In the machine community, Skynet had no love for either its machine slaves or its human slaves. Skynet used them up and threw them away.
Cameron loved her human family. To a human, the Connors would seem cold but to Cameron they were a vast improvement over the machine community.
Morris, in turn, was a vast improvement over the Connors. He liked her for her.
Morris could not help but notice that Cameron did not get up and leave as other girls did when he sat at a table. She looked at him with that direct wide-eyed stare of hers and she looked at him when she didn't think he knew. Most brothers did not want their sister dating a nobody. Morris wisely decided to make John his best friend.
Morris made no attempt to conceal that he liked Cameron. He took every opportunity to sit with her at school and gaze into her beautiful eyes.
Morris had warned John to avoid Cheri Westin, John's partner in chem lab. John, in turn, had warned Morris about Cameron.
Cameron was aggressive. Cameron was a grrrl. She had grabbed the front of Morris' shirt and dragged him, he had hoped, to the nearest broom closet so she could have her way with him. But it was only to the principal's office to fool some FBI agent. That had been fun, particularly the part when Cameron held his hand and kissed him [in clear violation of her mother's instructions]. Cameron gave off a lot of body heat. It was so exciting that he never felt more alive. Cameron was, in short, perfect, the stuff dreams are made of.
After Cameron told John that she had used Morris as a decoy to send away Cromartie, John's reaction was to be upset. But from Cameron's point of view everybody gained -- the family didn't have to move, John was safe from Cromartie, and Morris was never in danger because he didn't look like John.
Cameron had a Goth sense of humor. When Morris asked her what she had in the trunk of the car, she had deadpanned "a dead body."
Morris could no longer hold back.
Morris: "Will you go with me to the prom?"
Cameron looked at John.
John: "Just say yes." "Yes" said Cameron to Morris.
Morris practically did a back flip, a cartwheel, and a handspring pumping his fist in celebration. He was taking the best looking and smartest girl in the state to the prom.
Cameron was on a mission to protect John and destroy Skynet. The idea of having a personal life never entered her mind. And the idea that anyone could love her was even more confusing. In the Connor home, all the warm feelings ran one way. She loved John her brother, Mrs. Connor her mother, and Derek Reese her uncle. They did not love her. They feared her as a cold unfeeling metallic killing machine.
Few took notice of the car bomb that preceded the fire. The family was presumed dead. No one at school knew anything. Morris looked at the local newspaper and connected Cameron and John's disappearance with the fire. The dates were the same and the descriptions by neighbors matched Cameron and John.
Cameron had to return to the old house to follow a lead and to see if her bar of coltan was in the ashes. She came in the dead of night slipping past the yellow police crime scene tape that still surrounded the property. The fire department had saved more of the house than she had imagined. An eerie moan. Obviously not mice. It sounded familiar. She pulled her gun out because it was in the direction of where she used to hide things. In the basement. She descended from the dark entry hall into the pitch black basement. Some of the steps were missing. A body was at the foot of the shattered steps. It's alive!
Cameron aimed to finish it off. She halted. It was Morris. She knelt to check vitals. He must have been looking for her after the fire and fell down the steps. He might have lain there in agony for days, yelling for help. Or a terminator might have beaten information out of him and tossed him in the basement to die. Cameron dismissed the third possibility, that the terminator kept Morris prisoner here, because Morris was not tied up. The truth was that all three were correct. Morris was too weak to climb out.
She picked him up and carried him to the truck. Should she terminate Morris? He had provided some scrap of information that led to the Connors. Cameron aimed again and then put away her gun. She drove Morris to the nearest emergency room, carried him inside, and, with deep regrets, walked away without waiting for him to revive. Morris came to with the conviction that Cameron had come back from the dead as a Goth dark angel to save him. He never knew that this was literally true.
The Connors are, of course, at a new house with a new alias. There was a neighbor who always managed to be shirtless whenever he saw Cameron coming or going from the house. His parents were another tenant of the Connor's landlady. He was not home schooled. He was a dumb jock.
Months later, Cameron snuck out and headed for the Halloween rave in the industrial district. From a distance the dark avenues looked deserted. Cameron arose from her coffinmobile.
Shadows crept along the sides of the windswept streets. They were the children of the night. Girls with really bad hairdos and boys with cowlick haircuts. Cameron, the Goth, was in her element. The warehouse looked abandoned on the outside. Cameron flashed her ID, a big bill, and the right looks.
Inside, it was a pandemonium of demons and wannabes posing as Pan, the god of panic. Cameron was too short to see over the crowed. She climbed onto a metal drum to get some altitude. Scanning the crowd, she spotted Morris. The main event of the whole night as far as she was concerned. Unfortunately, there was a complication only inches away.
"Cameron? The landlady said that's your name."
