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[15 days until Halloween]

Shaw turned the corner and leaned against the cool brick wall, holding the only thing that tied her to her old life.  She turned the small brown envelope over from hand to hand, glancing around to see if anyone or anything, cameras included, were looking her way.  Seeming satisfied, she ripped open the package, letting the contents fall into her palm.  It wasn’t much - a key and a phone.

She turned the key over in her hand, seeing no distinctive markings but she knew what it meant.  The weight of a new life.  New beginnings.   She frowned, this wasn’t the first time she’d had to leave everything she knew behind but for some reason she was finding this time to be particularly difficult.   

Putting the key in her back pocket, she powered on the phone.  The apple logo appearing followed by the passcode screen.  Her frown deepened as she searched inside the package for any sign of a code.  Seeing none, she began to put in random numbers.

‘1, 2, 3, 4.’  The phone vibrated but didn’t unlock.  She rolled her eyes, her patience short. 

‘0, 0, 0, 0’. Again the phone stayed locked. Growling and rolling her eyes, she cursed Root.  Only she would give her a locked phone and no instructions or way of figuring out how to unlock it. There were 10,000 combinations and she didn’t have time, nor did she particularly care to play the game of which stupid combination was it. 

She pocketed the phone and made her way to her apartment.  Regardless of her new life, she needed to get her old stuff.  No way was she leaving town without her Glock 17, her Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380, or the bevy of flash bang and frag grenades….she needed her weapons.  

The trip to her apartment was quick, a few blocks from the library that was once their home base.  Now… now, it was just another building in New York. 

Shaking her head, she opened her apartment door, knowing that she couldn’t linger.  She grabbed the empty duffle bag she kept under the bed and put her clothes and what little toiletries she had in it, leaving plenty of room for her arsenal.  She didn’t have a lot of things but what she did have, she coveted.  Those guns were her life; that toothbrush was her hygiene, and those clothes were her personality.  Dark and gloomy with a hint of tease, she thought with a smirk. 

Collapsing on the bed, she sighed loudly.  She liked this bed.  Working for Control meant that she never had a home but this apartment, this bed, was the first time she felt like she had a home.  And now she had to leave. 

Shaw sighed again.  This time more out of frustration rather than tiredness.  She rolled to her side and pulled out the phone again. 

‘5, 5, 5, 5’.  Vibration and no movement off of the passcode page. 

“Stupid Root.”

Rubbing her eyes, she let exhaustion take over briefly as she grabbed the pillow and fluffed it perfectly to rest her head.  Promising herself to move in a few minutes.  Those few minutes turned into hours and she woke with a start. 

There was slamming coming from her door as if someone was trying to break in.  Decima!  The sounds of gun shots trying to shoot off the lock drove her into action.  Immediately, she grabbed her .45 and fired but that didn’t seem to stop the onslaught on her door. Grabbing the bag, she quickly moved into the bathroom where there was a fire escape outside the small window.  Always have an exit strategy.

She glanced out the window and saw it was clear. 

“Idiots,” she said out loud.  Who doesn’t watch all exits? 

She grabbed the phone and made sure the key was still in her pocket.  She glanced at it again, thought of Root and her stupid face, and it clicked. 

‘6, 9, 6, 9’.  The phone opened up immediately. 

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”  She clicked on the phone and the contacts.  There was one contact.  Sameen Grey. 

“Grey?”

The pounding on the door was getting louder.  She clicked on the contact and saw a number.  Her number?  There was an address.  The suburbs?

She heard loud cracking as her door split from the hinges. 

“Yup, time to go.”  She jumped up, pocketed the phone, and threw the bag out of the fire escape, following shortly behind. 

It didn’t take her long to scale the 3 floors and when she reached the ground, she looked up.  There was a Decima agent just starting to look out the window.  She quickly averted her eyes and popped the collar of her jacket up to hide her face.  Moving quickly, she turned the block and hailed a cab, giving the address for “Sameen Grey’s” house.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 [14 days until Halloween] 

The cab driver pulled up outside a large two story brick and stucco house just as the sun was rising.  The house was tucked in what appeared to be a quaint neighborhood with manicured lawns and toys lying unsecured in front yards.  It was the last house in a cul-de-sac with what appeared to be a pretty sizeable lot. 

She hated it. 

“256 bucks,” the cab driver said, his face equally disgusted with being this far from the city.  It was a couple hour drive and he knew he wouldn’t catch a fare to head back into town.  A waste of time and money for him.  

She handed him the money (a gift from Harold… she may have borrowed it without asking… semantics) and grabbed her duffle, stepping out of the cab.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Shaw mumbled as she looked at the house further.  It was picture perfect.  Deep green shutters on the windows and a crimson door.  Bright and colorful landscaping lined the house and the front walk.  The front door was solid wood with sunset looking glass near the top of the door.  She shut the car door harder than necessary, releasing a tiny bit of frustration. 

The cab driver sped away without another glance leaving her no choice but to walk up to the door.  Finding it locked, she remembered the key from her back pocket.  It slid in like butter and turned even easier.  Fuck.

She left her duffle by the door and pulled out her .45, still spooked from earlier in the evening and her run in with Decima.   Shaw moved slowly into the first room off the foyer entry, a dining room.  There wasn’t much to clear as the room was devoid of furniture.  She started to make her way toward the next room – a kitchen.  Just as she moved to the entry, she heard a small scrape, like a newspaper or something folding. Raising the weapon, she walked slowly through the open door frame.  Glancing quickly, her anger swelled.

“You’ve got be fucking kidding me.” Shaw spat.

“Morning, Sweetie,” Root smiled over a coffee mug and newspaper.

“What the hell are you doing here?” She lowered her gun and took a quick glance of the room.  There didn’t appear to be much.  No furniture but the standard amenities - refrigerator, dish washer, stove and oven, with a built in microwave.  The only out of place or non-standard items were a small coffee pot and two stools.  One currently with a very annoying hacker sitting in it. 

“Not happy to see me, Sameen?” Root smirked, still sipping on her coffee. 

“About as happy as a colonoscopy patient.”  Shaw deadpanned making Root’s smile grow as she shifted her attention back to the newspaper.

Shaw didn’t know what to do.  Frozen in indecision and confusion as to what she was doing in suburbia and why Root was there. 

