If Greer’s people thought they learned something about Shaw from the last time they met; Root was certain she learned something about them. She knew that people who want technological power have a myriad of ways of getting what they want. Given the activity that she, Harry, and Azar had been monitoring, Root knew they had recently acquired the ability to take over the street cameras in the City. Fearing that they could have accessed the cameras at BEAR, Root decided her every move had to be calculated.
Root decided that while they might be tracking her, they wouldn’t get that her sequence of behavioral moves in her office, would tell Reese and Martine that Shaw was in trouble. The odd display of water pouring and then buttoning a jacket that she would leave in the lobby, were all clues for the security team to figure out. Water was Shaw’s astrological sign; the jacket she put on, but then took off, was code for danger.
Before Root left the office, she said goodbye to Bear, using the Danish word for ‘emergency’. All the time it seemed she was telling him to stay and hugging him goodbye. In reality, she was passing him critical information.
As soon as Root left the building, Bear went to Reese and Martine. Within minutes, they viewed her actions on a protected network and deciphered their meaning. Root and the Security Team had outlined different scenarios in case of another attack by someone looking for the machine.
“Operation Blind Man?” Martine asked and Reese nodded. She went to get the props while John tapped into his phone to see where Root was headed.
Shaw would have a lot of questions for Reese when she found out that Root was being tracked by her earrings and not a device somewhere injected into her flesh.
Seconds later, John took Bear with the accoutrements he would need to appear as if the canine was his Seeing Eye companion, and followed the flashing dot on his phone. Martine loaded schematics to his phone once he knew where Root was and now all he had to do was wait.
Root had taken three of the most important things she could take with her; her attitude and two guns. Now, she sat at the bar as instructed, dressed in a low-cut purple, sleeveless dress and high heels. Hardly the outfit conducive to rescuing someone.
When the camera revealed that she was indeed, alone, Lambert sent someone for her. The woman approached her as Root sat there, legs crossed and calm.
“Ms. Groves?” the woman said and Root smiled and followed her. They walked to an elevator and went upstairs. Then, Root followed as the woman walked short distance down an empty hallway until they reached a door. It was a section of the grand transportation hub that few knew existed until a few years ago.
“The Campbell Apartment,” Root said and smiled. Root was very fond of the long forgotten landmarks of New York City. Many of them became her refuge when she was living on the streets years ago.
Inside the large apartment, Lambert’s phone alerted him that Root was there. “Right on time,” he said to Sameen who decided she would take pleasure in hurting this guy. “Now, let me tell you how this is going to go. I believe in full disclosure,” he smiled cynically at Sameen. “I’m going to tell your boss; your girlfriend and might I add,” he said, putting his hand on the box in Shaw’s pants pocket, “… your intended; that you’re in here unharmed as long as she takes us to the machine. If she refuses, and I seriously doubt that, I’m going to open that window over there so she can witness you being tortured.”
Shaw just stared at him without flinching.
“I’m betting she caves before you do, Ms. Shaw,” he added because there was something about Sameen he actually admired.
Lambert greeted Root the way admirers meet their favorite people. “Ms. Groves, it is a pleasure. I am Jeremy Lambert,” he said as he walked into the area where she was. He signaled to the woman to pat her down for weapons. “You understand of course,” he said apologetically.
The woman removed the two guns from her purse.
“Can’t blame a girl for trying,” Root smiled at her host. “I want to see Sameen,” she said after the woman took the weapons away.
“Of course, of course,” Lambert said and put his arm out for her to walk ahead. “You’ll find that we’ve taken good care of Ms. Shaw,” he assured her, “…except for the occasional drug injection to keep her cooperative.”
Sameen had taught Root that one of the first things an enemy operative does, if they’re not already killing you, is to find your weaknesses and press down so hard, it makes you crack. Root knew this is what Lambert was doing. She bit her inner cheek to maintain her stalwart expression on her face.
He took Root to a room outside the smaller one that Shaw was in. He motioned for the woman to open the curtain so that Root could see Sameen secured in the chair, but unharmed. “We took caution not to apply those restraints to her injures,” he noted as if he knew Root would appreciate that. “So, let’s get down to business, shall we?” he asked and sat at a table.
“Release her,” Root said as she took her seat.
“Tell me where the machine is located first,” Lambert smiled.
“Tell me what you’re doing with all this hardware, Mr. Lambert,” Root said back, crossing her legs and putting her pocketbook on the table. “Besides being a voyeur.”
