John opened his eyes and smelled pancakes. Not that waking to the smell of pancakes was at all strange for him. More days than not, pancakes were the first meal of the day in the Connor household. Though Sarah wasn’t really motherly in the traditional sense, the one maternal thing she prided herself on was breakfast, and pancakes were just about the only breakfast food she could manage to make taste like food.
He rolled over in bed, pulled the covers over his head and groaned trying to think of how he was going to choke down yet another stack of Sarah’s pancakes with a smile on his face. He wouldn’t even have Derek there to help distract her since he was off in Mexico making some sort of deal to restock their grenade supply. He was on his own with no good excuse to refuse breakfast, not like her. In that, he envied the hell out of Cameron.
Throwing the sheets back, John finally got up and showered quickly. He was headed down the stairs in minutes, and when he walked into the kitchen he almost said “morning, Mom” to the back of the figure standing at the stove before registering that the woman flipping the pancakes was wearing incredibly short shorts and a purple leather jacket.
“Where’s Mom?” was all he could manage to say before sitting down at the table with a thud. There was already a plate piled precariously high with pancakes sitting on the table in front of him, but when Cameron finally turned around, she was holding an identical plate.
“Sarah is at the sleep clinic. We checked her in last night,” she said as she set the second plate on the table. Cameron stood in place near the table and simply looked at him with slightly narrowed eyes before cocking her head to the left.
“Try these,” she said sliding the second plate towards him. “They’re warmer.” She smiled, and John just couldn’t help it, he had to laugh.
“Who’s gonna eat all of these anyway?” he tried to sound gruff, but he was smiling and shaking his head. “Did you invite the whole neighborhood over for breakfast?”
“That would be counterproductive as these would not be near the amount required to feed everyone in the neighborhood.” He stopped laughing and just looked at her blank face. “I made these for you.”
“Thank you, Cameron.” She smiled at him again and John poured syrup on the stack in front of him with a sigh. It seemed that she wasn’t going to be satisfied with a thank you, and, much like Sarah, was going to stand there and watch him eat. He cut a bite, held it up with his fork, and smiled as convincingly as he could at her before taking a bite.
“Mmm, these are,” he spoke around the chewing, “um, actually really good.” And they were good. Better than Sarah’s had ever been. Was this what pancakes were supposed to taste like, he thought a little guiltily. “Really, these are excellent!” He quickly finished half the stack before Cameron turned back to the stove and started cleaning up.
“Can we have pancakes again tomorrow?” he asked with the childish smile and wide eyes that never actually worked on Sarah when he wanted something as a child.
“Of course,” was all she said before leaving the room. John did his best to eat the rest of the stack, but got up a few moments later to get a glass of milk.
That’s when he heard a man’s voice yell something from the back yard. He froze and looked around for Cameron, but she was nowhere in sight. He made a split second decision not to call out for his metal bodyguard but to grab the gun in the kitchen drawer. Gun in hand, he crept to the back door slowly and listened.
There was the voice again. It sounded like the man was speaking Spanish, but he couldn’t make out the words. He inched over to the window and looked out to see three men loading some plastic sheeting onto a truck. They were in the truck within moments and driving away from the house.
John put the gun in front of him and stepped out the back door to survey the yard. No one else was there. His truck was where it was supposed to be and the yard seemed intact. Everything looked normal. Almost everything.
His next decision was easy. Keeping the gun in his hand, John barreled up the stairs and ran down the hallway to the room Cameron used. He went through the closed door without hesitation and looked quickly around the empty room before yelling, “Cameron!”
“Yes?” he heard from the bathroom across the hall, and with the sound of running water, he realized she was in the shower. John hurried into the hall and stood in front of the bathroom door.
“Is there a reason a hot tub is in the back yard?” he yelled. The water cut off abruptly and John heard sounds of movement from within. So he was going to wait. What other choice did he have? The door frame was not kind to his shoulder, but Cameron emerged less than three minutes later in another pair of shorts, her purple jacket over a tank top and wearing boots. She looked perfect. Not a hair out of place, not an eyelash uncurled.
John straightened up and stepped back into the hall. He coughed. “Hot tub?”
“There was a sale.” She smiled and walked past his gaping face. For a few moments he simply stood there watching her walk away. When she got to the end of the hall, she started down the stairs and he unfroze.