Root sighed after several seconds, finishing whatever she was reading and leveled her gaze on her guest.  “There are pastries in the fridge and I just brewed some coffee.  You’re welcome to both.” 

 Shaw’s eyebrows furrowed, “Why are you here?” 

“The same reason you are – to escape Samaratin and Decima.”

 When Shaw’s expression didn’t soften, Root sighed, “New identify.  I’m Jennifer Grey.” 

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!”

Root looked confused.  “What?”

“Oh you’ve got to know.” 

“No, I didn’t make the identities.  The machine did and downloaded them into the phones.  Why?”

Shaw couldn’t tell but she seemed genuine.  Or as genuine as she could be.

After several seconds she sighed and rolled her eyes, “Sameen Grey.”

Root laughed.  A full hearty, loud laugh.  A laugh that Shaw had never heard and one that raised her temperature and caused an involuntarily smile to grace her features.  Or that was how she would describe it. She was currently fighting like hell to ensure that Root didn’t see that smile, turning around and examining the fridge.   

“Well we certainly don’t look like sisters,” Root said in between belly laughs.  “Are you my wife, Sameen?”

Shaw whirled around, protests hot on her lips but not finding a way to tumble out. 

Root’s smirk grew and her voice took a deeper more seductive turn, walking towards Shaw.  “Or should I say, Mrs. Grey?”

Shaw rolled her eyes and muttered, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”  Pushing back an advancing Root, she walked out of the room, determined to leave this conversation and situation. 

Shaw went back to the front door and grabbed her bag.  She wanted to find the bedroom or the layout of the bedroom since there was no furniture, and stake her claim before Root got to it. 

She explored the house, letting her curiosity lead her upstairs.  It led her to a hallway with two rooms.  She went left and opened the standard white door to a large space that looked to be a master bedroom.  

“Damnit!”

Root’s bag was already laid out in the bedroom and clothing hanging in the closet.  She massaged her temples, a tension headache coming loud and angry against the back of her eyes.  Breathing deeply, she dropped her bag and walked back downstairs to find Root engrossed in the newspaper again.

She didn’t say anything as she opened the fridge and grabbed a pastry.  Food cured everything. 

Root smiled catching the look of elation that came when Shaw ate.  She grabbed the spare cup that sat next to coffee maker, and slid over a fresh cup of coffee toward Shaw.  A peace offering. 

Shaw saw it, rolled her eyes, and took a sip, letting the scalding caffeine roll down her throat, relishing in the feel.  At least that was good. 

***

“So are we going to get furniture or do we get to sleep on the hardwood?” Shaw said, stopping her pacing around the house. An hour into this situation and she felt like a trapped animal. 

Root looked up from the newspaper and met Shaw’s eyes. 

“Not sure…I don’t exactly have money to tap into.  All the credit cards I had, I dumped.  The offshore accounts I have are frozen.  The only thing I have is about 60 bucks on me right now.  You?”

Shaw pulled out the small wallet she kept in her left back pocket.  Taking inventory, she noticed she had $36 on her, remembering most of her cash went to the taxi.  She held it up.   

“Looks like the floor.” 

Just then, the doorbell rang.  Root stood up, but Shaw held a hand out to stop her.  She pulled out her .45 and walked slowly to the front door. 

She looked through the skinny, door length window next to the door and saw an overweight man with a hat that said “Dan’s Movers’ and a clipboard in his hands. She didn’t trust it though, and kept her gun out.  Hidden by her leg as she opened the door a crack.

“Yeah?”

“You Mrs. Grey?” He asked, his heavy New York accent shining through.

A no was quick on her tongue until she remembered her new predicament.  “Yeah…”

“Got your stuff ready for delivery.  It okay to park here?”  He gestured to the large moving truck on the street.  

“What?” She said, opening the door more fully and stepping out.  Sure enough, there was a truck and guys were already starting to open it up and set up ramps. 

“Uh, yeah, sure.” She said. 

“Cool.  Let me prop the door open and you just tell me where you want stuff.” He said as he moved to open the door more fully. 

She nodded, hiding her gun from his view.  When he moved to go back to the truck, she clicked the safety back on and sheathed it back in the waistband of her pants.

Root was watching her from the kitchen doorway, a questioning look on her face.

“Movers are here.” Shaw said in surprised explanation. 

“Oooo goodie!  Stuff!”  Root said clapping like a child.

Turning quickly, Shaw couldn’t help a small smile from playing on her lips, but she wouldn’t give Root the satisfaction of seeing it.  Nope. 

***

The movers took 3 hours.  For the most part, Shaw let Root dictate the location of things and spent her time wearily watching each mover.  Grunting affirmations when needed but generally staring them down making sure none of them were Decima sleeper agents.

It wasn’t until they left that Shaw actually looked at what they had given them.  Most of it was postmodern and seemed to fit oddly but fittingly into the house.  The movers unpacked everything, leaving no boxes behind but stuff everywhere.  Shaw went in search of Root taking a tour of their now furnished house. 

Their.  She sighed.  Stupid machine. 

Just off the foyer, there was a small dining room, now with a distressed wooden table, that sat six brown leather dining room chairs.  There was stuff all over the table, a preferred dumping ground for the movers for the knickknacks that didn’t seem to have a logical home.  Through the dining room was the kitchen, now with counters full of cooking gear and plates.

That will be fun to put up.

Through the kitchen was a large living room that looked like a bomb went off, a sight Shaw was intimately familiar with.  There were books and stuff everywhere. She shuddered; she hated clutter. 

The living room took her back to the foyer and the stairs that went up to the second floor.  The second floor held a master bedroom and bathroom and a small room off to the side.  Opening the door to the small room, she growled in annoyance.   

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”  It was a nursery.

Root came up behind her, stepping into her personal space, like she always did. 

“Oh right… surprise?” She said.  Her voice vibrating against Shaw’s ear.  She ignored the way it sent shivers up and down her spine.

Shaw whipped around and pushed Root back.  

“Did you know about this?” Shaw accused. 

“Yes, because I definitely want to live in suburbia with you and a nursery.” Root rolled her eyes at the accusation.

Shaw’s lifted an eyebrow. 

“Well maybe not suburbia…” Root smirked. 

Shaw huffed exasperated and pushed past Root, going toward the bedroom to see what that looked like after the movers. 

“Oh come on!” Shaw yelled. Root snorted, trying to contain her laughter.   “A pink comforter?”

