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Killing Time

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Shaw wasn’t sure whether she was pissed off or excited.

At first Root’s abduction had pissed her off: she’d managed to creep up on her in her own home, tased and drugged her, before zip tying her to a fucking steering wheel.

Admittedly the proposal to work with Root was not an unappealing one seeing as time with her more often that not involved guns and a shoot out, but that didn’t mean she was any happier about her ambush nor the deceptive woman she was now accompanying.

Their time down in the sewers had lightened Shaw’s mood (nothing got her excited like spaghetti) The mystery intrigued her as much as it pissed her off besides, any girl that didn’t flinch at the thought of blowtorch torture was certainly someone interesting enough for Shaw, and the thrill of never knowing what was coming was enough to get her to stay. That and she’d just been handed a spaghetti blowtorch that just begged to be played with.

But now they had 10 hours to kill in a sparsely fitted CIA safe house and Shaw was hopped up on adrenaline ready to punch something (or someone) and if experience had taught her anything, she knew 10 hours with Root was going to test her patience and control to its limits.

 

10 HOURS REMAINING

 

 ‘So what’s the package?’

Root whipped out zip ties and a couple of hoods.

‘I am’ she declared, smirking widely. Shaw merely stared, eying the zip ties in their infinite possibility. She’d blame her anger or her adrenaline response but she’d be stupid to deny where her thoughts were running and it looked like Root was equally aware.

If possible her smirk got wider as she placed the items on the table, picked up her half eaten apple and strolled through to the next room, lounging back on the black faux-leather couch. Shaw wordlessly followed, standing over her stiffly

‘Well sit down, we’re going to be here a while Sameen; the Machine is keeping time.’ chirped Root, munching on her apparently engrossing apple as she studied it between each bite.

Shaw decided to ignore Root, instead opting to do a full recon of their accommodation and maybe deal more permanently with the downed CIA operative spread eagle on the floor of the entrance hall. She strode through the apartment: bedroom, one bathroom, kitchen-dining area, lounge all very sparsely furnished.

Her footsteps echoed on the wooden floor, rhythmical then stilted as she drugged the operative and shoved him in the bedroom closet, zip-tying him to a pipe for precaution. When she made her way through to living area once again Root was scanning the small bookcase up against the wall. She turned around when she heard Shaw enter

‘Is it an irony thing? The detective novels I mean?’ she questioned, holding up a generic thriller in her hand and raising an eyebrow, clearly unimpressed by the collection. Shaw glared, choosing instead to sit down on the couch, eyes trained on Root who merely shrugged and picked a few novels from the shelves before sitting herself back down on the other end of the sofa, chucking one of the novels down on the coffee table in the middle of the room where it landed next to a pack of cards. Root settled down, lifting and crossing her legs on the table

‘I also found a pack of cards. We could play blackjack’ remarked Root, glancing at Shaw who was currently fiddling with her gun, beginning to slowly take it apart. The small sigh Root emitted did not go unnoticed by the ex-CIA Agent but she’d be damned if she tried to make conversation with the woman.

The room rung with the clacking of metal as Shaw meticulously disassembled her favourite pistol.

 

9 HOURS REMAINING

 

Silence.

Both women sat in companionable silence, engrossed in their less-than adequate crime novels. Root had curled her legs up beneath her, nibbling at her thumb nail as she devoured the poorly written yet oddly engrossing tale, whilst Shaw was reclined, legs spread on the coffee table, gun resting on the arm of the couch as her left hand rested on the grip, her right holding up the Swedish thriller as she tried her best not get too lost in the setting: she still didn’t entirely trust Root not to tase her. Not that she’d mind. Much.

Shaw had long ago abandoned the repetitive process of mantling and dismantling her gun, giving in to the temptation of the novel Root had chucked her but she’d be dead before she played cards with the woman.

She estimated about an hour had passed: 9 more hours of this she repeated to herself as a mantra. Only 9.

Root began to shift next to her, stretching out and standing up looking down on Shaw who was pointedly ignoring her.

‘Anything from the kitchen?’ she asked politely enough.

Shaw ignored her and continued to pretend reading her book. Root just sighed, padding off through to the kitchen.

It struck Shaw how oddly domestic the situation was.

Root quickly returned holding two glasses of water, setting one down in front of Shaw, flashing her a grin

‘Thought you might get thirsty anyway’ Shaw glanced up from the book she wasn’t really reading acutely aware of Root’s every move and stared.

‘Thanks’ she said reluctantly, eyes flicking back to the book. Root’s grin got wider.

Perching herself on the edge of the seat Root sipped at her water staring at the blank walls, her ears filled with the Machine’s chatter as She explained how long they were going to be there and what was going on outside, the probability of danger, Hersh’s approximate location and various other informative tid-bits. Root sighed: even facts from her could get boring when she couldn’t delve into the average person’s dirty secrets. Her gaze flicked to Shaw, apparently drawn into her thriller, and the corners of her mouth twitched up. She looked pointedly into the security camera mounted in the corner of the room-probably put there to keep an eye on detainees- eyebrow raised, knowing She would see.

The response was almost immediate. The Machine stopped talking about Hersh’s history and Root imagined her flicking through right down to Shaw, stopping and pulling out a file. Of course, Root knew the basics: the Machine had told her about her father and whatnot but that was just to get her onboard. Root was interested in it all. She settled back, waiting for Her to begin the story, getting comfortable, when the Machine came back

Unavailable

Root shot forward, in response to which Shaw’s grip on her gun immediately tightened as she put down her book, coming to attention, eyes studying Root’s face. It was a picture of shock, though as she found Shaw’s eyes studying her warily she quickly composed herself, knowing smirk back in place.

‘Don’t look so worried Sameen: you really should relax’

‘Have we got a problem?’ questioned Shaw, reacting to Root’s earlier shock, hand still firmly on the grip of her gun.

‘Not one for you to worry about’ Shaw didn’t move. ‘She says we should play cards though’ quipped Root

‘No she didn’t.’ insisted Shaw, now outright glaring at Root who was grinning.

 ‘It didn’t.’ corrected Shaw harshly, cursing her momentary weakness.

‘No She didn’t but I think we should. Come on Sameen’ pleaded Root, sliding closer in what seemed like a direct bee-line for Shaw’s personal space, instead reached for the packet of cards on the table. Root smirked at Shaw, noticing how she pushed herself further into the arm of the couch, the grip on her gun even tighter than it was before.

‘We both know you’re not actually reading that book, you’ve been staring at the same page for 15 minutes now’ remarked Root, holding up the pack of cards.

‘Still doesn’t mean I want to play card games with you. I am not that desperate’ Shaw straightened up, returning to her original lounged position, bringing the book back up to eye level.

‘Yet’ teased Root, still smirking. Shaw ground her teeth.

9 hours, 9 hours, 9 hours, 9 hours…

 

8 HOURS REMAINING

 

This was getting ridiculous.

‘Root’ growled Shaw, grip destroying the pages of the long forgotten book she was still pretending to read.

‘Sameen.’ Impossibly innocent, laced with ‘I-know-exactly-what-I’m-doing-and-I-love-that-it’s-pissing-you-off’

‘Ask your Machine the probability of me kicking your ass.’

Root’s head titled to the side.

‘Hm, quite high She says.’

Root grinned and shrugged; placing her cards carefully on top of the bottom row she had created. Shaw frowned. This was Roots fifth card tower and it was starting to get irritating. She wasn’t even making noise, which should’ve made Shaw feel better yet somehow Root still knew just how to press her buttons, just generally pissing Shaw off in a manner she wasn’t even going to try to describe. And Root knew she was doing it.

The card tower tumbled.

‘Root’ hissed out Shaw as the cards showered onto the floor

‘Sameen?’ questioned Root, beginning to pick up the cards

‘This is ridiculous’

‘What is?’ Shaw’s grip on the book tightened

‘You know what’

‘The card tower? But you wont play cards with me, though I did ask…’ tailed off Root, eyebrow raised in question.

Shaw contemplated. She seriously contemplated playing cards with the woman just to get her to stop doing whatever it was she was doing that was so infuriating to her. Possibly the slow repetitive motions, the apparently purposeful yet insignificant concentrations of placing one card on top of the other; the meaningless action itself and Root’s continued repetition of it with apparent enthusiasm each and every time.

In any case Shaw wanted her to stop doing it. She wasn’t desperate enough to play cards with the woman though. Not by a long shot.

So in response, Shaw pointedly gazed back at her book, brow lightly creased in intense annoyance, teeth gritted. Root saw it all and smirked. She knew how to push this woman’s buttons and she enjoyed it immensely.

The cards were picked back up, arranged on the table in a neat pile meticulously (the slow precision with which this was carried out further annoyed Shaw as it had done the previous five times it had been performed) and then the first two picked up, Root leaning in over the cards in concentration as she tried to create the perfect card tower.

Shaw did her best to ignore this attempt. The first couple of times it had been bearable but Root was anything if not persistent and by the third try she had formulated the ideal method to piss Shaw off. Slow movements, concentration, the meticulous precision and care when constructing this apparently crucial card tower. But Shaw did her best to ignore it all, trying to force her attention back onto the now utterly predictable Scandinavian crime-thriller.

She tried.

The tower collapsed again, and a card floated softly to the ground, under the table near Shaw’s foot. Shaw watched it from the corner of her eye, watched as Root crawled over to pick it up. Her foot slammed down on the card.

Root looked up, eyebrow raised. She tried to pull it from under her foot by the small visible corner to no avail. Shaw merely glared at her, daring to try again.

‘Sameen’

‘Root.’

‘You do realize this card isn’t crucial to my construction don’t you?’

‘Small victories Root’ smirked Shaw. It gave her some satisfaction to know that Root was somewhat perturbed and a tiny bit annoyed at Shaw’s action. Root sat up on her legs, looking Shaw in the eye. Shaw may have seized an opportunity, but Root knew how to seize one too.

‘Fine. Play me for it.’

‘What?’

‘Play me. Indulge me.’

At this Root shuffled closer to Shaw almost between her legs

‘No’

‘I win, and we keep doing what we’ve been doing and you have to grit and bear whatever I throw at you these long hours…’

‘No’

‘..but if you win, I stop making card towers and sit silently for the remainder of our time here. I’ll even sleep on the couch’ grinned Root. Shaw’s brow furrowed as she weighed up her options. Was it worth it?

Root knew she’d won the moment Shaw glared at her.

 

7 HOURS REMAINING

 

How the fuck was she loosing?

She was a trained operative, an international spy no less, and yet Root was sweeping the floor with her. To be more specific, she was sweeping the floor with her money as she dragged another pile of dollar bills across to her growing stash.

She couldn’t even claim Root was cheating: she’d watched Root take out her earpiece herself, instructing the Machine to text alert them if danger was approaching: so how the fuck was she loosing?

Root had a grin plastered on her face, sipping at her downright disgusting whiskey (Shaw had, with her innate sixth sense at finding liquor, discovered it in the back of a bathroom cupboard) elegantly. Shaw glared. Not only was she losing pride, she was losing money-her money. Not even Harold’s money.

‘My my Sameen you seem to running scarce on funds.’ Shaw’s grip on the cards she was shuffling tightened, bending them slightly.

‘You’re going to have to offer up something of value in return for your lack of funds’ remarked Root, at which Shaw violently downed her mug of whiskey.

‘Shut up’

‘Your gun perhaps?’

‘You’re destroyed ear piece perhaps?’ shot back Shaw.

‘Don’t be bitter Sameen’

Shaw dealt the cards.

‘Check.’ Shaw tapped the floor in assent and revealed the first three cards. She inwardly cursed. Root fingered her dollar bills, putting forward an additional 20 to the 15-dollar blind she had placed, meeting Shaw’s gaze as she looked back up. Shaw ground her jaw as she met the challenge.

As the final 2 cards revealed themselves Shaw was acutely aware of her bad bluff, but she’d be damned if she gave in to Root’s smirk. As Root contemplated a final raise of the pot she stopped, a thoughtful look crossing her face.

Oh dear.

‘Let’s raise the stakes’

‘What?’

‘Let’s raise the stakes. You don’t have anywhere near enough money so let’s raise the stakes. Or change them.’ Shaw had an idea where this was headed.

‘No’

‘Strip Poker’

‘No’

‘You have no money left to give’

‘No’

‘Then concede.’

Shaw glared harder. Root knew she had her.

‘Fine’ she assented, violently pouring another drink for herself ‘but socks count.’ Root wasn’t going to question; she was too busy hiding a shit-eating grin behind her glass.

Shaw continued with her bluff hoping to swindle some money out of Root, confident she still had her socks.

 

6 HOURS REMAINING

 

Shaw was simultaneously cold, pissed off, vaguely enjoying herself and quite possibly aroused.

Root was clad barefoot in jeans and her lace black bra while Shaw herself was fairing worse, clad in a sports bra and panties alone: things weren’t looking great for the agent.

She would blame the bottle of whiskey they had almost finished: that and Root’s distracting figure.

In fact not that last part she wouldn’t mention that last part.

‘Sameen if you don’t start winning something I might think you’re losing on purpose’ teased a slightly tipsy Root. Of course, what she would never admit was that Shaw’s increasingly scant state of undress wasn’t helping her either.

Unfortunately for Root she was rather less subtle at hiding her affectations than Shaw.

Shaw lent over to reach for the last of the whiskey, catching Root’s gaze fixing itself on her lean stomach despite the apparent smirk of confidence. As she lent back again, Root’s gaze snapped up. Shaw suppressed a smile.

She was no stranger to flirting and quickly went on the offensive, elongating her movements, addressing Root by name as she growled out apparent insults, maintaining eye contact. Meanwhile her gameplay similarly became more aggressive as Root struggled to maintain such consideration as she had before.

Root lost the next hand.

Shaw was feeling smug: she’d won back 50 dollars and equalized the clothing situation. Root on the other hand had finally cottoned on to what was happening in her marginally inebriated state and decided she wasn’t going to go down without a fight, nor be beaten at her own game.

‘Sameen, you seem to be gaining ground’ she purred.

 

5 HOURS REMAINING

 

She wasn’t entirely sure how she ended up pinning Root to a wall. And yet here she was.

Well, she knew how she got there, she just wasn’t sure at what point the game changed.

All at once they weren’t playing an admittedly charged game of strip poker and Root was instead leaning across the cards pushing her lips onto Shaw’s forcefully (something she never would have dared do sober) and Shaw surprised herself slightly by meeting the action head on, gripping Root’s forearms forcefully and pulling them both standing as the kiss turned both deeper and somewhat languid as Root took her time, slowing the pace. Shaw once again surprised herself by enjoying it immensely.

As was inevitable the two eventually parted, eyes locked and breathing heavily with Shaw’s hands still grasping Root’s forearms in a vice-grip.

She let go.

Root gave the smallest smirk, her eyes glinting with mirth and arousal while Shaw’s usual glare was tempered slightly as she searched Root’s face, scanning each detail in close proximity. As her eyes reached Root’s lips, her own parted slightly without her consent. Root smirked: that was all the permission she needed.

At the smirk Shaw’s eyes shot up to meet Root’s, her glare filled with daring and promise.

Root pulled Shaw forward roughly by her bra straps, nails scraping skin as she clumsily pulling their lips together, Shaw kissing back with as much force, hands gripping the side of Root’s face. It was not languid or tender: Shaw wouldn’t allow that as her teeth scratched and bit at Root’s bottom lip, each time drawing a sharp breathe from the woman who in turn responded with sharp kisses of her own, pulling Shaw ever closer though there was no more distance to travel. Shaw’s nails scraped Root’s scalp, trailing through the length of her hair, tugging harshly and causing Root to break the kiss and gasp, her eyelids fluttering.

Shaw took the opportunity to attack her neck, nibbling the length, scouring for Root’s pulse point before biting viciously. Root’s nails hooked into Shaw’s flesh in reaction as she suppressed a moan and Shaw growled against her neck, continuing her assault: not stopping to soothe the wound.

Shaw pushed Root forward until her back hit the wall violently, and Root pulled away as she gasped at the impact before quickly resuming her assault on Shaw’s lips. Shaw pinned her to the wall, arms either side of Root’s head and pressing her down with her body as she reciprocated Root’s attack on her lips.

Root’s hands began to wander, feeling their way up Shaw’s bare arms, down over her bra scraping gently across her torso, palms resting against firm abs. Her touch is light as her hands leave Shaw’s stomach, fingers playing with the hem of Shaw’s underwear.

Shaw roughly pulls away, still keeping close but pulling back enough to look Root in the eyes hard.

‘No. This is not how this is going to go.’

Her words are hard. Root’s eyebrows rise in question as Shaw breaks eye contact, frowning-glaring- as she sorts out her thoughts. Root watches, barely breathing, not making a move.

Shaw looks back at Root, resolute.

‘I will fuck you.’

Root smirks playfully.

‘But this is not a thing. This is not…’

Shaw’s hardened eyes fall down to Root’s soft fingers absently drawing patterns on her skin, intermittently playing with her waistband. Root follows her gaze but does not stop her movements. Instead, Shaw’s hands move to stop the movements, grabbing Root’s wrists roughly.

‘No.’

Shaw pushes Root’s arms back against the wall, face coming in close eyes locking with Root’s. The grip hurt but Root betrayed nothing in her expression: still playful, like she held all the cards.

‘This is not…. gentle.’

Shaw emphasized the word, slamming Root’s wrists once again into the wall with a thud, looking her dead in the eye before breaking the gaze, studying Root’s naked abdomen in favour of her face.

‘Okay.’

Shaw looked up gaze still hard, breathing deeply.

‘Okay.’ Root repeated, still not flinching from Shaw’s glare.

They remained like that, Root’s calm gaze matching Shaw’s angry eyes.

Shaw broke. Giving in to her anger she pushed Root further into the wall attacking her lips once again and Root reciprocated in kind, fist clenching as she tried to push back against Shaw’s grip and failing to break free.

Shaw pushed even harder and Root gasped, breaking the kiss, as Shaw’s grip grew tighter.  Shaw shifted attention, scouring down Root’s exposed neck once again marking her brutally. Root welcomed it all, pushing further into Shaw as she bit down harshly.

‘Let me go’ Root gasped, shifting her wrists against Shaw’s grasp.

Shaw looked up, studying Root’s face full of desire, slightly out of control, a gaze unfiltered: arousal meeting arousal.

Shaw complied, releasing Root’s wrists in favor of holding still her hips.  Root’s hands immediately went to Shaw’s back, grip pulling her closer, nails digging deep into flesh.

Shaw travelled further down her body hands trailing, nails scouring as she knelt down, biting Root’s skin as her stomach clenched, hips arching towards the sensations. Root’s hands entangled in Shaw’s hair, pulling lose her hair tie, lacing themselves in the strands of now-knotty hair as she pushed her closer.

Shaw resisted, pushing herself back up and capturing Root’s lips once again furiously. But not once did Root complain: she didn’t push her away despite the brutal treatment but pulled her closer, ever closer, drawing everything she could from Shaw and that made Shaw push harder, made her more frustrated as she assaulted Root, bit viciously on her neck, and Root gasped as Shaw found her pulse point yet again.

‘Shaw’ she breathed out stronger than she felt, voice still holding weight.

‘Shaw more’

Two words. Shaw didn’t need to be told twice. She pushed aside Root’s lacey lingerie with searching digits, plunging two fingers in without preamble. Root’s head fell back as she tried, and failed, to suppress a short moan and Root’s hips jutted forward to meet Shaw’s fingers, leg wrapping around Shaw’s hip to hold her closer.

Shaw didn’t pause, setting up a harsh unforgiving pace that Root met with relish as her nails left deep scratches down Shaw’s back struggling to find purchase. Shaw’s fingers pushed harder, deeper, and Root met each thrust their eyes firmly locked as Shaw fucked her further into the wall. Root’s lips parted slightly as she struggled to keep her breathing steady.

Shaw’s fingers curled while her thumb moved carelessly, harshly, over Root’s clit and Root moaned unrestrainedly, breaking eye contact with Shaw as her head fell back against the wall. Shaw took that moment to attack Root’s neck, Root’s grip pulling her closer, pushing her in as she licked and bit and pushed deeper and faster. Each bite and thrust was like lightening to Root and Root only welcomed it, accepting it all as her eyes closed, losing control.

Her hips grew more insistent as she edged closer to where she wanted to be.

Shaw didn’t tease, she wasn’t here to drag it out, and Root didn’t expect her to as Shaw’s pace increased, rhythm growing stronger meeting Root’s insistence and suddenly Root let go, Shaw never slowing: watching, feeling as Root clenched and shuddered.

‘Shit’ she breathed, hips jutting wildly

‘Fuck Shaw’ she moaned, breathing heavily as she reached her orgasm, finally slowing her pace trying to regain her breath, head still back against the wall as she tried to regain control.

Shaw stilled her fingers, watching intently as Root’s eyes remained closed, lips parted as her breathe came heavily: waiting.

Root opened her eyes slowly, fixating on the ceiling before finally bringing her gaze to meet Shaw’s, ghost of a smirk on her face. Shaw’s face betrayed nothing as she slid her fingers out of Root roughly and Root’s eyes fluttered for the briefest of moments at the sensation, leg falling to the ground.

Her hands remained gripped to Shaw’s back and she used that to steady herself. Shaw’s eyes remained fixed on Root’s face as she watched Root regain herself and when Root opened her eyes, her gaze filled with satisfaction, Shaw pushed herself away forcing Root’s grip to loosen. Root let her hands fall to her sides, watching as Shaw backed away slightly still facing Root.

‘Well that was…nice’ Root smirked, thoroughly satisfied.