“A sale?” he asked as he caught her on the stairs. “Mom will never go for that. What am I talking about? Mom never goes for anything!” He rubbed his forehead nervously. “A sale! She’s going to kill us. Heh! She’s going to kill you! Just when you guys were starting to agree on things.” He had followed her to the back door by now, and she stepped outside for a moment before coming back inside. She looked at him and sort of shrugged before turning around to walk back towards the kitchen.
He would never understand why she did the things she did. Ever. But at least this time it was all her and he couldn’t possibly get any of the blame, right? Maybe his mom would be too preoccupied with the three dots to even notice the hot tub was there. All he could do was shake his head and smile.
A few of hours later, Cameron found John in the garage cleaning a gun. “It’s one o’clock. Would you like lunch?”
“You don’t have to make me food,” he said putting down the rifle. “I was thinking about going out for a sandwich anyway.” He started to disassemble the gun but noticed Cameron wasn’t leaving. She just stood there watching him.
“Really, you don’t have to worry about it. I can feed myself.” He took the keys to the truck out of his pocket and held them up. “See? I’m going now.” He walked over to the truck, got in and started it up. Was she going to do this all weekend? Did she think he needed 24 hour care and protection? This was going to be worse than living with Sarah, he thought.
He buckled his seat belt and looked up to find her sitting in the passenger seat. “I call shot gun.”
“No, I’m telling you,” John said laughing, “that guy annoyed the crap out of everyone in the place. He went from table to table sitting down with everyone and talking to them like he was their best friend.” He walked back up to the house with Cameron by his side and a bag in hand. “Amazing sandwiches though. I guess the food is worth putting up with that irritating owner.” She wasn’t laughing with him, he didn’t expect her to, but she always listened and smiled when he did.
They made it into the house and to the kitchen table, and Cameron sat watching John as he ate. “I took Riley there once a couple months ago and that guy wasn’t there. Must have been his day off.” She frowned at him and he looked away from her quickly. She always got that look on her face when he mentioned Riley, and he was learning just not to say anything about her.
“What’s it like to be annoyed? Does it make you want to hurt the person annoying you?” John coughed and almost chocked on the bite he was swallowing.
“No! No, if someone is annoying it’s not like being mad at them. Annoyance is too petty of a feeling for that. Like a lesser version of anger. If violent anger is a ten, then annoyance would be a one. You get it?”
“Thank you for explaining.” She got up and he heard her on the stairs a few moments later.
Two hours of couch sitting and Law and Order reruns were starting to make him believe all criminals are idiots and that Cameron would probably make the scariest cop on the planet. Imagining her in aviators and a uniform that was just a bit too tight almost kept him from hearing his phone ring.
It was Sarah checking up on him, and when she asked about Cameron he realized he hadn’t seen her all afternoon. He chatted with Sarah about her roommate and tried to calm a few of her fears. Just as he was about to get up and look for Cameron, he heard her coming down the stairs.
“Don’t worry, Mom. She hasn’t killed anyone yet. In fact, she made me, uh,” John stopped mid-sentence as Cameron crossed in front of him shedding her purple jacket and dropping it on the floor in front of him to reveal that practically see through tank top and those shorts that violated the dress code at their old school. “Um, breakfast. She made pancakes, Mom.” He swallowed hard and watched her walk out of the room. “Gotta go, Mom.”
He sat back down on the couch and steeled himself as he heard her coming back into the room. Determined to look at the floor or his hands or anything but her, he caught a splash of hot pink out of the corner of his eye and all was lost. She walked towards him in what he could only describe as lacy hot pink panties and a matching bra. He stared. It was blatant and he was pretty sure his mouth was hanging open. Was that some sort of sheer material on the bra? And was she wearing heels? She wasn’t wearing heels a minute ago.
He looked down and tried to think about dirt and Nicholas Cage. Oh how he loathed Nicholas Cage. But he was looking at her feet in a pair of black stilettos. She was standing in front of him, and he couldn’t help but look slowly – and pausing in certain places – from her feet to her face. He felt quite proud he was able to hold his gaze on her eyes until she spoke.
“Shirt.” Holding out her hand, she simply stared at him.
“What?” he whispered, and then tried again. “What?” This time it came out a squeak.
“And pants.” He gulped.
“Why?” He couldn’t believe he just asked that.
“It’s laundry day. I need all the laundry,” and she shook her outstretched hand at him.
“Not the clothes I’m wearing,” he said putting his hands on each opposite shoulder. He was a colossal idiot. It was official. A beautiful girl, well sort of, stands in front of you in her underwear asking for your clothes and the proper response every time is to give them to her. No questions asked.