Cameron ignored him, suppressed the desire to say f*ck off, and headed across the dance floor toward Morris.
As she got closer to Morris, she realized that, of course, Morris was dancing with someone. A mixed gender group of friends might group dance to take the pressure off members of the group when there wasn't an even number of boys and girls. Morris seemed to be with friends but he was not group dancing. Cameron felt rage, betrayal, resignation, and grief at being given up for dead. She had brought it on herself by not being at Morris' bedside when he came out of shock or coma or unconsciousness or whatever medical state he was in when she rescued him.
Cameron decided to confront Morris with the fact that she was no ghost and no girl should take her place. Without looking around, Cameron reached back and grabbed the collar of the jock.
"Why are you stalking me?"
"I wanted to dance with you."
Cameron calculated whether she should make Morris jealous by dancing up to him with the jock. She decided that not only was that poor psychology but it made for a lousy entrance. And Cameron liked to make a good entrance. It was her style.
Injuring the girl was not the optimal solution. The best choices were to dance near Morris with the jock and make Morris jealous or to ditch the jock and make her entrance solo.
Cameron made the mature choice and turned her head to look the jock in the eye. "If you disappear now for half an hour, then I'll find you and dance one song with you. If you don't do as I ask -- " (Cameron brandished a wooden stake) "One of these has your name on it."
Surprisingly, the jock was a gentleman, he took the stake from her, pressed it to his heart, said: "I'll be waiting." and walked off.
Cameron closed the remaining distance across the dance floor to Morris, put her hands on her hips, and waited for Morris to notice her. That took all of one second as Morris looked as if he had seen a ghost.
"Regina, I'm sorry to do this, but I'm going to get Carlos to escort you home after the dance."
"Who is she?"
"Someone I thought was dead. My prom date."
"I'm your prom date."
"You were until she came back to life. I apologize but she's got dibs."
The whole world seemed to go away. The nasty insults of Regina who finally gave up and stormed away. The earsplitting noise of music and yells. The blinding searchlights and strobes. The smell of pot. The occasional fight or spat. Thrashers. The organizers jumping another jerk who had brought a weapon and wrestling them to the floor. Druggies overdosing. Kids being kicked out for crashing and being underage (meaning under thirteen). The MC making announcements. The DJ switching turntables and tapes between sets by live bands. Drinks being spilled.
It was chaos but it was calm because at the eye of the storm was Morris and Cameron and the world had gone away. Even the war between humans and machines, between John Connor and Skynet, had gone away. On a fast dance, Cameron impressed Morris with her moves. She was a ballerina so it came natural to her. Morris knew Latin dance, Cameron's favorite. On a slow dance, Cameron rested her head on Morris' shoulder and cried tears of joy. If this wasn't heaven, what was?
A tap on the shoulder, the jock actually had the gall to want to cut in!
"Morris, I promised this guy one dance if he'd wait thirty minutes."
The jock, "That was an hour ago."
Morris waited to take his cue from Cameron. He was with a group and so no jock could bully him.
Cameron said, "I don't want your friends to hate me for pushing aside your date Regina. And I did promise this guy one dance. I don't even know his name."
"Whatever. Morris, let me get this over with and, meanwhile, you can see if Carlos and Regina are cool."
Morris asked his friends, "Where's Carlos?" Everyone shrugged and kept dancing. One said, "I think he left."
Morris asked, "Where's Regina?" No one knew except Cameron who was looking and pointing in her direction. Cameron always knew where her adversaries were at all times. Morris went to Regina to drag her back over to the group.
Cameron whispered to Wayne, "I'm adding one condition."
"Name it." said Wayne.
"Dance with Regina and take her home."
Morris danced with Regina and Cameron danced with Wayne for one song. It was endurable for Morris and Cameron because they knew it was the last dance apart.
Then the song was over and they were together again. There was only the two of them. If Regina thought that dancing with Wayne would make Morris or Cameron jealous of her, then she was deluding herself. Wayne was a jock who assumed that Cameron's interest in Morris was infatuation or puppy love. Wayne thought that time was on his side and that Cameron would eventually tire of a punk and want a real man. As if guessing his thoughts, Cameron pretended to bite Morris on the neck with her coltan vampire fangs. Earlier that evening, she had been bloodsucking for real and she had no desire to usher Morris into the ranks of the ungrateful undead. To drive home the point, Cameron conspicuously took out her fake fangs, stuck them in her pocket, and gave Morris a hickey. Morris and Cameron danced closer to Regina (who was aghast) and Wayne (who thought it was hilarious) and, as if in counterpoint, Cameron magnanimously said, "Wayne you make sure you leave with Regina and escort her home safely. If you don't, my brother and my uncle will pay you a visit. They know where to find you."