“I understand your natural curiosity, Ms. Groves. Mr. Greer has authorized me to tell you enough to whet your appetite,” Lambert said agreeably. “He came across a program, many years ago, stolen by a CIA operative. The operative handed over the program and kept a little something on the side; the true nature of the machine. Eventually, they sold it and it’s been handed over piecemeal to different owners until Mr. Greer acquired it. It’s a shadow of its former self, he believes, and set out to reconstruct his piece with the more powerful engine. Hackers looking to make money, like your friend, set out to find it. All roads led to Manhattan, Ms. Groves. And all of Manhattan points to you, since you are the only one smart enough to recognize what the machine can do,” he explained. “So, now I’ve told you my story; you tell me yours. Where is the machine? Or shall I show you what we’re capable of doing to your friend?”
“What do you intend to do with such a massive machine?” Root asked, concentrating on her breathing.
“We’re going to create a better world, Ms. Groves and you could be a part of that, if you wish to work with us,” Lambert said. He had disagreed with Greer on that offer, but was told to extend it, nonetheless.
“You’re very kind to offer,” Root smiled. “But you see, any second Shaw is going to grow weary of her restraints and break out. Then, she’ll overpower that scrawny woman with the needle and come out here where, if you’re smart, you’ll start to worry.”
Lambert looked over at Shaw, who sat complacent in her chair. He looked back at Root and smiled. “They said you were a little crazy, Ms. Groves, but I had no idea how far your delusions took you. Now, you’re wasting my time,” he said in a much sharper tone and nodded to a large man to go into Shaw to convince Root they were serious.
“Perfect,” Root said because she knew once Shaw got angry, she’d be like a bull in a china shop and dispose of that man.
Lambert stared at Root, surprised she didn’t take him more seriously. “You’ve just lost your option,” he lectured Root as the man went inside the room. Root grimaced at what was coming next, but felt there was little she could do. She needed the door opened and she needed Shaw to free herself. She saw the force at which the man’s arm swung at Shaw’s head.
It hurt like hell. But as Root predicted, it was the impetus to make Sameen snap into action. When her head swung to the side from the blow, she came back with full force and picked up the chair and swung around, hitting the man with the legs. Then, she threw herself at him, catching him as he fell down. She broke the zip ties as he held onto the chair to get up. It was a combination of ballet and martial arts as Sameen took care of the man in a few blows.
Lambert called for help as Root sat there calmly. “I’d be very afraid if I were you,” she taunted Lambert.
“Ms. Groves! Are you insane? I have a dozen men on their way in to tear your friend apart; limb by limb. And then, Ms. Groves you will have nothing left to barter with and I will turn you over to them,” Lambert yelled.
“Ordinarily, I’d say that’s a great plan, but you’re missing the part where I came in here armed,” Root pointed out.
“You’re bluffing,” Lambert said because she had been checked.
“Have it your way,” Root smiled as she waited patiently. Sameen may have subdued her attacker, but there were more on the way. She couldn’t see Root through the one way mirror, but she knew she was somewhere nearby.
Shaw picked up the chair and smashed it into the mirror, breaking the glass.
“Now you’ve just made her angry,” Root said to Lambert whose men were running towards the inner area.
Then, they all heard it and stopped.
The explosion of a drone carried missile hitting a section of the building closest to the Campbell Apartment. It was small and would cause the least amount of damage, but Lambert didn’t know that. Chaos ensued, as Root predicted, which allowed her other weapon to get through. As people rushed to grab Sameen and Root, Reese and Bear made their way up in the elevator. When it opened on the third floor, Bear got off. “Here you go,” Reese said to him and handed him the device, which he deftly grabbed with his mouth. “Three doors down,” Reese instructed based on Morse code from Root tapping her earring. On her prior walk through the place, she noted which rooms had an accessible desktop.
Bear walked down the hallway, and entered the room, undetected. He sat there whimpering when spotted by one of Greer’s IT people. “Get out of here,” she called to Bear who put on his friendliest demeanor. “Where did you come from?” the woman asked and petted the seemingly lost and anxious dog. “Did that noise scare you?” she asked and Bear whimpered. All the time he was actually telling her that his pet caused that explosion. “Where is your owner?” the woman asked because of Bear’s apparel that designated him as a helper. Her phone rang and orders were shouted to her to establish a reduction in power to prevent any damage to the program.
“They’d have my head if I didn’t protect their precious machine,” she confided in her new found friend. He whined until she guessed he wanted water and got up to get him some. It took only a couple of minutes.
