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pleading to the stars

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The overhead lights flicker on as Shaw’s thumb snaps the switch, and she watches the gleam of silver tables catch the light.

The coffee in her hand burns when she pushes through the double doors. It’s looking to be another long day; she has four autopsies and a meeting with the police captain, latter of which she’s definitely not looking forward to. Lieutenant Carter’s an amazing drinking buddy, but she sacrifices nothing for her job. Not even Shaw’s sanity.

Shaw pads through the morgue and breathes it in. Her domain, often occupied by herself and a few, carefully selected members of staff, is hers and hers alone this early in the morning. She likes it. Getting to spend time with the stiffs, away from the floors above where the cranky cops and detectives mill about the place and complain, it's her definition of paradise.

Shaw keeps a quiet working environment and her entire staff abides to her rules.

She takes a long, scalding gulp of her coffee. Black, just how she likes it. Occasionally, she’ll put up with a cappuccino, but she can drink any one of those pot-belly investigators up there to the wall. It’s a gift, really.

And speaking of gifts - through the window she spots something sitting on her desk, a box of some sort. Reluctantly, she abandons her stool next to her favorite table and ambles over to the spacious room at the edge of the morgue.

Sparsely decorated, it’s safe to say that her office is her second home. She’s slept here numerous times to count and, if she’s being honest, the couch in the corner is more comfortable than her bed. (Employee benefits, and all that). With just a bookshelf on one wall dominated with medical texts, Shaw could live in the basement of the 18th precinct if she cared to. She has everything she needs.

The box sitting on her desk is askew, and she hurries to pick it up, searching for a card. There’s nothing. Not even anything written on the sides of the plain white, just a box waiting to be opened.

She considers it for a long, long moment. She probably stands in the middle of her office for several minutes, looking at the box in her hand. Wondering what’s in it. At this precinct, you can never tell.

Finally, after a long time deliberating, she puts the box back on her desk and slides the lid off.

“Oh, Cole,” she says right out loud, breathing in the scent now filling her office. Donuts. “I might just love you.”

She’s not supposed to love them, but hell, donuts are incredible. She likes bear claws the most, which, incidentally, can’t be found in the normal half dozen box. Cole, her assistant, always gets them special for her when he stops by her favorite bakery, and fuck, they just crumble right in her mouth.

The chair in front of her desk isn’t as comfortable as the one behind it, but she sinks into it regardless, cradling the box against her chest. She’s shoveling in the bear claws first, not necessarily savoring them because she knows that Cole will just have another box waiting for her next week. Not everyday. She works out too much for him to give her six donuts everyday.

She’s just put her feet up on the edge of her desk (after, of course, taking her boots off) when her phone starts ringing. Regrettably, she has to put down the box to retrieve it, bending her body at an angle to slip her hand into her back pocket.

“Shaw,” she mumbles through a mouthful of pastry.

“Hope I didn’t wake you,” Reese says in that wry way he has. He’s always sounding like he’s got something to hide, but Shaw figures it must come with the badge. There’s static on Detective Reese’s end of the phone. Must be the wind.

Shaw looks around at the plain walls, finishes chewing. “Why are you calling me? Is Hersh too hungover to get his ass up?” Hersh, her boss. The asshole. He always drinks Sunday nights, not that it even matters with this job, when they’re on call at all hours. His duty is just to call her when there’s a body; he doesn’t even have to show up. He can’t even do that right.

“Something like that,” Reese says.

“I’m at work already,” she starts, and when she catches his inhale, she continues, “Don’t you dare, John.”

“Shaw, it’s six in the morning.”

She rolls her eyes, completely aware that he can’t see her. She’s heard it all before. From him, from Carter - hell, even from Fusco, and that cop can hardly keep his gun holstered. The speech: She's working too much, she doesn't get out enough. She’s tired of it, to be honest, and she lets out a breath. “I’ll be there soon.”

Reese hangs up with a reluctant goodbye, and Shaw leans back into the chair with a long, exasperated sigh. Her stomach twists, in that way most rookie cops’ do when they see a dead body for the first time, and she’s never been less in the mood to eat. Which is odd, considering she eats all of the time.

She stands up and sheds her white coat, letting it fall from her fingers and onto the chair she’d just been in. It’s the same white coat she’s had since she started at this job, just out of her residency, and she’s kept it pristine. No reason not to.

Glad that she hadn’t changed into her scrubs yet, she grabs the box of donuts and hides them underneath her desk, just in case Cole gets hungry when he comes in. She looks at them for a moment, suddenly craving the last few bites of her bear claw. She shakes her head. It can wait. “I’ll be back,” she tells the box, pointing a finger at it sternly.

The box remains silent.

As an afterthought, she adds, “Don’t go anywhere,” and then she’s off, slipping from her office.

The rest of the precinct is louder than the morgue, occupied by living, breathing bodies. Most of the people Shaw passes have been there all night. Cops on the night shift, detectives with mountains of paperwork and caffeine instead of blood; Shaw’s a morning person, really. She likes the sunrise and the cool air and the light sounds of traffic in the city. It is New York, after all.

It’s easy to get swept away within the small word of the 18th precinct, but Shaw truly has her own world down in the basement. Most avoid it if they can, but there are a select few - Detective Reese, Officer Fusco, Harold Finch, Michael Cole - who spend entirely too much time down there. It’s wrecking the carefully constructed aura she has in place.

“Hey, Doc.” That’s Fusco now, and she’s so not in the mood.

“Unless you’re ready for a y-incision,” she remarks, turning toward the front desk with a vicious smile, “I’d try not talking to me, Lionel.”

“Hey, that’s Officer, to you,” he argues, smacking his gum. He’s definitely been up all night; she can tell from the way he’s sitting in his chair at an angle, having lost all comfort hours ago. “And a little respect? Been here longer than you, both tonight and in employment.”

She leans against the counter, pretending to care. “Huh,” she hums, tapping her fingers. “And who’s been promoted? Technically, I outrank you.”

And with that, she turns before he can think of something else to say because technically, it’s true. He’s been a cop for longer than she’s been here. She, on the other hand, started at the bottom, assistant to George Hersh with only hopes of running the morgue herself one day. Contrary to what Fusco seems to believe, she didn’t spend all those years sitting on her hands.

“I’m still a cop, y’know?” he calls after her, words hitting her back and not much else. She’s already not listening. “Hey! I can arrest you.”

She turns back toward him when she hits the door to the parking garage, fingers curling around the doorframe. “If I ever committed a crime, I’d never get caught. Least of all by you.”

He scowls, and she allows herself a smile. She’s about to leave when she remembers -

“Hey, Lionel?” He looks back at her, the scowl not quite disappeared. “You’ve got a bit of powder on your uniform. Might want to lay off the sugar.” As he scrambles to find the offensive dust, she adds, “It’s bad for your health.”

“Screw health,” she hears him mutter as she pushes through the door and into the garage.

She has a parking spot all her own, reserved for the only thing in her life that matters (well, that and one other thing). It’s precisely twenty-three steps from the door, and flanked by two no-parking zones. She had to pay off two traffic workers to get that paint work done, but she’s not about to risk getting her doors scuffed, especially when she works with hundreds of cops who are reckless and hasty.

There she is, gleaming and black, and as clean as the day Shaw bought her. A 1968 Dodge Charger completely and utterly hers.

And next to it? A motorcycle, recklessly thrown to the wayside in the no-parking zone and entirely too close to Shaw’s car. Shaw glares at it, like that will make the offending bike just disappear. To no avail. She skirts around it; nothing (absolutely nothing) is going to ruin her mood.

Nothing beats the thrill that scratches through her entire body as she settles into the driver’s seat, customized to match her specific size, and this early in the morning, it’s better than coffee. She’d left that sitting on her desk, anyway.

Early morning, too early for New York City rush, and Shaw presses the gas pedal down. The windows are down and she sinks into the growl of the engine, climbing through the streets toward the crime scene, only a few blocks away. She’s been called in at worse hours, but it doesn’t take Shaw long to wake up. Nothing’s better than the smell of rot at six am.

Doctor Sameen Shaw steps under the crime scene tape and Detective Reese nods at her. Then, she goes to work.

 

.

 

“Morning, Shaw.”

Cole, standing a good three-fourths of a foot taller than her, peers at the body currently on the table. He’s her favorite, if she had to pick one, and John Reese is a close second. He’s been her assistant since she first got promoted. Odd, considering most pathologists go through about three by this time. She’s been here four years and Cole’s never failed her once. She’s sure he’s not going to start anytime soon.

She grunts an assent, neck pulling taut as she sticks a hand into a man’s chest. They're sticky, the sounds coming from the open cavity, but even stickier is the goddamn bullet trapped somewhere in there. It wasn’t a through and through and she can’t seem to find it.

“Good one, then,” Cole comments, raising a particular blonde eyebrow.

“Love the smell of formaldehyde at eight,” she agrees before leaning closer to the cadaver on the table. She listens, although there’s nothing to hear beside her gloves squishing around lungs. “Fuck,” she breathes, taking in a deep breath of decay. “I’m going to have to take the lungs out if I wanna get the bullet. Damn thing tore right through the diaphragm and into the heart, I think.”

He hands her a scalpel and she starts slicing, careful in her movements and precise, as always. She’s good at this, always has been, but she wasn’t cut out for surgery. Live victims just aren’t her thing. Now, she can’t imagine being anything different, practically living for the redeeming bits of her job. She’s not the one who tells the family of the death, she just sinks her hands wrist-deep into their chests, making them talk.

She interrogates in a different way.

Cole’s good because he knows when to shut up, and now is one of those times. He wisely keeps his mouth shut and just watches, handing her tools when she asks for them. She’s good at her job for several reasons (a main one being not letting detectives hover over her when she can), but Cole contributes to that. And she’s grateful.

That’s why, when the double doors swing open on that squeaky hinge (the one she’s been meaning to get fixed for weeks for this precise reason), she jumps. Not because she’s scared, but because she’s infuriated. They need to get a goddamn lock.

She resumes her prodding, and Cole, thankfully, rushes off to intercept whoever it is. He’s the only one that understands.

“Can I help you?” Cole’s voice is hushed and quiet, as low as he can make it without being absolutely rude. Shaw’s hands fall still anyway, listening whilst coated in blood.

“Yeah, I just need to get into Dr. Shaw’s office, check on the electronic equipment.” Shaw hears a rustling that must be the girl’s, because she continues, “I’m the new Information Technology representative.”

Cole takes a moment, of which Shaw is sure he’s glancing at her back, wide eyes taking in her tense shoulders, questioning. Finally, he says, “It’s right over there. Just, be quiet. It’s still early.”

Shaw is just beginning to resume when she remembers, just resolving to take her hands out of the chest cavity completely. She turns, shedding her gloves, and finds a tall woman heading toward her office, holding a clipboard and a few chords.

“Actually,” Shaw says (she watches Cole wince from where he’s standing), “My computer’s not in my office.”

“Oh,” the woman says, stopping in her tracks. She looks between Cole and Shaw before her gaze settles on Shaw, taking in the the black scrubs, tied back hair. Shaw’s jaw tightens under the scrutiny. At last, the woman steps forward, a hand out. “You can call me Root, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.”

“Probably not,” Shaw says, shaking Root’s hand. Root only smiles brighter, digging underneath Shaw’s skin in a way that hasn’t happened in a long, long time.

Root shrugs, appraising Shaw once more, and leaves, pushing through the double doors, it seems, as loud as possible. Shaw stares after her for an extended moment, watching as the doors take their time to slow to a stop. She can hardly stand Harold Finch, and now he’s gotten himself an intern?

“I think she brightens things up,” Cole comments, and she realizes that she said that last part out loud. When she looks at him, he shrugs, and she’s being betrayed, right as they speak.

She decides right then that Root will never get to touch her computer. She’ll go directly to Finch with her technical problems, or hell, she’ll go to fucking Best Buy. Something about the way Root’s fingers lingered on her own hand tells her that Root would gain too much satisfaction from any interaction, specifically ones that Shaw has no time for.

Remembering the man still lying on the table, Shaw pulls open a drawer and drags out another pair of gloves. He’s not going anywhere, but there are detectives who need her report in the next hour, and she’ll be damned if the IT girl fucks that up.

 

.

 

Harold hadn’t said that Dr. Shaw was hot. Grumpy, yes, but he’d neglected to mention that she’s absolutely gorgeous.

Root supposes that Dr. Shaw’s co-workers have become immune to it, desensitized with the biting remarks and cutting jabs that fall from the good doctor’s lips.

Root makes her rounds silently after her introduction to the good doctor, not really making much of an impact with the other department heads. Even if she lived to make other people’s lives more difficult, she understood privacy and a good working environment. She respected it. (And she was very much looking forward to getting to know Sameen Shaw).

She checks the computers in the bullpen and rolls her eyes at the absurd amount of porn on several of the detectives’ computers. She wonders if it’s something about the computers not being their own, technically, that makes them want to spend odd hours of the morning surfing the internet for shitty websites. She doesn’t get it, but then again, she’s never really had that much difficulty covering her tracks. These detectives on the other hand…

She lets herself into Lieutenant Carter’s office. Unsurprisingly, she finds nothing on her computer barring a few digital trails from flash drive plug-ins. She’s in and out, the sweep of her own antivirus cleaning the already shining hard drive redundantly.

Root can’t decide if she likes it here. Standing outside of Lieutenant Carter’s office, looking around, the work is menial at best. Sure, she still has her hobbies outside of work, but Harold had been gracious enough to offer her this job and she’d been desperate enough to accept. She needs the cash, plain and simple. However monotonous, she’s going to make a good dollar, and she just loves getting under someone’s skin.

And she’s already chosen her someone.

Harold had told her his rules, most of which involved being seen, not heard. She’d already broken the main one, she supposes, after her interaction with Dr. Shaw this morning.

Anyway, she continues on her rounds. She’s going to have to do this everyday. Her job includes: checking all of the computers in the building for viruses while Harold gets to sit in his office and type, type, type on his computer, doing God knows what. She hasn’t even had time to sit and work on her freelance stuff, which is vital if she’s going to keep from getting bored.

She’ll also get to make house calls. Or, desk calls may be more accurate sounding, as she becomes more familiar with her new work environment. She’s almost like a doctor, in that respect. Although, she’s sure if Dr. Shaw heard her say that aloud she’d get a glare that would make Hades fall to his knees.

She doesn’t have an office, just a cart, but Harold said that he’d work on getting her squared away. He’d said, specifically, that he needed to “make some space” for her, which didn’t sound particularly enticing, but she’ll take it over the squeaky cart that hardly fits into the elevator. She’s already rammed it into two people today, left them rubbing their Achilles’ and giving her vicious glares, but all she can do is apologize. She knows computers, not people.

Currently, her cart is on the second floor, which is coincidentally, the evidence floor. She likes that one.

She leaves the bullpen in favor of returning to it, crossing the floor to the elevator with her hands behind her back, fingers interlocked and wires dangling from her hands.

The elevator dings and she slips into it, find the button to close the door. She recognizes the man beside her from the evidence floor and she smiles politely, knowing they’re going to the same place. He nods.

After a while, as the elevator descends, he says, “You’re Sam, right? Sam Groves?”

She holds up her identification card, pulling it from the retractable string attached to her hip. “Guilty,” she says, smiling. “You can call me Root.”

“Clever,” he muses, stepping closer to her. He holds out his hand. “I caught a glimpse of you earlier, I think. I’m Daniel Casey.”

She takes his hand and shakes it, even if it is a little sweaty. She understands; after being inside all day, hands are bound to get a little sweaty. She’d be surprised if her own wasn’t a bit clammy. “I remember,” she says, curling her fingers around the wire in her hands. “I’m actually on my way back to the evidence floor now.”

“My kingdom.” He laughs, sweeping his arms out wide. “Are you getting around okay on your first day?”

“I think I’ve got the run of the place.” As a matter of fact, the only problems she’d run into were with Dr. Shaw, and she’s sure that she’ll handle that soon enough. “I’m getting somewhere to call my own soon, too.”

“Nice,” Daniel says, just as the doors open. He steps back and allows her to walk through. She does, heading straight for where she knew she left her cart last. “Any trouble with anything, you can ask me,” he calls after her. He’s heading down a different aisle, and they’re separated by stacks and stacks of evidence bags, knives and baseball bats.

“Actually,” she says (that wheel is squeaking again, the damn thing won’t stop), “there is one thing.”

She rolls her cart over to him, checking briefly to make sure her things are still safely there. She trusts that no one had come down here and taken anything - no one comes down here anyway. She’s sure that Daniel is the only staff member who permanently works on this floor.

From his desk, Daniel looks at her expectantly.

She’s determined to make friends (and she needs to figure out Dr. Shaw’s weak points), so she bats her eyes, leaning her palms onto the edge of his desk. He blinks at her.

“What’s the deal with Dr. Shaw?” she asks, plain and simple.

Root can tell that the question takes him off guard, but he recovers quickly. “She’s,” he starts, testing his words carefully on his tongue, “she’s something. I’ve heard from the techs down there that she doesn’t let anyone talk when she does an autopsy. She won’t even let the detectives come and watch.” Root wonders why Daniel is suddenly whispering.

“I met her earlier,” Root remarks, sliding up onto his desk. She sits atop it, crossing her arms. “She’s nice, in an I-hate-everything-about-everyone kind of way.”

