stubbornandsolo, if you read this, this one is for you. I don’t know how to reply to a reply on tumblr, but thank you.
Root loved watching Shaw. At first, it was pure professional interest. She had meant it when she told her that she was kind of a big fan after reading her file. It was rare to find a woman like Shaw in military business and with amazing resume, too. Then it became a game—a way Root tried to get under Shaw’s thick skin. She would stare at her, mischievous smile intact, in hope that Shaw would squirm (she never did).
For quite some time, it had felt like interacting with a brick wall, but even the strongest wall would be affected under continuous rain. After several more blatant staring, accompanied with a well-placed flirtatious comment, Shaw succumbed. It developed into a habit between them. Root would stare and Shaw would glare back, roll her eyes, and shake her head before turning her attention back to whatever mission they were doing. It took more time before the intensity of the glare lessened and the eye-roll was done as a mandatory action rather than one out of annoyance.
As of late, their exchange had escalated and much to Root’s surprise, it came from Shaw’s side. There was faint upward tug on the corner of her lips whenever she caught Root gazing at her. The change was miniscule and it was not a real smile yet, but still, Root reveled on it. There were far too few things that could make Shaw smile—food, Bear, guns, fast cars, and shooting people—and Root hoped she would be in that short list someday. For now, she enjoyed what she could get.
Thus when Shaw took out a pack of gummy bears from the inner pocket of her jacket, Root abandoned the binocular she was using to monitor their current number to commence another stare-at-Shaw moment. Shaw wasn’t facing her, but she could see her popping several colorful bears into her mouth and the vague reflection of her smile on the car window.
What Root didn’t expect, however, was for Shaw to snatch the binocular and dump the half-empty pack on her lap. She looked down at it then at Shaw in bewilderment. After several long seconds, Root picked up the pack and pinched one tiny red gummy bear between her forefinger and thumb with hesitance. She knew better than to take food without permission, even more when it belonged to Shaw, who could break her wrist faster than she could blink. Shaw didn’t glance back at her, not even once. Root took the lack of reaction as a go-ahead sign and ate the gummy bear.
The sweetness lasted long after they had wrapped the mission.
The next time another food-sharing happened, Root didn’t notice it at first.
They were in New Jersey, running away from Samaritan’s eyes. Shaw and John had taken each side of the booth. Even though staring at Shaw from across the table had its own appeal, Root chose to share the seat with her rather than with John. Their knees brushed against each other’s every time any of them moved and Root was pleased with her decision-making skill.
The coffee was unsafe, but the food wasn’t as bad. Shaw had wanted to order steak at first, but then changed it to burger and fries like Root’s. She was eyeing John’s rib eye steak and Root teased her about it, to which she huffed back and stuffed her mouth with fries. She finished her entire meal faster than Root and John did.
It was much later, after they had walked out of the diner that The Machine informed Root about the fries Shaw had transferred to her plate.
Shaw didn’t even bother to be discreet anymore. She was never good at expressing herself, even more through words. Action, however, was what she excelled at. She loved food and she felt something about Root. It was only logical for her to share and give food to Root. It worked out just fine since Shaw insisted on not saying anything and Root wouldn’t ask either.
They settled on their new routine without hassle. Shaw bought more of whatever she was buying and Root found random pack of gummy bears or chocolate in her possession, or they just shared whatever Shaw had brought. Whenever they had meals together, Root got extras on her plate—bacons, half of club sandwich, and even a couple slices of steak. At one time, Shaw even ordered for her and found out that they didn’t have the same stomach capacity.
It didn’t come as a big surprise for Root to receive a text from Shaw saying I’m cooking, dinner at my place tonight. She was glad Shaw couldn’t see her too-wide grin as she replied back with a simple I’ll be there.
Root was sure this was how love felt like when it came from one Sameen Shaw.
“I suppose it does make things easier.”
Shaw narrowed her eyes. She swore if Root was talking to The Machine right now, she would rip out the cochlear implant herself. “What?” Their current situation didn’t allow her to ask any further.
“Being a sociopath.”
Root was smiling, but it lack of its usual gleam. Instead, she almost seemed melancholic. Her hand tightened its hold around Shaw’s neck, feeling the constant pulse drumming under her palm. It was a wonder for her, even after countless encounters, for a woman so full in control like Shaw to entrust someone like her with her life. Shaw might be not Finch with his ever-straight moral compass, but still, such amount of trust bestowed upon her should have spoken a lot about her character. Yet she still mulled over Fusco, out of all people, and what he said earlier.
Under normal circumstance, whenever people called her names—most were the well-loved psychopath or sociopath—she would grin back and proceed to tell them something that supported the ill assumption. She took joy in the fear lurking in their eyes and the way they fidget around her presence. However, she hadn’t thought it would bother her as much as it did when Fusco joked and called her a sociopath (just like she always took a jab at Reese, but her mind decided not to pay attention to that one particular detail). To her surprise, hearing the term coming from someone she dared to call as a colleague was upsetting.
