Sameen was not at all worried about asking Root to join her in a girls’ night out. She was, however, a little concerned about sharing what the objective was. As usual, Root met the news with her characteristic assurance that they could do it.
“Of course, we are talking about someone on the Shaw spectrum,” Root said, playing with the loose strand of Sameen’s hair. “I mean, she’ll be happy with someone anywhere near you.”
Shaw looked at Root’s smile and how well she took the news. She knew, had the roles been reversed, she would have bitched and moaned. “I’m sorry I got you into this,” Shaw apologized.
“Don’t be silly,” Root assured her. “If anyone understands that woman’s obsession with you, it’s me.”
Shaw leaned over and kissed Root. She simply appreciated how uncomplicated Root made everything.
“So, I have some news,” Root said as a way to share what they learned. “Our program that was supposed to lock onto the location of Greer’s machine, found more than one of them.”
“How many?” Shaw asked.
“So far; one hundred and forty,” Root answered and looked at her computer. “It’s slowing down at least.”
“Can you tell if they’re computers or larger collections of devices?” Shaw asked and Root liked that this was her first question.
“Yes, we can,” Root smiled. “So far, these all look like smaller containment; some larger than a desktop, but could be the servers for a small group.”
“What connects them?” Shaw asked.
“The program seems to be the only common denominator; not the locations. One’s an office, another is a school, a large warehouse type shopping store; a medical building…,” Root listed.
“Information, data on people’s choices, but why?” Shaw thought through.
It seemed that Root and her team hadn’t picked their heads up to see the forest for the trees. They had been looking at geographic locations connection while Sameen looked at it from another view – what they might be taking from those locations.
“Building a large data base!” Root concluded off of Sameen’s suggestion. “Beauty and brains,” Root smiled and kissed Shaw’s surprised lips.
“Yeah, I’m the whole package,” Shaw said sarcastically to cover her blushing.
“You really are,” Root gushed because she always knew that.
With that thought about data collecting in mind, Root and her team tweaked the program to look a little deeper at what information was being stored. If it was successful, it would take hours before they knew.
Plenty of time for shopping for someone like Shaw.
“I don’t think I’ve even set out to do something where I already knew the success rate was a minus zero at best,” Martine shared to her girlfriend. She had stopped there to pick her up before they met up with the group.
“I don’t know what the big deal is. I’m like Shaw,” Ayala suggested.
“Noooo,” Martine blurted out in a deep voice that seemed to come straight from her heart. Ayala turned slowly to look at her; the insult apparent on her face. “No, I meant, yeah you’re alike because you’re sisters, but that’s not what this is about,” she attempted to dig herself out.
“Really?” the younger woman asked, her hands on her scantily clad hips. “Do tell.”
“We have to look at this from Janine’s perspective. She adores your sister. It’s almost inexplicable. Your sister grabbed her and stripped her of her clothes the first time they met,” Martine relayed.
“Sort of what I did to you,” Ayala tried because there was no mistaking she was the aggressor.
“Yes, but to Janine – Shaw’s the sun and you… you are… like a speeding…,” Martine tried to think of adjectives as the woman smiled coyly at her, kneeling before Martine and running her hands up her thighs. Just as her hands reached the apex, Martine added, “… meteorite,” the blonde barely got out as her lover’s hands collided with her core.
“I like it,” Ayala said as she set out to dominate their lovemaking.
Martine couldn’t help but think that there was a solid steadiness to Shaw that her younger sister didn’t yet seem to have. She wanted to question it, but the woman’s hands were making her forget everything.
Root was watching Shaw get ready for their outing. “Now, will I be required to perform any actually testing on the candidates?” she teased of their mission. “I mean, who knows you better than I do?”
“No!” Shaw answered emphatically, even though she knew Root was teasing. “No… touching.” She smiled after she said it, but felt a twinge of jealousy, just the same. “I don’t even know what we’re doing,” Sameen admitted, pulling up tight black pants donning a black sleeveless t-shirt. She grimaced only a little when the pants hit the operation site.
“We’re going out for a night of fun,” Root said to take the pressure off Sameen.
“Yeah,” Shaw said, liking Root’s interpretation. “Fun.”
Root’s calculation presented them with the best place for possible candidates at a club downtown. The place offered large tables upstairs for groups and looked down over the dance floor. Root’s approach was simply mathematical – the more people, the better the odds. Shaw’s approach was slightly more factory conveyor belt.
“No, no, no, nope, no, never, doubt it, what do you do?” is how Shaw entered the club, passing the long line of patrons who were waiting to get in. She was going to go through everyone she passed, in hopes of getting it over with. She stopped and opened another one’s jacket and shook her head. Root wasn’t sure what she based her negative response on, but she loved watching her go through the process.
Root smiled and grabbed Sameen by the arm so they could meet their friends.
Zoe and Joss were the first one’s there. Joss loved girls’ night out and thanked the couple for organizing it. Zoe looked ravishing as usual. “You look angry, Shaw,” she said because of the woman’s intense gaze at the population.