“Yeah, I’d be careful,” Daniel warns, leaning back into his chair. He mirrors her, crossing his arms. It sort of unnerves Root, the way he does it, but also she enjoys the familiarity.

Root will be careful, but not in the way Daniel is suggesting. She needs to find Dr. Shaw’s weakness, and to do that, she needs to get closer. Something that will put Root front and center on Dr. Shaw’s radar, but in a way that won’t criminalize her. She needs a hobby while she works here, and Dr. Shaw will her hobby.

“I will,” Root promises, but it’s thin.

Her phone rings, then, and it’s the ring-tone she’d set for Harold. She’s quick to answer, smiling apologetically at Daniel before slipping off of his desk and pulling out her phone.

“Hey, Harry,” she breezes, leaning against the wall. She can feel the itch of Daniel’s eyes on her back.

“I told you not to call me that,” he says. He’s already in a bad mood. In truth, she’d started calling him that when he’d given her the grand tour this morning, and he did admonish her for it, but she can tell that his threats are empty.

She chuckles into the phone and hopes that it’s loud enough for him to hear over the shaky connection. “Did you need something?”

“Yes,” he says. “If you could meet me in the morgue -”

“The morgue?” She raises an eyebrow, even if no one can see it. “Are you planning something peculiar?”

No,” he huffs, and it’s clear that she’s irritating him. She decides to play nice, because there’s only so far that she can go with some people. Especially when some people happen to be her boss. “Ms. Groves, please? I’m not above begging you, despite your poor capacity to listen.”

“Hearing problems, remember?” she says and her shoulders tense. “But fine, I’ll be there.”

“Thank you,” Harold says, and he sounds relieved. In the short time that she’s known him, she likes to believe that she’s gotten used to his mannerisms, even over the phone. He breathes differently, when he’s relaxed. She can tell, even floors above him, that he’s relieved that she decided to listen to him for once.

She hangs up and slides her phone into her pocket, turning back to Daniel who, to his credit, is heavily involved in whatever file he’s reading. He doesn’t look like he was eavesdropping at all, but she smiles anyway.

“That was Harold,” she explains, though she probably guesses that he surmised that.

Daniel nods, not even hiding that he was listening. “The morgue is scary this time of day.”

Root’s fingers wrap around the handle of the cart and she angles it toward the elevator. “So I’ve heard,” she says, sighing. “It was nice to meet you, Daniel.”

“Likewise. I hope you survive the Queen of the Dead,” he adds, like it will help.

“Do people really call her that?”

He shrugs, and the wheel of the cart squeaks as Root pushes it. The elevator doors open and she waves a half-hearted goodbye toward Daniel before pushing the heavy cart into it.

On the way down to the morgue, she leans against the cart. She doesn’t think oiling the wheels will help, but it might. She figures she should give it a try. Harold had given her the cart to use when she needs more equipment than she can carry, but she doesn’t have an office. So all of her equipment takes residence on it.

She pushes it into the morgue, struggling a bit. It seems that everytime she forces the cart into motion, it keeps getting heavier.

She backs through the double doors, hoping that pulling the cart might work better, but also hoping that she disturbs Dr. Shaw’s work and gets yelled at.

The room is empty, though, save for a corpse that Root sees and almost vomits because of. She gags; she’s never had the stomach for anything dead. That’s when she hears voices coming from Dr. Shaw’s office, rising in volume as she walks toward the trashcan, just for good measure.

“No fucking way.” That’s Dr. Shaw, definitely.

Root edges toward the door, keeping her eyes anywhere but the corpse.

“She’s not - there’s no way -”

“Dr. Shaw, I urge you to keep the profanities at a minimum, we are in our place of work,” Harold says.

That’s when Root decides to walk in, looking greener than spring grass, leaning against the door frame with as much grace as a baby deer. Which is to say, not much. She misses the door frame, stumbling, and instead swallows thickly and stands underneath the intensity of Dr. Shaw’s glare as best she can with her churning stomach.

“No way,” Dr. Shaw repeats, not tearing her eyes away from Root.

“What are we talking about?” Root asks, because something about Dr. Shaw’s tone tells her that she’s objecting to Root herself, and that she does not take highly to.

Harold sighs. “You are to be sharing an office with Dr. Shaw.”

“No,” Dr. Shaw says, turning away and waving her arms. “There’s no room, I have superiority over both of you, and there’s no room.”

Precisely,” Harold snaps, bringing a hand to his temple. Dr. Shaw glares at him, and while Root is still getting over her queasiness, she’s only just catching up. “There is nowhere else to put her,” he continues, sounding woeful.

“I need my own office,” Root objects, too dumbstruck to form proper sentences.

“I’m afraid,” Harold says, for what seems like the millionth time, “we have no other options.”

“Yeah,” Shaw scoffs. “‘No other options’. Yeah, that’s fucking rich.”

And Root feels a different kind of sickness taking over. She puts a hand on the door, mostly because she’s not used to being so hated. “Maybe,” she says weakly, searching the back of Dr. Shaw’s head, “maybe it’ll be okay.”

She can feel the eye roll from across the room.



Chapter Text

Lounging in one of Harold's chairs, the syllables of Dr. Shaw's name roll off Root's tongue like a prayer.

"If possible," Harold says, peering at her over his glasses, "could you, perhaps, do whatever it is you're doing in your new office, and not mine?"

"Of course not," she replies, tongue bouncing off the roof of her mouth as she crosses the 't'. "She might hear me," she adds, then, "Sa-meen."

She’s been avoiding going down to the morgue ever since her new office became officially hers, mostly because every time she ventures into the cold, dark atmosphere of the basement she’s hit with one of Dr. Shaw’s glares. They unnerve her - she unnerves her, and Root needs to get over it.

“I like it,” Root tells Harold, swinging her leg in a jagged circle. It’s hanging off the edge of his chair and by the looks he keeps sending her, the chair costs more than her apartment, surely. “Sameen Shaw. I wonder what her middle name is.”

“If she told you,” Harold muses, typing something into his computer, “I believe she’d have to kill you.”

Turning him over with her eyes, she glitters. “I wouldn’t mind letting her cut me open,” Root says lightly.

“Ms. Groves,” Harold presses, tapping his temples with a thumb and forefinger, “isn’t there something - anything - you could be doing at this moment rather than sitting here and pestering me?”

She gets up because he asked so nicely, sighing. She does have some work to do, and she might go and play chess with Daniel. “Bye, Harry,” she murmurs, ignoring the light protest she gets in response as she steps out of his office. She likes his office, settled in a nice nook on the first floor. It has decent enough wi-fi.

(Hers, on the other hand, is hard-wired and barely has a signal).

It’s only when she’s three steps onto the homicide floor that she realizes she doesn’t have any of her equipment. That her equipment is downstairs, in in her office, past the three-headed dog that guards Hell. She sighs, leaning against a door with her arms crossed as she weighs her options. She could wait to fix Detective Morgan’s computer, but then she’d have an angry detective on her hands.

Serves them right for late night engagements and spilled coffee. Rolling her eyes, Root reluctantly turns back to the elevator and pushes the button for the basement level.

The moment the elevator arrives, she’s cautious in making her way to her office, now irrevocably divided in two ever since she moved in. As she walks down the hallway, she spots Dr. Shaw and Dr. Cole, bent over a body on a table, as well as Detectives Reese and Rose. She hopes the presence of the detectives forces her new roomie to be somewhat civilized.

When she’d first walked through the double doors, Root had noted that they squeaked. Every time after that, she’d been more than careful to push through only one of them (the one that didn’t) and become invisible. That kind of strategy is crucial for a long-term game plan, which she thought she had, but that was before she got to know Dr. Shaw better. Case in point, the woman is scary.

Root slinks to the shadows, keeping a careful eye on the white-coat clad backs as she makes her way to the office. Dr. Shaw sees her anyway, giving her a good glare, but Root slips into the office without incident, and she’s able to leave the morgue with her dignity intact.

Zoe Morgan’s computer just needs a new keyboard, but Root gives the system a reboot anyway, just for something to do. She sits in the bullpen and imagines a world where this was her office, a world where she had a gun on her hip and a badge glued to her wallet. The handcuffs would be useful at some point, definitely. But her daydream is short-lived when Zoe Morgan actually comes back to her computer.

“I was just finishing up,” Root says, standing and plugging in the new keyboard. “Should be good as new.” She demonstrates, typing in a few commands.

“Great, thanks,” Detective Morgan says, and she smiles at Root. It’s one of the first she’s received at this job, and Root feels fire grow low in her belly. She makes to walk past, but Zoe catches her elbow. “Also,” she adds, looking at Root meaningfully, “Don’t let Shaw get to you. She hates everybody for a while, but she’s a softie. She hides it with a lot of eyerolls and a scalpel.”

Root’s not used to anybody being so forward with her, so she merely shrugs, packing up her things. Zoe pats her on the shoulder as she passes, and Root fights the urge to run out of there, anxiety churning in her gut. She vacates toward the elevator, thankful that it’s empty, and she presses her back to the wall, breathing deep, even breaths.

There is a good chance that Dr. Shaw is hiding behind a facade. Root surmises that Dr. Shaw will have to get used to sharing her office, eventually, but that day isn’t today, and it probably won’t be tomorrow. Root doesn’t know whether she should be kissing ass or attempting to annoy Dr. Shaw more.

Stepping into the evidence locker, Root knocks her fist on the cage that separates the stacks from the general public.

She’s greeted not with Daniel, but with a man she’s never seen before, who spots her, widens his eyes, and abruptly disappears.

“I -” Root’s fist falls flat. “Uh, Daniel?”

There’s some scurrying from the back and Daniel’s there a moment later, a plastic bag trapped between his teeth. “Sorry, sorry,” he mumbles. He unlocks the door for her, letting her in. “I’m completely swamped today - did you know if a journal is ripped to shreds, each page has it’s own separate bag? I have to put each evidence number in the Holy Book.”

Following him, Root chokes back a laugh. “Holy Book?”

“This one,” he says, knocking his knuckles on a large notebook settled on his desk. It looks a lot like a log-book, and Root supposes that’s probably all it is.

“There was a, um, guy? Asian, scared-looking, fled when he saw me,” Root adds. She’s a little offended, if she’s being honest.

“Shit,” Daniel says, taking the bag from his mouth. “That’s Daizo. He works down here, too, though you’d never know it. Daizo!” He stands shock still, waiting for a response. Shrugging when he gets nothing, Daniel continues, “He probably ran because you’re with her now. Shaw scares the shit out of him, more than anyone else.”

Root settles in a chair and waits for the story while picking at her nails. She needs a new coat of black.

“Long story short,” Daniel continues, holding an evidence bag up to the light, “Daizo went down to get some of the bullets she’d pulled from a body, right? Normal stuff, I do it all the time, but that day I couldn’t. He did something wrong - guy still won’t tell me what he did - and Daizo ended up with a bruise the size of Jupiter on his upper arm. This was right around when Shaw first showed up, when Hersh was still in charge down there. She was put on suspension and almost lost her job, but I think Dazio jeopardized a case or something.”

Root’s hand pauses in the air, mostly because she hadn’t guessed that Shaw would resort to actual violence. The temperature underneath the lid is carefully regulated, it seems, and Root is suddenly worried that she could be the next one on the firing block.

“That’s…”

“Like I said.” Daniel stops what he’s doing and looks her right in the eye. “Don’t get on her bad side.”

Root nods and stands up, bidding Daniel goodbye. “You’re busy, so I think chess is out of the picture. Thanks for the advice.”

“Anytime, Root,” he says.

“And tell Daizo goodbye for me, too. I don’t bite.”

 

.

 

“Shaw - this guy is dead.”

“Yeah,” Shaw says through gritted teeth, “Which is why my technique isn’t a problem. I can puncture a lung and hey,” she adds, doing just that, and Cole grimaces, “he’s not bleeding. The blood is too thick, he’s been dead for too long, and I’m too goddamn annoyed to do this with any ounce of subtlety.”

Cole wisely keeps his comments to himself, and she’s grateful. Although she doesn’t miss it when he sighs, too loud to just be a slight exhale of breath, when she knicks her scalpel on a bone. She wishes that he’d just shut up. She hasn’t gotten an ounce of quiet all day, and she doesn’t know where her head will go if she doesn’t get nice and quiet morgue time. A silent autopsy, save for her own observations, is how work gets done.

“There will eventually be a funeral,” Cole points out, as Shaw recklessly removes the heart, dropping in into the scale like a rock.

“And when he’s in that casket, the casket will be closed,” Shaw reminds him, “because this guy, he got his head blown off.”

“Is that your official cause of death?” If it was Cole who said that, she would’ve stopped the autopsy right then and there, but it’s not. It’s Reese, walking through the double doors at the last moment, recent enough not to have heard any other part of their conversation.

Shaw closes her eyes, her hands stilling in the chest cavity. When she reopens them, she focuses on the GSW to the head, right between the eyes. Finally, she turns to John, and says, “No, it’s not my official cause of death because I haven’t written my report. When I do, you’ll be the second person to get it, John. Like always.”

He studies her carefully, then his eyes glaze over as he takes in the body. Looking at Cole, he asks, “Were they out of donuts this morning?”

And Shaw slams down her scalpel, not caring about where the blood goes (she cares a little bit - she cares that a small drop lands on the collar of John’s white shirt), and walks a few steps away.

She can feel John’s raised eyebrow on her back, and she hasn’t reacted this way at work in a long time, but she’s never had to deal with Root before.

“I got her all bear claws,” Cole sighs, talking as if she’s not even there. Shaw purses her lips at the wall. “But it’s Root. Shaw can’t stand her.”

“You’re going to have to,” John responds. To Shaw, this time.

“I know that,” Shaw growls, stalking back to the body. She rips off her gloves, tearing out a new pair, mostly because the autopsy isn’t going to complete itself. “I’m allowed time to be not okay with it.”

“You are,” John acquiesces, and Shaw wants to punch that fucking smile right off his fucking face. What John has can’t even be considered a smile, more of a smirk, but Shaw wants to get rid of it regardless. He smirks at her like he knows her and sure, they’ve gone out for drinks a few times, caught a few paper targets at the gun range, but not enough for him to act like this. He’s been entirely too concerned lately. “But -”

“You need to stop,” Shaw says, not admitting defeat.

Cole notices, she can tell, because he looks between the two of them with his wide eyes, but he schools his expression well. People learn to do that around her (but not John, apparently, Jesus Christ).

“I will,” John says, peering at the body, “but I’m just concerned for you, Shaw.”

She’s uncomfortable, partly because Cole is standing right here and partly because John is being too forward. Nevertheless, she lets him go on, choosing to focus on her work as she listens.

“Root might be good for you,” he continues. “You need some sun.”

It’s his version of get out of the basement, but she occupies herself just fine, thank you very much. “I have friends,” she argues, pulling out the stomach, “and if you think Root is going to be my friend, that’s never going to happen.”

“I’m just saying.” John eases up, standing at attention. “If you make this more difficult for yourself, you’ll be even more bad tempered.”

That earns him a glare.

“So, GSW to the head?” John picks up the bullet from the basin with glove-clad hands, examining it.

“Yeah,” Shaw growls, because John’s right. John’s always fucking right.

 

.

 

The thing is, Root is loud.

Shaw sits at her desk. Root sits at hers. It’s peaceful, for sometime, until Root starts up a shredder, and really, what does an IT worker have to shred anyway? Apparently, loads of things, because Shaw presses a finger to her temple, the drone of the shredder seeping through the cracks of her headache.

And it isn’t just menial things, either, because Root talks incessantly. Almost nervously. Shaw listens, mostly, and finds she can’t concentrate on her own computer with Root’s high, nasally voice infiltrating her atmosphere.

When she goes to her office after John leaves, after the body’s put away, she finds it blessedly empty, and Shaw almost moans in happiness. Most of her stuff’s been smooshed to the side, made way for Root’s smaller desk in the corner, and while she doesn’t mind the lesser space, she wishes her new roommate was quieter. At this moment, if anyone asked her what she wanted most, she would probably say for Root to be gone and a bear claw to be in her hand.

Shaw sighs into her chair, her favorite chair, and gets to work on her report.

Not moments later, Root stumbles in, making a racket as she almost slams the door. Shaw’s hand tightens around the pen she’s holding, her eyes unfocus on the paper in front of her, and she listens to each movement Root makes. She catches a small curse fall from Root’s lips as Root trips over something, then the room falls still.

She looks up to find Root staring at her, then Root mutters, “I’m sorry,” and sits down in her chair.

Not saying a word, Shaw resumes writing. She’s halfway through copying the time of death when Root says, “Listen, I just want to say that I don’t want to be here any more than you do. It sucks, I know. They’ll find me an office, soon, probably. But we’re stuck here for now.”

“I want to be here,” Shaw manages, looking up with eyes of steel. Root looks terrified, and that only fuels Shaw more, “it’s you who I want out.”

Root stares at her for a moment longer, her lips parted, and finally, she shakes her head slightly. “No, you know what?” She leans back into her chair, crossing her arms. “You don’t scare me.”

“I don’t? Because everyone else seems to be terrified when I even go upstairs,” Shaw points out, growling that last bit. That last bit makes her chest ache, because she likes going upstairs and talking with Reese, Carter, and hell, even Fusco, but she always repels anyone within a fifty feet radius.