Shaw made no movement, eyes still fixed deep onto Root’s as she searched and Root allowed it, seemingly knowing what she was looking for and permitting the intrusion.

Whatever it was, Shaw found it. She nodded once, like this was a business deal.

‘I’m going to bed.’

Shaw walked off, leaving Root against the wall. She heard the tap running as Shaw washed her fingers.

‘Can I come too?’ she called playfully, knowing the answer as she made her way to the bedroom. When she entered Shaw glared, warning evident in her eyes. Root’s smirk never left her face as she walked up to Shaw, invading her personal space.

‘Don’t worry Shaw. I’m only here to get blankets.’

Root spun round and headed to the wardrobe, reaching inside to the top and pulling down said items.

She sauntered off to the living room.

‘Goodnight Shaw’ she called playfully.

The bedroom door slammed in response.

 

 1 HOUR REMAINING

 

The two didn’t get much time to sleep, not that they would have slept anyway, and Root wandered into the kitchen area fully dressed, watching a clothed Shaw make coffee.

‘Are you just going to stand there or sort food?’

‘Just admiring the view.’

Shaw shot her a glare, not phasing Root at all before Root obliged, finding some stale bread and sticking it in the toaster.

The two stood in silence, waiting for the toast.

‘ETA?’

‘She says about an hour, so we should probably zip tie me before then.’

‘Okay.’

The toast popped and Shaw immediately grabbed it, taking a big bite despite its unappetizing nature. Root nibbled at her own piece as the two stood in silence, leaning against respective walls. Shaw stared resolutely ahead while Root studied Shaw’s face intently, almost fondly.

‘What.’

‘Nothing.’

‘Then stop looking at me’

‘Can’t I look at you?’

‘Not like that you can’t.’

Shaw looked at Root pointedly, and Root shrugged.

‘Root.’

There was silence, but Root knew there was more and waited.

‘Root. Last night was not-‘

‘-up for discussion. I’m aware Shaw.’ Root looked up and grinned ‘I’m not fawning over you if that’s what you think. Like I said when we first met: I admire your work.’

Root took a couple of steps closer to Shaw, though not invading her personal space, instead almost circling her like prey. Shaw eyed her carefully.

‘Although, I have heard you’ll extend to three nights. I wonder if we can come to some sort of arrangement.’

‘Root’ Shaw warned

‘Two more if I’m not mistaken.’ Root’s grin grew wider, more playful.

‘Don’t look so startled Shaw. It’ll be fun.’

Their eyes met and Root swore she saw a hint of anticipation that made her shiver imperceptibly with the chance of future encounters.  Root broke eye contact as her gaze lost focus.

‘In the meantime, she’s telling me we need to move. Come on Shaw.’

Root walked away into the kitchen, all business.

Shaw’s eyes never left her figure.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Root never brought up the safe house and Shaw was more than happy to keep it that way, especially now Root was a self-confessed 'good guy' and thus, 'on the team': Shaw was even starting to enjoy working with the woman even if she was still slightly wary of her motives and overall presence. Most of the time, however, she was content to let Root do whatever it was Root did, not least because it usually ended up with Shaw shooting someone and not necessarily in the knee.

That didn't mean she got any less irritating with time: Root was like the common cold. You could fight it off but it would always come back and there was no amount of immunisation that made Root's presence any more tolerable to Shaw. But she was good at what she did and a useful asset so Shaw left her alone.

So why Root kept shooting puppy dog eyes in her direction she had no idea. Every time she did anything Root would stare at her with roving eyes trying to work her out, maybe trying to decode her like she would a program. Of course whenever Shaw looked her way Root would swiftly look away, smirking that irritating smirk like she knew something Shaw didn't. Which was probably true with an omniscient AI whispering in her ear, but that didn't mean Shaw had to like it.

It just made her more frustrated. Which made Root all the more endeared towards her. Not that Shaw knew that; Shaw just thought it was another of Root's tactics to get a rise, and it was definitely working.

One of these days she would make good on that promise to shoot her. And not in the knee.

Today, unfortunately, was not that day. Root had shown up on a sleek black motorbike and told Shaw to hop on.

Shaw was pissed. She liked the bike: she wanted one. She hated Root and she most certainly did not want to go with her on said bike but Root knew just what to say to stop her complaints. Shaw even suspected the bike was part of the ploy to get her to come.

Stealing a jet. Well, it did sound like fun.

So Shaw got on the back of the bike because like hell she was going to let Reese take this one and have all the fun and hey, Root and her worked well together.

Once again Root got her way and once again Shaw couldn't pinpoint why she was so angry.

Shaw did a mental calculation of her guns and their locations, wondering if she could get away with dumping Root's body in a snowdrift in Alaska where no one could find it and riding off into the sunset.

She ground her jaw because even she knew that wouldn't be a smart move. The cons definitely outweighed the pros: how the hell would she explain it to Finch? And when he found out the truth there was no way he'd let her see Bear again.

So Shaw kept her mouth shut, content to let Root drive them up to the Canadian border before they hopped a cargo train to Alaska.

Turns out, tackling relevant numbers hadn't improved since Shaw's day: the pay was worse and the accommodation, she thought as she sat slumped against the wall of the train carriage, could do with an upgrade.

Root rummaged about in one of the nearby crates, fishing out some Jack Daniels and chucking the bottle towards Shaw who caught it deftly.

'Dinner.'

'Really?'

'It's a long trip Sameen, better get comfy.'

Shaw scowled, ripping off the top to the bottle and taking a swig. Even she had to bite back a grimace: this definitely wasn't Finch's aged bottles she was used to.

If possible, her scowl deepened as she focused her glare on the offending beverage.

Root walked over and swiped it from her grasp before sitting down cross-legged against the wall opposite her. Shaw's glare followed her but Root simple grinned and took a tentative sip. She did nothing to hide the grimace.

'Well that's terrible.'

Shaw's scowl lightened slightly at Root's discomfort.

Root took another sip anyway, leaning her head back against the carriage wall.

A slight breeze hit the women through the drafts in the doors as they passed the bottle between them, content to sit in silence as the sound of the tracks beneath filled the space.

Root listened to the Machine beep in her ear, grinning ever so slightly as she got progress reports on various activities and occasionally muttering a question that presumably got answered.

Shaw rested, not moving from her original position: one knee bent up as her forearm rested upon it, the other hand free to clasp the whiskey as she gazed around her. Sometimes her eyes fell upon Root, too engaged with the voice in her head to notice Shaw's eyes boring into her every time she uttered a sound or made a movement.

The woman was restless: constantly shuffling her, fingers tapping her foot, shifting always.

It annoyed Shaw but she said nothing.

Night fell as they travelled further up the continent and soon Shaw was shifting, content to lie down on the hard metal floor using her crooked arm for a pillow. She faced the wall and drifted off.

Root didn't sleep at all.

Shaw woke suddenly to Root crouching in front of her grinning. She was far too close for comfort and Shaw shot up, hand instinctively reaching for the knife strapped to her calf beneath her black combats.

Root's eyes simply followed her: she was unfazed, instead reaching behind her and holding out a tin.

Tinned tuna.

Shaw eyed it warily.

'I made a trip to the carriage three to left. She mentioned some food shipments. I managed to grab a few tins of tuna. Not gourmet, but it'll have to do for now.'

Shaw slowly relaxed her hand, still tense as she snatched the tin. Root's grin never left her face as she fell back to her place opposite Shaw, prizing open the tin just as Shaw had with her knife.

Shaw devoured hers, piling the flat edge of her knife blade with the brine-covered fish and shovelling it in. Root nibbled at hers: perhaps to make it last longer, perhaps because it wasn't exactly the nicest meal. Either way, she was thankful they had something.

Shaw finished before Root had made it halfway through her own. Seeing Shaw set her empty tin down Root reached into the pocket of her leather jacket and tugged out an extra tin, chucking it over to Shaw who wasted no time in opening that one as well, appetite insatiable as ever.

'So,' she coaxed out between mouthfuls of tuna 'what's the plan?'

'She says we'll arrive in the next hour. Then, you follow my lead. It shouldn't take too long.'

Shaw scoffed.

'Me follow your lead. I need some clue Root: this was my job remember I know what I'm doing.'

Root smiled softly.

'Why Sameen, don't you trust me?'

Shaw stabbed the tuna tin with particular force, scraping the tip of her knife along the bottom in a grating tone as she scooped up the fish.

That wasn't fair. Shaw did trust her. Shaw trusted her abilities and for Shaw, that was enough. She trusted Root could handle herself. Admired that fact even. But that wasn't what this was about. Shaw wanted to know so she could help: get in on the action.

She was promised a jet and explosions. So far she had a train and tuna.

Root's eyes never left Shaw as she watched the woman angrily eat tuna in a way only Shaw could. Root chuckled.

'Don't worry you'll need your guns. Stay alert, follow my lead and soon we'll be hopping a jet.'

Root returned her attention to her own tuna meal but didn't miss the way Shaw's actions softened slightly: appeased.

Root delivered on her promise.

Root swindled their way onto the private jet where the would-be bombers were making the exchange: money for homemade pipe bombs. On Root's subtle cue (knifing the man to her immediately left in the femur) Shaw got to work.

The jet meant no guns which dampened her mood slightly, but she did relish a challenge and took great joy in demonstrating both the pinpoint accuracy with which she could slice major arteries and practicing her knife throwing skills to nail a guy coming up behind Root in the throat.

Shaw, at that point, was almost smiling, and while she tried to hide her delight her eyes betrayed her.

Root, for her part was both enraptured by Shaw's obvious delight and thrown a little off balance by the warm fuzzy feelings that had begun to burn a little stronger than usual.

Shaw pushed past Root's shoulder to collect her knife from the slowly dying man and led the way to the cockpit. Prizing open the locked door with a swift knife movement, Shaw deftly slit the pilot's throat and gently pulled him out of his seat, propping him up against a cockpit wall.

Root stepped over the man's legs to enter and sat in the co-pilots chair whilst Shaw took control of the plane before it began to plummet.

'Any idea how to fly this thing?'

'You're doing fine Sameen just keep the rudder steady while I sort this' coaxed Root, flicking various switches around her seat in accordance with the Machines instructions.

'Flaps?'

'2 o'clock. Set them to 60 degrees for now.'

Shaw did as instructed, concentrating on keeping the plane level.

'Flaps down and pull up to 20,000 feet. She's got us airspace clearance. We are now officially Sarah Palin's private jet heading for Miami.'

Once again Shaw did as instructed, pushing the throttle forward before gently pulling the control stick back as they climbed steadily. Once they reached a level altitude, Shaw pulled back the throttle and Root once again began fiddling around the cockpit, reaching close to Shaw at one point as she pressed a glowing yellow button. Reaching up to the ceiling she made one final adjustment.

'You can let go now. I've programmed the autopilot and the Machine will alert us to any necessary diversions. We'll need to land, however.'

Shaw let go of the controls, feet leaving the rudder pedals.

'I've flown other jets before. This shouldn't be a problem.'

Despite the emergency piloting Shaw was content and satisfied, adrenaline pumping. Root stood up, looking down at Shaw who looked right back.

'Mini bar?'

'I thought you'd never ask.'

The two women re-entered the main cabin: while Shaw shoved the bodies to the back of the plane ensuring the only toilet wasn't blocked by dead limbs Root set about raiding the food and mini bar. By the time Shaw was done Root had managed to rustle up two vodka cokes and amassed an obscene amount of packaged peanuts in the middle of the table.

Shaw pulled off her jacket and sat in the chair opposite Root, leaning back and barely repressing a sigh of comfort.

'I'm afraid there wasn't much food. I did however manage to find peanuts' explained Root, typing away on a laptop stolen from the numbers.

Shaw grunted in understanding and quickly downed her drink, eating the peanuts as she stared out of the window.

Unlike before, Shaw was remarkably more relaxed. Root was typing away at the laptop, coding some form of virus for the Machine and encrypted messages to be sent to her team, the Machine whispering in her ear. Shaw's gaze drifted to Root every so often, studying like Root would her while she worked.

Root would often scrape her teeth across her lip when she reached a problem, biting down hard when she couldn't solve it immediately, fingers drifting over the keyboard in insistent work.

Shaw found herself admiring Root in this moment of calm.

And that was when Shaw decided it was time for another drink.

She got up and hoarded every small, Barbie-sized bottle of Jack Daniels and Smirnoff she could find in that fridge plus a number of small cans of diet coke before bringing it all over in her arms and dumping it on the table unceremoniously.

Root didn't flinch but did look up from her screen, peering over the edge of it to assess the table before glancing at Shaw, eyebrow raised.

'You finished your drink.'

It occurred to Root that perhaps Shaw was like a cat, bringing her offerings in an attempt to woo her and earn her praise.

Then she realised this was Shaw and the idea of Shaw trying to woo her almost had her laughing no matter how much it hurt her to admit it.

She would cling onto the idea that Shaw might have been doing it subconsciously though. 

'So you brought me the bar?' teased Root.

Shaw scowled and sat down non-too gently, reaching for the nearest bottle, unscrewing the top and swigging about half of it.

'Fine. Don't drink it then. I will.'

Root looked up, stared out of the window, nodded slightly and then closed the laptop, chucking it over onto the chair on the other side of the cabin relaxing slightly as it actually landed in the chair and not on the floor. Then she too reached forward for the nearest bottle, unscrewed the top poured half into her glass before topping it up with a can of coke.

It occurred to Root that Shaw had brought the diet coke for her benefit and that perhaps Shaw did think about her a little.

The thought brought a smile to her lips that she hid, taking a long gulp of her drink.

The two sat in silence for the next few hours, drinking as both alternatively gazing at each other and the window.

As the alcohol disappeared, the glances became more frequent. When they caught each other's eye, Shaw would divert her gaze abruptly to the window whilst Root would simply stare, her insistent eyes almost unnerving Shaw before she too would look away.

Shaw ground her jaw in pent-up frustration, reaching for the penultimate bottle of whiskey.

‘How long until we reach Miami?’

‘About 4 hours so long as we don’t get held up landing.’

Shaw nodded in understanding, swigging her bottle.

She stood up abruptly.

‘I’m going to check out the TV’ she declared, launching herself over to the long white leather sofa that faced a wall-mounted television. She collapsed onto the couch, the alcohol having more effect than she’d like to admit as she fumbled with the remote in the wall.

Suddenly hands were on hers gently twisting the remote out of her grasp, fingers grazing calloused knuckles as Root sat beside Shaw, commandeering the TV as she turned it on.

‘Thanks’ mumbled Shaw.

Root turned and grinned.

Shaw met her eyes and something about the way Shaw looked at her made Root think.

Shaw wanted something. Root knew exactly what she wanted. But Shaw wasn’t going to ask for it. Or maybe Shaw herself didn’t even know; know precisely how she was looking at Root in that exact moment. How she had been looking at Root these past few hours in short, furtive glances.

It made Root smoulder at the seams, a fire waiting to break out.

Root placed the controller back into the wall holder and turned her torso to face Shaw. Root had never been good with subtle even at the best of times but Shaw was still slightly startled by the pure want in Root’s eyes at that moment. Want and need. Desire.

Root pulled her legs up onto the couch and leant forward into Shaw’s personal space. Shaw instinctively leant back, shifting away as far as she could until she was stretched along the length of the leather, head hitting the armrest.

Root was inches above her, her arms propping her up above Shaw as her body covered Shaw’s.

Her face twisted into a smirk.

‘Sameen.’

Shaw’s breathing was the only response. Not quite ragged but not quite stable either. Deeper. More laboured.

‘I need to repay a…debt.’

Root’s face inched closer towards Shaw’s, eyes locked.

‘And I believe you and I,’ Root glanced down at Shaw’s lips, Shaw’s eyes following the movement as she shifted slightly underneath her, ‘had an arrangement.’

‘An arrangement?’

Shaw’s voice came out a lot stronger than she was expecting. Root’s gaze seemed to undress Shaw despite the close proximity of their faces restricting movement and Shaw suppressed a shiver at the intensity.

She had a small idea of which debt Root was referring to, and which ‘arrangement’ she was about to call in.

‘Mmmm. Three encounters were the terms you set out I believe.’

‘Root…’ warned Shaw.

‘Well,’ Root pulled back slightly to take in Shaw’s face, ‘I’m calling in the arrangement.’

Shaw practically growled: from anticipation or frustration Root didn’t know but she was determined to get what she wanted, even if it meant using up one of her precious ‘sex-passes.’

‘Root.’

‘Sameen’ purred Root, dipping closer so their lips ghosted together.

‘Do you have any objections?’

Her mouth curled around the words, grazing Shaw’s lips ever so slightly.

Shaw lunged forward, taking Root’s bottom lip in her teeth and pulling hard. Root held back a moan and followed the movement as Shaw brought her head back, teeth still locked on Root’s lip. When her head hit the chair once again, Shaw let go and Root covered the remaining distance on her own needing no further encouragement. Her hands remained either side of Shaw’s head as she struggled to hold herself up above Shaw’s prone body. Shaw, for her part, didn’t care and clasped Root’s top, forcefully pulling her further down into her as Root collapsed, shifting her hands to grip Shaw’s hair hard, twisting her head back to expose her neck.

Root pulled back slightly, ghosting her lips over the exposed jugular and kissing it lightly, trailing her lips over sensitive flesh as Shaw arched into each soft nip and each light lick.

Root smirked against her skin.

‘Root’ growled Shaw, trying to pull Root’s head upwards to face her. But Root resisted, determined to set the pace.

‘Sameen be patient,’ she murmured on pulsating skin, ‘I’m repaying my debt. Enjoy it.’

Root bit down harshly on Shaw’s exposed collar earning her a sharp breathe and fingernails scratching her scalp.

As Root continued her assault of Shaw’s neck her hands ran down Shaw’s exposed arms as she pressed herself fully against her, exploring the toned torso as best she could with the limited space. Her fingers reached the edge of the tank top and fingernails scratched skin as she pulled off the top, Shaw lifting her back in an attempt to sit up to accommodate the movement, forcing Root to stop her ministrations as the top was hastily torn off. Shaw quickly pulled off Root’s leather jacket, chucking it somewhere in the cabin before resuming the kiss with haste, biting Root’s already tender lip as Root’s nails dug into her strong shoulders, reciprocating with as much force.

Root fumbled slightly as she undid Shaw’s bra, preoccupied with Shaw’s ravenous attack of her lips neck and jaw leaving a trail of tender red skin whilst Root tried to regain control of herself, her eyes closing in pleasure.

The bra chucked to the side Root pushed Shaw back down forcefully following her as her hands scraped at Shaw’s newly exposed chest, lowering herself down to Shaw’s level and taking her lips once more, fingers typing infinite code into Shaw’s torso as they flitted and scratched and pinched at sensitive flesh. Shaw arched into every touch her throat vibrating with pleasure and Root swallowed the soft sounds like treasure, pulling away to nip at Shaw’s jaw, smiling against skin as Shaw’s breathe came out ragged.

Root’s hands travelled lower, lips reaching her collarbone before the space restricted Root’s movements downward. Undeterred her nails scraped at the edge of Shaw’s jeans, one hand delicately releasing the button and pulling down the zip.

She raised her hips slightly, shifting her left arm awkwardly to support her weight as her right hand trailed sharp welts down slipping underneath black briefs.

Root stopped, eyes capturing Shaw’s briefly as the woman shifted to try and get Root to move.

‘Root,’ she gritted out, voice harsh and demanding.

Root smiled, lowering her head to kiss Shaw with deceptive tenderness, something she would have noticed and questioned had it not been for the fingers now roughly entering her causing her to break the kiss gasping in pleasure.

Root leaned back, trying as best she could to gain leverage as she continued a rhythmic pace thrusting as best she could. Shaw was more than happy to make up the slack, hips meeting Root’s every thrust as Root allowed her to set the pace.

Fingers curled as Root manoeuvred her hand grazing Shaw’s clit, and Shaw’s movements became less defined, punctuated by short grunts as Shaw focussed on her own pleasure. Both were breathing heavily. Shaw’s head rested on the leather arm, neck extended and eyes closed as she struggled to arch and meet Root’s fingers, and Root found herself captivated as Shaw’s skin glistened with exertion, chest heaving.

Her eyes never left Shaw’s form, intent to memorize every reaction as Shaw reached her climax, watching the tendons in her neck strain against slick skin in bliss. Root slowed her pace as Shaw visibly relaxed, breathing ragged but satisfied.

Root stilled her hand and Shaw opened her eyes to find a steady gaze upon her face. 

‘What?’ she huffed out softly, still regaining her control and she could’ve sworn she saw a tender smile cross Root’s features before her trademark smirk appeared looking smug.

Root gently pulled her hand out of Shaw, watching as the woman struggled to repress a shudder at the loss and sat up, hips straddling Shaw’s thighs.

‘Was that nice Sameen?’ she asked, head tilted downwards slightly.

‘Get off me Root.’

Root pouted, fingers carefully reassembling Shaw’s jeans, hands resting on the woman’s hips when she completed her task.

Shaw tried to sit up, attempting to reshuffle and pull herself forward and out from under Root but simply succeeded in raising her torso before hitting the leather couch with a thud.

‘Relax Sameen.’

Root gracelessly clambered off Shaw, standing up and straightening her top before heading towards the bathroom as she hopped over deceased men.

Shaw lay still, listening as she heard Root freshen up in the bathroom before deciding to sit up, swinging her legs over the side of the couch to face the TV screen. She bent down and reached for her bra and top, absentmindedly redressing herself as she watched the screen though not really paying much attention at all.

