Chapter 1: The Ties That Bind
It had been several hours since a band of kidnappers managed to crack – literally – the security of Root’s office by finding the smallest pressure point in her window that, once hit, would implode inside the room. It would take a super computer to calculate the math that would factor in all those variables to hit the precise spot. And these people had that at their disposal.
Once Root was over the surprise of someone entering through the gaping hole left by the explosion, she quickly sized up who these people could be. She was a brilliant woman who had received threats before, but none made an entrance quite like that. But even their appearance didn’t scare Root. She knew that calmness must prevail if she were going to gather as many clues about them as possible. She was savvy enough to know, if you have a powerful program, someone will want it – and some would do anything to get at it.
In the seconds before the masked men grabbed her, she turned her laptop camera on and faced it towards them. She knew to leave her cell phone on and to memorize height and weight, and listen for the voice tones of her attackers.
But they seemed to be a step ahead of her. They closed her laptop, removed her phone and didn’t speak inside her office. They knew exactly what they were doing, down to the second.
“The program in Mustique?” was the first question she asked her captors when they hustled her to the helicopter. The man behind the mask smiled and Root knew she was right. “Dammit,” she said, chastising herself for not building a broader virus detector into the machine.
“You’re going to be sorry,” she warned him because she was confident about Shaw appearing any second.
“I’m waiting for her,” the man said as the helicopter hovered. “You see, Ms. Groves,” the deep voice said calmly to her over the noise of the rotor blades. “I know your weakness and I will kill her, if you don’t cooperate.”
He then aimed a gun at exactly the spot where Shaw burst through the broken glass to the outer area. She aimed her gun as Root yelled not to do anything. Of course, Shaw couldn’t hear her, but she saw the agony on Root’s face. She feared they had hurt her in the escape, but what they had really done was to threaten her raison d'etre; her very reason for living.
The text was sent to Shaw’s phone and once the boss was satisfied she understood it, the copter took off. Within minutes, Root was roughly transported from the machine to the boat, where she was promptly blindfolded and drugged. She concentrated as best she could to memorize a direction or sounds- anything that might help. Sleep took her over before she could do much of anything.
The kidnappers’ entrance caught the attention of hundreds of people who witnessed it. The FBI considered it an act of terrorism and sent a task force to help.
“Do you have any idea what they were after?” the investigator asked Harold Finch.
He and Root had rehearsed this scenario before; in case anything happened to one of them. Harold was the unlikely target because most people simply associated the brains of BEAR with Root.
“Here is a list of projects we’re working on,” he said, taking it out of his drawer. “But until they contact us, I’m afraid we won’t know if one of these is actually what they’re after.”
The FBI noted that everyone at BEAR was very cooperative.
Except the bodyguard.
Sameen Shaw would not answer their questions and did not say where she was going when she abruptly left the conference room. They didn’t know it, but Shaw didn’t suffer fools well. And Sameen considered pretty much everyone a fool right now.
Reese knew it and he played interference for her and explained that Shaw was too upset to talk.
Upset was not the word he meant, but it would work for the task force.
What Sameen was – was bloodthirsty for revenge.
And John knew she was going to have to put that on the back burner while she worked through her plan. A plan that, Reese, Martine, and Fusco waited to hear about.
“I’m helping her,” Ayala said, loading a gun she had no authority to carry.
“She’d want you to be here, with your mother,” Martine pointed out to her girlfriend. “We don’t’ know who we’re even dealing with.”
Everything in Ayala’s brain told her to go and be with Sameen, but she knew Martine was right. Her mother’s safety was more important than her desire to prove her usefulness to her sister.
“Protect her,” Ayala said, holding onto Martine’s arm.
“With my life,” she promised, causing Ayala to feel gratitude and fear at the same time.
Ayala wanted her mother to go somewhere out of the city, but Azar refused. She knew where she was most needed was to help them with the machine. She needed to write a program that would allow her to see what they were doing in there. Stealth programs were not easy to code and she didn’t want to waste precious time.
If Martine thought she had her hands full convincing Shaw’s sister not to come, she was only going to get another handful when Janine rushed at her.
“Just tell me what I can do, please,” the woman begged.
Martine knew Janine was worried sick. “Stay by your phone. If we need anything, when this goes down, I will contact you,” Martine promised.
“Please, be careful, Martine,” Janine begged. “And don’t let anything…,” but she couldn’t get the words out.
“I know,” Martine said, giving the assistant a much needed hug.
When the sedative wore off, Root woke with a start because of course, she had been dreaming of Shaw and their vacation. The cold air was the first thing that hit her face. She was in a dark and damp room and the smell told her she was near water. She had no idea how much time had passed.
Sameen knew how much time in seconds. She paced and paced until her legs grew tired. She called Fusco for updates, but there were none. Reese suggested she sleep and she agreed, but they both knew she wouldn’t. Bear – was on his best behavior. Fully aware of what was going on; he knew Shaw was his best hope. So, he sat by her quietly and only when she collapsed on the couch, did he approach her and put his head on her leg.
“I’m getting her back,” she said to him and he whined his gratitude.
The hours that passed were sheer torture for Shaw. But she relied on her military training to stay focused. Everyone offered to stay with her, but she refused to allow anyone – except Bear. She knew their friends were trying to help any way they could, but Sameen was certain she would have to do this her way.
Fusco pulled in every favor anyone ever owed him to gather what info he could and to ask for anyone to help out. He knew that he better get something soon, or a kidnapping wouldn’t be his biggest challenge. It would be an armed woman, with little tolerance for her fellow human beings on her best day, hurting and unsure of what to do.
“Usain Bolt carrying nitroglycerin,” was his analogy to Joss Carter, who insisted on working a double.
“Can you talk to her?” Joss asked, knowing that, in spite of his gruff manner sometimes, Shaw listened to Fusco.
“She won’t pick up; won’t let anyone in,” Fusco reported.
“Since when has that ever stopped you?” Joss asked in all seriousness.
“I’ve seen that woman drunk; I’ve seen that woman pissed at the world. I’ve seen her lash out at someone because she was unable to deal with the feelings. But this…,” Fusco shook his head and leaned closer to his friend’s side of the joined desks, “…this is dynamite on speed. Going closer will only get her more upset.”
Shaw’s head bobbed when exhaustion came at her, but she jumped up and started to pace. She looked at her phone and in spite of the directive to wait; there had been no further word from them. Wherever Root was, Shaw hoped that the person who heard her message was giving it to his boss in front of her.
In fact, he was.
“She thinks we’re by an oil refinery?” was the boss’ first question as he sat with Root as she woke up. The words made Root force herself to wake up faster because she knew what those words meant.
“Your girlfriend isn’t as smart as I thought she was,” he spat and Root struggled against the zip ties that held her hands in place. “Oh, I touched a nerve,” the bearded man said and Root could tell he wasn’t speaking behind a mask anymore. Of course, her eyes were covered, so he could remove his.
“A four alarm fire in an oil refinery,” he repeated and saw the tiniest movement of Root’s lips. “Is that her calling card, Ms. Groves?” he asked and Root remained motionless. “Because to be honest, I’m looking forward to meeting her.”
“Don’t you hurt her!” Root shouted, unable to maintain her composure.
“Are you ready to tell us where your machine is?” he asked, sitting back in the chair.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Root tried to buy time.
“Of course you do, Ms. Groves. Do you know how I know?” he asked in a calm voice. There was nothing about it that was familiar to Root. “Because first you sent your former lover away incognito when she failed to secure information. Then, you interrupted your vacation to go to remote location because your machine told you there was activity there. But what you didn’t know, Ms. Groves, is that it was a trap. That activity was there on purpose because we knew whoever knew about the machine would come. And we let you download a program which has rendered your machine practically useless. Now, we just need to get to its hardware so we can reconstruct it,” he explained.
Root was so annoyed at herself for not seeing this beforehand. With great responsibility, comes great danger, she knew and seemed to have forgotten.
“Don’t be hard on yourself,” the man said when he saw Root frown. “Your own bodyguard is about to walk into a trap and she considers herself to be one of the best.”
“Look, she’s no use to you. She doesn’t know about any of the projects I’m working on. I’m the only one who knows anything. So, you might as well get your torture started,” Root said.
“Oh, Miss Groves, you and I have a very different definition of torture. I’m not going to touch you,” he said slowly as he got up and got closer to deliver his verbal blow. “I’m going to touch Ms. Shaw.”
That made Root insane as she struggled to break out of the ties. She had to learn not to react to his threats, but it was hard to do when he mentioned Shaw.
Root had to focus on how to help, once Sameen arrived.
Because Root knew, her Four Alarm Fire… was coming.
Reese was almost as antsy was Shaw. He was walking the streets and wound up at the precinct. “What do you have, Lionel,” Reese asked, having walked in like he owned the joint.
“Well, hello to you, too, Tall, Dark and Bossy,” Lionel said, looking at Joss. “You hear this guy?”
Joss knew both men were tense and would be at each other’s throats any second. “We’re trying, John,” she reminded her boyfriend.
“We can’t just give Shaw any lead. You know she’ll go half-cocked into a blazing fire,” Lionel reminded her coworker.
“I know,” John said, sorry, but unable to say it just yet. “Is there anything?”
“We got guys looking for the boat, but that seems to have disappeared. The helicopter was wiped clean. No prints, no identification numbers. Flew out of a little airport in Jersey right to BEAR,” Joss said.
“We might have something,” Fusco said. “Her mother just texted me some coordinates. Says to look here,” he said and typed in the data.
“Call Shaw first, Lionel,” Reese said in case Fusco was going to follow some protocol. “I’ll go pick her up.”
“Those two,” Fusco shook his head. “They’re like the Mayhem Twins.”
Joss knew she and Fusco were going to be walking a fine line between following procedures, and doing things the BEAR way.
By the time Lionel got Shaw on the phone, John was outside waiting for her. “I’ll drive, Shaw,” he said and didn’t ask. Sameen knew it was the better idea. She threw a large duffle bag in the back seat and got in. All John had to do was take one look at her and he could tell how tightly she was wound. “We need a plan, Shaw,” he gently suggested.
“Here’s my plan; no kneecaps,” Shaw said and now Reese knew she was going to blow this.
“It’s not about where you shoot,” he pointed out. “It’s about not getting anyone on our side hurt.”
He anticipated the response because Shaw was a pot of emotions that had been simmering for hours. Any second, he knew, the lid would blow off. That moment was now.
She turned and grabbed the much taller man who was driving by his jacket lapel. “You think I don’t know that, Reese?” she yelled and he could feel the tremor in her hand.
“All I’m saying, Shaw, is that these guys are smart and we have to be smarter,” Reese said and for once in her life, that calm, even voice was what she needed in order to hear the message.
“How about this…,” Shaw started, “…you cover me, and I’ll blow those sonsov..”
“Okay, see, Shaw, I was hoping for a little more detail. Now look, Lionel will give us a head start, but the FBI and the NYPD will be looking to help, too. So, our moves have to be clean and quick. We are not going to be either if we don’t coordinate a plan,” John reiterated as he drove to the location.
The thing about Reese was that, in spite of the fact his calmness annoyed the hell out of Shaw; she respected him a great deal. This is why she listened to him when he talked.
Reese drove through Manhattan until he crossed over into the Bronx; one of the five boroughs. He stopped when he got to the docks that led to the East River.
Shaw’s phone beeped. ‘Boat waiting for you,’ Lionel’s text read.
“Fusco says there’ll be a boat there,” Shaw relayed.
Reese glanced back at the duffle bag that Shaw brought with her that contained her weaponry. “I hope it’s a big boat,” he said.
“Here’s the plan, Reese,” Shaw said as they walked toward the boat.
Reese had to admit, she had given it some thought.
Root decided to take some deep breaths and calm herself. She had to think this through. They were expecting Shaw. That wasn’t so far-fetched, because anyone who knew them, knew Shaw would come. But they expected her to find them. The odor of the room told her she was in an old and musty building. It must be one of the abandoned islands perhaps, she thought. The problem with this is that it meant it wasn’t their home base because the conditions were not conducive to keeping computer equipment. It was almost as if they were stopping there … and waiting.
And Root was right.
They picked this place to give Shaw a hard time to locate them, until they were ready. Now, that she was on her way – they were more than ready.
Root smiled just the tiniest bit when she thought this all through.
They may have counted on Shaw arriving, but they still didn’t count on one thing.
Shaw … being Shaw.
Truly, Root knew, no one could.
Chapter 2: Different, But Alike
Thank you all for returning. It means a great deal to me.
Reese didn’t necessarily agree with Shaw’s plan, but he knew he wouldn’t make her change her mind. He said he would follow her orders to the tee, but he had one condition.
“You want to shoot me with a homing device?” Shaw yelled in amazement.
“I have no idea what you’re walking into, Shaw. If they get you and take you somewhere, we need to know where that is,” he reasoned.
Shaw had several reasons why this was an insane idea, but time was wasting. “Fine!” she spat and rolled up her sleeve. She waited and finally looked up at John, whose very expression told her she got it wrong. “Oh, you are freaking kidding me!”
“They’ll see the entry point on your arm, Shaw. We need a…,” and the man who rarely uttered an inappropriate word around women finally said, “…denser area.”
“You’re going to shoot me in the ass with that?” Shaw stammered. Not a muscle on John’s face moved, but his eyes told her she was right. The silence and motionless stare told her he couldn’t do it through her pants.
“I’d let you do it yourself,” he explained, “…but the trigger is very tight because of how it needs to….” That was all he could get out.
Shaw knew she had no choice. She unbuttoned and unzipped her pants and bent over the car. Fortunately for both of them, Shaw’s lacy underwear gave him a clear shot of where to hit her.
“Sonova…,” Shaw grimaced because it hurt like hell. John coughed and looked away while she got dressed. He took out his phone, put in the tag number and sure enough, a tiny dot appeared on the map. “Why didn’t you do this to Root?” she asked, thinking what a great idea that would have been.
“She refused,” John answered.
Shaw pulled her pants back up and shoved her blouse back in. “I am so talking to her about this when I get her,” she promised.
Several minutes later, the boat was loaded. “You know what to do?” she asked John as she entered the boat alone.
“Best I figure we have less than an hour before Lionel can’t hold them off any more,” John surmised as he unhinged the boat. “Be careful, Shaw.”
Sameen saluted her friend, turned the back motor on and took off in the direction of the island. “Sonovabitch,” she said, realizing it hurt to sit on the hard surface. She looked up at John. “Did you just laugh, Reese? Cause you better not have laughed.
“I didn’t laugh, Shaw,” John said, because he was worried about her plan.
The East River current was not cooperative and Shaw had a tough time navigating the small vessel across it. She touched the northern most shore, which was not her original plan. She looked down at her phone with the information that Fusco sent her.
‘North Brother Island – thirteen acres of abandoned buildings, most overgrown with plant life including poison ivy.’ “Oh, great,” Shaw said because in the dark now, there was little hope of seeing anything.
‘Building structures are weak at best. Many crumbling. Be careful, Shaw.’
Sameen pulled the duffel bag out of the boat and unzipped it. She had her arsenal of weapons, hand selected to cause the most damage she could in the shortest time. She ripped duct tape to make her necessary accoutrements. Then, she rolled up a ball of the tape and shoved it in her pocket. That was for if she got shot.
Armed and ready to go, she sent a text to Reese. Then, she put her phone in the boat and pushed it off shore. She turned and slowly started to make her way in the dark; her path lit only by the moon. It took twenty minutes, but Shaw finally came up on a building structure with lights. She peered through the broken glass window and saw three armed men inside.
“I’m going to need you to do something,” the man who had kept Root prisoner said as he pulled off her blindfold. Root’s eyes tried to adjust to the dimly lit room.
“What’s that?” Root asked, as she looked around at her surroundings. She was right in that it was a very old room that seemed overtaken by decay. She wasn’t surprised that her kidnapper was clean shaven and conservative looking. No tell-tale tattoos that would identify if he was with a group.
He put a phone in front of Root’s face. On the screen, she could see Sameen making her way up the dimly lit path to the house. “Tell her to be careful of the entry floor. I wouldn’t want her to fall through it.”
Root watched the screen and he nodded for her to talk. Instead, Root warned Sameen of what she thought was happening. “SAMEEN! IT’S A TRAP!” Root shouted into the phone.
Instead of being surprised, the man smiled. “By the way, you can call me Jeff,” he introduced himself, putting his phone away.
Root was now rubbing the zip ties against one another very slowly, to weaken them. “Got a last name, Jeff? Something for the headstone?”
“Oh, I do adore the undying faith you have in your bodyguard, Ms. Groves. But remember, we are expecting her,” he reminded Root.
“People think they’re expecting Shaw, but truly, she’s beyond anyone’s expectations,” Root said.
“This is what is going to make my job so easy,” the man said knowingly.
Root took a deep breath and tried to silence herself. She knew what he meant. He was going to do something to Shaw to make her talk. And she knew in her heart, he was right. Of course, he’d have to capture Shaw first.
What Root didn’t know was that Shaw wasn’t going to put up much of a fight. Oh, she shot her way in and disabled the first dozen guys that attempted to come her way. She even stuck two of the beefier guards with hypodermic needles that were strapped to her back with duct tape.
And even though it seemed she ran out of ammo, Shaw was just getting started because she had not run out of ideas.
“She…she…hurt twelve people out there,” one of the few uninjured men said as they dragged Sameen inside.
“Ms. Shaw!” Jeff said, having come into the hallway to meet her. “It is a pleasure.”
“Hold that thought,” Shaw smiled back at him.
“That was quite an entrance,” he mocked. “Jeff Blackwell,” he introduced himself. “Can I get you a water?”
“You can get me Root, so I can strike a blow to one or both of your guards, rendering them incapable of talking for months,” Shaw threatened and both men pulled back as they held onto her.
Her host laughed and told the men they could let go of her. “You aren’t here by accident, Ms. Shaw,” he told Sameen who was too busy looking around for where to lay out the bodies. “But I do appreciate the show you put on to get in. You see, you’re our guest of honor. You, Ms. Shaw, are exactly what we need to get the information out of Ms. Groves.”
Sameen knew enough about tactics to understand exactly what he meant. “Oh, so you’re going to torture me in hopes of getting information out of Root,” she said to him, leaning in just a little. “Well, good luck with that. I don’t know what kind of info you want her to give up, but I’m pretty sure kicking my ass won’t do it.”
“Don’t be so modest, Ms. Shaw,” Jeff said to her. “I saw her body flinch when I mentioned mistreating you,” he shared.
“Here’s something I bet you don’t know,” Shaw said in almost a sing song voice. “By contract, I’m only supposed to shoot kneecaps. It’s true; most of your men out there have permanent damage to their meniscus and articular cartilage,” the former doctor outlined. “Makes it easy to pick them out of lineups that way,” she sneered.
