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Connections

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“What does that mean, Cole? What are you doing here?” Shaw asked sternly as she looked around and noticed his things were dispersed throughout the room. “How the fuck long have you been here?”

“A while; look, Shaw; I don’t mean to impose,” her former CIA partner said, but didn’t mean.

“Impose? Cole, impose is - can I have your Netflix password to watch porn. This is…,” Shaw said, her arms sweeping the area of her apartment. “… invasion!”

“They have porn on Netflix? Are you sure?” he kidded, because he knew he better diffuse her temper or the scariest thing wouldn’t be outside.

But Shaw wasn’t so easily distracted. “You have exactly sixty seconds…,” she threatened and now he could hear her phone buzzing in her pocket.

“A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a… a negotiation… undercover,” he explained and noticed how hard he had been hit in his ribs. “Geez, you’re in good shape,” he tried to segue, but Shaw said, “Forty seconds.” “It was supposed to be in and out, but it turns out one of the guys made me from that deal in Istanbul.”

“Operation Black Storm?” Shaw asked because she remembered all of her missions – especially the only one she screwed up.

“Yes, exactly,” Cole said and slowly went to the fridge that he had stocked with beer. He grabbed two bottles and opened them. He walked back over and slowly held one out to Shaw, but she didn’t take it.

“No, thanks,” she said while she thought this through. “So, the guy makes you and you run?”

“Something like that,” he said, draining the first bottle of beer, but not taking his eyes off of Shaw. Even in the dimly lit space, he could see how good she looked. “You look… different,” he chose his word carefully.

“It’s called happy, Cole,” Shaw replied.

“Last I saw you was at the gun show where you were completely and utterly preoccupied. How is that going?” he queried of her status.

“Look, Cole,” Shaw said, in her typical fashion of not answering any question he asked, “… you can stay here as long as you like. I’m giving the place up.”

“Oh, it’s that serious?” he asked because Shaw always needed a home base.

Sameen stared at him as she tried to decide how much information he needed. The constant buzzing of her phone made it obvious that someone was looking for her. “I have to take this,” she said and walked into the bathroom and texted Root.


Sorry, neighbors all wanted to say hello,’ she texted with a rolling eye emoji. ‘I miss you.

I don’t know if I can sleep without you here,’ Root confessed in her text.

We need to get our rest. We have a big day tomorrow.’ Shaw reminded her.

I cannot wait to see you,’ Root said.

Are our honeymoon plans made?’’ Shaw asked, just to be sure.

All set and I promise not to taze or drug you,’ Root texted.

You left off zip ties,’ Shaw answered on cue.

I know,” Root answered quickly with a smiley face. ‘Night, Sweetie.’

Night, Root,’ Shaw said and bit her bottom lip.

Sameen shoved her phone back in her pocket and made a mental list. Tomorrow at the wedding, she was going to punch Zoe Morgan right in the mouth for even mentioning this night apart. But first, she was going to have to make her way uptown and stay with her mother. But before all of that, she had to tell Cole she was leaving.

She started to leave and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Cole had actually given her a black eye. She touched it to see how tender it was and decided it wasn’t too bad. She stopped and looked around the bathroom; at how grimy and dirty it was. How the hell did she ever live like this? She smiled to think how much Root had elevated her life. The days of being off on deadly missions and coming home to nights of drinking herself into a stupor were long over.

Almost.


As soon as Shaw said Coles’ name to blast him for hitting her, she saw the red laser dot on his head. She lunged at him, taking him down just in time before a hail of high powered bullets blew out her window and pierced furniture and walls. She lay atop him now, having saved him - yet again.

“They found me,” he said, inhaling her perfumed scent.

“No shit!” Shaw barked, but didn’t move while the bullets flew overhead. “We have to get you out of here.”

She started to move, but he grabbed her elbows. “Like old times, Shaw.”

“No, Cole. Not like old times. Like fucked-up times. I’m getting married tomorrow and if you get me killed, Root will be your worst nightmare,” she growled.

“Root?” he asked, as if they had time. “Isn’t that your boss’ nickname or something?” After seeing them together and then seeing how distracted Sameen was, he considered connecting those dots. But nowadays, all he had to do was pick up a paper and he could read about them.

There was another deluge of firepower above their heads.

“Yes, I’m marrying my boss. Okay? Can we get the hell out of here?” she yelled and couldn’t believe the man was so unfocused that all he could do was smile at her.