Shaw’s hand was around her wrist, fingers pressing on the inner side and snapped her out of her thoughts. It was not a warning. Root hadn’t choked her too hard, but the grip lessened nonetheless. She waited as Shaw took several deep breaths.
“You are not,” Shaw said. Her voice was raw, but her eyes held its typical defiant look. “You are not a sociopath.”
Root ran her thumb on Shaw’s bottom lip, anything to distract her mind (and everything to do with Shaw was quite an effective distraction). Talking to Shaw about feelings was a lost cause, Root knew that, but she was also the only person she felt comfortable enough to share everything with. Their relationship was nothing normal. Their differences were what made it worked in the first place. She hadn’t expected anything more than several words of plain assurance, so she was surprised but delighted when Shaw pulled her down and put an arm around her shoulder. She buried her face on the crook of Shaw’s neck as their bare bodies pressed against each other’s.
One. Two. Three. Four.
The hand on her back twitched and she smiled a bit.
Five. Six. Seven.
Shaw pushed Root back, holding her up at arm length. “You better finish what you’ve started.”
Root's smile was genuine this time and she was more than happy to comply. Shaw had hugged her for two seconds longer than the last time. Knowing Shaw and her struggle to act more intimate outside of sex had assured her so much more than her words did. She wasn’t a sociopath, because one would never care about another person, let alone about the silly extra seconds of a stiff embrace from said person.
Set between Nautilus and Wingman.
The flight with Larry was nowhere near tropical, but necessary, Root supposed. She was planning something—She always did—and if it required her to get from plane to plane around the globe, who was she to question a God. Her mortal body, however, disagreed. By the time she was back on New York, with a new cover as Mister Egret’s right-hand woman (she had a wild guess of who this elusive ex-military legend was), she was spent.
Root cocked a brow when a red sport car rolled up to where she was standing. The window scrolled down, revealing Shaw behind the wheel and Root smirked. “Did you miss me?” One arm leaned on the roof as she bent on the waist, flashing what the neckline of her blouse had kept hidden.
Shaw rolled her eyes. “Hop in.”
Root grinned, but did as she was told without any teasing remark. There was always another time to poke the grumpy bear with a stick, right now she preferred to soak in the sense of safety that certain fuzzy bear provided. She let Shaw drive her to wherever she had in mind, not once bothering to ask about their destination. It didn’t matter anyway, since she would have to stay in some random hotel until it was time to shed her skin again.
They cruised along the east river until Shaw pulled over in front of a building on a corner. Bright red neon of 11th St. Basin decorated its sides. Root’s brows hiked up higher when Shaw rounded the car to open her door. She didn’t offer a hand to help her out, much to Root’s relief. Her knees felt weak just from imaging such situation, she wouldn’t survive the real thing. Still lightheaded and dead tired, she followed Shaw to the top floor.
It turned out to be a restaurant. Sam Grey had reservation for two and thus they were ushered to their table. It situated by the windows, overlooking the city across east river. Lights decorating the skyscrapers and bridge shone against the darkness of the night, a perfect manmade replica of stars on the sky. Root’s awe doubled when Shaw pulled out the chair for her.
“What...” Root didn’t finish the question. She wasn’t even sure what she was going to ask in the first place. She continued to stare in bewilderment as Shaw took a seat across her. First the car door, then the chair. Shaw’s peculiarity startled her.
“Dinner,” Shaw answered.
They proceeded forward. Root kept an eye on Shaw. She assented to her picking their meal, only a little disturbed by the amount of food. In contrary to Shaw’s usual zeal, she didn’t order as much as usual. The appetizers came and gone, so did the main course.
They didn’t do small talk, they never did. Shaw didn’t ask—she never had the compulsion to pry on things that didn’t concern her—and Root wasn’t chatty about her latest missions. Hence they settled on the silence, the buzz of chats from the other casual diners filling the space they had left empty.
Shaw was too involved with her steak while Root watched her between bites. Shaw letting down her guard was a rare occasion she wouldn’t miss for the world. It was even more enjoyable than the meal itself. Some time later, the plates were cleared out and their choice of desserts replaced it.
For a second, Shaw looked as if she would strangle the waiter—perhaps the poor man’s suggest of apple cobbler had offended her—or she might be having an unfortunate case of constipation. Both cases were possible at this point. Root took yet another cursory glance around the room, trying to spot the reason Shaw acting that way. Distracted, she failed to see Shaw reaching forward across the table, sneaking amongst plates and glasses to grasp her hand.
The contact startled her at first, enough for her to jerk away out of instinct. Shaw’s grip on her hand was a little too tight, giving her no chance to escape. Several seconds and one hard stare later, it relaxed into a more comfortable hold. Root was still frozen on her seat, though. Shaw doing physical contact without any incentive and being the one initiating it was uncharted water she never threaded before.