“No, you don’t, Sameen,” Root says, and Shaw clenches her jaw. No one calls her Sameen besides her mother, and she certainly isn’t planning on letting Root get away with it.

“So, you’re used to being bullied, then,” Shaw says, nice and low, threatening enough to make even Reese turn tail out the door. She’s used this voice before, this buried whisper that scares the shit out of anyone sane. “Samantha.”

Root scoffs. “Are you twelve? Are you seriously that immature, because honestly, you were a little hot, but now?” Root shrugs, and Shaw is seconds away from exploding.

Shaw breathes evenly, gets up, and walks two strides to the door. She would’ve been fine, had she gotten out of the office, but Root gets up at some point and catches her elbow in her hand and Shaw turns on her heel with her fist in the air.

 

.

 

They’re in Harold’s office with Harold peering up at them oddly, and Root can feel the heat radiating from Shaw’s skin. Mostly, Root’s glad that she didn’t get hit, but she can’t get the image of Shaw seething out of her mind. Shaw’d turned on her, teeth gritted, and said, “Harold’s office, now.”

“I’m afraid there is nowhere else to put Ms. Groves, currently,” he says, a bit worried as he glances toward Shaw.

It’s Shaw, Root supposes, now that they’ve been inches from either a fistfight or an angry makeout. Of which, she’s not entirely sure. She kind of wishes she had a nice bruise to complain to Human Resources about. Shaw would be suspended, she’d have an office to herself for at least a little while, and bruises go away, eventually.

Someone’s been taking anger management courses.

Instead, they’re bothering Harold and Root listens as Shaw fumes, smiling every time her name is mentioned and Harold’s eyes flicker to her. She’s ever the happy camper, braving the torrential hurricane that is Sameen Shaw. Her language is certainly colorful - Root’s eyes widen once or twice - but perhaps the most offending term is when she finishes with “she’s your intern. Put her in your office.”

“I’m not -”

“Ms. Groves is not an intern,” Harold corrects, obviously done with the conversation. He straightens a few papers on his desk as Root rolls her eyes at his choice of name.

“Employee, whatever,” Shaw continues, nonplussed. “Just, get her out of my office.”

Harold falls still, fingers wrapped around the papers, before he finally looks up at them both. Shaw’s leaning on his desk, arms twisted underneath black scrubs (Root’s gaze doesn’t trace down the sinew of her forearms), and Root’s standing straight, arms crossed. Harold says, “I’m afraid there is nowhere else to put her.”

Shaw glares at him, enough that Root’s sure she would do anything underneath those venomous eyes, and then she huffs, nails digging into the cherrywood of Harold’s desk. “Great,” she mutters. “Just great.”

Stalking out of the office, she leaves Root and Harold alone.

Harold doesn’t look up at her again and Root takes it as a dismissal, following after Shaw as quickly as she can. She slips out of the door and isn’t expecting Shaw to be so close, almost running into Shaw’s back. Shaw’s standing in the middle of the hallway, her hands deep in her pockets. “I didn’t know you were there,” she murmurs, stepping around Shaw.

Dark eyes find her own. “Why are you so loud?”

Root’s brows knit together. “What?” She leans against the wall outside Harold’s office.

“In the office. You always tap. When you move, you could wake the dead.” Shaw’s lips turn up a bit. “I would know.”

Self-consciously, Root tucks a piece of hair behind her ear, briefly feeling the scar behind it. She debates on whether she should tell Shaw or not, but her mind doesn’t work too fast to facilitate lying. She decides on telling the truth. “I’m, uh, partially deaf,” she explains, noticing the shift in Shaw’s demeanor immediately.

“Oh,” Shaw says. She’s at a loss like most people are when they find out about Root’s right ear. Honestly, Root hadn’t realized that she’d been so loud, but she couldn’t care less. “Sorry, then,” Shaw adds. She sounds genuinely apologetic, rather than the thinly veiled attempts that Root usually receives as apologies. “I didn’t realize.”

“I’m used to it,” Root says, shrugging. She brings a hand up to her right side, snapping a finger. “After a couple of years, you don’t really realize it.”

Shaw looks at her for a long moment, calculating. “Try to be quieter, and I’ll rethink getting you put out on the street,” she mutters before turning on her heel, leaving Root alone outside Harold’s door.

Root finds herself bringing a hand up once again, running her fingers along jagged scar tissue behind her ear.

She’s on the move, then, making her way past the front desk when she’s stopped by Officer Fusco. There’s donut powder on his cheek, but Root doesn’t say anything about it as she passes. She’s almost through the opposite door when he calls after her, “Hey Typey.”

She raises a brow. “Excuse me?”

“I can’t get this thing to work,” he complains, gesturing to his computer. It’s a desktop, one of the oldest in the building, and Root inwardly groans. “Technology ain’t my friend, you know?” Root wants to tell him that she isn’t his friend, either, but this is her job and she can’t complain as everyone else does. Officer Fusco nods toward the device. “Can you help or not?”

“I can,” she sighs, sliding around behind his desk.

“The damn Internet won’t open,” he tells her, and she tells him to scoot back.

She wants to tell him that’s because he isn’t logged in but she uses her master log in instead, typing away on the computer to make it look like she’s doing something. She even opens the command prompt and types in some code, bright green text on a black screen that makes Officer Fusco’s jaw drop. Finally, she logs out and reopens the login screen, opening up the keyboard for him.

“Now, enter your username and password,” she says, and miraculously, he’s able to get onto the Internet.

She leaves him just as he’s logging into his favorite game site, rolling her eyes as he clicks away.

 

.

 

Shaw stalks away from Root and bites down on her tongue, cursing herself for what she’s just said. She beelines for the other floor, not hesitating to walk through the bullpen (she ignores Reese’s raised eyebrow) and straight into Lieutenant Carter’s office.

The good Lieutenant is sitting there reviewing files. She looks up when Shaw walks in, smiles lightly at Shaw’s attire, and clicks her jaw to the side. “What do you want, Shaw?”

“Why do you always assume there’s something I want, Joss,” Shaw muses, throwing herself in one of the chairs in front of Carter’s desk. “You hurt me.”

“It’s rare I find you voluntarily up here,” Carter says, leaning on her elbows. “Usually I have to drag you,” she adds.

Shaw shakes her head. “While I’m not opposing that particular offer, the good days are over,” she says. “And I’m here for something else: whiskey.”

“You’d better not be on the clock,” Carter warns, but she reaches underneath her desk to pull out the seemingly bottomless bottle that her and Shaw drink from on late nights, anyway. It’s only late afternoon, but Shaw’s already done with this day. She needs a drink.

She pulls out two glasses and fills them halfway before sliding one over to Shaw, who gulps the liquid in a quick drink. It stings in her throat. “Fuck, that’s nice,” Shaw comments, just as Carter sets down her drink, too.

“I’ll hear that,” Carter agrees, already pouring them both another.

Two glasses later, two burning pullbacks later, Shaw’s spilling her secrets. “She’s horrible,” Shaw sighs, leaning forward on her arms. She’s talking about Root, of course. There is simply no other word to describe her. Horrible suffices when it comes to the irritating new IT girl that Shaw is to share her office with. 

“Suck it up,” Carter says simply, and that’s something Shaw loves about her.

“I would, but for God’s sake.” Shaw runs her finger around the rim of the glass. Her and Carter always take their respective glasses, even if they both actually belong to Carter. “Root’s just…”

Carter smiles against the lip of her drink. “You like her,” she says, laughing. “You like her and that’s why you’re being so defensive about this.”

“You’re drunk,” Shaw argues, but she doesn’t argue the other thing. Her mind’s too fuzzy to be thinking about anything other than drinking the whiskey in front of her.

“I think we both are,” Carter agrees, staring into the bottom of her glass like it’s the end of the world and that glass has all of the answers. “Share a taxi?”

Shaw nods, letting her eyes drift over Carter as the Lieutenant puts the bottle away. Carter’s got a son waiting for her at home, tucked away in bed, and all Shaw’s got is some more alcohol that she plans to finish. She’s not prone to hangovers. It’s a perk, she guesses, from her late nights during medical school where her company was her notes and six pack.

She shares a cab with Joss, and when Carter gets off at her stop, Shaw stares out the window.

 

.

 

The next morning, there are slight bags underneath Shaw’s eyes, but nothing more than that. She gets ready per usual, slipping into black jeans and black long sleeve tee before calling a cab to take her back to the precinct. She’s got one autopsy to complete this morning and then she’s got the afternoon off. She’s got a good idea on how she’s going to spend it, too.

(Officer Laskey’s got a great canine officer that doesn’t get nearly enough exercise).

Shaw arrives before anyone else, really, and she stops in the parking garage and silently apologizes to her car for the night before. A hand to the back end and she’s forgiven; then she’s slipping through the doors and into the elevator. She’s in a great mood.

The lights in the morgue are off, but her office lights are on. As she walks across the linoleum, Shaw figures she just left them on by accident the night before or it was Root. Either way, it’s not enough to put a damper on her amazing mood. She’s going to change into her scrubs, pull out the cadaver, slice into him and write her report. All before ten am, probably.

Shaw walks into her office and finds Root in a precarious position.

She’s leaning over Shaw’s white coat. It takes several moments for the scene to register.

What she sees:

  • Root, staring at her with eyes not unlike a deer about to be obliterated by an oncoming vehicle.

  • Her white coat in Root’s hands.

  • A coffee stain on said white coat, attempting to be rubbed out vigorously by Root and bleach.

The stain is large, one of the biggest mistakes Shaw’s ever encountered, and something funny could be said about how quickly her good mood vanishes. Her jaw clicks, tightening as her teeth gnash against each other, and finally, she says, “Root, what are you doing?”

“I spilled,” Root explains lamely.

“That coat was in the closet,” Shaw points out, and there should be an award for how even her voice remains.

“I was,” Root begins before glancing down briefly at the material in her hands (it’s a lost cause; Shaw’s had that coat since medical school and now she’ll never wear it again), “trying it on.”

Shaw nods, considering. Then, she turns on her heel and exits the room, choosing instead to grab her scrubs out of one of the shelves in the morgue. She changes and begins the autopsy as scheduled and detaches herself from Root, who periodically glances out the windows from Shaw’s office to peek at her as she stabs a dead man. She’s angry, she’s pissed, but she still has a job to do.

She slices into a man’s heart and wishes it was Root’s.





Chapter Text

Shaw diagnosed herself in medical school.

With an Axis II personality disorder, she’d slipped through her residency wanting to be a surgeon and ended it knowing she’d need something with less human interaction. She couldn’t do the post-operation talk, couldn’t deal with family members, and she still can’t quite own up to her own mistakes.

Mistakes were just that. Mistakes. Slips of the hand where someone bled out. Places where technical mastery didn’t just quite cut it. Where there was nothing anyone could do.

Down in the morgue, there weren’t any mistakes to make. The only mistake that could possibly happen could be misplacing evidence, or writing the wrong information on a report, but those were her own, not out of her hands, and those she could handle. Shaw’s closed off from most of the natural human’s emotion spectrum, but she still is as good as anyone at filling out papers.

She’d gotten talked out of surgery mid-residency, forced to walk away from the program or choose a different route. She hadn’t hid well enough, had one too many candy bars whilst telling a patient’s family of their sister’s, brother’s, father’s death.

So Shaw had moved across the country and become Hersh’s assistant.

Hersh had noticed quickly that she was different. She didn’t cry when victims were rolled in and had a sad story, but looked at them with a calculated view and took in their wounds, learning all that she could from her new boss. It was at that time that Hersh still worked as examiner regularly, before she was allowed to take over. Shaw learned all she could in that first year.

Shaw doesn’t do sad, but she does angry too well. Underneath the surface, the emotionless eyes and the tightly pressed together lips, she boils whenever it’s a young girl on her table, or a woman with years of abuse riddling her skin. Anger controls her, keeps the cut of her scalpel straight, and she lets herself find the answers for the victims who no longer have a voice.

It’s not just anger for the victims that she feels, but irritation flares when the detectives hover over her shoulder and wait on her every move. She can’t stand it.

Cole does a good job as mediator, and she appreciates his quietness, his willingness to do everything she says. It’s people like Reese who insist on caring about her, and that just gets underneath her skin.

Today, however, Shaw’s in a good mood because she has a few autopsies scheduled and unless someone is randomly murdered, her day should go smoothly. Root has slinked away with promises dangling behind her that she would take Shaw’s coat to the dry cleaner’s and see what could be done. That was a good amount of money that would stay in Shaw’s pocket.

While Root had screwed up a few times on occasion, Shaw had to admit that she was getting used to the other woman occupying her space. It was becoming habit, in the morning when Root rolled her cart upstairs, that Shaw held the elevator doors for her (even if she had, at first, resisted this and let them close). Sometimes, they even ate lunch in the same room. They weren’t eating lunch together, but Shaw supposes anyone who watched them from an outside perspective would’ve seen it that way.

No one stays down there but them; Cole doesn’t like eating down there on account of the perpetual smell of decay.

But when Shaw walks into her office, bright and early, on a day when Cole usually leaves a box of donuts on her desk, she finds that the donuts aren’t there at all. They’re sitting on Root’s own desk, opened.

She pauses in the doorway, staring at the box, and wishes for two things. They include: Root being smarter than Shaw gives her credit for and bear claws.

Neither of her wishes comes true, because the bear claws are gone, leaving behind just a few plain, glazed donuts, and it’s almost as if Root is asking for death.

There are only so many things that she can allow Root to get ahold of. Most of which, Root’s hands have already touched. She’s stolen Shaw’s stapler and already broken it, she’s managed to inch her desk away from her side of the room and into Shaw’s which is completely unacceptable, but now, this is completely, utterly, wholeheartedly inadmissible.

(Shaw had skipped breakfast at home for these).

Root wants to die, surely, and Shaw’s going to be the one that kills her. Staring at the half-empty box, Shaw wonders why just the bear claws. Shaw likes the other types well enough, but the bear claws are her absolute favorite. She wonders if Root knows.

Someway or another, Root’s going to end up on her table with a y-incision running down her chest. She’s going to use her favorite scalpel, the one she sharpens regularly. And she’s going to make Cole watch for not regulating the goddamn box.

Shaw stares at the box for a good five minutes, willing the bear claws back into existence mostly because glazed donuts simply won’t do for a morning like this. A morning that was, earlier, a good morning.

She’d walked in and hadn’t ran into Fusco in the front, hadn’t had to endure is odd little crossword questions that are weirdly simple yet even he can’t seem to get them. She hadn’t run into anyone, not even Root, and it’d put her into the best mood she’d been in for weeks. Her morning run hadn’t even winded her.

Shaw scowls, eats the rest of the remaining donuts in fuming silence, and dares Root to show her face.

 

.

 

Root licks the glaze of pastry from her fingers and strides from the morgue to make her early morning rounds. She’s almost like a doctor. With her clipboard, she slowly makes her way to and from each and every computer in the entire building for a checkup. The entire process takes her about an hour and she does it almost every week.

It’s mostly useless, but it’s busywork, and Root doesn’t mind having something to do. It beats watching Shaw dissect hearts, even if she’s getting used to watching the good doctor work.

And she thinks that Shaw gets annoyed when she’s down there, watching her and Cole do their work in silence.

As she makes her way to the bullpen, Root pauses just outside the glass, spotting all of the detectives crowded around an officer, decidedly not Officer Fusco (not that he’d warrant that much attention, anyway). Upon further examination (she stands on her toes to peek over the back of Reese’s shoulder), she spots a dog wagging its tail and smiling.

Root likes dogs, but she doesn’t love them. Deciding that now is a good time to catch the many detectives’ computers unaware, she slips into the bullpen and slides into John Reese’s chair, typing away at his keyboard to activate his malware software. She likes John’s computer mostly because she knows he never uses it. Partly because he doesn’t know how and partly because he doesn’t trust them. Gotta love those suspicious types.

She’s slipping into Zoe Morgan’s seat next when John notices her. “Hey, Root,” he says, and she’s surprised that he remembers her name. “Come meet Bear,” he adds, and she notes the slightly unusual name for the animal that is definitely not a bear.

The dog sits on its rear end and thumps its tail on the ground, hard, and almost looks as if its waiting just for her to come over. She groans inwardly, but comes over all the same.

Looking up at the Officer, she asks, “Why’s he named that?”

Officer Laskey, she notes from the badge on his chest, answers, “Dunno. His old partner was shot in the line of duty. I’ve only had him a few weeks.”

Root wrinkles her nose, scratching behind the dog’s ears. “Don’t they usually retire them when that happens?” Albeit, she doesn’t know that much about the canine units, but she knows enough about grief to figure it has to be the same with animals.

“He’s too young,” Laskey explains. “And good, I guess. They wanted to keep him on the force.”

John reaches over and runs a large hand down Bear’s back, and Root doesn’t miss the look in his eyes. Suddenly, though, he looks at Root like he’s just realized something. “Hey, you should tell Shaw that he’s up here. She hasn’t seen him in weeks; she’ll be pissed if she misses him.”

Raising an eyebrow, Root stands. “I’ll just finish up my work here and I’ll go do that,” she says, making her way back to Zoe’s computer. Honestly, it would be easier to set it up so the multiple softwares ran on their own schedules, but then she’d probably be out of a job. Whenever a computer got a virus, they could just outsource.