“Yeah, not sure why She thought that would be a good idea…”  Root said as she walked into the master.  “Well regardless, these will help us fix this pink debacle.”  Walking to the dresser, she held up passports, driver’s licenses, cash, and what appeared to be credit cards.  

“Oh thank God!”  She walked toward them hungrily, inspecting each one. 

“Don’t worry, you’re still my wife.” Root smirked as Shaw curled her lip up at the passport.

She ignored her, wondering how long they were going to have to keep this charade up.

“Whatever, I’m going to go cleanup the downstairs.”

“Whatever you want, Mrs. Grey.”

***

It took them significantly longer to put things away than it had for the movers to pull things out of boxes and place stuff on the floors.  Shaw had no idea where the furniture came from nor the oddities but she wasn’t hating everything that she found.  There was a large book collection that filled up shelves in the living room.  Some board games, a TV that she hooked up easily when she saw the house came wired with cable, a laptop that appeared to be brand new, still in the original packaging that she was sure Root would devour soon, and a lamp that looked like an old pulley system.

Overall, she didn’t mind the look of the living room.  Maybe even liked it.

The couch, though, she wasn’t convinced she would like. It looked too modern for her taste.  Iron arm rests with slate colored fabric cushions.  The cushions were square and thin which was sure to make it uncomfortable to lie in.  Something she was afraid she was going to end up attempting tonight.

She moved on to the kitchen.  Putting away dishes and pots and pans, she then cleared the counters and disinfected them with the newly discovered cleaning supplies.  When she was done with those two rooms, she found that the downstairs was relatively unpacked and tidy.  Good.

Suddenly she heard a large drop and a scream come from upstairs.  She ran upstairs to investigate, unsheathing her .45 and clicking it off safety in the progress.

“Root?” Shaw called out when she didn’t immediately see her.  She heard giggling coming from the master closet.  The rather large master closet, she noted as she opened the door slowly, gun drawn in caution.

What she saw was Root with clothes all over her.  It appeared the clothing hanger had fallen and clothes were now everywhere.

Shaw’s eyebrows furrowed in frustration, “You could have been killed.” 

“Relax Sameen.  She’s hidden us.  There are no Decima agents here.  Put the gun away and help me clean this up.” 

Shaw frowned but did as Root said, clicking the safety back on and shoving the gun in her waistband. It didn’t take long and the clothes were back on hangers and organized.  There weren’t many as the movers didn’t deliver any extra but it appeared Root had unpacked her suitcase and put away her clothes.  And guns, she noticed, which were hanging nicely in the back of their closet. 

Their.  There’s that word again.  She shook her head against it fighting against whatever it was the Machine had put them in.

“I’m starving.”  Shaw declared.

“Well let’s get you fed.  I’m thinking pizza tonight until we can get the car situation figured out.  Can’t exactly walk to things in suburbia.” Gesturing to Shaw to lead the way out of the closet.

A quick search on her new phone found the usual chain pizza joints in delivery distance.  It wasn’t Shaw’s favorite, preferring the Mom and Pop shops, but it would have to do.

***

Pizza and beer having been consumed, Root and Shaw found themselves uncomfortably sitting on the couch together.  Shaw bribed the delivery guy into bringing a 6-pack with the pizza.

“I hate this couch,” Shaw spoke. 

“What?  Why?” Root said.  The beer and food making her sleepy. 

“It’s too modern.” Shaw said, looking disgustingly at the couch.  “And uncomfortable.”

“What? It’s not modern- it’s contemporary.  You just need to know what fashion looks like.” Root said, goading Shaw.

“I know what fashion looks like and this is not fashion.  Besides, who cares about fashion.  This is a couch.  It should be comfortable.”  She was leaning back hard on the couch, trying to see if she pushed hard with her back would make it more comfortable.  It didn’t.

Root just smiled, watching Shaw as she sipped her beer.

They both were avoiding it - the sleeping arrangements.  Specifically, who would get the bed? 

“Whatever.  I’m getting ready for bed.”  With that Shaw downed her beer and threw the remaining of her food and beer bottle away.

Root followed shortly behind her.  They both brushed their teeth and washed their face in silence, enjoying the double sinks in the master bathroom.  Root changed into some night jammies in the closet and Shaw chose the small toilet room.  Both giving each other extra space; not really sure how this nightly dance was going to go.

When it came time to actually get into bed.  Shaw bailed. 

“I’ll sleep on the couch.”  She grabbed a pillow and was out the door before Root could say anything. 

Root just shook her head, smiling, climbing into bed and turning off the light. 

She hadn’t known what was going to happen when the Machine had reprogrammed her phone but she knew things would change.  The suburbia address wasn’t exactly the new cover she had hoped the Machine would give her but she trusted Her more than anything and blindly went to the address.  Her heart had squeezed so hard with adrenaline and happiness when she saw Shaw walk through the door knowing that she wasn’t going to be alone in this new life.  That she had a partner - or wife.  She chuckled softly to herself.

She didn’t know what the Machine had planned for her or Shaw but she was pleased nonetheless that Shaw would be there with her, regardless if Shaw wanted to be or not. 

***

Shaw hated this couch.  Just as she suspected, it was even more uncomfortable lying down.  She tossed and turned, trying to find any semblance of comfort. 

She closed her eyes and sighed.  Wondering how the hell she had gotten here. 

She remembered last night with the Decima agents and seeing Root this morning- was it just this morning?

She shook her head.  She wasn’t exactly angry to see Root. But she wasn’t exactly pleased.  She was in suburbia.  A houseful of chocolate could have greeted her and she’d be pissed.  She was a city girl. This suburbia shit was going to grow old and grow old fast.

Or maybe not with Root. 

She frowned at the thought.  What did Root have to do with her happiness? 

She hated the way she smirked and hated how everything was an innuendo.  How she found her smiling brightly when she walked into the closet, like a kid who had screwed up but was still happy she was there.  Hated her laugh when she found out they were married.  Hated how it seemed to light up her face and made everything seem irrelevant for a brief moment. That they were two people who weren’t being hunted by a supercomputer.  Just two people. 

Yeah, hate.  Frowning she rolled over again.  This couch.  She definitely hated this couch.

Finally, she sighed, and said, “Fuck it.”  Grabbing her pillow, she stalked upstairs, opened the master door, walked inside and laid down next to Root.

“Hush.”  She warned.  Not wanting to hear another innuendo. 