She was satisfied in more ways than one, alcohol still coursing through her system, but her mind churned with thoughts of Root and what the hell she was doing. She was well within her three nights rule and she didn’t think Root would have much of a problem, but things had changed.

There was something different: she just couldn’t quite grasp what.

She heard the door open and sat back into the couch, gaze fixed firmly on the screen as Root walked by, retaking her previous seat and picking up the laptop once again.

The rest of the journey passed by in silence: not uncomfortable as Shaw had anticipated, but charged with something. Shaw resolutely refused to look or walk anywhere near Root despite her burning desire for water, glaring holes in the TV though she couldn’t quite work out the spurce of her frustration.

Root looked up from her laptop every once in a while, eyes travelling the length of Shaw’s body in no particular hurry before returning to the screen. Root found she quite liked studying Shaw’s stubborn profile.

The Machine whispered in her ear.

‘Shaw.’

Root stood up without warning, placing the laptop down and walking to the cockpit.

‘Time to go.’

Shaw obediently followed, shooting up immediately and hungry for action: anything to dispel the tension that even she could recognise even if she could not see what it meant.

Root had promised her guns.

She really hoped Miami would let her use her guns.

Chapter Text

Shaw pedaled furiously through the unlit streets, dodging wayward citizens and making a few choice shots at Vigilance members. She swerved down a side alley, narrowly missing trash piled high.

Seriously, what was she thinking?

Shaw glared at the open space in front of her, leaning forward and pedaling with ferocity wildly turning out of the alley and heading towards the Decima warehouse.

Her breath was heavy and strained as she pushed her body harder but she paid it no attention, running in her mind the quickest way to reach her destination.

Where the hell was the nerd squad? Isn’t this the whole reason she turned team player?

Shaw swerved around cars, taking the single road to the ostentatious warehouse that could only be Greer’s work.

She should be helping Harold: if Root could just stop being so goddamn infuriating.

She skidded to a halt, leaping off the bike and ditching it in the road before breaking into a run.

She approached a large wire fence, floodlights and guard-posts lining the perimeter. She tucked her gun away sticking to the shadows. Camera’s scanned the area and she knelt behind a low ditch, hiding her presence and looking up at her goal.

Her eyes drifted to a security camera, glare not lightening one bit.

‘You’re going to fucking help me and then maybe I won’t burn every one of your goddamn servers.’

She was too angry to contemplate how ridiculous she felt.

Her phone vibrated.

She fumbled in her pocket and checked the screen. A timer.

0:58

0:57

She shoved it into her back pocket and took off at a sprint. Reaching the fence she knelt down.

‘Little help’ she gritted out.

The phone shook.

‘3 o’clock.’

Shaw spun to her right, crawling forward slightly and reaching for the nearby wire cutters discarded under a concrete watchtower.

‘Handy.’

She swiftly cut the fence, chucking the pliers through before shifting through the narrow hole.

She was going to kill Root.

How stupid do you really have to be to do this? Really. This was a whole new level.

‘If you can hear me,’ she grunted, shimmying though the hole and dragging her legs through, ‘I don’t care,’ she pulled her body through and began to stand up, ‘how ‘all-knowing’ and God-like you think you are,’ she brushed herself off and picked up the pliers, ‘if you ever try to pull anything like this again without giving her backup,’ she shoved the pliers into her back pocket and pulled out her gun, twisting on a silencer, ‘I will find you and I will shoot every blinking light and wire I see and then every one I can’t.’

Shaw began to head towards the building at a run, kicking open a gray metal door and entering a dark corridor illuminated by the green glow of an exit sign.

‘Which way.’

Left

Shaw walked forward, gun aimed steady as she made her way down the corridor turning left as it forked off.

12 o’clock

Shaw immediately ducked behind one of the many boxes that had begun to line the narrow corridor listening intently as the scuff of boot against concrete got louder and louder.

When she deemed her target close enough she stood up and fired two quick shots to his chest, moving past the crumpled body as he bled out on the floor.

‘Don’t tell Finch’ she muttered.

She continued forward with more care, listening out for any other guards. In the distance she could hear muffled voices and the end of an altercation. She walked forward, lowering her gun and putting it into her back pocket as she came into a large warehouse room, light glaring.

She took out the guard with the gun pointed at Root.

Root shot her a smirk and Shaw chose to ignore the way her eyes shone in adoration.

Shaw rolled up from the floor and climbed up onto the truck where Root stood.

Roots thumb came up to wipe away a streak of mud from her face.

Shaw didn’t move away.

‘Looks like someone crawled in under the fence. Admit it, you were worried about me.’

‘I was worried about the mission,’ asserted Shaw, which wasn’t entirely untrue. She was worried about the mission. About Root completing the mission safely and in one piece. Root being in one piece to complete the mission. Root the mission-Root completing the mission.

Root completing the mission.

‘Reese and Hersh are trying to save Finch, but that won’t matter if Samaritan kills us all.’

Root looked skeptical but said nothing.

‘Then let’s get to work.’

She flicked open a box-cutter with a flourish, bending down to attend to her fallen guard.

‘Oh, it’s gonna be that kind of party huh?’

Shaw knelt down beside Root allowing herself a small grin as Root worked out the chip from the guys arm.

‘Decima tags all its people. Without an RFID Chip you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.’

She cleaned it in white spirit.

‘Ready for your shot?’

Shaw raised an eyebrow: Root looked far too pleased at the prospect of jamming a needle into her wrist but she offered it out anyway, rolling up her sleeve exposing her wrist.

‘Hold still. You might feel a little pinch.’

Shaw glared as Root jabbed the needle in, placing the tracker before pulling it back out and covering the small wound with a piece of cloth.

‘How was that?’

‘Fine. Let’s go get yours.’

Shaw stood up, chucking the cloth away and jumping down towards the man she had knocked unconscious.

‘Any place to store these guys?’

Root came up behind Shaw, needle at the ready.

‘Back of the truck: we’ll be moving those servers anyway.’

She knelt down, fishing the tracker out before swiftly inserting it in her own arm as Shaw began dragging the body away.

‘You might want to strip Sameen.’

‘What?’

‘Change into his clothes.’

Shaw frowned, dropping the unconscious weight on the ground.

‘Why do you get the lab coat and I have to full frontal strip?’

Root sauntered over.

‘Don’t be jealous Sameen. As much as I’m going to enjoy watching you strip somehow I don’t think I could pass off as a security guard. You’re much more suited to a gun than a server.’

Shaw said nothing, picking up the body and altering its course heading for a tower of boxes in the corner. Root watched with a smirk.

‘No need to be shy Sameen.’

Shaw didn’t acknowledge the statement, violently pushing the man to a slot behind the crates as she began to undress.

Root stood still, watching the makeshift divisor between her and Shaw’s naked form before the voice in her ear alerted her to the time sensitive part of the ‘time sensitive mission.’ She immediately drew her eyes away, hopping up onto the back of the truck and changing her jacket for the lab coat on the floor, pushing the body out of the way as she began to push the servers to edge of the truck.

As she finally made it to the end, admittedly a little out of breath, she peeked out from behind the electronics just in time to see Shaw chuck the now unclothed body of the security guard onto the truck.

‘Zip ties?’ she questioned as she followed the body.

‘In the bag; did you see any heavy equipment transporters while you were down there?’

‘By the door.’

Root dropped down and busied herself whilst Shaw dealt with the unconscious men, finding some spare tranquilizer in the bag next to the zip ties and utilizing it on the two men.

‘Sameen, if you’d be so kind?’

Shaw heeded the call, helping Root operate the mechanisms and push serves around until they were loaded up onto something more moveable.

‘And She wanted you to do this alone,’ muttered Shaw, ‘I’m going to shoot Her.’

Root watched on fondly as Shaw made the last of the adjustments muttering to herself. She almost dared to call it adorable were it not Shaw.

‘Stop standing there and help me move this Root,’ commanded Shaw gruffly, earning her a smile as Root obliged.

‘You push, I’ll pull.’

Shaw nodded once and the two began the journey through the warehouse.

‘You know where we’re going?’

Root raised an eyebrow.

‘Right. She does.’

Root hummed in acknowledgement, turning occasionally to look where she was going.

‘So what are we doing here Root?’

‘You’re not meant to be here.’

‘You’d be dead if I wasn’t.’

‘Don’t be so dramatic Sameen.’

‘There was a gun pointed at your head.’

‘I could handle it.’

‘Did She even warn you?’ spat out Shaw.

Root raised an eyebrow at the tone.

‘Yes.’

Shaw ground her jaw. She wasn’t sure what was worse: the Machine not warning her or Root not heeding the warning.

They reached a locked gate.

Shaw scratched her arm in irritation.

‘As soon as this thing is over I’m cutting this stupid chip out of my arm.’

 ‘I’ll do yours if you do mine,’ quipped Root, taking far too much enjoyment from this for Shaw’s liking.

Shaw shot her a glare.

Root’s smirk grew bigger.

‘Ready for the moment of truth?’ Root placed her arm under the nearby chip scanner, ‘Or lies really…’

The scanner identified the chip and Root stepped through, cargo following her.

The gate closed before Shaw could make her way through and it took all her strength not to moan like a child because really the universe was out to get her today and couldn’t the Machine hold it open for her?

Instead of grumbling Shaw shoved her exposed wrist under the scanner forcefully.

The red light glared back at her and she shot a look at Root who was watching intently.

She tried again. Another red. This time the look she shot Root might have been tinged with a little bit of worry.

Just at that moment a Decima guard decided that precise moment to walk by. Shaw was ready to shoot him because this was turning out to be one of her worst days to date. Instead, she shot him a less-than-convincing smile and tried her chip again.

It worked and she passed through the gate relatively unscathed as Root breathed out a sigh of relief.

They carry on forward.

‘This better be good Root. I’m going to shoot something.’

‘Patience Sameen: there’s a time for the hammer and a time for the scalpel and this, is not hammer time.’

Shaw scratched at her wrist scowling.

‘We’re here.’

‘Where do you want me?’

‘Oh Sameen not now,’ sung Root, already pulling off one of the servers. Shaw came around the other side to help glaring and it occurred to Root how thankful she should be that looks couldn’t kill.

As they grasped the server Root turned business.

‘Don’t touch anything unless I say so.’

Shaw worked to shift the server into position.

‘So this is Samaritan’s brain?’

‘Part of it.’

Root led the way, Shaw her humble soldier as Root navigated through the alien room occasionally stopping to place a server and fiddle with wires and switches in a way Shaw was perfectly happy not to understand.

‘So what’s the deal, you just plug ‘em in and it’s lights out Samaritan?’

Root stood up closing the server door as the lights flickered on.

‘Something like that,’ she answered non-committedly.

Shaw kept her eyes fixed on the electronics as Root came to stand by her.

‘Those two rows didn’t light up. It didn’t work?’

‘Those lights staying dark is a good thing. Samaritan’s AI won’t get switched on until Greer gets the government feeds. Those lights turn blue…’

‘We’re screwed.’

Root came close to Shaw’s ear.

‘We’re inside a sleeping giant Shaw. Try not to wake it up.’

Root sauntered off to place the next server, Shaw watching the white lab coat swing behind her before following her lead, still struggling to grasp where the hell they were and more importantly what the hell they were doing.

Root made some final adjustments as the final server was placed down. Shaw watching diligently, pacing not far from where Root worked: she was after all simply the muscle in this operation she had swiftly worked out.

‘Last one. Wanna get out of here?’ flirted Root, back to her antics now the job was done.

‘Not without an insurance policy in case your way doesn’t work.’

Shaw was all business, holding a hefty block of prepped C4 in her hand. It might not be hammer time but she didn’t need a hammer to make a dent in Decima’s plans.

‘Just tell me where to put this thing-‘

Root lost her humour all at once. The gesture was almost sweet, she mused, but it hit her just how little Shaw knew. The Machine whispered in her ear urging her to dissuade Shaw but she was already pushing down Shaw’s eager hand of C4.

‘This facility is one of a hundred just like it all over the world,’ Root looked straight at Shaw trying to get her point across, ‘it would take years to destroy them all. And Decima would just rebuild them.’

Shaw understood somewhere. Her immediate urge was to shoot every goddamn server in this room and continue all around the globe but something in the way Root spoke, voice slightly despondent, conveyed the gravity of a situation Shaw didn’t totally understand. She doubted even Root fully understood.

‘Well then your magic boxes better shut this thing down.’

‘Shaw. This was never about turning it off.’

‘Well then what the hell have we been doing here?’

Root regarded Shaw with weary eyes before the voice in her ear spoke in urgent tones.

‘I hear you: we need to go. She says we’re in danger.’

Root walked off and hoped just this once Shaw wouldn’t push it, already striding towards the nearest exit as per Her instructions. Shaw looked on trying to work out what it all meant, but nevertheless immediately following Root’s lead.

‘This way.’

Their pace was quick, both making it through the locked gate this time as Shaw kept a vigilant eye for possible threats.

‘They know we’re here. We won’t be able to get out the way we came in: we’ll have to take the fence.’

They made it to room they began in but didn’t get far: the two men they had left unconscious were now very much conscious and surrounded by a group of armed guards who promptly pointed their guns at the two intruders.

They stopped still.

‘Hands up and don’t move.’

Root smiled.

‘I’m sorry I think there’s been some mistake. We work here.’

‘They have chips sir.’

‘They’re lying! She knocked me out, stole my chip and put on my coat!’

Root’s smile remained firmly in place.

‘Why would I do that?’

‘Why would I be lying!’

‘Shut up both of you.’

The guns were still trained on Root.

‘Sir,’

‘Look why the hell would I lock myself in the back of a server truck and zip tie myself to the wall?’

‘I don’t know why would you?’ pondered Root.

‘Quiet! I’m taking you all in and Lambert can decide what to do with you.’

Root’s smile faltered for just a second.

Suddenly an unidentified flying object-Root almost chuckled- shot past her and landed on the floor in the middle of the group of men. They didn’t have enough time to register its presence before it exploded. Shaw dove at Root’s back to press her down on the ground as the blast expelled outwards effectively demolishing the threats.

Root didn’t really have time to register what had just happened, nor the warmth of Shaw’s body covering her own before it left her as Shaw rolled off, grabbed her wrist and dragged her to her feet already on the move.

Root struggled to right herself but soon regained balance as they made their way down the dark corridors Shaw had entered through at a fast run.

Making it outside the two sprinted to where Shaw vaguely remembered crawling through. They stopped at the fence and Shaw pushed for Root to go first.

‘Did you just throw C4 at them?’ questioned Root, laughter evident in her tone as she shimmied through the small gap staining the pristine white lab coat.

‘What else was I meant to do?’ grunted Shaw following straight behind Root.

‘Like the view?’

‘Shut up and move I’ve got metal sticking into my ass.’

Root chuckled but pulled her feet through, standing up and offering Shaw a hand, which she took, jumping to her feet before setting off at a jog.

‘We have a way out of here?’

‘There’s a car a bit down the road: this way.’

Shaw slowed down and allowed Root to take the lead as they reached a black sedan. Root smoothly opened the door as Shaw jumped into the drivers seat on the other side.

‘So handy cars tend to be all wired up to the Internet these days,’ mused Root as Shaw sped off.

‘Where to now?’

‘We don’t have long. Samaritan comes online in 6 hours. In 6 hours those other lights flash on.’

Shaw’s grip on the wheel tightened.

‘Where to now?’

Root tilted her head slightly.

‘There’s a hotel not far from here. She’s got us a room.’

They drove in relative silence, Root occasionally handing out directions that led them to the center of Manhattan until Shaw pulled up in front of a five-star hotel.

Stepping out she handed the keys to valet and the two walked into the main lobby: the security guard and the lab technician turning heads as they walked up to the imposing reception desk.

‘Reservation under…Sinclair? Veronica Sinclair.’

Shaw raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

‘Ms. Sinclair of course,’ replied the receptionist, courteous enough after the initial shock of their mismatched attire.

‘The Penthouse Suite. Pre-paid,’ he slid the key over the desk, ‘located on the top floor. Do you require anything else?’

‘No…no that’s fine thank you.’

They headed off towards the nearest elevator, getting in alone.

‘The Penthouse? Really?’

Root shrugged.

‘I guess…I guess She wants us to enjoy it.’

They said nothing more, heading straight up to the top floor and towards the big wooden double doors.

Root slid the card into the reader and slowly pushed the door open. They stepped into a large open plan living area. Floor length windows illuminated the room with the lights of the city and they caught sight of a double bed shining with the orange light of the high-rise buildings.

Shaw scanned the room, pulling off the security jacket she donned and tossing it on the nearby couch before perching on the bed, looking out the windows.

Root watched her, before similarly slipping off her dirty lab coat and tossing it on top of Shaw’s jacket, following her to the bed and hesitating slightly before sitting beside Shaw.

‘What are we doing here Root?’

‘In the hotel? We have…5 hours and 29 minutes left before we have to move.’

‘Root.’

There was a pause as Root weighed her words.

‘Enjoy it Sameen.’

Shaw didn’t answer immediately.

‘So it’s the end of the world?’

Root chuckled.

‘Yes Sameen, it’s the end of the world.’

Shaw nodded slightly, eyes fixed on the outside world.

‘So what do we do?’

Root took time to answer, resting her hands back on the bed.

‘I don’t know.’

Shaw turned to look at her but Root didn’t meet her eyes. Her tone was worried: for the first time Shaw heard uncertainty in Root’s voice. It affected her more than she wanted to admit.

‘Root.’

‘Root.’

She said it with more force and Root looked over at her as Shaw studied her carefully.

‘It’s the end of the world.’

Root gave her the ghost of a smirk.

‘Yeah Sameen. 5 hours left till the end of the world.’

Shaw raised an eyebrow.

‘No suggestions on what we should do?’

Root studied Shaw, adopting her trademark smirk.

‘Why, do you have any ideas?’

Shaw regretted saying anything, face hardening but the silence remained. Root never let her smirk fade and Shaw’s glare lacked its usual bite.

Shaw sighed, looking away from Root.

‘The end of the world,’ she muttered to the window.

Root studied her profile.

‘Sort of romantic isn’t it?’

‘Root.’

Root leant forward in line with Shaw.

‘What do you want Sameen?’

Shaw frowned but Root waited. She would wait, watching as Shaw kept her eyes forward, hands clasped between her legs as she thought: Root would wait as long as necessary for an answer. For anything Shaw wanted.

It sort of scared her.

She didn’t have to wait long.

‘Three.’

Her voice was low. Root matched it in volume, voice barely above a whisper as she responded.

‘One left Sameen.’

Shaw glanced behind her, eyes flickering over Root’s barely illuminated figure.

‘Do you want to use it?’

Root’s eyes sparked in surprise and just a little bit of apprehension.

‘You’re asking?’

Shaw clenched her jaw slightly.

‘Yes.’

Root leant closer to Shaw, smile radiant on her face.

‘Okay Sameen.’

Shaw turned to face her, faces so impossibly close.

‘Is that a yes?’

‘Did you think it would be a no?’

It was Shaw’s turn to smirk slightly corners of her mouth twitching while her eyes studied Root’s

‘Not really.’

Shaw advanced towards Root, lips melding into one as Root welcomed Shaw willingly, controlling the urge to smile into the rather aggressive kiss. Shaw pushed Root back onto the bed, beginning to clamber on top of Root’s slim form. Root pulled back slightly.

‘As much as I’m into this,’ she gasped out slightly breathless, ‘I’m hanging off the end of the bed.’

Shaw raised an eyebrow but lifted up slightly as Root shimmied up further on to the mattress.

‘Okay I’m good.’

Root didn’t let Shaw make the first move, rising up to meet Shaw’s eager lips. Shaw pushed her back down, hands firmly on either side of Root’s head whilst Root gripped Shaw’s waist pulling her closer, fingers digging in through the thin fabric of Shaw’s top and Shaw let her, not resisting the tugs closer.

Shaw kissed her way down to Root’s jaw in an almost tender manner, punctuating each soft movement with nips Root thought might be an attempt to assert aggression but she wasn’t sure because Shaw was tugging at her pulse point and thought was becoming increasingly difficult. She felt her way down to the edge of Shaw’s top.

‘Off,’ gasped Root.

Shaw smirked against her neck, struggling against the roll neck Root had inconveniently chosen to wear.

‘This sweater is ridiculous,’ she muttered and Root would have let out a chuckle had she not been otherwise preoccupied.

‘Take it off then.’

Shaw lifted up slightly, moving to straddle Root’s hips as she sat up to take off her top. Root took in the sight for once, breath stalling slightly. Shaw was studying Root’s face. Something was different this time: Root chose to attribute it to the end of the world.

Shaw’s hand fiddled with the bottom of Root’s sweater, pulling it off.

‘Gonna help?’

Root smirked but obliged, putting her arms up as Shaw tore it off over her head and tossed it to the side. She sat back up, watching over Root’s toned form. Root resisted the urge to squirm under the intense gaze, keeping her eyes firmly on Shaw’s.

‘Nice view?’

Shaw snapped her attention back to Root’s face, eyes dark.

Root decided she liked that look best: fierce, out of control and so full of promise.

This time she did squirm trying to get Shaw to move-which she did, bending down once more to attack Root’s lips, bare torsos touching. Root ran her hands down Shaw’s back fingers catching on her bra, which she promptly decided had to go.

Shaw allowed Root to remove it before her mouth began its descent down Root’s neck and collar as Root struggled to prevent herself arching into the touch feeling Shaw’s enjoyment through each bite, nip and lick.

‘Sameen.’

