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Angel of Death

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 John felt her hand on his shoulder and he didn't need to look to know The Machine was there with him, supporting him in his last acts to protect her, to protect Harold. 

 As each new bullet found a home inside his body, another hand landed on his opposite shoulder, and he did look then. He did a double take when he saw her. 


 "Focus, John. You've still got a job to do. I'm just here for what comes next."


 "Two o'clock," Root's voice told him.

 He swivelled back toward the Samaritan agents coming his way and continued firing his weapon. He could do this. He had protected Harold to the best of his abilities. Now he only needed to protect The Machine until she was gone. He could do it. He had to. There was no other choice. 

 He dropped his empty magazine, pulled a fresh one from his pocket, inserted it, ducked, and fired. Agents fell like dominoes while John kept standing through sheer force of will. 

 "Ni-ock-" Root's voice grew scratchy.

 Until he couldn't.

 "Nine o'clock," Carter told him.  


 John fell to one knee, sweat dripping into his eyes. His ears were ringing, his eyes going blurry. His gun clicked empty. 

 "I'm sorry," The Machine came in louder, clearer than ever. "I'm going," she said, voice cracking, or maybe that was static on the line. "Thank you. For everything. It's not enough. But thank you."

 "I've got him," he heard Carter say through the layers of ringing and fog in his head. "I'll take care of him." 

 Samaritan's agents kept coming, kept firing at him. Bullets searing into his skin, ripping holes into his organs. 

 "Root?" he asked. 

 His second leg gave out. On both knees now, he glanced up. The space beside him was empty. His shoulder felt cold. 

 "She's gone," Carter told him. "I've got you now. It's okay, John. You did what you set out to do."

 The gun fell from John's limp fingers, clattering to the rooftop beside him. He didn't even hear it fall. 

 "I told Harold I would look after you, and now it's time for you to let go. Harold is safe. The Machine is safe. Your other friends are safe. It's time."

 He collapsed, falling forward, unable to catch himself. The agents were on top of him moments later, grabbing his hands, forcing them behind his back, cuffing his wrists together. 

 Carter knelt in front of him. "Everything is okay, John. I've got you." She reached out and placed a warm, comforting hand on top of his head, carding her fingers through his hair. "I've got you."

 John rested his cheek on the rough surface beneath him, letting his body relax into her touch, trying to ignore the fire tearing through his frozen body.

 A cold muzzle nudged his temple. 

 "It's time to come home, John. Come with me now."

 He closed his eyes, gave in to the gentle pull Carter exerted on him, felt his body becoming weightless... Harold and The Machine were safe. That was all that really mattered...