Root smirked into her pillow but didn’t move or say anything.  

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[4 days until Halloween]

 

Shaw woke at 5:30 sharp.  It was a ritual her body never broke when she was in the army.  Even when she was extremely jet lagged, she always managed to find 5:30AM anywhere on the globe. 

She got dressed quickly and quietly, careful not to disturb the sleeping woman next to her.  Making her way outside, she began a slow walk that quickly turned into a jog.  It was her usual five-mile loop around the neighborhood.  She told herself the first time that she ran it that it was to stake out the neighborhood but it had quickly become a ritual.  Something she did to clear her head each morning. 

The cold bit into her leggings and thin top making her bite back a shiver.  Fall was starting to come in full swing as she noticed Halloween decorations popping up around the neighborhood.  Truth be told, Shaw couldn’t tell you what day it was.  Never having much use for it when she was chasing down numbers.  She could barely tell you the year.  2014?

She kicked up her pace the last mile, tired of fighting back the cold.  When she made it back into the house she found Root at the kitchen table, the paper in one hand and coffee in the other.  There was a singular mug set by the coffee pot, one that she knew Root set out for her every morning.   

It was their little ritual that had become an odd comfort to her after a week and a half of living with Root.  She would run, and Root would wake up a little later, make coffee and read the paper.  Five miles later, Shaw would come back pour herself a cup of coffee and start breakfast. 

It was like they were a married couple. 

Shaw’s face scrunched in disgust at the thought.  Except they weren’t married… But they were, having stumbled upon their marriage license one day while putting away documents. The Machine was apparently thorough. 

Breakfast was an omelet for them both and some orange juice.  They enjoyed it in silence but not awkward silence, Shaw noted.  Comfortable silence. 

She frowned.  Everything in her raged against their peaceful domestic bliss.  But somehow she found herself indulging in it. Even taking comfort in it. She was enjoying not being shot at but if it was thing Shaw knew was that bullets always came.  Just didn’t know when. 

The doorbell rang shortly after she finished eating and both Root and Shaw looked toward it questioningly. They hadn’t had any visitors since they’d moved in.  Blending in and avoiding contact like the professional assassins they were. 

Their gazes met briefly, a silent game plan passing between them, before Shaw grabbed her .45 and together they made their way to the door.

Looking outside she saw a woman her height, outside and a taller plump man, although the man would likely call himself fit.  He definitely had a little bit more flab than Shaw would like. 

The woman held a tray of what appeared to be a Bundt cake and a smile so large that it was overwhelming and off putting.  Well most people were off putting to Shaw.

Shaw opened the door slowly.  “Yes.”  It was more of a statement rather than a question. 

“Hi!  We noticed you were new to the neighborhood and wanted to come by and introduce ourselves!” The woman spoke.  “I’m Alison and this is my husband Donnie!”

Donnie shoved his hand out to meet hers, a wild smile on his features.  Shaw ignored it, glancing between his smile and his hand. 

Root jumped in, gratuitously sliding past Shaw and grasping his hand tightly.  “Hi!  I’m Jennifer and this is my wife Sameen.”  

Shaw was proud of herself for not noticeably rolling her eyes at the term wife, but she definitely subtly pushed Root away from her.  There was no reason they needed to be this close. 

Donnie’s face turned into a giant smile as he looked between the two and Allison’s smile faltered briefly but she recovered quickly.  

“That’s great!” Allison exclaimed a little too loudly.  “You know I was just telling Donnie that we needed more diversity in the neighborhood.”

Shaw’s look never faltered from her typical bored expression as Root smiled even more widely at Allison’s discomfort, relishing in the awkwardness. It was moments like these that made Shaw like Root. 

Nope.  Definitely not.  Never like. 

“Right… We made you cake!  Duh!  How could I forget that?” Allison recovered, as she shoved the Bundt cake toward Shaw. 

Shaw continued to stare at Allison so Root took the cake and smiled brightly at her. 

Allison gave a nervous snort and started speaking quickly, “So the previous couple who used to live here, threw these amazing Halloween parties since it was the last house in the cul-de-sac.  We typically have a parade that starts at my house, all the way at the start of the block.” She said pointing toward the neighborhood entrance.  “And we were wondering if you’d still consider throwing the Halloween party to keep with tradition.  I know it’s a lot to ask, but we’d be happy to help!  The neighborhood typically pitches in and it’s just a fun time for the kids.”  She looked between Root and Shaw.   Shaw’s face not giving anything away and Root still smiling sweetly.  “Do you have any kids?” Alison finished lamely. 

“No, but we are thinking of trying.  Isn’t that right, Sweetie.”  Root was goading Shaw. 

Shaw side eyed Root, everyone staring at her.  Finally, she nodded minutely, pasting a fake smile on her face.  It felt weird and she hoped it looked normal. 

“Oh that’s great!”  Allison exclaimed with more than enough excitement for Shaw. 

“So the Halloween party…” Allison said awkwardly.  Donnie was continuing to smile glancing between the two women.  She could only imagine what was going on in his head.  It was making Shaw want to punch him. 

“Of course we’ll host the Halloween party!”  Root said, matching Allison’s earlier excitement.

Shaw’s head whipped around, a look of ‘Are you crazy?’ screaming in her eyes.  

Allison giggled excitedly.  “Oh great!  We’re so excited!  We’ll see you Saturday!”

“Saturday?” Root said. 

“For Halloween silly!” Allison laughed, assuming it was a joke.

“Right!  Duh!”  Root laughed off. 

She shut the door softly behind them.

“What day is it?”  Root mused mostly to herself.  She heard, “Tuesday” in her ear and she jumped slightly.  It’d been since New York that Machine had spoken to her but before she could dwell Shaw was fixing her with a harsh glare. 

“Why the hell are we hosting a Halloween party?”  Shaw practically shouted.

Root moved into the kitchen with the Bundt cake.  It looked to be pumpkin spice.  Her favorite of the seasonal spices. 

“Well we couldn’t exactly say no and draw attention to our cover that we weren’t neighborly.” Root explained, taking the plastic off of the cake. 

“So you decided to invite the entire neighborhood to our house!”  Shaw was yelling now.  This was a dumb and dangerous idea. 

Root didn’t seem to pay attention, moving to slice the Bundt cake.  Root was smart, she knew if she got food in front of Shaw then she’d likely relax and stop worrying. 

