Root's heels click against the icy, black marble, leaving the cacophonous noise to echo off the equally dark walls and consume her from every angle. There are no windows, just a single black painted hallway lined with black painted steel doors, her only source of light coming from a larger than life screen at the end of the hall. Entire background white, it emits a blinding glow, electricity fueling its humming as three words continue to appear on screen, underlined in black with a blood-red triangle just below.
She can't for the life of her remember how she got here, nor where here is, and the frigid air leaves a chill snaking down her spine. Still, she walks, passing door after endless door. Then, an ear piercing shriek breaks through the walls, throwing Root into an instant alertness. Reaching for the guns she keeps at her waistline, her hands grasp at air, and she finds herself entirely unarmed. The scream comes again, hopeless and agonized, hidden behind one of these doors like a sick game of Let's Make a Deal. Her pace quickens, eyes darting back and forth frantically as she struggles to discern the right door.
Her blood curdles as a third, terrifying scream fills the air, and with a visceral clench in her chest, she knows this is it. Grabbing the frosty door knob to her left, Root yanks it back, the heavy metal causing her muscles to groan as she forces it towards herself. Throwing herself within, she finds herself blanketed in a darkness thick enough to taste, the only thing visible being a chain-link cage placed directly under long, florescent lights. A woman thrashes in a chair bolted to the concrete floor, arms and legs bound by thick leather straps. With a black sack over her face, it is impossible to identify the woman, yet- yelling again- it doesn't stop Root from surging forward to help her. The closer she gets, the more she feels the lights touching her, the sensation almost violating. Like a roach, she has an instinctual urge to scurry back to the darkness- to be concealed in its net of safety.
Bringing her hands to the chain-link fencing, she tugs at it, the entire wall swinging outwards with an eerie squeal. Heart hammering and blood surging through her temples, Root's breaths come in choppily, entire head feeling light on her shoulders as her fingers turn to lead. There is a foldable table about three feet from the restrained, thrashing woman, an assortment of yellow and blue filled syringes glinting devilishly. Having no knife, and not seeing anything sharp in sight, Root kneels at the woman's side, fingers fumbling clumsily at the buckles of the restraints. There is a minute puddle of blood on the ground, accompanying a quaint trickle of blood that leaks down the side of the woman's neck and onto her shirt collar. The woman struggles, screaming again like a small animal inches from a deadly predator.
"I'm here to help you," Root assures her, although her now trembling hands are little aid at all.
Suddenly, footsteps grow from behind, and Root darts back to her feet, eyes wide and searching. Every muscle in her body is wound like a music box, one tug open from unleashing a melodic monster. A pant-suit steps out from the dark, blood soaked scalpel in one hand. Root nearly goes into cardiac arrest as she sees the familiar face in an all too familiar situation.
A smile like an oil slick slides onto Control's wicked features, a fire from Hell jumping into her eyes as she takes another, calculated step towards Root.
"Well," Control greets in a voice dripping with a coy and condescending cocktail. "Look who's just in time for round two."
________\ If Your Number's Up /________
Control lunges at Root like a panther to a fawn, leaving Root no time to throw herself out of the way. Bringing her hands up before her face in self defense, her teeth grind as the scalpel drags across the flesh of her wrist, the warmth of blood instantly slipping across her skin. Dodging the second strike, Root slips past Control, rushing back for the way she's come. The woman in the chair begins a full blown mental breakdown, screaming until Root can feel her own throat growing sore and squirming against the restraints until her skin rubs raw. Root's heart is ready to explode, the underlying urge to free the woman mingling with her absolute desire to get the hell out of Dodge. And, as Control stalks towards her with murder in her eyes, Root has no choice but to leave the prisoner behind.
Bursting back into the hallway, her previous 'click click click' becomes an unintelligible tangle of heel hits and heavy breathing, hair impairing her vision as she tries to escape.