When she returned, she gave him the bowl of water. He barked, now that his mouth was empty, but she didn’t understand his question about whether it was tap or bottled water. She petted him affectionately and he thanked her.
“Where are you going?” she shouted when Bear took off. Then, she turned back to her computer screen and saw that files were being deleted. “What?” she asked as she pounded on keys, trying desperately to unlock them. It was too late.
She never noticed the canine saliva covered flash drive that was adeptly shoved into the CPU and causing the damage.
Bear made his way down the hallway as people scrambled to see what the damage was. He kept walking slowly, looking for Root's scent.
“Was that your attempt at scaring us, Ms. Groves,” Lambert asked, only smiling now that he was assured there was no damage done to the computer room.
“Yes,” Root said.
In the meantime, two more men were taken care of by Shaw and Lambert called for her to be drugged again.
Before that could happen, he got an emergency call.
“What do you mean?” he shouted when he was informed that the program seemed to be deleting files on its own. “PULL THE PLUG!” he shouted.
Root looked over and tilted her head and smiled. “Take her in there with Ms. Shaw,” he shouted to two large men. They grabbed Root roughly and brought her into Sameen. They pushed her through the door and shut it behind them.
“Root! Are you okay?” Sameen said as she rushed over to her.
“Yes, I’m fine,” Root said and took Sameen’s head in her hands and kissed her.
“Did they …?” Shaw asked, but looking at Root in high heels and a dress showed no signs of being roughed up.
“No, we were having a nice chat until a small missile caused a distraction,” Root explained, looking Shaw up and down. “Are you okay?”
“Yes,” Shaw assured her and started to look around for a way out.
“Give it a couple of minutes,” Root assured her. “Oh, here,” the taller woman said, as if she just remembered. “I brought you this,” she said, taking out a tiny tube of lip gloss and a credit card.
“You’re thinking about shopping for makeup at a time like this?” Shaw asked, unable to get the meaning.
“Oil for the lock,” Root said, handing the tube to Sameen. “Worth a shot,” she said when Sameen stood there motionless.
Shaw rolled her eyes, but wasn’t sure what else to do. She applied the oil and then tried to jimmy the lock with the card, as Root sat on the table watching.
“I really thought you’d be good at this,” Root said in a noncritical tone.
“Excuse me?” Shaw barked. “You give me a tube of lube and an Amex card and you expect me to be MacGyver?”
Getting Shaw upset was like rubbing two twigs together slowly. The point was to get her angry slowly, so she’d stop thinking and use her instinct.
“They’re going to come back in here and torture us,” Root pointed out.
“Thanks for the heads up, Captain Obvious,” Shaw said, out of patience. “Almost… got… it.”
The lock unlocked and the handle seemed to turn and then stopped.
“Step back,” Shaw said, and grabbed a chair to hit the person entering.
The door flew open and Shaw lunged, but no one was there.
“BEAR!” Root said excitedly. She had told him to follow her scent. Opening the door was simply what Bear did best.
“I see you finally understood how to guard,” Shaw said of the canine. He barked that he did. “Let’s go,” she said and Root followed her out of the room.
“Wait,” Root said as they entered the outer room she and Lambert had been talking in. “We may need these,” she said, grabbing her guns that had been confiscated and placed in a drawer.
“Two guns?” Shaw asked and would have rolled her eyes if there was time.
As soon as they entered the hallway, Shaw had to subdue one of the burly men sent back to guard them. His cries of pain caused two more to rush down the hallway.
“It’s true,” noted Shaw, “… the bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
Root raised both guns and shot the oncoming men in the kneecaps.
“Okay, that was kinda hot,” Shaw said of her girlfriend handling weapons so adeptly.
Bear jumped up and pressed the button for the elevator. Shaw held the door as Root fired two more times, taking down the two men rushing at them.
In the meantime, Lambert was inside the computer room in a full-fledged panic. “The police will be here! Mr. Greer says to let them go for now.”
It wasn’t until they were on the elevator without anyone trying to stop them, did the women realize something was amiss. The elevator door opened on the bottom floor into the bar area where Root had first been when she arrived.
“NYPD is on their way,” Shaw noted by the sound of the sirens approaching.
“Find Reese,” Root instructed Bear who took off to do so.
As soon as the missile hit, people evacuated the building.
Except for the elderly gentleman who sat at the bar where Root had been before.