Root blushed, and blamed the wine she consumed. The honest, raw display of affection had caused those innuendoes she used to hide behind to die on the tip of her tongue. “Do-do you come here often?” She flinched as the words left her mouth. Her gaze fixed on their hands above the table.
“Once last year.” Shaw didn’t look away from the windows, but there was a small melancholic smile on her lips. “My dad brought my mother here on their first date.”
It got Root to look up so fast she caught the slight color dusting Shaw’s cheek. Her surprise morphed into delight, then. It was also their first date. If she discounted the fact that they had sex several times already (plus a bullet, a couple of tasering, and a punch), Shaw was traditional in her approach of a relationship. Root fought the impulse to lean forward and sample the warmness blooming under the smooth skin of Shaw’s cheek with her own lips. Instead, she wrapped Shaw’s thumb with her fingers, giving the single digit a light squeeze as a show of gratitude. Shaw replied in kind.
They needed no exaggerated words of adoration or putting out a show for public eyes. Tonight, there was no The Machine. No Decima. No Samaritan. No threat roped around their necks. No fake identities to keep up. They were just two irrelevant people enjoying their first date with the beautiful view of New York City’s skyline.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” Shaw said, mocking.
She gave a pointed stare at the empty bowl on her kitchen countertop, which used to house a pile of red apples, then at the human-size bundle taking possession of her bed. The roll of covers wiggled in response and Shaw cocked a brow at it. Root’s head emerged from the other end of the cocoon.
“I don’t want—“ Root sneezed “—to keep—“ another sneeze “—the doctor away.” She battled over the tangled sheets and cover, twisting and turning until her head was on the correct side of the bed. “I love it when you play doctor.” Her voice sounded nasal due to the clogged nose. She tried to make it up, smirking as best as she could.
It didn’t stop Shaw from snorting a laugh, though. Long gone was the overconfident flirty woman who had tasered her way into the sterile bubble that once was Shaw’s life. In her place was the victim of flu bug, whose overall look left very little to be desired. Still, Shaw poured the apples she bought into the bowl, plucked and washed one on the sink, then went to sit on the bed with clean apple on one hand and knife on the other.
“Yeah, Rudolph.” Shaw cut the apple without peeling it first, then fed the piece to the massive caterpillar that had been hogging her bed for days. “Keep it for when you look less shitty.”
Root whined, but took her favorite fruit. It had been three days and she was, as Shaw had said, shitty. She felt and looked miserable. Her fever broke about an hour ago, but she felt no less awful than she was the day before. She had survived gun shots, drugs rollercoaster torture, and involuntary removal of a body part without proper anesthesia. Yet she went down, hard, with a damn cold. The mundane illness reminded her of being a mere human.
It was the closest they had been since Root began showing symptoms. After the first day when Root insisted on working and Shaw had to drug and lock her in the apartment, Shaw had started leaving early in the morning. There were enough water and drugs on the nightstand and meals would be delivered to the apartment. At nights, she came back only to shower then slept on the floor. It was odd, but Root was grateful for Shaw’s kind of care. She was so used to being alone and fending herself that she wouldn’t know what to do if Shaw fussed over her—she was sure she would be annoyed.
Not being able to fight off the appeal of being close to Shaw, Root made a move. She inched closer until the top of her head bumped the side of Shaw’s thigh. Shaw didn’t comment on it as she handed her another slice of apple. Root took the response—or the lack of one—as a positive sign and continued nibbling on the fruit. She was tempted to lift her head a bit and then rest it on Shaw’s lap, but such intimacy might not end well. Not when Shaw was holding a knife. Root didn’t wish to lose an eye too. Being this close was enough. After all, she got to keep the doctor—her doctor to herself, apple or not.
The temperature got low that morning. The thick, long-sleeved blouse that Shaw liked to wear could no longer fight the chill. The coat would be too warm, though, so she settled on taking a jacket with her. She opened the side of her closet where she kept her winter garbs, plucked the first leather number her hand reached, and cursed under her breath at the messy state of her clothes—they were piling on top of the C4 stock case, instead of being hanged along with the dresses she wore once in a blue moon.
It hadn’t crossed her mind until she put on the jacket and found the sleeves went too far down, hiding half of her hands. Her brows knitted together as she checked her reflection on the mirror. The jacket was indeed not her size. It took a second for her concerned look to turn into a scowl.
In annoyance, she shrugged off the jacket then tossed it to her bed. Root and she had this ‘talk’ before, regarding the various colored tops that mixed up with her unvarying black ones. She had dumped them into an empty drawer then kicked it shut while denying it as anything beyond keeping her space clean. Root was grinning a little too wide through the whole ordeal.