"And where do you think you're going?" Control calls out to Root, not running, but keeping a brisk pace after her. Root, throat feeling tight as she tries to swallow, barrels into the nearest door to her right, needing a place to hide. Her fingers slip on the handle as blood coats her hands, yet- after seconds that bring miniature heart attacks- she gets a good enough grasp to fling it open; only to be immediately shooed back out.
The door closes behind Root just as the voice becomes a face. Root's eyes swell to watermelons and her breath catches, heart slamming on the breaks and entire body lighting on fire. Sameen Shaw. It's Sameen Shaw.
Root's chest seizes at once, heart aching: she hasn't seen Shaw in months. Nearly a year. Each day has felt like an eternity, yet her features never faded from Root's memory. The dark hair pulled back in a tight ponytail, short but muscular stature, deep brown eyes and thin, soft lips. Now, those lips are screaming at her; those eyes commanding her to listen.
"Root, get back! Get outta here!" Shaw yells, running straight for her as Root stands motionless; dazed. Then, like a surge of electricity, static rumbles through her system, neurons firing with mechanical force to jolt her back to life. Each nerve tingling and moshing about her body, she begins to back up, Shaw's words finally making sense.
Get back, Root thinks, we have to get out of here.
From just behind Shaw, three bright flashes erupt like fireworks in the night sky, and Shaw's stern eyes flash open wide, entire face contorting in pain. She drops like a bird without wings, slamming into the hard, tiled ground with reverberating force. Root's mouth forms a shocked 'O' as Shaw's head smacks against the floor, the two of them no more than three yards apart. Her legs turn to jelly as her stomach falls through the floor, chest burning as if she, too, has been hit by a projectile. But she hasn't, she can tell she hasn't, that each bullet pierced Shaw in the back. Men in black suits with faces too far in the shadows to see spill out from the walls, grabbing Shaw by the arms and hoisting up her limp frame. They start pulling her backwards, all of their black-gloved hands drawing her back to them as she slowly begins to disappear into the void.
"No... No, stop!" Root shouts, forcing her wobbling legs forward, heart cracking her ribs with each powerful beat. Her lungs are on fire and her mind is in tatters, seeing Shaw being taken away once again. "Let go of her. Shaw!" Root rushes forward, stumbling and sputtering as her eyes begin to burn. The more she travels forward, the more Shaw is consumed. "Sameen!"
Without warning, Root is stopped mid-sprint, feet flying out from underneath of her as arms encase her at the waist from behind, pulling her back with inhuman strength. She thrashes like a child in a tantrum, flounders in their grasp like a fish out of water, tears rolling over her cheeks as they continue to haul her back. Her nails dig into their arms as she tries to push against them, digging her heels into the ground as her determination rears its ugly head.
"Get... Off... Me..." She spits hostilely, still surging against her capturers. Craning her neck back, she finds to her complete mortification more familiar faces. At her right- Harold Finch. Suit crisp and hair impeccably kept, his blue eyes are empty behind black rimmed glasses, a soft, assuring smile resting on his lips. Fusco too, holds this same countenance, peering at her with dead eyes, as if behind the mask of his face is nothing but marionette dolls pulled by higher powers. "Let go of me, please, please you have to let me go I have to help Shaw, please," she begs, voice clogging with pain as tears continue to cascade down her face, and she stares back in Shaw's direction. The dark hands strap her to a table almost too consumed by blackness to see. Contraptions are attached to her head and chest and wrists, needles thrust into her flesh as monitors roar to life with beeps and electronic lines of life.
Something happens- something Root can't make out, but knows is wrong. It's all wrong. She sees Shaw's eyes shut tight, teeth grit as an agonized groan escapes through them, and her entire back arches on the table before she begins to seize. The monitors' synchronized beeps become a disarray of blaring noises, the screens filled with green numbers all falling into reds as lights strobe. Again, Root tries to force herself away, yet the men keep her in an iron grip.
