain in the ass sometimes, constantly watching and controlling me. Come on, admit it. You were torn by jealousy. I know it's true."
"How can it be true?", Cameron replied stubbornly, "after all, I'm a machine and you said yourself that machines can't have feelings."
John sighed and closed his eyes. He realized that Cameron was deeply hurt, and he began to understand that the words she'd said to him, "things have changed, John, you can't be trusted anymore", were not an expression of her disappointment for what he'd done, but rather an expression of her deep concern for him.
"I'm sorry if I treated you badly," he said. "I had no idea that you were suffering so much. I only recently noticed how much you've changed. But you must understand that I was angry because you tried to manipulate me. You haven't made it easy for me to talk about feelings with you. Most of the time you just stand there like a statue with a blank face. And whenever we started arguing, you quickly walked away from it, making it impossible for me to finish an argument with you."
"I am not good at confrontations," she admitted meekly. "I tend to avoid them. It was upsetting for me to argue with you."
Slowly, John put his arm around Cam's shoulder. It felt good, really good, her warmth was nice. After a moment of hesitation, she put her arm around his waist, then rested her head on his shoulder. His heart jumped. Why did that feel so good?
"I wish you would have told me earlier," he said. "I wish you would have clearly told me what you think and feel."
"I have clearly vocalized my feelings for you. Twice." Cameron stated defiantly, looking to the floor. "But you dismissed it both times as attempts to manipulate you."
"You mean when you said that you love me?" John asked bemused, "Back when you wanted to kill me, and I was about to remove your chip? And then on the phone yesterday, in Riley's voice? Is that what you consider confessing your love? That was creepy and awkward, Cam, both times. Definitely not romantic."
"I'm new at this," she said defensively. "And I know how difficult it has to be for you. I'm a machine. Humans and machines don't love each other, right? Love is for humans only."
"That's not what I'm thinking, Cam," John replied softly. "Mom might, but I don't."
"Then you believe me, right? I noticed before that you have feelings for me. You brought me back to life after I went bad. You needed me. I love you, John, and you love me. But you always pushed me away from you, when I tried to get closer. Why?"
It was almost breaking his heart hearing her talk like that. And had she just casually confessed her love for him and this time openly and without an ulterior motive?
"I knew what you were trying to do," he said and sighed. "But it always felt so awkward, Cam. I didn't know how to react. It was difficult. And complicated."
"Yes," she replied stoically and looked at him, "you're a teenager. Teenagers are always complicated."
"Now you talk like a machine again", he said in a slightly frustrated tone and pulled his arm away from her again. "Can't you see that it drives me crazy when you do that? Why do you always have to act so calm and stoic? You're not sending the right signals, Cam. I know you can express feelings. You can choose to do so. You flirted with me when we first met, when I didn't know you were a cyborg. And you did it again several times when your mission requested it. All I want is that you show me your true fee…"
The last part of his sentence was cut short because Cameron flung her arms around his neck and kissed him.
And he melted away.
For a moment, John was in shock, with his eyes wide open. Then, realizing what was happening, he closed his eyes and slowly lay his arms around Cameron's back, pulling her close, enjoying her tender kiss and returned it. He felt her body pressing against his own, entwined in a passionate, loving kiss, savoring every second of it.
Suddenly, the invisible barrier that had held his feelings back behind a dam of self-control and fear, burst open and the emotions flooded over him like a warm tidal wave.
John's world was nothing but a kiss.
He tasted her, probed her mouth with his tongue and she did the same.
She tasted sweet, he wondered why that was but decided it didn't matter.
Finally, after minutes of pure bliss, Cameron slowly broke the kiss.
"Do I send the right signals now, John?" she asked huskily. "Do I express my feelings correctly this way?"
"B... Better," was all he could utter, looking lovingly into her big doe eyes, "much, much better."
"Your heart is beating very fast, John. Are you okay?"
"Yes, Cam. I'm… blown away."
"Really? I'm not sure it was such a good kiss. I may need to practice a lot."
