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Strangely Literal

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Summary: Cameron is sent back for a preliminary mission prior to tracking down John Connor.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles(Past Donor)SnagFR182434,4743325068,6851 Aug 1028 Aug 10No


Emotions, ahoy! Or the discussion thereof.


Xander, Cameron, Willow and Cordelia watched through the window of Giles' office as he tried to comfort Buffy as best he could. Xander frowned. It dawned on him that he and Cameron had experience with this whole thing that Giles couldn't duplicate.

He nudged Cameron's arm. "Hey. Why don't we...?" He lifted his chin in the direction of Giles' office.

"You believe our previous encounter with Grace and James may be helpful to Buffy." Cameron thought for a second. "I agree. We should go talk to her."

"Ooh. Picking up on non-verbal cues now. Good job, Cameron!" Willow encouraged.

Cameron smiled at Willow. "Thank you."

Xander gave her arm another tug and they walked over to Giles' door. Xander paused to rap his knuckles on the frame of the doorway. "Hey. Mind if we join you?"

"No, not at all. Come, come in," Giles invited. He looked a little uncertain of his footing. Xander guessed it was because he wasn't sure of what to say to cheer Buffy up.

They settled on various surfaces in Giles office. Xander sat on the desk, Cameron leaned against the wall beside the chair Buffy was occupying. "How're you holding up, Buf?" Xander asked.

"Mostly, I'm confused. James, he... he picked me. He felt like I was the one he could relate to best." Buffy hugged her knees to her chest and sighed. "He was so sad."

Cameron tilted her head. "And what are you sad about that James could relate to?"

Buffy looked even more gloomy, if that was possible. Xander frowned again as the answer occurred to him. "Angel," he hazarded a guess.

Buffy's miserable nod wasn't necessary, given the way her face crumpled as if she were fending off tears.

Xander crouched down next to her chair and grasped Buffy's hand. "How come?"

"Please don't, Xander," she whispered. "I can't. Not yet."

"Giles, can you write a raincheck for tea and sympathy at a future date?" Xander was struggling for something helpful to say, so he did what he always did and compensated with a joke.

"I'll write it in my day planner." Giles gave them all a sympathetic smile.

Buffy seemed to be looking for a way for the focus to be taken off of her. She looked at Cameron and Xander in turn and asked, "What was it like for you two? When Grace and James possessed you?"

Xander paused before saying anything, knowing that Cameron's grasp of the whole ordeal was still tenuous and she was still wanting to sort through everything before she announced that she seemed to be experiencing random outbursts of emotion. Okay, so it'd only happened a couple times so far, but still.

He looked at Cameron. She was looking back at him. She flicked her eyes to Giles, and then to the door of the office, before she raised her eyebrows expectantly. Xander was briefly confused before he realized what she was trying to tell him.

"Hey, Giles, why don't we make sure everything is kosher in the library? Wasps can't be good for books." He took Giles' arm gently but firmly and began to usher him to the door.

"But, wait, what about-?"

Too late. Xander had already gotten him out and the door closed behind him. "We don't want any part of that discussion. That's Girl Talk that's about to happen in there. If we tried to listen in on that, the Ancient and Honorable Sisterhood of Women would have to murder us in the face. Repeatedly."

"Cameron indulges in girl talk now?" Giles asked with his customary air of bemusement.

"Well, not really. But Buffy does, and I'm sure she could find a way to get Cameron on her side. We would find ourselves slayed and/or terminated before we knew what happened." So he had to spend extra time in the library. This once, he didn't mind.


Buffy's upset was briefly cut with confusion. "What's going on? Why didn't you want them to hear this?"

"There are parts I don't yet understand. Xander is helping me, but my progress is slow." She paused and looked at Buffy for several moments before continuing. "Grace chose me, just like James chose you."

Buffy was now too startled to be sad. "She did? What was it like? And what about Xander, did he-?"

"Xander did not speak of any mutual recognition of common ground with James. He stated that he felt as if he were sitting in the back of his own head, watching his body do something he had not told it to." Cameron shook her head.

"But you?"

Again, Cameron paused. And it wasn't one of her usual pauses. This was one that almost seemed like hesitating before explaining an uncomfortable fact. "She knew that in order to do the right thing in regards to James, she had to leave him. In 1955, the coupling of a teacher and student would have been a scandal that would cause them multiple difficulties. She had to break the relationship off, but she was devastated at having to do so."

Buffy was confused. "How do you know what that feels like?"