Shaw hadn’t thought of where the rest of Root’s clothes were ever since. Because out of sight, out of mind. Now she discovered where Root had kept her extensive collection of outerwear, as they made up that small hill in her closet. They were going to have another ‘talk’ once Root got back from wherever The Machine had sent her this time.
Shaw’s frown deepened at the thought. She began pulling out each article of clothing and sorted them into different piles on her bed. Root had left around the end of summer and the days were getting colder as fall settled in. Shaw realized as she was cataloging the hoodies, jackets, coats, and blazers that Root had brought none of them with her.
The rational part of her knew that Root would just buy a new one, wherever she was at the moment. Another scowl made its way to her face, because it would mean yet another to find home in her closet, which was a better thought to mull over rather than that tiny part of her that kept worrying about Root’s wellbeing.
Anger was easy. Shaw could do anger. For a brief second, she considered packing those clothes away—because it looked like settling down and reeked of domesticity—but the idea didn’t last. There was no use of throwing them out when Root was not even there to see. So, with little reluctance, she put them back in her—not their, hell no—closet, hung each on a hanger, and ignored the fact that Root’s filled most of the space.
She chose one of Root’s leather jackets, that wasn’t too big on her, to wear that day. If she spilled food on it or ripped it during a fight, then it served Root just right for crowding her closet and made her organize them out. It had nothing to do with the pinching loneliness under her ribs. She did not miss Root.
(Of course Root had to come back on that very same day. She managed to remark nice jacket, Sameen before it hit her on the face and Shaw stormed out of the subway. She shouldn’t grin that wide after receiving the end of such violent outburst, but she did and Harold shook his head at her. He had long ago given up trying to understand them. It was better to leave those two with their love-hate foreplay alone.)
(It was colder outside. The heat of annoyance kept Shaw warm as she marched to find John. It was a good decision to leave the jacket with Root and her grating smile and her stupid sleeveless dress.)
Root had learned that Shaw, despite being a sociopath, showed quite a vast range of emotions. Anger came first and stuck to her, but there was also joy whenever Bear ran to greet her. Excitement while speeding on the street in a fast car. Or that certain expression she had while they were having sex, the stare that Root couldn’t help but shy away from, for its intensity warming her skin and making her heart flutter under her ribs. It was all there, all she needed to do was paying close attention. Vulnerability, however, was not one she had seen until now.
Despite her deepened scowl, Shaw looked uneasy like a trapped animal. For once she seemed younger than she appeared to be and it took every bit of self control that Root possessed to stop herself from squishing her in a big bear hug. It was just not the time. Root didn’t even dare to smile, in fear of ruining the moment they were having.
“You don’t ride motorcycle?”
Shaw growled. She assumed they had dropped the topic when Root didn’t respond to her accidental confession thirty seconds ago. “I can ride it just fine!” Her tone taking a defensive notch as her eyes narrowed at the smiling lines that began forming on Root’s lips. “I just...don’t want to.”
“You know what I meant, Sameen,” Root said and Shaw couldn’t help but feel like she was being chastised.
“I’m too short for it.” Shaw huffed, cheeks burning red. There were few things she couldn’t do and admitting it out loud was even more embarrassing. She hated being perceived as weak. “I have to lean on one side, on my tiptoes! It’s dumb. There, you happy now?”
Root didn’t laugh. Her brows furrowed and for a second, Shaw thought she was listening to The Machine and was grateful for the distraction. But Root turned on her heel and left without saying a word. Shaw was curious enough to follow her outside. Root made her way to the neighbor’s garden and stole the creepy red mushroom statue.
“What the hell...” Shaw rushed down the porch, looking around and saw no one. Hiding in the suburb was good for its lack of people wandering around after the kids went to school (plus the fridge full of food in the house they had broken in to). “You’re gonna get us caught.”
Acting as though she didn’t hear the protest, Root deposited loot beside her motorcycle. She was grinning when she faced Shaw again. “Grab our helmets please.”
Shaw was eager to comply, thinking it was time to leave for another mission. “Where are we goin’?” she asked as she handed Root her helmet.
“You are going to ride.” Root grabbed Shaw’s wrist before she could stomp away. “The mushroom will help you at first then—”
“I’m Super Mario now?”
“Then I’ll be your legs for when we stop.”
Shaw didn’t point out the flaw in Root’s plan. The passenger seat on the motorcycle was designed to be higher than the rider seat, thus even with that long legs of hers (they were there, looking like they ran for miles while they hooked on Shaw’s shoulders and she couldn’t not notice them), Root wouldn’t be able to plant both feet on the ground. But Shaw would like to see her struggling. It was far more entertaining than being cooped up in a house that smelt like baby powder and milk.
Slapping away the hand that Root offered to help her up, Shaw straddled the motorcycle. She kicked off the kickstand and moved her left foot on top of the mushroom with one tiny hop, then turned the machine on. She lost balance when Root climbed behind her, but was quick enough to regain it back.
