All these years of fighting terminators, doctors, the police… none of them could have prepared Sarah for the daily battle of raising a moody, hormonal, future leader of mankind. She snorted without humor at the thought as she stooped to retrieve the drill John had dropped. Vaguely aware of Cameron’s lingering presence behind her, watching her every move as always, Sarah chose to ignore her.
“You’re only doing what’s best for him,” Cameron said.
“What’s best?” Sarah stared down at the drill for a moment before she set it on the accent table. “Am I?” Turning her head, she looked over her shoulder at Cameron. “How would you know?”
Cameron stepped closer, her gaze on Sarah’s distressed features. “You’re trying to protect him. Until now you’ve never really had to protect him from himself.”
Sarah turned to look at Cameron fully. “How can I blame him? Who in the hell would chose this future?”
“The future chose him,” Cameron replied. “This is the way it must be.”
“Not if I have anything to say about it.” Sarah brushed past the terminator and headed for the kitchen. “John can hate me for the rest of time if he wants to, but I’m going to keep him safe until I’m not here to do that anymore.”
Cameron followed. “You said that to John earlier.”
“Said what?” Sarah jerked open the fridge door and grabbed one of Derek’s beers. She used her shirt to twist off the cap, and then took a long, slow drag on the bottle as Cameron watched.
“That you would protect him for as long as you were here.”
Sarah’s gaze dropped as she studied the bottle in her hands.
“You meant the cancer, didn’t you?” Cameron asked.
Sarah swallowed once. Twice. She set the bottle on the counter and lifted her green gaze to glare at the terminator. She knew her eyes had to be shining with tears. She could feel them burning, brimming on the edge without spilling over. “It doesn’t matter.”
“You don’t know that you’ll die that way now."
Sarah laughed bitterly. “True. You could get another screw loose tomorrow and blow my head off.” Snatching the beer from the counter, Sarah headed for the back porch. She could feel Cameron following but she didn’t bother to hold the door open. She merely let the screen snap back and cut off the terminator’s path temporarily. It was a childish thing to do, but Sarah felt satisfied by the slap of the door against the wood frame. A moment later, the door creaked open, and Cameron appeared just as Sarah settled in a chair and looked out over the backyard.
“I don’t have screws,” Cameron stated simply.
“Screws, bolts… whatever holds you together, Tin Miss.” Sarah looked up at Cameron, not sure what to do with the curious look the terminator was giving her. Sarah tilted her head. “Why did you follow me out here?”
“It bothers me. You talking about not being here.”
The idea of a machine being bothered by anything was something Sarah was in no state of mind to think about. She hesitated briefly before following through with a sip of her beer. “Why?”
“I don’t like the thought of you dying. Of me not being able to prevent it.”
Sarah regarded the semblance of a girl in the fading sunlight. She had to remind herself that the beautiful, angelic face she was looking at now was attached to the hand and fingers that had pulled the trigger on three men earlier today. “I got news for you, girlie. Just because you jumped us forward in time won’t keep me from getting sick.”
“I know.” Cameron’s voice was quiet and almost sounded a touch fearful. “But if there was a catalyst for it before…”
“Cancer is cancer, Cameron.” Sarah swallowed another mouthful of beer. “Nothing has changed. If I was going to get it then, I’m probably going to get it now.”
“But now you know to watch for it,” Cameron argued. “To get tested. You didn’t know that before.”
Sarah looked out at the setting sun. “It just feels… inevitable,” she confessed. “Like no matter what I do, my fate is always the same. His fate is always the same.”
Cameron pulled out a chair and sat down next to the woman. Sarah gave her a look, surprised that Cameron would choose to sit, for one, and two, that the terminator would sit right next to her. “What?” Sarah asked unnerved by Cameron's... concern.
“I can test you.”
“Test me?” Sarah hiked an eyebrow.
“Once a week. Once a day, if you’d like.”
“What are you talking about?” Sarah sucked in a surprised breath when Cameron reached across and took one of her hands gently in the terminator’s own.
“I could analyze your blood. Make sure there are no signs.”
Sarah frowned as she gazed down at their hands linked together. Cameron’s fingers were long and narrow, and the girl’s thumb was easing across the back of Sarah’s knuckles in a soothing gesture that was having an opposite effect on the older woman. Sarah felt her body warming, and her physical reaction made her angry, even as Cameron’s words peaked her curiosity. “You mean like a diabetic or something?”
“Yes. I could take a small drop of your blood, analyze it for any impurities.”
Impurities. The word gave Sarah a chill. “There is no way you can determine if I have cancer from a drop of my blood.”
“You’re basing that assumption on modern medicine. “
Sarah looked at their hands again. “You could catch it at the beginning?” Her voice wavered slightly, and she cursed herself for the weakness, for the fear of an enemy from within taking her away from John.
“Yes.” Cameron looked down at their joined hands. “And if worse comes to worse…” She looked back up at Sarah. “I’ve already compiled a list of over 400 bone marrow matches for you.”
Sarah blinked. “You can’t just walk up to a total stranger and demand their marrow, Cameron.” She was surprised and a little touched that Cameron had gone to so much trouble for her. That the terminator was even thinking of ways to take care of her. The last thought made Sarah’s heart lurch a little as she looked up into those angelic features again. She swallowed.
“I will do whatever I have to do to save you."
“Did future John order you to do that?”
Cameron tilted her head. “No. I chose that mission after I met you.”
Sarah’s voice was hoarse when she spoke. “Why?”
“I don’t want you to die.”
Sarah slowly withdrew her hand and pushed to her feet. Something had shifted between them when Cameron had taken her hand, and Sarah couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was. She only knew that Cameron looked different to her now. She looked liked a beautiful woman and less like a threat. The thought was terrifying.
“I would… appreciate the test,” Sarah confessed. “Once a week would be good.”
“Okay,” Cameron answered simply.
“Thank you,” Sarah managed to get out, although it was difficult to thank a terminator for anything. Without another word, Sarah retreated into the house.
Cameron waited a moment, her brown eyes fixed on the back door, before her gaze slowly lifted and met the shining eyes of John Connor as he stared down at her from his open window. She tilted her head, a silent question.
John nodded, and then wiped at his eyes before moving away.
Cameron turned her head and looked out over the yard. The setting sun was a sight to behold, and she took it in, hoping that she’d managed to bring a temporary measure of peace to the two troubled minds inside.
They were her family, even if they didn’t feel the same way, and she didn’t want them to hurt - ever.