Besides, Zoe Morgan’s computer actually has a virus and a pretty nasty one at that. Root slides a flash drive into the tower and downloads her own antivirus, watching as her baby does its thing. She may or may not lean back in Zoe’s chair as her software completely annihilates. It’s relaxing, watching bits of code eat each other up.

After she’s done with that, it’s basically a coincidence that Bear is leaving, too. Root times it so the elevator doors shut before the officer and his dog can get on, mostly because she’s planning on using the dog as leverage with Shaw somehow.

Of course, as soon as she steps a foot through the double doors, Shaw has a scalpel in the air and aiming at her throat, and while Root would like this under safer, more consensual circumstances, she’s at a loss as to why.

She voices that.

“You fucking ate the goddamn bear claws,” Shaw growls, backing Root up into the double doors, which is both ineffective and arousing. The doors swing back when Root hits them, but she stands her ground. (She doesn’t spend more than a moment’s thought on the similarity between Shaw’s love of bear claws and the dog upstairs, named Bear).

“Yes,” Root says slowly, because there’s a scalpel aimed at her throat that she’s unsure whether is going to actually be used. “But,” she continues, acutely aware of the popping vein on Shaw’s jaw, “they’re my favorite.”

“That’s all you have to say,” Shaw says dully, staring at her. Her eyes are cold and unwavering and Root realizes she’s most likely not going to get out of this easily. Honestly, the jacket was a pure accident, but she’d eaten the bear claws this morning with the intent of getting Shaw something in return. She hadn’t known Shaw would react in this manner.

“There’s a different type of Bear upstairs,” Root tries, remembering how the dog had been leaving minutes before. “With claws.”

“I’m going to forget about those goddamn pastries while I go and pet that dog,” Shaw mutters, setting the scalpel down with a metallic ring through the entire room, loud enough to shatter glass, “but when I get back, you better hope I don’t remember.”

She leaves Root, pushing past her and through the double doors, leaving them swinging. Root takes a moment to let out the breath she’d been holding, eyes finding the scalpel Shaw had left. Her knuckles had almost gone white, wrapped around that scalpel, and Root’s mind wanders in a different direction.

Shaking her head, Root decides if she’s going to win over Shaw, there’s only one way.

Bear.

 

.

 

Somehow, later that day, Shaw’s day goes from bad to worse.

Between there, though, it’s pretty okay. She gets to see possibly her favorite living thing in the world. She catches Officer Laskey on his way out the front door, and it’s almost as if Bears tail starts wagging when he catches her scent. He pulls against his leash, practically drags Laskey back, and Shaw immediately drops to her knees to receive him.

“Dr. Shaw,” Laskey says, and to his credit, he doesn’t sound nearly as terrified as the last time the last time she saw him. It was at the funeral for Bear’s old owner, and she’d been there for Bear, too.

At least the dog is happier this time around.

“Treatin’ my man right, Laskey?” Shaw lets the dog lick her face, scratching behind his ears.

“Always, ma’am,” he says, looking from left to right. Shaw barely notices, returning her attention to the dog in question. He’s one of the most handsome dogs she’s ever seen, although he seems different than he has most of the time she’s spent with him. Sighing, Shaw presses her lips against Bear’s head, right above his eyes, and lets the dog lick her neck.

She pats his head. “I’ll see you later, buddy. Be good.” Whispering, she murmurs, “don’t get shot.”

She stands up, lets Laskey take him away, before she lets her last words get the better of her. “Take care of him, Laskey.”

“Will, do, Doctor.”

Shaw watches the pair walk out the front doors of the precinct, and then turns on her heel. She considers getting an early lunch for a brief second, but then remembers the report she has to write, groans, and heads to the elevator. The ride is short; she’s not looking forward to seeing Root again and that makes it all the more shorter.

She’s sitting at her desk, and Root’s outside the door in the morgue doing God-knows-what when it happens.

It goes like this:

Paramedics roll bodies in occasionally, but Shaw’s arranged it so that her morgue gets this only minutely. Cole glances at the good doctor, slipping his hands into his gloves, and Shaw nods.

But this time, a smiling paramedic with blood on her hands pulls in a black bag that Shaw can’t refuse. Root’s sitting on the edge of the room, her legs swinging back and forth above the ground. Her hands press into the table as she watches Shaw work, taking control of the situation with a command of the room that is both frightening and a bit arousing.

Root wisely tampers down both of the emotions, watching with an onlooker’s point of view because she doesn’t have much else to do.

The paramedic disappears and as long as Root is quiet, she’ll be able to watch as Shaw falls into her zone.

“No signs of physical trauma,” Shaw notes, and Root wonders if the speaking out loud is benefit for her or for her Cole.

Cole leans over the body, sticking a glove finger into the victim’s mouth. “Bloody mucus, too,” he comments.

“Perfect,” Shaw mutters, almost low enough that Root doesn’t catch it. She’s grabbing the fingers next, examining the fingernails and the palm. “Splinter hemorrhages underneath the nails,” she says, taking a moment’s pause. “Shit.”

“Excuse me?” Cole and Shaw share a knowing look, worried blonde eyebrows knitting together.

Shaw glances over at Root, then the door. “Right, both of you hold your breath and get to the crime lab as fast as you can, we’ve got a code red.” Shaw runs over to the opposite wall, pounding a fist across a button to sound an alarm. She leads the way and Cole looks panicked, but there’s only excitement burning its way through Root’s chest as she follows the both of them.

Cole’s calling someone on the phone and before Root knows it, there’s a quarantine on the basement, locking the three of them in the crime lab and the body in the morgue, just to make sure what Shaw noticed wasn’t lethal.

They sit in there for what seems like hours, and Root is actually missing her work. She’s bored, mostly, and Shaw paces from wall to wall while Cole sits unbearably still. The two of them are both annoying in their own right, but Root sits on the floor with her back to the wall and switches between crossing her legs and letting them lie out flat. Eventually, after exactly fifty-three minutes, a man in a hazmat suit gets as close to the plastic sheeting covering the doorway as he dares.

“Dr. Shaw?” His eyes drift between the three of them. Niether Shaw or Cole had been wearing their white coat (Shaw’s is currently at the dry cleaner’s, anyway) and finally, barely visible eyes settle on Cole.

Shaw coughs. “That’s me.” She looks even smaller standing next to the man in the gigantic white containment suit.

“So, it’s non-lethal. We’ve just gotten the results in and we’ll get them to you as soon as you and your colleagues strip down and shower. I’m sure there are some scrubs or towels in there?”

Root, sitting in her corner of the room, doesn’t miss the way Shaw’s hand clenched into a fist. Cole visibly deflates. It takes a full minute for what he said to process in Root’s mind and when it does, she lets out an exhale. By the time she’s caught up, Shaw’s nodding.

“There are, yeah,” she’s saying, her neck taut. “Thank you.”

The man disappears behind a white sheet and then Shaw’s turning to glare at Cole. Root’s grinning, and when Shaw finally looks at her, she rolls her eyes and shakes her head.

“Get that shit off your face,” she grumbles, and Root scrambles to her feet.

“Well,” Root hums, “We wouldn’t want to get any unnecessary rashes by keeping these clothes on too long, would we?” She’s always been good at this, the open flirting. She’s making Shaw uncomfortable, she can tell, but she knows where there’s a line and she knows when she’s crossed it. They’re not naked yet, and when they are, she plans on shutting up.

Though, she is looking forward to seeing parts of Shaw’s arms that she hasn’t seen before. She doesn’t expect to see too much, not when Shaw’s obviously someone who stays covered up most of the time, but Root’s not very shy herself. The only problem is the obviously very awkward bundle of nerves standing off to the side, hands deep in his pockets. He’s hard to forget when he stands even taller than Root.

“Let’s just get this over with,” Shaw grumbles, yanking the scrub t-shirt over her head.

Root isn’t expecting the lack of clothing underneath. Well, more honestly, she isn’t expecting Shaw to just be wearing a sports bra underneath, and when Shaw lets down her hair, weaving her fingers through it, Root feels a sharp elbow poke her in the side.

It’s Cole. He waggles his eyebrows at her meaningfully and Root gets it. She had been staring, even after Shaw had turned away from her.

Shaking her head, Root finds her own part of the room. She hides partly behind a counter and starts to pull away her simple button up and slacks, revealing the black underwear underneath. She’s a little remiss for the matching bra and panties set she managed the find in the dark this morning; she’ll have to shove them into a black bag and probably won’t seem them for weeks while they’re professionally cleaned.

She keeps her underwear on for now, turning around and awaiting instructions. (She hopes that she isn’t imagining the way Shaw’s eyes skirt away from her, but wishful thinking only goes so far).

“There’s a safety shower around the corner,” Shaw tells her before disappearing back there herself. Root hears the creak of the water and stands with Cole in silence.

Both pale and a little cold, they wait for Shaw to finish.

There aren’t any towels, Shaw explains, and any scrubs that are in the crime lab are contaminated anyway. They’ll have to bring them clothes. Shaw comes back out dripping wet and naked, only bothering with a hand plastered to her chest and between her legs, but Root takes in the curve of her ass a moment before she realizes that it’s rude to stare.

Staring at the ceiling, Root chews on her bottom lip while Shaw leans against the counter and glares at everything, her included. Root can feel the anger radiating from the other woman and as blessed as she might have felt earlier, she’s wishing she were anywhere but here.

Cole has minimal extremities to cover, and Root slips past him and by the time she’s done with her shower, Shaw’s coming around the corner to give her clean clothing.

Root squeaks when Shaw interrupts her, throwing clean scrubs into her faces, and she swears Shaw is smirking as she takes in her naked form. “Payback,” Shaw mutters, and then she’s retreating into the no longer quarantined areas of her office.

The flush that runs across all of Root’s skin has nothing to do with the temperature of the water.

 

Chapter Text

Ever since she got out of college, Root’s had about three steady jobs.

The first one was working with a close friend’s parents. She was the technical support for their business, and she enjoyed it, for the most part. She had her own little office in the back, no one bothered her other than for the occasional computer restart, and she got paid decent money. She got to see her best friend almost everyday. That was a plus.

Then, almost like that, her best friend wasn’t her best friend anymore. Hanna moved to another country, Root to another state, and they lost contact with each other.

And then Hanna died, and Root lost herself altogether.

Her second job was at Best Buy, and she hated it. She worked with sleazebags, didn’t have any friends, and hardly made enough money to pay her rent. That’s when she started her freelance work.

Most of it consisted of softcore hacking jobs on the side, but she’d been going bigger and bigger when she met Harold. He caught her, so to speak, because he’d needed someone to fix his computer and that someone had been her. A digital trace left from her flash drive after the work and he’d contacted her a few days later, leaving a non-threatening email that made her want to disappear anyway.

She worked hard to maintain her anonymity, but this man had cracked it the moment he met her. She couldn’t help but be impressed, if not a little irked.

They met at the park, at a chess table, and played a game.

“I’d like to offer you a job,” he said, moving his knight.

“I already have a job.”

He looked at her. “I work at the police department,” he clarified, and her heart hammered in her chest, then, as she realized what he was saying. She didn’t know, then, that he was just the Information Technology Specialist, but his words had scared her nonetheless. “And I do believe the money offered would be quite a bit more than what you’re making now.”

He was right, of course, and she’d left Best Buy two weeks later after giving in her notice.

Growing accustomed to how things worked at the station, Root’s not used to the level of familiarity exercised with the cops, receptionists, and even her. People smile at her, people with guns smile at her, and she’s surprised every single time it happens. At her old jobs, people and coworkers merely acknowledged her presence, if that, and she got used to the invisibility.

Now, they’re asking her to join the softball league.

She’s never been this close to anyone at work before, and the people she’s always been close to have always left. She’s never really had friends, besides the one, and even though she knows they’re really only doing this because they need one more person and they’d rather not use Officer Fusco, she’s flattered anyway.

Well, mostly.

It’s Detectives Reese, Grice, Brooks, and Rose who are asking her, while Shaw stands off to the side, with her arms crossed, looking anywhere but at Root.

Root already knows what her thoughts about this are.

“Softball is sacred,” Shaw said when Reese had walked up to her. She clutched at his arm like a child, tiny and with a smudged brow, just as irritated, and Root hadn’t even gotten asked yet.

Reese looked at her, then, his gaze apologetic, and shrugged Shaw off.

“Look,” Reese says, “We need another player. You’re probably not any good,” he continues, and Root’s a bit offended at the way his eyes drift to her arms, looking them over (she’s skinny, but she’s not that skinny), “but anything’s better than Fusco.”

“Gee, thanks,” Root sighs, cocking her hip to one side. Shaw is still avoiding looking at her, Reese looks a bit too tired to be playing softball, but the other detectives are hopeful. They probably could’ve handled this better if they’d chosen someone else as their ringleader.

The truth is, Root’s never felt included in her life. When she was in high school, she was always picked last in gym class, mostly because the other students immediately dismissed her tiny form and her skinny limbs. She quickly grew accustomed to a mean right hook, and back in Texas, that was all that could buy her respect. Looking at the detectives in front of her, Root realizes this is their own little way of picking her first.

“I’ll do it,” Root says, finally, and Shaw rolls her eyes in the corner.

Shaw gets up and walks away, grumbling something about how Root’s ruining her “after work-life, too”, and Root resists the urge to stare after her. Reese is grinning at her, Grice reaches forward and claps her on the back, and Brooks gives her a nod that almost counts as a smile.

Detective Rose grins, wide, and leans in close. “Thanks for doing this,” she says. “Zoe wouldn’t be caught dead with a ball in her hand.” As an afterthought, she grins, “Unless it was John’s.”

Root makes a face as Detective Rose follows after her colleagues and takes a moment to wonder what she’s gotten herself into.

 

.

 

“You really need to stop complaining,” Reese says, leaning back into his chair.

Shaw sits next to him, in the chair normally reserved for witnesses and victims, but unless there’s a murder in the next few hours, they have a softball game to get ready for. This is a regular occurrence, although she’s not usually one to spill her life story to him, but she’d been looking forward to this game all week.

When Shaw had first started here, the softball league was a joke. She’d whipped them all into shape, and as detectives came and went, she knew exactly where to put who. She’s the captain of their team, although she officially co-captains with Lieutenant Carter. It’s the rules.

The only rules that matter is their team’s goal to crush the 5th precinct into the ground.

And they can’t do that with Root. “She’s probably horrible,” Shaw groans, letting her head fall forward into her hands.

“Operative word being 'probably', Shaw,” Reese points out, sighing.

Shaw shakes her head. She’s not letting anyone sway her mind. Root doesn’t fit into her rotation at all. At least with Fusco she can shove him far into the right outfield and hope the other team suddenly didn’t acquire a left handed detective. She doesn’t even think she can trust Root in the outfield without having to worry about her getting a softball to the head.

“Do we know who’s playing, today?” she asks. Changing the subject is good, because every time she imagines Root’s face in her head she can’t get the image of a softball cracking that pretty skull out of it. (Wait, pretty?)

“Rousseau and Lambert.”

“Obviously.”

“And I think they got Wells from Guns and Gangs,” he supplies.

Shaw frowns. “Shit. Harper’s gonna flip. Those two can’t get their heads out of their asses fast enough to chase a goddamn ball. Is Greer still insisting on playing? Dude’s gonna croak.”

“Probably,” Reese says, and he gives Shaw a look before she can point out his use of the word.

They’ve got their work cut out for them, but Shaw’s not going to let Root screw it up if she can.

 

.

 

Harold is the umpire. Root hangs around with him, for the most part, and pretends that she doesn’t notice Shaw in her black tank, baseball cap, and black paint smudged underneath her eyes. Shaw’s the pitcher, and Root’s entirely too distracted, just standing in the outfield watching her.

She’s met most of the other team at work functions before.

Most of them are detectives. Martine Rousseau is tall and blonde and looks a bit scary, but she grins easily and claps Shaw on the back like they’re old rivals. Jeremy Lambert is kind of skinny, like her, and he winks at Root just before he strikes out.

There’s Claire Mahoney, who’s the Information Technology specialist, like herself, but who’s entirely too young and can run like hell. Detective Kara Stanton hits a home run every time, no matter what kind of pitch Shaw throws to her, and smirks as she walks the bases.

And then there’s Detective Koroa.

“Hey, Tomas,” Shaw growls, although it’s lighthearted (it kind of makes Root’s chest ache), “Let’s not have a repeat of last year.”

“You wish, Sameen,” he replies.

The level of familiarity, even from someone who’s from a different precinct, makes Root’s chest tighten. She’s only ever gotten the cold shoulder from Shaw, and that’s no thanks to Root’s inability to interact with anything that isn’t a computer.

Tomas steps up to home plate, cocky as ever. He looks comfortable, like an athlete, and he’s wearing a smile that could charm anyone. Root’s been into girls for as long as she can remember, but she notices the parts of him that are attractive, and she notices Shaw noticing. She can see what Shaw sees in him. She doesn’t necessarily appreciate the way Shaw matches his forward smile, readying her own pitching stance.

Shaw straightens, cocks her arm back. “You ever get those pants fixed? That ass was brighter than Reese’s teeth the day you ripped ‘em.”

Tomas rolls his eyes. “You loved it.”

Shaw shakes her head, a second before she’s throwing the ball, trying to catch him off guard. The softball rides the air on an invisible curve, a difficult hit for anyone inexperienced, but as it curves toward Tomas, Root watches his hands tighten around the bat. He’s ready. The bat connects with a crack, the ball spiraling directly into the right outfield. The unexpected direction drops jaws to the floor, and the ball flies through the air.