"You have to let me go," she insists in a pained moan, pleading eyes landing on Finch. When he doesn't respond, she loses the last ounce of her sanity. "They're killing her!" She shrieks, digging her nails deeply into his arm, forcing them down until she can feel skin and muscle under her nails, burrowing all the way to bone. He doesn't feel a thing. Simply smiles at her and shakes his head, before assisting Fusco in tossing her out the metal door.
It closes her out with a bone shattering clank, and she finds herself sitting in the center of the hallway; screen still broadcasting those same three words.
Root scrambles back to her feet, banging against the door with both hands, ripping at the handle and clawing at the hinges until her palms are bruised and her nails are missing and her voice is gone. And then, she bangs some more.
Footsteps grow from the way she came until they are all but on top of her, and she finds Control less than a foot away, arm rising to strike her with the scalpel once again. She wants nothing more than to have a gun, even a gun with one bullet left in the clip, or a knife or a shiv or a something. Something to give her a chance of getting back to Shaw. I need to get back to Shaw.
Feeling nearly drained of all energy yet bursting with adrenaline at the same time, Root fumbles backwards, spinning swiftly and running down the hall once more. Her eyes flash back and forth to each of the doors she's left unopened, trying to sort out some fragment of a plan. There has to be some way to get to Shaw through a different room. Shots blare out from behind, and Root finds her ears ringing as the bullets surge past, sparking as they slam into the wall at the end of the hallway.
"Talk to me," Root quakes into the air, breath shallow and eyes burning. "Just talk to me." She shuts her eyes, forcing every last ounce of her strength into hoping the Machine is listening. She has to be listening. "Tell me what to do, please, please just tell me what to do." There is nothing but silence in her head and gunfire in her eardrums, and she pushes her eyes back open, focusing as she forces her legs to work faster.
"I know you can hear me," she says, voice quivering as she bites her lip. "I need you to help me out of this. I need to get Shaw out of here. Please, you have to help me, please." Still there is nothing, and Root can feel tears boiling up at the corners of her eyes once more, yet these are no longer out of sorrow; but rather, frustration.
"What about Harold?" She shrieks accusingly, barely able to swallow from the hard lump growing at the back of her throat. "Do you want him to die here too?"
Root's run slows, disbelief stealing the breath from her mouth and forcing her eyes wide. She's nearly walking by the time the second stanza is uttered to her in monotone.
The words sound as if they've been plucked from an audio book, a cynical woman reading a disparaging tomb that leaves Root at a stand still, shook to the very bone.
"What- what are you talking about?" Root asks, stumbling over her words as she propels herself forward once more. "I need you're help, I need you to tell me what to d-"
'And You Will Always Be Alone.'
There is a crackle in her ear as the recording is rewound, then played back again. And again. Root feels an overwhelming flood of demented insanity washing over her, throwing her about like a life raft in choppy seas. She's sinking in the vicious waters, its icy fingers clawing at her as she descends, the sea filling her ears and filling her nose and filling her mouth and stinging her eyes. Her lungs burn, she can't breathe, and her vision begins to tunnel. Finally, the last string holding her together snaps, and she loses all control. With a sudden, irrepressible urge, she wants- needs- to get the cochlear implant out. Now.
She begins to scratch at her ear, then claws at it, the implant burning against her skull as she rips open the long scar behind her ear. It bleeds instantly, yet it doesn't stop her, as the book lines continue in a deafening, endless loop. Root can no longer tell its beginning from its end, nor what lies in between.
She tears at her ear until she stops at the end of the hall, her mind is filled with broken sentences and fractured syllables. Betrayal pours from her in waves, and her heart is in a million sharp pieces, all stabbing her from the inside out. Control continues on, and as Root turns to face her, she finds her close. Painstakingly close. Part of Root wants to stop, to drop to the floor in a fatigued ball and allow herself to be carted off or killed or both. She wants the noise to stop, for the Machine to stop talking and for the echoes of Shaw groaning in pain to stop, and for the woman in the cage's screams to stop. She yearns so much for the end that she cannot even breathe.
The hair at the back of her neck stands on end as the television screen behind her bathes her in white light, and the other part of her begins to grow. The part that knows she needs to escape; the part that knows she can still fight, and that she can still find a way to win.