“That’s what you wanted me to know?” Jeff laughed because of course he didn’t care.
“No,” Shaw smiled. “What I want you to know is that when I come for you, I’m going to break that rule and shoot you somewhere else.”
Her voice was so calm and clear, that the threat actually unnerved the man a bit. Still, she was a five foot three woman who was unarmed and about to be the pawn in his game.
But Shaw saw him flinch.
“Let’s get started, shall we?” suggested the man that had no idea the game started when Shaw touched down on the shore.
The two men pushed Sameen to follow and they walked through heavy, concrete debris to follow their leader. When they reached a room with only a light bulb hanging from above and over a chair, Shaw knew this is where they meant to bring her.
“Put Ms. Shaw in the chair and zip tie her hands,” Jeff instructed and the men did.
Seconds later, a woman walked alongside Root as she stumbled into the room. Shaw knew she wasn’t supposed to react at seeing Root, but she scanned her to see if they had hurt her. Root’s teaching was more street oriented, and she couldn’t help but call out to Shaw.
They sat Root down in a chair several feet across from Sameen. “I knew you would come for me,” Root smiled.
“Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Shaw said back. “Looks like I was invited, too. This is not going to be reflected in my Christmas bonus, is it?”
Root all but cooed at hearing her lover’s voice as she disregarded the severity of their situation. That was so Shaw.
The only problem for Root and Shaw right now, was that someone else had the upper hand. “Did you check her for homing devices?” he asked and Shaw’s heart sped up a little.
“I’ll do it,” the burly man said, but Jeff told him no and waved to the woman who had walked in with Root. “This is Claire Mahoney. Now, Claire was selected to join us because she’s excellent at solving puzzles, aren’t you?” he said as she walked over. “Now, Claire, do you think you can figure out where they may have hidden a device on Ms. Shaw?”
The man selected Claire for two reasons; he thought because she was young, Shaw would not harm her. And two, he was counting on another woman touching her to bother Root.
He was half right.
“I won’t stop looking until I find it,” Claire promised and ripped open Sameen’s shirt, sending buttons flying. Claire pulled the shirt down Sameen’s shoulders as she traced her hands up and down Shaw’s upper arms slowly.
Sameen knew exactly what they were doing and stared hard at Root to look at her and not the woman. She could tell by Root’s breathing that she was getting annoyed. She needed Root to focus because the bad stuff had not yet begun.
Claire was enjoying her search too much as she stood behind Shaw and pushed her hands down her black t-shirt and bra and cupped her breasts. Shaw could see Root’s eyes stray and come back, but she was watching this woman fondle Shaw.
“I hope that was as good for you as is it was for me,” Claire whispered into Shaw’s ear for effect.
“Never mind,” Jeff said because this wasn’t getting him anywhere. “Let’s see if I look under her skin,” he said and opened a small box that contained a set of scalpels.
“Root,” Shaw said and stared at her. Once Sameen had her attention, she slowly closed her eyes, indicating to Root that she shouldn’t look. Root nodded a little because she understood.
“Let’s look here,” Jeff said as he left a three inch cut along her bicep on her right arm. “Or here,” he said and cut along her forearm. “Now, as a medically trained person, you know what will happen if I cut deeper, but I bet Ms. Groves doesn’t know that if I do, I can sever nerves that will leave your arm useless,” he threatened.
Root couldn’t keep her eyes closed any longer and opened them to see the red blood oozing out of two long streaks in Sameen’s right arm. She knew she was supposed to know what Sameen was up to, but she couldn’t seem to figure it out. Shaw would never be captured unless she wanted to be. But what was the plan? Root’s breathing labored as Sameen tried desperately not to show the amount of pain she was in. She sat there tightlipped.
“You are in remarkable shape, Ms. Shaw,” Jeff said as he went around the back of her. He began naming muscles groups as he slid the sharp knife over them, leaving a trail of blood each time.
Root couldn’t take it anymore. “Sameen?” she called across to her.
“Do we have disability coverage?” Shaw asked back, but Root could hear the pain in her voice. “Because even though I still have two legs and an arm left, I’m going to make a sucky bodyguard for a while.”
Shaw’s nonchalance annoyed her captor as much as it confused her girlfriend. There was a message in there and Root’s brain scrambled to figure out what it was.
The next cut was less kind as he pushed the scalpel down deeper into her left shoulder.
“Okay, okay,” Root yelled because she understood now.
She had to get Jeff away from Sameen while she still had use of her limbs.
“Ready to talk, Ms. Groves?” Jeff said, sorry to see the torture end.
Root knew if Shaw was here alone, their friends were not far behind. But they were still in danger and there was plenty of time for this man to do serious damage to Shaw.
“Yes, just don’t hurt her anymore,” Root said, hoping she was half as good as Shaw was at this.
When it was over, Root was going to prove to be Sameen’s equal.
Chapter 3: Teamwork
A/N: thanks to everyone who has returned! You guys are great.
I'll respond to your great posts soon, but know I appreciate each and everyone of them.
Root’s mind raced to figure out what Sameen was trying to tell her. She had ‘three limbs left’, she said. But Shaw’s hands were tied behind her back, behind the chair, and she was injured. Root called out to Jeffrey to make him come to her.
“Ready to talk, Ms. Groves?” he asked again. “Or should I carve your girlfriend up some more?”
“Don’t hurt her,” she repeated and tried to keep her mind on what to say, but kept looking at the blood stained shirt behind him. “Oh, God,” she let out when she saw Sameen.
“I actually answer to a higher power, Ms. Groves, and Mr. Greer is waiting for me to tell him where the machine is,” Blackwell let out because he was caught between enjoying the pain he was inflicting and knowing what his boss would do if he didn’t call soon.
“You have to let Sameen go, first,” Root said, thinking she could bargain.
Root was wrong and as soon as she said it, Sameen knew what would happen.
Blackwell hauled off and hit her across her face, sending a surprised Root backwards in the chair. “There is no bargaining, Ms. Groves. Tell me where the machine is or the next cut on Ms. Shaw will be an artery!”
It wasn’t just the violent slap that convinced Shaw this man enjoyed his job; it was something in his tone. It was cold and desperate. Sameen surmised, as bad as this guy was, his boss was much worse. She bit down on her cheek so she wouldn’t react to that slap. If she did, he’d know he had them exactly where he wanted them. Sameen knew he’d push and pull until one of them cracked.
“Some girlfriend you got there. She didn’t even flinch,” Blackwell said and Claire asked if she should check Sameen out again. “No, I think Ms. Groves is getting ready to talk because the longer she waits, the more blood is oozing out of her bodyguard.”
“You got some balls,” Shaw said, hoping Root would see she was in the perfect position to hit him.
The man screamed in pain and fell to the floor, holding his injured cargo. While Root’s mind had been busy trying to think of what to do, her foot was already certain. As soon as Sameen said that, Root pushed her leg up, as fast and as hard as she could – right between the threatening man’s legs.
Root looked up to see the slightest smile and arched eyebrow on Shaw. In spite of the extreme circumstances, Root’s heart leapt to think she had impressed Sameen.
Root hadn’t just incapacitated Blackwell; she also gave Shaw a window of opportunity. Sameen’s military training in escape maneuvers took over. She stood up, bringing the chair with her. As the guards went to press her back down, she brought the chair down on their feet. They pulled her backwards, which she was ready for. She flipped over and up, using the chair as her weapon to hit them. Root sat there watching this ballet of carefully coordinated moves that eventually freed Sameen from the zip ties. Now, she stood there armed with the legs that she broke off from the chair. A swift crack to the oversized man’s shins brought them down, hitting their heads in the fall.
“GET HER!” Blackwell yelled to Claire as he pulled himself up gingerly.
“Oh, no! You’re mine, bitch,” Root said, standing up and grabbing the younger woman. With no weapon, Root did what she did best; she used her head. “This is for putting your hands on her,” Root said, grabbing the shorter woman and banging her head against Claire’s hard and knocking her out; her gun sliding across the floor.
“Nice,” Shaw said to Root, and Root smiled like she’d just been handed the first place medal.
“Don’t move,” Blackwell said, holding a Glock on Root from behind her. “You tell me where it is, or I put a bullet through Ms. Shaw’s head.” The gun was aimed at Shaw as he held onto Root’s shirt from behind.
“There’s that disarming appeal,” Shaw said as she looked around for options. She didn’t mean anything by it, but Root heard ‘disarm’ and thought it was her signal to do so. She grabbed the man’s arm and cracked it over her leg.
Sameen was surprised at how swiftly Root had moved and literally disarmed him.
Root took his gun and ran to Sameen. Shaw’s blouse was blood soaked from the swift movements. “Sameen!” Root said.
“Rip this into pieces,” Shaw said, and handed Root the ball of duct tape. Root did and Sameen started to apply the pieces to her cuts. Root didn’t want to ask what this would feel like when it was time to remove it. “There, all better,” Shaw said, when Root applied the piece to the deepest cut. It hardly covered the wound.
“This isn’t over,” Blackwell yelled from the floor. “You won’t get off this island alive.”
“I am going to talk to him,” Shaw said, shoving his gun in the back of her pants. Her tone was one that Root had never heard her use. It would have been familiar if Root had been with Shaw in Afghanistan or Syria, when she was interrogating people.
Blackwell laughed at the audaciousness of the two women; a tech genius and her bodyguard. “This is so much bigger than you,” he said as Sameen pulled him up and pushed him in the chair. “Oh, now you’re going to protect her?” he asked, mockingly. He reached under the chair and pulled out a planted gun. “You’re just not as good as you think you are, Ms. Shaw.” He aimed the gun at Shaw and she didn’t move.
John had given Sameen the allotted time. Now, Fusco and the FBI were on their way there. Fusco stalled them as long as he could to allow his friend an opportunity to do what she did best – be a badass. Like Reese, he too, had a condition. Shaw had answered with a dismissive, ‘yeah, yeah,’ when he made her promise. She didn’t know it, but Fusco was going to read her the riot act when he got her back.
They began their moves to the island.
Inside the decrepit building, Shaw wasn’t done.
She kept looking at Blackwell, listening to him. There was something about him that simply unnerved her, and that was besides the sadistic cutting and hitting Root. He was sent to extract information from Root and everything he did fit the MO of someone commissioned to do it.
But there was something else.
Claire Mahoney was coming to and grabbed for her gun, but Root stepped on her arm. “Tsk, tsk,” she said and picked the woman up and dropped her back down so her head hit the hard floor. “I really don’t like anyone touching her,” she said right before she dropped her.
“Don’t!” he barked at Root when she tried to get Claire’s gun.
A question pushed at Sameen about this man, until it formed into words. “You were sent…,” and even Shaw had a hard time saying the rest.”
“To get info and then, kill her,” Blackwell confirmed, and suddenly there was a beam of red light on Root’s head. “Now, step aside Ms. Shaw while we get what we came for.”
Sameen’s calculations told her that their backup was arriving and would take out the sniper outside. When the red light disappeared, she knew she was right.
“What?” Blackwell said and pressed his ear comm device.
“Let’s go, Root,” Shaw said and it would have appeared they were walking out with an armed man holding a gun on them.
But that was part of Shaw’s plan.
Shaw had already decided that even though they didn’t know what or who they were dealing with, this guy had to go. He had the personality type that would eventually, somewhere down the road, make him want to try to kill Root.
“Tell me or I will put a bullet through her!” he yelled as chaos erupted outside. “Or I’ll just put it through her anyway.”
“I was kind of hoping you’d say that,” Shaw said and waited for him to raise his gun on Root so that it would be a justified shooting.
Shaw stepped in front of Root, grabbed the Glock behind her back and shot. Blackwell fell backwards, the surprise expression at being out drawn still on his face; a bullet hole right between his eyes. “Told you I would break the rule,” she whispered to the dead man.
Then, she walked over to Claire and pulled her up. “Give your boss, Greer, a message; before he kills you, I mean,” Shaw smiled in the woman’s dazed face. “Tell him – I’ll be waiting for him if he’s stupid enough to come again.”
Fusco and Reese rushed into the hallway that was littered with a dozen men yelling in pain or passed out from their wounds. “Geez, she leaves a mess,” Fusco said of his friend’s talent.
“Kneecaps,” Reese noted of most of the wounds. “Nice.” He was pleased that Shaw didn’t go Annie Oakley on them because of Root.
The FBI task followed, wondering how many people were involved in this gun fight.
“That’s a twelve to one ratio,” Joss said in a low voice, amazed at that statistic.
Fusco and Reese walked down a hallway in the dark, just as the door to the room where Root and Shaw were, flew open.
“For guardian angels, you’re a little late to the party,” Shaw quipped and smiled at her friends. She winked at both of them; her gratitude for letting her do this her way.
“Geez, Shaw, you look like hell,” Fusco said of his duct taped friend.
“Are you okay, Root?” Reese asked and could see the red mark on her face.
“Yes, we’re fine,” Root assured him.
“What about that guy?” Fusco said, looking past them at the man whose head hung back over the chair.
“Him, not so much. The girl will give you information though,” Shaw said, tossing Claire towards an FBI agent.
“You’re going to a doctor,” Fusco barked thinking he should have made that one of his conditions.
“You two did all of this?” Reese asked of the wounded guards and the knocked out woman. Oh, yeah – and the dead guy.
“We make a good team,” Shaw said, paying Root the highest compliment.
“We do,” Shaw smiled and took Root’s hand.
“Impressive,” Reese said of the impromptu operation.
The FBI gathered the men and told Shaw and Root they would need to interview them.
“You know a good place to interview?” Fusco had to butt in. “The hospital. She needs to go,” he insisted.
“I can do this myself,” she said to him, insulted that he would suggest she needed medical help.
“Yeah, well Doctor Duct Tape, I think you might actually need a stitch or two,” he said, helping her outside.
“I can do my own,” Shaw reminded him because he’d seen her handiwork.
He looked at Root because anyone in their right mind knew Shaw needed to go. “Please, Cocoa Puffs?” he said.
“I think he has a point,” was all Root had to say and Shaw begrudgingly agreed.
Reese held onto Root as they walked outside to the police boat.
Two hours later, Shaw was stitched up and resting in a hospital bed. “Get me out of here,” she barked to Root who pointed out that her blood stained clothes weren’t wearable. “I’ve sent for some new clothes.”
The FBI interviewed the two women who were able to suggest that Blackwell was part of a group looking for a large computer and picked Root because of her technology background.
“That was a pretty clean shot, Ms. Shaw,” the FBI agent said of Blackwell’s wound. If you had measured it, it would have proven to be dead center.
“I’m a good shot,” Shaw said, anxious to get out of the hospital gown.
“And he threatened Ms. Groves and you felt it was necessary to take action?” the agent asked because the typical shot would have been in the heart area.
“He made viable threats and pointed his gun at her. I felt she was in imminent danger,” Shaw said slowly, giving the right answer.
“Okay, then,” the agent said and left the two women alone.
Of all the parts of her body that hurt, the one without any lidocaine was killing her right now. “Sonova,” Shaw grimaced as she moved in the bed.
“What hurts, sweetie?” Root asked worried.
“Oh yeah,” Shaw said, the issue dawning on her slowly. But the sleeping aid that Fusco had personally suggested because he warned the staff the patient could be most uncooperative was taking hold. “Remind me to shoot you in the ass later.”
Root frowned because she had no idea what Shaw was talking about. She slowly pulled the covers up on Shaw and stroked her face. “Thank you for saving me,” she whispered as she kissed Sameen’s lips.
“Likewise,” Shaw said from her medically induced sleep.
Reese and Fusco offered to stay with Sameen, but Root said she needed to be there. The two men took their posts outside the door.
“You know she’s going to be a maniac when she wakes up, right?” Fusco said to his friend.
“Yeah,” Reese said because he knew he was partly to blame.
Chapter 4: Physician, Heal Thyself
As Sameen slept peacefully, Root sat by her side, because she wanted to be there as soon as the patient woke up. Shaw’s friends - weren’t so sure.
“I probably… should… you know,” Fusco said, pointing to the exit.
“Yeah, I should… too,” John said, because neither of them wanted to be there when the woman awoke.
Joss had joined them, stopping by with coffee and was sitting with the two men. “You two are…,” she looked them up and down. “Afraid, aren’t you?”
“What?” the two men said and then talked in unison as they declared that was a preposterous idea without any merit whatsoever.
“Aha,” Joss said, not believing a word. She was laughing at her partner and boyfriend when she spotted real trouble down the hallway. “Oh-oh,” Joss said when she saw the woman arguing with the security guard.
“SHE NEEDS HER CLOTHES!” Janine shouted because she was on a mission.
“Let me see if I can …,” Joss started. “Oh, this is a whole ‘nother level of crazy here.” She walked out and put her hand on Janine’s arm and explained to the guard that this was Ms. Shaw’s personal assistant and she was bringing her clothes.
“That’s what I told him,” Janine said, thanking Joss.
“Yeah,” Joss said and wanted to point out that poking the guard in the chest and yelling was not the best way to get in. Janine raced to sit near Fusco and Reese and asked how Root and Shaw were.
“Root’s okay,” Reese reported.
“Shaw will be better…later,” Fusco said.
“Tell me what’s wrong with Shaw. Don’t hold back – I can take it,” Janine promised. Fusco shrugged his shoulders and gave her the gory details of Shaw’s incisions.
The woman promptly passed out.
“What?” Fusco asked, looking at Joss, as Reese helped him pull the woman back in the chair. “She said she could take it!”
“I’m okay,” the woman said, coming to.
“She’s not okay,” Joss admonished her partner.
Inside the hospital room, Root slept peacefully next to her unconscious girlfriend.
Shaw was dreaming and still on vacation in St. Lucia. The two were lying on the beach, the sun shining brightly and the cool breeze blowing across their bodies. Shaw was keeping a watchful eye on her lover’s fair skin, worried she would get sunburned. Root was keeping a careful eye on Shaw because she simply delighted in looking at her. Suddenly, the shark that Shaw had seen underwater appeared in the water in front of them. He lunged up on the beach, grabbed Root by her feet and dragged her back into the ocean. Shaw jumped up in her dream and grabbed Root under her arms; screaming at the large fish to let go. “You weren’t watching her,” the dream shark managed to say even though he was holding Root’s feet in his mouth. “I was right next to her!” Shaw fought with the shark because this woman would fight with anyone. “Oh, good; no rings,” he noticed as he continued to pull Root. “Makes it easier to digest.”
“You sonova bitch,” Shaw yelled at the imaginary talking shark and pulled Root with all her might to gain her release. “She’s mine!” Shaw yelled at him.
In reality, Shaw had just pulled her blanket all the way up to her neck. But she did shout out that warning and Root heard her. Root didn’t know what Shaw was dreaming about, but she liked the sound of Shaw’s declaration. The sun outside the window was dimmer than the smile on her face.