“She’s on a mission,” Joss explained. “She even got Fusco to come.”
“Well, he is one of the girls according to Shaw,” Zoe laughed.
“Where is he?” Shaw barked.
“I don’t know, Shaw..,” Joss said, lifting up her hand. “Did he get off his leash?” Joss and Zoe bent over laughing because of Shaw’s dependency on her friend in her missions.
“Not funny,” Shaw said and Root pulled her to sit down.
“There he is,” Joss said of the only man invited that evening. Fusco had no intention of staying, especially since Reese invited him over to watch the playoffs. But he knew better than not to show.
“Ladies,” Fusco said as he approached the table. “Where’s the guest of honor?” he asked, ordering a club soda.
“Get me one of those,” Shaw said to him as she scanned the crowd. “There, that one. How about that one?” Sameen’s training told her, the sooner she got this over with, the better.
“Really?” Root said, not seeing any similarity.
“Oh, you mean the bouncer?” Zoe asked and peered over her drink at Root to rein her girlfriend in.
“Yeah,” Shaw said.
“I don’t see it,” Joss said and Fusco shook his head.
Shaw went back to sizing up the crowd when the woman of the hour appeared.
Janine always dressed nicely for work, but tonight she had taken it up a few notches. Her dress was form fitting, with a v-cut neck. She wore high heels and her hair was swept up on her head. She wore the same amount of makeup, but she had on more jewelry. “Hi everyone,” Janine smiled as she approached the table.
Zoe, Joss and Root understood that the woman was dressed for a fun night out with her friends. Shaw didn’t quite see it like that. In Shaw’s eyes, the clothing seemed to counter the woman’s innocence. Shaw went from seeking-mode to protective-mode without realizing it. “”She’s going to attract the wrong people,” a very judgmental Sameen said.
Then the waiter came over to take Janine’s drink order.
“Long Island Ice Tea,” Janine ordered. It was a concoction of vodka, rum, triple sec, gin, tequila, with a splash of soda.
“You ain’t wasting any time,” Joss teased the younger woman.
“I’ll have one of those,” Zoe second.
“No,” Shaw said of the drink choice, but Root put her hand on her leg to remind her Janine was old enough to make her own choices. “Fine,” Shaw said back without her lips moving. “You can hold her head later. Did you notice how he was looking at her?” she asked Root, but she hadn’t noticed.
The waiter returned with the drinks and placed them down. Janine had caught his eye and when he placed the drink in front of her, he lingered a moment, staring at her or at some part of her.
Shaw’s arm suddenly reached across her friend and grabbed his tie. “Thank you,” she said and stared hard at him.
“Didyoubringataser?” Zoe asked Fusco as she sipped her drink.
“She’ll be fine,” Fusco said and no one believed him. “Well, here’s to finding… “ and then he saw the look on Shaw’s face. “… luck?” he guessed.
“Don’t give up your day job, Fusco,” Joss yelled over the blaring, but enticing music.
A little while later, Fusco ordered two more club sodas and a new waitress brought them over. Seemed the waiter refused to come back.
“Is there anything I can get you?” she asked Janine and she ordered a second drink. The woman brought it back within minutes and placed it down in front of her, lingering just a second.
“Enjoy,” she smiled.
“Thanks,” Janine said, looking up at her and smiling. Their hands touched for a split second and without anyone even noticing.
“All we have to do is bring her out on the dance floor,” Zoe decided and grabbed Joss and then Janine to go downstairs to dance.
“I’ll go search the bar area, but so help me, Shaw, if someone calls the cops on me, I’m taking you with me,” Fusco warned.
Everyone went off, leaving Root and Sameen at the table. “This is impossible,” Shaw harrumphed loudly.
Instead of contradicting her with optimism and cheerfulness, Root said; “True.”
“What?” Shaw asked, surprised at Root’s answer.
“It’s impossible, but maybe not improbable,” Root clarified.
“Then why did you agree?” Shaw asked.
“Sameen, this woman adores you. What she’s looking for is love. Two different things,” Root said assertively.
Shaw stared up at Root as if she were speaking another language. “Where was that information two hours ago?”
“Well, just because I know it, didn’t mean I didn’t want to give it a try,” Root smiled. “From the minute you met this woman, you swept her off her feet. You’re bigger than life, Shaw. And nothing can replace that. No, what Janine is searching for is someone who will love her.”
“I…,” and Shaw was going to say she cared for the woman. “… like her… you know, enough to tolerate her.”
Root smiled at Shaw’s rendition of a Hallmark card. She reached over to play with the strands of hair that framed the frowning face. “She’s very lucky.”
“So, again, what are we doing here? Can we go?” asked the woman who would abort a mission that was doomed to fail.
“Janine doesn’t need another you, Shaw. She’s already got you. What she needs is someone who will appreciate the woman she is under the intensity that you bring out in her,” Root theorized as she searched the crowd.