“Root.”  She stopped Root’s hands from fiddling with the cake and made her look at her.  She didn’t drop her hands even when their eyes met.  Quietly she spoke, “This is dangerous.  We need to stop and think about this.” 

“I know.  But this is suburbia.  I grew up in suburbia.  If you don’t keep up appearances, then everyone is in your business.  This is the right thing.”

“Did the Machine tell you that?”  Shaw scoffed.

“No… She hasn’t been talking much since we left New York.”  Root frowned. 

She missed her chattering in her ear.  Her getting her through traffic.  Adding tips easily on dinner bills.  The mundane things mixed with the lifesaving things.  But she knew that things were different now;  she’d told her that when she made the new identities.  Had told her that there wouldn’t be much contact for fear Samaritan could listen into their feeds, but it didn’t stop her from missing Her.

Shaw didn’t push but she couldn’t stop the worried expression from flashing across her face.  Root caught it. 

“I’m fine.”  

Shaw nodded.  She didn’t believe it but dropped it for now.  “Okay… so we’re hosting a Halloween party.  How the hell do we do that?”

***

The party store was filled with Halloween goodies.  From the cheap to the hyper-realistic.  Shaw loved it! 

This was the closest thing to the blood and horror of her old job she could find in this suburbia hell and she was like a kid in a candy store.  She held up a zombie baby that had blood spewing out of its mouth.  It was disgusting.

“This is for children, Sameen…” Root said, shaking her head in disgust.  “We want them to like us, not fear us.”

“Whatever.”  Shaw replied, but she was already off down another aisle searching for something equally scary.

Root looked at the list Allison had helpfully provided and was a little fearful.  It was three pages.  Maybe she had gotten them in way over their heads. 

Seeing some plastic headstones, she grabbed them and some cotton cobwebs.  She threw in some silly string thinking the kids may enjoy playing with that and some spiders and bats. Looking up, she saw a very large skeleton walking her way and a tiny human struggling to carry it.  

She couldn’t help but chuckle. 

“I think he’s a little tall for you, don’t you think?” Root drawled out.

“Shut up.  He’s coming with us.”

Root laughed louder as she watched her struggle to put him in the basket. 

“What else do we need?  I’m getting tired of screaming children and desperate housewives.” Shaw spoke, settling an unpleased gaze over the crowd. 

“Aren’t you a desperate housewife?”  Root joked, leaning into Shaw. 

Shaw glared, “You do realize I have a .45 strapped to me.”

Root’s smirk grew as she made their way to the checkout counter.  Shaw could only imagine what was going on in her head.  Oh god.

“Here you do this,” Root said, gesturing to the checkout line that was 3 or 4 carts deep. “I need to call a dry ice vendor and get him set up for Saturday delivery.”

Root didn’t wait for a response before striding off.   She weaved her way through the crowd and outside.  She called the dry ice vendor, getting him down on price and making him promise them they’d be the first delivery of the day.  It was the little things that were satisfying the adrenaline craving she missed in the city. 

Looking to the right, she saw a puppy rescue organization and the cutest black and white fur ball staring right at her.  She couldn’t stop herself feeling as if it was some sort of divine intervention.  If she believed in that sort of thing.   

She walked right over and picked him up.  He had soft fur and big brown eyes.  His paws were huge and she knew he wouldn’t stay this small for long.  What really made her love him though was what appeared to be his independence when she put him back down.  He would sniff her and then walkaway like he didn’t care but as soon as she turned her back and tried to leave, he came over to her to sniff again.  He reminded her of a certain Iranian munchkin.    

She picked him up again, snuggling him further. 

“What the hell are you doing?” She heard the familiar voice behind her.  

“Isn’t he cute?” Root questioned, turning and holding him up to her. 

Shaw refused to touch him. 

 “Oh come on, Sam.  A puppy would secure our cover forever.  Perfect domestic household.” Root half joked.

“No.”  Shaw replied. 

“Please…” Root’s brown eyes were as big as the pup’s.

“No.” Shaw replied more firmly.  She wasn’t going to fall for this.  They had enough trouble staying off Decima’s radar.  There was no way they were going to add a dog into the mix.  No matter how cute he was.  Or the way his red tongue stood out against his black and white face.  Or his black lips making it look like he was smiling.  No way. 

“No.” She repeated more firmly and walked away.

Root frowned deeply, putting the puppy back and waving goodbye to the volunteers. 

“You’re no fun,” Root said, catching up to Shaw.

 Shaw ignored her.  She could feel a tension headache coming on and wanted to get home.

 Home. God she hated this cover.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[Halloween Eve]

 

They had moved all the furniture in the living room against the wall and put down a large drop cloth.  It was expertly taped against the wall and ground, leaving no hardwood showing.  Shaw smiled to herself proudly - at least some of her old skills still applied in domestic life.

She took a swig from her beer, looking at the eight pumpkins that needed carving.  Root came over to her, her own beer in hand and handed her the cheap pumpkin carving kit you get at party stores. 

 “Oh hell no,” She replied, taking out a 4” serrated pocket knife that she was more than familiar with utilizing.  She opened it easily, smirking up at Root who was rolling her eyes as she took the carving kit and sat on the floor near Shaw. 

“So Allison also sent over some pumpkin carving ideas…” Root said gesturing to the piece of paper in front of them.

“Yeah, no.  Those are lame.”  Shaw replied as she started to cut into the pumpkin giving it eyes. 

Root chuckled as she got to work on her set of pumpkins, letting comfortable silence fill the air. 

“Did you ever carve pumpkins as a kid?”  Root ventured after finishing one pumpkin, glancing over to Shaw whose face was scrunched in concentration.  

Silence stretched and Root was concerned Shaw hadn’t heard her.  Just as she was about to repeat it, Shaw replied.

“Once.  Before the accident.”  Her tone was clipped and she was still concentrating on the pumpkin. 

Root didn’t say anything. The machine had told her all about “the accident” before.

Shaw continued, “My father was never really around for Halloween.  Working or whatever.  But one year, he got a bunch of pumpkins and he let me take out the guts and pretend I was a sea monster with them.”  Shaw said smiling, holding up the pumpkin flesh to Root who was watching her intently. 

Shaw seemed to catch herself and the familiar disinterested look fell back on her face after a few seconds.

Root smiled back at her, unfazed by the change in demeanor.   This was typical Sameen.  One step forward, two steps back. 