“First, grab the clutch.” Root inched forward until her front was flush with Shaw’s back. Her head perched on top of a shoulder and she heard Shaw growled in response. “It’s the one on the left.”
“I know the mechanism.” Shaw leaned to the side, knocking their helmets together. “Don’t try anything funny.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Sameen,” Root said and wrapped her arms around Shaw.
Shaw rolled her eyes. She grinned, one that Root was not privy of due to the helmet she was wearing. She knew it was all just a ploy for Root to trap her in a hug; she just didn’t want to tell her that she didn’t mind.
To RevolvingInk, I saw the note you left on your bookmark. Thank you. I hope I won’t disappoint.
Shaw stared at the goods lined-up in front of her. Her frown remained unchanged since she entered the store. She had been doing so for minutes. The cool air coming from the fresh food section might as well have frozen her face. In the end, she huffed and walked further down the aisle.
Now it was familiar. The meat cuts and weights and Shaw knew what to do with most of them. But for this one time, she didn’t want the ordinary. With a roll of her eyes for her own indecisiveness, she trudged back with her empty cart to the vegetable aisle—only to stare at them for some more odd minutes.
She took out her phone to check on the time. Four hours left before dinner and she was lost. She had an idea to ask for help, but it wasn’t like she could just call up The Machine. She didn’t even have Her number—she wasn’t sure She even had one. Shaw looked around the store and spotted a surveillance camera on the corner. She walked up until she was in its sight, the phone still in her hand.
“Can you see me?” Shaw asked the camera.
An older woman, who had been loading up potatoes onto a cart, regarded Shaw with suspicious look.
“Nothing to see here.” Shaw glared back at her. “Move on, lady.”
The woman said something along the line of rude crazy people talking to cameras nowadays as she passed her. Shaw didn’t retort back. What she was doing was indeed one of the craziest things she would ever do, but she was running out of time and had too many options she didn’t know which to choose. Having an all-seeing, all-knowing God would be very helpful at the moment.
“Hey, robot overlord,” Shaw said again. “C’mon, I know you see everything.”
The phone buzzed. Yes, the message said.
Shaw grinned. “A little help here.” She put on the earpiece she always brought around. “And can you keep it as a secret?”
A beep and an unidentified “yes” rang from the earpiece and then Shaw was in God Mode.
Contrary to common belief, Shaw couldn’t cook to save her life. She loved food, but most of her life was spent on studying for school and training in the marines. The only cooking skill she possessed was grilling, because her father liked to do it whenever he was home for the weekends. But again, a pile of steaks and cold beers didn’t make up for a good dinner date. For all the meals Root had cooked for her before, Shaw thought she could do one better for her, and thus her attempt earlier.
All the troubles Shaw had gone through was worth it when Root gaped at the assortment of dishes filling the table. Perhaps she went overboard with seven-course meal. Or perhaps The Machine and her had the same concern of Root being on the thin side as of late and wanted to feed her. Or they were just having too much fun in the ‘God of cooking’ Mode. Anyway, dinner was incredible. When Root expressed so, Shaw’s grin almost split her face into two.
“I got help.”
Root went silent and Shaw narrowed her eyes at her.
“You knew...” Shaw turned to look at her phone. She knew The Machine was eavesdropping on their conversation. “You traitor.”
The phone buzzed. I’m sorry.
“It’s not Her fault, Sam. I figured it out when I asked where you were and She told me to stop asking.” Root chuckled. “She can’t lie. She deflects and when She does, I know that She knows something. Also...I might have hacked your phone.” Her smiled became sheepish as she reached forward to tap on Shaw’s knuckles. “Maybe next time we can try steak? A whole pile of it?”
Shaw rolled her eyes, but smiled back nonetheless. She did like that idea better.
It was Christmas’ Eve. The holiday might bring a lot of joy for gathering families, but it also brought out the hidden viciousness in humanity. Shaw could testify for it—as her day was spent stopping a man from stabbing a woman with stiletto in a shoe store and getting in the way of various silly catfights involving presents throughout the city. Christmas was the busiest time in the year, even in the saving-people business like theirs.
Just this late evening, it slowed down for the team. John and Harold were across the city, saving some big-shot lawyer’s cheating ass from his scorned wife. The number Shaw was tasked on belonged to a waitress of a small coffee shop in the middle of the business district downtown. College student. Squeaky clean record. Decent social media life. Decided to take the extra night shift to supply the already blood-thirsty late shoppers with enough caffeine to last them until next morning because she needed the money. So unless the girl had a hidden agenda of spilling some nasty hot coffee on a customer’s crotch, Shaw doubted she was a perpetrator. Victim, more likely. Her ex-boyfriend from high school had become quite stalkerish as of late.