Right towards Root.

When she was a girl, she was never that good at video games. She learned her way around her lack of skill in order to fit in; she learned how to code. She got her start in computer programming by teaching herself how to hack, and she cheated at most games she was presented with. Most importantly, though, she found a way around her impediment.

She was never very good at sports, and unfortunately, she never found a way around it.

Root doesn’t catch the ball. She hides behind the glove she borrowed from Detective Rose, but it doesn’t do her much good. The ball hits her anyway, somehow making it past the glove and hitting her directly in the head, knocking her out cold.

 

.

 

It had to have been Root.

As the EMT’s drive up, it’s Shaw’s responsibility, as the only one with a medical degree, to take Root’s vitals and make sure that she’s still breathing. She’s bruised, battered, and she has a softball sized lump on her head, but she’s fine. No one’s in the spirit to play anymore, and that’s what irritates Shaw the most. But as she glares at Root, lying on the ground and unconscious, she can’t even find it in her to be angry.

“She’s fine,” she grumbles to the crowd that had gathered, but when the EMT’s show up, she gives them her actual assessment. She guesses Root has a concussion, but there’s no telling just yet.

As the EMT’s roll Root onto a gurney, Shaw thinks she hears Reese say something about all of them going to the hospital to wait for her to wake up, and she’s not about to follow their lead.

It’s then that Tomas strolls over, casual as ever. They’ve got history, and as far as she’s concerned, whatever they have should stay in the past. She’s debating whether or not she should leave or go home, but somehow Tomas is the only person here who has made it the entirety of the game without getting covered in dirt. She’s at least a little impressed, if not annoyed.

She does three nights, nothing more, but whatever her thing is with Tomas has lasted the past three years without fail. She doesn’t want him to get attached. Another reason she does this job is to avoid men and their feelings.

“Hey, stranger,” he says, and he smiles in that way that somehow always gets to her. “You didn’t call. After last time.”

“It was just one night,” she tells him. Then, she’s looking past his shoulder at the ambulance, at the crowd of detectives who are assembling to follow it to the hospital, and at the inventory guy who climbs into the back of it. She meets Tomas’ gaze. “I’m up for another if you are.”

Tomas seems to read her mind, because he raises an eyebrow, surprised. “What about your friend?”

“She’s not my friend. Just a colleague.”

He shrugs, leans in close to her ear. He smells nice, like he always has. “I’m not going to say no to an offer like that. Your place or mine?”

The drive to Tomas’ loft is short, and then they’re tearing at each other’s clothing like no time has passed. He’s just as she remembers him; sculpted and lean, his chest heaves when she tears away his shirt. Shaw wants him, his body, and the flare of arousal that pulses through her when he pulls at her just as desperately, is almost enough to make her forget about the unconscious woman who was hit with a softball.

Almost.

When she straddles his waist, pulling at his belt, he looks at her with a hunger in his eyes that pulls her back to a few days ago, to the morgue and to the decontamination, where Root’s quick glances prickled along her skin. So different than the eyes roaming her body now, but the reminder sends a spark along her spine.

His hands are rough, everywhere, and as she closes her eyes and kisses him, she attempts to wipe all traces of Root from her mind.

The more she tries to not think about Root, the more Root invades her senses. She thinks about Root’s subtle perfume, rather than the musky scent of Tomas’ sweat covering his skin. She rocks above Tomas and bites back Root’s name when it threatens to escape. She fists her hands into Tomas’ hair, longer than his usual buzzcut, and closes her eyes as tight as she can, imagining Root’s long, brown curls. When Tomas presses himself into her and groans into her throat, Shaw wishes it was Root’s fanged smile biting into her jugular.

Shaw gives herself over. She lets the orgasm slide through her, pulsing her hips into Tomas’, feeling the bruising pressure of his fingers digging into her ass, and she presses her forehead into his shoulder and thinks of Root.

She’s got a problem. It’s a big problem, because Tomas grins at her as she slips out of the sheets and away from the bed to get dressed. His eyes roam her bare skin, sex-soaked and covered in guilt.

“Sameen,” he says, and he’s missing a certain lilt. “Maybe we should do this again before a year passes.”

“Yeah,” she agrees, barely tossing him a glance as she pulls her shirt over her head.

She leaves. She’s thinking about Root, about getting to the hospital, and not about the man she’s just left behind.

 

.

 

Root wakes up in the emergency room with a blistering headache, an IV attached to her arm, and a fuzz filtering around the edges of her vision. Daniel’s sitting next to her, and he smiles when she blinks at him. Her head’s too foggy for her liking. She’s used to breaky bones, clumsy as she is, but she’s never gotten a head injury before.

“Hey. You’re awake.” Daniel shifts uncomfortably in his chair.

“Tragically,” she croaks. “How long have I been out?”

“Well,” he starts, before glancing over his shoulder, “about three hours. Sun’s gone.” All around them, the doctors and nurses are ignoring them. “I’m the only one they allowed back here; they let me ride in the back of the ambulance. The entire precinct is here, mostly - they’re just in the waiting room. To make sure that you’re okay.”

There’s that flood of warmth, again. The same one that had filled her chest when Reese had asked her to play on their team to begin with. She’s never felt included before, not like this. It doesn’t set well with what she guesses is a concussion, but she sits up anyway, letting the dizzyness take over for a long moment.

“I don’t think Reese is taking it well that you got hurt,” Daniel explains, chuckling to himself. “Because he’s the one who convinced you and all.”

“I’ll talk to him,” Root sighs. “Is, um, Dr. Shaw here?”

Daniel gives her an odd glance. “No, I don’t think so. Pretty sure she left with someone. One of the detectives from the 5th.”

It only takes a second for the warmth from earlier to be replaced by an ugly flare of jealousy, then a flash of pain just above her eyebrow. She’s felt this before, with Hanna, when her best friend married a man she hardly knew and Root had stood next to her during the wedding and watched her closest friend disappear. Root groans, letting her head fall into her hands. Flinching when her bruise settles in her palm, she spills everything that’s on her mind.

It may just be the drugs, but she says, “You’re my only friend, Daniel.” She’s forgetting the parade of detectives and officers and techs waiting for her in the waiting room, but they would only disprove her point.

“That’s-that’s not true.”

“Dr. Shaw hates me,” she whispers, and her lips are covered with her hands, but continues, “and she’s gorgeous and grumpy and God - I’m an idiot.”

Daniel’s jaw is agape when she looks up, as what she’s saying clicks into place. Root isn’t even embarrassed. He’s losing all hope of hooking up with Root, and she’s losing all hope of hooking up with Sameen Shaw, so she supposes they’re even.

“Is this the pain medication?” he asks, and she wonders if he’s asking for her benefit or his.

“What am I on?” It really hadn’t occurred to her that she was high, but it makes sense. Her words are bubbling inside of her chest, and if she saw Shaw right now, she’d tell her everything. She’d tell her how good she looks in black scrubs, how much she wants to tug her fingers through her hair, how she oddly wants to try fucking on an autopsy table, just once -

“They’re weaning you off the hard stuff,” he breathes before putting a hand on her shoulder. She hadn’t even realized she was swaying. She meets his gaze. Through her haze, she reads the almost ecstatic expression on his face. “So you’re into the Doc?”

She scowls. “I’m not in anything, that’s the point. She gives me the cold shoulder all the time. What am I supposed to do with that?”

“Win her over,” Daniel urges. “It’s not like you don’t have a chance. She’s into guys, yeah, but she’s also into women. She dated, or had a thing with, the Lieutenant a while back.”

Root opens her mouth to say something, but is cut off when a nurse comes around the curtain with a chart in her hands. “Miss Groves?” she questions, looking from Root to Daniel. “You’re all right to go home, but this gentlemen will need to drive you.”

Root hasn’t taken her eyes off Daniel since the revealing of new information, so she merely nods, watching as Daniel signs her out. The nurse pulls the IV from her arm, and Root rubs at the spot.

As she stumbles off the hospital bed, she’s grateful for the cover of the curtain surrounding them. She’s unsteady, gripping Daniel’s arm as Shaw’s bisexuality shakes her to the core. It only just hits her, as she’s standing up, what it all really means. She’d never had a chance with Hanna, but she has a real chance with Shaw.

“The Lieutenant,” she deadpans, and through the thickness of the morphine, it sounds a lot more serious to her than it does to Daniel. He’s laughing at her, but it’s not funny. “As in, Lieutenant Jocelyn Carter. The one with the ten-year-old son.

Daniel rubs the back of his neck. “The rumor ran around a couple of years ago, but I’m pretty good friends with Cole. He confirmed it. The man’s like the master of all things Doc Shaw.”

Root thinks back to the flirting on the baseball field, and the eyerolls from the other detectives. She thinks about Tomas and his perfect body and his hair and his ass; she’d noticed all of it, and she’d noticed Shaw noticing. It may be the morphine, but with Tomas’ face in her mind, Root is just sad.

“How do I win her over?” she whispers, and she’s losing all hope. Daniel is truly her only friend. The last friend she has left.

“Get her something,” he suggests, and his hand is gripping her wrist as they walk toward the exit. They’re going through the rest of the hospital, toward the waiting room, and Root’s not even sure she wants to face this crowd. “Something she wants. But for now, I’ve got to get you home.”

They’re walking through the hallways, and Root’s staring at everything. She’s barely been working at the precinct for three weeks, but she’s played a game of chess with Daniel at least everyday; she supposes that’s what makes a friend. With his arm wrapped around her waist, she feels like she could face anything, even Shaw.

And she ends up having to.

Standing in the waiting room, Root’s eyes zero in on the small figure by the door, wrapped in a leather jacket with her hands in her pockets. Daniel nudges her, like he knows what she’s thinking, but even under the influence, Root knows talking to Shaw right now would be a very bad idea. As Shaw glances over at her, looks like she’s about to say something, Root turns to someone else, someone who happens to be John Reese, and smiles weakly.

“I’m sorry,” he breathes, and as big as he is, he looks every bit the kicked puppy of the group. “I talked you into this, and you’re the one who got hurt.”

“I’m the one who can’t catch a softball,” Root jokes.

Daniel steps in, then, and puts a hand on Reese’s shoulder. “I’m taking her home. She’s got a pretty nasty concussion.” Root’s grateful for the lie - she’ll be able to sleep it off. As a few of the other detectives offer their condolences, and Root thanks them for sticking around, she avoids Shaw’s gaze mostly because Shaw looks really gorgeous.

She also looks like she went home and fucked Tomas, and even Root’s drug-addled brain can process after-sex hair when she sees it.

When she’s almost out the door, she hears it. “Root,” Shaw says, stopping both her and Daniel. They turn, and Shaw looks as dismissive as ever. “Next time, catch the ball, okay?”

Root can’t really tell if Shaw’s being malicious or not, and she feels Daniel stiffen next to her, but she pats him on the back and smiles. “Thanks, Sameen, I’ll keep that in mind.”

It’s the first time she’s said Shaw’s first name out loud to her face, and she notices the other woman’s jaw tighten, but her and Daniel turn around and leave a moment later, abandoning Shaw in the doorway of the hospital.

 

Chapter Text

On normal mornings, Shaw gets up and goes to work before the sun comes up. She goes on a run, is awake and wide-eyed by the time she’s sliding into her car, and she doesn’t necessarily need to rely on caffeine until later in the day. Mornings are hers, and unlike most of the people employed by the city, she works the best during them.

Today isn’t a normal day.

She sleeps past her alarm. The power went out during the night, and when she wakes up, she’s groggy and already pissed, blinking at the light filtering into her apartment around seven-thirty. Technically, she doesn’t have to be at work until nine, but her clock’s off and her phone’s ringing - all around, not a good sign.

She slips on a piece of discarded clothing on her hardwood flooring, mutters a curse underneath her breath, and fumbles to tear her phone away from the charger. “Hello,” she sighs into the receiver.

Hersh is the one on the other end. “They called me first, but I figured you’d already be up. You sound like hell, Shaw.”

“You figured wrong,” she croaks, leaning on her kitchen counter. “Go make a house call and forget my number.”

She can picture him, still in bed and in ridiculous pajamas. There’s only one reason he’d be calling at this time, and it figures. The one day she’s running late and there’s a body with her name on it. Cole doesn’t have enough experience to work on his own yet, and somehow, rubbing sleep from her eyes, she knows that she’s not going to be able to convince Hersh to take this one.

“C’mon, Shaw,” he whispers. “Like old times.”

She knows what he means. Back in the old days when she was his inexperienced assistant and he’d stay up way too goddamn late to be capable of doing anything until noon. It’s how she grew up too fast, metaphorically, and why she’s so great at what she does. He shirked most of his duties off to her, and she’s been better for it. She should try it with Cole some time.

She sighs and glances at the clock (seven fourty-seven). “Fine. You owe me.”

“What to do you want?”

“How about a million dollar donation to the precinct so they can build a new office for the parasite currently occupying mine.”

“Deal,” he says. “Say hello to Reese for me.”

Shaw hangs up before he can. She gets dressed quickly, just finding a pair of jeans and a jacket. She grabs her keys, rubs her eyes, and grumbles under her breath about her fucked sleep schedule.

It takes her forty minutes to get to the crime scene, but having the growl of her car surrounding her relaxes her. She sinks into the morning easily, falling into the morning traffic like she usually does. When she does arrive on scene, she’s lacking her ID badge, the one she knows is sitting right on her kitchen counter, and the officer standing at the crime scene tape isn’t one that knows who she is. Just her luck.

“Honestly,” she growls, “You haven’t heard about me?” She needs to be maintaining her reputation better.

“Sorry, ma’am.” The officer shifts uncomfortably, glancing around for help, probably because of the way Shaw’s fist is about to make a new friend.

Shaw pinches the bridge of her nose. Just as she’s pulling out her phone to call Reese, she hears his voice when he comes out of the house, and while she doesn’t want to be that person, she glares at him pointedly and hopes that it’s enough to get his attention.

He notices her eventually, with a little help from the unrecognizable officer that he’s talking to pointing her out, and Shaw doesn’t waste any time in pushing her way past the rookie cop guarding the tape. He objects, minutely, but Reese talks him down just as she joins him.

“How is your day, John?”

“Well -”

“Because mine’s not too hot,” she finishes, falling into step with him. It’s easier said than done, as his legs are at least twice as long as her own.

He smiles grimly. “I thought they’d call Hersh. In fact, I told them specifically not to call you.”

“Yeah, well. When you call Hersh, Hersh calls me.”

Wincing, Reese reaches out like he’s going to put a hand on her shoulder, but then pulls it back at the last moment, as though he thinks better of it. “Sorry.”

The two of them walks into the house, one of the many foreclosed in the recent sweep by Mason Federal. It’s grimy, bare, and Shaw can smell the stench of death the moment she walks in. Just before she smears formaldehyde underneath her nose, she catches the scent of something else, too.

She leans in close to Reese and hisses, “Tomas is here?”

She remembers that cologne very well. Too well, in fact, because she’s been having a hard time getting it out of her head, her bedsheets, and her apartment altogether. The reminder of her night with Tomas sticks to everything, and the scent as it reaches her nose almost makes her want to throw up. She holds it in, though, mostly because the people here will think it’s the death.

He’s surprised she can tell, for one thing, but other than that, he glances at the arm she has clenched around his own and raises an eyebrow. “Our vic had a stash of high-priced artillery. We figured someone from Guns and Gangs could help and Corora was on the clock.” He smirks. “Your usual date and dash, Shaw?”

“I don’t date.”

She scowls when Reese just nods his head and shrugs. She doesn’t let her coworkers get involved with her personal life, either. Unmistakable amongst the scent of death and the sweat of cops is the strong, pungent smell of Tomas’ cologne. Ever since that night, ever since her realization about Root, she hasn’t been able to forget it.

“Speak of the devil,” Reese murmurs, and there he is, talking with an officer as they stand over an array of guns. Tomas looks as good as ever, but since Shaw’s been avoiding him, his looks fall a bit flat.

He looks up when Reese and Shaw walk through the threshold. Shaw will kill Reese for slipping away from her; Tomas takes her solitude as an invitation, sliding through the small crowd and flashing a smile in her direction.

“Sameen,” he greets, and Shaw is reminded of how Root said her name in the hospital. Pointed, through the teeth, and so different than the way Tomas just takes it for granted. “You’ve been avoiding me,” he says, cutting right to the chase.

She’s never been one to make up excuses, but there’s guilt twisting up inside of her for the first time in a long time. She lead him on.

“Not really,” she says. “I’ve been busy,” and it’s not exactly untrue. She looks at the body and shrugs, because what can you do. She hopes he gets the message. “With work,” she adds.

“Right,” he murmurs. Then, he leans in close, letting his cologne wash over her, and he says, “Let me know how you like my gift.”

He walks away from her then, leaving just one distinct thought in Shaw’s mind. She’s wondering how Root smells, washed all over Shaw’s things, but there’s something at the forefront of her mind that needs to be dealt with first.

She needs to get rid of Tomas.

 

.

 

It’s three days before Root is allowed to come back to work, and when she finds herself at the precinct around noon, she secludes herself to the evidence floor, behind the cage with Daniel and Daizo, and plays chess, despite her killer headache. She’d barely made it to work on her bike, and when she stumbled through the doors with her motorcycle helmet in her arms, Officer Fusco called her crazy for the millionth time.