“Let’s go,” Shaw said, but suddenly realized Root was not walking with her. “Root!” Shaw called, but she was slowly walking toward the man at the bar. Something had caught her attention.
“NYPD is going to be swarming this place soon,” Shaw informed Root. “Wait. Is that… Greer?” Shaw ran to catch up with Root who seemed to be like a moth drawn to the fire. Shaw had no way of knowing that it was what the man was holding that actually caught Root’s attention.
The man took a sip of his drink as if nothing was going on. Glass and broken furniture surrounded the tables; damage from the small explosion. The bartender asked if he wanted more and he waved the man off. Then, he turned to greet his guests.
“Miss Groves, Miss Shaw; it is truly a pleasure to meet you both,” John Greer said in the friendliest of tones.
“If you’re who I think you are, I’m about to change your mind,” Shaw said, getting so stiff that when Root put her hand on her arm, it felt like steel. Shaw’s head snapped to look at Root. What could she possibly be thinking?
“Go ahead, Miss Groves, take it. It’s yours,” he said of a notebook that was under his hand. He slid it across the bar a short distance.
“Where did you… ?” Root asked, almost afraid to touch the book.
“Oh, I know where you’ve been, Miss Groves,” the man smiled and Shaw stared at what Root was slowly picking up.
“What the hell is that?” Shaw demanded to know. The sirens were slowing down, announcing that the cops were approaching the building.
“Well, Miss Shaw, it’s an old diary of Miss Groves. She left it here many years ago when she was, what shall we say, visiting the Campbell Apartment? You used to stay here quite often, didn’t you, my dear?”
The man had just handed Root a piece of her history; an old journal that she wrote in. She wrote about her wildest dreams, her saddest nightmares, and her activities. When she left to live with Harry, she couldn’t find it. She made several trips back here to her secret place, but then construction took over and she could no longer access the places she used to.
“Growing up unloved is an awful thing,” Greer said and Shaw lunged at him, but he didn’t flinch. The bartender pulled out a Glock and aimed it at Shaw.
“I am going to take real pleasure in kicking your prehistoric sorry ass,” Shaw threatened Greer. She was willing to make an exception to her own moral code of not hurting the elderly. “Let’s go, Root,” Shaw demanded, but Root couldn’t move. She continued to stare at the book as if Greer had handed her - her own Pandora’s Box.
Shaw realized that this man was cleverer than either of them had given him credit for. He was disarming Root without so much as a weapon.
Greer may not have ascertained the location of the machine, but he got the next best thing. He was harming her caretaker.
“Each time I see you two, you surprise me. Eventually, Ms. Groves, we will figure out how you got to our machine and we will repair it. You see, machines are not like people; they can be restored after they’re damaged. A machine would never carry the feeling of being unloved around for years, causing it to do desperate things to relieve the pain of that feeling.”
Sameen calculated how fast the gunman would shoot her and if she could still throw Greer to the ground, ending his life.
“Have you told Miss Shaw all the things you did? I’m sure she’d be interested in knowing especially given what she had planned for you this evening,” Greer smirked.
Shaw had seen trained people dismantle another human being with words; and she knew instantly, Greer must have been trained by the best. One look at Root told Shaw that whatever he found out about her had just transported her back in time and stripped her of her armor.
“There’s no sense in drawing this out now. The police will no doubt want to ask me about my offices and I will be more than happy to show them the damage to my high tech security business upstairs. Until we meet again,” John Greer said and actually had the nerve to bow his head to the couple before walking away.
“Shoot him!” Shaw said to Root, but she stood there motionless.
“No,” Root finally uttered. “We need him,” she said because without him, they may never know what was truly going on.
“What is this?” Shaw asked, wanting Root to start moving. Now that the bartender followed Greer out, the two women were there alone.
“An old diary,” Root smiled, but Shaw could see the painful affect the long forgotten journal had on her.
“We’ll talk about that later,” Shaw said, tugging on Root to leave. They did not need to be the last two people in the building when the NYPD arrived. Even pulling now, Shaw could tell Root seemed incapable of rushing. Finally, Sameen couldn’t take it. She stopped and turned to look at Root.
“What?” she asked. “What is it? A handwritten account of your darkest sins? What could be in that book?” she shouted.
“I… ,” Root started and her voice cracked. She drew a deep breath and looked her anxious girlfriend in the eye. “…hurt people.”
“Welcome to the club,” Shaw responded because she had done her fair share of that very thing. “Besides, those people you hurt, deserved it,” Shaw said of some of Root’s former foster parents.