Shaw pushed her hands under Root’s back something Root was all to happy to allow, lifting up slightly as Shaw fumbled with the clasp much to Root’s tempered amusement: she was too preoccupied with each accidental scrape of Shaw’s nails against her flesh.

The offending item removed Shaw continued her ministrations on the newly exposed flesh, cataloguing every reaction she teased out even if she didn’t mean to pay such attention.

She was as aggressive as she always was but somehow infinitely more attentive as she trailed down Root’s body and Root struggled to keep track of what was happening, the combination of harsh teeth ripping into flesh and soft lips on her pale skin made grasping a train of thought impossible. Her nails raked up Shaw’s back and tangled in her hair as she travelled lower down Root’s body.

Shaw barely had time to undo the zipper of Root’s jeans when she felt a painful tug at her hair dragging her upwards to meet Root’s lips hungrily, Root taking the liberty of biting softly into Shaw’s bottom lip dragging a moan from the woman.

Root pulled away slightly, utterly breathless and eyes firmly closed: opening them was a dangerous business. She could feel her own delight burning the back of her eyelids and some part of her feared what Shaw would see. So she kept them closed, concentrating on regulating her breathing, listening to Shaw’s own irregular breathing wondering how much of that was her and how much of that was the exertion.

‘As much as I’m enjoying this new…pace,’ Shaw’s eyes flickered open at the term, ‘we haven’t got long.’

‘You think it’s going to take 5 hours?’ muttered Shaw, leaning down to attack Root’s neck once more, ‘and I’d appreciate it if She didn’t whisper in your ear while I’m working.’

‘You call this working?’

Shaw gazed up at her, eyes fierce.

‘Yes.’

Root didn’t have time to respond to that deceptively affectionate declaration: Root almost smiled.

She was the mission right now, not that she was complaining.

Shaw shoved a thigh between Root’s legs forcing a sharp gasp from the other woman as Shaw bit down hard on exposed skin.

‘You want to speed things up?’

Root pushed down trying to urge more pressure from Shaw’s muscular thigh but Shaw made no move to assist her in her goals.

‘Sameen,’ Root let slip like a plea and she could feel Shaw’s gratified smirk against her skin as her mouth toyed around sensitive flesh.

Shaw gave Root what she wanted, pressing her leg through layers of fabric but she could still feel Root’s heat and she wanted to get closer. The urge to see how far Root would take herself, however, was stronger.

So she gave Root what she wanted, continuing her occasional assault on Root’s bare skin keeping her eyes trained on Root’s every move, every facial expression, data logging everything with rapt attention: the short bursts of lost control that flitted over soft features, eyes shut tight as her hips thrust down wantonly on Shaw’s steady thigh.

Root’s grip was vice-like on Shaw’s arms pulling her down willing her for more.

‘Sameen please,’ she choked out.

‘Work for it,’ muttered Shaw licking softly at a sensitive nipple.

Root’s grip tightened.

‘Sameen…’

‘Work. For. It.’ each word punctuated by a hard nip across her stomach and Root arched in pleasure.

So she did and Shaw helped because she couldn’t help herself watching Root writhe under her: for her.

It did not take long for Shaw to drag one newly unoccupied hand down to the edge of Root’s pants. She did not tease, sliding two fingers easily into place. She almost groaned at the sensation of the slick touch beneath her fingers but bit the inside of her lip as she watched Root’s whole form tense.

She’d never watched so closely before. She didn’t even know why she was watching so closely now but her eyes kept flickering up to Root’s face, the tight tendons in her neck she’d taken such care over earlier.

Shaw met Root’s thrusts forcefully drawing sharp pleasurable gasps from the woman she had not heard before as fists grasped at white sheets the other hand hooked into Shaw’s back.

It didn’t take long for Shaw to feel Root clench and she watched in blank faced intrigue as Root’s entire body responded to her strong thrusts and slight glances over sensitive nerves.

‘Sam-‘ Root gasped out as her body slowly relaxed itself, her vice grip on Shaw’s back releasing though she kept her palm resting on the soft skin. Shaw stopped her own movements, gently withdrawing her fingers from Root and resting her hands either side of Root’s body not quite fully laying on Root’s panting form.

‘Sameen…’ trailed off Root, her quiet voice full of far more affection than she originally intended.

Shaw kept her head down, eyes fixed on Root’s bare torso, frown lining her features.

‘How much longer?’

‘I…Let me repay you.’

Shaw tensed and began to move off Root. She almost managed to make it off the bed before Root grabbed her wrist and she stilled, not moving form the edge of the bed.

‘Sameen…what-‘

‘Let go Root.’

Her words felt harsh yet they held no bite. Root strengthened her grip.

‘No Sameen,’ she replied softly.

‘Root.’

Shaw refused to look back at her.

‘It’s the end of the world Sameen.’

Shaw didn’t acknowledge her, but didn't struggle from the grasp either.

Root continued.

‘I would like to repay you,’ Shaw stiffened, ‘but I don’t have to,’ she continued softly.

‘Stay.’

There was no answer.

‘Stay Sameen.’

‘I don’t stay Root. That’s not part of the deal.’

‘It was never a term at all. 3 nights. 3 nights is what I got and 3 nights it what we’ve stuck to even if I can’t return the favour tonight. But…this…this is the end of the world Sameen.’

Shaw waited to respond, her gaze glaring into the dark floor streaked with the hue of the night skyline of Manhattan.

‘Stay.’

Root let go of her wrist, retreating back onto the bed and Shaw listened at the rustling of thin sheets as Root climbed under their protection.

‘Please.’

Shaw almost started at the word so loaded and yet so simple. She didn’t want to deal with this: she didn’t know how for one. This was just meant to be great sex. Three times. That’s all: no strings attached. Root’s emotional attachment had been expected Shaw had watched it develop but her own dilemma’s, the one’s she had never faced before? Those were new and unexpected.

Shaw shuffled back, slamming her head back onto the pillows and lying on top of the covers next to Root who watched her movements.

Shaw kept her eyes on the ceiling, body stiff.

‘Sameen.’

‘It’s the end of the world Root. Don’t ruin it.’

Chapter Text

Shaw would never admit it but this tracking thing was taking longer than she would’ve liked. Root was getting good at this. Not that she would ever acknowledge how much trouble she’d had tracking the woman in the past.

Root had taken care of the bugs Shaw had placed on and around the woman after their parting post-Decima Fortress Infiltration making things infinitely more difficult. Lucky for her, Harold can’t lie to save his life and you can’t deflect forever; not with a juicy steak pastrami melted cheese mustard and Tabasco sandwich hanging over your computer anyway.

Harold had eventually been kind enough to divulge Root’s new identity as a baker and her current alias-Hannah Kardinski-which simply meant Sameen Grey was suddenly having cravings for some serious carbs.

Narrowing down location had taken a little longer- even she couldn’t stomach all the pastries in and around NYC and she wasn’t about to try for Root-but not impossible. Harold had mentioned a broken arm; a few hospitals later and a small incident with a frankly incompetent ER doctor and Shaw had a nice radius to cover.

There were approximately 7 bakeries in the area she was looking. This was number 4.

She gulped at her coffee, eyes trained on what she could see of the kitchen.

She’d spend a couple more hours before moving on or being called away on some number or other.

‘Ms. Shaw.’

Right on cue.

‘We have a number.’

‘Can it wait?’

‘Uh…’ Harold was put a little of balance at Shaw’s blatant dismissal of a rare opportunity to do her job and shoot someone, ‘no?’

‘It’s okay Harold I can cover this one.’

‘Mr Reese I don’t think Detective Riley can afford another absence.’

‘Day off Harold, I can handle it.’’

‘Ms. Shaw-‘

‘I’m there. Reese.’

‘I’ll pick you up in an hour: ready for a stakeout Shaw?’

‘Always.’

 


 

The car was silent as they dutifully kept their eyes trained on the building’s entrance.

John pushed the temperature up in the car, as Shaw stayed motionless wrapped in her thick black coat.

‘Who doesn’t leave the office until 2am?’ muttered Shaw.

‘Lawyers,’ supplied John drinking the last of his coffee, ‘doctors.’

Shaw grunted: she knew that one all too well.

‘Us.’

The two fell back into silence, Shaw bristling.

‘Impatient Shaw?’

Shaw shot him a glare.

‘We’ve been sat here for almost 6 hours,’ she bit out.

‘Have anywhere to be?’

She fixed him once more with a harsh glare but said nothing, reaching for her coffee on the dash. She shook the disappointingly empty cup before slamming it back down and leaning back into her seat, glaring at the streetlight illuminating the interior of the car.

John raised an eyebrow.

‘What?’ she grit out.

John had known Shaw long enough to know that was very much a rhetorical ‘what’.

Unfortunately for Shaw, John was also a firm believer that a 2am stakeout was exactly the place to discuss personal issues.

‘You’re in a rush Shaw: you’re tense.’

‘So?’

John shrugged.

‘Not like you.’

‘I’m alert. Now we can sit here and play Twenty Questions or you can go and get more coffee before I slam your head into that wheel.’

Shaw kept her eyes pointedly ahead as John let a small smirk appear on his face. Despite his own burning curiosity he knew better than to push any further and did as commanded, picking up the empty containers as he slid out into the cold air and slamming the door behind him.

Shaw took a breath; glaring out through the windshield wishing time would go faster.

John was right: this wasn’t like her at all. She was calm and didn’t mind stakeouts but she already had a mission and this was delaying her plans, even if she wasn’t quite sure how she would look for Root in bakeries at 2am.

Being irrational: that wasn’t like her at all.

Shaw frowned.

‘Hello sweetie,’ chirped an all-too familiar voice as its owner slid into the backseat somewhat awkwardly, gun muzzle now pointed at her direction in lightning reaction to the intrusion.

Shaw’s glare did not falter though her body relaxed, gun lowering as her eyes subtly scanned what she could see of Root’s form. It was too dark but she thought she caught the flash of a sling binding Root’s right arm.

‘What do you want?’

‘Lovely to see you too.’

‘Kinda busy Root.’

Root tilted her head, pouting slightly.

‘John can handle it,’ she straightened her head looking straight at Shaw, ‘besides, I heard you were looking for me.’

‘No,’ spat Shaw, turning to face forwards just a little too quickly.

Root smiled softly but said nothing more.

Shaw didn’t bother trying to dispel the hanging silence, grinding her jaw ever so slightly as she wished-prayed-for something, anything to happen.

Root sighed softly but Shaw daren’t turn round.

‘John will be back soon.’

‘Good I’m hungry.’

Root began to leave the car, pulling open the door.

‘Be careful Sam,’ she uttered as her boots hit the sidewalk.

Shaw’s whole body tensed.

The door fell shut and Shaw didn’t even have time to form an angry reprimand at her traitorous thoughts before she jumped out of the black vehicle, door violently slamming shut as she jogged to catch up with Root’s retreating figure.

Root had stopped when she heard the noise, turning slightly to watch as Shaw came to a stop next to her.

‘Shaw?’

‘Your arm.’

Shaw nodded towards it. The question was still evident in Root’s face.

‘I was shot.’

‘I don’t trust the needlework at that hospital. Idiots.’

Root’s face softened immediately.

‘Oh.’

Shaw refused to meet Root’s gaze, eyes fixed on the arm secure in a sling. Root just watched and Shaw could feel everything washing over her, everything Root was looking with and she didn’t want to see what was in those eyes: couldn’t see.

‘Well?’ asked Shaw, back to business as she began to walk.

They fell into step beside each other, Root leading the way to a safe house secure in a dead zone.

‘How long do we have?’ asked Shaw as Root pushed shut the apartment door.

The place was bare: not lived in might be a more accurate description thought Shaw as she hung back by the door, watching as Root chucked her keys onto the table.

‘I don’t know.’

Shaw walked forward, motioning for Root to sit on the worn couch and kneeling in front of her as she took off the sling.

If it was done with soft fingers Root wisely chose not to comment.

‘What does your Machine say?’

Root cast down her eyes and Shaw felt the gaze drift prompting her to stop her task and study Root.

‘She doesn’t.’

‘Oh.’

Shaw didn’t know what to do but what she did know was Root without the Machine made for a very different Root, a Root she found herself disliking as she bore the weight of everything.

Shaw returned to the sling if only to busy her hands, to distract her mind as she struggled to find words.

‘She doesn’t speak to me as much now.’

‘Samaritan.’

Shaw felt the shallow nod.

‘She has a plan,’ asserted Root.

Shaw gently pulled off the sling, lifting Root’s arm with as much care as she could feeling the muscles tense as a shot of pain ran through Root’s nerves.

Shaw didn’t reply. Root was the one with the unshakable faith she just did what she was told: ‘sit tight’ she was told. By Root.

‘Stand up,’ ordered Shaw.

Root did so and Shaw began to unbutton Root’s light blue shirt, probably put on for convenience. How the hell she even managed to put it on she had no idea but she thought it might have been painful and something about Root’s lonely journey made her focus just that little bit harder on each button as she slowly revealed the black lace bra underneath.

Root’s eyes never left Shaw’s deft fingers, watching as her shirt slowly fell open.

Root pulled her uninjured arm free from the clothing before moving to take it off the other. Shaw’s hand darted forward and grabbed Root’s wrist with as much force as she dared, eyes hard. It immediately went slack and it was let go, Shaw’s own hands moving to replace it as she tentatively began dragging the cotton over the damaged shoulder.

Each time Root flinched in pain Shaw felt her hands falter and she scolded herself because she was a doctor and Root was just another patient and this wasn’t helping.

The sleeve finally fell off and Shaw chucked the clothing to the side.

‘Sit down and don’t move. Do you have a first aid kit?’

‘Bathroom,’ instructed Root, Shaw already half way there.

Root held her arm close to her chest, still as she could manage, listening to the deafening silence that plagued her these days waiting for Shaw’s footsteps to signal her return.

She had thought she could grow used to the silence- She had warned her about the possibility of this happening and she knew it was necessary- but it still unnerved her. Like she had lost her guidance, her confidant: her friend. She had purpose she was not lost, but she was alone. Again.

So lost in her own thoughts she hadn’t even noticed Shaw’s return until a bottle of whiskey was placed upon the table in front of her and Shaw placed the first aid kit at her feet, kneeling down next to it so she was level with Root’s arm.

Shaw reached behind her for the alcohol and handed it to Root.

‘Here: you might need it.’

Root nodded and took a swig, grimacing. Shaw let the corner of her mouth twitch up.

‘Can’t take your drink?’

‘We’re not all serial partakers of hard liquor Sameen,’ quipped back Root taking another swig and Shaw felt a flutter of pride at dragging just a little of Root back to her.

‘Weakling.’

Root raised an eyebrow as Shaw began to remove the old dressing from the wound. She flinched slightly as Shaw peeled away the final layer to reveal less than perfect stitching and Shaw glared.

‘If you glare at it hard enough it might actually reopen,’ observed Root.

‘Next time come to me.’

‘I couldn’t.’

Roots voice had regained its soft quality: vulnerable. Shaw didn’t like it one bit and began removing the existing stiches with perhaps a little more force than necessary.

‘I don’t care.’

‘Sameen…’

There it was. Shaw could feel it tingling at her skin: that look daring her to meet brown eyes that swam with something Shaw could not see.

Shaw yanked out the final stitch with force and this time Root visibly flinched.

‘If you’re going to run into gunfire at the whim of your Machine then I don’t care how many fucking operatives Samaritan has watching: you come to me.’

Root watched as Shaw’s movements stilled.

‘Okay Sam,’ breathed out Root.

Shaw nodded and began to re-stitch the wound with gentle hands, focus undisturbed as Root studied each movement as best she could, occasionally dipping into the whiskey beside her.

Shaw placed the final dressing down lightly, smoothing it with the tips of her calloused fingers and Root felt goose bumps rise at the gesture so tentative. 

If Shaw noticed she didn’t say anything, leaning back on her haunches as she put away the first aid kit, closing it and placing it on the table next to the bottle of whiskey.

She reached for it and took a drink herself to soothe the tempest of anger in her mind.

‘Sameen.’

Shaw took another drink before looking at Root.

‘Thank you.’

Shaw saw something she promised she wouldn’t let herself see: against every instinct she had she let herself see what Root wanted to show and knew what she would find and she hated herself because she never knew what to say.

Shaw stood up eyes locked with Root’s, jaw fidgeting slightly as she wrestled with everything trying desperately to turn the static up or to push it to the side: to hear something.

Root kept her eyes locked on Shaw.

‘Stand up.’

Root hesitated but did so.

‘Sameen?’

‘Shut up.’

Root did so despite the questions itching on the tip of her tongue and she struggled not to shrink under the intense gaze.

Shaw’s glare deepened and Root wondered what she had done.

‘Sam-‘

Shaw leant up to meet Root’s bowed head and kissed her.

Root’s eyes fluttered shut and she immediately responded. Too quickly Shaw pulled away, glare still in place but eyes so open.

This was different: this was so different to anything Root had expected she might just have been speechless because this wasn’t fire and teeth and sharp this was flames and lips and soft.

Root smiled so delicately and Shaw acknowledged what it was on some level because she didn’t look away.

‘Okay?’ asked Shaw gruffly, fire licking at the edge of her tone.

‘Yeah Sam,’ breathed Root, eyes sparkling with that thing and Shaw looked away.

She turned back to Root when she felt a soft grip on her bicep and a question waiting in deliriously singing eyes.

Root tugged slightly and Shaw followed willingly to the nearby bedroom.

Root perched on the edge of a wooden framed bed looking up at Shaw hardly daring to breathe and Shaw did think anything of it as shed her jacket and bent down to pull off her boots and socks before pulling off Root’s with much more care than her own.

It didn’t occur to Shaw how important this was to Root. It hadn’t even registered but Root felt so fragile; as if at any moment she might wake up and it would all be a dream.

Shaw looked up from where she was knelt and Root noted how there was no storm in her eyes but shots of lightning muffled by cloud and she thought it might mean something to see something so wild contained and focused as she slowly shuffled back to the center of the bed, keeping her eyes on the ceiling and putting her head against the pillows.

She glanced her eyes down to the end of the bed and watched as Shaw stripped. Not with any particular finesse or skill, in fact it was all fairly ordinary but something about it made Root’s heart rate increase as Shaw exposed something vulnerable to her.

Shaw looked at Root, meeting her hooded eyes as she stood naked in front of Root before a determined look flashed across her face and she climbed lightly on top of Root, reaching for the zipper on her jeans.

Root lifted her hips as best she could with one working arm and Shaw slid the tight material from her legs followed swiftly by her lace underwear.

It seemed to take an eternity, Shaw’s gentle touch throwing Root as the woman climbed up Root’s body until their faces were level, Shaw propped up on her forearms careful to avoid Root’s injured limb.

‘Sameen…’ whispered Root, eyes scanning Shaw’s face for a clue.

Shaw frowned and kissed her, harder this time and Root nipped lightly at Shaw’s bottom lip. Shaw returned the action, pulling slightly but teeth barely piercing the tender flesh before pulling back.

She had so much she wanted to say yet had no words with which to say it, caught in a jumble of phrases that didn’t quite make sense: that didn’t quite translate. Her mind ran to what others had shown her: care, concern but the words were foreign in her mouth and didn’t mean anything. She wanted it to mean something. She was angry, frustrated at Root: she wanted to explain why.

Root brought her left hand to feel her lips softly like it wasn’t real: like none of this was actually happening and Shaw watched the movement. Waiting.

Root dropped her hand back to the bed and returned her eyes to Shaw.

‘Are...this is more than three times Sameen.’

Shaw frowned.

‘I know Root I can count.’

Root waited before responding, looking at Shaw with all those things she had tried not to show.

‘Don’t.’

‘Don’t what?’

‘Look like that.’

Root’s features dropped for just a second before she pulled up her flirty grin.

‘Why not Sameen: you’ve broken your rules.’

Root felt the sheets tighten near her arms as Shaw’s fists clenched the cotton.

‘Root.’

Root’s hand reached up and touched Shaw’s neck bringing her closer.

‘Okay Sameen.’

The hand tugged the woman above her forward and Shaw took control: it wasn’t as if Root had any choice with her injured arm as Shaw carefully avoided jostling the wounded area.

She took her time scouring flesh she had seen before but had never explored as Root shifted as best she could into the touch.

‘Don’t move,’ muttered Shaw against her pulse point before biting down.

‘Kinda hard Sam,’ shot back Root somewhat breathless as Shaw continued her descent.

‘I’m not re-stitching it,’ she threated, teeth grazing a sensitive collarbone.

‘Never asked you to.’

Shaw bit down harder this time and Root chuckled softly, bringing her left hand and threading it through Shaw’s hair as she reached Root’s bra.

‘Why the fuck didn’t you take this off?’

‘I’m brutally injured Sameen I can’t take it off without immense pain.’

‘Fucking moron,’ caught Root as Shaw simply decided to do what she could through the material, bringing one arm down fingers reaching under thin lace.

Root’s breathing became deeper as Shaw lavished attention but she couldn’t maintain it holding up her body weight with one forearm.

She freed her hand once more before continuing the trail downwards delectably slowly and Roots hand tightened in Shaw’s hair as she struggled to refrain from arching into Shaw’s mouth trailing across her abdomen, across scars and marred skin as Shaw shifted down Root’s body, nails dragging across her sides.

There was nothing blocking Shaw’s way but Shaw avoided the oh so pleasant heat radiating from in-between Root’s thighs and instead nipped at her hips, at the inside of her thighs.

‘When did you become such a tease?’ gasped out Root and Shaw smirked against the pale flesh before biting down hard on the inside of Root’s thigh in a way that would surely leave a mark.