“Halloween was a big deal in Bishop. It was the only real holiday the town seemed to rally behind and care about.”  Root pulled the guts out of pumpkin with a disgusted grunt.  “God I hate the slimy stuff.”

Shaw rolled her eyes, and pulled the pumpkin from Root’s grasp, getting the rest of “slime” out by herself.  

Root kept the sly comment to herself.  This was the most Shaw had ever spoken about her past and didn’t want to ruin it or accidentally push Shaw back into the shell that she was used to. Shaw was like a kitten in a new environment.  If you stood still and made no sudden movements, she’s likely to come to you.  Or at least that’s what Root hoped.

“So the Machine isn’t talking to you?” Shaw ventured. 

Root frowned.  “I knew it was going to happen.  She told me when she made the identities that there was going to be little contact.”  She looked down sadly.  “I just didn’t know it would be this little.”

“You okay?” Shaw asked, genuinely concerned.

“Yeah, of course.  You know me.  Always kicking.” Root sad unconvincingly. 

When Shaw refused to look away, not believing her, she replied more convincingly.  

“No, but I will be.  I mean, this cover can’t last forever.  She’ll need our help at some point to take down Samaritan.” Root hoped at least.

***

Several hours later and several beers in, they finished their pumpkin carving.  The drop cloth was littered with pumpkin carvings and insides everywhere.  Both women were covered up to their elbows in pumpkin junk but they didn’t seem to mind.  

Root sat back, laughing at the final pumpkin that Shaw created.  It looked like it was vomiting its insides.  So gross but oddly appropriate for Shaw.

“That is disgusting,” Root said, chuckling at Shaw’s glare.

“It’s scary!  That’s what they’re supposed to be!”

“I don’t think so.  I think it’s just gross.” Root laughed, taking another swig from her beer.

Shaw didn’t appreciate the criticism as she threw some nearby pumpkin guts at Shaw.  It landed in her hair and the glare that followed was one that made Shaw regret it just briefly before pumpkin guts were flung in her direction.

Shaw fired back. 

“Hey!” Root said, throwing more guts her way.  She was on her knees now, throwing with more force.

Shaw was up too, grabbing anything she could get her hands on and throwing it her way.  Knees slipping on the slick plastic surface.   

Suddenly Shaw was on her back, straddled by Root who smeared her face with pumpkin guts.

She sputtered and a devilish grin filled her face, “You forget Root, I like this stuff.  You’re the one who doesn’t!”

With that she flipped them, and before Root realized she was on her back and there was pumpkin all over her face. 

She laughed and screamed harder than she could remember.  Forgetting everything and why they were in this home in the first place. 

Shaw was laughing too.  After several seconds, Root squirming under her, trying to get away, she stopped and stared down at her.  An odd expression falling on her face as Root beamed up on her.  Then it was like someone had sucked the air from the room as Shaw suddenly realized their position.  Shaw’s hips were pressing firmly against Root’s and a pounding was aching in her belly and heart.

Root’s eyes darkened too as if she just realized too, her gaze flicking to Shaw’s lips.  Shaw caught the glimpse and couldn’t help but lick her own in anticipation. 

Then like a switch, her brain keyed back in and she immediately extracted herself from Root.  Standing, striding from the room, “You’re filthy.  Go take a shower.  I’ll clean this up.”

Root sighed, thoroughly annoyed at the way her body was still humming but made her way upstairs anyway.  Just like a kitten.  She’ll come to you. 

She huffed.  Stupid kitten. 

***

“Now who’s the filthy one?” Root smirked, toweling her hair as she met Shaw in the living room. 

The drop cloth had been removed and the pumpkins were nowhere to be found.  She assumed they were in the front yard with the rest of the decorations. 

Shaw paid her little attention as she put the furniture back into place.  She scowled at the couch.  God she hated that thing.  But she refused to buy a new one, knowing then that this arrangement wouldn’t be permanent. 

Root stood by awkwardly.  Not sure of how to help or react.  The awkwardness still hanging in the air as when she left to shower. 

“Thanks for cleaning up.” Root ventured.

Shaw didn’t know how to react.  They didn’t say thank you.  They just did things and didn’t care whether it was helpful or not. 

“Yeah, whatever.  I’m showering.”  And with that, she whipped out of the room barely casting a glance toward Root.

Root sighed and rolled her eyes as she went to take out the trash and lock up the house for the night.  Tomorrow was Halloween and the house she had to admit looked pretty dang good.  Pumpkins lined the driveway and there was a graveyard in their front yard with spiders crawling on the tombstones with cobwebs strewn between them all. 

“Sccccaaaarrrrryyyyyy,” Root drawled to no one in particular.    

***

When Shaw got out of the shower, Root was lying in bed reading a book.  She ignored her as she went to the dresser in the closet to grab pajamas, giving her a wide berth.  Over the last couple of week’s they had stopped being awkward about sleeping together but after tonight, she could feel the awkwardness creeping back in. But one thing she knew for sure, Shaw refused to sleep on that couch.  That thing was horrible. Taking a deep breath, she climbed into bed and turned off the light, rolling away from Root.

Root chuckled softly and Shaw pretended not to hear, refusing to give in to the game that Root liked to play.  The game of how far could she push Shaw until she cracked and gave in.  She would never give in.  Never give Root the satisfaction of winning. 

“Goodnight Sam,” Root whispered and Shaw could picture a smirk plastered on her face. 

Stupid smirk.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[Halloween]

 

Shaw woke at 5:30 like clockwork but this time, it wasn’t like the past weeks.  She found that she was intertwined with Root.  Their pajama covered legs were noodled together with Root’s arm laying lazily over her front as she lay on her back.  The other woman’s head was on her pillow and she was breathing softly. Easily.  Relaxingly. 

She froze.  Eyes wide like a deer caught in the headlights. 

Her mind was racing.  What did she do?  Did she move?  God she was comfortable.  No!  She definitely needed to move.  But she was warm and outside was cold.  Move, Shaw.  Move. 

In the end, she didn’t need to.  Root must have detected a shift in her breathing and she was waking. 

Root moaned and Shaw tensed. 

“I can’t say I don’t mind our predicament,” Root whispered.  Not making a move. 

Shaw side eyed her. “Root…” Shaw’s drawled warningly. 