She asked Daniel when she settled in if he even has a patrol car of if he’s just a permanent statue at the front desk, and he said he’d never seen him leave.

“Check,” Daniel tells her, and Daizo grins from where he’s sitting in between them.

Ever since Root starting coming down and playing chess everyday, Daizo had gotten less and less introverted, coming out of his shell around her. She’s becoming one of them, and she appreciates the company. While Daizo speaks mostly Japanese, he manages well enough with English, and luckily, Root and Daniel both get along well enough in Japanese to understand him when he talks. They bonded quickly when he stopped hiding.

“My head’s not in it today,” Root admits, rubbing her temple.

“Your head should be in anything,” Daniel points out. “Speaking of, have you come up with a plan for Shaw, yet?”

Daizo, busy scanning the board, looks up. “What about Shaw?”

“Oh, not much,” Daniel says, and he’s grinning with that look in his eye that means trouble, “just that Root’s got the hots for the Queen of the Dead.”

Root groans. She’s insanely attracted to Shaw, yes, but she can’t help it when everytime she sees her, Shaw rolls her eyes and doesn’t give her the time of day. It’s hot, and even without the drugs in Root’s system and the embarrassing declarations of attraction, she’s left with a single blaring fact.

She doesn’t know that to do.

“I’ve been out of service the past couple of days,” Root points out, and then she moves her King one space to the side, to safety. She’s out of the woods for now, but if she’s not careful, Daniel might win this one.

“It’s perfect.” Daniel scrutinizes the board. “If you come onto her now, she’ll have no choice but to take pity on you and say yes.”

“I don’t want pity sex,” Root sighs, watching the lines of his face carefully. “I want hot, I want -”

“What about anger?” Daizo offers, and when she’s looking at him, Daniel takes that moment to make his move.

“That would be nice,” Root agrees before shaking her head at Daniel. She needs to know what Shaw likes before she just straight into anything. “Maybe if I make her angry enough, she’ll throw me against a wall again and I can catch her unaware. Kiss her.”

Daniel laughs, outright. “Yeah, you’ll be lucky if she doesn’t kill you.”

Daizo nods, his hands tucked neatly underneath his chin.

“What does Tomas have that I don’t?”

Daniel gives her a look, and Root amends, “Besides the obvious, because unless you were lying to me, the lack of a dick isn’t a problem.”

“Well,” Daniel says. He sits up to think, and Root can practically see the gears in his mind moving. “As far as I know, Shaw’s never outwardly expressed a general hatred for Tomas, like she has for you. Maybe if you gave her the office back, you could get on her good side.”

Root groans. “But I need that office.” She moves a Knight to one side of the board.

Daniel shakes his head and tsks under his breath, just before moving his Queen. “Checkmate.”

“Damn,” she says. Then, she sits up. “Maybe I should kill Tomas and bring him to her doorstep. Like a cat.”

Daniel’s head falls to the side, her words racketing around his head as he considers them. “That could work.”

 

.

 

When Root first moved into Shaw’s office, the one thing that she couldn’t do was work with Shaw sitting in there with her. They weren’t good at coexisting, and now that she’s given a name to the feelings twisting inside of her, Root’s having an even harder time sitting still and concentrating on her work with Shaw sitting just a few feet away.

Shaw, with her pen tucked between her teeth as she fills out various reports, with her hair falling into her face recklessly, with her lips pursed on occasion and a knot in her brow that Root wants to rub out.

Root catches herself staring once or twice.

She decides to take a breather, but that’s easier said than done when the only breathing space is a room full of cadavers ready to be autopsied. She isolates herself in the morgue, softly shutting the office door behind her, and she’s grateful that Shaw doesn’t even look up.

Thankfully, the scent of decay only mingles with the smell of disinfectant minutely, and Root isn’t torn away to take a trip to the nearest sink.

She stands in the morgue for a long while, staring intently at the body on one of the tables, covered only with a white sheet.

When Root was younger, her father never died, but he might as well have. He was long gone before she had the time to get to know him, but she’d been to many a funeral on her mother’s side. She’d gotten to see both grandparents sitting in their caskets as a wide-eyed little girl, the memory of it still vivid in her mind, and then, when she was in college, she’d arranged her own mother’s funeral as well.

But none of her family members had ever been in a place like this. They might have been, if they lived in a place big enough to warrant a morgue, but in Bishop the only morgue was the ground.

“Root?”

Cole’s voice makes Root blink, and she straightens, focusing on him. “Hey.”

“How’s it going?” He shrugs his way out his coat and hangs it on a hook she never noticed existed before grabbing a clipboard.

“Not too bad,” she says, and the entire conversation feels stilted. “Yourself?” She feels awkward, standing next to him.

“Actually,” he starts, and then, he glances toward the office. She follows his gaze, looks at Shaw through the window, “there was something I wanted to talk to you about.”

There’s a tinge to his voice, like when a good thing is doused in oil and is seconds away from catching fire, and Root stands her ground. Cole’s taller than her, but Shaw’s the only one in this place who genuinely scares her. Besides, Root thinks, Cole just doesn’t have the right look for intimidation. He tries it on for size, squaring his shoulders and taking a deep breath, but Root looks back at him calmly.

She nods.

Cole clears his throat. “I like you,” he says, but in a way children say I love you before they ask for something. “Youre a nice addition to the place, and - and down here, too.”

“But?” She’s not going to wait for him.

“But, Shaw’s been in a horrible mood since you came into the office.” The rock in Root’s throat is just what she needs to choke on. She must make a face, because Cole scrambles to explain himself: “Worse than usual, and I’m beginning to believe that no amount of donuts can fix this.”

Root almost can’t believe what she’s hearing, but then again, she can. It’s been a long time coming, this talk. She’d just thought Shaw would’ve had the guts to tell her herself.

“Wow,” Root laughs, hollowly as her eyes unfocus. “She sends you to do her dirty work, then.” She aims her next words at the window of the office. “Yeah, well, tell Sameen that she can forget kicking me out of our office. If she wants to behave like an adult, she can meet me in Harold’s office.”

Root storms off. She punches the elevator button angrily, feeling Cole’s eyes on her back. She's determined to end whatever this is once and for all. 

 

.

 

Shaw comes out of the office to find Cole a bit slack-jawed. There’s slight irritation buzzing under her skin from Root’s outburst, from being disturbed from her work, but a part of her is proud of Root for finally standing up for herself.

“What was that about?”

“I think,” Cole says, “she thinks you send me to ask to her to find a new place to set up her equipment.”

Shaw looks at him sharply. “Is that what you were doing?”

His hands come up in defense, building an instant bridge between the two of them. “You’ve been so  - y’know - lately, and I thought I was doing you a favor! I didn’t know she’d react like that!”

Shaw didn’t know, either. To be honest, she’d thought about bringing the subject up with Root a few times, too, because there were plenty of spaces Root could spend her time, including the ever-popular inventory-storage. Her and Cole live on the same wavelength, it seems.

He catches her gaze, centered on the double-doors still swinging from Root’s exit. “Are you going to Finch’s office?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you going to let her bite your head off?”

“Honestly?” Shaw grins. “She looks too vanilla for that.”

Cole wrinkles his nose and turns away from her, hiding a smile. “I did not need to know that.”

 

.

 

By the time Shaw gets to Harold’s office, he already looks exasperated. He’s helpless, trapped in Root’s endless rant about Shaw’s incessance, and he turns his owl eyes to Shaw when she walks in. She almost regrets coming when she hears what Root’s saying, but she knows that she had to. Too many times they’ve been in this office.

Root’s snarling whirls on her, turning from a tirade about her into an attack directed at her. Shaws composure is stripped thin with every word and nonexistent by the time Root decides to take a breath. None of it is anything new; Shaw’s heard it all before from coworkers who wanted her out.

But coming from Root, it’s almost as if Shaw’s finally getting it.

“You act like you own the place,” Root continues, and she’s really on a roll. “You’re mean for absolutely no reason besides to stroke your own intolerable ego, you’re -”

“Stop!” Harold interjects. He stands up in one, desperate motion, and Shaw wants to laugh at the absurdity of it all. “I’m leaving,” Harold states, and then he’s gone, closing the door behind him.

For a moment, Root doesn’t say anything. Maybe she actually thought he was listening, rather than going mad from the nasally quality of her voice.

For a moment, Shaw can breathe.

“Honestly,” Root starts again, “you -”

“No, you know what?” Shaw says, holding a hand up. She meets Root’s gaze, the infuriating look in her eyes from having been interrupted burning bright, and she opens her mouth. “You need to -”

Root lurches forward, and angry reply on her lips in the form of a kiss.

So maybe the fury in her eyes wasn’t exactly fury, but arousal, as Root’s tongue dives into Shaw’s mouth without any prompting. Shaw freezes under the contact, feeling Root’s fingers twist themselves into the front of her scrubs. Root’s teeth spark against her own, lips doing nothing to act as a buffer when Shaw finally, almost unwillingly, allows herself to kiss back.

Root’s anger is just under the surface, the lid toppling off like a pot only beginning to boil, and Shaw tolerates her with acceptance. She hears Root in her nails digging into Shaw’s skin; she hears Root in her teeth pulling at Shaw’s bottom lip like a nuisance. She hears Root and she listens, kissing Root back with a hand curled around the back of her neck to hold her there.

At some point, Shaw stumbles back against Harold’s door, and she’s okay with the doorknob digging into the small of her back if it means Root’s glued against her front like a sealed wound. She’s the stitch, and Root’s the needle, weaving together in a mess of idiosyncrasies and lips and teeth and lips.

Root’s hands burn on her skin, skimming the top of her waist and teasing the hem of her shirt up and off of her hips.

“The desk,” Shaw groans, because she gets the message. Because Root’s hot, too hot to stay standing for a tryst like this, and she’s not falling to her knees.

Root nods against her lips, tugging Shaw with her when she takes those stilted steps backward.

Root is a tornado, tearing the breath from Shaw’s chest, the things from Harold’s desk, and whipping back around in one fluid motion. Her fingers clutch at Shaw’s shirt and pull Shaw against her, effectively pinning Root between Shaw and the desk, and she wraps her legs around Shaw’s waist just as soon as she’s sitting.

“Jesus,” Shaw murmurs, and Root’s already pulling at Shaw’s shirt. She discards it, throwing it to the side, and Root’s hands immediately encircle her ribs, pulling at her breath.

Root sucks the life from her in a kiss. Her lips move against Shaw’s desperately, and Shaw kisses her back fervently as the tips of Root fingers tease underneath her bra. Her finger pads are burning the skin there, but when she finally pushes Shaw’s bra up uncomfortably, palms pressing against firm nipples, Shaw growls into Root’s mouth something that is far from a complaint.

Shaw leans into the touch, the teasing fingers as Root pinches a nipple, almost distracted with the way her lips are working their way down the column of Shaw’s throat.

Shaw groans, too loud and too needy. It disgusts even herself. “We need to get out of here,” she suggests, and she’s not exactly lying because she knows that Harold could walk in at any second, really, but she also knows that he favors the atmosphere of the cafe on the first floor.

Shaw doesn’t like taking her time, if she’s being honest, and from the way Root’s fingers are working, the way her lips are moving slower than Shaw’s pulse, Shaw can tell that Root’s in the mood to take her time. Shaw fucks hard, and she fucks fast, and the flood between her legs is a dam that needs to be broken. She’s not in the mood for whatever Root’s doing.

“Relax,” Root murmurs, but her hands skim across the skin of Shaw’s torso, down to Shaw’s hips. Her lips replace her fingers, and Shaw can hardly stand the feeling of Root’s lips on her chest.

“Wait a minute.” Shaw pulls Root back, and then she climbs onto the desk herself, hovering over Root who presses kisses to her abdomen. Shaw leans back, pulls her bra off of her head, and then Root’s tipping her back and onto the desk, straddling her hips. Root grins down at her, and her hair tickles Shaw’s face.

Root settles her weight on Shaw’s hips, rolling them forward too slowly, and Shaw lets out a breath. “You look good when you’re flustered like this,” Root tells her, and Shaw rolls her eyes. “You look hot.”

Leaning forward, Root kisses her as a hand snakes its way between them, sliding into Shaw’s pants and pushing unceremoniously past Shaw’s underwear. Root seems to have understood Shaw’s unspoken message about no more clothes shed, on the off chance someone walks in, but she manages just fine within the confines of Shaw’s underwear, pressing her fingers along Shaw’s sex.

Shaw bucks against her hand, eager for more contact, and Root clicks her tongue along the line of Shaw’s jaw.

“Just get on with it,” Shaw says, and Root chuckles next to her ear.

It’s a breathy, light laughter that spins its way deep into the pit of Shaw’s stomach, and suddenly she’s breathless, when Root pushes two fingers inside of her. Root picks up a quick rhythm and watches as Shaw falls apart with each stroke, disarmed underneath Root’s fingertips.

Shaw claws at Root’s shirt, finally finding a grip at the curve of her neck, the base of her spine, and she pulls at Root’s hair to bring her in for a kiss. She bites down on Root’s bottom lip as Root’s fingers curl inside of her, as Shaw tightens around her, and Shaw groans into Root’s mouth too soon. Root will have bruises on the back of her neck, just as Shaw will have bruises on her hip.

Root doesn’t stop as Shaw comes back down; she rides with her the entire way and begins to push her into another one when Shaw shakes her head, pushing Root off. “We’ve got to stop.”

Root pulls her hand from between Shaw’s legs, slips her fingers into her mouth. She takes her time licking Shaw from each one of them as she leans back, and Shaw sits up and covers her chest with one arm and searches for her clothing around the room.

“This can’t happen again,” Shaw says, and then Root’s sliding off of her lap.

Root nods, understanding. Shaw’s walls are coming down. She feels sick, after the bouncing in her chest. She feels a bit rude about leaving Root like this, but if she keeps going, she doesn’t think she could stop. She doesn’t spare Root another glance as she gets dressed, but she knows the other woman is just leaning against Harold’s desk.

“You can’t keep running from your feelings, Shaw,” Root says, and Shaw stops just as she’s reaching from the door handle.

She turns, swallows the lump in her throat. “Who said this was ever about feelings?" Her voice is colder than she expected, but it works as the confusion in Root’s eyes turns to hurt. "You’re hot, Root, and you kissed me. Sorry for leading you on.”

Shaw leaves Root in Harold’s office and doesn’t pretend that she doesn’t see the light in Root’s eyes disappear.



Chapter Text

Root walks into the morgue the next day and sees Cole standing over a body with an unfamiliar man at his side.

She stands in the doorway, surveying the scene, and waits for them to notice her arrival as she watches the autopsy. Cole spots her, eventually, and he squints at her through his goggles. Root raises her eyebrows, looking pointedly at the man she doesn’t know, and Cole nods in understanding.

Cole coughs. “Oh, hey Root. This is Dr. Hersh.”

Root decides to play along, for now. She’s still buzzing underneath her skin from yesterday, sensitive to the touch and unable to shake the sensation of Shaw’s fingers all over her.

“Where’s Shaw?”

“Called in sick,” Hersh answers gruffly, not sounding pleased at all. He stops what he’s doing and looks at Root. “Are you one of the detectives?”

He’s unshaven, and he peers at her over crooked glasses. He doesn’t look very happy to be there, a frown creasing the skin stretched over his cheeks. He doesn’t spare Root a second glance, returning his eyes back to the body on the table a moment later.

“Uh, Root’s the IT girl,” Cole says for her, and Root would be offended if she wasn’t still reeling from the fact that she’s pretty Shaw is avoiding her. “She shares an office with Shaw.”

Hersh chuckles. His gloves make a sick sound inside the chest cavity, and Root takes a step back. “I bet Sam likes that,” Hersh murmurs. “The sharing,” he clarifies after a moment. “Never knew her as the type of woman to go down without a fight.”

“She didn’t,” Root whispers. When it’s obvious Hersh has nothing more to say, Root ducks her head down and disappears back into her office.

She doesn’t want to call Shaw, but her fingers are itching for the phone. Shaw’s acting like a child about all of this, and if she doesn’t want to see Root again, she can just tell Root to her face, like an adult.

Root’s going to be sick.

She leans against her own desk, gripping the hard edge of it. She’d had a good time in Harold’s office, and she’d thought about Shaw writhing beneath her for most of the night. She can’t get the sounds Shaw made out of her head. Even now, she can remember them clearly.

She slumps down into her chair, letting her head fall into her hands. Outside of the office, she can hear Hersh’s voice, and Hersh and Cole begin preparations to wheel the body back into containment. Root takes deep breaths. She doesn’t cry. She rakes her nails through her hair and against her scalp, but she doesn’t cry. She starts formulating a plan.

 

.

 

Shaw calls in sick at six am. She goes back to bed, after that, and then she wakes up around eight and stares at her ceiling. She’d thought about Root for most of the day yesterday, and it’s looking like today is going to go the same way. She needs to get Root out of her head, because she can’t date coworkers, and well, she doesn’t date.

She never has. In college, dating never worked out for her. Three nights at most. After that, most people get emotional. But with Root, she can see a difference. For one thing, her and Root fucked in the middle of the goddamn day, instead of in a dark room with the lights off, which was usually more Shaw’s style. It was harder for Shaw to leave, with Root’s stare tracing the lines of her back as she slipped out the door.

She left anyway.