Shaw didn’t stop teasing and Root’s breath was become more ragged by the seconds as she tried to push Shaw’s head to where she wanted it.

‘Sameen please.

Shaw didn’t move at once, finishing her ministrations grazing tender flesh.

Please.’

Shaw looked up at Root mouth still hot against her skin but Root wasn’t paying attention too focused on controlling her body’s reactions.

Shaw did as instructed and Root briefly wondered why they’d never done this before and would have scolded herself for daring to use her three ‘sex passes’ without experiencing this magic had her mind not been utterly preoccupied with thoughts of how to get more as her grip tightened painfully in Shaw’s hair.

Shaw took her time, tongue stroking languidly but forcefully, occasionally grazing Root’s clit making her body arch and a jolt of pain shoot through her as her shoulder fell against the bed heightening everything.

‘God,’ she breathed out as her thighs did everything to keep Shaw close but Shaw wasn’t going anywhere. Root was everything right now, surrounding her every sense and she wasn’t going to stop until Root understood.

 Before long Root was clenching and writhing to the best of her ability under Shaw’s elegant attentions and Shaw raised her head breathing almost as hard as Root’s.

She wiped her face on the sheets beneath her before crawling up to meet Root’s face and Root’s eyes fell from the ceiling to Shaw’s solid gaze. A small smile crept onto Root’s flushed face as her legs stretched out beneath her.

‘Well. That was new,’ she teased though slightly out of breath.

Shaw rolled to Root’s side and kept her eyes on the ceiling.

‘I would return the favour but-‘

‘I’m not re-stitching it,’ reiterated Shaw more forcefully.

Root smiled softly and turned to face Shaw’s side, resting on her uninjured arm and shuffling as close as she dared.

‘What’re you doing Root?’ warned Shaw, glancing at her from the corner of her eye.

‘Going to sleep.’

‘We’re not cuddling.’

‘I know,’ replied Root lightly.

The room fell silent.

‘Why?’ ventured Root.

‘Why what?’

‘You broke your rules.’

‘Rules are made to be broken,’ replied Shaw gruffly refusing to look at Root.

‘Even your own?’

Shaw tensed but didn’t reply and Root accepted maybe she would never get an answer to what Shaw wanted, to what the purpose of this all was, so she was surprised when Shaw spoke to break the fallen silence.

‘Don’t do it again Root.’

‘Do what?’

‘The hotel: don’t do it again.’

‘Sameen…I can’t promise that. This is a war. We’re losing and She needs me.’

‘She needs you alive Root.’

‘It was the only way.’

‘No it wasn’t. You could have asked John for backup. Me.’

‘Sam…’

‘You want to die?’

‘No. But I’m prepared to sacrifice whatever it takes to win this war. To beat Samaritan.’

Shaw turned her head to look at Root whose eyes were fixed on Shaw.

Shaw seemed to find what she was looking for.

‘Fine.’

Shaw didn’t say anything further, drifting her attention back to the ceiling. Root reached out her arm awkwardly and lightly toughed Shaw’s bicep.

‘Thank you.’

The hand retracted and Root curled up to sleep, pulling the duvet over herself as best she could.

Shaw nodded curtly. 

Chapter Text

‘Clothes.’

‘What?’

‘I need your clothes Root.’

Root didn’t move, eyebrow raised in question and just a tinge of amusement.

Shaw scowled.

‘Full decontamination.’

‘I hardly think that warrants stripping,’ teased Root, voice laced with unspoken innuendo.

‘Just hand me your clothes.’

‘Do I hear a please?’

Shaw glared, tugging off her jacket with force and shoving it into an empty black trash bag followed closely by her boots and socks.

‘Just do it.’

Root grinned with amusement but did as instructed, perching on the end of the only bed in the room and carefully pulling off her boots, placing them in the bag. Shaw was tugging off her jeans and Root took a second to admire the view, watching as the denim slid from smooth skin, smiling to herself as Shaw violently tossed the clothing into the bag.

Shaw felt the insistent gaze upon her but chose to ignore it, sending a glare Root’s way that was promptly ignored. Root watched, intently memorizing each meter of skin that was exposed as Shaw shed her top leaving her stranded in her bra and underwear.

Shaw turned back to Root.

‘Strip. We don’t have all night.’

Root held back a laugh.

‘You only have to ask nicely Sameen,’ and Shaw scowled.

Root stood up, pulling off her clothes and chucking them on the bed before strolling past Shaw entirely naked and if Shaw’s gaze lingered Root didn’t comment.

Which was odd.

Shaw frowned that she thought it was odd.

Root made her way into the small tiled bathroom and Shaw took a few steps to follow her, before stopping.

Root didn’t shut the door and glanced at Shaw as she turned the shower on, letting the water run warm.

‘What changed you mind?’ asked Root lightly and Shaw groaned because of course Root noticed and why the hell had she even walked forward in the first place?

Shaw glared.

‘You never offered.’

Root registered Shaw’s harsh gaze not matching with the meaning of those words and Shaw decided she didn’t like to be scrutinized.

‘What?’ she asked accusingly, temper shortened by Root’s weird behavior and she wished the flirting would return because then she knew everything was okay and it bothered her that things might not be and it bothered her that it bothered her that things might not be.

Root smirked slightly and stepped into the shower.

Shaw ground her jaw. The ball was in her court. Root knew what she was doing: she was giving her a choice.

Shaw pulled off her remaining clothing, chucking it carelessly behind her onto the bed before striding towards the bathroom and entering the steam filled shower.

It was small, too small for two people, but Shaw stepped in anyway slamming the sliding door behind her glare firmly in place. Root didn’t turn around, water burning as her hair fell over her eyes plastered to her face and Shaw clenched her fists because she really wasn’t making this easy.

‘Root.’

Root looked over her shoulder slightly in acknowledgement of Shaw’s presence and Shaw felt a little lighter at that.

‘What are you doing Shaw?’ asked Root softly and immediately Shaw tensed.

The water ran filling the already small space with condensation as the heat hung in the air and Shaw’s gaze fell to the floor, face hardening.

She turned and left the shower, slamming shut the door and Root watched the plastic vibrate slightly before letting out the breathe she’d been holding and washing her hair.

Shaw sat on the bed, damp skin sticking slightly to the itchy bed spread as she pushed the scattered clothing into the bag simply for something to do: anything to divert her attention away from the running water next door or more specifically, the person underneath it.

Something wasn’t right. Shaw didn’t like it when something wasn’t right, when something felt off, because it meant she didn’t know how to handle it and why didn’t they hand out manuals for this shit and why didn’t people just say what they meant instead of standing under hot water brooding?

Shaw chucked the bag into the corner of the room when she was done and Root chose that moment to step out of the bathroom, towel wrapped around her body as the water still ran behind her.

Shaw’s eyes shot up as Root emerged, steam clouding behind her as she held her arms over her body.

‘Shower’s free,’ she chirped.

‘Root,’ tried Shaw, but Root ignored the summons, walking over to the dirty wooden drawers and pulling out a stale oversized t-shirt, examining it before chucking it on the bed.

Shaw watched in silence, before sighing and heading for the shower.

The water was still warm but Shaw took little pleasure from it, scrubbing down thoroughly and washing her hair-she did have a decontamination to do after all. She remained under the water strictly longer than necessary, resting her hand against the grimy tile watching as the water hit her outstretched arm.

She hit the wall.

‘Fuck,’ she growled, before turning off the water and stepping out into the cold air, feeling Root’s eyes on her naked body as she reached for the spare towel and quickly wrapping it around herself.

She turned to face Root and walked into the bedroom.

Root sats on the edge of the bed in the baggy, oversized t-shirt, wet hair in a messy bun and eyes gazing up at Shaw who glared down at Root uncompromisingly.

‘Look,’ began Shaw with confidence, but her words fell short and she didn’t have anything else to say.

Root gazed impassively.

‘Stop looking at me like that,’ barked Shaw.

‘Like what?’

‘Like that. All…wrong.’

Shaw’s fists clench at her sides and Root follows the movement, slightly confused.

‘Wrong? I’m looking at you. Am I not allowed? Do you not like to me to look at you anymore?’

‘Stop being petulant,’ ground out Shaw.

Root stood up.

‘I’m not.’

‘I’m trying to-‘ Shaw cut herself off.

Root raised an eyebrow.

‘To what?’

‘Shut up.’

Root shook her head and turned around, busying herself by folding her own discarded towel her back firmly to Shaw.

Shaw made to take a step forward but thought better of it.

‘I stayed,’ she opts for instead and Root stills her movements, ‘okay?’

Root turns around sharply.

‘Did you fuck him?’

Shaw’s eyes widen just a fraction before they harden.

‘Why the fuck should you know? Ask Her if you care so much. How the hell is that any of your business?’ spat out Shaw defensively.

‘No. You’re right. It isn’t any of my business. And I accept that. But next time how about waiting until I’ve gone off to save the fucking world Shaw before you fuck some thief off the street.’

‘What did you think this was,’ gestured Shaw, angry now because who the fuck did Root think she was and she really didn’t want to deal with this right now-or ever.

‘Did you think we were what? Girlfriends? It never should’ve happened Root.’

‘But I’m just too good and you can’t keep away. Is that it?’ hissed Root and Shaw startled.

Root was angry. And Shaw was…something. Shaw didn’t like it. Shaw wanted to be angry but she knew she shouldn’t be. That it wasn’t fair to be angry.

Her body tensed with control and the air hung with Root’s fury as Shaw backed off.

‘I didn’t fuck him,’ she declared in a monotone, ‘I might have done. I didn’t. I made a choice.’

Root’s eyes flashed with something.

‘A choice?’ she repeated.

‘What are you a fucking parrot? Yes: I chose not to fuck him. I chose to finish the mission and leave Root,’ she didn’t know exactly what point she was making but she hoped it was a good one, ‘and now we’re here arguing in a shitty motel. I’m tired Root. If you’re gonna be shitty about this then tell your Machine to book us another room because I’m not spending my few hours rest arguing with you about somebody I didn’t even fuck.’

Root didn’t reply immediately and when she did her voice was soft, but firm.

‘There aren’t any more rooms.’

Shaw groaned in exasperation.

‘Fuck it. I’ll sleep on the fucking floor.  Go to sleep Root. Shut up and talk to the all-seeing robot I don’t care just leave. Me. Alone.’

‘Shaw,’ cut off Root, preventing Shaw from acting on her desire to leave immediately with a voice that made Shaw stop.

It wasn’t angry. Which made a change. It was…apologetic. Shaw didn’t know what to do with that.

‘What?’ she responded gruffly.

Root didn’t flinch from Shaw’s gaze when Shaw finally looked at her and Shaw still saw anger and fury and passion warring in expressive brown eyes but she also saw understanding.

‘I’m sorry,’ she uttered carefully.

Shaw’s brow furrowed deeper.

‘Why?’

Root didn’t respond immediately, struggling to find the delicate words for a fragile situation.

‘It was stupid. I’m being stupid. You’re right.’

They weren’t nearly adequate.

‘Good. Glad you see it my way.’

‘You’re not off the hook Sameen,’ the edge in Root’s voice was back, ‘but I…’ her voice softened and Shaw was faced with a familiar look, one that she could cope with, ‘thank you,’ finished Root lightly, adoration swirling in her eyes and at least Shaw knew that look. Knew what to do with it.

Sort of.

Root took a step forward, smile gracing her features: a smile full of mischief and promise. A smile that made Shaw shiver in all the right ways.

‘Root.’

It came out like a warning but Root’s grin never faded: predatory and knowing. Shaw wasn’t one to give up ground and even as Root stalked forward eyes gleaming she stood firm, gaze never wavering as stony as ever.

‘Yes Sameen?’ cooed Root with a distinct edge to her voice, coming far too close for Shaw’s liking as her height gave her the advantage, gaze travelling down Shaw’s body.

Shaw held firm.

‘What are you doing?’

It wasn’t a question but a warning. Root ignored it.

‘Making a point.’

Their gazes never flinched, Root’s so confident swimming with mirth and expectation whilst Shaw’s appeared so cold sprinkled with just a little anticipation.

Root rarely disappointed.

Shaw didn’t respond, watching carefully as Root leant down ever so slightly head tilted down as Shaw glared up. They were so close but Shaw did nothing to acknowledge that fact.

‘You care about me,’ whispered Root, teasing but even Shaw could detect the need for affirmation.

Shaw swallowed but didn’t back down- her pride wouldn’t allow that- as she refused to give Root what she wanted. Couldn’t give Root what she wanted.

Root leant ever closer and Shaw didn’t pull away and she was becoming less certain it was due to her pride and more to do with her body’s innate attraction to Root as warm breathe ghosted over her lips.

‘You care enough to stay,’ emphasized Root, voice barely heard outside the two of them and Shaw held back her instinct to reach forward and close the gap.

They stayed as they were: Root waiting, Shaw debating because of course she’d stayed and yes she’d stayed for the dog and for the numbers but she’d stayed for Root.

‘Root,’ warned Shaw, breathing dangerously shallow. She wasn’t entirely sure what she was warning against but Root seemed to know as she lifted an eyebrow not moving a muscle.

Shaw ground her teeth.

‘Root.’

‘Yes Sameen?’ she breathed out, oh so silent and so very very close and she was well aware she was pushing her luck here but she thought it might just be a risk worth taking as Shaw didn’t pull away, body thrumming with something.

Shaw’s mouth opened slightly as if to say something but instead it stayed frozen, lips parted slightly as her shallow breath struggled to escape the confines of her slowly constricting throat because Root was too close and far too much and any second now she was going to say something she might deeply regret, because running seemed safest running seemed good and better than spitting out what sat on the end of her tongue; words that sounded a lot like ‘it was you.’

Root seemed to know-Root always seemed to know and for that Shaw was as close to openly thankful as she dared to get- and as her eyes watched Shaw’s mouth her face leant in closer than Shaw thought possible and she almost sighed with relief because if Root kissed her she knew what to do and the words filtered from her thoughts replaced with the apprehension associated with Root; the type she usually rejected but this time embraced because it was familiar and it was safe and that thought should have terrified her.

Shaw’s eyes instinctually fluttered shut as Root bent her head down forward and she swore she heard the soft smile on Root’s face as their lips brushed and Shaw would vehemently deny she did anything close to melting, hands immediately moving to pull Root closer by the fabric of the worn t-shirt.

Their lips moved languid and soft but never with patience as Root eagerly deepened the kiss and Shaw let her without a fight, pulling her so close hands clutching that shirt so that her knuckles turned white: anything to bring Root closer even as she felt the woman’s self-satisfied grin seep into the kiss. She knew what was running through Root’s head as Root pushed into her, forcing her to step backwards, but she was happy to ignore it in favour of the sensations the woman pulled out of her reluctant body and suddenly her back was against the wall, a gasp escaping her as Root pushed her mercilessly against the chipping plaster and Root swallowed the sound.

Shaw’s hands fell slack in the fabric of Root’s top as Root held her firm, hips holding her in place arms either side of Shaw’s head as she bit and soothed Shaw’s lips and Shaw returned it all in kind pushing against Root but it lacked any real protest and Root knew it.

Root moved her lips to Shaw’s ear tongue trailing softly and Shaw’s breath turned shaky as the words ghosted lightly:

‘Stop fighting,’ commanded Root, voice no louder than a whisper but filling Shaw with anticipation and she did, waiting as Root bit and tugged at her ear tracing the shell with her tongue so lightly and she tilted her head ever so slightly presenting Root with her neck as an offering, and she heard Root chuckle lightly as she dipped her head to attack Shaw’s neck.

Shaw let her eyes fall closed as her nails dug through Root’s top, as Root lavished attention nipping slightly but marking with such force and Shaw let out an involuntary gasp as Root clamped down on her pulse point until a clear bruise formed.

She pulled back slightly to admire her handiwork.

Shaw looked up at Root.

‘Was that really necessary?’ her breathing clearly affected, eyes dark.

Root kept her eyes locked on Shaw’s as she bit again and Shaw’s grip tightened as a response, one hand falling to her waist to pull her closer.

‘Of course,’ breathed Root lips brushing the sensitive flesh and she quickly moved on pulling away slightly to discard Shaw’s tightly wrapped towel and Shaw let her, pushing away from the wall as the towel pooled at her feet before being slammed viciously back, Root’s palm firmly on her sternum.

Root curled her fingers, nails digging into flesh. Shaw didn’t react, breathing deeply as each breath pushed nails deeper into her skin. Root leant forwards, capturing Shaw’s bottom lip between her teeth lightly and tugging and Shaw tried to stay Root’s mouth but Root pulled away smirking before dipping her head a planting a soft kiss to Shaw’s collarbone.

Her lips moved against the skin and Shaw thought she might be saying something but her voice was too low to hear and all she felt were the sensations as her head leant back and her eyes fell closed, content to let Root traverse her body.

As Root’s lips trailed lower her hand followed nails scraping just a little harder than softly as Root’s teeth grasped onto sensitive flesh tugging a peaked nipple and Shaw’s hands gripped the wall behind her, clawing at nothing as Root’s nails dug into her taut abdomen and her mouth lavished each nipple with such rough care.

Shaw’s brought a hand forward and it tangled in Root’s hair, tugging lightly giving her encouragement she didn’t really need as Root’s nails dug harder into muscle and her teeth bit deeper into flesh marking each time, coaxing the minute reactions she spent each day drawing from the stoic woman and she couldn’t repress the way her lips fell into a soft smile Shaw could feel against her skin.

Root slowly knelt as her head travelled down Shaw’s body and Shaw’s grip in her hair was so deliciously painful each time she bit harshly and sucked fervently on taut skin Root couldn’t help her own arousal or the way her hands couldn’t seem to stay still as they scratched at Shaw’s body until Shaw’s hips jutted forward involuntarily when Root’s mouth came low, and immediately a strong grip halted her movements and Shaw groaned and Root knew she had never heard something so delectable and she had to hear it againbecause everything in her body shivered in delight at the sound.

Root ended her mouth’s ministrations on flesh with a gentle kiss on Shaw’s pelvis before glancing upwards. Shaw’s breathing was heavy and deep as she struggled to maintain that intense control with which she approached everything, but Root was doing something to her and she swore her torso must be littered with bruises because Root had been anything but gentle and god how could she think.

‘Is this okay?’ muttered Root, lips grazing the inside of Shaw’s thigh before she placed a light kiss and Shaw’s hips moved but Root’s arm across her waist held her strong and Shaw bit her lip because she was not about to admit how affected she was.

Shaw’s eyes opened at the question she almost didn’t hear it was so soft and she struggled to control herself enough to reply as Root continued her attentive nips to the inside of Shaw’s legs and her hand tried to push Root’s head where she needed it but Root resisted.

Her head tilted down to look at Root whose eyes were fixed firmly to the flesh in front of her.

‘You’re asking me now?’ choked out Shaw, and she sounded a lot like she’d just run a marathon and quite frankly it felt like she had.

Root chuckled softly against her skin.

‘Answer the question Sam,’ she chided softly still not looking up, and it occurred to Shaw that Root was afraid of the answer and Shaw audibly sighed in frustration and would have run her hand through her hair had she not been currently immobilized with Root’s ministrations because the whole point of this was to avoid the talking and now Root was bringing it up like a bullet to the face and Shaw didn’t have time to dodge.

‘Fuck Root,’ she gasped out and even then she somehow managed to sound exasperated, ‘yes this is fine Jesus will you just keep going’ she hissed as Root bit hard.

‘Sameen…’ and Root sounded like she was about to keep talking but Shaw gripped her hand forcefully in Root’s hair and dragged Root’s mouth away from its distracting position between her legs, forcing their eyes to meet.

‘Don’t,’ she grit out with as much command as she could muster and even through hooded eyes she hoped Root got the message.

‘Sam I-‘

‘What part of ‘don’t’ is too complex for you?’ scolded Shaw though half-hearted at best, ‘stop thinking. Start fucking,’ and Shaw loosened her grip in Root’s hair fingers instead resting softly on the woman’s scalp handing Root control once again.

Root’s eyes glistened with something and Shaw grunted in annoyance at Root’s smirk and avoided the woman’s all-knowing gaze because really she was not about to be left high and dry and she was not above forcing Root to continue because now was really not the time for a heart to heart.

Luckily Root decided to give her a break and headed straight to where Shaw wanted her and immediately the grip tightened once more in Root’s hair, urging her on even as Root’s arm held firm across her waist as Root set the slow agonizing pace.

‘Root,’ hissed out Shaw, and Root rewarded the sound with a gentle brush of Shaw’s clit causing a jolt to run through Shaw.

‘I wonder,’ muttered Root almost to herself but Shaw heard as the words drifted over her swollen flesh, ‘would Tomas be here now if you asked?’ and something about the way Root’s breath fell on her skin caused every muscle in Shaw’s body to tighten.

‘Stop,’ gritted out Shaw as Root chose that moment to drag her tongue excruciatingly slowly over warm flesh, ‘stop talking,’ Root brought her free hand up and a thumb rubbed softly over sensitive nerves and once again Shaw gasped and Root’s heart fluttered, ‘about him.’

‘Mmmm,’ hummed Root and Shaw almost shivered and really the only thing holding her up right now was Root’s arm across her waist and her nails chipped at the plaster on the dirty white wall, ‘you were going to fuck him Sameen,’ forced Root and Shaw’s hand gripped Root’s scalp like it could break, ‘and I,’ Root’s thumb pressed harshly and Shaw moaned something a lot like ‘Fuck’ but Root couldn’t quite make it out, ‘I don’t like that thought. Of him here, where I am now,’ and this time Root bit softly on that bundle of nerves so swollen and even Root’s arm couldn’t stop the way Shaw’s back arched and her hips tried to thrust but Root held firm as best she could.