“I’m here, Sweetie,” Root said, putting her hand on Shaw’s head to check her temperature. She was fine.
But Sameen was still dreaming.
“Oh, hey,” the animated shark called back to Shaw as she pulled an unconscious Root to safety. “She’s pregnant.”
“What? What the hell does that mean?” Shaw yelled at the talking fish, but he disappeared back into the waters.
The dream content was enough to make Shaw jump out of her slumber and sit straight up in bed. She sat motionless, getting her bearings and wondering where the hell that shark was.
“Sameen, it’s okay,” Root’s soothing voice assured her.
“Where? What the hell?” Shaw said, her heart still caught in the dream world while her brain struggled to remember reality. The sharp pain of her several cuts were doing a hell of a job giving her clues. Shaw pushed her legs over the side of the bed. “Are you okay?” she asked, grabbing Root. “Let me see your ankles,” she insisted and made Root pull her pants up to show them to her. “Are you hurt?” she asked more slowly now.
“No, I’m fine, really,” Root said and gently tried to help Sameen sit back in bed. She could tell the woman had gotten up faster than her blood pressure could accommodate and she was dizzy.
Sameen lay back and felt what she was wearing. “What… the… hell… is… this?” she asked and pulled out the gown and looked down it. “Where are my clothes?” she yelled.
“Do you remember? We had to come here to have your wounds taken care of,” Root reminded her.
“No, someone made me come here. FUSCO!” she bellowed.
“I asked you to come, Sweetie. I was worried,” Root said and that calmed Shaw a little. “You were wonderful,” she said, kissing Sameen’s pouting lips. “Truly.”
“Yeah?” Shaw asked, because that kiss was the best medicine she had since she got there. “So were you,” Shaw said, pulling Root in to kiss her again.
“Oh, there’s the Princess Battleaxe now,” Fusco said when the yelling commenced. “You might want to give her those…,” he said, gently pushing Janine towards the door – kind of like the Romans pushed Christians into the lions’ den.
Janine knew if she stepped inside, Shaw would demand her clothes and leave. So, instead the assistant went to the nurses’ station and commanded that a doctor come and look at Shaw. She was told the doctor would be there during her rounds, but that wasn’t good enough and Janine insisted an exception should be made.
To shut the woman up, one was made.
The doctor walked down the hallway with Janine as she instructed her on how to handle the patient. “She’s a doctor, too, so don’t dumb anything down for her. Also, tell her what a great job she did with the duct tape….”
“The what?” asked the doctor who didn’t think that material was a suitable bandage for wounds.
“Well, it’s not like she had a suture kit with her when she got cut,” the woman barked. “Okay, go…,” she said when they got to Shaw’s room.
“Good morning, Ms. Shaw,” the doctor said, accessing her chart on her laptop. “Looks like you were in quite a brawl. How are you feeling?”
“Great, now let me go,” Shaw said.
“No fever, slept well,” the doctor read the nurses’ notes.
“How the hell do you know how I slept? I did not sleep well at all. There was a freaking shark…,” and Sameen stopped because she heard what she was saying. “Slept like a baby,” she changed her answer.
The doctor dismissed it, but Root didn’t.
“Let me see,” the doctor said and proceeded to check each of wounds under the gauze. “Dr. James did a nice job,” she said of the stitches. “I don’t think they’ll be any scaring.”
“What? Are you kidding?” Shaw asked, disappointed as she looked over her shoulder at the worst gash. “What will I tell our kids?” she asked without realizing it.
“Excuse me?” the doctor asked, confused by the patient’s dissatisfaction.
“I mean…,” Shaw said, trying to come up with something, “….did anyone check on her?” Shaw barked because she felt Root was left out. “Did they check on you?”
“Yes, they did, Sweetie,” Root said and truly, other than a sensitive cheek she was okay. After Shaw’s remark, the only thing Root could feel was joy.
“You did sustain a blow to the face,” the doctor said and looked more closely at Root. “I hope they caught him,” she sympathized.
“I shot him,” Shaw said, her voice cold.
“Oh,” the doctor responded and smiled nervously. “You’re… good to go.”
Janine appeared in the doorway and only came in when Root nodded. The doctor pushed past her to get out.
“I brought your clothes,” she said, her voice cracking when she saw how bandaged up Sameen was.
“Thank you. You always know exactly what I need,” Shaw complimented her. She held her hand out for the clothes, but the woman didn’t move. In fact, the only thing moving on Janine was her quivering lower lip.
“Are you…,” she choked back. “Is she..?” she turned to Root.
“Am I what?” Shaw asked Root.
“Yes, she’s been hurt, but she’s okay. No permanent damage,” Root explained.
“Will she be…,” and Janine meant will Shaw be Shaw, but couldn’t get it out.
“Yes, Janine, she most certainly will,” Root comforted her.
“You two know I’m right here, right?” Shaw asked as she watched the two women talking.
Much relieved now, Janine wiped a tear away and laughed. “Of course,” she said and handed Shaw the bag of clothes.
“Thanks,” Shaw said, not understand anything that was going on.
“I’m glad you’re okay,” Janine said and smiled as she left.
“What is going on with her?” Shaw asked, pulling out her clothes.
“She adores you,” Root said, gently helping Sameen undress and then put on her clothes.
“I don’t want her to,” Sameen said, grimacing when she had to move her arms.
“Oh, Sweetie,” Root said, kissing Sameen on her head, “…you don’t have a choice.”
Sitting up now, and fully dressed, Shaw’s memory was coming back intact. She pulled Root to look at her. “Are you okay?” she asked.
Root touched her face. “It doesn’t even hurt. I’m fine,” she assured her truthfully.
But Shaw already gave Root credit for being able to withstand the physical roughness. She could see that she was okay. “I meant – seeing me shoot…,” Shaw said, and had trouble looking Root in the eye for fear she had distressed her.
Root knew exactly what she meant. She cupped Shaw’s face to look at her. “You saved me; we both know that,” Root whispered because there was something maniacal about Jeffrey Blackwell.
Both women knew; if he didn’t kill Root last night; he would try another time.
“You saved me, too,” Shaw said and her statement wasn’t only about last night.
Joss made Fusco and Reese face their fears and go in to see their friend. Shaw was in a much better mood now that she was dressed and ready to leave.
“I’m hungry,” she announced and both men felt relieved that her mind was preoccupied.
“Oh, yeah, breakfast,” Fusco said.
“Yeah, let’s go,” Reese said, his voice tinged with enthusiasm. It was a dead giveaway.
“You know I’m not done with you,” Shaw said to Reese, staring up into those baby blues. “It still hurts!” she updated him. “And you…,” she said, poking Fusco in the arm.
She wasn’t sure what she was annoyed at him for, but she’d think of something.
Chapter 5: Getting Under Shaw's Skin
Root called Isabelle to assure her they were okay and would be back soon for breakfast. Banquet halls prepared smaller feasts than the chef had ready for her favorite couple and their friends. The group arrived and sat down to an extensive spread of every imaginable food delight.
“When that guy threatened to make my life a living hell,” Shaw shared of Blackwell’s threat; her mouth full of food, “… I wanted to tell him my sister is a vegan; can’t get much worse than that.”
Everyone laughed at Shaw’s joke, but Root watched her and wondered what was really going on under the dismissive humor. It was a scary experience for both of them, but Shaw would never say that.
Everyone felt the same way about Shaw when she was eating – she was simply less dangerous. But breakfast didn’t last forever and when she was done, she turned to her friends.
“So, Root,” Shaw said slowly, looking over at Reese first. “Reese here introduced me to the very latest in BEAR technology last night. He said you invented it.”
“Really? What was it?” Root asked, thinking it was a piece of technology that helped her gain access to the remote building.
“The individual monitoring device,” Reese said in a low voice.
“Oh, yes, well, we haven’t used that yet; have we, John?” Root asked.
“Really?” Shaw said, staring hard at her coworker.
“We… uhm… didn’t have a need before last night,” Reese explained.
“You used it last night?” Root asked.
“Reese insisted. Isn’t that right?” Shaw smiled, but didn’t mean it
“Because she was going in there alone, I bet,” Fusco surmised, trying to help Reese out.
“Yes,” the man of many words confirmed.
Root could kind of understand why Reese did that. Shaw was going ahead by herself, without backup, into an unknown territory. It was exactly the purpose she had invented it for.
“It’s a tracking device that we insert under someone’s skin by injecting it with a device,” Root explained to Fusco and Joss. “Why didn’t you tell me? We could have asked them to remove it from your arm last night,” Root asked Sameen.
“My arm? Oh, no, it’s not in my arm,” Shaw said, her lips pushed together now as she looked at John.
Now, Fusco and Joss were curious as to where this device was.
“Because of the shortage of time, I decided that the injection site would be noticeable on her arms,” John said in his gravelly tone, still confident in his decision.
“So, where exactly did you shoot her?” Joss asked, as she and Fusco were looking at Shaw to figure out where else it could be.
“We needed a… denser area,” Reese explained, hoping that would do it.
“You shot that thing into her head?” Fusco asked.
“Oh,” Root said and both she and Joss looked at Shaw’s derriere. “Does it hurt?” Root asked.
“YES! Of course it does. He shot me with a gun there,” Shaw complained.
“Technically, it’s a pulsation weapon,” Reese said, uncomfortable about the topic now.
“Pulsation my ass,” Shaw quipped and regretted it as soon as she said it.
“Technically, that’s right,” Fusco said and drew the attention back to him.
“And you,” Shaw said, and John wiped his mouth and signaled to Joss that they should leave. “I forget why I’m annoyed at you, but it will come to me.”
“Yeah, yeah. Look, I’m just glad you’re okay. Seriously, they were a pretty bad bunch. I owe you a lecture about going in there by yourself. So, the way I see it, if you forgive Quick Draw McGraw over there, I’ll forgo that long talk I promised you,” Fusco thought through.
Shaw felt like she was missing out on getting even with these two, but Fusco was right. Things could have been a lot worse. “Fine,” she agreed.
“Okay, good,” Fusco said, getting up when John and Joss got up to leave. “You two get some rest, okay? You may not feel the effects of last night until today,” lectured the police friend.
“We have to go to work,” Shaw said.
“I think they can manage one day without you,” Fusco said.
“Root has to work on geek stuff for the machine,” Shaw explained and Root nodded her head that Shaw was right.
“And you?” Fusco asked, hoping Shaw would rest for a while.
“I… have to give… someone a list,” Shaw said, without explaining. She didn’t feel it was necessary to tell Fusco that she was talking about his girlfriend.
The power couple left for work; both with a mission in mind.
Root was meeting with the only other person who knew as much about the machine; Azar. The woman had written a cloaking program that allowed her access to see what was going on while the group controlled the machine. Azar needed Root’s expertise to push that program to take back control without leaving an IP address or other electronic signals. She was waiting for Root downstairs because she wanted to see her daughter, too.
“Oh, Sameen,” her mother said, rushing to her daughter when she saw the white bandages on her arms.
“It’s okay,” Shaw refuted, and stood rigidly when her mother hugged her. Shaw was certain affectionate hugs after a mission was against protocol everywhere on the planet.
“And you?” Azar asked, looking at Root. “What an awful ordeal you two have been through.”
If public displays of affection unnerved Shaw, acknowledging how awful something had been was a definite no-no.
“You were in the CIA, right?” Shaw asked, and didn’t mean to sound as curt as she did, but was already annoyed the surgeon had deprived her of scars.
Azar looked quizzically at Root. “She’ll be okay,” she assured Shaw’s mother.
The trio walked into the elevator and went upstairs. Root kissed Sameen goodbye when they reached her floor as she begged Shaw not to overdo things. Shaw promised, even though she had a different definition of overdoing.
“You, too,” Shaw reminded Root. “Don’t let her hug you to death.”
Root and Azar went to her office to start analyzing what happened. The older woman had spent almost all night trying to find information on the clandestine group that had kidnapped Root. She had very little to go on. Even their names didn’t produce any solid leads on a group.
“The program you downloaded allowed them to tether onto the machine for a time. But it wasn’t stable and was susceptible to increased activity,” Azar reported.
Root looked at the well-dressed woman; every hair in place, reflecting her calm demeanor as she spoke.
“They were smart, whoever they are, and they had almost everything planned out,” Azar theorized.
“Except Sameen,” Root smiled.
Oddly enough, it was Martine and not Janine who greeted Sameen when she arrived. If anyone would understand Shaw’s dissatisfaction over the good job the doctor did on her injuries, it was Martine.
“Are you okay?” Martine asked and offered Shaw a coffee.
“Yeah,” Shaw said and there were no further questions. Just the way Shaw liked it.
“Those are some nasty cuts,” Martine said because she had seen Shaw’s arms before she went to the hospital.
“Yeah, and they think no scaring,” Shaw complained.
“Really?” Martine asked in disbelief and that’s what Shaw liked about her.
“Yeah,” Shaw said sadly.
“That’s too bad,” said the woman who, like Shaw, wore her battle scars proudly.
“Thanks,” Shaw said and shook Martine’s hand. In that gesture was Shaw’s appreciation for everything.
As soon as Martine left, Janine was there, asking Shaw if she needed anything. “A door would be nice,” Sameen commented because people kept poking their heads in to see how she was.
“I can get you an office,” Janine promised and Shaw told her that wouldn’t be necessary.
The assistant left and Shaw went back to her very important work. She was making a list of the things she remembered about her dream. The whole thing was still nagging at her.
“Hey,” Ayala said, coming into the cubicle.
Shaw’s head dropped to the desk because she really wanted to finish this list.
“I came in to see if you were okay,” Ayala said. “I wanted to go last night.”
“Well, I’m fine and I’m glad you didn’t. Someone needed to watch over Root’s nerdy counterpart,” Shaw reminded her sister. “Thanks for doing that.”
Shaw’s appreciation was exactly what Ayala had hoped for. And Sameen was beginning to understand that. “Hey,” she said to her sister as she was leaving, “I know you would have done a great job last night. Just given what we’re dealing with, it really was important that you stay with mommy.”
Ayala smiled and nodded her head. She didn’t even want to tease her sister about what she just called their mother.
Sameen got back to work. She added the last few words and looked over the list. “Okay, then,” she said, taking the note and walking down the hallway. As was her fashion, she approached Iris’ office and walked in, this time, slowing down to smile at Stella.
“Sameen!” Iris said, as if she had been waiting. In fact, she was anxiously waiting to talk with her favorite patient because she heard about the incident. But, each time she went to Shaw’s office, it was occupied. “I’m so pleased to see you,” the therapist said, getting up to greet Shaw.
“Thanks,” Shaw said and didn’t sit down.
“I heard about last night. Are you and Root okay?” Iris asked, her voice filled with concern.
“Yes, thanks. Root’s okay and seems none the worse for having been held captive,” Shaw reported.
“And you?” Iris asked, hoping Sameen would sit down.
“I’m good. Look, I have a list for you,” Shaw said and pulled the paper out of her back pants pocket. The action of moving her arm hurt and Iris could see it in the tiniest expression around her eyes.
“Can you stay?” Iris asked gingerly of her unpredictable client.
Shaw looked at the therapist, trying to convey that it was unnecessary, but she felt the polite thing to do was to sit for a minute. “Sure,” Sameen said and Iris smiled and sat down, too. She immediately grimaced and moved off the injured cheek.
“Are you okay?” Iris asked, aware that something was making Shaw feel pain.
“Reese shot me,” she said, confusing the therapist. “Okay, so …,” Sameen said, looking around. She did enjoy the calmness and quite of the room, but she truly had nothing to talk about.
“So, here’s the list,” Shaw finally said after giving Iris a minute of opportunity to talk.
“What is this?” Iris asked, accepting the paper.
“I need you to interpret those things,” Shaw explained.
“Shark, water, beach, ring,” Iris read from the list. “I’m not sure I understand.”
“I need you to write down what they mean,” Shaw explained. “I’ll pick it up later.”
“Are these from a dream?” the woman deduced correctly.
Shaw stared at her, wondering if she should answer that. “Let’s say they are.”
“Well, if they are, only you can say what they really mean,” Iris smiled apologetically.
“No, no,” Shaw said, thinking Iris was out of practice. “Don’t they give you a dream book or something,” she asked, looking at the bookshelf.
“Well, yes,” Iris said, because she could see Sameen looking for a book. “There are some common linkages between specific dream content variables and very broad outcomes in dream action, but usually, dreams are very individual.”
Undeterred, Shaw suggested; “Give it your best shot.”
That word prompted the therapist to suggest; “Sameen, could we talk about last night?”
“Damn!” Sameen murmured, “I should have never sat down!”
Shaw knew any minute; this woman would get under her skin faster than the tracking device had.
Chapter 6: Open to Interpretation
Sameen pushed her upper body forward and leaned on her legs, wishing she could just make an excuse to leave. Light blue eyes and an angelic smile stared back at her and she just couldn’t do it. Shaw smiled and nodded her head, like you do when you know you are about to give in.
“Okay, look, I get it,” Shaw said in case there was any doubt. There never was. “Last night was adrenaline charged, tense and life threatening. It’s the kind of stuff you guys love to get us to talk about because you think underneath is a plethora of emotions. But it’s not the case,” Shaw assured Iris and felt she did a good job of doing so.
“Tell me about it,” Iris said and made no attempt to hide that she was getting the pad and pen.
“Oh geez,” Shaw moaned wishing she had lied and said it was a routine walk in the park. Of course, that wasn’t true, but picking it apart was what made good soldiers crack. Maybe Iris didn’t know that. “You know why we don’t have therapists waiting for soldiers when they complete their missions?” Sameen asked, even though they asked each and every time she completed one if she wanted to talk to someone.
“So you thought of yourself as a soldier last night?” Iris asked because –Damn! – the woman was good.
Shaw hated how Iris picked out a word and hung onto it. Now, she had to answer that question. “Doc, you don’t ever forget the training you get when you’re in the military or the CIA. Although, apparently my mother has because she was using a considerable amount of hugs this morning,” the patient segued.
“I’m sure she was worried,” Iris said in a rare slip of pure projection.
“Yeah,” Shaw agreed, seeing her point. “Anyway, it was a dangerous situation and these were some pretty bad people, Doc. The one who held Root hostage pulled a gun on her.”
“Oh dear,” Iris said, unable to imagine such a circumstance. “I want to speak to Root later. How do you think she is?”
“She’s okay, really. Root is always so in the moment that she just goes with things and last night – she really seemed to know what to do. She bitchslapped the woman who put her hands…,” Shaw was explaining when she gestured toward her own breasts. She saw the expression on Iris’ face. “Well, (cough), Root will probably tell you about that,” she said, putting her hands down.
“Okay,” Iris said, hoping Root would. “And your wounds?”
Shaw looked at Iris, slightly surprised she was being so direct. “This?” she asked, putting her arms out. “It’s nothing. Not even going to scar, if you can believe that.”
