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Slowly Spirals

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Shaw didn’t look away from Daizo’s body. She made herself look long and hard at what Jason had done. Then she decided not to feel anything. And it was easy to let the anger go, as if it did not exist.

She walked across the room then, finding Bear lying on his side behind the couch. He was still breathing, Shaw noted, and when she pressed her hand against his side, it felt like his ribs might be broken, like someone had kicked him hard. Shaw thought he would be okay though, and she decided to leave him for now.

Then she walked over to Jason. He was still unconscious and it looked like the bleeding in his shoulder wound had stopped. Shaw tied his hands together at the front with a zip tie, thought about fixing up his gunshot wound, but decided to let him suffer for a little bit longer.

She realised then that her phone was ringing, she didn’t know how long it had been ringing for, and she answered it wordlessly, as if someone else was carrying out the action and not her.

“Miss Shaw?” said Finch through the phone, sounding a little startled. “Are you at the safe house?”

“Do you have Greenfield?” said Reese and she realised she must be on speaker.

“Yes,” said Shaw, but her voice came out more as a croak and she wasn’t sure if they had heard her.

“We have a bit of a situation here, Miss Shaw,” Finch said. “I tried to remove Mr Greenfield’s inference from the Machine’s base code, but it seems to have set off a latent virus.”

“It’s like a trip wire,” Daniel explained. “There was no way for us to see it.”

“What they’re saying,” Reese clarified, “is that this virus can kill the Machine if we don’t stop it.”

“And Mr Greenfield might be the only person who can stop it,” said Harold.

Shaw listened to them without really hearing them, finding that she didn’t care all that much about the Machine and its problems.

“Miss Shaw?” Harold asked when Shaw didn’t say anything. “Are you still there?”

Shaw still didn’t say anything, just looked at the blood seeping into the carpet.

“Shaw?” said Reese, a little more forcefully.

“Daizo’s dead,” said Shaw and was met with silence on the other end of the line. It seemed to suck everything from Shaw, left her with nothing. She didn’t like that silence, it seemed too stifling. She wanted noise and pain and screaming.

“Oh my…” said Harold eventually.

“Shaw,” said Reese slowly, “is Root okay?”

Shaw cleared her throat. “Yeah, I got here just in time.”

“Shaw –”

“But not for Daizo, though,” Shaw added and finally looked away from the blood.

“Shaw,” said Reese, “we need you to bring Greenfield.”

“I need to take care of Daizo first,” said Shaw, feeling like she owed him that much at least.

“Shaw, we don’t have time for that,” said Reese. “I’ll call Leon; he’ll take care of him.”

Shaw swallowed hard. “I’ll be there as soon as I can,” she said and hung up. But she didn’t make any plans to move anytime soon. She didn’t want to leave yet. She didn’t want to leave Daizo alone and the rational, logical part of her knew that it didn’t matter, that he was dead and it made no difference to him. But she still didn’t want to leave him. She didn’t want to leave him alone with Root. She couldn’t be sure of what Root would do if she came out of her room again and saw Daizo’s body.

Because what Root had said to her had unsettled her a little, even if most of it had been true. Although, she realised rationally, that Root had been trying to hurt her, to get a reaction out of her and that she probably deserved it, but Shaw still didn't like the way the words had come out of her mouth. Like Root had closed herself off from everything, had made herself into an emotionless void. Had made herself into her.

And Shaw knew just how easy that could be, not to feel anything. Not to care.

Jason stirred then and Shaw moved to stand over him. She still had her gun out, just in case, and she clutched it tightly in her hand.

Jason looked up at her and laughed, but it quickly turned into a cough before he managed to pull himself together and he leaned back against the wall heavily, as if he had just sucked all the energy out of himself. "Is this the part where you threaten to kill me?" he asked, his voice casual like he didn't care what she did to him.

"I'm not going to kill you, Jason," said Shaw coolly, "you're not worth it."

"Right," said Jason mockingly, "because you're one of the good guys."

Shaw lifted her chin but didn't say anything.

"Aren't you even going to ask me why?" asked Jason.

"I don't care," said Shaw.

Jason smirked. "You've always been a horrible liar, Shaw."