Regina had to admit to herself that however much she hated Cameron, that Cameron had class. And being with a comedian like Wayne it was hard not to smile at Cameron.
The night belonged to Morris and Cameron. Everything else shrank to insignificance. At 1 A.M. the Rave crowd was shifting in composition as the college kids began to outnumber the high schoolers. The high schoolers were leaving as the cellphone calls from their parents got more insistent. This Halloween had landed on a Friday and Saturday was not a school day so they were cut some slack. But even the most lenient parents were starting to call the police to find out where this rave was happening and shut it down. Or, at least, enforce curfew on those below a certain age.
Cameron got no call from home but knew she needed to get home to help ferry children to safe houses, Social Services (for those orphaned by terminators), or straight home in situations where it seemed safe. Derek Reese himself did not know which ones were future Resistance and which ones would always be civilians.
"Morris, I have to get home before the sun rises."
"I've seen you out in the sun. Unless you really are a vampire."
"I'm being serious."
"I'm not." Morris got serious anyway. "I'll take you home."
"Got my own wheels Morris. I'll take you home."
On their way out, heaven turned into Hades. John and Riley were at the Rave and were headed for the exit also. Cameron did not want John to know she had hooked up with Morris because he would use it against her.
"Morris! I need to avoid someone. Wait a few minutes and then meet me outside."
Cameron followed closely behind Wayne and Regina, hoping to use them for cover.
"What are you doing here?" said John to Cameron.
"It's Halloween. See you at home. Hello Riley." she replied to John while acknowledging Riley. Cameron hurried out.
"No one wanted to dance with her. She has no social skills and no friends. That's why she dropped out of school." John whispered to Riley.
Cameron got an earful and a surge of anger at John. She had been yanked out of school by her mother to baby-sit her home-schooled brother who was older than she was! She liked school but her mother saw no value in an educated Cameron. She sent her to work mopping floors in a dark corner of a nuclear plant. If she had run off to Mexico and reserved a honeymoon suite like John did, her mother would have walked up one side of her and down the other. Her brother could be a real b*stard.
Wayne and Regina looked back and saw Cameron trying to distance herself from John and Riley.
"Did that guy dump you already?" taunted Wayne while Regina smirked.
"No. And there's my brother. Remember what I said."
Wayne stuck up his hand, smiled, and waved at John.
Wayne with Regina and John with Riley headed off to their respective cars. Cameron could breathe easier. Cameron did not need to breathe but did so now anyway. Sucking in air and expelling carbon dioxide made her relax a little and feel more alive. Morris came out with his friends and spotted Cameron waiting for him.
"Cameron is driving me home so I need someone to drive my wheels home."
Carlos had turned up and offered to do it. Morris tossed him the keys.
"Don't mess up the chrome, man."
Cameron led the way to her car, the coffinmobile.
"I should let you trick it out Morris. Make it like Knight Rider but with weapons. And cannon-proof not just bulletproof."
"When did you get it? Did you do the work yourself or did you get Igor?"
"A few hours ago. It came this way." It already looked like a coffin with padded red velour interior. "Got to have padding because being in rubber rooms and padded cells runs in the family."
"I love your sense of humor." he paused "You rescued me from that house didn't you?"
"Well my parents will love you sight unseen when I tell them about you."
"You can't tell them about me. I'm supposed to be dead. So is John. So is my mother."
Morris thought it wise to pretend that he had not seen John from a distance. He had not gone over to talk to John because his instincts told him to wait and follow Cameron's lead. He was glad he had followed his gut.
"Did the FBI fake your death? Are you in witness protection? I know that in Mexico even reporters get gunned down by gangs like MS-13."
"Yeah something like that. Let's change the subject and talk about us."
"I'm all for that. In fact, let's skip the dating and going steady stages and go straight to engagement."
Morris took a double ring off his finger, the only jewelry he wore. He put one on Cameron's finger. Cameron was in too deep to turn back. She loved this guy so much it hurt.
"Morris, you can't love me."
"Why not? Because -- " (he chose his words carefully because he didn't want anything to ever get between them again) " -- I don't care what. I only know that we should plan a future together." Morris was in too deep also. He loved this gal so much it hurt.
The east sky was no longer black.
"Get in Morris. Before my coffinmobile turns back into a great pumpkin."
"Yeah and the horsepower turns into mice running around one of those little wheelie things."
They laughed, Cameron threw her backpack onto the back-seat, and she raised the roof as they drove off because there was a distinct chill in the air. Not all of it was temperature. The reality of the resistance and The Resistance that faced them set in.
In front of his house, Morris sat and delayed getting out. Cameron mixed metaphors, "Morris, there is no glass slipper. It all goes back to the rent-a-store. I don't even own my own mind."