“You sound disappointed,” Iris noted and was very curious about that.
“Of course I am,” Shaw immediately responded and then stopped. A big grin came over her face as if she wanted Iris to know she was wise to her ways. “Okay, before you write that in my file,” Shaw confessed without the therapist saying anything, “…I complained about what I would tell our kids because you know, I wanted to be able to say – ‘Look, here’s the one I got helping to save your mother’,” Shaw blurted out and only then remembered there was no way for Iris to know she had said that.
Iris already knew there was a boat load of information in that sentence, and she knew Shaw was worried right now that she would say something about it. So, instead she noted; “They do tell a story.”
“Yeah,” Shaw said, thinking she had dodged a bullet. “Anyway, I should tell you… seeing how you’re the company shrink, that I discharged my weapon last night,” Sameen coughed and pursed her lips.
“Where?” Iris asked, and of course meant location.
“In his head,” Shaw answered and wasn’t being funny. Just the thought of that man aiming a gun at Root, brought back the fierce anger. Iris didn’t flinch; she waited for Sameen to say more. “This nut job, who hit Root, threatened her and aimed a gun at her. I took him out.”
“Sounds to me like you felt her life was in danger and acted accordingly,” Iris concluded.
“Yes,” Shaw said and drew a deep breath and sat back further on the couch.
“Did that experience…,” Iris said slowly, gently leading Sameen, “… make you feel anything?”
“Angry,” Shaw answered immediately, but she saw Iris was sitting patiently, waiting for more. “Where is that list?” Sameen tried to derail them.
“What else did you feel…,” Iris repeated and annoyed the hell out of Shaw. This is sort of what she was expecting.
“I WAS SCARED, OKAY?” Sameen yelled. “Are you happy?” she asked as if Iris had forced her to write in a fill- in- the blank. “I was scared that she would get hurt. He hit her and I was still tied up and I couldn’t get to him and I had to play it smart or he’d see how much I was freaking out about Root being hurt. But Root was good, she got it, and hit him and that allowed me to get free. I just wanted to get her out of there and then he got a gun and held it on her. I swear, Doc, something in that man’s voice told me… in my gut… that he was going to kill Root rather than fail in his mission. He aimed it at her and I shot him,” Shaw shared. She was animated now, moving around on the couch because of her admission.
“Sounds to me like you acted bravely in spite of feeling scared,” Iris pointed out.
“I had to protect her, Doc. I mean, she’s Root. She’s everything,” Shaw said, her voice softer and steadier now.
Iris smiled at hearing Shaw say that, but she knew they were on touchy ground now. “Tell me about the dream,” she said.
“Oh, Doc, can’t you just figure that one out by yourself?” Shaw asked, exhausted from the emotional experience so far. A raised eyebrow on the therapist told Shaw she couldn’t do that.
“I can suggest that your feeling of Root in danger might have helped produce the dream,” Iris threw Shaw a bone.
Sameen drew a deep breath, knowing this women could wear her down if she wanted to. “Okay, so the shark is probably because we actually passed by some in the waters off the coast of Mustique when we were supposed to be on vacation, but took a scuba diving side trip to check out some activity on the island,” Shaw began and Iris wrote down a couple of things just to keep up. “The water and the beach were where we were staying and I have no idea what the ring is,” Shaw reported and sat back after helping Iris with this as much as she could.
“Do you remember anything else?” Iris asked.
“Yes, the shark talked; but please don’t write that down,” Shaw pleaded and of course, Iris didn’t.
“What did he say?” she asked.
Shaw swallowed hard and looked away. This was not going the way she planned. It only confirmed her suspicion that under that pastel wardrobe was a very stubborn woman. “He said I wasn’t watching Root, but in fact I was. And then he said – ‘Oh, good, no rings; easier to digest’, the whole time he was trying to drag her into the water by her ankles.”
Shaw noticed Iris was writing all of that down and she suspected it would be placed in her permanent file that she worried would now fill a cabinet.
“What do you think he meant?” Iris asked when she was done writing.
“About not watching or about the jewelry?” Shaw asked and made the therapist appreciate how smart she was.
“Both,” Iris explained.
“Well, I don’t know what he meant about not watching her, because I literally was looking at Root in my dream,” Shaw explained.
“Could he have meant another time?” Iris proffered.
“I’m always watching Root,” Shaw said back quickly, and her tone clearly indicated she was insulted that anyone would suggest otherwise.
“So, maybe he didn’t actually mean watching her. What else could it mean?” Dr. Campbell asked.
“He was taking her, even though I was watching,” Shaw noted.
"He was taking her... away from you," Iris pointed out. “What do you think the ring comment meant?” she asked slowly.
“I don’t know,” Shaw said and wanted to say – this is why I wanted to leave the list with you – but didn’t. She sighed and shook her head. “I don’t know; marriage?”
“So, who would try to take Root from you if you’re not married?” Iris put together.
“NO ONE!” Shaw said, her anger at the thought easily accessible.
“Sameen,” Iris said calmly in response because she would see how agitated the woman was, “… is it possible some part of you is afraid of losing Root? You went through this terrible ordeal where her life was in danger. You were right there with her, but this man could have mortally wounded her. I would think any of us would fear our loved one’s parting after such an experience.”
Shaw’s worse nightmares always sounded calmer out of this woman’s mouth. “So, the shark was that guy?”
“I was wondering if the shark wasn’t some aspect of your personality,” Iris suggested gently.
Shaw’s head snapped up and she frowned at the therapist. “So, I’m dragging Root and I spit her back?”
“Actually, you saved her. You pulled on her and wouldn’t let go,” Iris pointed out.
“So, I’m the shark, I’m the beach, I’m the rings,” Shaw said, throwing her hands up, not liking this.
“Sameen, the beach at the shoreline is a place of transition. It could be about your transitioning from your former self, represented by the fierceness of the shark, to a woman who is thinking about her commitments. Hence, the rings comment,” Iris said softly.
Shaw’s head pounded with this information, mostly because she was trying like hell not to take it in. But it was already there, having produced the dream. “He said… uhm… that Root was… uhm… pregnant.” Shaw cleared her throat that constricted with that statement.
“What does that mean to you?” Iris asked in such a warm tone, that Sameen was actually thinking of the answer.
“It’s a future thing. I… think… I mean, I know, I want to be with Root. I never really thought or cared about my future, you know? I mean, I was on some missions where I didn’t know if I’d make it back and honestly, I didn’t care. I went from assignment to assignment; the more dangerous, the better. But now, I want to wake up with Root and I want to kiss her goodnight and I want to fill all those hours in between with making her happy,” Shaw said sincerely.
Iris didn’t write a word; she didn’t move; she just sat there smiling at Shaw.
“Sounds sappy, right?” Shaw said, trying to dismiss her true feelings.
But she was with the one person besides Root who wouldn’t let her do that.
“Not at all,” Iris said, putting the pad and pen down on the table next to her. “Sameen, I know what you did last night took incredibly courage. But what you’re doing here requires bravery, too. To look at ourselves as emotional beings is not something that we’re comfortable with. We prefer to use our brains, to figure things out, like you wanted to do with your list. But we’re more complicated than that. We’re emotions and feelings and that never takes away from how intelligent or brave we are. In fact, it makes us more so,” Iris shared.
Shaw wasn’t sure she got all of that, but she liked the sound of it. She liked that there was someone she trusted who would try to convince her not to be afraid of her feelings. She could however, see what Iris meant about the symbolism of the shark, the beach, and water. “I think I see my future with Root. I can see her with kids and I want to be a part of that,” Shaw said.
“I think that dream is telling you; you’re feeling ready to act on that,” Iris affirmed.
“Yeah,” Shaw said, and couldn’t explain this warm feeling that radiated from her heart. “I think so, too.”
There was nothing about what just happened that should have made Shaw feel so comfortable, but she did. It always amazed her how torturous she could think a session was, and yet, she walked out feeling better.
“This… was good,” Shaw announced as she stood up. She always liked to give Iris feedback.
“I’ll see you next week, then,” Iris said, smiling pleasantly.
“What?” Shaw asked, because she felt they solved the dream mystery.
“You discharged your weapon,” Iris reminded her and only did so to give Shaw the comfort of being required to come back … if she wanted to.
“Oh, yeah, right,” Shaw acquiesced because she was going to need to talk to Iris about this more.
She thanked Iris and walked out, smiling at Stella who continued to find the woman’s manners appalling. Still, she had to admit, Dr. Campbell did seem very fond of the patient.
Shaw smiled all the way back to her desk, where she texted Root and asked her if she wanted to have lunch.
‘Your mother is still here; should I invite her?’ Root texted back.
‘Yes, but tell her no more hugging,’ Shaw answered.
‘How about if I do all the hugging?’ Root asked.
‘Okay, but…,’ and Shaw was going to stipulate not in public. But she changed her mind.
‘Yeah, that would be great.’
Chapter 7: The Butterfly Effect
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Root told Azar that she was meeting her daughter for lunch and invited her to come along. Azar politely declined. “Thank you, Samantha. I appreciate the chance to come up here today and see that both of you are okay. But, I think Sameen would prefer to have lunch alone with you. It has been my experience that after an event like last night, it is good to reconnect with loved ones and enjoy the moments together.”
Root looked at the woman who spoke those words with a smile, but whose tone was laced with sadness. If there had been any missions like this in her life, she didn’t always return to her loved ones. In fact, until recently, she couldn’t. Root asked her again, but she smiled and shook her head. “I cannot tell you what joy I feel when I see Sameen with you, Samantha,” Azar shared before she left. “I truly believe that you have managed to heal some of her deepest wounds; some that I caused myself.”
Root’s heart ached for this woman who lived with such regret. “I think it’s time that you forgive yourself, Azar. I believe Sameen has,” Root shared.
“Thank you,” the dark haired woman said, touching Root’s hand affectionately. “Please tell Sameen we’ll do dinner soon.”
As much as Root looked forward to having lunch with Shaw, she felt a tinge of regret when Azar left. She didn’t only admire the woman’s technical brilliance; she was beginning to see where Sameen got her inner strength from.
“Hey,” Shaw said as she approached the staff dining room where Root was waiting. “Where’s my mother?”
“She said she had some things to do, but thanked us for inviting her,” Root said, and stood there staring at the face she missed. “Did you have a good morning?”
“Yeah,” Shaw said, walking into the inner space. “I learned I’m a shark.”
She ordered… or more like wrestled the Parks Deli owner… for her sandwich and then joined Root at a table. “I don’t know how you eat salad every day,” Shaw said, the smallest piece of pastrami hanging from her mouth.
“I pretend it’s you,” Root smiled, her eyes bursting with laughter at her own joke. “How are your wounds?” getting more serious.
“Fine,” Shaw rolled her eyes.
“We have to put that medicine on tonight so they don’t get infected,” Root reminded her.
“Yeah,” Shaw said, taking a bite out of the sandwich that seemed bigger than her mouth.
“Is it because of the way you eat?” Root asked, going back to Shaw’s comment.
“What?” Shaw asked.
“That you think you’re a shark,” Root explained because the eating behaviors seemed a little similar.
“No!” said the woman who was defensive about her eating habits. “Why would you ask that?” she wondered as she ripped the next bite off her sandwich.
“Oh, I thought… never mind,” Root smiled.
“Dr. Campbell said I was the shark,” Shaw explained.
“Why?” Root asked, because she was getting the tail end of this story.
“I had a dream. A shark was trying to eat you,” Shaw explained.
“Oh, I see it entirely now,” Root smiled at the idea.
“No,” Sameen said, rolling her eyes. “Is everything sex with you?”
“You said there was a shark eating me and you were the shark, so naturally I thought…,” Root tried to explain.
“Stay with me here,” Shaw implored. “The shark was who I used to be. You know, Axis II Personality and all.”
“I never truly believed that diagnosis,” Root shared.
Sameen just stared at her, thinking that getting her lover to stay on track was like turning a moving ship in deep waters. A really big ship. “O…kay, the point is that I’m thinking about our future… together.”
Root liked the sound of that. “You are?” she asked, clasping her hands together; her heart fluttering with excitement.
“Yeah, because I want to be with you and all and we should decide what that looks like,” Shaw thought out. “And I can’t be naked when we do!”
“Wait, you can’t be naked when we talk about our future, or you can’t be naked IN our future,” Root teased.
“Root!” she warned because the woman had the uncanny knack of confusing her.
“Okay, okay. Well, I like the sound of this very much, Sameen Shaw,” Root cooed and reached over to push a loose strand of hair behind Shaw’s ear.
“We should decide about my apartment downtown, too,” Shaw said.
“Well, that’s your decision, but I hope you feel you won’t need it,” Root suggested, tucking another strand away from her mouth.
“Most people wouldn’t get that close to her when she’s eating,” Fusco said, interrupting their lunch and sitting down with Reese.
“She’s my shark,” Root overshared because she was stuck on the image.
“Ladies,” Reese said; his way of apologizing for barging in.
“No, please, sit down and disturb my lunch,” Shaw said on her next bite.
“Trust me, we wouldn’t be here unless it was really important,” Fusco said and Reese nodded. “That girl from last night just got released.”
“How does a would-be terrorist get out?” Shaw barked.
“A high priced lawyer,” Fusco answered, and took a small piece of the pastrami that fell onto Shaw’s wrapper and ate it.
Lions that have their food taken away look less fierce than Shaw did.
“Sorry, I’m hungry,” Fusco explained.
“They run out of donuts at the store?” Shaw asked.
“The point is that Claire Mahoney is back in her apartment and probably will be reporting back to whoever this Greer guy is. We’re not going to let that happen,” Reese explained.
“Yeah, me and Captain America are going to talk to her,” Fusco explained.
“I should go,” Shaw said, getting ready to leave.
“No, I think you and Root need to be here in case we need you,” Reese explained. “If she’s contacting anyone, we’ll need to know that.”
“Some shark,” Shaw huffed at not being invited.
Fusco looked at her, already giving that statement thought. “You’re more of a butterfly, Shaw.”
“WHAT?” Sameen inquired; her hands on either side of the table now.
“You’re more like a butterfly,” Fusco repeated and triggered one of her worst pet peeves of people repeating what they just said.
“Take-that-back,” Shaw warned him.
“No, it’s a good thing. When you started here, you were… different,” Fusco tried to elaborate and Reese just stared at him because he could see the disaster this was going to be.
“We should go,” Reese said, trying to save his police buddy.
“You know, all rough and stuff. And now… it’s like you went into a cocoon here,” Fusco kept going.
“Root! Make him stop,” Shaw said, even though she was staring straight ahead.
“Lionel, I don’t think Sameen appreciates the analogy,” Root pointed out.
“It’s metamorphosis, Shaw,” Fusco said and now she felt he was only adding insult to injury.
“I’m going to metamorphosis your ass if you don’t stop talking,” Shaw barked.
‘Don’t say it; don’t say it.’ Reese repeated in his head, praying Lionel would not remind Shaw.
“Speaking of that,” Lionel said, jumping from the frying pan into the fire. “How’s your….,” he asked, looking down. Fusco truly meant it out of his concern and wasn’t even trying to give Shaw a hard time.
But Shaw wasn’t in the mood for Fusco’s pearls of wisdom.
“Listen, Fusco, I have things on my mind. Big things and I don’t have time for your insights right now,” Shaw said.
“Geesh, okay,” the detective said, his feelings slightly singed by Shaw’s reception.
“We’ll call you when we get to Claire’s apartment,” John said, getting up and hoping to end this train wreck.
Root smiled her goodbye, but Shaw just stared hard at her friends. “A butterfly? Really?” she asked Root, her disgust palpable.
“We all change is what he meant, I think,” Root said, trying to find the silver lining.
“Change my ass,” Shaw said and that reminded her of what she was still carrying. “How do we get this thing out of me?”
Root tilted her head to the side, and scrunched up her face. That was not good. “We’re going to have to work on that,” Root said, not wanting to get Reese in trouble for literally jumping the gun.
“I am going to shoot both of them,” Shaw said to her lover.
“There you are!” Janine said as she pushed her phone into her pocket.
Something about that movement made Shaw suspicious. “How did you know…?” she was asking.
“Your portable radar device. It shows up here,” the assistant said and showed the pulsating dot on her screen to indicate exactly where Shaw was.
“Root!” Shaw said.
“Let’s go work on that now,” Root said, getting up and taking Shaw by the hand.
“Maybe it will just come out when I sprout wings!” Shaw bellowed.
Several blocks away, a very hyper and anxious Claire Mahoney was trying to reach the man she had only spoken to once. “I need to speak to Greer,” she pleaded with the man who answered the phone. “What do you mean, he’s unavailable? Tell him I have to speak to him!”
The man told her to wait by her phone and not to leave her apartment.
“Tie up those loose ends,” the elderly man in charge told his subordinate. “I really have to be more choosy in who I pick next time,” he lamented.
Claire did as she was told; she sat in the chair and waited for someone to call her back.
It was exactly where Fusco and Reese found her – dead.
Chapter 8: Probing Questions
Root was facing a never ending challenge in her relationship with Sameen. She had to concentrate very hard to appear serious as her girlfriend ranted about being called a butterfly. Root simply found Sameen irresistible when she was grouchy about things like this. Actually, she found her entire grouchy demeanor appealing.
“Can you believe him?” Shaw questioned and waited for Root to answer.
“I think he meant it as a compliment,” Root tried because she really did think Fusco was giving thought to the changes he saw in his best friend.
That statement made Shaw stop in her tracks because obviously her kind hearted girlfriend, who saw the best in everyone, was insane. “Picture this, Root, please,” Shaw said, grabbing Root’s arm and looking up at the ceiling. “You’re in a jungle, surrounded by man eating tigers and poisonous snakes. Do you want a girlfriend who’s a shark or a freaking butterfly to protect you?”
“Actually, leopards are considered more man-eating than…oh, never mind,” Root said when she saw the frustration mounting in those dark eyes. She knew the better answer; the one that Shaw was all but leading her to. “A shark,” Root affirmed.
“See?” Shaw said; glad to have the smartest person in the building on her side. “Butterfly,” she shook her head.
“Come here, you,” Root said, pulling Shaw in for a long soothing kiss. It was so easy to lock onto those lips when Shaw was pouting.
“Oh,” Shaw said, her temper dissipating with the wet kiss that left her lips tingling. “I… can… see what…uhm….”
“He meant?” Root filled in the blank for her.
“Yeah,” Shaw said, rolling her tongue over her lips. “Maybe.”
“Good,” Root said and took Shaw by the hand so she’d remember what they were doing.
Root took Shaw upstairs to her office to break the news to her.
“So, Sweetie…,” Root began as they sat on the couch.
“Are these fresh?” Shaw said of the chocolate chip cookies that Jill put out seconds before they arrived. The text from Root was explicit – freshly baked cookies were to be on a plate waiting for them.