Sameen tried to filter through those sentences for anything she could understand. “So, it’s my fault?”
“No,” Root assured her. “You can’t help that you’re charismatic.”
Shaw was on auto-pilot and immediately went to protest that she was not what Root just said, but when she slowed down, she decided she liked that word. “I’m charismatic?” she asked as if she had never given it thought.
Root looked over at her, light brown eyes reflecting the strobe lights of the dance floor. “Oh, God, yes,” she said softly and kissed Sameen’s cheek.
Shaw’s entire demeanor changed and she sat up and smiled. And then Shaw realized that this is what Janine …. or anyone needed; to be the person their lover’s eyes reflected back. Shaw always wanted to be the person Root saw.
No one saw Sameen the way Root did.
“We can’t find her someone, can we?” Shaw asked.
“Well, we certainly can increase the odds, but she’s got to do the real finding,” Root said wisely.
Shaw looked over the balcony to see how Janine was doing with that. As much as she wanted to trust that Root was right, that could take all night. “I have to speed this up,” Shaw decided and kissed Root. “I’ll be back,” she promised.
Root was not at all surprised that even after agreeing with her, Shaw felt it necessary to take off and speed up the progression. Root knew some things were learned by trial and error.
Shaw was just getting through a crowd of people she had pointed at and dismissed when Ayala and Martine showed up.
“Shaw,” Martine said from behind dark glasses.
“We’re sitting upstairs,” Shaw said, wondering what was going on.
“Sorry we’re late,” Ayala all but giggled. With that she gave Sameen a kiss on her cheek and went upstairs. “I have to talk to Root.”
“I think that girl’s going to kill me,” Martine said of the youth’s energy. “How’s the search?” If anyone could understand Sameen’s approach to this matchmaking, it was Martine.
“I cleared this side of the room. No one,” Shaw reported.
“What about the perimeter? That’s usually where shy people hang out. I’m thinking shy might work,” Martine suggested, pulling her shades down just enough to peer over.
Shaw stared at her; her hands on her hips. “How does shy resemble me in any way?”
“This is less about you than we originally thought,” Martine had decided on the way over and was updating Shaw.
“That’s what Root said,” Shaw confirmed.
“I’ll take the perimeter then,” Martine said and was about to leave when an out- of- breath Janine ran over to them. Martine took one look at the transformed woman and then looked at Shaw.
“I don’t know; I can’t explain it,” Shaw admitted, rolling her eyes.
“Hi you two,” she greeted them cheerfully. “You have to come dance,” she laughed and pulled at Shaw.
“I’m on club soda, for God’s sake,” Shaw protested, but Janine pulled harder. “What the hell,” Sameen conceded and went with her.
“You got moves, Shaw,” Joss yelled to her when she joined in.
“Oh, I can work it,” Shaw said, letting loose for a few minutes. The whole time, her eyes were on perspective applicants and her heart was upstairs with Root.
A few minutes later, the women reconvened upstairs. “Well, I checked the perimeter and found no one,” Martine reported, taking a seat next to Ayala. The younger woman had spent that time upstairs with Root talking about what her mother had been working on.
“Bar is void of anyone I would even want at this table,” Fusco reported.
“Love is in the last place you would expect it,” Ayala said, turning to look at Martine and smiled.
“In that case, I’ll be at Reese’s watching the game,” Fusco announced.
Zoe couldn’t help but ask if that was where he was looking for love. She and Joss loved to tease the goodhearted man.
“Sure, sure, make jokes,” he said as he stood up at the exact moment the waitress assigned to the table was walking over with a tray of drinks. His shoulder came right under the tray, sending the contents flying. The waitress was doused in liquor and the floor was covered in glass.
Fusco apologized profusely and helped the woman. She assured him it was her fault and someone would clean up the mess. She couldn’t have been nicer about the whole thing.
Her boss wasn’t so nice.
“What the hell, Emily?” she barked when she thought saw the accident prone waitress’ latest faux pas. It had been the kind of crash that anyone could hear over the music. “I’m so sorry, sir,” the boss said to Lionel who was insisting it was his fault. “You won’t have to pay,” she insisted back. She turned and out of sheer aggravation, pushed Emily to go get cleaned up. “This is coming out of your pay, you idiot!”
And then the panel of experts who had gathered to lend their skills in love hunting - learned a very important lesson about why their mission was failing.
They had misread the clues.
Janine didn’t want anyone like Shaw; she wanted to be like Shaw.
“Get your hands off of her,” Janine growled and the entire table turned slowly to see who that was. She had put her hand on the boss’ shoulder and turned her around swiftly to face her. “My friend explained it was his fault. Now apologize to Emily.” Her voice was a little wobbly, but stern.
The boss stared at the angelic face with the devilish voice and looked at the table for confirmation that this wasn’t a joke.
“I’d do as she says,” Sameen warned the boss-lady. “She’s a badass.”