‘Fuck Root,’ rushed out Shaw and all she wanted was more and inside but she wouldn’t dare beg and Root wouldn’t give it to her anyway because of fucking Tomas and Shaw would shoot him but not now because now she needed Root.

‘He’s not you,’ grunted out Shaw.

‘Hmmm?’ and Shaw’s body shivered as the vibrations coursed through her and Shaw could hear the false innocence in the noise and she wanted to punch Root to make her give her what she wanted, to push her head forcefully down and keep it there but she wouldn’t and that was new.

‘He isn’t you Root,’ tried Shaw again, pushing her hips with more urgency, anything to get Root to give her more, ‘I would never,’ she gasped again, ‘he would never be here.’

And Root seemed satisfied, finally giving her what she wanted with no further encouragement as Root’s mouth and fingers worked in utter tandem with Shaw’s body, and as Shaw clenched and pulsated she didn’t think she’d heard anything more beautiful than the way her name ripped from Shaw’s throat in a growl as Shaw didn’t even bother holding back because Root was everywhere and giving her everything and fuck.

Shaw’s breathing slowed and Root remained kneeled before her, wiping her mouth slightly with the fabric of the t-shirt before looking up and meeting Shaw’s sated gaze.

Root didn’t need to say anything, her eyes were always so expressive and Shaw hated them. Hated the way she could read how smug Root was, how full of adoration Root’s gaze was: how much she wanted to give and how much Shaw was willing to take and Shaw didn’t even shy away from that thought because Root had just offered her everything and Shaw was quite happy to take it all if it meant sex like that.

‘I feel like I’ve been shot,’ grunted Shaw and Root raised a quizzical eyebrow.

Shaw ventured a glance down at her naked body and saw it littered with bruises and bites and red skin and Root didn’t even have the decency to look sheepish.

‘Did you really have to do that?’

‘You weren’t complaining,’ sung Root as she pushed herself up from the floor and headed towards the hard bed.

Shaw followed, not bothering to pick up the towel or the spare t-shirt laid out for her.

She clambered underneath the scratchy covers and thought nothing of it, ignoring the way Root’s eyes followed her as she stood warily by the bed.

‘Stop staring,’ grumbled Shaw, ‘you look like a giant meerkat.’

‘You know how I love your similes Sam,’ whispered Root far too fondly as she allowed herself a small smile before gently joining Shaw under the covers, awkwardly tense and staring at the stained ceiling.

‘Are you gonna be that stiff all night?’ mumbled Shaw, eyes closed and worn out from their previous activities and Root managed to stiffen further at the comment before turning to face Shaw, who cracked open an eye.

‘Sleep Root,’ commanded Shaw, before shutting her eye once more.

Root’s eyes roved over Shaw’s peaceful face, sated and relaxed and Shaw could feel the way Root marveled and for God’s sake she wasn’t a work of art and so Shaw blindly reached out with an arm, hand groping feeling softly up Root’s arm (if Shaw noticed the way her hairs stood on end with each graze she chose not to comment, but may have filed the information away for later) until she gripped the front of the shirt and pulled.

Root was forced downwards, sliding across the sheets until Shaw had pushed Root’s head against the crook in her collar and she could feel Root’s startled breath against her skin as her hand remained in the shirt.

‘Sleep.’

Root remained tense, but eventually settled into Shaw when it seemed evident the woman wouldn’t change her mind nor attempt to suffocate her, comfortable enough to nestle further into Shaw who didn’t complain, but didn’t move either.

Shaw felt Root leave the ghost of a kiss on her shoulder and okay so she sort of liked the way Root curled into a ball against her frame and she soon heard Root’s breath even out as she fell asleep.

Shaw’s eyes remained closed but sleep was distant as she extricated her trapped hand from between their bodies and not knowing what to do with it, settled it across Root’s body awkwardly.

Root shuffled in closer.

Shaw’s body was stiff. Stiffer than Root’s ever was and this was uncomfortable-not physically but on some level Shaw registered this as awkward and foreign, but she stayed where she was.

She hated that.

She hated the way she knew exactly why she would lie there rather than risk moving.

She hated the way she didn’t know how much she could give.

She hated the way Root understood.

Chapter Text

The last time Shaw felt this bad she had been dead.

Or it might have been John’s last birthday she couldn’t quite remember right now.

Everything was light. She could feel nothing aside from her heavy head, an overhanging cloud of throbbing pressure: tangible fog. She knew this feeling, knew she had to move but that seemed easy thought than done.

She forced herself to think of her limbs seemingly stars away, ignoring the haze of her head as vaguely it registered that her leg could move. She wasn’t bound and there was no sustained damage. This was good.

Shifting about in a manner she hoped was subtle Shaw noted only one of her limbs seemed restrained and quickly assessed that escape was hardly going to be a problem after the drugs wore off.

Happy that she was relatively unharmed save for a stiff neck and had full motor movement returned to her, Shaw opened her eyes.

The subway station. Shaw stretched out on the bench, feet hitting the other end as she turned her head to the gentle hum of computer monitors emanating from her left.

Root sat in Harold’s chair, feet resting on the edge of his desk as she propped the laptop up on her bent legs quietly tapping on the keys oblivious to Shaw’s awakening.

Shaw turned her head back to the ceiling content to let the silence continue and ignore her companion as she flexed her right hand, hearing the clunk of the metal handcuffs that tied her to the bench.

Root lifted her head, the small sound drawing her attention away from her computer screen and over towards her captive.

Root said nothing as Shaw’s eyes lay fixed on the Moroccan Tile, as if the answers to her questions could be found in the 1920s décor.

She could feel Root’s gaze upon her hesitant and probing, waiting for any sign to flicker over Shaw’s set face. But Shaw wasn’t going to give her that. Not this time.

Her jaw clenched and Root’s eyes followed the movement, honing in on the subtle flex and Shaw could feel the tension as Root coiled waiting for Shaw to act.

Shaw sat up, swinging her legs over the edge of the bench and the handcuffs rattled as she righted herself.

She gave an experimental tug at the restraint, ignoring Root’s wary gaze unsure of Shaw’s next move.

A few harder pulls later and Shaw stopped her investigation apparently content to sit where she was bound staring pointedly at a point far away from Root.

Root placed her laptop on the desk next to her and put her legs down, sitting herself upright. Shaw stood at the movement, the handcuffs long forgotten and it took Root a long second to realize the seemingly natural action should not have been possible.

Shaw ignored all signs of apprehension and walked straight past Root who tensed at the approach, and logically Shaw knew she was unpredictable and she had every right to be considering she’d been stabbed in the back with a hollow point needle but something made her fist clench at the sight of Root’s obvious fear about what she might do.

Shaw ignored it-and her- as she made her way to the gun locker, ignoring Root’s insistent stare and the way she stood up at the sight of Shaw with her trusted USP walking towards the back of the station.

She and John had long ago set up a makeshift shooting range from electrical tape, cardboard and empty beer bottles and this was where she found herself, shrugging of her coat, cocking her gun and checking her mag as she got herself into firing position.

As Shaw disappeared from her view in the low lit station Root decided to follow, keeping a surprisingly respectful distance. She watched from the shadows as Shaw immediately fired off a clip, the sound echoing harshly through the acoustically optimal space.

She reached into her pocket and pulled out a new mag, ejecting her empty one onto the floor with little care.

‘Sameen.’

Shaw ignored her, readying herself once again and firing several precise shots each one perforating flimsy cardboard punctuated with the occasional crash of a shattered bottle.

Root waited until Shaw had emptied her rounds before walking forward, coming to rest behind the woman.

‘You’re going to run out of targets Sameen,’ she observed quietly.

An empty clip clattered to the floor.

‘Sam…’

‘What?’ bit out Shaw, eyes fixed down the barrel of her gun as she aimed.

‘You can’t ignore me forever Shaw.’

Shaw fired, hitting the target dead center.

‘Shaw.’

‘What?’

Another several rounds fired.

‘Please.’

Shaw spun round but lowered her weapon.

‘Please what Root?’

Root didn’t respond immediately, stung but not surprised at the harsh tone of voice.

‘Sameen…please.’

‘No. You don’t get to do that.’

‘I’m not-‘

‘This is on you Root.’

‘You would have done the same.’

Shaw scoffed.

‘Don’t flatter yourself.’

What else was I going to do?’

‘Not drug me?’ hissed Shaw.

‘You wouldn’t listen to reason. Shaw, think for one second: if they had caught you-‘

‘They wouldn’t.’

‘If they had caught you I wouldn’t-‘ Root cut herself off, ‘we wouldn’t be able to cope.’

‘This is war Root. You said it yourself: there will be sacrifices.’

‘And I’m prepared for them.’

Root paused slightly.

‘But you know too much.’

‘So it was tactical.’

‘You know it was. You would have done the same. You’re compromised Shaw.’

‘Then what use am I?’ hissed Shaw, taking a step forward and Root was very aware of the gun still in her hand.

‘You want me to sit here and fester? Wait out the fighting while you go off fighting Decima alone?’

‘If that’s what it takes to keep you alive then yes.’

‘No.’

‘Then do it for everyone else: your vulnerability puts all of us at risk not just Her. The Machine can’t risk that.’

‘The Machine can’t risk it? Or you can’t?’

‘That doesn’t matter and you know it.’

‘You’re right. It doesn’t. So tell me: was it you or the Machine that decided to knock me out and handcuff me to a bench like an animal?’ growled Shaw.

Shaw was very much in Root’s personal space; no matter how much she wanted to distance herself Root stood her ground.

‘Sameen…’

‘Which. One.’

Root didn’t answer.

‘She had no part in it.’

Shaw turned away.

‘Then we’re done.’

Root didn’t move her face registering nothing as if it hadn’t quite processed: couldn’t quite be processed.

‘Sam stop.’

‘Stop what Root?’

Shaw turned to face her again.

‘You’re being ridiculous.’

‘I’m being ridiculous?’

She was getting more irate and Root was saying all the wrong things and for once Root didn’t know what to say.

‘I had no choice you wouldn’t listen to reason.’

‘So the reasonable response is to stab me in the back?’

‘I didn’t….’

All the fight seemed to drain from Root. Shaw’s grip on her gun relaxed as she turned away, walking to a nearby table and placing the gun down.

‘I don’t care what you did Root,’ began Shaw, refusing to look at the woman behind her and instead studying the surface before her, palms resting on the wood.

‘It’s not what you did,’ she began again and Root didn’t dare to move.

Shaw was angry that much was obvious but she was trying: trying to explain for Root and Root would listen.

‘I don’t care about that.’

‘Then what?’ prompted Root.

Shaw turned around to face her eyes darting around the room looking anywhere but Root almost in exasperation.

‘How. How you did it.’

Shaw stepped forward, apparently resolute in her decision to push this.

‘You stabbed me in the back with needle. You waited until I turned away and then you shoved a fucking needle into my neck Root,’ Shaw shook her head slightly as she continued advancing, ‘so you don’t get to do this. You don’t get to take the moral fucking high ground not this time.’

‘I wasn’t-‘

‘This. Is on you. I didn’t do this.’

‘I didn’t want this,’ it was Root’s turn to step up, ‘but you wouldn’t listen to reason and I had no choice. What else could I have done? Did you want to talk about it Shaw? I tried. I did it your way.’

Shaw was once again level with Root, eyes boring into her as they looked up and Root hated how piercing Shaw’s gaze seemed to be.

‘I did it your way. The way you wanted and you ignored me.’

‘You want me to sit here like a trophy wife while you go and save the day.’

‘I want you safe.’

Root’s voice was a pained yell and even Shaw seemed to flinch slightly at a tone never before used with her.

Root’s breathing settled, heavy and controlled.

‘I want you to help Sameen. I want you to shoot the bad guys and help the good guys. I want you to be happy doing what you love but I can’t help what’s happened. I can’t protect you from Samaritan’s gaze anymore.’

‘I do the protecting.’

Root smiled and Shaw never wanted to see that sad smile again.

‘I know Sameen,’ Root sighed, ‘I’m not trying to hold you back. I wasn’t trying to betray you. I’m trying to keep you alive. All of us alive.’

‘It doesn’t change it.’

‘I know.’

Shaw turned away.

‘Okay Root.’

Root watched not moving a muscle.

‘I get it. I’m gonna gouge your eyes out with a spoon but I get it.’

Root chuckled softly.

‘Okay Sam.’

‘Doesn’t mean I like it.’

‘I’m not asking you to like it,’ Root stepped forward and Shaw turned her head the movement taking in Root’s sincerity, ‘I’m asking you to trust me.’

Shaw didn’t respond but Root didn’t push the matter. She didn’t need a verbal answer she just needed something from the woman: she couldn’t let her go out, she couldn’t let her sacrifice-she couldn’t let Shaw be the sacrifice that she was meant to be. Deserved to be after all that she’d done. The best death she could hope for to keep Shaw alive.

Shaw’s jaw locked as she ran the words over in her mind: trust was a tall order and Root knew what she was asking and part of Shaw repulsed at the thought, told her to run for the exit and ignore Root’s words but Shaw knew they made sense. And Root was right. Shaw would have done the same.

‘Fine.’

Root’s eyes snapped to Shaw who was slowly advancing, pushing her back against the cold tile of a nearby wall.

‘You get what you want. I’ll stay.’

Root smiled softly and Shaw knew this one and liked it and she knew she’d made the right choice by Root at least.

‘But you,’ Root hadn’t even noticed the introduction of Shaw’s military-grade combat knife into the equation as Shaw’s right hand came up, twisting the blade between her fingers before stabbing it between tiles causing a flutter of plaster and a harsh scrape, ‘give me something in return.’

Root didn’t dare look at the knife by the side of her head and wouldn’t let herself show the fear now thrumming through her body as Shaw’s eyes seemed unforgiving.

She exhaled shakily and Shaw’s lips curved as she noticed the effect she was having.

‘Ask me what I want Root.’

Root wisely chose not to deny the request, though a million retorts flickered through her head.

‘What do you want Sam?’

Shaw leant in close to Root’s face and Root couldn’t help the way her eyes fluttered at the ghosting of breath against her lips, her cheek and eventually the shell of her ear registering each sound of Shaw’s calm and unaffected breathing.

Shaw pulled the knife out from the wall.

‘I want you,’ Root’s lips quirked at the statement in pleasure but she said nothing, ‘in that bed,’ Root knew the one, the standard military grade bed complete with scratchy grey sheets just big enough for two at a squeeze, ‘I want you to get those handcuffs and I want you to tie yourself to that bed,’ Root closed her eyes, ‘I want you to strip. I want you to strip, to tie yourself to that bed and then you’re going to let me fuck you.’

Root let out a shaky breath.

‘If this is what you wanted I would have done this weeks ago.’

Shaw stabbed the knife into tile again and Root turned her head away slightly.

‘What about the others?’

Shaw raised an eyebrow.

‘You have an all-knowing Robo-brain in your ear Root. Figure something out.’

Root nodded once and Shaw pulled away, taking the knife with her. She indicated with her head for Root to start moving who did so, walking obediently to the bench and reaching into the back pocket of her jeans for the key to unlock the handcuffs from the bench.

Shaw watched, knife hanging loose by her side but close enough for Root to feel the mildly threatening presence. It was a dangerous line Root walked but she was all too happy to comply with Shaw’s demands.

Shaw followed as she walked towards the bed, watching as Root reached the bed before turning to face Shaw and letting the handcuffs hang from a finger. Shaw raised an eyebrow.

‘I’m going to need both hands.’

Shaw raised her knifepoint and Root took the hint, hooking the handcuffs onto its end as Shaw held her free hand out for the key. Root reluctantly handed that over too.

Shaw pulled the handcuffs from her knife collecting them in her left hand and took a step back.

‘You want a chair?’

‘No.’

‘To get comfortable at all?’

‘Strip.’

Root looked a little put out but shrugged, pulling of her leather jacket and chucking it to the floor before bending down and unzipping her boots.

‘I don’t really know what you expect Sameen,’ commented Root lightly, tugging off her shoes before standing up straight, ‘I can’t exactly do a lap dance with you stood up.’

‘Who said I wanted a lap dance?’

Root raised an eyebrow that disappeared as she pulled her thin maroon top over her head, mussing her hair as she dropped that too onto the floor.

‘Well when most people say ‘strip’ they mean ‘sexy lap dance.’’

‘Then make it sexy Root. If that’s what you want.’

Shaw seemed composed, something Root expected, though her eyes kept drifting over Root’s bare torso in a casual gaze and something about the sweeping look made Root squirm.

She began unbuttoning her jeans.

‘Is it what you want?’

Shaw shrugged, watching as Root’s legs were slowly revealed as the woman before her shimmied out of her skinny jeans with obvious difficulty, tugging them awkwardly over her socked feet before finally chucking them away.

‘Why didn’t you take your socks off first?’ muttered Shaw, the knife flitting through her fingers as she watched Root deal with said socks.

‘I didn’t exactly think that far ahead.’

Root stood in Shaw’s gaze: head down, cold subway air hitting her bare skin and she desperately wanted to seek warmth but Shaw’s gaze kept her where she was; kept her arms by her side.

‘Keep going.’

Root looked up, meeting Shaw’s apparently calm stare and hoped her face gave away nothing of her thoughts.

‘Really?’

The knife in Shaw’s hand stilled and even though the gesture itself wasn’t threatening-Root knew Shaw well enough to know that wasn’t the intent-it called her recent pinning to the wall back to her mind. She swallowed slightly before reaching behind her to undo the clasp of her less than utilitarian bra.

Shaw said nothing more, watching as Root’s hands moved to pull down lace underwear and despite claiming the lack of sex appeal in her actions Root’s hesitation made Shaw wait, eyes focused and patient as Root bared herself as Shaw had once done for her with little thought.

Root watched Shaw watch her and this time her first thought was finding some form of cover because this was not something she was used to all bare and exposed, but she suspected Shaw knew this.

Shaw never did anything without reason.

‘Come here.’

Root stepped forward, soles of her feet padding across cold stone as she forced her arms to stay by her side.

Shaw handed her the handcuffs, metal cold in her palm and gestured to the bed behind them.

Root turned and walked over, pulling aside the scratchy grey blanket and lying down, tightening the handcuffs around her left wrist and locking them shut. Root turned to look at Shaw who had made her way to stand by the side of the bed and handed her the key that Shaw took.

She studied it in her hand before making a decision, placing it down on the floor by the bed before moving to take off her own boots, sheathing her knife as she pulled off her shoes and socks.

Shaw stood over the bed, studying Root’s naked form with roving eyes like she was dissecting a specimen and Root was almost uncomfortable were it not Shaw: were she not in complete safety.

Root tried for a smirk.

‘Like what you see?’

Shaw’s eyes snapped to Root’s face.

‘Yes.’

Well, Root did appreciate honesty.

‘I didn’t get this far,’ muttered Shaw.

‘What?’

‘I didn’t think this far ahead.’

Root raised an eyebrow.

‘I’m almost flattered that your only desire is to see me naked handcuffed to a metal bed frame. You make a girl blush Sameen.’

‘I wanted to see whether you’d do it.’

‘Do what?’

Shaw paused.

‘Trust me.’

Root didn’t reply immediately letting the revelation wash over her and Shaw shifted slightly now far more uncomfortable than the stark naked Root.

‘Sam,’ said Root quietly, barely above a whisper, ‘come here.’

Shaw hesitated but figured she’d return the favour of trust and moved to stand by Root’s head.

Root chuckled softly.

‘Straddle me Sameen.’

If Shaw was ever bashful it would be now, frowning at her own misunderstanding and incapability of acting as she moved to straddle Root’s torso, legs just managing to squeeze onto the bed either side of Root’s body. This was not going the way she had expected.

‘Now come here.’

This time Shaw understood, bending down low gripping the metal bar of the bedframe above Root’s head to steady herself. Root’s free hand came to touch Shaw’s face pulling her closer and Root lifted her head up slightly as their lips met and Shaw was quite happy to go along with Root’s plan despite the knowledge at the back of her mind that she was meant to be in control here.

Desperate for air Root pulled away ever so slightly, thumb stroking Shaw’s cheek softly and Shaw’s first instinct was to frown at the tender movement, to pull away, but she was too busy focusing on Root’s wide brown eyes that always said too much.

‘Better?’

‘Not really.’

Root frowned.

‘Sameen?’

Shaw surged forward, recapturing wet lips and Shaw could feel Root slacken, melt to her will as Shaw pushed her further into the bed relishing the way Root’s fingers laced in her hair, tugging out the loose ponytail and gripping on tightly.

Shaw pulled away again but made no move to continue her assault.

‘Still have no idea what we’re doing.’

‘Having sex?’

Shaw bit Root’s lip non-too harshly, moving back when she felt Root’s smirk.

‘Well I’ve never been too good at strip teases anyway,’ confessed Root, fingers absently trailing through hair far too softly.

Shaw decided to take the initiative, to stick with what she was good at as she nipped at Root’s neck while she spoke.

‘Work on it.’

Root raised an eyebrow to the ceiling, grip tightening in hair as Shaw found that spot she knew worked for Root, biting and nipping and sucking till it clearly bruised.

‘Am I going to need that particular skill?’

Shaw pulled back slightly glancing at her work, at Root’s soft skin and the way her throat bobbed and the veins pulsed and the tendons tightened to form a perfect sculpture that Shaw couldn’t help to admire at least from a purely aesthetic viewpoint.

‘You might.’

Root tried to angle her head down.

‘Do you like strip teases Sameen?’