She isn’t going to work today, to face that. She needs time to think it all through, to figure out what it means.

Around nine, Shaw’s still in bed, and her stomach begins to growl something fierce. She sits up, sidles into the kitchen, and begins to fix a few eggs. Leaning on the counter, Shaw stares at the soft yolk bubbling lightly in the pan.

She sighs. Not at the eggs, particularly. She doesn’t know exactly what she’s sighing about, but she knows it has to do with Root.

Her phone rings when she’s just sitting down to eat, and while her stomach growls in complaint, she gets up to answer it anyway. It’s Cole, so she answers with a mouthful of egg and toast. Sunnyside up.

“Shaw.”

“Are you really sick? You don’t sound like you’re dying,” he accuses.

“Why would I have to be dying?” she asks, poking at her eggs with her fork. She adds a sprinkle of pepper.

Cole sighs, far away and on the other side of the city. “Because the Sam I know wouldn’t miss work unless she was confined to a hospital bed. Tell me which one, and I might send you a card.” There’s a pause. An exhale. “You left me alone with Hersh.”

She’s waiting for the and Root but it doesn’t come. She doesn’t want to ask about Root, but she does. Suddenly, her eggs don’t taste so nice anymore, with Root on her mind.

“I’m okay,” she says instead, chewing slowly. “I just wanted a day off, that’s all.”

“Hm,” Cole says. “Does that have anything to do with the way Root is sitting in her office with her head in her hands?”

Shaw almost spits out the piece of egg in her mouth. Half-choking, she forces herself to chew and swallow, taking a long moment to formulate a response. “Is she crying?”

“Not yet,” Cole tells her. “But I don’t think it’s just because you’re gone. Should I ask her if everything’s okay?”

She shakes her head rapidly anyway, and says, “No, no. I’ll call her. She, uh, knows me better.”

She can just picture Root in their office, sitting at her desk. Not quite crying, but the tears just about to shed. Shaw feels sick to her stomach, and is quietly grateful that she called herself out of work today. She wouldn’t be able to deal with that face-to-face. She thought Root was better, more mature, but Shaw was right. There are too many feelings involved, and cutting a person off is the right thing to do in cases like this.

“Fine.” Cole sounds skeptical. Shaw knows him well enough to know he might not let it go. “As for you, get out of the house. Make some use of your day off. I’ll be here, stuck with a man who reeks of alcohol.”

Shaw’s grateful for the subject change. “Tell Hersh I said ‘fuck you’. Bye, Cole.”

“I’m not doing that. Bye, Sam.”

After he hangs up, Shaw stares at the eggs on her plate she no longer wants to eat. She rinses them off, watches them slide off and down the drain, and then she slips into a tank top and shorts. She puts on her running shoes and joins the rest of the crowds on the streets.

The pressure of her headphones in her ears makes her forget about Root for a while. She just listens to her music, runs, and loses herself in the endorphins.

 

.

 

Eventually, Root gets up. She pushes up from her desk, palms digging into the edge of the wood, and she takes a glance out of the office window to find the morgue empty. She breathes a sigh of relief. Slipping from the office, she steps into the cool air of the elevator and leans against the wall as the doors close.

She presses the button for Daniel’s floor.

Inventory is quiet, as usual, and Root follows the familiar trail back to where Daniel’s desk sits, weaving through the aisles. She was counting on Daniel and Daizo not being busy, and she was right; she comes up on the two of them leaning over a chessboard, which is just what she needs.

She sighs into the chair next to them, an open one left assumedly just for her, and Daniel tears his eyes away from the board long enough to drag his eyes over appearance.

“Did you get enough sleep?” he asks, and then he moves a piece on the board.

Daizo shakes his head and rubs his chin. He seemingly gives up, and then gives Root a once-over as well. “You don’t look very good,” he comments.

“I appreciate it,” Root says drily. She leans into their game, rubbing at her eyes. She needs to just come out and say it, Shaw’s touch threatening to break out of her skin, but saying it out loud makes it all too real. She fucked Shaw, and -

“You fucked Shaw?” Daniel turns toward her completely, and Root groans.

“I can’t believe I just said that out loud,” she whispers, and Daizo hits her on the shoulder.

“But,” Daniel objects, suddenly getting a bit confused, “this is what you wanted.”

It is what Root wanted, but what she didn’t ask for was Shaw to call in sick for work for the first time ever, for Shaw to be actively avoiding her, and for Shaw to leave her half-naked and perched on the edge of Harold’s desk. She wants Shaw, but she wants all of Shaw, not just some half-baked fuck in her own boss’s office like they’re teenagers.

Root leans back in her chair. “She called in sick for work today.”

“Holy -”

“Crap,” Daizo finishes, and his jaw skirts the floor a bit.

Daniel gapes at her. “She’s never done that before.”

“So I’ve heard,” Root remarks drily. She leans forward, and she rests her chin in her hands.

She expected this reaction from them, but what she didn’t expect, really, was the complete feeling of hopelessness that settles itself in her gut. It churns slowly, looking for a way out, but Root bottles it down and grinds her teeth. She’d wanted more from this, more from Shaw, but all she got was a quick fuck and a woman whose single determination was to avoid her.

“I think I’ve got an idea,” Daniel says at last. Root doesn’t quite realize how long she’s sat there, in silence, with the two men staring at her, but when she looks up, she finds Daniel grinning at her.

Like he can read his friend’s mind, Daizo squints, and then he lights up as well. “It’s perfect,” he adds, nodding enthusiastically.

“Care to enlighten me?” Root asks, settling back into her chair. She watches the two of them in their silent conversation, but she’s too tired to get irritated.

“Okay,” Daniel says after a long moment. “I think I’ve got it.” Daizo nods, grinning too widely for his own good. “We’re going to get her a gift.”

Root raises an eyebrow, letting a breath of air escape her lips at the same time. She should’ve expected this from them, having not really known Sameen as anyone but the monster in the basement, but all Root knows, for sure, is that getting Shaw gifts will not work. She begins to shake her head, her mouth opening to protest.

“Hear me out,” Daniel continues, and he holds up a finger, even. Root lets her mouth snap closed, crossing her arms. “We’re not getting her just any gift, but something she’s wanted for a very, very long time. Daizo?”

Daizo bites his lip and leans forward. “We’re getting her a Bear.”

Daniel points his finger at Daizo. “Yeah, we’re getting her the dog.”

Root unfolds her arms and waits for the punchline. She waits for them to say that they’re joking, to say that it won’t work, to tell her that she’ll just have to deal with the fact that she slept with a coworker and said coworker is now avoiding her. To tell her that she may just have to quit her shiny new job after all.

After a long moment of silence, Root realizes that their plan just may work.

“Look,” Daniel says, “it’s something I’ve been looking into anyway. You kind of jumped the gun by sleeping with her before we could formulate a plan, but I was hoping you could get with her by getting the dog, but this works better.”

“How are we going to get the dog?” Root wonders, staring at the chessboard with a renewed interest. Daniel’s King is caught in a neverending check. Better to give up.

Daizo gets up, then, and wanders into an aisles. He brings out a few case files. “Bear hasn’t been doing too well,” he tells them both. Daniel knows this, Root reminds herself; they’ve been working on this plan behind her back for a few weeks, now. “Without his old officer, he’s just not as good as he was before.”

“So they’re thinking of retiring him,” Root says.

“Exactly,” Daniel finishes. “If we can get to Laskey before they do that, and if we can convince him somehow to hand over the dog, then we’ve got Shaw.”

Root nods. Her stomach releases the tension inside of it, untwisting, and she lets out a long breath. She spreads out her palm on the table. “Let’s do this,” she tells them, looking them both in the eye and meeting matching grins.

She fist bumps them both.

 

.

 

Getting out of the precinct is hard enough, what with Fusco sitting guard at the front doors. It’s the middle of the day, the three of them are supposed to be working, and they all leave at separate times.

Root is tasked with distraction. First, she remotely crashes Officer Fusco’s computer. She’s called to help, after that, and she spends approximately twenty minutes fixing her own disaster as Fusco groans about his own life, and Root makes sure he doesn’t spot the two inventory nerds sneaking out the back way.

She does this so they don’t have to sign out.

Then, Root takes the back way out. She’s quieter than the two of them. She finds her motorcycle in the spot next to Shaw’s empty parking spot and stares at the space for a second too long before she slides her helmet on, kicks her bike to life, and speeds out of the parking garage.

She meets Daniel and Daizo on the street corner.

“Take a cab to the 7th precinct,” Root directs them. It’s where Laskey works. Their job is to figure out where Laskey is on the beat today, and then to tell Root. She’s on the road, and then she’ll be off once they figure it out.

She’s not been driving around for more than ten minutes when they call her with the address. She turns around and starts toward it. She knows the area, a park, and she’s glad that Laskey isn’t on the move. She tells Daniel and Daizo to meet her there, but she knows that she’ll make it before them.

She leaves her bike parked at the edge of the greenspace. Scanning the area, she doesn’t quite know what to look for, whether it be a man and his dog or an officer and his canine partner. Eventually, though, she spots them in the middle of a field. Laskey’s throwing a tennis ball across the grass, just then, and Bear’s bolting after it on legs faster than any human’s.

Root watches them for a few minutes, wondering if this is part of the job. She takes her time in approaching them, but after a while, she’s too close to not say anything.

The dog sees her first, and stands at guard, wary.

“Officer Laskey?” Root tries. The man turns, squinting in the sun.

“You’re from the station, right?” He walks the rest of the way over to Root, pushing his hands deep into his pockets. Bear takes it as a sign to come over to her, and he sits between the two people, his tail hitting the ground over and over again.

Root nods. “I am.” She looks down at the dog.

She never had any pets, growing up. Root might have wanted one, once upon a time, but she grew out of the need after a time. Her mother was never around to ask for at night, another breathing, living thing to keep her company. She doesn’t know why Shaw likes him so much, but it’s obvious the dog isn’t like other dogs Root has seen.

There’s a weight on Bear’s shoulders. His tail doesn’t wag as fast. Root saw it at the precinct, too, when she’d first met him. It’s then, that she finally realizes that Shaw and Bear could help each other.

“Listen,” Root says, “I’ve heard about Bear and his work lately.”

Laskey looks down, not quite meeting Root’s eyes. She’s used to the pride deep in cops’ chests, after spending so much time with them.

“I think I know someone who would like to adopt him,” she says after a long moment. “Someone who, uh, understands what he’s been through and can keep him active. Someone who already cares about him a lot.”

Reaching down to scratch between Bear’s ears, Laskey sighs. “I was going to turn in his retirement papers at the end of the week,” he admits quietly. “I didn’t want to, but he’s just not the same, after…” Laskey finally meets Roots’ gaze. “I’ll have to meet your friend. Fill out the proper paperwork.” He looks at Bear again. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

Root nods. Near her bike, she can see Daniel and Daizo getting out of a cab. She smiles, and says, “Meet me at the station, then? Around four this afternoon?”

“That works,” he says.

Waving her goodbye, Root crosses the field and meets Daniel and Daizo at the door of their cab. They both watch the man on the field, still running around with his dog, and for an odd reason, Root feels a sort of melancholic haze befall her shoulders. She knows she’s doing the right thing, but she wonders if Shaw will see it that way.

“Four this afternoon,” Root tells them. “I’ll deal with Shaw.” She picks up her helmet. It feels like a brick.

Daniel nods. Daizo steps forward and hugs Root, then, taking her in complete surprise. She stiffens, for just a moment, but then she relaxes into his embrace. She pats him on the back as she returns the hug, smiling at Daniel over Daizo’s shoulder. She nods at him when he steps back, and she laughs when she realizes there are tears threatening to slide down his cheeks.

“She’s not going anywhere,” Daniel argues, pulling Daizo back toward the cab.

“I’m very happy,” Daizo says, “that you’re happy.”

Root shrugs, though she can’t quite tamper down her smile. “I haven’t got the girl, yet.”

“But you will!” Daizo holds his fist into the air and Root laughs, shaking her head. She leaves the two of them on a street corner, speeding away on her bike. She knows just how to get Shaw to the precinct.

 

.

 

Shaw goes to the precinct, but she makes sure she isn’t seen by anyone. Besides, she has no use for a commercial gym membership if there’s a perfectly good one for her to use, just down the hallway from her office. She makes it in from the parking garage without being seen, and she only hopes Root isn’t in the basement.

She’s right. Root is nowhere to be seen.

Shaw falls into her normal routine. She’s used to coming into the small room and working out after her lunch break, or when things are slow. No one ever comes down here, not unless they’re ordered to, and she’s blessed with a certain kind of solitude that comes only with having dumbbells for company.

She’s halfway through a second set of pull ups when her phone rings. She drops down to her feet, stares at her bag near the door, and seriously considers not answering.

Whatever. She crosses the room, digs out her phone, and breathes, “Shaw.”

“It’s Cole.”

“Caller I.D. exists,” she points out.

There’s a light amount static on the other end of the line, and then clarity. After a moment - “Shaw?”

It’s Root, and Shaw almost hangs up. She doesn’t say a word, though, only grips the phone tighter in her hand. Root knew she wouldn’t have answered if it wasn’t Cole, or someone more important. Root knew. And Shaw fell right into the trap.

“Sameen,” Root tries again, and there’s always been a special way Root says her name.

Shaw lets out a long breath. “What,” she says, as callously as she possibly can.

She wonders if Root flinches on the other end of the phone. She wonders if Cole knows anything about them, if Root had to tell him to get him to agree. She’s probably going to kill Cole, after this, but first, she’s going to quit her job.

“This isn’t,” Root starts. “This isn’t personal. I wanted to tell you that Bear is retiring. He’s going to be adopted out, and if they can’t find a family…”

Shaw swallows the words she was going to say. She knows the end of Root’s sentence. She’s been following Bear’s record, she knows he hasn’t been doing too well. But, then again, she hadn’t known that it had been this bad. If he’d been assigned to someone other than a rookie, like Laskey, maybe he could’ve been his old self again, but a police dog retiring at five years old?

Shaw sighs. “Why are you telling me this, Root?”

“I thought you’d,” Root tries. She stops, tapers off.

“You thought what? You thought I’d adopt a Belgian Malinois when my apartment doesn’t even allow cats?” Shaw sharpens her tongue for the killing blow. “Or is this just your way of trying to get back at me? By telling me that someone I care about is going to be put down?”

Root doesn’t say a word. After a few seconds, Shaw hangs up. She’s not going to let Root know it, but goddamn it, she’s going to adopt that dog.

 

.

 

By the end of the day, Bear is sitting in Shaw’s office and he’s hers, and hers alone. He seems to remember her, resting his head in her lap as she types up a lab report. She hasn’t seen Root yet, but she’s counting on the inevitably firestorm she’ll receive when she sees the dog.

And honestly, Shaw’s tired of fighting with her. She’s got a new dog, and she’s in need of a new apartment. She’ll be fighting with her landlord, soon enough, and she needs the serenity back in her workplace. She doesn’t need to fight with Root.

Eventually, though, Root pushes through the double doors and heads toward the office with her head down. Shaw watches her, with her fingers poised above the keyboard, and feels Bear’s ears perk up as he listens to Root’s heavy footfalls. When Root slips into the office, she doesn’t even look in Shaw’s direction, only reaches for her coat currently slung across the back of her chair, and then she’s heading out the door once again.

Shaw opens her mouth, then closes it. Root’s almost gone. Bear watches her go, and so does Shaw. Shaw doesn’t say a word, just watches her disappear through the double doors.

She returns to her work.

She’s done in a few minutes, and then she’s gathering her things and heading out the door with her new companion in tow. Bear doesn’t even need a leash, and he follows on her heels quietly. He’s quiet, and he’s just what she needs. Despite herself, she reaches down and pets him on the head, just as they’re leaving.

As she locks the office, Root comes through the double doors and stops dead in her tracks.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Root says, and she doesn’t even sound mad, just exhausted.

She sounds as tired of all this as Shaw feels, but Shaw hardens anyway, steeling herself for Root’s tirade. She’s ready for a fight, even if she’s crumbling away.

“I couldn’t let him...,” Shaw says, and really, Root should’ve known all along.

From the fall of her shoulders, the way the fight escapes her, Shaw realizes that she did know all along. What was Root expecting? Shaw stands her ground.

Root nods, a pathetic tilt of her head. It looks a lot like giving up. “Okay, Sameen,” she says, and then she’s walking away. Again.

This time, though, Shaw’s not letting her go.

“Wait, Root,” Shaw says, and though her words don’t stop Root, she catches the other woman by the elbow, turning her around.

There’s a second of waiting, and Root dares her to take action, with just a gaze as her eyes trail down to Shaw’s lips, and Shaw shakes her head, just a bit. Then, she’s kissing Root. This time, it’s different. This time, Root tastes like everything Shaw’s against. Root’s lips are soft against her own, and they press into Shaw’s because Root expected this, Shaw realizes. Where her hand slides against skin, on the inside of Roots’ elbow, Shaw’s fingers burn, and though the kiss is chaste, Shaw pulls away feeling a weight on her shoulders suddenly materializing.

“I’m not dealing with your weird avoidance bullshit,” Root says, and Shaw notices how close she is. She feels Root’s breath on her lips.

Shaw nods. “I’ll work on it.”

Root smirks, and then she’s dancing out of Shaw’s grip, too far away. “Until then.” She leaves Shaw alone, with burning lips and fingertips, and Shaw lets out a breath. The air smells like Root, and Shaw holds her breath until she’s out of the elevator.