Jason looked behind her then and she knew he was looking at Daizo. She didn't follow his gaze, instead she watched his face carefully, saw the way the arrogance slipped from him, the way he bowed his head as if he were ashamed of what he had done. Shaw wondered how much of it was faked and decided not to trust anything Jason said or did.

"I never meant..." Jason said quietly. "He jumped in the way."

Shaw bit her lip, because part of her was glad that he had, glad that he had taken the fatal bullet that was meant for Root.

"No one was supposed to get hurt," Jason continued. "But you all just kept pushing."

"Is that how you are justifying what you did?" Shaw asked. "By blaming it on us?"

"It was just a job," said Jason as if that explained everything.

"You've been playing a long game, Jason," said Shaw, wondering how she had never seen it, how none of them had. Not even the Machine, before it had become compromised.

"Not always," said Jason.

Shaw snorted at that. "Kidnapping kids, killing people… whatever the hell else you've been doing for your so called job... and I'm supposed to believe you haven't been playing us this whole time."

"You know," said Jason casually, "you say all those things like it's a bad thing, but how is it any different to what Root used to do?"

Shaw clenched her teeth and tightened her grip on the gun.

"She just liked to get her hands dirty more," Jason continued. "But me and Root... we are one in the same."

Shaw launched for him then, gripped the collar of his shirt and shoved him hard against the wall, bringing her face close to his.

"She is nothing like you," she hissed.

"Whatever you need to tell yourself so you sleep better at night," said Jason and didn't seem at all fazed by the gun she now had shoved in his face.

"You're so full of shit, Jason," Shaw snapped and let him go.

Jason smirked at her as she stepped away from him and she knew that he was trying to get a rise out of her, trying to make her snap and do something stupid. But she wasn't about to let him win.

"Tell me how to stop the virus," she said and took careful note of the way Jason seemed to flinch slightly at that.

"Tell me where the Machine is first," said Jason.

"Not a chance in hell.”

"Well then," said Jason, "it looks like everyone's favourite all seeing God is about to be shut down for good."

"No," said Shaw, "I don't think you, or Greer, are willing to let that happen. So what's your back up plan?"

Jason smiled slightly. "You think I'm just going to tell you everything? All my dirty little secrets?"

"Yes," said Shaw tightly, clicking the safety off her gun, "I do."

Jason's smirk turned into a grin and Shaw didn't like it, the way it seemed to see right through her.

"And there it is," said Jason and Shaw narrowed her eyes at him. "That tightly coiled anger you try so hard to keep contained. Let it out, Shaw. Go on. I dare you."

Shaw curled her lip at him and didn't say anything. Didn't do anything either. She wasn't about to give him the satisfaction.

"How do you do it?" Jason asked, watching her carefully.

"Do what?" Shaw snapped.

"Pretend that you’re not feeling anything?" Jason clarified and his words seemed to hit her like a hammer.

Shaw swallowed. "Who says I'm pretending?"

But Jason didn't answer her and there was a loud knock at the door that distracted them both. Shaw told him not to move and walked over to the door, checking through the peep hole before letting Leon inside.

Leon looked at her warily for a moment before stepping through. Then he saw Jason tied up in the corner, Bear lying unconscious on the floor and, finally, his eyes landed on Daizo and he seemed to pale suddenly.

"Uh," said Leon, "what the hell's going on?"

Shaw rubbed at the nape of her neck absently but didn't answer him. She took in the sight of him dressed haphazardly in an EMT uniform and knew that Reese must have told him to get here quick. He also had a stretcher behind him and a black body bag under one arm.

"Bring that in," said Shaw, gesturing to the stretcher.

Leon did as he was told without argument and she watched him silently as he unrolled the body bag out next to Daizo.

"Um... could you..." Leon began, gesturing vaguely at the body, trying not to look. "I can't lift him by myself."

Shaw swallowed thickly before nodding her head and she helped Leon lift Daizo's body into the bag, letting out the breath she didn't know she had been holding when Leon zipped it up, covering his face. After they had lifted the body onto the stretcher, Shaw stared at the blood stain left behind for a moment before forcing herself to look away.

"Take care of him," she said quietly. "He deserved better."

Leon looked a little startled for a moment before nodding and pushing the stretcher towards the door.