Shaw didn’t look up, instead planting soft kisses and Root had to look away as she relished the feeling.

‘Hardly relevant.’

‘Not if you keep doing that.’

‘I was going to talk dirty but you’re being sappy and it’s ruining the mood,’ muttered Shaw against skin.

‘Sorry Sameen. I can struggle if you’d like?’

‘Don’t be so pathetic,’ Shaw bit harshly, ‘you can’t act for shit.’

‘I’m hurt,’ Root gasped as Shaw turned from soothing licks and kisses to aggressive biting and Root really liked that, pulling at Shaw’s hair in response, ‘I always thought you liked it when I play dress-up.’

Shaw grunted non-committedly as she struggled to slide down the far too small bed to encase a hardened nipple in a warm mouth and this time Root couldn’t help but squirm slightly.

‘This bed is shit.’

‘I know,’ breathed out Root, fingers tugging at the black material of the strange floated dress top Sameen Grey had decided to wear to work the previous day.

‘Can you take that off?’

Shaw looked up, not giving it much thought as she sat up and awkwardly tugged off the item before returning to her previous actions.

‘Happy?’

‘Very,’ hummed Root fingers dragging across Shaw’s shoulder blades as she continued her own ministrations on the woman beneath her intent on stoking some sort of reaction.

Shaw tried to move lower but the bed stopped her.

‘Sameen,’ tore out Root very much affected by Shaw’s seemingly never-ending assault on her breasts, ‘that’s not going to work.’

Shaw growled in frustration.

‘This is shit.’

Root tried to pull Shaw back up her body, hooking her hand in a bra strap and tugging, dragging Shaw back to her mouth before reaching for her lips.

‘Not that I don’t want you to sweetie,’ muttered Root against her lips, ‘but the bed won’t allow it.’

If Shaw weren’t Shaw Root would have expected a pout. As it were, Shaw simply bit once more on Root’s bottom lip, drawing more blood as she sucked and kissed.

‘I have my knife,’ growled Shaw threateningly.

What she was threatening Root had no idea. Probably the bed frame and its audacity to get in her way.

‘As much as I love that particular idea,’ Shaw’s tongue lacing her ear caused a shaky breath, ‘I don’t think Harry would appreciate the mess.’

Shaw let herself fall onto Root.

‘Can you not talk about Finch?’

Root used her free hand to tug at Shaw’s chin, raising her head to look her in the eye. She was smiling in pleasure, like there was nowhere she would rather be than this moment and that was something Shaw couldn’t quite understand so she did the only thing she could think of to get it to leave her face: she kissed her.

‘Take off your pants Shaw.’

Shaw pulled back and sat up, undoing the button and zipper before raising herself up slightly on her forelegs as she attempted to awkwardly shimmy out of her loose pants. Root shifted under her as best she could allowing for the eventual removal of the clothing to the relief of both involved.

Shaw needed no prompting this time as she immediately bent down once more to meet Root’s lips and she didn’t question how natural that had become instead choosing to busy herself drawing delicate sounds from Root whose own free hand was wandering nicely around Shaw’s back and trailing the side of her torso nails dragging and Shaw expected to see red marks later.

Root pulled her mouth back slightly when her fingers fiddled with the edge of plain black functional underwear that was oh so Shaw and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

‘Sameen,’ she breathed out so insistent and Shaw knew what she wanted but wasn’t quite ready to give it.

Shaw’s fingers played absently with a nipple but her eyes never left Root’s.

‘Sameen please.’

Shaw made no move. Not this time.

Root launched forward in a move that Shaw wasn’t quite expecting but was quickly reciprocated with just as much force as lips clashed and Root’s hand slipped below the waistline causing a jolt from Shaw as Root didn’t let up.

‘This isn’t going to work if you don’t,’ asserted Root and it was her turn to nip and lick and let fingers wander that made Shaw’s head swim in that way only Root could make her lose control.

Shaw dragged the hand on Root’s breast down in a clear challenge.

‘You seem to be doing just fine.’

Root growled and Shaw almost shuddered at the sound and she vowed she would hear it again and then she shook her head: when did ‘one time’ become ‘next time’? Shaw wasn’t quite ready to think on that, think on when she began to look forward rather than relish the moment: when she needed both now and next. When she needed more.

Root’s frustration poured into her actions just as Shaw attempted to run from her thoughts in the kiss, in her ministrations as she matched Root’s fingers move for move taking in each sound and mewl, each clink of the handcuffs as Root strained against her now cumbersome restraint whilst Shaw moved freely.

Their movements were anything but slow: frantic but paced like each move was thought and delivered with the utmost care and when Shaw found her rhythm Root conceded, pulling back and letting her head hit the pillow as she writhed and jutted, struggling to maintain her own rhythm in Shaw.

Shaw took it in: there was this little smile she did and Shaw couldn’t look away, keeping her eyes on Root’s face as her body squirmed beneath; the little quirk of her lips that filled Shaw with something different to her lust.

Shaw drove deeper, grunting as Root somehow maintained her own movements just enough to allow Shaw to keep pace and when Root’s eyes fluttered shut and her teeth pierced her own lip as she struggled to maintain composure even as Shaw felt her clench and flutter Shaw drove herself harder against Root’s hand because somehow she felt this was important and even in the throes of her own pleasure Root was still dragging Shaw with her.

‘Root,’ grunted Shaw and Root’s eyes shot open, her hinged composure lost as a loud groan escaped from her lips and Shaw would never admit how much she loved those sounds.

Shaw tried to form a sentence but her mind was too preoccupied; Root understood however, waiting and watching and where once Shaw would have squirmed to get away she took it all in like she wanted to memorize it for generations: like there was nothing else worth looking at than Root in that moment.

It was over too soon with a shudder and a loud moan that Shaw cut off as she surged to capture Root’s lips reaching her own climax and Root felt as Shaw slowly relaxed.

Shaw lifted her head above Root’s thoroughly exhausted form looked over her hair framing her face and allowed herself a small smile as she watched the out of breath Root struggle to regain herself, eyes closed as she regulated breathing.

Shaw slumped onto Root, sweaty skin sticking to both Root and the sheets beneath them.

They lay in contented silence, Shaw thinking of nothing but Root: of the feel of soft skin against hers, of how she would give anything to never move from this spot because she was comfortable and sated and relaxed.

‘Sweetie,’ tried Root.

Shaw grunted.

‘As much as I enjoyed that I’m going to need you to get off me and get me out of these cuffs.’

Shaw turned her head slightly looking at Root’s calm face, unguarded eyes that no longer held worry and secrets that she seemed to carry with her and Shaw sighed, clambering ungracefully over Root’s body earning her a few winded grunts as she hung over the side of the bed reaching for the small metal key.

She pulled it up, slid back and dropped the key onto Root’s collar with a resounding echo.

‘You do it,’ mumbled Shaw, far too comfortable to consider moving much more than that.

‘I can’t.’

‘Why not Root?’ demanded Shaw, getting slightly impatient now.

‘You're lying on my hand.’

Shaw didn’t move.

Eventually she shifted, sitting up as she reached for the handcuffs, unlocking the restraint before tossing both key and handcuffs to the side and rolling back onto the bed.

Root shook out her arm slightly glad of the freedom before shuffling and resting her head on Shaw’s chest.

Shaw tensed slightly but soon relaxed and Root took that as a triumph, letting her fingers trace the skin in front of her eyes and she almost jumped out of her skin when Shaw’s hand found itself running through her hair.

‘Tell me a story.’

‘What?’

Root’s voice was soft.

‘Root,’ sighed Shaw, exasperated at the woman and not willing to ask again.

Root didn’t respond immediately but Shaw gave her the time until a gentle voice began its tale.

‘Once upon a time…once upon a time there was a girl who lived all alone in a horrible cave that she had called home.  And every day in that horrible cave, the girl tried to figure out a way to escape.’

Root’s voice was calm and soft as she lay upon Shaw’s chest half expecting the story to have ended at Shaw’s insistence.

‘None of her plans ever succeeded of course and she’d almost given up when one day just like in a fairy tale…’

Root trailed off and Shaw’s fingers stilled their movements through her hair.

‘She got out.’

Root didn’t look up at Shaw now resolute on continuing but Shaw had no intent of stopping her, lost in the words as they ran through her mind.

‘And she thought she was free. But fairy tales don’t exist and the girl never looked back. And even though she was free, even though she could fly as she pleased she built herself another cave hoping something else would come to save her.’

Root stopped her tale and Shaw looked down at the head on her chest.

‘That’s bullshit.’

Root looked up and Shaw looked away from her inquiring gaze.

‘It’s stupid,’ she amended, ‘she just had to walk out the door the whole time.’

Root softened failing to stop the spread of a doting smile.

‘Sameen…it’s just a story.’

‘Well then the girl’s stupid: she just had to want to escape. She did it once she could do it again.’

Root chuckled.

‘What about good things come to those who wait?’

‘Bullshit. Good things are rare enough.’

Shaw refused to meet Root’s eyes, knowing what they would say.

‘Yeah?’

‘Yeah.’

Shaw let out a deep breath.

‘You gotta go and get them. Whatever the cost.’

‘What if you can’t?’

This time Shaw met her eyes.

‘Then you deserve to lose them.’

‘Harsh.’

Shaw shrugged as best she could in her position.

‘If you aren’t willing to go and get them why should you deserve them?’

Root didn’t reply and the two lapsed into comfortable silence, Root relaxing onto Shaw’s chest as Shaw’s fingers resumed their careful path across her skin relishing in the feel of cold flesh.

‘Promise me something.’

Root shifted closer, intertwining their legs further.

‘Sameen?’

The reply wasn’t immediate.

‘Come back.’

Root looked up at Shaw but Shaw wasn’t looking, eyes fixed to the Moroccan tile as if it held the only solace she would find.

Chapter Text

'Find that one person who connects you to the world and you become someone different, someone better. When that person is taken from you, what do you become then?'

 


 

The city never sleeps.

The dark night broken by the lights of the big city, casting shadows across a white ceiling.  Root watched the rain, eyes fixed on the wide floor length windows as she lay on her side, the rain distorting the lights and twisting what she saw.

She shifted, turning her head and steadying her dull gaze on the long shadows across white paint as the wind of the storm tore against the windows.

Why was she here?

Let’s start smaller.

What are you going to do now?

She closed her eyes. That didn’t seem much smaller: there were lots of things to be done. Too many things.

Root opened her eyes, shuffling under the thin white covers and pushing her legs out from under them before sitting up. The hairs on her body prickled as the cold air hit her warm skin but she took no notice, padding lightly across the room that was not hers.

The covers rustled but Root did not turn around, bending over and picking up the discarded pieces of her clothing, sliding them on: shaking her deep blue dress over her figure, picking up her shoes and clutch.

She headed for the door.

She didn’t want to be there. Her body had brought her anyway.

The rain hit her hard as she stepped outside, flattening her hair: soaking her through as the wind worked in tandem battering her dress against her legs.

It was cold: it registered dimly under the soles of her bare feet on wet concrete, in the way her hair stuck to her face and the way her dress stuck to her skin.

She let it fall, let it tear at her skin in a harsh burn: scalding ice wiping away the evening she never wanted to have. An evening that had brought her nothing she was looking for but somehow she knew she had needed it anyway, despite how empty it had felt.

She stood motionless. She couldn’t hear the city: feel it. Not anymore.

Root looked to the black sky for just a second rain pummeling her like ash and she breathed against the blistering cold.

She started back to her apartment.

Her apartment. Root never thought of it as her own: it wasn’t hers it was Sameen’s. Root had bought it. She didn’t know why. She needed a place to live.

Root tossed her shoes to the floor, not much caring where they fell as she headed for the shower. The cold rain dripped onto the stone floor as she shed her clothing once again, leaving a damp trail to be picked up later.

The shower was burning, a welcome feeling as she stepped under the water. Too much water for one morning, burning the unwanted touch from her skin like acid and she bowed her head under its pressure, closing her eyes.

If water could burn deeper.

Why was she here?

That was a big question.

What are you going to do now?

She raised her head from under the weight of the water stream and turned off the shower, reaching blindly for a towel.

 


 

'Everything that happened. That her name now?’

‘You said you didn’t want to talk about Ms. Shaw.’

 


 

Sleep seemed a distant possibility, lying beneath her covers head deep in her pillow. She closed her eyes, trying to force her weariness to overtake her but each time her body fought, not letting her give in and close her eyes.

A rare 24-hour window with no missions: just an identity and a life to live. The Machine did this every few weeks: Her idea of rest supposed Root, but she thought so with no bitterness. She did care, in Her own way.

Root shifted, flipping and laying on her other side trying to get comfortable. She glanced at the clock on the side table: 04:06. Three hours sleep left: not much time at all.

 


 

‘Where have you been?’

‘Out.’

Root tosses the bag from her shoulder and the wig from her hair, shaking out her own brown locks in an attempt to regain some form of style to them.

‘Identity?’

Root hums lightly, walking over to where Shaw sat on the bench.

‘Claire Keyes: corporate attorney,’ grins Root, sliding on the seat next to Shaw, ‘never lost a case.’

Shaw rolls her eyes.

‘You’ve never set foot in a courtroom.’

‘Once.’

Shaw shoots her a look.

‘Let me guess: fraud.’

‘Corporate blackmail,’ Root leans in close, ‘jury duty.’

Shaw swats her away as Root keeps her eyes wide and doting. Shaw makes a point not to meet them.

‘And how have you been Sweetie?’

‘Hungry. Cold. Bored.’

Root pulls out a phone from god-knows-where in that suit and sends a short text, Shaw’s eyes following her fingers.

‘Harry will pick you something up,’ explains Root lightly, ‘as for the last two-‘

‘Don’t. Even. Think it.’

Root’s eyes shone with mirth.

‘Too late,’ she smirks and went in for the wink. Well, what Root thought was a wink but it did things to Shaw. Nice things. Things that meant she wasn’t ever going to tell Root that she couldn’t wink because then she’d stop doing it.

Instead Shaw settled for an unresponsive stare, one that Root-much practiced in the art of Sameen Shaw- took in her stride.

She settles back against the bench, noting Shaw’s own stiff posture in the dim light as the silence settles over them like a blanket, smothering their thoughts.

‘How long?’ asks Shaw lightly enough but didn’t try to meet Root’s eyes, staring straight ahead.

‘Few hours. Maybe the night. She hasn’t told me.’

‘She doesn’t seem to be telling you much,’ observes Shaw, bite to her tone.

‘Sameen, Samaritan-‘

‘I know. Just seems like you’re flying blind. ‘

‘Compared to before? Yes.’

Shaw looks over her shoulder at Root, seemingly relaxed on the bench but eyes always alert and fixed on Shaw.

‘Careful Sameen, I might almost think you care.’

A gentle chide: a steer into safer territory. Shaw holds her gaze for several seconds longer than necessary telling Root everything she needs to know before her eyes fix forward again.

‘Don’t flatter yourself.’

Root laughs lightly though it holds no substance. She sits up slightly, coming level with Shaw’s straight posture and studying the woman’s profile like a sculptor memorizing each detail. If Shaw noticed she didn’t mention it, nor force it to stop. Root reaches out, tucking a strand of Shaw’s wayward fringe behind her ear that absolutely did not stay there and let her hand trail down Shaw’s jaw softly, before leaning in and placing a gentle kiss to her cheek.

‘I’ll always come back,’ whispers Root, lips brushing Shaw’s skin and just for a second Shaw lets it lie and Root felt her relax just this once. And then it was over, Shaw stiff as a board and harshly shoving Root away.

‘Next time bring a steak.’

 


 

Root opened her eyes from the dream-unwelcome recollection- waiting as they focused on the ceiling above and stilled her erratic breath. It was daylight; gentle sun piercing through the white blinds and Root steadied her breath before slowly sitting up and swinging her legs off the edge of the bed.

She tilted her head slightly, waiting to hear a voice. None came. She wasn’t expecting one but old habits die hard and she was always hopeful. Even now.

Silence seemed to follow her like dense fog: some self-imposed, some necessary and some she didn’t like to think about too much.

Even after everything that happened she still waiting for Her to speak. A whisper in a newspaper, a magazine article: remnants of a map left in a trash can or the dull hum through an infomercial. Root kept listening because she had to: because if they lost then it would have been for nothing.

She padded to the kitchen and switched on the radio- something she had brought in to fill the space left behind- and barely paid attention as she brewed her black coffee, hair hanging over her face.

Ah. There it was, a light beeping just below the surface amplified by her implant courtesy of Her. Root scrambled for a pen and paper, scribbling down the necessary information and times before setting the pen down.

20 minutes until her next change: Donna Harrison, journalist taking a flight to the Peoples Republic of China.

Memorizing the information she reached for a lighter, setting the paper aflame and watching it burn. She turned off the radio, the noise only nuisance now, before dressing in appropriate attire and heading swiftly out of the door, coffee forgotten on the side.

 


 

 Their captive wakes, head shooting up from the table as he takes in the scene: his captors casually eating Chinese. 

‘Best in the city’ intones John, holding up a roll.

That seemed to set his mind in gear as he tries to run, stopped by the cuffs around his ankles and he trips, falling to the floor.

‘They sent you. They sent you to get me.’

He spoke like a man who’s realized his paranoia wasn’t paranoia at all.

‘Right idea wrong Machine.’

‘Not helping Ms. Groves.’

Root looks scolded, shrugging her shoulders slightly but she says nothing, content to eat her food and watch events unfold.

‘Who are you people?’

This is John’s territory.

‘The only ones keeping you alive.’

‘You almost killed us.’

John shrugs.

‘It was a little fender bender.’

‘Answer our questions and you will be released,’ demands Finch. He can be threatening when he wants to be, and it vaguely crosses Root’s mind that intimidating a scared man might not be the best way to convince him they’re the good guys. Still, he’s taking it pretty well.

John pulls him up and puts him back in the chair. They seat themselves back around the table as Harold takes charge.

‘Why did you need to see those meters?’

‘The company was using ten times the power that it’s ever used before. Wasn’t being used by the servers inside: it was powering something else.’

‘Quite a leap to jump to an AI.’

‘Stock market flash crash, cyber attacks, traffic lights changing…’ Root lets the rest of the explanation fade on her ears as she stands up.

She needs to leave. Now. Or shoot something. Or maybe cry. Two words stronger than any bullet slipped from his tongue like they were nothing. She’s not sure what’s worse: the words or the fact that he has no idea of their significance.

Finch and John remain preoccupied with their part-time captive seemingly unaware of her presence; the only place left to go is the space of the next room.

She can still hear the man speak as she reaches for Finch’s laptop and begins to type. 

 


 

The journey is long and tiring but she doesn’t sleep, eyes open for any and all possible attacks. Her right arm rests in a cast: apparently Harrison had been in an accident not too recently and Root was happy to take that in her stride, assuming there must be some reason behind the handicap.

The flight gave her time to find out the details: a little digging put her on the trail for a silicon microchip with immense processing power held in a factory location not too far from the airport. Her return flight was scheduled 24 hours after landing: a narrow time period but not impossible, especially with Harrison’s recent research for an article into the development of smaller processors.

She knew what needed to be done and knew what she would have to do: she would have the chip in three hours she thought, as she shifted back into her seat and looked outside at the bright blue sky. Then it would be back to New York and another identity.

She sighed softly, feeling the weariness seep into her bones like a leech and each day it became harder to push on, a single thread of determination to save the world pulling her along.

‘Would you like anything to drink?’ inquired a polite hostess.

Root turned to look at her.

‘Whiskey. Neat.’

‘Would you like some ice with that?’

‘No. Thank you.’

She smiled lightly but felt it as more of a grimace. She took the drink, returning her attention to the window and taking a gentle sip, wincing at the burn down her throat.

The factory was large and heavily fortified and she knew backup would have been preferable but, she thinks, there’s no point wishing for things you can’t have.

She takes another sip, bigger this time.

 


 

‘You should’ve let me kill her.’

‘Killing her won’t bring Shaw back.’

She looks up at him.

‘You’re right I should’ve let you kill her.’

She’s not an idiot.

  


 

Root strode through the Research and Development labs of the factory confident her progress wouldn’t be stopped. The lab staff had been evacuated and the security was surprisingly lapse.

She kept her eyes focused around her, glancing through glass screens for any sign of resistance as she made her way through a supposedly locked room and reached a large safe-like structure.

‘That explains the lack of security,’ she muttered, looking for a way in.

It was new, electronic keypad with passcode, and Root searched the room for some kind of hint to the code. Trawling through desks and filing cabinets she found nothing, chucking several sheets to the floor: she didn’t have long left before someone realized the system had been tripped.

Root took a deep breath, looking up at a security camera in the corner.

‘Please,’ she asked, emphasizing her need in the word: a request.

Nothing.

Root turned and fired shots at the door of the safe; the clang of metal against metal echoing in the room above the noise of the alarms and the bullets ricocheted off the door creating sparks. Root held still for a few seconds, gun raised hand clenched tight around the grip before turning back to the camera.

‘If you don’t help me I can’t get whatever it is you want. Unlock the safe.’

Root waited, patience lacking, before she heard the click of a lock and she smiled.

‘Thank you,’ she said sincerely enough, and she quickly picked up the small chip, the only thing in the large safe, before heading out.

Her exit was less than smooth as she reached the stairs, shooting at the guards running up to meet her. Hitting two and missing the other she cursed as she ran out of bullets, running the opposite direction.

‘Any help?’

She wasn’t expecting any and felt little surprise when no answer came. She slid behind a lab bench as shots fired her way and quickly scanned the room from her vantage point. Her eyes zeroed in on an emergency back route and she stood up, crouched slightly as she ran for the exit chip firmly in her hand.