“Yes, they are,” Root said, pushing the plate closer. It was a little something she learned from Genrika. “So, Sweetie, that prototype that I made of the tracking device was technically supposed to be used in the arm,” Root said and put her finger on a part of Shaw’s arm that wasn’t covered in a bandage.
“Yeah, Reese thought they’d see it,” Shaw said between bites.
“Yes, and he was right because it does leave an entry mark,” Root said smiling a little bit too much.
“I feel like you’re trying to sell me something,” Shaw said, but the smell of freshly baked cookies was taking the edge off her being impatient.
“No, no, it’s just that we were successful in… inserting and removing the device… when it was in someone’s…. uhm…. arm,” Root explained hesitatingly.
Sameen got it immediately. “Are you telling me that Reese shot me in a place that was not meant for this device?”
“Well, he meant well…,” Root tried.
“Root!” Shaw yelled, not appreciating Root defending the man.
“I’m sure we can figure something out,” said the genius and it would have been better if she sounded more confident.
“So, in the meantime, I have to walk around letting my ass beep so my adoring administrative assistant can find me?” Shaw bellowed.
There was an urgent knock on the door and Martine walked in. “Shaw,” she called out.
“What? How did you know I was here?” Shaw asked suspiciously.
“I…,” Martine started to explain.
“Do you have that app that shows where the hell my ass is?” Shaw barked.
“App? For what? “ Martine asked. She discretely shoved her phone in her back pocket.
“I think Ms. Rousseau was told you were in here,” Root hoped and prayed.
“Oh,” Shaw said and only then allowed Martine to update them about what Reese and Fusco discovered when they went to Claire’s apartment.
“Shot?” Root asked and immediately tried to access phone records.
“Whoever is in charge is cleaning up,” Shaw theorized correctly. “But why?”
“Loose ends?” Root asked.
“Maybe she was a weak link and he didn’t want her talking to anyone. Got a lawyer to get her out just so he could kill her,” Martine summarized.
“Let’s see…,” Root said, asking Reese to provide Claire’s cell number. A quick search of the records indicated the deceased woman made a phone call when she arrived home. “Burner cell,” she said.
“Whoever this is, Root, they’re not afraid to leave a stream of dead bodies in their wake,” Shaw pointed out.
“Who could this Greer guy be?” Martine asked.
“He sends out scouts for hackers; then he kills the scouts,” Shaw talked through. “He’s got military training, I feel.”
“Great, we got military people looking for a giant computer?” Martine asked. “That’s not good.”
“Well, for now, there’s been no activity and your mother and I successfully scrubbed any trace of their hold on the machine,” Root said.
“What do you think they have?” Martine asked.
“They said they wanted to rebuild the machine. Azar thinks they heard about it oversees and have been looking for it ever since,” Root shared.
“Why aren’t they looking at my mother?” Shaw asked, and was out of her seat.
“I think they thought she was a gatekeeper that sold it to the highest bidder. Your mother is quite wealthy,” Root said. “And the fact that she is Iranian has made every suspect she sold it in the Middle East.”
“Reese said he’s on his way back and will update us as soon as he gets here,” Martine said and left.
Shaw may have been temporarily distracted by cookies and updates, but as soon as she sat down, she remembered what they were talking about. “Isn’t this thing going to run out of juice?” Shaw asked, looking back over her hip. One look at Root’s face told her that wasn’t about to happen any time soon. “Oh, come on. I’m going to be like the Energizer Bunny here?” Shaw asked, grabbing another cookie to sooth her aggravated nerves.
“Maybe you could do me,” Root suggested.
“Now? Right here? Reese is on his way …,” Shaw felt it necessary to explain.
“Sameen!” Root said in a sing song voice that would eventually just sound like ‘I gotcha’. “Is sex all you ever think about?” Root’s eyes burst with laughter as she tried to appear shocked at Sameen.
“You said…,” Shaw tried to say with a mouth full of chocolate chip cookies.
“I meant shoot me with the device,” Root smiled because there was the lightest shade of red in Shaw’s cheeks.
“I thought you meant,” Shaw thought she should explain as if her wild eyed girlfriend didn’t know exactly what track her train of thought just pulled into.
Root leaned over and kissed the chocolate laces lips. “You are adorable,” she couldn’t help but say.
“Great! First, I’m a butterfly….,” Shaw was balking and Root knew exactly where she was going with that, so she kissed her again. When she released Shaw, she slowly licked her own lips to taste of chocolate. Both actions mesmerized Shaw. “I… can… do adorable,” she conceded.
“Oh, yes, I know,” Root cooed back, soothing her girlfriend’s ruffled feathers.
The couple decided to meet up again when Reese returned. In the meantime, Root was scowering government sub-files for anything on Greer.
When Reese returned and shared what little they knew, Shaw was even more convinced this guy was military. “Your instincts were right,” Root said, turning her laptop to face her coworkers. “Former MI6,” Root said.
“That’s Greer?” Shaw asked. “He’s like a hundred years old. Fusco is half his age and can’t figure out his IPhone. How is this guy dealing with high tech?”
“The brains doesn’t always have to know how to do it; just what to do,” Root said, which was ironic coming from her.
Just then, a very astonished Janine appeared in the doorway. She opened her mouth, but nothing came out as her mouth got very dry. “Ms. Groves… it’s the office of the President on the phone for you.”
Shaw and Reese looked at each other, but Root was very nonchalant in taking the call in the conference room.
“Mr. President?” Root said and was cordial in her responses. “I’ll see what I can do,” she said before hanging up. She went back to her computer as she thought about the phone call. Reese, Martine and Shaw exchanged looks as they waited.
“So, what did the President want?” Shaw finally had to ask.
“What?” Root asked, her mind on something else.
“The President? He just called you?” Shaw said slowly.
“Oh, yes,” Root said, smiling. “Something about a global virus he wants me to take a look at. The hackers are holding companies hostage.”
“So, you’re going to… ,” Shaw said, hoping this was a fill in the blank conversation.
In those few seconds that it took Shaw to ask her questions, Root had come up with a plan. “We’re going to find the source of that virus,” Root said.
“And…?” Shaw said, feeling that pulling teeth would take less effort.
“Then, we’re going to give it to Mr. Greer,” Root said, deciding to kill two-birds with one stone.
“Wouldn’t they already be taking precautions?” Martine asked.
“Yes, as is everyone. But BEAR is about to put out an anti-virus for free. And they’d be crazy not to use it,” explained Root.
Martine and Reese were impressed with Root’s plan, and so was Shaw. But she was caught up in how angelic Root could look while masterminding a diabolic plan to bring down their enemies.
Root went off with her team to work on the antivirus software for the latest threat that was affecting hospitals in England and companies all over the world. She called Azar to keep her abreast and to ask her to take over watching the machine. Then, she set out to create the antidote.
Shaw, in the meantime, decided to test her theory. She went to the farthest place in the building she could find and waited. She made sure no one saw her as she went into a rarely used storage room. Within minutes, her theory tested positive.
“Shaw?”Martine called from the doorway. “Why would she be in here?” she heard her coworker ask.
“I don’t know,” she heard Janine answer.
“I’m going to kill him,” Shaw said as she appeared from behind a stack of boxes to face her friends looking at their phones.
“Oh, hey, Shaw,” Martine greeted her and it was obvious that she was worried. The two women fumbled to put their phones away.
“You,” Shaw said to Martine,” …Go get your girlfriend.” Then, she turned to Janine. “You, get the things I’m going to text you. We’re ending this today.” With that, Sameen walked out and ahead of her coworkers.
‘What is she going to do?” Janine asked.
“My guess? She’s going to have Ayala remove that tracker.”
Chapter 9: A Stitch in Time
“She wants me to come there?” Ayala asked when Martine told her what Shaw said.
“She was a little light on details,” Martine explained. “Listen, did you have any medical training?”
“Are you asking me if I can doctor you needs?” asked the younger woman. “Because I’m pretty sure I proved that ….”
“Okay, no!” Martine said, still not used to her girlfriend’s spontaneity and lack of filter. “Just come here and … yeah.”
“Well, that was smooth. She won’t suspect a thing,” Janine said dryly.
“I don’t even know what she wants her to do yet,” Martine said, defensively because she didn’t like her loyalties tested. It wasn’t that she didn’t know where they lay; she just didn’t want to deal with an upset girlfriend.
“Well, based on the items she asked me to get, I’d say you were right and we’re going to operate,” Janine said and emphasized the collective pronoun.
“We? Are you kidding me?” the tall blonde woman exclaimed. “You passed out when they described Shaw’s wounds. Now, you want to be the OR nurse, handing Ayala the instruments?”
“Shaw needs me,” Janine offered as the reason she wouldn’t faint.
An hour later, Ayala sat with her sister and girlfriend and Janine. “You want me to what?” she asked, waiting to see which one of them would tell her it was a joke.
“Reese shot me with a tracking device and if you dial 1-800-Shaw, I’m pretty sure my ass shows up on your phone,” Shaw yelled.
“Okay, first, that makes no sense. And two, if Root invented it, wouldn’t’ she know how to get it out?” Ayala asked.
“It was meant to go in an arm,” Shaw said, her teeth clenched.
“Reese? Shot you? There?” Ayala laughed and then coughed to cover it up. Her sister’s dead stare was like a tractor beam.
Martine decided she needed to interpret for the two siblings. “So, Shaw thought maybe you’ve had some medical training in the army.”
“Well, sure, I had some for battle wounds,” Ayala said, realizing everyone was serious.
“Oh, there’s going to be a battle as soon as I find Reese,” Shaw huffed.
Martine attributed some of her girlfriend’s impulsiveness to her youth, but there were times when she thought the girl threw caution to the wind a little too quickly.
“Okay, let’s do this,” Ayala pushed back her chair and stood up.
“Let’s do this?” Martine said worried. “Do you have any idea how to retrieve it?”
“She said it’s in her…,” Ayala said.
“Yes, I know, but how deep is it?” Martine asked. “How are you going to find it?”
“Janine?” Shaw said and the woman produced the items that were on her list.
“You’re going to use a hand held metal detector?” Martine asked wide-eyed.
“You have a scalpel and a stitching kit?” Ayala asked like they were to do something sane.
“And alcohol wipes,” Janine announced because even though that wasn’t on the list, she thought of it herself.
“Any lidocaine?” Ayala asked about the local anesthetic.
“We don’t need that,” Shaw barked and not one person in the room with her believed that.
“Shaw! This isn’t a splinter she’s taking out!” Martine pointed out.
“I couldn’t get that,” Janine reported. She had run some scenarios through her head of where she might be able to steal some, but she didn’t have the time.
When Sameen dismissed her concern and tried to hurry things along, Martine put her foot down. “Wait here,” the woman said in a definite tone that even her girlfriend had not heard her use.
“You two are perfectly matched,” Shaw sneered of their common bossiness.
Martine was conflicted about this, but if Shaw was going to insist, she was at least going to do something to dull the inevitable pain. “Who the hell gets operated on without drugs?” she murmured to herself.
“Rousseau?” Reese said when he heard her talking to herself. “You okay?” he asked when he noticed what she had in her hand.
“Me? Oh yeah. You, I’m not sure about, but me, yep, never better,” Martine stammered. She watched his blue eyes go from her to the item in her hand. “Oh, this? Ja… Janine. She’s… pregnant. Yeah, well, she might be and we’re toasting her.”
It wasn’t just pathetic; it was the worst confabulation the woman ever came up with.
“She’s not drinking if she’s pregnant, right?” Reese said in his gravely authoritative voice.
“What? No! Geez, Reese, be serious,” Martine said, small beads of perspiration appearing on her forehead.
“Okay, we’re all meeting up later with Root,” he reminded his top security person who promptly dismissed him.
Reese stared as Martine rushed back down the hallway. She burst through the door of the conference room like someone was chasing her. Out of breath, she leaned on the closed door and said; “If you’re going to do this, please have a shot of this before. Maybe it will dull the pain.”
“You want her to drink?” Janine asked, not sure this was medically approved… anywhere. She tried to google it, but Shaw had already agreed and Martine poured some in a glass.
“You’re not the kind who sings when she’s drinking, are you? Because I don’t want you moving around,” Ayala pointed out.
“Listen you,” Shaw said, and Martine gently tipped the bottom of the glass for Shaw to drink up.
“This is nice, siblings helping one another,” Janine pointed out as she spread out the white sheet on the table. Then, she set out to cut a hole in another sheet so that only the right area of Shaw’s derriere would be exposed. “I couldn’t find any videos on YouTube on this, so I really hope you know what you’re doing,” the worried assistant implored Ayala.
“First in my class in shrapnel removal,” Ayala smiled. “Although most of it was not in the gluteus maximus.”
“You know, I should just do this myself,” Shaw balked and was beginning to believe she could. “Just give me a mirror,” she said and Martine could tell she needed a little more whiskey.
“Here you go, Shaw. No driving or doing surgery when you're drinking. I'm sure they taught you that in med school,” Martine said and handed her another glass.
“Do you have any idea how much of that I have to drink to get drunk?” Shaw asked, proud of her alcohol tolerance.
“Yeah, so drink up,” Martine said as Ayala looked at the scalpel like it was the first time she saw one. “Oh, God,” Martine said, and took a mouthful right from the bottle.
“Now, I’m going to need someone to use the gauze on the blood,” Ayala said and Martine could see the blood drain from Janine’s face.
“Yeah, that’s me,” Martine said and poured more into Shaw’s glass.
“LET’S DO THIS!” Shaw laughed out loud and Martine looked at her.
“We’re good to go,” Martine said, trying to take the glass out of Shaw’s hand, but she pulled on it until she drained it.
“Daz good stuffs,” she slurred her words.
“Only the best for you, Shaw,” Martine said.
“You know, I couldn’t stand you when I first met you,” Shaw said to the ceiling as they led her over to the table.
“Who?” Martine asked.
“All of you. I mean, at least Janine gave me her clothes, but you two were just annoying as hell,” Shaw shared.
One look at the assistant told Martine that she had to get Shaw back on track. “But you really like us now, right?” she directed.
Shaw looked at each one of her friends. “I do,” she said sincerely. “I really do.” Martine could tell that Janine was relieved and could now concentrate.
“Great,” Ayala said and was about to begin when Janine told her she had to go wash up. Ayala agreed and walked out of the room. She returned in minutes, holding her hands up like OR doctors do. Janine opened to door. She presented the woman with a sterilized gown and gloves.
“Where did you shop? Doctors are Us?” Ayala asked because the woman thought of everything. Including masks that she insisted they all wear.
“What will I do?” Janine asked.
“Probably pass out,” Martine whispered to herself. “You sit her and keep Shaw occupied. You have a very important job.”
“I do?” Janine asked enthusiastically.
“Yes, you’re going to remind her that this was her idea, ok?” Martine instructed as she and Ayala went over what they would do.
“Sameen?” Ayala said to her sister. “You need to take your pants off.”
“Sure,” Shaw said, and did so, exposing a pair of lacy black boyshort panties. “I can dead lift…,” Shaw was going to share, but couldn’t remember. “A lot.”
“I bet,” her sibling said. “Now, lets’ see where that tracker is, shall we?” she asked, as Sameen crawled up on the table.
“Tell the truth,” Shaw said on her hands and knees on the table. “You had an app that showed where the hell I was, right?”
“Yes,” Janine immediately confirmed.
“I knew it,” Shaw said and fell over on the table.
“Okay there,” Ayala said, and helped her sister stretch out and lay, face down on the table. Then, she got her ready as Shaw turned her face toward Janine and closed her eyes.
“Is it going to hurt?” Janine whispered to Martine and she meant, how much, because she wanted to be prepared.
“Like hell,” Shaw murmured because she wasn’t so drunk that she didn’t know that. “You know what?” Shaw said and got up from her horizontal position without warning.
“Oh, God, Shaw!” Martine yelled. “She could have been cutting you.”
“Yeah, but this is important,” the very inebriated Shaw explained. “If anything happens,” she said pulling Martine into her with a great amount of strength. “Give Root a message…,” Sameen said, but couldn’t put everything she felt into words.
“I think she knows, Shaw,” Martine assured her. “But nothing is going to happen.”
“I got this,” Ayala assured everyone. She really did have experience in this and was commended for her steady hand in medical procedures that were carried out when no medic was available. “Keep her occupied.”
Janine took Shaw’s hand as she appeared to fall asleep, but it was just that her eyes were too heavy to keep open.
“Hold her,” Ayala whispered to the woman who was close to Sameen in strength. Martine put her arm on Shaw’s waist so she wouldn’t move.
Ayala found the location of the tracker and pressed down on Shaw’s flesh and could feel it. “Not too deep,” she said and drew a deep breath.
As soon as the blade cut through the skin, Shaw grabbed Janine’s hand tightly. The assistant stroked Shaw’s head, assuring her it would be all right. Martine dabbed the blood while the would-be surgeon stuck the long thin tweezers in to retrieve the tracker. The incision looked much bigger than the damn transmitter that finally was plucked out. Minutes later, Ayala carefully stitched the wound and placed a sterilized bandage on it.
“All done,” Ayala announced and took a long drink from the bottle because she was far more nervous than she had let on.
“It’s all over,” Janine said soothingly to Shaw.
“Good, because she has the touch of a jack hammer,” Shaw complained. With that, the patient attempted to get up.
“Whoa,” Martine said, trying to hold Shaw in place. “How about resting for a few minutes post-op.”
“Does it hurt?” Janine asked and Shaw nodded. “Here,” the assistant said, and held Shaw’s head up while she gave her another sip of whiskey. “For the pain,” she tried to convince herself.
Sameen finally insisted she needed to get up and did so with the help of her operating room staff. “I need my pants,” she said, even though when Martine let go of her, she wobbled and almost fell over.
“I’ll give them to you, but you have to promise me that you’re rest here for a little while,” Martine bargained.
“Sure, sure,” Sameen said, and winked at Janine. Martine put Shaw’s feet through the legs and gently pulled them up. “You’re a really good friend, Martine,” Shaw said, patting the blonde woman’s head. “I would trust you with my life.”
Martine looked up at her friend and smiled; the heartfelt compliment was making her speechless.
Inebriated Shaw wasn’t done. “Thank you,” she said to Ayala. “I knew you could do it. Well, no, I didn’t know, but I figured if you screwed up, I’d just tell Mommy on you.” Then Shaw laughed at her own joke and fell over, but Janine caught her. “This woman is the best assistant I could ever have,” Shaw yelled in case the people standing right near her couldn’t hear. “She makes me smile every day. She’s so sweet,” Shaw all but squealed and automatically, Janine’s devotion subscription was renewed for another hundred years.
“Oh, Shaw,” Janine said, thinking there was no one like this woman in the world.
And Shaw should have left it at that. She had given her heartfelt thanks to each of her friends.