Shaw had been lurking on the sidewalk outside the shop, keeping an eye on the number and her possible attacker. It was cold, a white Christmas this year. Snow had started falling for a few days. It wasn’t heavy, per se, just enough to pile over driveways and froze the road. Shaw heard the snow scrunching under someone’s shoes came to a stop on her right side. She glanced up and saw Root smiling at her. She hadn’t expected to see her, not here and not now.
“Why are you here?”
Root shrugged, hands buried deep in her coat pockets. “She asked me to.”
Their breaths came as puffs of white cloud as the night progressed and they continued to observe the number. It was getting colder, but people hadn’t lessened from rushing down the street in attempt to make it in time to wherever they were supposed to be. At one point, Root took a step closer to Shaw, their shoulders a hair-breadth away from touching. She rubbed her bare hands together, blowing at them to warm them up. Shaw noticed it and rolled her eyes at her.
It was so typical of Root to abandon whatever she was doing to rush on executing The Machine’s order, many times neglecting her own well-being in the process.
Shaw took off her right glove and handed it to Root, who stared at it with one eyebrow raised in question. “Can’t have you freezing to death if I need backup,” Shaw said, emphasizing on the if.
“Thank you, Sameen.”
Root grinned at Shaw’s thoughtfulness and poor excuse as she slipped on the loaned leather glove. Her fingers were a bit longer than Shaw’s, thus it didn’t cover her whole hand perfectly. Still, it was better than having her trigger finger frozen to the bones when she needed to shoot someone. Even more because it was Shaw’s own initiative to lend her the glove. Shaw, who came off as aloof and ignorant, actually paid a lot of attention to small details. Root thought Shaw was sweet in her own Shaw way, but refrained from telling her so to avoid making her uncomfortable.
Root had just secured the cuff around her wrist and was going to hide her ungloved hand back in her pocket when Shaw snatched it mid-air. Without saying a word, Shaw intertwined their fingers together and then stuffed them in her own pocket instead. All was done in one swift move that left Root gaping in surprise. The flush on her cheeks intensified, but it had nothing to do with the dropping temperature.
Shaw stared up at her, waiting her to say something flirty, but she was at a loss of words. Her mind focused on their hands, hidden from view and nested in the warm cocoon of the pocket of Shaw’s black coat. Shaw’s lips curled up in a winning smirk as Root blushed harder.
Too bad, their little moment was disturbed. The number had walked up to them, holding a take-away Styrofoam cup on each hand.
“Um...” The girl looked at the names scribbled on the side of the cups and then at the two women in front of her. They were cute together, holding hands and all, but the shorter one was frightening her with her brooding scowl. “Sams?” she asked, and more than just a bit confused.
“That’s us,” Root answered with an edge of a laugh. Now she had an idea why The Machine sent her to Shaw.
“A woman called to order two hot-chocolate for, I quote, the couple in black standing outside,” the number said, handing the cups to Root and Shaw. “She also left a message, merry Christmas and enjoy the rest of your night off.” She shivered, feeling cold for stepping out of the warm shop in unzipped jacket and scarf around her neck. But the customer had transferred a hefty sum of money, enough to get ten more hot-chocolate, and gave her a generous tip too.
Root let the girl scurry back inside after thanking her. Beside her, Shaw sighed in exaggerated annoyance, shaking her head at The Machine’s antics. She took a sip of the beverage and failed to cover her little smile from Root’s ever-attentive gaze.
“Let’s go,” Shaw said, tugging Root to follow her.
The walk back to her apartment was a long (and unnecessary) one, but they kept warm with their hot-chocolate and hands knotted as one inside Shaw’s coat pocket.
Set during Mors Praematura.
Punching Root was a bad idea. Shaw’s smug grin changed into a frown soon after Root lay unmoving on the ground. She nudged at her calf with her foot.
“Time to go, sleeping beauty.”
Root didn’t budge. Shaw crouched down, brushing the hair away from Root’s face to reveal that her eyes were closed. She was out cold. Shaw cursed under her breath. She had no time for this. Too bad she couldn’t just leave Root down here. She flipped her around, slipped both arms under her armpits, heaved her up and started dragging her backwards—pretty much like she had done when she kidnapped her. The Vigilance agents groaned when she stepped on their hands. She kicked off their guns and gave extra stomps just for good measure.
She stopped short by the ladder. She couldn’t drag Root up through it. With a roll of her eyes, she bent down and threw Root’s slack body over her shoulder. What she lacked in height, she made up with brute strength. Root was damn heavy, though. Shaw shrugged the extra weight until it settled upon her body then began climbing up.
Messy hair and questionable bumps were the price Root had to pay for being unconscious. It was just a weak punch, for God’s sakes. After going through ten hours with hood and zip ties and being tasered at random, she should have taken a little punch with breeze. Shaw had made sure she didn’t break her jaw or something. It was quite disappointing, really. They needed to work more on her physical strength.