"Because when she was controlling my body, I felt everything she felt. Physical and emotional."

Buffy's mouth formed an 'o' of surprise. "Oh, Cameron."

"She was sad because she had to break up with him. She was afraid when he began to threaten her. And through it all, she felt nothing but love for him. Because of her, I felt it too." Cameron's expression was not her usual blank mask she used around them. Her eyebrows were furrowed and the insides of them raised up. The corners of her mouth were tugged downward in a frown.

"I'm so sorry," Buffy breathed. "The one thing you wanted more than anything that I know of, and you only got to experience it second hand." Buffy did the only thing she could think of. She leaned forward and gathered Cameron into a hug.

"That's not all," Cameron murmured against Buffy's shoulder. "Afterward, when Xander drove me home and stayed with me for a while, I was telling him about this and..." She trailed off, making the unnervingly human gesture of burrowing her nose against Buffy's shoulder as if seeking comfort.

"And what, Cameron?"

"Without my intervention. my eyes began to produce tears." Her voice was muffled by Buffy's shoulder, but she was still clear enough for Buffy to understand.

"Oh my gosh." She leaned back so she could look at Cameron's face. "You were actually crying?"

"I believe so. It wasn't like a human crying, because I have no respiratory system linked to the production of tears. But I was telling him about the emotions, and how I wanted them back, and that's when he showed me that my eyes had begun to produce the fluid."

"I know I said this already, but I'm so sorry, Cam." Buffy placed a hand on Cameron's cheek. "In my imagination, whenever I thought about you maybe having emotions one day, I hoped it'd be you being able to laugh because you thought something was funny, or maybe telling Xander that you were falling in love with him. I'm sorry that crying out of sadness or frustration was your first full emotional milestone."

Cameron blinked. "I'm not. I don't think it had anything to do with Grace. Not directly, anyway."

"How come?" Despite herself, Buffy was intrigued.

"Sorrow is still an emotion. It's what I wanted to experience. And if I can experience that on my own, then perhaps my chip is still processing other emotions," she replied simply. "I think Grace's emotions provided my chip with the information needed for me to begin developing emotional processes."

Buffy gave her a tired smile. "That's a good way to look at it. I'll hope for more emotions for you, too."

"Thanks." Cameron gave Buffy a smile in return. Buffy couldn't be sure, but she thought she saw Cameron's eyes crinkle when she smiled back at her. They'd never done that before.

Then a penny dropped for Buffy. "Cam? If Grace chose you because she had to leave James..?" Buffy couldn't bring herself to finish the thought.

"Yes." Cameron's smile was gone now. "Sometime in the next eighteen months, I will have to leave Xander to begin my primary mission. I can't tell you any more than that, I'm sorry."

"And you don't want to leave him." Buffy stated.

"No. He's been very patient with me and helped me to learn how to behave more like a human. If these emotions do develop, I know he'll be there to explain when I don't understand what's happening. But it's my mission. I have to go when the time comes," she explained.

"I think that's the saddest thing I've ever heard." Buffy held back a sigh and was giving serious thought to having a good cry herself.

Cameron chose not to respond to that. They sat in comfortable silence for a time, until Cameron broke it. "Buffy?"


"When you said that James chose you because he was sad and could identify with you, does that mean that because of Angel's loss of his soul, you never got to say goodbye? Which leads to anger, because you feel robbed of the opportunity?"

Buffy's breath hitched and she had to fight not to break down right then and there. "Yes," she whispered.

"Then I'm sorry for your loss," Cameron replied just as quietly. "I didn't understand it fully when it first happened, but I think I do now."

"Thanks." Buffy didn't trust herself to look at Cameron right then, or she knew she'd be crying her eyes out in a heartbeat. She fell back on the whole 'sitting in silence' routine.

Cameron also broke this silence. "We should go. The rest of you must be tired. It's been a very stressful day."

"You're not wrong." Buffy chuckled dryly, before a thought occurred to her. "Oh, Cameron, one more thing."

"Yes?" Cameron's expression was attentive.

"If you ever try to explain an emotion and Xander doesn't seem to be able to tell you what it means, you're welcome to come talk to me. See, boys experience emotions differently from girls," she tried to explain.

"And because my potential emotional input was provided by a girl, that's going to affect the way they develop?" Cameron wanted to know.

"That's my theory."

"It is a sound line of thought. I'll remember that, should the issue arise." Cameron nodded.

"Oh, it will. You just don't know it yet."
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