Cameron was referring to reprogramming but Morris, not knowing about all that, took it as saying that her family had some mysterious hold over her.
"This is the twenty-first century. Women are free."
"It might as well be the 21st century BC for me."
"Your family moves a lot. But I know how to find you. Don't worry about me letting someone follow me to your place. I learned that lesson the hard way. I had it beaten into me."
"If you come to visit me, it's your funeral. My mom is not cool about me having any relationship outside the family."
"John's a boy."
"What difference does that make? Are they planning on putting you into a convent?"
Cameron laughs. "I could just see me as a nun." A sober thought occurs to her, "People have no problem seeing me as a whore though."
"People who think of you as meat or parts or an object can go to h*ll as far as I'm concerned. It's disrespectful. Guys who think like that are brainless mooks."
"It's not just guys. I got that label slapped on me by gals at your school."
Cameron pushed him out of the car. "I wish I could believe we had a future Morris. You have no idea how much."
Cameron drove off but she heard Morris saying, "Love will find a way. Love conquers all."
Those corny words kept ringing in her ears. This time the tears she shed were not tears of joy. Why would life or the universe or reality or God or Skynet take mercy on a machine? Love only existed for humans.
Morris thought ahead. His cousin owned a limousine service and owed him a favor. He would arrive and depart from the prom in style.
Afraid that Morris would visit the Connor home and her mother bring the romance to a halt, Cameron visited Morris instead. She learned a trick from Riley and climbed into Morris' room through his window. She got his cellphone number and called him when she could. Which wasn't often.
Around John, Sarah Connor, and Derek Reese, Cameron acts like an emotionless zombie but with Morris she lets her real self out and acts like any happy, normal, spontaneous, well-adjusted teenage girl. She has Morris read her poetry while she rests her head in his lap and fiddles with the necklace and pendant he gave her or looks at a paperweight or snow globe or blows soap bubbles.
She has a fascination with transparent objects and the poems she has Morris read to her ranges from Shakespeare's sonnets to modern verse. The selection of the bard is predictable, but the choice of other poets is unpredictable, what you would never expect but always, always, the poetry is love poetry. Morris will read Cameron rhyme he has written. Cameron responds with her own lyrical composition. It is the flutter of butterfly wings.
They trade jokes and gaze at clouds, describing them as sheep or castles or whatever in the fifteen minutes here and half-hour there that they can have together between conflicting schedules. He at school and she on Sarah's short leash. Once, they have an entire afternoon together which they use to go to the Avalon for ballroom dancing.
Cameron laughs with Morris and only with Morris. No one else. The second John, Sarah or Derek comes into sight; Cameron reverts back to acting like a stoic emotionless terminator, protector of John.
Morris: "What do you plan to do with your life?"Cameron: "My miss--" (she almost said mission but she gets an inspiration) "My mission in life is to have my own ballet studio or my own high tech company."
Morris: "What no garage?"
Cameron laughs. Cameron: (playfully) "An auto shop is more your interest."
Morris: "Then what will we do together?"
Cameron is about to answer when John walks up. She stops smiling and laughing, removes the jewelry, and puts it in her pocket. She only wears it around Morris.
John: "Mom wants you to come home now."
Cameron leaves but before John leaves too, Morris stops him.
Morris: "Do you think your mother would give her blessing if I asked Cameron to marry me?"
John: "You're too young to get married. You've got your whole life ahead of you." [mutters soto voce to himself: 'Until Judgment Day cuts it short.'] "College, career, by then you'll have forgotten all about her."
Morris: "Don't patronize me. No. She's the one I want to marry."
John: "I'll tell you a secret. Swear you'll never tell anyone."
John: "Swear on your life."
Morris: "I swear."
John: "She's a robot."
Morris: "Oh that. I figured that out long ago. So do you think she'd say yes?"
John: "What do you mean you figured it out? Didn't you hear what I said?"
Morris: "Get with the times man. Mixed marriages have been around since the Stone Age when Cro-Magnons were mating with Neanderthals. Besides, she's a fine lady."
John: "You don't find it strange that my sister's a robot?"
Morris: "Dude. Silicon Valley is just over there." (points north) "I know she's been in an accident because you and your family are always wearing bandages. So she must have prosthetic arms and legs. You still haven't answered my question. What would your mother say?"
John: "Ask her yourself. I have to go."
Morris thought ahead. He was saving up for a proper ring. When the time came, he would point out that he planned to have his own garage with several employees. He would be a good provider. He came from a good decent family, however humble their origins. If education was a problem, then he would go to college, study business. Whatever Cameron expected of him, he was prepared to go to whatever lengths he had to go to get her to say yes again without her brother's prompting. She was the one. The one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
Cameron stops seeing Morris. She uses protecting John as a lame excuse.