"He’s got family in Japan," Jason said suddenly and Shaw turned her eyes on him sharply to find him staring down at his feet. "A sister. She'll probably want to give him a funeral."

Shaw looked at Leon. "Is there somewhere where you can..." she trailed off, not really knowing how to finish that sentence.

"There's a place I know," said Leon quietly.

Shaw waited until she was sure Leon was gone before rounding on Jason.

"Get up," Shaw snapped. Jason looked at her and waved his tied together hands at her. Shaw rolled her eyes and grabbed him by the elbow, pulling him roughly to his feet.

"You're going to tell me how to stop that virus," she said and shoved him towards the door. "And if you won't tell me, you can tell Reese."

Jason paled slightly at that and dug his heels a little harder into the floor. "Look, even if I wanted to, I can't," Jason said hurriedly.

"What do you mean?" Shaw said.

"I designed the virus so it could only be stopped using a certain device. Something I like to call an access nodule."

"Where is it?" Shaw asked.

"Greer built it for me," Jason explained. "He still has it."

"Where?" Shaw asked and wasn't sure if she believed him.

"Decima Technologies, I presume," Jason said, as if she were stupid.

"Move," Shaw said and shoved him towards the door. "And if you try anything," she warned, "the next bullet won't be a graze."

Jason held his hands up defensively and did as he was told.

Shaw allowed herself one more glance behind her.  Root's door was still closed and there hadn't been a sound from the room since Shaw had left it. Shaw didn't like to think what that might mean and she forced herself to look away, to walk out the door and not give in to the urge to go in there like she wanted to.

And it wasn't like Root was listening to her right now anyway, that she would even want to see her. Not that Shaw could blame her for that.

Jason behaved himself on their way out to the car and got into the passenger seat without complaint. Shaw kept the gun within easy reach as she drove, darting her eyes at him to make sure he wasn't up to something more often than she kept her eyes on the road. She didn't see the truck coming from their left, running a red light, until it was too late, until it slammed into her side of the car and sent them spinning.

Shaw sat dazed for a moment after the car came to a sudden halt and then she tried to reach for her gun at the same time as Jason snatched up a piece of broken glass from the caved in windshield. But her left arm wouldn't move and she couldn't grip it, darkness edging at her eyes as she watched Jason cut himself loose.


When Shaw regained consciousness, Jason was gone and there was a pounding in her head, so rapid and loud it felt like her brain was going to explode. She closed her eyes, could feel wetness on her forehead and tried to lift her arm up to check. Her left arm still wouldn't move and she used her right hand to check it gingerly, felt her shoulder and realised it was dislocated. She rubbed at her forehead and drew back blood, knew she had a concussion and tried to keep her eyes open. It was hard and she let out groan as pain shot through her entire body, watched without moving as a figure approached the car, thought she could see a gun in his hand.

A shot rang out but no fresh pain hit her and she realised that the other guy had went down. Someone was calling her name, but it was like she was underwater and she couldn't hear them properly. Then Fusco's face appeared at the passenger side door and he grabbed onto her good arm, pulling her out of the car.

Shaw cradled her bad arm and slid to the ground, leaning against the car as she tried to get her breathing under control. "Greenfield?"

Lionel shrugged. "There was no one else here."

Shaw realised then that Jason must have planned this ambush somehow, although she didn't know how or when, but she was sure the guy lying unconscious on the ground had to be a Decima agent.

"How did you..." she began, every word out of her mouth sending a fresh wave of pain through her head, like someone was banging a nail in, and it left her feeling dizzy and sick.

"Reese called me," Fusco explained. "He said you stormed off without a word and thought you could use some backup. Are you alright?"

"Not really," she said faintly. "We need to get back to the safe house."

"I can't leave the scene," said Fusco agitatedly. "I just shot a guy."

"Lionel," Shaw warned through gritted teeth.

"Fine," he said and helped her to her feet. She shrugged him off though and walked to his car by herself, trying not to stumble over her own feet and pushing past the faintness that threatened to take over her.

Fusco drove them back silently and when they reached the safe house it was empty and dark. Root's door was open and Shaw realised with a sinking feel that she was gone.

She went in to double check though, but there was no sign of her, the room feeling too empty and cold. Shaw knew instinctively where she must have gone. The only place she could go if she wanted to get revenge.