There's only one door left, and- as much as Root's body wills her to stay away from it- her brain presses on until it wins, and she crashes through. The temperature immediately drops as Root's feet land on slightly uneven ground. Blinking, she finds herself outside.
__________\ We'll Find You /___________
Quickly, before she has time to forget, Root locks the door behind her, then leans against it, body relaxing. The Machine's chilling commentary ceases, as do all other sounds from within the Hell behind those walls. Outside, she finds solace in the noises of the night, hearing her breath as it slows and watching the tendrils of white that leave her mouth and rise upwards in the cold. Rubbing her hands over her arms, Root peers around at the bare trees and small bushes that tangle around her.
She hears the faint putter of a car engine, and a moment later headlights flicker into view. A small, grey car rolls up from the street only a dozen or so feet away, motor sputtering from the cold as it chugs to a choppy stop. The passenger door opens, and through the unruly branches obstructing Root's view, she distinctly makes out a pink and purple backpack coupled with long, brown hair. Root's breath catches, heart jumping into her throat as it flutters with newly grown wings. The car door slams shut, and the vehicle speeds away, leaving the passenger to walk forward. Up a small, gravel pathway leading directly to Root. The closer the passenger gets, the more Root can make out of her. Small, most likely a child; dark hair; backpack slung over one shoulder; skirt regardless of the biting whether. Her eyes are directly on Root's.
Their intensity takes Root back, and she finds herself lost for words, instantly coming the realization of who is approaching. No, Root thinks to herself, the words forming in stagnant clumps. It can't be her.
Yet, within seconds, Hanna Frey stands before Root, less than an arm's length away. Root presses her lips together tight, needles stabbing into her heart at seeing her childhood best friends. She almost feels happy- but something is terribly wrong. Leaning in to take a closer look, Root finds Hanna's nose red and running with blood, her right eye swollen with a large gash across her temple, as if someone struck her with the force of a baseball bat. Her shirt, also, is drenched in blood, the greatest amount concentrated at the center of her chest. Her skin is sickly pale in color, lips tinted purple and eyes almost glassy as she stares precariously upwards at Root. Hanna's eyes slide downwards, and she slowly extends her arm outwards, pointing with a fragile hand.
"Did you ever read it?" Hanna asks, and Root's brow knits in even further confusion. Following Hanna's gaze, Root drops her own to her hand, where she finds- to her surprise- she's holding a thin, paperback novel. Pulling it upwards, she squints at the cover in the near dark, the only light a measly lamp clinging to the side of the building. Flowers of Algernon.
Root sighs slowly, breath curling up against her cheeks and momentarily blurring her vision, peeling her eyes away from the cover, Root finds that Hanna is still staring at her, waiting for an answer.
"Ye- yes," she responds, words all trying to pour from her mouth at once. "Yeah, I read it a hundred times." Hanna presses her lips together in thought, nodding her head the slightest bit as her gaze flitters elsewhere. When it returns, it is just as sharp as before.
"What did you think?"
"It, it was good," Root answers, a weight lifting- momentarily- from her chest. "It was good, just like you said."
Hanna starts to smile; however, it barely tugs at the corners of her mouth before she doubles over, hands grabbing at the skull shattering wound on her head as she cries out in pain.
"Hanna?" Root says, momentarily stunned. Then, dropping the book, Root scurries forward, bending over to look more closely at her old friend. Still, the girl moans, fingers digging into her hair as she rocks back and forth. "What's wrong?" Root demands, unsure what to do as her heart grows finicky. "What's wrong? You have to tell me what's wrong, Hanna."
"Why didn't you help me?" Hanna groans between clenched teeth, eyes still shut as she collapses in on herself. "Why didn't you stop this from happening to me?" Root freezes, growing more horrified as Hanna's voice continues to louden, as if the pain is making it hard to hear."You watched me get into his car and you never helped me! Why didn't you stop this from happening to me?! What did you do to me?!"