Finally, Root sighed and rolled over.  “Fine, but don’t be sad when you get cold.”

Shaw frowned and refused to acknowledge the immediate chill that set in when Root extracted herself.  She refused to dwell on it though, getting up and starting her morning routine. 

***

It was late afternoon now and Root was putting the final touches on her costume.  As a nod to her past life, she was a librarian. Her costume consisted of a black skirt, a white button down shirt, hair up in a bun, and glasses.   Satisfied with her look she put on some low heels and made her way to find Shaw. It was almost time for the parade to start and she wanted to do one last check of the house before everyone arrived.  

She found Shaw in the front yard tying down the table for the pumpkin carving contest.  Her own disgusting vomiting pumpkin sitting proudly in the middle of the table as inspiration.  She stood up straight, satisfied with her tie down, her eyes landing on Root.  She couldn’t help herself as she checked her out, eyes hungrily moving up and down the other woman’s body.

“See something you like?” Root smirked. 

Shaw frowned, “You look like a porn star.”  Refusing to acknowledge the feelings in her belly.   

“Want to take me to the library and give me a spanking for my late books?”  Her smirk growing, an eyebrow cocked, as she half turned showing Shaw her backside.

Shaw rolled her eyes so hard she swore they would get stuck like that, as she moved past the other woman to get into the house.  Ignoring how her body was literally throbbing at the thoughts that came to mind. 

Root followed, “And what are you supposed to be?” Root asked as Shaw rummaged in the refrigerator for a beer. 

 “An international spy,” she said proud of herself.  Holding up her gun.

 “How original.”

 “Yeah, whatever.  Let’s just get this over with.”

***

The parade arrived right on time, with Allison leading the charge. There must have been a hundred kids and another 50 or so parents.  It was definitely overwhelming for the pair. They were outnumbered and their arsenal was a rapidly depleting supply of candy. 

After a bit, the initial chaos seemed to die down and Shaw began to man the pumpkin carving contest while Root made sure that the kids stayed away from the adult beverages. 

Allison saddled up to Root, very tipsy.  “You and your wife did a wonderful job!”

Root smiled.  She enjoyed when people called Shaw her wife.  “Thank you!”  Playing the part of the ever doting wife. 

“Your wife…”  Allison made a show of checking Shaw out, “Is beautiful.” 

Root smiled, glancing toward Shaw. “Yeah, she’s not so bad.” 

“Not so bad!  God I would never kick that out of bed!  I’m surprised you even get out of bed!”

They were watching Shaw help to carve a little girls pumpkin.  It was kind of adorable, Root had to admit, and she found herself wanting nothing more than continuing this life of blissful ignorance.  Only if it meant she got to live it watching Shaw be adorable with children. 

“Excuse me,” Root replied, finding her way over to Shaw’s side.

“Hey sweetie,” Root broke Shaw’s concentration, getting right into her personal space, wrapping her arms around Shaw’s waist from behind.  Her body pressed tightly against the other woman as Shaw’s hands were elbow deep in a pumpkin. 

“Root.” Her tone warning. 

Lips pressed to Shaw’s ear, “I just wanted to say you are doing a fantastic job helping with the pumpkin carving,” She ran her hands over Shaw’s tense stomach, resting them on her hips.  Pushing them back into her just slightly, increasing contact.   

She saw goosebumps form along Shaw’s arms, clearly affected by Root’s closeness.  It only served to increase Root’s boldness. 

Shaw was frozen, her body reacting wildly to the touches, her mind annoyed and frustrated with Root. 

Root placed a wet kiss on Shaw’s neck and extracted herself but Shaw could do nothing more but watch her saunter away, her eyes settling on Root’s pencil skirt clad backside.  Her skin burning from Root’s kiss.

***

Shaw took a big swig from her beer.  She was watching over the pumpkin carving contest trying to make sure that no kids ended up stabbing other kids.  Although, if she had to admit, she was hoping for a little blood and action. 

She glanced up briefly and saw Root helping to refill the jalapeño margarita mix that Allison had made.  There were several mothers chatting away and she saw her make a joke, followed by the mix of women erupting in laughter. 

She rolled her eyes.  This is stupid, she thought.  She missed the fast days of chasing down a number or fighting Decima.  This life felt like hiding. 

Another laugh sounded across the way as Root continued to charm. She rolled her eyes again.  Stupid Root.  And her stupid lips.  With her stupid body.  And stupid hips.  And stupid butt.  Stupid.

She was knocked out of her musings by Donnie.

“Your wife seems to be quite the charmer,” He said expectantly, saddling up next to her. 

“Yeah she’s a regular ol’ George Clooney,” she muttered.

Donnie laughed louder than she thought was necessary, grating on her nerves.  Silence filled the air but she didn’t feel the need to make it comfortable. 

“So you two…” Donnie tried.

Shaw shifted her gaze to him, her sour expression making him nervous.  Oh this has got to be good.

He sputtered, “Uh, I mean, it’s uh, really, um, good, that you, um, found each other.”

She continued to stare at him.

“Right… Pete!  You’re a pirate!  Cool!”  And with that he was off.

Laughter was heard again and Shaw rolled her eyes.  Root was charming everyone…again.  Stupid. 

***

“Bye Allison!  Oh it definitely was a great Halloween!  See you later!”  Root yelled out as she closed the door.

“Oh thank God that is over!”  Root said, her voice and body relaxing now that everyone was gone. 

“I don’t want to clean up,” Shaw replied, her body fully relaxed on the couch now.

Root walked in and took a look at Shaw’s tired expression and body. 

“I got it.  You put most of it up, I’ll get the big chunks. We can get the rest tomorrow.  Cool?” 

Shaw was taken by surprise but didn’t protest as she found her eyes closing against the exhaustion.  Who knew playing a housewife was so hard?

***

“Hi Sweetie…” Root said, running her fingers through Shaw’s hair. 

Her wrist was caught before Shaw opened her eyes.  A confused, annoyed look crossing her face. 

“I’ve got a surprise for you.  A gift of sorts.  For playing along oh so well this week.”  Root said, bringing Shaw to her feet.

Shaw was skeptical.  Gifts from Root more often than not ended poorly, but she allowed herself to be led to the backyard.

“Close your eyes…” Root said.

“No.”

“Please…” Root smiled sweetly toward Shaw.

Shaw stared at those big brown eyes and gave in.  Although she didn’t like to think that was what she did.  She was appeasing her.  Not giving in.   