Shaw went back into the living room to find Fusco standing over the drying blood stain on the carpet. "You want to tell me what the hell is going on?" Lionel asked.

But Shaw ignored his queries and sat heavily on the couch. "I need you to fix my arm. It's dislocated."

Fusco looked at her sharply. "I don't-"

"I'll talk you through it," she said tightly. "Grab that bottle of scotch." She gestured with her head to the drinks cabinet over by the far wall. Fusco complied, bringing back the bottle and a glass.

"You know I don't drink anymore, right?" he said.

"It's for me, dumbass," said Shaw, snatching the bottle out of his hand and, not bothering with a glass, pulled the lid off with her teeth and took a long swallow.

She talked Lionel through popping her shoulder back into place, grinding her teeth together through the pain until it was done. Lionel had a sheen of sweat on his forehead and he looked at her warily as though scared he had done it wrong.

"It's fine," she said to appease him, and rolled her left shoulder back to prove her point. It hurt like hell, would probably be sore for a while, but she ignored it for it now.

"I really think you should go to the ER," said Fusco.

"I'm fine," Shaw said tightly and reached in her pocket for her phone. She stared at its cracked face for a moment, realised it was totally fucked and tossed it aside. "Give me your phone," she said and held out her hand.

Lionel handed it over with a sigh. "At least put a band aid or something on that cut."

"Through there," said Shaw, gesturing to the room behind him. Lionel went to look as Shaw dialled and she was surprised when the line picked up on the other end.

"Root?" Shaw said harshly. "Where the hell are you?"

"Jason got away from you, didn't he?"

Root's voice was cold and distant and Shaw knew it had nothing to do with the connection.

"He's going to destroy the Machine," Root continued as if she were the only person in the world that could stop him.

"And how far do you think you're going to get on one leg?" Shaw snapped.

"I have to do this," said Root. "I have to stop him."

"Root, wait," said Shaw, forcing her voice to come out softer. "Please just wait for me."

But Root had already hung up.

Shaw tightened her grip on Fusco's phone, trying to think, but the throbbing in her head was making it difficult. She didn't even realise Fusco has reappeared until he was wiping the blood off her forehead with a damp cloth. She batted his hand away when he tried to put a band aid on her cut though and shot him a glare.

"I need to borrow your car," she said. Lionel rolled his eyes but handed over the keys without comment. Shaw took them and stood up, feeling light headed for a moment. Lionel looked at her with concern but she told him, for what felt like the hundredth time, that she was fine.

"Do you want me to come with you?" Fusco asked.

"No," said Shaw and rummaged amongst the crap on the dining table for a scrap piece of paper. She scribbled down an address and handed it to him. "Go here. I think Reese might need your help sooner rather than later."

Lionel looked at her sceptically. "You and Miss Limps-a-lot are hardly going to get very far when you've only got one good arm."

"I don't need my left arm to shoot," said Shaw and didn't give him any more time to protest as she left hurriedly.


Shaw knew there was only one place Root would go and she stared up at the Decima Technologies building feeling an eerie sense of déjà vu. They had been here before, her and Root, and she wondered if this time Root would be able to stop herself from killing Greer and Jason when it came down to it. Not that either of their deaths would be great loss, Shaw thought, but she knew that if Root did it, if she killed them in cold blood, that she wouldn’t be able to come back from it.

And Shaw decided then that she didn’t want that, that she would kill them both herself, just so Root wouldn’t have to. Shaw would do that much for her at least, the only thing that she felt like she could do.

The lobby was dark when Shaw entered it, her gun trained in front of her and she focused past the pain in her left shoulder, focused on what she was doing and the job at hand. She didn’t know how long she had been unconscious in the car, didn’t know how much of a head start Root had on her and hoped she wasn’t too late.

Emergency lights flashed overhead, sending out a dull green glow intermittently to reveal bodies scouring the ground. About six or seven security guards, Shaw thought, and bent down to the nearest one. He wasn’t dead; Shaw felt the faint pulse at his neck and took her flashlight out to examine him more closely. It didn’t look like he had been shot anywhere and when Shaw stood up and moved over to examine one of the other ones, something crunched underneath her foot. Shaw bent down to pick it up, studying it closely under the glare of her flashlight. It looked like a dart from a tranquilizer gun and Shaw felt both relieved and annoyed at the same time. Relieved that Root wasn’t taking more lethal measures and annoyed that she was arming herself with something that didn’t take immediate effect at neutralising her targets.

