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Could've Been

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Reese’s heavy footsteps echoed in the empty hallway as he made his way to Root’s apartment. A cup of coffee was his idea of easing some of the pain he knew she was in after the machine had told them to stop searching for Shaw. When Finch had given him the same message, the reality of Shaw’s death had hit him like a ton of bricks. He had hit the nearest bar to try to relieve some the pain and guilt he felt at giving up on the hope that she could still be alive, but nothing could soothe it. In the depths of the sorrow he felt over the loss, his thoughts turned to Root and he made up his mind that come morning, he would go and visit her.

And here he was standing in front of Root’s door with a cup of coffee.

Though he was completely unsure of what to do or say when she opened the door.

Reese cleared his throat and knocked lightly, also recognizing that she most likely wanted to be left alone.

Still, he persisted and knocked a little harder when a few minutes went by with no response.

He wanted to believe that somewhere out there, Shaw was still alive. He felt Samaritan knew that Shaw would potentially be a valuable asset if they managed to turn her, which he doubted they had the ability to do. He remembered how long it took him and Finch to actually convince Shaw to trust them, let alone to work with them.

How many times had she shot him?

He chuckled at the memory.

No. Shaw wouldn’t just lay down and die either, he knew she had to have fought to live and she would fight to be free if they were holding her captive.

He knew how it looked though and he was sure he could still be in denial, unwilling to accept the very real possibility that as the elevator descended that horrible day at the stock exchange, the final shot they had heard went into Shaw’s skull and ended her life weeks ago.

Root’s screams had echoed in his mind every night since then.

Sameen! Sameen!

Reese closed his eyes against the wave of emotion hitting him and wished he had bought a bottle of vodka instead of the coffee.

He opened them to find a grief-stricken hacker peeking curiously up at him through a small crack in the door.

“Root…” He started and then held up the cup he had brought her, “I have uh some coffee here, I thought you might want some.”

Root opened the door fully and stepped back to let him in. When she closed the door, he took in her state of dress noticing the black hoodie she was wearing looked very familiar.

“You can put that on the counter.” She said, her voice barely above a whisper.

He had never heard Root sound so defeated, not even when the machine stopped talking to her and he felt a deep pain pierce his heart at the cause of it.

“So, what brings you here John? Did Harry send you here to make sure I wasn't planning on killing anyone?” Root asked with a smile on her lips that didn't reach her eyes.

Reese set the coffee down and faced her shaking his head slightly. “Actually, Root I came here because I honestly don’t believe that Shaw is dead. I’m aware that I could be in denial, but I also know that the machine didn't give a definitive yes or no…” He trailed off becoming aware by the look on Root’s face, this visit may have been a bit too soon.

Root covered her face with her hands and her shoulders began to shake from the force of her silent sobs, and Reese felt awful. He knew the emotional turmoil of having confirmation that someone you cared about was dead, but not knowing and constantly wondering was mental torture. He hadn't fully considered that Root might not be able to have this conversation right now because whether Shaw was dead or alive, she had still been taken from her.

From them.

He closed this distance between them and placed his hands on her shoulders, “Root…I…. I’m sorry.” He struggled to find the words then moved towards the door, “I’m going to leave…maybe we could talk another time.”

When she met his eyes, the amount of grief and fury that displayed there took his breath away.

“You don’t have to leave John, I just…” Tears pooled in her eyes again and made thick watery paths down her cheeks. “I don’t know what to do.” She finished in a low whisper that Reese had to strain to hear.

He released a deep breath that he didn't realize he had been holding.

Reese thought about the many times he had come to pick Shaw up from here on their way to a number, knowing that her place was on the opposite side of the city, when one day Shaw simply announced that this was Root’s apartment building and that they were sleeping together.

“You can bite me if you have a problem with it.” She had dared.

He didn’t, and as much as she insisted it was just sex between them, he knew it had morphed into something else.

Their last conversation before the stock exchange, he had asked Shaw if she had noticed the way Root looked at her.

The way they both acted in each other’s presence.

How they both seemed ready to die for one another.

Shaw merely shrugged it off, but he knew that she was aware it was no longer just flirtation and sex.

Reese met Root’s tear filled gaze and said in a low voice what he had known for awhile now. “You’re in love with her.”

It wasn’t a question.

Root stared at him, her lip quivering and he was reminded yet again of her response to seeing Shaw’s body torn apart.

“Yes John, and it’s killing me.”

“Root…”

“I’ve never been in love before and when I first realized that I was, it terrified me and made me feel alive in a way I never have, not even with the machine…and I…I need her back John, I need Sameen here with me.” Her voice broke towards the end and Reese stepped closer to her as he felt a stinging in his eyes that he hadn't felt since he lost Carter.

“I think its best for us to wait for either the machine or Samaritan to reveal what exactly happened with Shaw.” Reese said in a heavy tone, “But if you get tired of waiting, you know where to find me.” He said with a finality that left no doubt.

Reese wanted to tear Samaritan apart from the inside out, starting with the ring leaders, Greer and Lambert and ending with that blond woman, Martine Rousseau. He would take his time with her because he knew it was her bullets that had pierced Shaw and when he was through with her, he would gladly hand her to Root to finish her off.

One way or the other, he would either save Shaw, or avenge her.

Root held his gaze for a moment and then genuinely smiled, as if reading his thoughts.

“I know.”