But Shaw was on a roll.
“I need water,” she said and insisted on walking to her office.
“No, you stay here. I’ll get it,” Martine said, “…but you have to be quiet.”
“Since when did you get so bossy?” Shaw slurred her words to ask.
“Since around your third glass of whiskey,” Martine admitted.
“I rather like it,” Ayala blurted out because she didn’t often see her girlfriend like this.
“You two were made for each other,” Shaw shared. “I used to think you and Janine,” she said to Martine, “…but we have to find the right person for her. No offense,” she said to Martine.
“None taken,” Martine said, reminding Shaw to keep her voice down as she gave her the water.
“We need someone… someone…,” Shaw said out loud, trying to decide what Janine’s type was. Now, Janine was thrilled just to be the topic of Shaw’s deep thoughts. Sameen looked at the woman, and it finally dawned on her what type of person Janine liked. “Someone… like me.”
Shaw didn’t say it in a conceited way, she was just being honest. But hearing that Shaw wanted to find someone like herself was too much for Janine to deal with, and the woman – already lightheaded from the procedure, fainted.
Ayala and Martine let go of Shaw and ran to get Janine.
Which meant Shaw was free to roam about.
Root’s team had worked very hard on the antivirus software. She asked Azar if she would use a hardcopy of it on the machine and Azar said she would stop by on her way and pick it up.
The two women were standing outside the IT room when Sameen saw them.
“ROOT!” she called out and started to walk towards her.
“Is she okay?” Azar asked, because her daughter was swaying as she walked.
“MOMMY!” Shaw called out when she saw her mother there.
Inside the conference room that just doubled as the OR, the two women were getting water for Janine when they heard Shaw outside.
“Did she just say – ‘Root’?” Martine asked in horror.
“Did she just say ‘Mommy’? Ayala asked anxiously.
“I am so fired,” Martine decided.
“I am so grounded,” Ayala concluded.
“Sweetie?” Root asked, and held onto to Shaw who looked up adoringly into Root’s eyes.
“Mommy?” Shaw said, not altering her gaze.
Azar looked at Root and then at Shaw. “Yes, dear?” she said.
“I love this woman,” Shaw declared, staring lovingly into Root’s eyes.
“Yes, Sameen, I know,” Azar assured her daughter.
“Are you okay?” Root asked and could smell the liquor on Shaw’s breath.
“Yes, look!” Shaw declared and pulled her pants down to show Root. “It’s gone!”
A fellow security member was walking by when Shaw displayed her bandage. He walked straight into the wall and bounced off, falling backwards.
“Let me take you in here,” Root said, wondering what had happened since she last saw her girlfriend. Azar helped the stunned young man to his feet as Root took Shaw in the conference room, where the three cohorts had been hiding.
As soon as Root walked in and Azar behind her, Ayala was the first to crack. “She made me do it,” she blurted out.
“Oh, this can’t be good,” Azar said.
“Made you do what?” Root asked and the three women stood at attention now.
“She made me remove the tracker,” Ayala said and Martine was calculating how many boxes she would need to pack up her desk.
“Do you have medical training?” Root asked slowly.
“Some,” Ayala admitted.
“Some?” Root, Martine and Janine all asked in unison.
“I got it out!” Ayala assured them.
“Oh, sweetie,” Root said, believing that Shaw could orchestrate her own operation and make these three women participate. “Did it hurt?”
“A little,” Shaw admitted.
“And the whiskey?” Root asked, wondering whose brilliant idea that was.
Janine wasn’t about to let her friend get into trouble. She pushed in front of Martine and yelled; “That was my idea. Mine, alone. I got the bottle. You can check it for fingerprints. I gave it to Shaw,” she said dramatically, touching the bottle to smear any fingerprints on the bottle.
No one believed her.
“I did it,” Martine said, grateful for her friend’s attempt to take the bullet.
“Well, it was a good idea in theory,” Root acknowledged. “But it’s going to have its own consequence I fear.”
“You… operated… on her?” Azar finally realized what had happened.
“I made them. See?” Shaw said, forgetting she had shown her mother. “Look.”
“We saw, Sweetie,” Root said soothingly as she stopped her. “I think we better get her home.”
Root could see that Azar was torn now between going with them and taking care of the machine. “Come with us,” she said. “I’ll get Reese to do this.”
Root and Azar helped Sameen onto the elevator and took her back to the Penthouse to recuperate. The only thing that took Sameen’s mind off the pain was the Root whispered in her ear that she would kiss it and make it better. It all but reduced Shaw into giggles.
Reese took the hard copy of the antivirus program and successfully downloaded to the machine in its private residence.
Greer’s team was behind Root and the BEAR team in developing something to counter the global virus.
But they were about to come across something that would help.
Chapter 10: Getting to Know You
Bear was not a happy camper. It seemed his two favorite pets had been going off on their own a lot lately. And apparently, sometimes it was dangerous. When Shaw came back covered in bandages, Root explained that they had a run in with some very bad people. Bear countered that he could have helped, and Root agreed. She explained that Shaw had taken it on her own to rescue her. He thought back to how upset Shaw had been that night alone with him.
He barked his theory that there should be a consequence for going rogue - and it sounded as if Root took his advice, because there was a great deal of yelling coming from the bedroom after that.
He had done a good job of ignoring Shaw as punishment for not taking him along. When she called to him, he turned his head up and walked away. He wasn’t sure what she meant by calling him a ‘divo’, but he didn’t think it was a good thing. When he heard them come in the door after work, he decided Shaw had had enough and he was going to be friendly.
Nothing prepared him for how friendly Shaw was.
“BEAR!” Sameen yelled in her still inebriated state. “Where’s my Bear?” she cooed and fell on her knees, pulling away from Root’s arm. Bear ran to them and stopped short, looking up at Root. She had warned him to be careful because of Sameen’s injuries.
“LOOKATTHATFACE!” Shaw was saying in that high-pitched tone that makes dogs twist their heads back and forth. “He was mad at me,” Sameen told her mother who was encouraging her to get up. “Are you mad at me?” Shaw asked and Bear decided enough was enough and ran to his adoring pet.
“Sameen!” both Root and Azar said as Shaw proceeded to wrestle the dog to the ground.
“She needs to eat. I’ll make her some soup,” Azar said and walked into the kitchen.
Bear let Shaw play rough with him until Root gently pulled Shaw to get up and come to the couch. Root put pillows where Sameen was about to rest any injured part of her body.
“Where’s my mother?” she asked.
“She’s in the kitchen,” Root said. “She wants to make you soup.”
“What!” Shaw yelled as if every injury was paining her. “Are you letting her do that because you’re mad at me?”
“What? No! I’m not mad at you, Sweetie,” Root assured her.
“Then why would you let her make me soup?” Shaw pleaded.
Shaw did raise a good point. Her mother just walked into Isabelle’s territory. “Stay right here, okay?” Root implored Shaw who seemed very comfortable on the couch.
“Okay,” Shaw smiled.
“Watch her,” Root instructed Bear.
Tempted to bark, ‘Oh, now you want my help’ – he didn’t and decided to let it go.
Root rushed over to the kitchen, unsure of what she might find and worse yet, whose side would she take. Azar meant well wanting to make something for Sameen, but the fact that she thought soup was a proper meal for her daughter, proved she had a lot to learn. She burst through the door where her longtime chef and friend was patiently telling Azar what ingredients she had to offer.
“Mrs. Morin is going to make Sameen… SOUP,” Isabelle said with raised eyebrows, and an overly enthusiastic tone.
“Oh, that’s great,” Root said and exchanged a worried look with the woman who knew Shaw’s carnivorous diet.
“With… ve-get-a-bles,” Isabelle said slowly to make sure Root saw the problem.
“It’s an old family recipe,” Azar said, having donned an apron as she cut up the ingredients.
“Is there chicken in it?” Root asked hopeful.
“No, it’s all…,” Azar was explaining when she finally realized what the two polite women were hinting at. “Oh,” she said, realizing her mistake. “I think we could put chicken in it,” she smiled, much to their relief.
“I’m all for a mother wanting to feed her child,” Isabelle whispered to Root, “…but not giving that child meat? No!”
Root thanked Isabelle for sharing her domain with Shaw’s mother.
When it was done, Azar walked in with two big bowls of it on a tray and brought it over to Shaw. Her inebriation was wearing off and the deadly effects were setting in.
“I think she hit me with something,” Sameen accused her sister.
“You know, I would have figured a way to remove the tracker,” Root reminded Sameen.
“I couldn’t wait,” Shaw admitted. “What… is… that?” she asked when she saw the soup.
Of all the things Azar could have said, what she did say, unnerved her daughter. “It’s Persian Ash.”
“Ash?” Sameen asked and pulled back.
“Surely you came across it when you were oversees,” Azar said of the popular dish.
“Maybe in a truck,” Shaw quipped.
“Sameen,” her mother gently scolded her. “It’s Asheh reshte; a Persian legume soup. It has chickpeas, kidney beans, turmeric, cilantro, scallions, legumes…,” Azar listed which only made matters worse.
“No, thank you,” Shaw said, turning her head and forcing a smile. “I don’t like one thing she just said,” she shared to Root.
“Isabelle suggested I put chicken in it,” Azar assured her meat-eating daughter.
“I’ll try it,” Root offered the way you do when you’re trying to convince someone to eat something new. Like a five year old maybe. She took the second bowl and took a big spoonful, as Sameen watched her carefully. “It’s delicious,” Root declared.
Shaw scanned Root’s face to see if she could detect any sign of a lie. She couldn’t; so only then, did she turn her head back and accept the spoonful that her mother held for her. “Not bad,” she said, but only because there was chicken in it.
Sameen finished the soup and thanked her mother for making it. Then, Root said she was going to put the salve on Sameen’s wounds and Azar offered to help. She did a good job of controlling her reaction upon seeing her child with several cuts.
“What kind of monster…?” she did let out finally when she saw Sameen’s deepest wound.
“A dead kind,” Shaw assured her in the best way she knew how.
“Good,” Azar said, no tolerance for anyone who hurt her children.
The whole process wore Sameen out and she fell asleep after Root helped her get changed into pajamas. Then, Root came back down to see Azar out.
“I fear I have brought all of this to your doorstep, Samantha. The machine chose you; but perhaps there was more I could have done to stop that,” Azar mused sadly.
“Sameen and I can handle whatever comes our way,” Root assured the woman. “Reese has uploaded the antivirus so I’ll check to see if that took care of any connections from outside. I’ll keep you posted.”
With that, Azar kissed Root on the cheek and thanked her for taking such good care of Sameen. Then, she went in the elevator and downstairs, where Ayala was waiting for her to take her home. Using the universal example of logic to counter Ayala’s actions;
“She made you?” she asked to see if her younger daughter wanted to change her answer.
“Yes,” Ayala answered truthfully.
“And if Sameen wanted you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?” the mother asked concerned about what her children had done.
“Yes,” Ayala answered because Sameen would have a good reason to suggest such a thing.
Azar turned and looked at her younger daughter and could see how sincere she was. “I believe you,” she said, pushing the hair behind Ayala’s ear and smiling. Her daughters were truly forming a bond.
Root went back up to check on her girlfriend who slept quietly under the careful watch of a very forgiving Bear. Then, she got her laptop and sat next to Sameen on the bed. She carefully checked on the machine to see if there were any traces of outside activity secured onto it. As she expected, there were none. Wherever Greer was, Root wondered if he was trying to latch back onto the machine.
His team was too busy trying to come up with the program to guard against the latest global cyber attack. Root flooded the web with free copies of the BEAR antivirus program for free under another company name. It was only a matter of time before someone on Greer’s team came across it. The IT person ran to his superior at the Greer team location and explained that he found something that just might work. He was applauded for his dedication. The program was first analyzed by the IT team and when it was deemed safe, they uploaded it.
Moments after they did, Root could see where they were located.
As Sameen slept peacefully next to her, Root saw something that would keep her up all night. Her program was intended to show the location of Greer’s machine as a pulsating light on her world map.
The problem was, the more she stared, the more lights appeared on her screen.
There were over one hundred locations of the Greer machine.
Chapter 11: Good Deeds and Bad Ideas
Root worked through the night trying to see what she could find out about the many locations that appeared on her screen. She was almost certain that her program was working as planned, but needed the team to go over every line of code to make sure they hadn’t missed anything that would cause an anomaly. The BEAR team was at work at six AM to do that very thing.
Root closed her laptop and her eyes, but kept her hand on Shaw’s bare back, gently stroking it when Shaw stirred from the pain. Isabelle was downstairs making sure she had everything available for Sameen’s breakfast; in part to make up for the dinner she had.
Finally, Sameen awoke; looking to see if Root was there. And of course, she was. It took Shaw a few more minutes of glorious sleepiness to open her eyes again.
“Did you sleep?” she asked because Root was still in her clothes.
“A little,” Root said and slid down in the bed so she could be right next to her lover. “How are you feeling?”
“Hungry,” Shaw said because she was more in tune with her stomach than her injuries.
“How are these?” Root asked and gently rubbed a finger near Shaw’s bandages.
“Fine,” Shaw lied and then remembered. “The one from yesterday hurts, though.”
Root knew immediately that Shaw remembered her promise. “Does it?” Root asked coyly, gently tugging at Sameen’s pajama shorts. “Your sister actually did a nice job here,” Root said and her breath touched Sameen’s skin, causing goosebumps. Sameen went to answer back, but Root was already applying something better than the best salve in the world; her lips. She caressed and kissed Sameen’s bare skin and could tell the effect immediately by her shuddering. Root ran her hands along Sameen’s toned legs and cupped her uninjured cheek. “I’m not going to lie,” said the woman who didn’t. “I’m going to miss being able to find you immediately,” she teased.
But Root’s teasing hit a chord and Sameen turned to face her. She pulled Root up and told her; “You have my heart, Root. No matter where I am, you’re with me.”
Even for Root, who was always in the moment, those words made her eyes well with tears. “God, Sameen,” Root said, leaning in to kiss her. Root got up on her knees and ripped off her clothes. If she felt the need to touch Sameen before; after that declaration, she needed to devour her. Shaw was hers and nothing mattered more to Root than that.
In spite of Root’s own urges, her hands and lips were soft and gentle as she manipulated Sameen’s body into a frenzy of electrical charged pulsations that ripped through her entire being. It seemed the slower Root went; the more Shaw needed it, until she arched her back, begging Root to end her glorious aching need.
Sameen wasn’t feeling the effects of the alcohol, nor the pain. All she was feeling was incredible joy. Root collapsed next to Sameen, happy to have fulfilled her promise to kiss and make it sensational.
With lightning fast moves, Shaw was suddenly sitting atop Root, ignoring Root’s pleas not to overdo anything because of her wounds.
“The only thing I’m going to overdo…,” Shaw said in a breathy tone next to Root’s ear, “….is you.”
Root’s own exhaustion made it impossible to counter Sameen with logic about being careful. Sameen moved as if her body was never injured. Her hands roamed the length of her tall lover, stopping only to gently squeeze and probe. “God, you are hot,” Shaw said because she was in love with every inch of the body she was manipulating will skillful moves.
Where Root was slow and gentle, Shaw was aggressive and in control. It always sent Root over the edge when she commanded Root’s body. Root could feel it every time; the moment when her body simply gave itself over to Shaw. It was almost as glorious as the climax that caused a guttural cry to escape her lips with reckless abandon.
Isabelle was spot on when she knew the small amount of chicken in the soup last night was not enough for Shaw. Sameen sat down and devoured sausages and pancakes like she hadn’t eaten in a week. It was a good think Root wasn’t a jealous woman, because she noticed Sameen moaned almost as much at breakfast as she had done in the bedroom. Almost, but not quite.
Isabelle beamed that she was right; Root simply smiled and stared at her omnivorous girlfriend eat. She licked her own lips unconsciously as food entered the mouth that had devoured her just thirty minutes ago.
“Is there any more of that soup?” Shaw asked, shoving the last biscuit in her mouth.
Root and Isabelle exchanged surprised glances. “Yes, your mother made quite a bit of it,” Isabelle said.
“Look, I love my mother, but you two cannot let her cook for me, okay? I mean, I’m all for trying new things… okay, that’s sorta a lie, but if the ratio of vegetables to meat is like a zillion to one – no, no good. I can’t. Now, I’m going to let it go this time because you two were being super polite to my mom, but no more. She’s not allowed in here. Put a sign up or something. Unless she can make dessert,” Sameen thought out loud to be fair. “Who gives a sick person soup? Made of vegetables?”
Sameen was dead serious and Root bit hard on her bottom lip not to laugh at how adorable she was went she ranted. Isabelle looked like her Christmas bonus came early because she was glowing from being the appointed chef of Sameen Shaw. “I promise,” Isabelle called out as the couple left.
Bear rushed to Root before the couple left. He felt perhaps Root had taken things a little too far. “I wasn’t … uhm… punishing her,” Root tried to explain the loud yelling he heard emanating from the bedroom.
He growled his confusion.
“It’s a little hard to… expound on… right now,” Root said.
Shaw burst through the kitchen day just in time to save Root from the awkward conversation. “We’ll talk later,” Root promised and went to the elevator with Shaw.
“She’s going in the pre-nup,” Shaw commented about the chef she adored.
“You want a prenup?” Root asked, gently playing with Sameen’s hand in the elevator.
“No, but you do. I have nothing. Well, I have a kick-ass arsenal, but I figure I’ll leave that to Reese and Fusco so they can update their weapons.”
“Oh, Sameen,” Root said looking lovingly at her, “… you have everything.”
That made no sense to Sameen, but she didn’t want to argue.
Besides, she didn’t know it, but she was going to need all her strength when she got to work.
Root didn’t want to send Shaw charging out to find Greer or his machines, so she decided to meet with her IT team first and update everyone later.
Martine was pacing the floor, waiting for Shaw to arrive. It had been several hours since the trio of friends had helped Sameen. Martine felt personally responsible for getting Sameen drunk, but she wasn’t going to take responsibility for what was going on in Shaw’s cubicle. She happened upon it before and she wasn’t sure she could put into words what was going on. She kept looking at the floor numbers light up on the elevator, hoping each time it was Shaw. She practically pounced in the carriage when the doors opened.
“Rousseau?” Reese said when she pushed him back in.
“Sorry, Reese. I was looking for Shaw,” Martine said.
“I heard about the operation,” the tall men said.
“She made us,” Martine automatically answered and seemingly nervous.
“Aha,” Reese said, because he could believe it. “Hey!” he called out and moved faster than his usual gait. “You shouldn’t be lifting heavy things.” Martine turned to see John rush over and grab a box out of Janine’s arms. “You have to be careful… in case,” John said and unconsciously looked at her abdomen.
“I’m fine,” Janine declared. “I’m better than fine,” she informed Reese because when you’re walking on cloud nine, you tend to feel euphoric.