Chapter Text

Somehow, when Shaw comes to work in the next few days, she can tell that everyone knows. It’s in the glances she gets when she passes the cafe, or the sidelong gazes when she’s waiting for the elevator. Bubbling underneath the surface, about to break, Shaw contains herself until she’s in the morgue, and when she sees Cole, when his eyes immediately cast down, she knows that he knows, too.

“Who the fuck told you,” she growls, setting down her cup of coffee a bit too hard on the table. The coffee had been necessary, this morning, mostly because she’d had the best goddamn sleep of her life the night before.

Cole flinches. Regardless of the scalpel he’s holding, he almost cowers underneath her glare, testing his words in his head before he says them. “It’s just been around,” he says finally, settling on a vague non-answer that does nothing but infuriate Shaw further.

The fact that news of her and Root has just-been-around unsettles her more than anything. “Fuck,” she breathes. Her hand curls into a fist. “Just fucking great.”

Cole stands there for a long moment, shuffling from foot to foot. “So, are you guys together, or?”

Shaw pinches the bridge of her nose. She shrugs. Then, realizing how much Cole doesn’t know, she looks up at him. “Tell me everything you know.”

Cole almost jumps out of his skin, obviously uncomfortable discussing his boss’s sex life with his boss, but at Shaw’s prompting, he clears his throat. “Well,” he starts, not quite knowing where to begin, “I overheard a few of the officers talking about seeing a kiss on the security feeds, and since, y’know…”

Shaw raises a brow.

Cole backtracks. “Because it’s, well, you, anything personal about you is practically breaking news.”

Shaw rolls her eyes. “You’re right,” she sighs. She knows he is. Anyone here would be lucky to crack her, but once they’d open the safe, they’d find nothing inside. Shaw has nothing to hide. Well, had nothing to hide, until now. She’s not sure that she’s even interested in hiding it, either, but some things just aren’t for the entire world (or workforce) to know.

Besides, her and Root aren’t a thing. Yet. Or ever. Shaw doesn’t know yet. Shaw sighs, leaning against the metal table. “I’m going to kill whoever was working that shift,” she mutters.

“You know,” Cole offers, “for all the death threats you put out, you never really pull through.”

She considers hitting him. “That’s because it would mean more paperwork for us,” she says eventually, after he stands his ground and she decides he isn’t worth the effort. “Shit,” she breathes. “I need to talk to Root.”

Cole gets that look about him, again, and Shaw scowls. “I know you know where she is, so don’t even try.”

“Inventory," he answers. "With Daniel and Daizo.”

She doesn’t know who those people are, but she knows where inventory is. She slips out of her jacket and slides past him, heading toward the elevator.

Personally, the land of inventory is mostly unfamiliar to her. She doesn’t make it a habit of visiting, but when she finds Root’s electrical cart just outside of the elevator, she knows she’s in the right place. The cage is locked, and Shaw stands outside of it for a long moment debating whether she should make a noise or just turn back and wait for Root in the morgue.

A man pokes his head out when she rattles the chain link, but when he sees her his eyes go wide with recognition. He disappears just as she places who he is.

“Oh,” she mutters under her breath, “that Daizo.”

After a few moments, Root shows up. She doesn’t unlock the cage, but rather stands in front of it and watches Shaw curiously. “Sorry about that,” Root says. She leans against the metal. “He’s still scared of you.”

“Yeah.”

“Did you really punch him?”

Shaw tastes her own lips. “It was a long time ago.”

Root nods. “Come to sweep me off my feet, then? If not to terrorize.”

Shaw remembers why she came, and suddenly uncomfortable, she takes a deep breath. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re the talk of the precinct.” Root raises an eyebrow, but says nothing. “If the station had a newspaper,” Shaw continues softly, “we’d be on the front page.”

“And the headline?”

Shaw scoffs. Root’s been growing more and more straightforward with her, and Shaw, despite herself, likes it. “IT Girl Fixes More than Medical Examiner’s Computer.”

“Hm,” Root says, and then she’s laughing. Full on smiling, the curve of her lips contagious as it catches on Shaw. Shaw can’t help herself, chuckling along darkly.

“Anyway,” Shaw tries, “I was, uh, wondering if you’d like to go to dinner. Since the entire precinct seems to think it’s what we’re doing.”

“Is this the precinct asking or you?”

“Me,” Shaw clarifies, even though it’s completely out of her nature. She wants this, she reminds herself. She wants Root.

“We’ve definitely skipped a few steps,” Root points out. “Kind of went about this backward.” Her eyes twinkle in Shaw’s direction, and then she’s grinning again. “I moved in first, fucked you second, and now we’re going to dinner.”

You fucked me?” Shaw asks, and she doesn’t like the cage between them, suddenly. Root’s not readily available. Her hand involuntarily moves to touch the mesh between them, anyway, despite not being able to skid on Root’s skin. Shaw raises a challenging brow.

Root nods. She bites her lip, and Shaw’s eyes catch the movement. “I definitely was doing the fucking.”

Shaw forces her eyes up. “Fine,” she amends. “Whatever. Just… I’ll catch you after shift, okay?”

Shaw walks away and feels the prickle of Root’s gaze on her back. When she steps into the elevator, she isn’t expecting a hand to dart out and stall the doors from closing. Root pins her in the middle of the doorway, and it’s getting irritating how many times Shaw notices Root looking down at her.

“Until tonight, then,” Root murmurs, and then she’s leaning in for a kiss. Her lips are warm, and Shaw decides that Root has won whatever game they’re playing.

Root lets the elevator doors close, and Shaw holds her gaze up until the very last second.

 

.

 

At dinner, Root isn’t exactly expecting the conversation to go easily.

They’d driven there in Sameen’s car, rather than on Root’s bike (although Root offered), and whilst clenching the armrests and feeling the growl of the car beneath her, Root had caught the faintest hint of a grin on Shaw’s lips. One hand on the wheel, another with fingers splayed across her thigh, Shaw looked more relaxed than Root had ever seen her.

She’d brought Root to a small restaurant with promises of a steak better than sex.

Root had raised an eyebrow and withheld her own comment about begging to differ, and let Shaw lead them into the restaurant wordlessly.

“So,” Shaw says, “that’s when I quit the path to being a surgeon and decided to spend too much time at the morgue.”

Root nods, taking a bite into a steak that is, admittedly, pretty good.

“What about you? College?” Root can’t exactly tell if the small talk is straining Shaw, but the tone of her voice tells Root that she genuinely wants to know.

“I never finished my degree,” Root admits, and she remembers the reason why vividly. She takes a breath, letting the feeling wash over her. “I was in, uh, an accident. A good friend of mine died and I…” She gestures vaguely toward her head.

“Lost your hearing,” Shaw finishes, albeit a bit skeptically.

“Yeah.” Root’s voice feels far away even to herself. She hasn’t talked about what happened in a long time, but she knows that she lost a lot more than the hearing in her right ear that day. “I moved away from that area, after that, and sort of found a home in freelance work.”

“Freelance?” Shaw asks, cracking a smile. “So, you were illegally hacking before you came to work at a police station.”

Root wonders if she’s that obvious. Shaw’s reading her like an open book, but then again, she never was closing herself off. Shaw never cared until now, and now that she does, Root finds that she wants to tell her everything.

“Admittedly,” Root starts, holding up a hand to keep back Shaw’s inevitable judgement, “not all of it was illegal.”

“It’s kind of hot,” Shaw says, shrugging.

“Is it?” Root raises an eyebrow, pouting her lips.

That’s how they end up at Shaw’s apartment afterwards, Root’s clothes sliding off of her as fast as they’re through the doorway.

The door slams shut, Shaw’s hair tie falls out, and Root pulls her shirt above her head only to find Shaw looking at her with eyes wide, bottom lip trapped between her teeth. Shaw almost smiles when Root closes the distance between them again, kisses messy on Shaw’s jaw and hands bruises on Shaw’s arms.

This time, they make it back to Shaw’s bedroom somehow, and Root’s the one whose back hits the soft embrace of the pillows. Fingers pull at her jeans and tug them off her hips, nails scratching at her hips almost ardently, but the look on Shaw’s face is nothing but determined. Root squirms underneath Shaw’s touch. Shaw’s fingertips are burning on her skin, scraping their way underneath the fabric of Root’s shirt next, brushing just underneath her bra.

Shaw’s hips fall against Root’s just as a hand slips underneath Root’s bra, and Root arches into the touch, letting out a sound that would be embarrassing in any other circumstances but this.

Shaw smirks anyway. She doesn’t say a word, but Root rolls her eyes, biting her lip when fingers capture a hard nipple between them to keep from groaning. It doesn’t work, but Shaw’s too preoccupied to notice.

Because Root’s beautiful like this, not that Shaw would say it out loud. Twisting underneath her, bra pushed up underneath her armpits, and a layer of sweat coating her skin and shining on her forehead, Shaw has never wanted her more. Still, she takes her time in taking off Root’s bra, finally unclasping it from the back. She doesn’t miss the shuddering breath Root takes when Shaw’s lips meet the soft flesh of her breast.

Shaw’s lips travel down, following her hand past her navel. Her tongue darts out occasionally to feel the tightening muscles of Root’s stomach. Her fingers slip down and between Roots legs, cupping the mound of flesh through her underwear. Root twitches despite herself, curling fingers into the sheets and not Shaw’s hair. Shaw moves back and breathes her in, the thick heady scent of want.

She adds minute pressure to Root’s sex, feels Root buckle beneath her, and hooks her fingers on the elastic of Root’s panties at her waist, pulling them down and over her thighs. Root is too eager and compliant, lifting her ass from the bed to help Shaw discard them.

Starting at the inside of Root’s knee, Shaw scrapes her teeth on the sensitive skin there, drawing shapes with her tongue as she moves inward. Root’s breathing grows faster, as Shaw’s fingers dig into the negative space around her iliac crest.

Finally, Shaw’s lips reach Root’s center, and she runs her tongue along the length of Root’s sex, holding her lover down when Root’s hips threaten to leave the bed. Root’s already close to climax, and Shaw drives her over with pressure to her clit and a dip of her tongue inside of her. Root groans beneath her, fingers tight in the sheets, and Shaw presses her tongue against Root’s clit just to feel the tremors rock through Root’s body with each lick.

“Sameen,” Root breathes, when she finally can.

Shaw crawls up the length of Root’s body, and then Root’s pressing a knee between her own legs; Shaw’s suddenly very aware of the ache at the apex of her own thighs, and she groans when her hips involuntarily gyrate onto Root’s thigh. She feels like a teenager, dry humping to get off, but things aren’t exactly dry as Root’s thigh is slick between her own.

The eye contact, though, that’s a bit much. Their hips move together, and Shaw catches her own bottom lip between her teeth as she glances down at Root’s lips, attempting to stifle her own sounds. Root’s staring at her like she’s… well, like she’s in love, and Shaw answers the look with a particularly strong thrust of her hips.

It gets the reaction she was hoping for: Root groans, her eyes fluttering shut and breaking the gaze Shaw was a bit too shy to cut off. Already, Shaw’s getting short of breath, and Root’s fingers are only dancing on her arm. She needs more, so she moves her hips faster, feeling the steady pressure of Root’s thigh on her clit more than anything else. Root gets the message.

Her hand brushes a sweat-soaked lock of hair out of her face. It feels too gentle, almost too familiar, but a moment later, when Root’s fingers snake behind Shaw’s ear and to the nape of her neck, the flash of insecurity is gone from Shaw’s chest. Root’s fingers tangle into Shaw’s hair, pulling back on Shaw’s head and exposing her neck. The combined prickling at her scalp and the soft, scattering of kisses at her neck gets Shaw close, her breathing growing faster by the second.

Root pushes Shaw onto her back, pushes her hips between Shaw’s legs, and slides a hand between them both. It’s the icing on the proverbial cake. With one hand scraping at Shaw’s scalp and another pushing two fingers into her easily, Shaw falls over the edge haltingly; Root uses her thigh to drive her fingers home, curling her index and middle inside of Shaw and making the other woman moan.

Shaw feels Root smirk against her neck and feels like she’s lost something, like they were playing a game that Root somehow definitely won. Shaw’s too exhausted to win back her dignity when Root slides her fingers out. Root falls to the side, not wasting time to curl against Shaw’s body and twirl sticky fingers on Shaw’s sweat-soaked skin.

Shaw has half a mind to swat her hand away. She doesn’t.

“I don’t really cuddle,” Shaw mutters, but it’s half-hearted and weak. She’s still recovering.

“And I don’t really fuck on the first date,” Root allows, “so I guess we’re even.”

Shaw scoffs, chest bouncing with the sound. She’s ignoring the way her nipples harden with the attention Root’s paying to them so soon after Root just, admittedly, made her legs jelly. “It’s not like it’s the first time we’ve fucked,” Shaw points out.

“But it’s the first time we went on a date,” Root says, and shit, Shaw forgot about the whole date thing.

That probably means she’d have to do cuddling.

 

.

 

Root doesn’t even know how many times they had both been in Harold’s office, but this has got to be at least the third. But, as it turns out, this is the first time they happened to be in it without yelling at each other, and when Harold walks in after his lunch break, he raises an oddly shaped eyebrow at the both of them calmly seated in the chairs on the opposite side of his desk.

“And to what do I owe the pleasure?” he asks, as though he isn’t probably terrified for what their quiet composure means.

Root suspects he’s running through the permutations in his mind, such as they’ve come to steal his office, rather than bicker over the fact that one of them should leave the morgue office downstairs. The higher ups would probably like either of them more than him, anyway. It would probably work.

“I’d like to withdraw my application for a new office,” Root says smoothly, without a hint of disdain for her boss. Especially when in the middle of her statement his eyebrow somehow impossible skyrockets higher.

“And I’d like to withdraw my complaint,” Shaw says, but quieter, “the one I filed about a week ago.”

Root looks at her. “You filed a complaint?”

“You know,” Shaw explains, shrugging, “You were annoying, I was annoyed. It’s kind of what you do in the workplace.”

Root supposes that she shouldn’t have expected anything different, but she finds herself smirking at Shaw anyway. She hopes Shaw can read her expression, which has a little to do with her plans on somehow getting ahold of Detective Reese’s handcuffs and using them for something other than crime fighting.

Shaw rolls her eyes, which tells Root she completely understands.

They both turn back to Harold, who looks absolutely horrified. He schools his expression quickly, though, but Root grins when she realizes that Harold has definitely connected the dots in the short minute he’s spent time with them. No wonder the entire precinct figured out they were together; anyone with eyes could tell.

Not that they were quite hiding it anymore. They just had to hand in their paperwork with Human Resources.

“Yes, well,” Harold starts, and he takes a deep breath, pressing his palms flat on the table, “I’m sure I can accommodate both of your requests. I’m glad to see that you see to be getting along so… well.”

From the corner of her eye, Root watches Shaw scowl, but Root merely grins. “I’m glad you understand, Harry. We definitely appreciate it.”

“Also,” Shaw adds, like she’s just forgotten something, “I need all the head of departments’ approval before I go to the big guns, so I was wondering how you felt about a dog in the precinct?”

“A dog?”

“Yeah,” Shaw says. “I kind of just adopted one and my apartment doesn’t allow them bigger than forty pounds, and this guy, he’s definitely bigger than that. I was thinking we could keep him here. So I need your approval.” Shaw leans forward expectantly, resting her elbows on her knees.

Root admires her. Even in her lab coat, she’s intimidating. Tiny as she is, Root can tell that she has an effect on Harold; her reputation precedes her. Root watches Harold think about it for about half a minute, but his reluctance to anger his coworker wins out, and he eventually nods his head.

“Of course,” he says weakly. Root imagines he’s been through a whirlwind in the last five minutes. “I look forward to meeting him.”

“I look forward to seeing what kind of dog bed you get,” Shaw says pointedly, and then her and Root are leaving, slipping out of the door before Harold can object.

“I think that went well,” Root says once they’re down the hallway.

“As well as it could’ve gone,” Shaw agrees.

Root grabs Shaw’s wrist by the elevator and pulls her close, and despite Shaw rolling her eyes, she lets Root give her a chaste kiss, but pulls away before it progresses any further.

“We’re already going to torture Cole enough,” Shaw murmurs, standing entirely too close as they wait for the elevator.

“He’ll probably find another domain to inhabit while he’s not working,” Root adds. She strokes the back of Shaw’s hand with her thumb, enjoying the heat emanating from the other woman’s skin.

Shaw shrugs. “He’ll be fine.”

Root leans in for another kiss just as the elevator doors open, revealing John Reese. He smiles at them warmly as they part, and steps to the side as they both board the elevator.

A few seconds into the ride, Reese says, “You know, there’s a colloquial phrase that goes something like, ‘get a room’.”

Shaw’s hands are deep in her lab coat pockets. Otherwise, Root thinks she’d do something wholly inappropriate with her hands.

“Fuck off, John,” she says, but she’s grinning.

Shaw takes one hand out of her pocket and lets it swing by her side, and Root takes the opportunity to lace her fingers with Shaw’s. Shaw lets her, and Reese raises an eyebrow at them both, a gesture only Root catches.

It doesn’t matter, mostly because this time, Shaw’s thumb is stroking the back of Root’s hand, and that, right there, is making all the difference.