Shots echoed on the metal door of the stairway as she closed it behind her before taking the steps two at a time down onto a busy street.

 


 

‘What happened?’

Shaw emerges from the subway car to greet Root, her eyes scanning her body assessing the bloodstains that mar her white clothes.

‘Run in with Decima,’ Shaw is already striding over to her med kit and Root doesn’t need to be told as she moves to sit on the bench, ‘took a bullet to the side. I don’t think anything major was hit.’

Her tone is light though the pain is evident in her voice. Shaw grunts her understanding, kneeling in front of her and gesturing the top to be removed.

‘How did they find you?’

‘I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been,’ replies Root off-handedly and Shaw frowns.

‘Root.’

‘It’s fine. They cornered me in an alley: had no bullets left,’ her voice trails into a pained gasp as Shaw wrenches the first bullet out, dropping it into a petri dish.

Shaw doesn’t look up as Root’s hand grips the arm of the bench with white knuckles against the pain, exhaling a breath of relief as Shaw pulls back slightly, reaching for the white spirit and a cloth.

‘Where was She?’

Root looks down at Shaw who was pouring the spirit into the cloth; Root tenses as Shaw cleans the wound. Shaw didn’t let up and Root struggles to remain still against the pain before finally she answers as Shaw left her wounds alone.

‘You know She can’t speak to me as much Shaw.’

Shaw’s jaw tightens but she says nothing, reaching forward to stitch the wound and Root watches her hands work, enjoying the way her fingers gently brush against her skin as Shaw works the needle.

The two sit in silence as Shaw works and Root doesn’t look to break it, content to let Shaw continue, feeling the tension radiating from her in waves. She knows Shaw will speak when she wants and Root will wait to hear it.

Shaw gives the thread one final tug, cutting it off before dropping the needle.

‘Take backup.’

Root looks at Shaw who busies herself readying a dressing.

‘I can’t take backup every single time: John has to cover the numbers Sameen,’ reminds Root gently and Shaw’s jaw begins to cramp.

Root expects her to continue: to argue and fight but instead she dresses the wound, placing a cover over it with care that doesn’t go unnoticed by Root before she stands, hands covered in Root’s blood and heads into the subway car.

Root watches her with curiosity, following as she reaches the weapons locker and opens it before returning.

She doesn’t say a word, setting down ammo next to Root on the bench- ammo that Root’s eyes stare at with a certain intensity- before she moves to go and find some water to wash her hands with.

‘Keep them dry,’ she calls over her shoulder in a gruff tone, ‘change the dressing every 72 hours.’

 


 

Root hid the chip into the bandage of her cast before making the plaster covering, waiting on the balcony of her hotel room for it to set. She watched the bright lights of the metropolitan city shine in the still, humid air: so different from her home but harsh, like she wasn’t welcome. She didn’t want to be here.

She took a sip of her cocktail. She had ordered room service and the remains of a half eaten steak rested on the small metal table: she had lost interest.

She sat until morning, falling asleep in her chair until she was woken by her phone: an alarm she was sure she didn’t set. Stretching out slightly she walked out, grabbing her jacket form the bed as she left the room not bothering to change her clothing.

The ride to the airport was slow, traffic delaying the journey. Root wondered lightly about the chip knowing She was collecting things. For what, she didn’t know. She supposed she’d find out.

Root barely made it in time, rushing through security with the chip securely hidden. She didn’t worry: she trusted Her to know the plan would work and settled into the first class seat ready for the flight, back and neck stiff from her awkward sleep the night before.

The plane stood at the gate and Root watched as passengers boarded, passing through the first class cabin as a brief flash in Root’s life. She wondered how many would be numbers one day: digits that compelled Root to save their lives.

She wondered how many deserve it.

 


 

' My plan does mean too much to kill her. If you do, my program will fail. This could be a real weapon it’s worth risking my life.’

‘No. You’re too important.’

‘My value to the Machine is irrelevant.’

‘You’re too important to me.’

The two seem frozen in time and Root wishes he would just listen to her for once.

‘The Machine didn’t tell you to do this?’

‘She told me not to.’

Her voice is soft with the weight of her decision. She will do this. She has to. Harold looks away, reconciling that his creation is trying to save one he loves again: reconciling that Root is trying to kill someone he cares about again.

Root watches his eyes search the floor and struggles to find her own words.

‘I…I thought I could sacrifice everyone I really did. Win some lose some right? It’s for a good cause but…but it turns out I can’t lose you Harold. Not you and Shaw.’

 


 

‘Samaritan may have found the Machine.’

‘If that were true we’d all be dead,’ chimed Root as she entered the subway car.

‘What happened Ms. Groves?’ asked Harold, full of concern and Root looked down at the fake cast on her arm like she’d only just remembered it was there.

She walked over to the nearby cabinet, hitting it hard on the metal and letting the plaster fall away as she revealed a microchip embedded in the bandaging.

‘Turns out the People’s Republic is surprisingly lax on full body searches.’

She bent down, placing it on the slot on the side of the briefcase as instructed with careful precision before returning her attentions to Finch.

‘How goes the gang war Harry?’

‘Dangerous. I’m afraid it’s only a matter of time before Dominic retaliates.’

She followed him through the subway, coming up behind as Elias and Dominic pop up on his computer screen.

Root watched as Finch dealt with John on the other end of the line, interjecting where necessary but largely allowing things to unfold in her silence, content to hang in the shadows in a rare moment of rest.

A low vibration disturbs the calm and suddenly Finch was pulling away files to a phone kept dormant for so long. She looked at Finch whose eyes stay fixed on the phone and she figures as long as one of them is looking at it, it might not disappear.

‘Shaw’s phone,’ she breathed out.

She can’t… her thoughts run: a relative, an old friend but…this is Shaw. Hope is a dangerous thing but Root can’t help to clutch at it.

‘Finch?’

‘I have to go Mr. Reese, you’ll have to manage Elias yourself,’ dismissed Harold, cutting him off as his eyes fix on Root.

She answered the phone, clutching at it like a lifeline.

‘Hello?’ she asked. What else is there to say, she thinks, as surprise laced her hesitant voice.

‘Root are you there? It’s me I need your help I-‘

The phone cuts and Harold doesn’t need to have heard what was said, Root’s wide eyes telling him everything he needed to know.

‘Shaw?’ she asked again to a dead phone. Her voice has never sounded so fragile.

‘Wait, Sameen!’

She knows there will be no response but she has to try: try anything as she pulls the phone away from her ear, looking at it like a miracle.

 


 

'Harold stop this now.’

The neurotoxin was already taking effect as he sits on the side of the bed. Root wouldn’t let this happen: couldn’t.

‘If I’m dead you won’t kill her: there won’t be a need.’

‘Do you really care that much about this woman?’ she demands.

‘If she dies it’s my fault. And I will not be responsible for one more friend’s death.’

Root can feel the tears in her eyes that have been there since Harold walked in but she blinks them back again. She will not cry again. Not here. Not now.

‘Shaw’s not your fault. Even if she does… turn up dead: it’s not your fault. I asked her to help us that day. I did Harold.’

She searches for his eyes because he is not to blame and Root will never let him think that.

‘I suppose we’re both just trying to save one more friend from dying.’

Harold begins to fall unable to support his body and Root lurches over him, falling into desperation as she speaks the words coming out too fast.

‘I..I won’t kill her Harold I give you my word Beth will live. Please. Please believe me.’

‘Alright I believe you…Root.’

 


 

Root won’t let go of the phone.

‘She’s alive Harold. We wrote her off for dead but she’s alive,’ she can’t keep the smile from her lips.

‘You don’t know that Ms. Groves,’ warned Finch, his voice low.

‘Except we do I just talked to her on a call, originating from the city.’

She’s so insistent, but this is proof. She talked to Sameen and it feels like light but it registers only now that area code and how close she’s been this whole time and she wonders briefly how long she’s been hiding in plain sight and she has to move now.

Even with this knowledge- the knowledge that she’s been here all along, that Root hadn’t looked hard enough. Had given up- she can’t help the lightness to her features: a thread of hope.

Harold followed her into the subway car.

‘Can we wait for just five minutes and talk this through?’

Root shook her head slightly. No.

‘The last time we had this conversation I actually listened to you. And to the Machine,’ she headed for the lockers, pulling out equipment, ‘I called off my search,’ her voice is so quiet she could be talking to herself, ‘and all this time she needed us Harold. Like she needs us now. Isn’t this your specialty? Helping people when the phone rings.’

‘That call is most certainly a trap.’

Why did everyone think she was an idiot? She would follow that call if it led her to Greer himself and then she would shoot him too. It didn’t matter. None of it mattered.

‘I know. But Sameen’s still alive, and I’m going after her.’

 


 

'Your turn,’ indicates Shaw as Root pouts, thinking.

John and Shaw share a look as Root pulls two cards and slams then down.

'Two Queens.’

Shaw studies her face and decides she’s telling the truth, looking down at her own cards. They hadn’t been able to play poker because Root didn’t know how to play: ‘The Machine did all the work,’ she had shrugged when asked how the fuck she’d won all that money in Vegas and Shaw had grumbled about using the Machine as a glorified card counter when she could do it all perfectly well without a sentient computer thank you very much.

‘A king.’

‘Bullshit,’ calls Root happily and Shaw glares before reaching for the accumulated cards in the pile and turning over.

Her gaze flickers to Root.

‘You liar.’

Root simply smirks.

‘You believed me. We’d already had 3 queens. I took a risk.’

John looks at Shaw with little sympathy.

‘Fuck you,’ growls Shaw.

‘A risk worth taking apparently,’ smirks Root, leaving a soft peck on Shaw’s cheek and Shaw’s hand comes up to rub away the remnants of the affection roughly like a child.

 


 

The Machine won’t tell her where the call originated but she’s not letting Shaw slip through her fingers again.

‘I can’t help you Ms. Grove’s if you insist on this impossible pace,’ she didn’t reply, ‘Root. What are we doing out here?’

He only uses that name when he wants an answer. To make a point. She appreciates it all the same, a name she knows is her own, but her words are addressed to a small camera overlooking the ledge.

‘When you told me to stop looking for Shaw I did. But now I need you to help me. I cant do this alone.’

She didn’t want to but it’s been so silent and she needed to do something so she climbs onto the ledge, ignoring the biting cold and the wind whipping her hair flat into her face praying she won’t fall.

‘Harold taught you blackjack and chess,’ getting up onto the ledge was harder than expected, giving her time to look down, ‘I wonder if he ever taught you how to play chicken.’

Root stood slowly, arms outstretched to keep her balance. Shaw would kill her if she could see this now. Would probably kill her later for it, but she’d always played on a knifepoint.

‘I’m gonna walk across this ledge with my eyes closed until a) you help me find Sameen or b) I fall tragically to my death,’ her words falter slightly as she looked down and Root thinks she might be reaffirming this more for her own benefit than the Machine’s understanding.

A split second and Root’s eyes are closed, walking across the ledge with such care. She thinks she might have miscalculated a little but it’s too late to back out. And she was going to find Sameen before she got anywhere close to dying.

She can hear the Machine’s calculations in her head.

‘You’ve calculated the wind speed so you know how treacherous this is.’

It’s a taunt. This was a gamble: how replaceable was she, and the odds were uncertain. But Root had trust and always played the risky hand.

‘You have to ask yourself what’s worse: the two of us working together, or me taking this next step alone?’

That was misleadingly poetic she thinks as her foot slips and she really didn’t want to die, a speck of splattered flesh upon a New York sidewalk but this was a risk worth taking and it takes faith to do a trust fall.

Her eyes opened as she heard the information through her implant and Root smiled, a genuine smirk for just a flash before she turned to Finch, eager to get down from the ledge.

‘Thanks for playing. Come on Harry, she’s found us a ride.’

 


 

‘If you could be any animal what would you be?’

‘Root,’ warns Shaw, comfortable and nowhere near okay with moving. Or speaking. Or talking.

Root leans over and prods her as she sits in Harold’s chair. Confinement in the subway meant a lot of nerd duty, but it also meant this ridiculously comfy chair and Root was now disturbing her sleep in it.

‘Indulge me Sameen.’

Shaw sighs and opens an eye, still managing a glare at full force. Root sits perched on the edge of Harold’s desk thoroughly ignoring it.

‘Why?’

‘It’s just a question.’

Shaw closes her eye.

‘Go away Root. I’m sleeping.’

Root picks up a rubber band ball from the desk (how it got there she has no idea) and begin to play with it, pulling off some elastic bands.

‘I think you’d be a cat.’

‘Root.’

‘Black haired, reluctantly affectionate, stealthy.’

‘Shut up Root.’

‘Purring when content: you’d make a good cat.’

Root sets down the ball, playing with the two bands in her hand before pocketing them.

‘And you’d be a donkey because you’re being fucking annoying. Let me sleep Root.’

Root laughs lightly, taking no offense and though a retort waits on the tip of her tongue she drops it, knowing it was time to go.

‘Anything for you Sweetie,’ she sings, before standing up straight and heading out.

‘I’ll be back,’ she calls over her shoulder lightly and Shaw cracks open both of her eyes as she watches Root disappear from view.

She thinks she’d be a dog instead.

 


 

They parked up in front of the Asylum and Root’s glad to have Her back in her ear. Even with the building looming over them, a possible death trap, Root can’t help but find herself falling into step once again with the Machine as she pulls out the shovel from the back of the ambulance and follows the directions given to her.

Root relished the stream of information in her ear, turning back to Finch to explain the situation as she dug for the hatch and led them both underground.

‘Information travels through optical fibre in pulses of light. Which means one percent of any one pulse contains-‘

‘One hundred percent of the data like a drop of blood carrying DNA.’

‘Exactly. Our micro-clamping friend here will bend the wire just enough to leak a little light…’

‘And they’ll never know they’ve been hacked.’

Finch set up the laptop, rushing through the stream of data as Root hovered over his shoulder.

‘This is a cascade of information. Samaritan is doing more than just housing Ms. Shaw in there and we’ll have to crack this considerable encryption.’

‘She’s already accessing your laptop.’

 


 

  ‘I don’t want to control it Harold, I want to set it free.’

 


 

Admitting Harold into the psych ward was more than a little satisfying even she wouldn’t deny that. And an effective plan.

Root slid through the hospital, avoiding most threats with Her help as Harold reported a theft and managed to slip inside the security control room.

The ninth floor is reserved for the most violent patients. It’s the most secure and it’s the only floor without surveillance cameras.’

‘It’s also the only floor with secure elevator access. This has to be it.’

Root pushed her way through the door, pace quickening.

‘I’m searching the electronic charts for a profile that might match Sameen’s.’

Root ignored him, stepping gingerly out into a deserted hallway, hugging the shadows.

Okay don’t lose your head Ms. Groves this might mean nothing but they’re holding a compact Persian sociopath in Room 914.’

Root heeded his words if only for Sameen’s sake, and the Machine’s: this was a mission and she would complete it, though it did not escape her the interesting description afforded to Shaw and she wondered whose idea that had been.

She pressed herself against the wall, watching a guard head into a secure room before continuing forward, following in the guard’s footsteps.

It was a war between her head and her legs, legs willing her to move faster as she tried to push through the maze despite the obvious danger. She stopped just outside a door and peaked in.

She pulled back, breathing heavily.

‘You need to leave Harold. Now.’

‘Not without you Ms. Groves.’

‘You don’t have a choice,’ there was no keeping the inflection of panic from her voice, ‘this is Samaritan’s base of operations: we’re in the belly of the beast.’

 


 

‘Tell me a story.’

Shaw groans, hips rising to meet Root’s perilously slow thrusts. Knelt between Shaw’s spread legs, eyes focused on the motion of her fingers Root asks the question with a voice so soft Shaw barely manages to process the words.

‘Root,’ warns Shaw but it comes out closer to a moan and Shaw bites it back before it can develop.

Root ignores it, thrusts methodical and paced.

‘Indulge me.’

Root shifts her hand slightly, changing angles and Shaw’s hips rise against the far too gentle movements.

‘Now?’ asks Shaw and she doesn’t know why she’s so surprised: this is Root.

‘I told you one.’

‘You’re calling the debt in now?’ Shaw’s words trail off slightly into a gasp as Root’s thumb joins in briefly, circling softly- far too softy- over sensitive nerves.

‘Sameen,’ Root looks up and Shaw manages to catch her eyes as Root’s movements still.

The moment their gazes meet Root starts up again and Shaw’s eyes are lost to the ceiling.

‘Fine,’ she chokes out, ‘Once upon a time-‘

‘Not that kind of story,’ chides Root softly, eyes still focused on her hands. She’s being so diligent and careful and usually Shaw would berate her for being so slow but this feels good and her hands clasp at the edge of the wooden bench until her knuckles turn white from the elegant torture Root provides.

‘What kind?’

Her words are stilted as she struggles to think through the pleasure.

‘Tell me a story you believe in.’

Shaw looks down at that but this time all that greets her is mussed brown hair. As if she can feel the gaze on her Root thrusts particularly harshly and Shaw loses concentration, arching once again trying desperately to force more friction.

‘Fuck Root what…what kind of story is that?’

Root shrugs-Shaw can feel the brush of shoulders against the inside of her thighs as she does so- and Shaw sighs.

‘I don’t believe in stories.’

Root stops at that, eyes drifting upwards and Shaw wiggles her hips trying to get Root to move again.

‘Why not?’

Shaw looks down.

‘Do we have to do this now?’

Root raises an eyebrow and Shaw knows she’ll cave if it means Root will just keep going.

Shaw manages to roll her eyes regardless.

‘Stories aren’t real.’

‘Not all stories,’ replies Root. Her voice is so soft and gentle just like everything else tonight. Shaw had expected a quick hard fuck on the bench and instead Root was sat between her knees asking her about fucking stories.

‘Most.’

Root seems to consider the answer, eyes searching Shaw’s own and eventually she seems satisfied, lower her eyes to her hand once again and starting up just as slow.

‘If you want to be done within the next year you’re going to have to go faster.’

Despite her complaint Shaw’s words are strained: it really does feel good.

‘Tell me a story you believe in.’

Shaw’s eyes are fixed to the Moroccan tile above her head and she closes them for just a moment- perhaps in exasperation, perhaps in thought- before opening them, decision made.

‘There was a girl and she was,’ Shaw paused, trying to find the word in her jumble of thoughts, like she almost thought better of her first choice and now scrambled to find another, ‘nice.’

Root raises an eyebrow but doesn’t say anything.

‘To look at: to talk to. One day she killed a man,’ Root chuckles at that and Shaw tries to glare but a thumb pressed hard on her clit and her brain lost that anger swiftly enough.

‘She…’ Shaw takes a moment to regain her thoughts, ‘she ran and hid. Not because she regretted her actions but because it made her not nice.’

Root was looking up at her now Shaw could feel the intensity of big brown eyes but she didn’t meet it. Kept going.

‘She was right: she had changed,’ it was getting easier now, finding a rhythm between Root’s even thrusts, ‘and she killed again. A lot actually,’ Root shakes her head slightly, mirth seeping into her features but Shaw didn’t see it, ‘and she stayed away from people. What she didn’t know was that she was wrong,’ Shaw found focusing on one distinct tile above her head helped her focus, ‘that just because she had killed some people didn’t mean she wasn’t nice. The End.’

Root’s eyes stay fixed on Shaw’s face and eventually Shaw had to look down.

‘What?’ demands Shaw.

‘That wasn’t a very good story. What did the girl learn?’

‘Nothing.’

Root raises an eyebrow and Shaw sighs.

‘There is no moral Root: she never learnt she was nice. She still needs to figure it out.’

‘What was the point then?’

‘Sometimes there isn’t a point. A story’s a story.’

‘That wasn’t finished.’

‘Not all stories are finished Root.’

Shaw was looking at her now, eyes piercing and brown.

‘Why,’ asks Root, whispering softly above the seemingly obscene sounds echoing in the subway, ‘why that story?’

Shaw would have shrugged then if she could. Instead she settles on an answer.

‘I believe in it.’

‘Believe in the story?’

Shaw shakes her head.

‘The girl.’

 


 

‘This is a restricted floor doctor.’

‘Sorry…I was looking for an aspirin stash. Lower back thing.’

She fired several silenced shots, felling the two men onto the floor as she continued her quest. Harold might need to get out, but she wasn’t leaving without Sameen as powered through to Room 914.

She slowed, taking in the scene. Screen: repeating phrases. Didn’t take a genius to work out it was some attempt at brainwashing. Hospital instruments: torture. Medical bed: Sameen’s home, she supposed.

And a coat.

Root rushed towards it, picking up the blood stained garment in her hands, studying it like Shaw might grow out of it at any second: as if the mere offence of touching her things might draw her from the shadows. All she found was dried blood and bullet holes she didn’t want to think about.

It was neatly folded but still warm. Placed purposefully, but not long ago.

Root placed it gently back down, rushing to a nearby window and pushing aside the blinds.

Nothing. She could see nothing but a black car in a black night with black figures. One stumbled, shorter than the rest pulled along by the arm and Root felt a rush through her body, hands gripping the window frame in a vice. The Machine whispered in her ear what she already knew and some crazy part of her wanted to jump out of that window and follow, drop everything: the stealth and the war and just run. Find Sameen. Save her.

But she wouldn’t do that. Not just yet. If they couldn’t win the war then what was the point of saving her? Of her sacrifice?

‘You just missed her.’

She would stay. Sameen was alive.

That was enough. 

 


 

 'If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders - What would you tell him?’