“Oh, brother,” Martine said and was moving her hand in circles as if that would get Shaw there faster.
Soon enough, the door opened and there she was. “How are you feeling?” Martine asked from the elevator door, blocking Shaw’s exit.
“I’m good,” Shaw said and that was all her friend needed to hear. She pulled Shaw off the elevator and around the corner. “When I said ‘good’, I didn’t mean I was feeling up to be subdued and dragged. I should have made that clear.”
“Sorry,” Martine said, poking her head around the corner and pulling back to face her friend. “Your incision is okay?” she asked because her girlfriend may have had battlefield training, but she looked damn nervous.
“Yes, apparently not even that one is going to leave a scar,” Shaw said, rolling her eyes.
“Too bad, okay, here’s the situation,” Martine said in a low voice.
“Oh!” Shaw mocked. “We have a situation. Is it near the cafeteria?”
“Noooo,” Martine said, dragging out the word. “It’s near your office.”
“And what caused this situation?” Shaw asked only slightly intrigued.
“Actually, you did,” Martine said, looking down into eyes that rolled again. “I feel a little responsible because I gave you that whiskey, but your lips were looser than a singing canary in there.”
“Okay, first – canaries do not have lips,” Shaw felt it important to point out.
“Whatever. You were in a very sharing mood yesterday and you said some things that may have gone to someone’s head,” Martine tried to slowly build up.
“Look, if I said you were a good friend, I meant it. We’re not going to braid each other’s hair, though, okay?” Shaw explained, thinking the woman was talking about herself.
“What? No, not me!” Martine said because she would never do that. “HER!” the taller woman said and pushed Sameen to peer around the corner.
“Put it over there for now,” Shaw heard Janine order Reese. The man was holding what appeared to be a piece of the wall that divided Sameen’s cubicle from Janine’s.
“What is she doing?” Shaw asked softly.
“Gaining more access to your office,” Martine said, unable to talk the woman out of it.
“The tunnel under my desk wasn’t enough?” Shaw laughed.
“Shaw, you said some really nice things to her yesterday. Well, to all of us, actually, but especially to her,” Martine updated her friend.
“Actually, I remember being a little snarky,” Shaw recalled. “When did I say nice things?”
“Somewhere around the fourth glass,” Martine said.
Shaw was trying to figure out what she could have said that would make her friend so worried. The endless possibilities ran through her head. It sounded like she said something that was going to backfire on her. “DID I TELL MY SISTER I LOVE HER?” she finally asked, grabbing Martine by her jacket lapels.
“What?” Martine asked, thinking Ayala was amateur hour when it came to teasing Shaw. “Not your sister, Shaw. Your assistant. You told her she was wonderful and she made you smile every day.”
“Oh,” Shaw said, thinking that wasn’t so bad. “Well, okay, it’s true.”
“And how you had thought she and I would make a nice couple,” Martine said, hoping some of this would come back to the woman.
“Well, I may have overstated that a little,” Shaw said because Martine was so calm and cool and Janine was so … Janine.
“Yeah, you told us that after thinking about it, I wasn’t really good enough for her,” Martine said.
“I said that?” Shaw asked, thinking she may not have actually been in the room when these things were uttered.
“Yes, in fact, you told us that the kind of person Janine needed was more like … You,” Martine finally got to the punch line.
“Pfft, me?” Shaw scoffed. “What would she do with someone like me?” The idea seemed preposterous now.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Martine said slightly sarcastically, “…adore and worship her?”
“You’re making too big a deal out of this,” Shaw barked.
“She took the wall down between your offices, Shaw,” Martine pointed out. “She thinks you’re looking for someone like you for her.”
“I think my Matchmaking days are over. I quit while I was on top. Reese and Carter; Fusco and the Doc, you and my sister,” Shaw listed.
“Well, you made it sound like you had one more trick in your bag yesterday,” Martine shared.
“Where am I going to find someone like me?” Shaw asked - the task was impossible.
“I don’t know, but in the meantime, Janine is going to be building the Shaw Shrine and praying in front of it for her partner,” the blonde explained.
“I’ll… I’ll just talk to her. You are really making too big a deal out of this,” Shaw chastised her coworker. “I got this,” Shaw said, pulling on her blouse and taking a deep breath. With that, she walked around the corner and down the hallway.
“She so does not have this,” Martine said out loud.
“Hey, Shaw,” Reese said. “How are you feeling?”
“Good, thanks, no thanks to you,” Shaw quipped.
“I’m glad it worked out okay,” Reese said because he still believed what he did was necessary.
“Next time you aim something at me, it better be a stun gun,” Shaw balked.
“That’s more Root’s thing,” Reese said, cracking a joke, but not a smile. “Hey, do me a favor?”
“Sure, Reese, anything for a friend who shot me,” Shaw said.
“Don’t let Janine pick up anything too heavy. Rousseau told me she might be… you know… pregnant,” he updated his friend.
“Well, it’s not mine,” Shaw answered awkwardly because she felt everything Janine did was her fault.
“I didn’t think so,” Reese answered and wondered if she hit her head, too. “Are you sure you’re feeling well enough to be back at work?”
Now, Shaw was insulted. “I got this, okay?” Shaw said emphatically.
Reese watched her stomp away. “She so does not have this,” he said in a low voice.
Chapter 12: One Step Forward, Three Steps Back
While Root was in her office with her team, applying her meticulous analysis to the program she wrote, Sameen was about to use her military tactics to figuring out what was going on in her office.
Think ballet versus spasm.
If anyone had asked Janine what was going on, she would have told them that after Shaw’s heartfelt words yesterday, she felt even more devoted to the woman who cared enough about her happiness – that she was going to find her someone.
Shaw was used to the warm greeting Janine gave her every day, but this morning’s seemed to come out in slow motion.
“OHHHHMYYYYGOOOODDDD,” Janine said when she saw Shaw standing wide-eyed in the doorway. She didn’t yell it as much as she draped it across the space between them. “Are you okay?” she asked and put her hands near Sameen’s elbows to telepathically pull her to her chair. Her new plush leather chair with pillows. It was big enough for both of them to sit in.
“I’m okay,” Shaw said, looking around. “Where’s the ….?”
“I thought this would save time,” Janine said of the missing wall. By the size of the smile on her face, Sameen could tell she truly believed it was a good idea.
“And look!” Janine said of the new chair. “It’s roomier and I put cushions on it, you know, in case… it’s…,” and she whispered the last word, “…sensitive.”
There was nothing about Sameen Shaw that said – please coddle me – and yet, this woman was reducing her to the office diva. ‘Okay,’ Sameen thought to herself. ‘What military method would eradicate this problem?’
“Janine?” Sameen said, making her first mistake of many by taking the woman’s hands in hers. The electric touch practically made the woman deaf as she reveled in it. “…so that’s why I think we need the wall back,” was the next thing she heard Shaw say.
Janine shook her head. “I thought if you put the wall over here where your doorway is, we could kill two birds with one stone,” the nine o’clock Janine train said, still pulling out of the station in spite of Shaw’s sound argument. “That way, no one can barge in without going through me first.”
“Janine,” Shaw said, sitting down in a chair that felt like she just sat on clouds. “Oh, my God,” Shaw let out, “… this is really nice.”
“Right?” said the woman who felt she knew what Sameen needed at work.
“I could nap in this thing,” Shaw said as she pushed back.
“And without that opening for everyone to walk in, I could tell you if someone was coming,” Janine expounded on her thinking.
Shaw had to admit, she had a point. “I guess the chair does help…,” Shaw said.
“Good!” Janine beamed at being right about that, too.
Then, Shaw remembered what she was supposed to do. “Okay, look, Janine,” she began and the woman sat down on the chair across from her. “I may have run off at the mouth yesterday, you know, because Martine got me drunk,” Shaw began.
“Oh, she meant well,” Janine came to her friend’s defense.
“Yes, she did, but it may have made me say things,” Shaw tried again.
“Drunken lips speak sober thoughts,” Janine said and interrupted Shaw again.
“Sure,” Shaw smiled and was growing impatient, “…but it also can make you say sober thoughts in a screwed up way.”
“You mean about telling on your sister?” Janine guessed.
“No; I said that?” Shaw asked.
“Yes, you said if she didn’t do a good job, you’d tell on her,” Janine repeated.
“Let’s remember that one for later. No, what I said to you,” Shaw clarified.
Janine sat back and thought about what Shaw said. In her mind, it was all pretty clear. “Oh, you mean about finding me someone like you?” the woman asked, getting to the point.
There! Shaw’s military precision of getting to the heart of the matter was still sharp. “I shouldn’t have presumed to know what your taste is,” said the woman who fit the bill. “I mean, you were with Devon and I never saw that coming,” Shaw tried to laugh.
“Devlin,” Janine corrected her.
“Well, by either name, he was an ass,” Shaw felt it necessary to share.
“Yeah,” Janine said, the wind slowly coming out of her sails.
“So, what I’m trying to say is I have no idea what you want, so how could I possibly help?” Shaw attempted to say.
“But you do know!” Janine countered and this time, she grabbed Shaw’s hands. Shaw tried to pull back, but the grip was too tight.
A part of Shaw’s brain was on red alert to call Root. “CLEAN UP ON AISLE THREE” her brain yelled as the woman in front of her started to melt. And something worse was coming. Shaw was beginning to understand how to handle unadulterated adoration, but what happened next she was completely unprepared for.
“Oh,” Janine said, reading the expression on Shaw’s face. She let Shaw’s hands drop as an uncomfortable smile came across her face. “Of course,” the assistant said.
Shaw wanted to believe the two had just reached simpatico on all of this, but Janine’s demeanor told her one of them just took a sharp turn.
“I’m sorry,” Janine said and now Shaw was really confused.
“Why should you be sorry? I was the one who opened my big mouth,” Shaw tried.
“When you told Martine that you guys needed to find someone for me, I thought you meant help me find someone. It was silly of me to think you meant that,” Janine said and her voiced cracked.
Voice cracking was not something Shaw was ever trainee not handle. Root would know what to do; she definitely could handle voice cracking, Shaw thought. “Root would know!” Shaw declared and the wires weren’t just crossed; they were about to get tangled in knots.
“She would?” Janine asked incredulously.
“Yes, definitely,” Shaw assured her. Root seemed to be able to handle all things emo.
“Would she help? I mean, she’s so busy…,” Janine thought out.
“Well, sure, but this wouldn’t take long,” Shaw decided.
“It wouldn’t?” Janine asked curiously.
“Root’s really good at this,” Shaw said encouragingly.
Then, it dawned on why Sameen was involving Root. Who better to find her a Shaw than the woman who had her own!
“Oh wow, that makes total sense,” Janine concurred and now her voice was back to being cheery. “You’re sure she won’t mind?”
“Not at all,” Shaw promised.
“We could make it a girls’ night out!” Janine declared and Shaw could hear the wheels screeching as she totally lost what was going on.
“Sorry?” Shaw asked.
“We could all go out for drinks and look for someone, but hey, no pressure. If we don’t find the right person, it will still be a fun night out!” Janine said.
“Yeah, but…,” Shaw tried having lost track of where they were headed minutes ago. She stood up to suggest they review what just happened, but Janine had her in a gentle bear hug.
“You are the best person, ever, Shaw,” Janine said and didn’t let go.
“Thanks,” Shaw said, totally lost.
“I’ll go take care of your schedule for today,” the woman said, and now there were tears in her eyes.
Shaw stood there afraid there would be more tears, more hugging. She remained standing until she was certain the woman was back in her cubicle.
So confused was Sameen, that she was actually happy to see Fusco standing in her doorway.
“Did you see that?” she asked in a whisper.
When he said yes, she grabbed him and pulled him down the hallway. “Well?” Shaw asked and motioned with her hands for him to explain.
“You just told her Root would find her someone just like you,” Fusco said plainly.
“No, I didn’t. I told her that I was drunk during the operation yesterday and I misspoke. My matchmaking days are over. And she can thank you for that,” Shaw segued.
“Oh, cause I’m dating your shrink?” Fusco asked.
“No, because you people exhaust me,” Shaw clarified.
“Well, now you have to tell Root that you passed the yenta baton,” Fusco put crudely.
“It’s a girl’s night out, right? Root will be okay with that. And you’re coming,” barked Sameen.
“Shaw, the very title of that precludes me,” Fusco pointed out.
“No deal; you’re coming,” Shaw demanded. “You know more about this crap than I do,” she said in a rare admission.
“That’s true,” Fusco said and Sameen hit his arm.
“You know we’re all going to be looking for another you, right?” Fusco pointed out. “And I think they broke the mold. At least, I hope they did,” the detective said as he rubbed his arm.
Chapter 13: Mission Improbable
So ... what is Janine looking for?
Snowydragon said it best: "... admiration is different from love." She even agreed that I could steal that line. TY
Let me know how this works - as it's not what I expected.
Not sure I ever really described Janine and would love to hear whose image comes to mind if anyone.
Kristen Bell came to mind after this chapter.
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.”
Chapter 14: Getting the Message Across
There wasn’t a person at the table who didn’t seem slightly surprised by Janine’s aggressive action; including Janine.
“I think she’s been hanging out with Shaw,” Fusco said and everyone nodded. The woman certainly did appear like a graduate of the Shaw School of Social Graces.
Although the manager attempted to point out it was Emily’s fault, Janine held onto her tightly until she reluctantly apologized. “Put all of that on our tab,” Janine ordered the woman and she simply nodded before leaving with her tail between her legs.
Emily stood there silent; bouncing on the balls of her feet and holding the tray in her hand in front of her. “Thank you. That was… really nice of you. I really appreciate that. It was very kind… of all of you,” she smiled and started to walk away.
“Hey,” Janine said, touching the waitress’ drenched sleeve, “… I’m Janine.”
“Emily,” the woman smiled back. “Let me get you new drinks.”
Everyone watched Janine watch Emily walk away.
“Well, I think that concludes our meeting for tonight,” Zoe said, the first to pick up on the connection.
“What are you talking about?” Fusco asked, still upset about the expensive mistake he made.
As the group started to explain the obvious to the detective, Root turned to the love of her life. “We had it wrong,” she admitted to Sameen.
“No kidding,” Shaw agreed. “That waitress is nothing like me. I mean, she’s my height maybe, but that’s it. I don’t get it.”
“I don’t think she’s looking for her own Shaw, Shaw,” Root said.
“You know this is like my 4th club soda and I’m thinking clearly, right?” Shaw bemoaned.
“When you admire a superhero, Shaw, you don’t want to be the superhero’s girlfriend. You want to be the superhero,” Root pointed out.
“I should have had whiskey,” Shaw said out loud.
“I think she wants to be more like you,” Root clarified and ran her finger round the bandages on Sameen’s arm.
Sameen looked at Root and then at Janine, whose eyes hadn’t moved from watching the waitress who was coming back from the bar. “So, she’s not me?” Shaw pointed at the waitress. “….she is?” she pointed at Janine.
“Yes, sort of,” Root smiled to think that Shaw was someone’s idol.
“This is making my head hurt,” Shaw complained.
“I’ll take care of that,” Root said, sliding her hand over Shaw’s thigh to rest between her legs. It was very discreetly done, but Shaw jumped nonetheless.
“You okay, there, Shaw?” Zoe asked, smiling broadly at the woman.
“You know I carry a gun, right?” Shaw asked the woman.
“Oh yes, I’ve been out with you enough times to know you’re loaded,” Zoe teased.
Shaw frowned at her, looking to see if there was a joke in there to be insulted over. Zoe truly liked Sameen and often expressed her fondness in mischievous banter. “You know, Shaw,” she said, winking at Root first, “…I don’t think I’ve ever been tempted to kiss another woman like I am with you.”
“Don’t make me hurt you,” Root said, sounding just like Shaw, and everyone broke out laughing at the good natured teasing.
The music started up again and there was one more round of drinks and dancing. Fusco even looked like he was going to join them, but Sameen pulled him back so they could talk.
“I need you to do something with me,” Shaw shouted over the noise. She cupped his ear and said it to him and he nodded. “Don’t make me regret telling you, okay?” she pleaded.
“Yeah, yeah,” the good friend answered back. He couldn’t keep the smile off his face.
“Stop doing that,” Shaw barked and he tried to wipe it off.
The group went back upstairs, finished their drinks and got ready to leave. “Who’s taking Gidget home?” Zoe asked, ever the watchful eye on the group.
“I could take her. I shoulda left hours ago,” Fusco said and looked at his watch as if he hadn’t enjoyed every moment of being surrounded by beautiful women.
“Thanks guys, but I’m okay,” Janine said and everyone had to admit, she sounded fine.
“You’re not going home alone,” Shaw ordered.
“I’m going out,” Janine said, smiling.
“Out? It’s two…,” Shaw said and Root gently leaned into her girlfriend so she’d stop sounding so parental.
“I’ll be okay, thanks, Shaw,” Janine said and it didn’t ease Sameen’s mind at all.
“You don’t need a ride?” Fusco asked and Janine thanked him.
Shaw felt very unsettled that, not only had they failed at their mission, now they were leaving the fledgling alone.
“I don’t understand,” Shaw admitted as they all said goodnight and went their separate ways. Janine had taken Emily up on her offer to go out for coffee as a way of thanking her. “Do we know what that waitress’ last name is? How do we know anything about her?”
“You know Janine can take care of herself,” Root proffered gently.
“What?” Shaw asked as if it never occurred to her, which it hadn’t. “Yeah, sure, but… but,” she repeated because she had not retort for that.
For a person who once proclaimed proudly that she didn’t do feelings, the woman who sat next to Root in the car was expressing a lot of them. “Come here, you,” Root said, pulling Shaw in to kiss her even though her lips were not done worrying about leaving her assistant alone.
“You think she’s okay?” Shaw asked, after Root had calmed her lips down.
“I do,” Root said because she could spot people who had been out on their own for some time, and surprisingly, Janine was one of them.
The couple went home and, in spite of the hour, Root insisted on changing Shaw’s bandages. “I think this one…,” she said of the tracker injury, “…is healing nicely.” She gently placed her lips near it, sending shivers directly up Shaw’s spine.
Root grazed her fingers up and down Shaw’s back as she held her in her arm.
“I feel sorry for everyone,” Shaw said sleepily.
“Tonight? Our friends?” Root asked.
“Just… everyone,” Shaw said, her eyes unable to stay awake. “No one has you, but me.”
Root watched as Shaw’s smile stayed even after she fell asleep. “I’m the lucky one,” she whispered to Sameen as she fell asleep next to her.
Root was blissfully slumbering, still holding onto Sameen, she thought, when yelling (of a very frustrated nature) woke her up. She reached to touch her lover, but she wasn’t there.