She leaned over him and he put his hands on the cushions of the couch and gripped hard for dear life. It was getting difficult for him to breathe as she touched his shoulder and began to pull upward on his shirt. This time he didn’t protest, he just froze as she leaned in, her hair brushing his face and her lips inches away from his neck. She hovered there for mere seconds, but everything stopped for John and it was all he could do to sit still. She inhaled and was standing up in front of him again, her hair not touching his face, her fingers not gripping his shirt, her breath not on his neck.
“Your clothing is clean enough.” And she click, click, clicked out of the room.
It was a long cold shower, and John was sure he still felt her breath on his neck. He stepped out of the tub shivering and wrapped a towel low around his waist. The face he saw in the mirror looked almost shell-shocked and his hands ran back and forth over his hair. He smacked his cheeks and looked directly into his own eyes. “Get it together, Connor.” He took a deep breath and let it out before turning around to find that his clothes were missing. Panic took him for exactly five seconds.
“She’s just a robot. Who could kill you,” he whispered to himself. Moments later he was at the door listening for any sounds of his mechanical bodyguard coming down the hallway, and before he could think anymore he decided to just make a run for it to his room. Taking a breath, listening again and hearing nothing, he threw open the bathroom door and prepared to run.
“Yahhhh!” Cameron was standing just on the other side of the door still in her pink knickers and heels, and John stood there in the doorway looking at her with wide eyes.
“I put your clothes in the wash since you weren’t using them.”
“You came into the bathroom while I was showering?” He was incredulous, which he registered as ridiculous almost immediately.
“Yes.” She tilted her head to the right and swept her eyes from John’s face down his torso to the towel around his waist. He jumped when she reached out and put her hand around his right arm. “The muscle mass in your arms has increased 11% over the last month.”
John reddened and suddenly looked angry as she let go of his arm. “I need my clothes.”
“I left a pair of boxer shorts on your bed.” She let him brush past her and go down the hall to his room. When he opened the door ten minutes later clad only in the boxers Cameron had spared from the wash, he expected her to be standing outside the door like she had been after his shower, but she wasn’t. He put his head out into the hall and looked back and forth to see she was nowhere to be found. The door to her room was shut and he was instantly relieved.
It was easy for him to walk down stairs with confidence, that is until a familiar smell hit his nostrils. By the time he walked into the kitchen, the aroma had triggered an odd interplay of emotions about both his mother and his metal fake sister that sort of freaked him out, but when Cameron turned around holding a plate of those delicious pancakes of hers he knew he would never associate his mother with the smell of pancakes ever again. The image of Cameron wearing the tiniest black panties he had ever seen, a matching black bra that had some sort of pretty design on it that he just couldn’t seem to focus on, and those same heels would forever pop into his head when he so much as caught a whiff of a stack of pancakes.
“Hungry?” she asked holding the plate out to him. Suddenly, he was ravenous.
“Okay, I agree. This was the best idea ever,” John said just before ducking under the bubbly water in the new hot tub. He came roaring back out and laughed as he said, “And us leaving our underwear on the ground so we can have something dry to wear when we get out was even better.” Cameron smiled sitting in the water almost up to her shoulders and started to giggle when John went under again. His head popped up a few seconds later and they were both laughing as they splashed each other.
“I thought you said our game of Twister earlier was my best idea.”
“Okay, it’s a tie.”
There was little light in the back yard at night, but they could see each other’s smiles as their laughs quieted and they slowly settled against each other. She leaned into him and sunk down in the water to put her head on his shoulder.
“Do you think the bubbles feel the same to me as they do to you?” she asked quietly.
“God, I hope so.” She lifted her head then and looked into his eyes. Their heads were so close together that he could feel her breath on his face. If they leaned in just a little, their lips would be touching.
“I think we feel the same thing,” he whispered and that’s all it took for them to close the space between them. Their lips crushed together and their hands wrapped around each other as they moved away from the wall and slowly sunk together below the surface.
Sarah’s eyes opened wide and she sat up in bed with a jolt. She was panting and her sheets were soaked in sweat; and before she could even get the lamp turned on she heard footsteps in the hallway. Leaning over, she put her hands on her forehead and smoothed her hair back. She looked over at the clock that read 3:37 and heard a soft knock at the door.
The door opened to reveal a small bit of light and Derek’s head poking into the room. “You okay in here, Sarah?”
“Yeah, I’m okay. ThoughI think I might have just had THE worst nightmare ever.”