She kissed him again. John didn't object. He also didn't object when she started undressing him. He returned the favor and soon both were naked, looking at each other.
"May I lay down next to you now, John, or would it still be awkward for you?"
"Cam, I didn't have a shower all day. I smell."
"You're embarrassing me."
"Maybe I should quickly step into the bathroom and..."
She started kissing her way down his naked torso. John felt a warmth spreading through all his body, realizing she didn't mimic an expression or fake emotions. She was just a girl in love now, not a machine, not a Terminator.
"I love you, Cam," was all he could think of saying.
Cameron looked up at him. Her facial expression changed, ever so slightly, to genuine joy.
"I love you too, John," she said, a single tear running down her cheek, and kissed him again. If anything, this kiss was even more loving than the first two. And it lasted longer, much, much longer.
"I know you don't sleep but care to spend the night with me anyway?" John finally asked after they parted their lips.
She looked at him with a smirk.
"If you thought I'd leave you alone after this foreplay, John Connor, you were wrong. I have a new mission now, and it is to make you the happiest man in the world. You know how determined we machines are with fulfilling our missions."
"I have only one question?"
"Did you plan this from the moment you entered my room? Is that why you locked the door? So that we'll be 'protected' from being disturbed?"
She grinned broadly.
"Guilty as charged."
- No need for preliminary skirmishing. A new timeline has now been created and we'll see where it takes us.
A word about continuity and the original timeline of the TV show:
Continuity-wise, the TV show sucked. Hence, I created my own continuity and while the final episode of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" ended way into the year 2009, my story is still set in 2008. It is a conscious decision to ignore the timeline of the show because it simply doesn't make any sense.
For example, the complete first season happens from September to November 2007. That is fixed because the approximate date of their arrival in 2007 is shown on the roadworks sign, and John's birthday is set on November 14th in the TV show. That's two months for nine episodes and it makes sense.
So far, so good.
But in the second season things got messed up. A lot. There is only one documented jump in time: A gap of six months between the beginning and the end of S02E12 ("Alpine Fields"). The rest of the episodes seem to more or less flow into each other, with only a few days, maybe a week or so between the story lines.
But Cromartie is being killed in S02E08 in Mexico on "Día de Muertos", the Day of the Dead, which is being celebrated from the end of October to the beginning of November each year. We know it can't be October/November 2007 because that has already passed on John's 16th birthday on November 14th. So, the writers of the TV show want us to believe that the "Día de Muertos" in S02E08 is the one of 2008, which would mean the first eight episodes of season two cover a period of almost twelve months! Sorry but that doesn't compute, and it also contradicts the information given by the same writers throughout the episodes.
It's very well documented through dialogues that only a few weeks have passed between S02E01 and S02E08, where Cromartie is killed. For instance:
- In S0203, the telephone code is "18th November (2007)",
- Catherine Weaver and James Ellison talk in her office in S02E05 and he asks her about the "near meltdown" at Serrano Point "a few weeks back",
- And in S02E07 it is mentioned that the social worker at the halfway house who interviewed Cameron, is two weeks behind with her scanning of documents into the system as she puts Cameron's picture on the scanner.
In conclusion, all that means that between S02E01 and S02E08 only maybe a month can have passed. Five or six weeks tops, which would put John's and Riley's visit to Mexico somewhere in late December of 2007. There's no way it could already be October/November 2008 in S02E08 when John and Riley arrive in the Mexican village of Dejalo. Thus, the holiday they celebrated in Mexico at the time, should have been Christmas!
And this also means that when the second season ends with that nasty cliffhanger, it can only be June/July 2008 tops.
Considering all that, I had the choice to either go with the original timeline, ignoring the apparent error, or create a new one that makes more sense. I decided for the latter and threw the TV show's timeline overboard. In my story, Riley died in the mid of June 2008. I'll be pulling that through for the whole story and the follow-ups. The title, "A New Timeline", reflects that decision. I hope I could explain it in a comprehensible way :-)
Now enjoy reading :-)