"You should not be leaving."
John froze, one foot dangling out his window, one foot still planted firmly on his chair. He turned slightly to see Cameron standing in his doorway.
"Damn it, I thought I locked that," he mumbled.
The machine glanced at the door knob then back at John. "You did," she said matter-of-factly.
John grimaced. "We'll talk about your invasion of my privacy later; right now I have to go before my mom finds out."
"But you should not be leaving. It could be very dangerous."
"You're going to tell on me, aren't you?"
Cameron just looked at him.
"Fine," he said, and he could have sworn she smiled slightly, perhaps happy that she had won. "Fine, you're coming with me." He made sure to say it as a command, so that she would have to listen.
"Come on," he said. "Shut the door behind you and let's get going."
"John, Cameron, what are you doing here?"
Now that he was here, standing on her porch John didn't really know what to say. And it didn't help that she was holding an infant in her arms.
"John?" Amy said again.
He cleared his throat. "I wanted to talk to you about something, but I've realized it can wait."
"No, it's fine, come in." She ushered John and Cameron into her living room. "Dan," she called.
A man entered from the kitchen.
"John, Cameron, this is my fiancé, Dan, and our daughter, Sarah."
John was already feeling uncomfortable, but froze when he heard the little girl's name.
"Will you take her and put her down?" Amy asked her husband.
Dan nodded, scooped the girl into his arms and left the room. Amy sat down across from John.
"So what's on your mind?"
John had no idea what to say. He shouldn't be here, he knew that now. He couldn't tell her, and he now had no excuse for why he had come.
"You know what, it's really not that important."
Amy sighed. "John, I know what it's like to want to ask something but be afraid to. So I'll tell you what. Ask your question, and I promise I'll answer, and I won't even ask why you want to know. How's that?"
John looked away to buy himself a little time, he still didn't quite know what to ask her. And then his eyes fell on the picture behind her. A cute, happy family in a picture clearly taken in one of those little photo studios inside a grocery store. John sighed as he looked at a much younger version of his mother, before stress and terror and changed her so much. She could have been happy there, John knew.
He turned back to Amy and knew what he was going to ask.
"I wanted to know about your family." He nodded toward the picture.
"Oh." Amy smiled, but it was a sad smile. She leaned across the back of the chair and picked up the photo. She handed it to John and smiled again. "That's me when I was two or so, my father George, my mother Sarah and my brother John. He was a year older than me."
"It's a beautiful picture," said John, handing it back.
Amy nodded. "Yeah, it is." She sighed again. "We were a happy family, or so I've been told. My mother left us before I even turned three; she took my brother with her. It took me awhile to fully understand what had happened. My father told me that she left to protect us."
John took a sharp breath, maybe he wouldn't need to tell her. Maybe she already knew.
Amy shook her head. "He told me that there were people chasing my mother and brother. Bad people who wanted to hurt them. I tried to grasp what a three-year-old boy could possibly have done to warrant being chased down like an animal, but my father assured me that they had done nothing wrong; the people chasing them were just ruthless.
"When I turned ten my mom sent me a birthday card with a long letter inside. She said much the same as my father had, told me that leaving was the hardest thing she'd ever had to do, and that she and my brother loved me and missed me very much." Amy sighed again, and this time there were tears in her eyes.
"You know what, that's fine," said John. "You don't have to keep going, I'm sorry I asked."
Amy laughed. "Will you stop that? It's ok, I haven't spoken about this in awhile and I realize now that I have to."
John nodded. "Ok."
Amy nodded too and cleared her throat. "Right, well, when I was fourteen I remember coming home from school one day and finding my dad sitting in the living room watching the news…and sobbing."
John knew what was coming.
"My dad sat me down and told me that it was over. I had no idea what he was talking about at first. Then he told me that my mother and brother were dead. Just like that. He told me that the people who were chasing them had finally caught them, and they had died in a bank explosion. It was hard, mourning someone I had never really known, but I managed." She sighed again, but when she continued speaking it was happier.
"When Dan and I found out we were having a girl I knew I had to name her after my mother. I couldn't name her anything else. And when I met you John, well, you reminded me of my brother, what I can remember of him. I guess that's why I've taken such an interest in you." She laughed. "You know I haven't told anyone about my family since I met Dan."
She looked at John more closely. "I hope that answered your question."
John shifted uncomfortably and exchanged a glance with Cameron. "Yeah, well, I just, you know…" he tried to form a coherent sentence that would explain why he had asked her about her family.
"John," she said, cutting him off. "I told you I wouldn't ask why, and I meant it. It's really ok." She smiled at him again and he couldn't help but smile back.
He glanced around her quaint little living room, the photos of his niece, of their cute little family, and his face fell.
"Well, we really should get going," he said, glancing at Cameron again. "Sorry to interrupt your evening."
Amy rose to walk them to the door. "It's fine. See you at school."
John nodded. "Yeah, at school."
The door closed behind them and John pulled his picture from his pocket, staring at the two little children, so happy at the playground.
"Why did you not tell her who you are?" Cameron asked. "Is that not why we came here?"
John shook his head and started to walk away from the house. "You wouldn't understand."
"Please explain it to me."
John smiled slyly at her. Damn that curiosity of hers. His face became serious again as he pondered it. "My mother left her for a reason," John finally said. "And I understand that now. I've been doomed to a life of running and subsequently so has she. But it's not right for us to drag anyone else into this mess." He looked at the picture again before tucking it back in his pocket. "Sometimes it's just best to forget."
"Is it really that easy to forget something?" she asked.
John marveled at the robot. Sometimes she had this eerie insight into his mind.
"No, it's not that easy. If I could just throw a switch in my brain believe me I would. And I'll never truly forget. I'll always know that there was something I lost, and that's what will keep me going. If I want to save Amy from disaster, save her family, I have to stop things like you from ever being created."
Cameron cocked her head to the side in that catlike way she had. "Sometimes we must forget…in order to remember?"
John smiled and nodded. "I couldn't have put it better myself."