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A Beautiful Mess

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The heat simmered against her skin and she reveled in the movement between her legs, a finger painfully slow moving in and out while the other hand held the iron to her breast. “It does give good intel,” she repeated, her eyes turning over in their sockets, “when you do it right.” The almost unbearable pain on her chest barely diminished when the heat source moved aside. “Am I doing this right, Sameen?” Root asked with a low voice, kneeling in front of her until her breath fell on Shaw’s thighs. “Am I?” she pinched her lightly, and Sam smirked. “It depends,” she started, but couldn’t finish as a wave overcame her when Root’s mouth licked and kissed and sucked.

 

 

She ran.

 

She rushed through the unbearable heat of Lagos first, and then through the docks of Tianjin. She drove an Aventador through the streets of Riyadh and two days later, a Barchetta in London.

 

She ran.

 

They gave her target after target and she completed every mission with the commitment of a blind devout. She traded punches and dodged knives; she escaped bullets and disarmed bombs. Cities passed by like people on the street, anonymous and endless, and she did her job.

 

She ran.

 

She had crossed so many time zones that she never knew what would be waiting for her when she’d leave buildings; sunlight or darkness. She constantly expected the night sky, but it seemed to her like it was always afternoon.

 

She only stopped running when she saw him.

 

The warehouse’s back exit was narrow and not well-lit, but she knew it was him and no one else, immobile like a statue at the end of the corridor. She had been expecting this moment for a while, now, and there it came, and there was no way out.

 

Something in the way he stood. Something in the way he stared.

 

She had let herself believe that she could be furious with him, that she could blame him and Harold and the Machine and damn them all to hell for not saving Root from her bullet. Now that he was here, she found she couldn’t. She struggled to hold onto her rage, and lost, anger hemorrhaging out of her, leaving her weak, tired, and rusty, so rusty.

 

 

“Sameen,” Root’s voice reached her ear, crooked and weak. There was blood on the kitchen floor, so much blood, and Shaw’s mixed with hers in a puddle as she held her close. “Sam, it’s okay,” the hacker hissed and Sameen only pushed a hand harder against Root’s gunshot wound, the other aiming a gun at the door. “It’s alright,” she repeated again, more calmly, and Shaw didn’t think it was okay for her to die like this but couldn’t get the words out. “Shut the fuck up Root,” Sameen whispered instead. “John’s coming. He’s gonna get you out of here.”

 

 

The blank white walls reflected the faint brightness of the neon lights, and led her right to him – not that there had ever been another way, Shaw knew.

 

She didn’t waver, didn’t bolt like her instincts screamed her to. She took off her black backpack and left it on the ground at her feet, and then she walked up to him slowly, his face progressively coming into the light. With every step she dropped a weapon, until she had nothing on her but her fists.

 

When he was at arm’s length she stopped, defenceless but for the muscles tightening under her sweaty skin. She swallowed hard as she gazed over his suit, clean and proper, tight and dark. One made for funerals.

 

His blue eyes were cold when he lifted his gun, and staring right at her.

 

“I don’t know if you loved her,” John started, and Sameen’s throat tightened violently at the unspoken name, “but she loved you.”

 

She heard the disgust in his voice, the hate like a buzzing behind his words. “And you betrayed her.”

 

You betrayed us, he didn’t say, but she heard it anyway, louder even.

 

John had this look she had seen on him only once, in a hotel room as he stared down Alonzo Quinn from behind the barrel of a bloodied gun. His hand wasn’t shaking then, or only a little from pain and exhaustion perhaps, but not from doubt. It wasn’t trembling in that warehouse corridor either, but his beard was well-shaved and somehow Shaw thought it only made it worse.

 

She wished John had a maniac glimpse in his eyes and blood dripping on his hands. She wished things were messy and chaotic and wild, with a dozen unconscious U.S. marshals on the floor and Russians trying to get in the building. Helicopters in the sky and sirens in the streets. Instead, there was only this stubbornly faint neon with its low, constant buzzing and John’s clean, proper suit with his well-shaved face and sad blue eyes.

 

And it all told Sameen what she had known for a while now. Nobody would avenge Root like John went after Quinn, like Fusco beat down Simmons. Nobody cried Root like they had grieved Carter, or any of the others they had lost during the years. She was buried under a fake name and no one would ever visit that grave. Even Shaw didn’t want to go. Root wasn’t there. Root was gone.

 

She held Reese’s stare as she knelt in front of him, forcing her erratic breaths to slow down and match his – his was deep and quiet, confident as he pulled off the safety on his gun. She wished her breathing was calm, too, but her instincts made it all the more harder to act, to fight against. Rusty, she felt, and so painfully slow.

 

When her knees touched the hard cement floor of the warehouse she placed her hands behind her back and angled her head towards the ground. She blinked, black shoes immobile in front of her before she closed her eyes and waited for John’s bullet to blow her brains out.

 

There, she waited.

 

For seconds, minutes, hours, she didn’t know. She waited for an execution that never came.

 

When she looked up again, John was gone. There was a trail of weapons behind her, and the documents she had been sent by Samaritan to retrieve. She left it there. It didn’t belong to her anymore.

 

She took the plane then, and returned to New York like iron to a magnet. There was a strange, comfortable silence as she paid for a sandwich and a coffee at the airport, and it followed her in the cab right up to the address she could never forget.

 

It was still night when she reached the rooftop.

 

Up there, everything was quiet even though a few stories down, the city hummed like it would on any other evening. She found herself a corner to sit in, cheap coffee still hot, cheap sandwich still cold. She stayed there as the sun came up, painfully slow she thought as she ate and drank, eyes locked on the spot where Root had bled to death nineteen days before.

 

She waited until the sun had settled high before she moved again, rusty, so rusty.

 

After that night, she ran again, but it was different.

 

This time, she did things right, and she smiled when half a dozen of Samaritan’s agents shot her down like a dog between two garbage containers in a rainy alleyway, some seventeen days later. She wished it was night again, but it just seemed like it was always afternoon.

 

At least, she thought as their footsteps ran away, with sirens approaching and her body riddled with bullets, this time it really was a mess.

 

When Shaw suddenly pushed her down on the couch, Root gasped before she pulled up and bit her shoulder harder. “I’m just saying it has nasty recoil,” she argued as soon as she finally found her breath again, but Sameen only fucked her harder, as if punishing her for criticizing her favorite gun. “It’s why I like it,” she answered, one hand pushing the hacker’s leg further up.

 

“You like strange things, Sameen,” Root grinned.