When they reached the top, Shaw rolled Root off onto the ground and finished climbing out herself. Hailing a cab on the busy street was impossible, even more with an unconscious woman on her arms. She caught Reese’s eyes from across the intersection. He had belt fastened as tourniquet around the number’s thigh and was helping the man to sit up against a car on the side of the street.
Reese motioned at his car. “Need help?”
“No, I got this,” Shaw said back.
She would like to drag Root all the way across the street to where the car was parked, but they were on a bit of a clock. CIA agents were coming to retrieve their assets, trying to beat the police and ambulance en-routing to their location. The car crash and those Vigilance fools opening fire had attracted unwanted attentions. Siren was wailing on a distance, but it was getting closer. They had one minute max.
With a sigh of defeat, Shaw crouched down and maneuvered so that she was piggybacking Root. Arms lay slack over her shoulders and thighs supported to perch on the side of her waist. She could feel the heat of Root’s body pressing against her back, soft hair and warm breath tickling the side of her neck. Reese chuckled and Shaw pretended she didn’t hear it as she trotted to the car with Root attached on her back. They were a few feet away when the arms wrapped themselves tighter around her neck.
“This is nice,” Root said in a murmur.
Shaw tensed up, but didn’t stop. They had thirty seconds and a few more steps to get out of there. The ghost of lips on her skin sent her mind reeling back to the night before. She felt Root smiling, and then yelped when she dropped her legs and shoved her away. They had reached the car.
Shaw opened the back door for Root. “Get in.” A hand was ready on her gun. She didn’t mind shooting her again if she tried to escape.
Root, however, took the gesture in different light. “It’s very chivalrous of you, Sameen.” She smiled wider when Shaw rolled her eyes. “Thank you.”
After Root climbed inside, Shaw slammed the door close. Reese caught up with them not a second later. He knew his place by now, taking the passenger seat without asking. Once Shaw had driven off a good distance away from the scene, he asked her about what they should do with Root, as though the person in question wasn’t present.
“Let Harold do the thinking,” Shaw said. She had done enough of the heavy-lifting anyway.
“It won’t be as fun without hood and zip-ties,” Root said, smirking.
Shaw paid no heed to Reese’s questioning look, just like she did to the wink Root gave her when she glanced at her through the rearview mirror.
Root had been holed up somewhere suburban through the week leading to Valentine’s Day. Hotel was no longer a safe space from the consummation of said celebration. She didn’t like the idea of it. It was dumb, superficial, and reminded her of that one time she left an anonymous card in Hanna’s locker (which ended up being called ‘silly little thing’). She was content with staying in until it was over. She missed Shaw, though. Thus on the night after Valentine, when it was safe to leave, she went to find her first. She opened the door to Shaw’s apartment and stood frozen on the spot. Pile after pile of pink and red heart-shaped boxes littered on the floor, on the kitchen counter, on the rack, on the bed.
Wide eyed, Root took a step back, looking down the hallway to make sure that she was in the right floor. She was. She even felt for the little strip-holes on the wall beside the door—a reminder from the time Shaw taught her knife-throwing—as extra confirmation. It was indeed Shaw’s apartment and it was indeed filled with countless boxes of chocolate and candies.
Shaw had sweet tooth. She must have taken advantage of the sale that happened today to satisfy her craving and stocked up for the rest of the year, it seemed. She was smart like that, but it was still a nightmare came true for Root to see all the bright boxes. Pink wasn’t the color she ever associated with Shaw and the red wasn’t in the right shade of blood. She took cautious steps inside, as though navigating through a mine field.
If she found Shaw in the middle of this, lying on rose-petals covered bed and wearing nothing but a gift ribbon on her neck then she was convinced that she had been drugged and would taser herself awake. She did find Shaw sitting on the floor near the window, dressed in black tank top and shorts. Root sighed in relief as her eyes caught on the assortment of sniper rifle parts scattered around Shaw. An open box of chocolate was by her side, looking out of place.
“Hey, lover girl.” Root plopped down across Shaw, running her fingers on the sleek surface of the suppressor. “I thought I lost you in this madness.”
Shaw cocked a brow. When Root didn’t elaborate further, she shrugged it off and let it go like she always did. Sometimes it was better not to know. After a few moments, she reached for the chocolate without looking and popped one into her mouth as she continued to do whatever she was trying to do with the rifle. Root copied her, only to have her hand swatted away before she even touched the sweets.
It stung. The rejection hurt more than she would like to show. She assumed they had gone past the food sharing thing, now that she could kiss Shaw whenever she pleased, used her guns without asking for permission, shared the bed with her after sex, and all a relationship with Shaw entailed. Turned out the assumption might be wrong when it came to food. She stuck out her bottom lip in a pout, but Shaw didn’t even spare a glance at her.
