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War of the Machines

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Shaw gripped the gun tightly in one hand, the other holding firmly onto the number’s elbow. There was no sign of hostiles or gunfire yet, but Root had told her to keep the gun out and Shaw had wordlessly complied. She wondered what the Machine was telling Root and hated that Root couldn't keep her up to speed for fear of Samaritan overhearing them.

"John and Lionel should be in the back alley in three minutes," Root informed her. Shaw glanced at her over her shoulder and caught the worry that sat openly on Root's face when she thought Shaw wasn't looking.  It quickly disappeared when her eyes locked with Shaw's though, hidden as if it had never been there at all.

"Take him," Root said, gesturing for Shaw to move up ahead with the number.

Shaw hesitated, not liking this new plan at all. "What about you?"

"I'll be right behind you,” said Root urging Shaw to move.

Shaw bit her lip and nodded, trusting, not for the first time, that Root knew what she was doing and that the Machine had a plan.

"What's going on?” the number asked. There was a slight hint of panic to his voice. Shaw hissed at him to stay quiet, not inclined or caring all that much about comforting him or keeping him calm, and shoved him roughly through the hotel’s busy kitchen and out towards the back. She kept the gun out of sight, but no one paid them any attention as they made their escape.

Gunfire broke out somewhere behind them and Shaw paused, glancing over her shoulder and frowning when there was no sign of Root.

“Is that gunshots?” the number asked, and now the fear was clear in his voice.

“Shut up,” Shaw snapped and pushed him up ahead. She allowed herself one last look behind her, realising belatedly that she still had the gun, the only weapon that they had between them when the Machine had sent them out on their latest excursion. Swearing under her breath, Shaw led the number out the back, knowing that he was the priority. She just hoped that the Machine had Root’s back.

A car pulled up at the entrance of the alleyway and although it was too dark for her to see properly, Shaw assumed it must be Reese and Fusco. Still, she was hesitant as she moved forward, holding the number tight in her grip and only loosening it slightly when Reese stepped out of the car. Reese grabbed him and shoved him into the backseat. He glanced at Shaw briefly before getting back in the front until she nodded for him to go and watched as Fusco drove them all to safety.

This was the part where she should have gotten out of there, headed back to her new identity and life of safety, her boring day job and occasional life of crime. But something stilled her. There was still no sign of Root. The gunfire had stopped and something about that sat heavy in the pit of Shaw’s stomach.

Their first priority was always the safety of their numbers. The second was ensuring that they didn’t blow their covers. Shaw knew that going back inside the hotel was too big of a risk.

And yet she found herself doing it anyway, her feet somehow moving her back to the hotel’s kitchen of their own accord.

The gunfight had clearly been noticed by the hotel’s staff, and what had been a busy kitchen when Shaw had passed through it barely five minutes ago, was now in chaos as chefs and waiters panicked and screamed.

The only person not screaming was Root.

Instead she was hunched over, gripping tightly onto a counter to keep herself standing, her other hand clutched tightly at her side. Shaw spotted the blood dripping between her fingers and moved quickly towards her, knowing that the Machine hadn’t been fully successful at helping her dodge bullets.

Shaw felt a flash of anger as she moved towards Root, but couldn’t figure out who it was intended for. Choosing to ignore it for now, she wrapped one arm around Root’s waist and guided her towards the back door.

“What are you doing?” Root asked, glancing at her in surprise. “I told you to go.”

“John’s got the number,” Shaw reassured her, not bothering to elaborate further. She couldn’t tell from this angle but she was pretty sure Root’s injury wasn’t too bad, but she would prefer to fix it up sooner rather than later.

Once they were outside, Root pushed her away slightly and leant heavily against the wall.

“You need to go,” said Root, gripping her side tightly. She was pale and a thin sheen of sweat had developed across her skin. Shaw could tell she was in pain and fighting it.

“I’m not leaving you,” Shaw blurted out and told herself it was because Root was part of the team, their only direct link to the Machine and for that reason, they needed her.

“My cover’s blown,” Root explained. “It won’t take Samaritan long to figure out yours out if you stay. You need to go, Sam.”

“Root-” Shaw said before she could stop herself. It had been awhile since she had called Root by her nickname out in the open, without hiding behind the alias. It felt oddly reckless.

Root closed her eyes and shook her head, a desperate edge to her every movement as she pushed herself from the wall and grabbed Shaw by the front of her dress to pull her closer. Shaw was ready with an acidic protest, but it got smothered by the press of Root’s lips against her own. The kiss was frantic and hungry and over far too quickly.

When Shaw opened her eyes - she couldn’t even remember closing them - Root was staring at her desperately. Shaw’s lips were tingling harshly, like they were angry it had happened this way and that it was ending so soon.

“Go,” Root said quietly, almost desperately, her fist still tightly clutched to the front of Shaw’s dress. “Please.”

Shaw stared at her for a moment, conscious of how very little time they had before Samaritan’s operatives would find them, before Samaritan would find them. Eventually, Shaw nodded and pressed the gun firmly into Root’s hand. At least that would give her a fighting chance.

Root glanced down at it briefly before her eyes found Shaw’s again. Shaw found it hard to look away, but she forced herself to move, heading up the alley and towards the busy New York streets, where she would blend in and Samaritan would once again consider her irrelevant. Before turning the corner, Shaw glanced over her shoulder one last time, watching as Root nodded at her determinedly and straightened herself despite the obvious pain she was in due to the wound on her side.

Shaw purposely walked away, back to her boring life hiding in plain sight, ignoring the gunfire that raged relentlessly from the alleyway she had left and wondered if they had just had their first major casualty in this war of the machines.