But she didn’t have time to think about that now and followed the trail of bodies down a corridor and around towards a bank of elevators. She was met with the site of a dart gun trained on her as Root sat slumped against a wall, sweat pouring off her, the gun shaking in her hand as she struggled to keep her arm outstretched.

Shaw lowered her gun first and could tell that Root was in pain but trying hard to fight it. Shaw moved over to her as Root let the dart gun fall to the side. Shaw wrapped one arm around her waist tightly and lifted Root to her feet.

“Didn’t I tell you to wait?” Shaw scolded as Root whimpered in pain, putting her arm around Shaw’s shoulder and gripping it tightly. Shaw ground her teeth down as pain stabbed through her bad shoulder and tried not to let it show.

“Since when do I ever listen to you?” Root said breathlessly.

Shaw grunted and moved them over to the elevators, jabbing the call button with her finger with more force than necessary.

“They’re on the top floor,” said Root. Shaw could hear the pain in her voice, imagined how much effort it must have took her to take out the seven security guards with a bad leg and armed only with a tranquilizer. Shaw didn't know if that was stupid or brave, but she felt mildly impressed all the same.

Shaw shuffled them inside the elevator and pressed the button for the top floor. The doors dinged closed behind them and Shaw moved Root over to lean against one side of the elevator. Root's hands gripped onto a railing, her knuckles turning white with the effort to keep herself upright. Shaw stared at her for a moment, their faces so close that they were almost touching. Shaw felt like she should say something, but she didn't know what, instead she cleared her throat awkwardly and let Root go when she was sure Root was alright, that she could manage to stay standing by herself.

Shaw leaned back against the far wall and the elevator felt suddenly small, too small, like it was going to engulf her whole. And there was nowhere to look, no way for her to ignore Root as she struggled to get her breathing under control, as she tried not to let out a gasp of pain that Shaw knew was due to the leg wound she was putting too much strain on.

Shaw thought about saying something then, about scolding her for being so reckless with her health. But she knew that Root would only roll her eyes at her. Or maybe she wouldn't even give Shaw that much, not anymore. Maybe she would just ignore her all together.

"You can't kill them," said Shaw quietly and watched Root carefully, the way she had her eyes firmly shut against the pain, the way her hands clenched around the rail so tightly like she was holding onto the last shreds of life. The way her left leg shook under the strain of a still healing gunshot wound. Then she imagined all the other injuries she couldn't see, Root's weakened heart - not only Control's leftover gift, but because of all the things Shaw had done to her too.

Shaw looked away then and wondered where the hell things had gone so wrong.

"I know," Root mumbled. "But I can't let them destroy the Machine. She's all that I have left."

Shaw glanced at her, found Root staring down at her feet. "That's not true."

"Isn't it?" she asked. "Harold's going to make sure that Gen never sees me again and I can't really blame him for that... she's better off not knowing me anyway. And you..." Root shook her head and didn't say anything else. She didn't have to. And Shaw found she couldn't look away, couldn't hide from what she had done.

"I'm not good for you, Root," said Shaw quietly, as if that could explain everything.

Root laughed, but it was devoid of all humour, empty and cold. "And I'm good for you? Neither of us are good, Shaw. Isn't that why we were drawn to each other in the first place?"

Shaw didn't say anything. She didn't know what to say, and wished the damn elevator would hurry up and reach the top floor.

But Root’s words had a ring of truth to them all the same, a truth that Shaw didn’t think she could run from.

It seemed to take forever, but eventually the elevator came to a stop, the doors sliding opening. Shaw still had her gun out and she cleared the area before indicating for Root to follow her out. Root looked a bit unsteady on her feet for a moment, and Shaw wasn't sure if she was even going to be able to make it out of the elevator let alone to where Jason and Greer were hiding. But when Shaw reached out an arm to give her a hand, it was met with a hard look and Root pushed herself off the rail, limping out of the elevator with heavy steps.

