Cameron doesn't know how he stumbled into this conversation between Rachel and Nina, but-- "Ah, come on, Rach." She looks at him but doesn't look like she trusts his smile. "Kissing's not so bad."
"It is when you can see everything, and all the--" Rachel shakes her head, her nose scrunching up and her mouth twisting like she's eaten something pretty bad. "The germs, okay? Do you know how much bacteria the human mouth contains? And some people don't--" She shakes her head again and shudders.
Cameron would laugh, but Rachel's so earnest about her disgust that he's wondering if he should do a breath check. While he's lost in thought, it's Nina who's laughing.
"Okay, see? I know what the problem is now. You're turning on the wrong senses for kissing. It's not about seeing."
"Now wait a minute," Cameron says. "It's not all about touching either."
Rachel sighs at them both and clutches her coffee mug a little too tightly. "I tried that, you guys, but it's-- It's just too much."
Cameron's not sure why he thinks about that conversation now when Rachel's dying from whatever Mrs. Elkhart did to her. Made her fall in love. Or believe it enough that it felt like the real thing. It's kind of confusing when Dr. Rosen is trying to explain it at the same time that he's telling Rachel that he loves her and telling the rest of the team that they need to touch her and do the same.
Even though he's been given a script, Cameron's not sure what to say or if holding Rachel's hand as she gasps, "I need her," is going to help much at all.
He gives, I love you, a silent try.
It's only coincidence when Dr. Rosen says, "It's working."
He thinks about that conversation again when he and Nina get whammied by Jonas' alpha ability. Or more like, he thinks about it after Dr. Rosen saves them.
"It wasn't real," Dr. Rosen says during one of their chats.
"Yeah," Cameron says. Which means turning his life around wasn't real either.
Or the way he'd loved Nina.
Or thought he had.
"I hated it," Nina says, shuddering delicately. "If that's what it feels like when I push people." She cuts a hand through the air like she's done with all of it. They're all sort of heading down that path, and Dr. Rosen's plan is only going to slam home the nail.
"Push me, and I can tell ya," Cameron says, but he's kidding.
Nina seems to know it and kicks his shin. "Ha, ha, Mr. Funny Man. I'm not joking. That was awful."
"I don't know," Rachel says, careful and quiet. "When Ms. Elkhart used her alpha ability on me, it felt … " She lowers her head and almost smiles, but the slant to her lips doesn't quite make it there as she ends with, "Nice."
"Nice?" Nina scoffs. "Rachel, she nearly killed you."
"I know. I know, but." Rachel squeezes her coffee cup, lifting it off the table and holding it close to her chest. "I felt loved. I felt like …" Rachel looks sad as she searches for what to say, and Cameron quietly offers, Safe. "Like everything was going to be okay."
He can relate to that answer, too.
"So." Nina perches on the edge of his desk later that afternoon. "I noticed that you never answered your own question."
Cameron tosses up his baseball. "I didn't?"
"You know you didn't, Cameron. Come on." Nina leans across the table and meets his eyes. He's not worried about getting pushed, though. "You can tell me. How did it feel when Jonas brainwashed us?"
The baseball thunks against the ceiling, ricochets into the wall, and shoots back into his hand. "I know I've never felt happier."
"I couldn't--" Rachel waves a hand toward the door. "I couldn't help but overhear while you and Nina--"
"Hey, it's all right." Cameron shrugs. "You were eavesdropping and."
He grins, but Rachel's staring too hard at the floor, lips parting like she's going to argue. Or more like talk her way out of it. Whatever she decides, it ends with her shaking her head and, "I'm sorry."
"No big deal, Rach. So you overheard and what?"
"That's how I felt, too," she says softly, and looks at him. Cameron sets down the baseball. "Do you ever think … ?"
She trails off, and the question's so vague that Cameron can ask a million more himself. He's not sure what he's answering when he stands and walks over to her.
"Nah." He hesitates, at first, and watches her face. She's looking at his hand but doesn't stop him when he touches her forearm, coasting his fingers up to her elbow. "It would have been too much, you know?"
Which is ten times better than 'it wasn't real,' in Cameron's opinion. 'Cause what they can do -- and what others can do to them (like fall in love) -- it's real.
Trembling, Rachel shuts her eyes and whispers, "Yeah."