“People I care about,” Root expanded.
“Root!” Shaw said through gritted teeth because she felt her lover was not getting the gravity of the situation if they were discovered there. “Can we do this later?”
“Your mother,” Root said … because she sorta had an impulsivity issue.
“What?” Shaw asked, because she found Root’s explanations more confusing as they went on. “What about her?” she asked, listening to hear if she could tell how far away the cops were.
“I gave your mother’s location to Greer,” Root explained and now she had Shaw’s full attention.
“What are you talking about?” Shaw asked.
“I didn’t know it was her, but I knew that someone was juicing up the electricity in the city years ago. I thought they were voyeurs because the activity seemed to follow someone. Greer’s group put out a call on the dark web looking for information about powerful machines. I tracked your mother’s activity and gave him the information. It was why she had to leave again,” Root said.
Shaw just looked at Root, trying to figure out what she was telling her.
“I didn’t know it was Azar, I swear it. When she came back into your life and I realized that she was probably the woman I pointed out to this group, I didn’t know what to do. I tried to protect her and we succeeded because no one from Greer’s group suspects her anymore.”
Sameen shook her head, even though it hurt like hell. “Does my mother know?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Root said truthfully.
“She’s okay? Right now?” Shaw asked.
“Yes, her activity has been completely masked,” Root assured Shaw.
The memory of a time when Root felt so unloved and unwanted, before Finch found her, was enough to mess with Root’s head. Even when she was with Harold, she felt a warmth and admiration for her talents, but it never filled the void Root felt all those years. Feelings rushed at Root from the deepest resources of her soul now. She was staring at the woman who adored her, and yet, she felt like an unwanted child.
Feeling unloved was a feeling Sameen was well acquainted with. She saw it reflected in Root’s eyes immediately.
“Well, not exactly the way I had it planned,” Sameen said and pulled Root over to a glass littered stool. She wiped it clear and nodded for Root to sit. “I was hoping for music playing softly, Root, but with you, I have a feeling our background music is going to be sirens more often than not,” Shaw smiled.
“What do you mean?” Root asked, sorry she had stopped them from leaving. How would they explain their presence?
Shaw took Root’s hands in hers. “From the minute I met you, you annoyed the hell out me. You made me angry and frustrated and I couldn’t believe I took a job working with you,” Shaw said and Root thought maybe Sameen picked now to share how upset she was with the news she just heard. “But you made me feel other things. Other things I wasn’t supposed to feel. Things that I had buried so far down, it gave me my own diagnosis. The only person who could stand me was Fusco and I think that was because he decided I was the punishment he deserved for driving his wife away,” Shaw shared and could tell she was confusing Root. “But you… you did things to me without my even knowing. You got past walls that everyone else failed to get through. You make me want to be a better person. You make me whole, Root. You’re my safe place and I know I can’t live without you. So…,” Shaw continued and pushed her hand into her pocket and took out the box.
Then, Sameen Shaw got down on one knee, after clearing the spot of debris first.
“I promise you, Root; I will always do right by you. I will protect you and kick anyone’s ass who tries to hurt you. There will never be another day in your life that you ever doubt you are wanted and loved. I will always be by your side. And Root, you know how you’re always telling me we’re just noise in the system and confusing the hell out of me? Well, if we are, I want us … to be a symphony. Will you marry me?”
Root’s eyes immediately filled with water as she looked at Sameen on one knee. She had never heard words that truly sounded like music to her ears. She knew she was staring at the one person who made her feel like – finally – she belonged.
This was her Shaw.
“Oh, my, God, Sameen… YES!” she said, and Sameen took the ring out and put it on Root’s finger.
Root pulled Sameen up and into the tightest hug she could manage without hurting her lover. “I love you Sameen Shaw. I always have; I always will.”
“Okay, good,” Shaw said sincerely and kissed Root back. “Now, let’s get out of here before Fusco has to put us in a lineup.”
The two women rushed out the back stairwell, because Root knew exactly where it was.
Seconds after they left, Detective Fusco opened the door to the room and yelled. “I found where it hit.” He walked through the debris and noticed something on the floor. He walked over and picked it up, shoving it in his pocket just before the police followed him in there.
“Find anything?” one of them asked him.
“I think we just missed them,” he mused and didn’t mean the bad guys the way the cop thought he did.
“Way to go, Shaw,” he said softly, knowing that this was the perfect place for his chaotic friend to propose.