Shaw reached down for the spare gun in her ankle holster and handed it to Root. "Here," she said. "Just don't aim for centre mass."

Root took the gun without comment, but there was a slight quirk to her lips that Shaw wasn't sure what to make of. Shaw ignored it and took the lead, heading down the corridor and keeping her eyes trained for any sign of Jason or Greer.

She went slower than she would have liked, wanting to get this over with as soon as possible, but she was conscious of Root's leg, of how she took one step when Shaw took five and Shaw made sure to slow her pace so that Root was just behind her, close enough so that Shaw could shove her out of harm’s way if she had to.

Shaw checked some of the rooms; large, open spaces that looked like a cross between a laboratory and a workshop.

"This is where Decima develop their new prototypes," Root explained. "It's probably where they built Jason's access nodule."

"Explain to me again what this stupid nodule thing is," said Shaw.

"Harold built the Machine as a closed system," said Root. "No one can control Her higher functions. Unlike Samaritan, which was designed to be able to specifically search for individuals if you asked it to. The Machine can't do that. But I imagine Jason designed the nodule so that he could."

"Well what about this virus then?" asked Shaw. “Nobody is going to be control anything if it wipes out the Machine.”

"Jason must have set up the virus so that only the nodule could neutralise it," said Root.

"So if we don't get our hands on this nodule thing," said Shaw slowly, "we could lose the Machine for good."

"Yes," said Root and Shaw didn’t like the way her voice seemed to crack at that.

They reached the end of the corridor and the last room they had yet to check. Shaw tightened her grip on her gun, glanced at Root before slowly opening the door and stepping through it. It was dark inside and Shaw reached for her flashlight only to be blinded suddenly by the lights coming on overhead. She blinked rapidly and when her eyes focused again, Greer was in front of her, and gun pointed steadily at her.

"Drop it," Shaw ordered.

"No," said Greer smiling at her. "I think you'll be dropping yours."

He looked past her then and Shaw heard Root cry out. Shaw whipped around, knowing it was stupid to put her back to Greer but she didn't care. Jason had one arm around Root’s neck, the other with a gun pointed at her head.

"Put in on the ground," said Jason and dug the gun a little deeper into the side of Root's head to show he was serious.

Shaw did as he asked and didn't make a move when Greer stepped over and picked the gun up. She could have taken him out, but she knew Root was in no condition to fight Jason off.

"Move over there," Jason snapped, gesturing with the gun wildly. Shaw moved where he had indicated, felt Greer push the barrel of her own gun into the small of her back and gritted her teeth.

Greer made her sit in an old office chair and zip tied her wrists to the arms and she watched silently as Jason did the same with Root and moved her chair so that they were facing each other.

"Now," said Jason, tucking his gun into the waistband of his jeans at the front. "You're going to tell me where Finch is hiding the Machine."

Shaw clenched her jaw and didn't say anything, instead turned her attention to Greer, watched as he perched himself against one of the desks.

"How's the kneecaps?" she asked him.

Greer smiled. "There are ways of making you talk, Miss Shaw."

Shaw snorted. "What are you going to do? Torture me?"

"Mr Greenfield?" said Greer, never taking his eyes off her. Shaw glanced at Jason then as he moved over to a group of work benches. He rummaged around some of the tools before picking something up and moving back towards them. Jason held a trimming knife in his hand tightly and light reflected off the blade as he extracted it, looking sharp and deadly.

"I don't care what you do to me," said Shaw, who wasn't afraid of few cuts and scrapes.

"No," said Jason, "but you care about what happens to her."

Shaw swallowed thickly as Jason moved towards Root, standing behind her chair and ducking his head down so he could mutter something in her ear.

Root looked at her then and Shaw could tell what she was thinking, knew that Root didn't care what happened to her as long as Jason never got his hands on the Machine.

"I'm going to ask you one more time, Shaw," said Jason. "Tell me where the Machine is."

Root nodded slightly, just enough for Shaw to see it and Shaw knew there was nothing that she could do. She clenched her hands into fists and struggled with her bonds, but they were tight and wouldn't budge, just dug into her wrists, making them red and raw the more she struggled with them.

"No," said Shaw and didn't look away as Jason dug the blade into Root's flesh.