“I’m happy for you, Shaw. I’m jealous as hell, but I’m happy for you. She’s a lucky woman,” he said sincerely.

“Thanks. Now, this is the part where we move out of this space and find out who the hell is shooting at you,” Shaw barked.

With that, she moved off him and onto the floor where she carefully pushed her way through the debris not to get cut. She stopped only a second to look at a bullet to see what kind of firepower they were dealing with. They were aiming to kill, that’s for sure. “They're not fooling around,” she said back as he followed her to the door. In total darkness now, Cole reached up to touch her foot to know where to follow. Finally, she felt the front door and told him to be ready. Once they opened it, the light from the hallway would show they were leaving.

“Now!” she yelled and opened the door as the two slipped outside. The two sat there, waiting for the bullets to begin before they moved, but they didn’t.

“The guy from that mission swore he’d never forget my face,” he decided to remind Shaw. Now, she felt culpable for this mess. She had never allowed their identities to be known in a covert operation, except that one time. And now, Cole was paying the price for her carelessness.

"I'm sorry...," Shaw started, but he wouldn't hear it.

“I’m sorry I didn’t warn you about coming back here,” Cole said, thinking was better off not bringing this trouble to Shaw’s door.

“Your timing sucks,” Shaw said, peering through a hole in the door. “We better go to the roof,” she pointed and the two crawled the short distance to the staircase. “We can jump to the building next door,” having been familiar with that exact exit route.

The elevator started to move and Shaw knew the men from across the street were making their way up. “Let’s go,” she said and pulled Cole with her as they took the steps up to the roof at a rapid pace. Night air hit them as they emerged on the roof, out of breath. “Over here,” Shaw said quickly and Cole followed the woman who had always led their missions. Shaw ran to the side of the building and slide down the metal ladder to the lower building next to hers. Cole looked over the side and hesitated for a minute, wondering if he shouldn’t just end this here and leave Shaw out of it, but she read his mind.

“I swear to God, Cole, I will kill you if you try to be a hero,” Shaw yelled and started to come back up.

“Okay, okay,” he said, knowing Shaw was a Marine at heart and would never leave him, even if he allowed himself to be killed.

Gun fire ripped the night air through silenced weapons. They whizzed right past them as they narrowly escaped down an opened roof door a few buildings down. Shaw pulled Cole into an apartment that had been abandoned and out through a back window. He followed – as he always had done – because he had come to trust the woman with his life.

The woman he should have feared was uptown in her Penthouse, tossing in her bed.


“This was a terrible idea,” she confided in Bear who simply barked he agreed. “I know, you miss her, too,” she consoled him.

An alarm went off on her computer and she jumped up to grab it. It was a program she was tinkering with to test the machine’s capabilities. She gave her certain parameters and variables to test if she could predict when someone was in trouble. It was a beta program and Root was having all kinds of issues with it. But tonight, it seemed to be working.

Shaw is in trouble,’ the message read.

What kind of trouble?’ Root asked, as she put the laptop on audio and grabbed her clothes.

“Nine men are converging on her position,” the machine reported.

“Where is she?” Root asked, grabbing her guns.

“Rear entrance of a Radio Shack, Barrow Street,” the machine responded.

“Good, we get can her an earpiece,” Root said, steps ahead and motivated by her desire to help Sameen. “Text her phone and tell her to get any hearing enhancer and tell her the aisle or she’ll lose it. She has no patience for shopping,” Root instructed so calmly that Bear stared at her.

Bear barked at Root as she affixed her own earpiece. “No, you stay here. If I need help, I’ll get Reese and Fusco, I promise.”

Root didn’t need to know who or what was going on just yet. She just needed to know where Shaw was so she could get her.

And then the machine added one more piece of information that Root could have done without.

“She is with a Michael Cole,” the machine reported.

Root sucked her teeth and shook her head. “Okay, now they’re in trouble.”


Shaw’s phone vibrated and she feared that it was Root unable to sleep. “Shit!” she said and took it out to look at it. “Oh,” she said in a calmer voice.

“What?” Cole asked, looking around for a way out.

“Aisle three; hearing amplifiers. I need one,” Shaw said when she read the text.

“Trouble hearing, Shaw?” Cole teased as they made their way over in the dark.

“I’m pretty sure trouble is on its way,” Shaw said, because if the machine was sending her texts; she was doing so at Root’s request.

"You  mean those guys?" he asked, listening for them.

“No, I mean .... real trouble.” Shaw said, ripping open the package and putting the device in her ear.