Instead, Shaw got to her feet and padded to the kitchen with bare feet. Root kept her hands to herself, thinking she should just leave, but then a box was placed on her lap. It was a black square thing and rather cold, coming out from the same fridge that contained Shaw’s precious guns and grenades and bullets. It was different.
Root toyed with the lid with unsure fingers. Shaw hadn’t said anything, only staring at her with expectant dark eyes. Root felt her heart fluttered in her chest as she peeled off the top. Inside were apple-shaped chocolates no bigger than her thumb, complete with tiny chocolate stem on top. It was nothing Root had ever seen being sold at any stores.
Root looked up at Shaw and found her grinning a little too smug. Whatever teasing remark she thought of was forgotten in that instant. She ducked her head, trying to hide the sudden heat on her cheeks. Shaw was studying her as she took one into her mouth. She was delighted to find real apple in the middle, biting into the crunchy chunk and savoring the taste of its sweet juice mixed with the bitterness of the dark chocolate. It was the miniature version of chocolate-dipped apple. No wonder it had smelt like the fruit too.
She wanted to give one to Shaw, but thought of a better way on the last second. Planting her hands on the floor amongst the rifle parts, she leaned forward for a kiss. Shaw met her with warm lips and curious lick and approving moan on the back of her throat. Root liked Valentine’s Day better now, when it was over and Shaw’s mouth tasted like chocolate and smelt like apple.
Thank you for the nice bookmark note you left on SAM ;)
They had a night out, drinking in a bar like normal people did after a hard day at work—except they weren’t mere coworkers and they just stopped another terrorist from blowing up New York, so the drink was well deserved. Harold and John were not invited since Shaw deemed it as girls’ night. But it felt more like a date with only Root and her sitting side by side in an almost empty bar, not unlike Miami.
There was once a girls’ night like this before, with Zoe and Joss after they succeeded in helping the number. Too bad this time Zoe had something to take care of and turned down the invitation and Joss was, well, dead. Shaw downed another shot. The liquid never stopped burning her throat, just like the Joss-sized hole remained on their team. For each shot Shaw had, Root took a sip of her drink. Yet by the end of the night, she ended up drunk while Shaw was only buzzed.
“Why are you so afraid to talk about your feelings?”
Root happened to be an annoying drunk. Shaw dragged her out of the elevator and down the hall to her apartment, all the while gritting her teeth to stop herself from adding the unnecessary noise because it was one in the morning and her neighbors were sleeping. They made it to her door with much effort from her part. Root’s arm was around her shoulder and her breath reeked of vodka as she—
“Did you just lick my face?”
Annoyed, Shaw elbowed Root away. It wasn’t that hard, but enough to send her stumbling backward to the other side of the narrow hallway. Shaw saw the way her unfocused eyes widened and expected her to cry. Root giggled instead. So maybe she was an annoying, happy drunk. Shaw ignored the way her heart skipped along with the silly noise Root made and concentrated on unlocking the door. Once she succeeded, she opened it wide and stepped inside. She stopped halfway when she didn’t hear Root following her and turned around to check. Root was still leaning on the wall across the door, staring at her and smiling to herself.
Root pointed at herself then at Shaw, mouthing a slow “I love you”.
Shaw narrowed her eyes. Her hand was still gripping the door handle and she had a sudden urge to slam it shut on Root’s face. She was an annoying, happy, idiot drunk. That was until a few seconds later, her grin fell. Shaw thought it was due to her lack of reply for the love confession. She was preparing herself to walk away from this stupid exchange when Root blanched. Shaw knew all too well of what was going to happen and sprung forward. Root didn’t protest while she was being lifted and rushed to the bathroom, where she proceeded to empty the content of her stomach on the toilet bowl while Shaw held her hair back and scrunched her nose in disgust.
After brushing her teeth (which she spent most of it reveling in the fact that she had her own tooth brush in Shaw’s place and that it was blue while Shaw’s was red), washing her face (she had her own towel too!), being forced to drink a couple glass of water and stripped off her clothes, Root nestled in Shaw’s bed. She passed out the moment her head hit the pillow, but even in her drunken state she managed to sprawl herself over. All long limbs and messy hair and soft snore as she lay on her stomach under the cover.
It was what Shaw walked into when she finished cleaning after the mess Root had left in her drunken wake and did a little cleaning herself. She sighed, shaking her head. She took the other pillow Root wasn’t using and dropped it on the floor. She followed its descent soon after, too tired to fight Root for sleeping space on the bed—the floor was better anyway.
Shaw stayed sitting by the side of the bed, not yet sleepy. With Root fast asleep, it was her turn to stare at her. The remaining buzz settled in her stomach as she reached to tuck the hair away from Root’s face. It intensified, creeping up to her chest when she placed a kiss on the spot right above her brow.
Maybe Root was just a cute drunk. And maybe, just a little, Shaw loved her too.