Shaw closed her eyes and gave her a gesture of ‘now what?’ 

Root smiled, leaned in toward Shaw’s ear and whispered, “Thank you.”

She pulled Shaw closer and together they walked outside toward the backyard.  Root stopped Shaw in the middle of the backyard.  

“No peaking!”  As she moved over to the table to grab something. 

“I’m not,” Shaw grumbled.

She sauntered behind Shaw, much closer than typical personal space would allow and leaned into whisper.

“Open your eyes.”

Shaw opened her eyes to see all of the pumpkins propped up on sticks in the backyard. 

“What?” Shaw said confused, until she turned around.  Keeping the small amount of space between them even though she could easily step back. 

She looked into Root’s eyes, who flicked her eyes to her hands which were holding her .45 with a silencer on it.

“Don’t hit the house or the neighbor’s house.  Happy Halloween, Sameen.”

Root was rewarded with a smile that blinded.  Although, Shaw would never describe it that way. 

Shaw started shooting, hitting a pumpkin squarely through the triangle eyes.  

She looked back toward Root, eyebrow cocked, “What no fun for you?”

Root smiled widely and ran inside the house to grab her guns. 

***

Several hours later, they both lounged on the couch.   It was very late now, but both women didn’t care.  They were still giggling from their missed shots and the now several holes in the pumpkins and fence.  Thank God they didn’t have any back neighbors. 

Shaw was cleaning her gun and Root was playing with the silly string can she bought but they didn’t end up using. 

“Not such a horrible night,” Root ventured.

“The shooting helped.” Shaw smiled taking a swig from her beer. 

Root matched her smile, meeting Shaw’s gaze.  Root was learning that Shaw’s eyes could tell her everything even though her facial expression remained unchanged or uninviting.  They told her whether she was truly mad or just annoyed.  Whether she was happy or sad.  Excited or calm. 

Right now, Shaw’s eyes were showing her she was content.  A look that she had rarely seen from the other woman.  It gave her a warm feeling in her chest. 

“Alison called you hot,” Root smirked.

Shaw rolled her eyes, but Root knew she was pleased with herself.  Shaw liked that people thought she was attractive, whether she cared or not who those people were. 

“Donnie called you charming,” Shaw replied.

Root made a face.  “I’d rather be called hot than charming. Charming sounds like something you call a grandma. Like look at your grandma with drool coming out of her mouth, isn’t that charming.”

Shaw snorted, beer coming out of her nose. 

“Well there can only be one hot one in a relationship so…” Shaw joked. 

Root’s mouth dropped open in shock and without thinking she hit Shaw with a relentless amount of silly string. 

Shaw didn’t hesitate.  She put down her beer and gun and jumped on the other woman.  Silly string was going everywhere, until Shaw unhanded her, throwing the silly string can across the room.  Securing the other woman’s hands.

The air shifted again, as Shaw realized she was on top of the other woman, breathing heavily.  Root noticed Shaw’s lips and how they were the only thing not covered in silly string. 

This time Shaw didn’t hesitate.  She captured the other woman’s lips in a searing, bruising kiss. One that Root reciprocated with fury. 

Hands were everywhere.  In hair, under shirts, Shaw was ripping to try to get to skin. Buttons flying across the room.  She took off her own shirt, letting Root get an eyeful of full breasts in a black bra.  

Root smiled, clearly pleased as she sat up, letting Shaw fall further more comfortably in her lap. 

“See something you like?”  Shaw questioned.  

“Since day one,” Root smirked.  Capturing the other woman’s lips again.  This kiss was more exploratory.  Less hungry.  Each woman taking the time to get to know each other. 

Shaw didn’t care what tomorrow would be like in the light of the day.  All she could see was Root and for now, that was all that mattered.   She pulled back, drinking in the other woman. 

“See something you like?” Root echoed.  

“Shut up,” Shaw smiled.  Shaking her head, she captured the other woman’s lips in another searing kiss.  Increasing the speed and intensity.  

Her hands were on milky white skin, ghosting over the small scars that Shaw found herself looking forward to hearing the stories of.  But she didn’t allow her mind to dwell on the serious implications of that thought, as she kissed down Root’s neck.  She was tugging on Root's skirt, trying to figure out how to get the damned thing off when she pulled back. Grabbing the pocket knife out of her back pocket, she unsheathed it expertly, and before Root could say anything, the skirt was cut and ripped off of the other woman.

Root yelped in surprise, “Hey I liked that skirt!”

“We can buy a new one.”  Shaw replied kissing further down Root’s neck and repositioning down the other woman’s body so she could kiss down her stomach. 

Root rolled her eyes, but a smile was pasted on her lips.

Shaw went lower, glancing back up into Root’s eyes, who was smiling down at her. She hooked her finger in Root’s panties, kissing down the inside of her thigh, bringing a moan from the other woman.   With one last glance up, she saw Root’s eyes closed in anticipation. 

She paused, waiting for Root to glance down. 

“What are you waiting for?” She asked exasperated. Her body humming in anticipation. 

Shaw smirked, sliding the panties down Root’s long legs and settling herself between the other woman.

Root moaned loudly when Shaw’s tongue brushed her center.  She had joked for so long about this that when it was actually here, she couldn’t believe it.  But she didn’t want to forget it.  Letting her mind memorize every sensation.  Every touch.  Every feeling.  Everything was Shaw and nothing hurt.

Pressure was building inside and she was holding her breath in anticipation.  She opened her eyes briefly and almost came just from the site of Shaw between her legs.  Root squeezed her eyes shut, legs becoming rigid in anticipation, and she came with a furiously loud moan.

Shaw lapped up every spasm, gently coaxing Root’s body back down.  When her touches became too much, she moved to her inner thigh, unable to keep her lips from her skin. 

“Wow,” Root said finally.

Shaw smirked up at her, heading resting on Root’s thigh.   

“Get up here you goof,” Root said.  

Shaw tried to comfortably settle in on top of Root but the couch was preventing that.  “Got I hate this couch,” Shaw grumbled. 

Root laughed and pushed the other woman off.  “We’ll get a new couch, but for now, how about we get you cleaned up?  You still have silly string everywhere.”

Shaw had long forgotten the silly string but when Root went and strode out of the room with a, “Meet you in the shower” she didn’t care.

Everything was Root and everything was fine.