The first time Gen ever called her, Shaw maintains that she did not drop everything she was holding at the time (her gun slide, and, more importantly, a breakfast burrito). Nor did she stride over to the other side of the room to take the call, secluding herself in the quietest part of the subway. She also didn’t start the conversation by barking, “Are you okay? What did you do?”
She did not do any of those things.
(Reese would like to beg to differ, but he is also very aware of the fact that Shaw knows exactly where all his freshest wounds are. So sometimes he just begs to differ when she’s not within earshot.)
The first phone conversation, according to Gen, went a little like this:
“So? Why are you calling?”
“You told me to call if I needed help!”
“That’s not something I would say.”
“But you did.”
“Hmm. You might be right, Gen.”
“Yes I am. I’m right, and also, I’m having a problem at school.”
Then, according to Gen, there was a terse silence that nearly got her to change her mind and hang up right then and there, but like any future spy worth her salt would do, she gathered her courage and said:
“The girl who sleeps in the dorm room next to me keeps playing her music without headphones until 2 a.m., and she won’t stop even after I snuck into her room and left a pair of headphones. This is seriously impacting my schoolwork! And my health! This is a serious situation.”
It was a very important issue, which is why Gen needed to consult with a top spy or secret agent or whatever it is that Shaw is.
(Gen still hasn’t managed to get her hands on a satisfactory amount of information about Shaw’s life yet. But she thinks maybe her next plan, involving some quick technological upgrades for a picture frame hanging in Shaw’s living room, might just be the one to work.)
(… As it turns out, Plan #8 isn’t the one that works out. A few years down the line, maybe around Plan #37 or #38, is about when the Machine’s telling Root to put her money. Root and Reese are still trying to rope Finch into the bet with them; lately it seems like he might be wearing down.)
Anyway. If you ask Shaw, the first time Gen called her, the conversation went a little more like this:
“Then why are you calling me?”
“Because I really need your help, Shaw.”
“Yes. And you said that I should call you if I ever needed help, and I need your help right now, it has to be you, Shaw, so Shaw can you please help me? I reall—”
“Alright, alright, slow down. What happened?”
“It’s this thing at school. There’s this really annoying girl, she’s, like, she’s the most annoying girl in our entire grade, and it’s just my luck that she’s in the dorm room right next to mine, so I can always hear whenever she does anything, and it’s so annoying that I broke into her room one time and left a bunch of garbage in there just because she’s the worst person ever, Shaw, but somehow she found out it was me and now I’m—”
If you ask Reese (who’s got excellent hearing, if he does say so himself), the actual conversation went nothing like either of those two versions.
But nobody ever really asks Reese for his very logical, completely objective viewpoint, aside from Root sometimes.
(He’s pretty sure she’s mocking him whenever she does ask for his opinion, though.)
The next time Gen called, thankfully, Shaw had been alone, in her apartment, unwinding after a very stressful day involving Root, two cardboard boxes, and a nail file.
Gen always says Shaw picked up after the first ring (“because you recognized the ringtone I gave myself on your phone and you were worried about me!”), to which Shaw usually just rolls her eyes (“I was already on my phone looking at… something, alright?”).
Shaw claims Gen managed to spend an entire half hour rambling on about beef- and ice cube tray- related cafeteria horror stories without letting her get a word in edgewise.
Gen disputes this, naturally, and then the trips down memory lane start to get rather more argumentative than Root had anticipated when she’d begun the conversation.
Not that it really makes a difference, which version of the story actually happened, either way. Root’s already got the real story from the Machine, who’s almost alarmingly forthcoming about information about Shaw these days. Sometimes, Root doesn’t even need to ask.
And so when Root sets down a very well-crafted, practically artisanal Salty Chihuahua in front of Shaw (with this, she’s ready for Shaw to admit defeat in this spontaneous bout of who-can-make-more-tequila-mixed-drinks), she also sees Shaw’s hand creeping across the table to where her phone is lighting up with Gen’s call.
So Root just picks up the drink and takes a sip herself, listening to the Machine relaying relevant bits of information about exactly how involved Shaw is in Gen’s life (apparently: very involved, at least by Shaw’s standards).
She watches Shaw scowl and roll her eyes, scoffing and adding little snippy jabs here and there.
She smiles and nods, when Shaw puts the call on speakerphone and starts mixing the next drink.
(“What’s that sound? Are you paying attention? Shaw, have you been listening to me at all?”
“Keep your pants on, short stuff. I’m so close to beating Root at, uh, a cooking competition.”
“Root doesn’t cook. Are you two drinking again?”
“Oh dear, Sameen. I’m afraid you’ve corrupted her innocence.”)
With another scowl, Shaw drops the shaker and picks the phone up again, before retreating to her room.
“So I’ll just wait here, with the melting ice, until you’re done your phone call,” Root calls. She pops an orange slice into her mouth, grinning an orange peel smile when Shaw’s head pokes out of her bedroom door.
Shaw gives Root a grouchy hand gesture that she’s positive she saw Gen doing behind Finch’s back last time she’d seen her.
Root waves her fingers merrily. “Send Gen all my love.”
“I will not.”
“Don’t worry, there’s still some left here for you, Shaw.”
The bedroom door slams shut.