“You’d think she’d send a text, but noooo,” was the first thing Root heard. “Where is it?” she heard Sameen yell next, as drawers were opened and shut loudly. “Sonova, I put it right there,” Shaw declared and Root could hear Bear explain he never saw it.
“You never saw it because I haven’t worn it in a really long time, but I’m wearing it today,” Shaw barked as more drawers were banged.
Offering a simple solution to what Bear deemed a simple problem, Shaw refuted him. “I can’t send a text. I’m not her mother!” she pointed out. “But you would think a little consideration, right? I mean, how do I know if she’s not in an alley somewhere?”
Root decided Sameen was upset that she hadn’t heard from Janine, and that was reminding Shaw how much she did care about the woman. She looked over at Bear who tilted his head to indicate he had no idea what had the short one upset. He sneaked over to Root’s side and wiggled his way up on the bed; front paws first until she hugged him and then he climbed all the way up.
“Oh, Bear,” Root said, but he could tell she wasn’t going to make him get down.
“Here it is!” Shaw sounded like she was updating, but she was unaware that Root was awake.
“Wow,” Root said, and Bear snuggled closer for protection.
“Good morning,” Shaw said, changing her tone and coming over to kiss Root good morning.
“You’re wearing that… to work?” Root asked out of sheer curiosity.
“Yes! Yes, I am. It says everything I feel. I won’t have to explain myself once today,” Shaw decided.
“Okay,” Root laughed and pulled Shaw back in. It was so easy; so inviting to kiss Sameen’s full lower lip when it was scowling.
Just then Sameen’s phone beeped and she pulled it out to look at it. “Ugh,” she expressed because it wasn’t who she expected.
“Are you worried?” Root asked, slowly getting up because they had gotten in so late.
“What? Worried? About what?” Shaw rebuffed.
“Janine,” Root answered even though Shaw didn’t want her to.
“What?” she asked as if Root had just asked her if she were concerned about the price of crude oil going up. “Pfft!” she tried. “That’s… so… ridiculous… really; it is,” the woman bellowed.
“Okay,” Root smiled and kissed her again as she went in to get ready.
Shaw shoved her hands in her pocket, wishing she could have continued arguing how crazy a statement that was, but no one was listening. She looked down at the dog in the bed. “Did you tell her?” she asked and Root covered her mouth when she heard that in the other room.
Going along with her girlfriend’s denial was part and parcel for Root. She knew Shaw would come to it in her own time.
And then she’d help Shaw clean up the mess.
Root was the best girlfriend in the world.
“Oh, my,” Isabelle said of Shaw’s graphic t-shirt. “So, that’s the kind of mood we’re in?”
“It’s not a mood,” Shaw corrected her. “It’s a lifestyle. It’s my anthem!”
"I see,” said the chef who didn’t buy it for a minute. “Very direct.”
“Thank you,” Shaw said because that was the whole point.
Her phone beeped again just before she was done eating. “Really” she asked no one as she took out her phone and looked. Suddenly, she finished her breakfast in one large, over stuffed, bite.
“I learned the Heimlich just for you,” Isabelle assured her because she often feared Sameen would choke on the large potions.
“I have to go,” Shaw said, jumping off the stool and wiping her mouth, before kissing Root.
“Sure,” Root said and pushed her plate back. “I’ll just be a minute.”
“Oh, I have to go… now,” Shaw explained. “I have this thing. Reese, I have a thing with Reese. He’s such a pain in the ass with his meetings,” she stammered.
“Well, I’m going to the office,” Root said, not catching on yet.
“That’s the thing, right? It’s not even at the office!” Shaw said, as if she didn’t just flame Root’s curiosity.
“Where is it?” Root asked, confused.
“It’s at a place…,” Shaw said and forgot that she wasn’t good at thinking fast on her feet unless she was being sarcastic. “That’s the really annoying part. He won’t tell me. I have to go meet him now and then, he’ll tell me.” Realizing she was simply digging herself in deeper, Shaw decided to yell her way to the elevator and leave. “I don’t know why you keep him. He’s good at what he does, but he really can be so bossy and quite at the same time,” she said which took her to the elevator. “I’ll see you at work. Martine is waiting for you,” she shouted as the door closed and she leaned back against the wall like she had just escaped.
Then, and only then, did she realize Reese would be at work and Root was bound to see him. She stamped her feet in the elevator because she was getting frustrated. The doorman asked her if she was okay.
She assured him she was. He only had to look at her t-shirt to doubt that.
Fusco was waiting outside as instructed. “Nice message, Shaw,” he noted.
“This is exactly what I want to convey to the world today,” she barked.
“Today? I’m surprised you don’t have that tattooed somewhere,” her friend declared.
“Are you going to help me, or what?” Sameen said.
“I’m here, ain’t I?” Fusco pointed out. “Now, look, I’ve done this kind of thing before. So, first you gotta tell me what you have in mind.”
Sameen didn’t care for any operation where someone else had the upper hand, but she had to make an exception because she wanted to get this right.
“I don’t know,” she admitted, stopping on the street corner and looking around. “Something really nice.”
“Oh, that narrows it down,” Fusco commented and witnesses thought she growled at him. “Come on, I know a guy who can help us.”
“What does that mean, Fusco? You know a guy? I don’t want something that fell off a truck!”
Lionel shook his head. “Would I help you get a fenced engagement ring, Shaw? Come on, Princess Charming,” he called.
Amazingly, Shaw followed.
Chapter 15: Diamond in the Rough
Reese looked down at the text from Shaw that simply stated he could not be at work. The man of few words wasn’t about to figure this out in text, so he called her. Sameen told him that she had explained her absence at work this morning by saying she was at an offsite meeting with him. “So I can’t be here because you’re playing hooky?” he pointed out.
“Yes,” Shaw replied.
“Where would you like me to go?” he inquired and Sameen felt the need to disclose what a dangerous question that was.
“I don’t think you have time to bust balls this morning,” Fusco snapped and now Reese knew that she was with the good detective.
“You’re playing hooky with Lionel?” Reese asked and then heard his poor friend’s arm get smacked for being loud. “How long will this take, Shaw?”
Putting pressure on Sameen to complete a task she knew nothing about only served to make her more frustrated. “THIS is why I am wearing this shirt!” she said to her friend who shook his head. “Not long, okay, Reese? Pretend Carter wants to go shopping and hide somewhere.” She hung up, pushing her phone in her back pocket.
“You didn’t get that memo about treating people who were doing you favors nicely, did you? Too busy picking out that t-shirt maybe?” Lionel suggested.
“Are you going to help me?” Shaw asked because there was time later to review her character flaws.
“Come on,” Lionel said, walking to their destination.
Minutes later, the stocky detective and his petite friend, both wearing dark sunglasses and matching swaying gaits, walked into the jewelry store.
“Detective!” the owner said when he saw Lionel. “It has been too long. What can I help you with today,” he said before sizing up the couple.
“We’re looking for an engagement ring,” Lionel said in a low voice, even though the store was empty.
“Oh, of course. Congratulations,” he gushed. “You’re a very lucky woman. The detective …”
“What?” Shaw barked, just catching on to his meaning.
“OH! Oh, God no,” Lionel protested, even though he liked that someone thought he would be with a woman as hot as Shaw. “We’re friends,” he explained.
“Friends make the best lovers,” the jeweler pointed out.
“Make him stop,” Sameen demanded.
“No, Antonio, this is my friend, Sameen. She is getting engaged. Not to me,” Fusco said, taking Shaw by the shoulders and putting her right in front of the shop owner.
Now the man could see Sameen’s t-shirt. “This is a time to express your love, not your dissatisfaction with the human race,” he pointed out and now Lionel had to step back in front of Shaw to protect the man.
“Could you show us … some rings,” Lionel begged.
“Come into my office and we’ll talk. Then, I will know what kind of person is going to wear this ring,” the expert explained.
Before she could utter her favorite threat, Lionel grabbed Sameen by the shoulders and whispered that every jewelry store had cameras that were on twenty-four seven. He wanted her to choose her actions wisely.
The only thing that softened Sameen’s demeanor was answering the man’s questions about her intended. “Tell me about her,” he said and Shaw slowed down and relaxed. “For example, what did you think the first time you met her?”
“I thought she was annoying,” Shaw said truthfully and Lionel nudged her. “What? That’s what I thought.
The man laughed uncomfortably. “Okay, then, what was she like on your first date.”
“She tazed me...,” the honest woman continued to make her point, but Lionel shouted over her.
“I THINK YOU MEAN ADJECTIVES, right, Antonio?” Fusco smiled and the man nodded his head.
Sameen looked at Lionel, wondering when he got to be so bossy. “Okay, well, she’s … just the kindest, sweetest, smartest person I know. We shouldn’t even be together. I mean, I’m rough and she’s calm; I’m incredibly sane and she’s … wow, some days, she’s out there. Still, she makes me… (cough)… whole,” Shaw said in spite of how uncomfortable it was to say that to a stranger.
“We want something perfect,” Lionel added and Shaw smiled because she knew he really was the best person to help her.
For the next hour the man discussed the differences in diamonds and settings and much to Fusco’s surprise, Shaw sat there quietly and attentively. She would look at a setting and ask Lionel what he thought. Finally, the selection was made. The master jeweler said he would start working on it right away and would call Sameen when it was ready.
“He is a very good friend to you, no?” Antonio asked Shaw.
Sameen looked over at the man who had seen her at her worst. “Yeah, he is,” Shaw smiled and that simple compliment would keep Fusco on cloud nine for months. Deep down, he knew how Shaw really felt; but it was nice to hear it.
“I’m glad you finally listened to me,” Lionel teased her when they stepped out into the late morning sun.
“Yeah, well, you were right; it is time,” Shaw said, trying to push away any emotion that brought up. She shoved her hands into her pockets and stood there with Fusco.
“So, when’s it gonna happen?” Fusco asked.
Sameen hadn’t thought that far ahead. “I… don’t know. Soon, I guess.”
“Shaw, you got to set it up. Do you want to put the ring in a glass of champagne or a fortune cookie…,” he suggested.
“She could choke!” the ever practical woman noted.
“Yeah, okay, so we’ll work on the actual event then,” Fusco said, feeling he had already taxed the romance out of Shaw for one day.
Sameen was an expert at compartmentalizing things, so she didn’t look at all suspicious when she returned. Lionel, on the other hand, was an open book – screaming PLEASE READ ME!
“Well, you look happy today, Detective,” Martine noticed and then turned to Sameen. “Love the shirt.”
“See?” Shaw said to Fusco who suggested she turn it inside out on the way there. “Now, where is she?” she asked of the woman, that most mornings, she dreaded seeing.
“Who?” Martine asked.
“The party animal from last night. She never texted me…,” and then she heard what she just said. “I mean… about today and my schedule.”
Martine stared at Shaw, not saying a word about the soft spot she just exposed to them. “She’s here,” she said.
Right on cue, the woman appeared.
“Oh!” Janine said from down the hallway when she noticed Shaw and the t-shirt.
“Here’s the real test, Shaw,” Fusco smiled.
“Is that…? Is that because of…?” Janine began and couldn’t say ‘me’ out of fear Shaw would affirm it was. “Of last night?’ she finally picked.
“Last night? No, it’s because … of every day,” Shaw smiled, looking down at the graphic tee.
“But… but it’s not true, is it?” Janine asked, getting closer now.
“Here we go,” Fusco said, smiling because he knew this woman was like water; seeping into every nook and cranny of Shaw’s logic.
“Is it true? Yes, it’s true?” Shaw retorted and wondered how anyone could question it.
The assistant walked over now into Shaw’s personal space, and pulled the shirt out at its bottom. “No,” she concurred. “It’s giving off the wrong message.”
“No, it’s the right message,” Shaw said, pulling her shirt back. “This is exactly the message I want to give off.”
“So much negativity, don’t you think?” Fusco stirred the pot more.
“Well, it’s not just that; it’s an untruth,” Janine reasoned. “Take it off.”
It was hard to say whose head snapped around faster; Fusco’s or Shaw’s.
“Excuse me?” Shaw said and both Martine and Fusco stood at attention in case they needed to intervene.
“That’s not you, Shaw,” Janine reasoned and sincerely meant it. “Come on; I’ll find you something else,” the assistant said and went off to find something.
Shaw looked around for her support, but it seemed no one was willing to take on the mini-Shaw who was still directing Shaw to follow. “Root was fine with this,” she pointed out to everyone.
“Root would be fine if all you wore was your underwear,” Fusco pointed out and Martine had to agree.
“Fine!” Shaw said. “I know who will give me her honest opinion on this,” and she pointed right at Fusco when she said that because she was going to see his girlfriend.
When Lionel realized where she was going, he decided he had a lot of paperwork to do at the station.
Before Sameen could reach Iris’ office, Reese saw her in the hallway. “Shaw,” he said glancing down for a second to see the apparel. “In a good mood?”
“If everyone believed my message, I would be,” she stormed off and walking in on the therapist.
Iris had made it a point in her notes to talk to Sameen about barging in. It was a work in progress.
“What do you think when you read this?” Shaw said, pushing her chest out for the therapist to read. Iris stood up and walked around her desk to get a closer look. Although – the bold, black block lettering made it easy to see from far away.
“I think you’re making a statement,” Iris said clearly.
“And does it offend you?” Shaw asked, closing the door.
“I’m not easily offended,” Iris answered.
“Yes, it’s one of the things I like about you. No drama,” Shaw said. “So, do you think I should take it off?”
“I’d like to hear why you chose to wear it before I answer that,” Iris said, even though she was never going to answer that.
“Okay, that’s fair,” Shaw said and walked over to take her seat on the couch. “Because I wanted people to stay away from me today.”
“So, you wore a t-shirt that says; I HATE EVERYONE; hoping everyone would keep their distance,” Iris noted and sat across from Sameen.
“Yes, after last night, I decided it was the perfect day to wear it,” Shaw explained.
“What happened last night?” Iris naturally asked and Shaw frowned that she gave that one up so easily.
“We took Janine out to find her someone like me; well, we thought we did, but it turned out, after several hours, that she didn’t need our help. She was doing fine on her own,” Shaw summed up.
“That was very thoughtful of all of you,” Iris slipped because she knew where her boyfriend was last night.
Sameen took that in and thought about it. “You know what it is, Doc? People… are… soooo needy.”
“A human attribute,” the therapist agreed.
“Well, shouldn’t they get them all in order? Take out one or two a day; at most?” Shaw complained.
“Do you feel responsible to meet the needs of the many?” Iris asked.
“No, I just don’t want to hear about them,” Shaw said.
“Because you feel responsible in some way,” Iris reframed the question.
“Yes,” Shaw said because it sounded like a different question.
“How does that feel?” Iris asked, and now Shaw knew she was knee-deep into a session.
“It feels like I need to let everyone know …,” and she pointed to her shirt.
“But why do you feel responsible?” Iris asked.
‘Geez, this woman is stubborn,’ Sameen thought to herself, but it was written all over her face. “Because I’m stronger and can get things done and won’t let my feelings get in the way of accomplishing what I need to do.”
“You are very accomplished,” Iris said.
“And I need to concentrate on Root. She’s got a lot on her plate now. And I realized something last night, Doc,” Shaw shared now that her t-shirt issue was settled, or so she thought.
“What’s that?” Iris asked with great interest.
“I sat with all of our friends, who are really good people, you know? And I thought how fortunate I am to have them. Don’t tell them that, ok?” Sameen asked the therapist.
“Never,” Iris promised.
“And then, on top of all of that, I have Root. And I realized I would give up everything just to be with her. That I want to be with her the rest of my life,” Shaw said, looking off in the distance.
“I’m glad to hear that, Sameen,” Iris said.
“I’m going to ask her … soon,” Sameen let out even though she hadn’t planned on it.
It was the first time Sameen ever saw Iris come close to being emotional. Her light eyes watered ever so slightly as she smiled. “That’s wonderful,” she said and her voice cracked just a little.
The positive energy Sameen felt from saying those words about Root contradicted the t-shirt message. “I’ll keep you posted,” she said as she rose to leave.
“Please do,” Iris said and got up from her chair.
Sameen went to shake the woman’s hand who helped her get this far in her emotional journey, but it didn’t seem enough. Her body moved closer, but then she questioned if you were supposed to hug your therapist.
“Oh, hell,” Shaw said and pulled a surprised Iris into her and hugged her – hard. Within seconds, she pushed the woman back, still holding onto her forearms, to make sure she was steady. Then, without a word and only a nod, Sameen thanked Iris and left.
Iris was so taken with this great gesture that she had to hold onto the chair for fear she’d fall over.
It would seem no one was immune to Shaw’s touch.
Shaw left the office in what would be one of her shortest sessions to date. She walked out of there feeling elated because that’s how she felt when she talked about Root. Root just wasn’t her safe space; she was her shield against all the other annoying things about humanity.
Janine was right – the shirt wasn’t really what she wanted to convey.
She walked into her cubicle, ripped off the shirt and walked through the opening to her assistant’s office, expecting her replacement outfit to be there.
“Shaw,” Reese said because he had been summoned there by Janine. He had looked long enough to know Sameen was standing there in her black sports bra. Now, his eyes were glued to the ceiling.
“Reese,” Shaw said because nothing about her toned body embarrassed her.
“I knew you’d agree,” Janine bubbled as she took the only article of clothing that she had been able to find from Reese’s stiff hand.
Shaw was enjoying John’s sheer embarrassment and instantly held up her arms for Janine to put the shirt on her. “You okay, there, Reese?” she asked, now that she was clothed.
John could tell from her tone how much she was reveling in his discomfort, but the tables were about to turn. “Nice team spirit there, Shaw. We have a meeting now.”
The smug look on Shaw’s face turned to a frown when she tried to figure out what had him so cheery. She looked down at her new apparel, which felt stiff and uncomfortable.
“I’m sorry, it’s all I could find,” Janine apologized of the white polo, emblazoned with the BEAR SECURITY TEAM logo.
Shaw considered how annoyed she could be, but decided against it. “No, that’s okay, I’m just going to work it,” she said, pulling on the material and leaving for her meeting. “Stay the course, Sameen; stay the course,” she repeated one of Root’s mantras to her.
While Root was preparing to update the security team on the IT’s new findings, there was another meeting going on somewhere in the city.
“It would seem that Ms. Groves presented us with more problems than we had originally planned for,” the septuagenarian said as he stood at the head of the table. “I think I’ve demonstrated that I am willing to deal with any team that fails,” he warned to the people who had been assembled there as the next team.
“Mr. Greer, we have the feed now,” an IT person interrupted him.
“Put it up here,” Greer instructed him and within seconds, the team was looking at the images on the large screen behind him.
“What are we looking at, Sir?” one of the women asked.
“This is Sameen Shaw, shopping for what would appear to be some sort of jewelry. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is how we are going to get Ms. Groves to cooperate with us. We’re going to take her crown jewel,” Greer smiled confidently.