"No, no, no," Root responds, voice hushed and laced with pain as her eyes begin to burn once again. "No, I tried, I'm so sorry, I'm sorry, Hanna, I tried, I tried, please, I'm so sorry, I..." Root falls silent, words becoming too much as sorrow throws the weight of the world back down onto her shoulders. She feels her knees beginning to buckle under all the pressure, and the uncertainty that embraces her leaves her all the more helpless. "I'm so sorry."
Root places her hands gingerly on Hanna's shoulders, just needing her to understand. However, like the trigger to a bomb, Hanna detonates, leaving verbal shrapnel lodged into Root's chest.
"DON'T TOUCH ME," Hanna shrieks, voice deranged, eyes bloodshot and wild as she throws herself away from Root, standing up straight once again. Hanna's breathing is shallow and savage, every ounce of her oozing with accusation directed at Root.
Then, there is silence. There is no labored breathing or screaming; the sounds of the rustling foliage cease; even the ever present crickets pause their chirrups for the endless moment. Finally, just when Root thinks the silence might ruin her, Hanna's eyes roll, revealing only an eerie white as she folds over, instantly beginning to vomit what Root can only identify as concrete. More than mortified, Root covers her face with her hands, spinning away from Hanna before daring to pull them away. When she does, she finds the building behind her isn't quite as she remembered. Instead of only seeing its darkness, Root finds its stacked brick walls, and a metallic plaque beside the oversized door that reads,
Bishop Public Library
Hours: Monday-Friday 8am to 9pm
Saturday 9am to 2pm
Sunday -- Closed
Suddenly, Root finds herself seized by an idea, an idea that she can help Hanna.
"Miss Tomkins!" Root yells, stumbling back for the door, legs quaking far too much for her to make it anywhere fast. "Miss Tomkins!" Root calls once again for the librarian, finally pressing herself to the door. She bangs at it twice before remembering she'd locked it. Turning the lock, she quickly throws the door open, only to find Control.
Control strikes outward, giving Root less than a second to dodge the blow. Grabbing Control at the upper arm, she brings her knee sharply into Controls ribcage thrice, waiting for Control to gag before slamming her into the dirt. She looks back up just in time to see Shaw stopping at the end of the dark hall, gun leveled in her hand as the blinding television screen cascades over Shaw's entire being. Root sees the blood smeared across her face and the deep crimson pockets that spread steadily against her trench coat, and her mind is blown instantly back into over drive. Too much happens far too quickly, leaving Root's vision to swim as her head loops in dizzying circles.
"Sameen," she calls, voice sounding clouded in her own ears. "Sameen, over here, come over here!"
Shaw fires off four rounds before turning her face towards Root's. Her eyes lock instantly with Root's, in a way that leaves Root absolutely chilled. From every follicle of hair to the tips of her fingers and the balls of her feet, Root can feel Shaw's gaze striking her, looking past her outer shell and directly into Root's soul.
'Pop! Pop! Pop!'
Before Root can process what has happened, Shaw is against the wall, then sliding down it, gun clattering from her limp grasp to the ground as she sinks down, then topples over like a structureless rag doll.
It's over. Everything's over.
Root's mouth opens to scream, but there's no sound left. Root tries to move forward, but there's no strength left. Instead, she drops to her knees, shoulders falling and chin colliding with her chest as the world finally grows too heavy to hold. She can feel it, the deterioration of her muscles and her bones. Their fibers splitting, tissues eaten as the cells die off one by one, shutting her system down one character at a time. Her eyes close as sound leaves her entirely, waiting for all the bad code zipping about within her to finally stop running. Just waiting to crash.
"Get up," Control says from somewhere before her, but Rot doesn't move.
"I said get up," Root finds her face wrenched upwards as Control's left hand clamps her jaw tight, forcing her to look Control in the eye. She doesn't struggle, the code that reads 'fight' has already stopped running. Seeing that Root, again, is defying her, she places the barrel of the gun against Root's forehead. The smallest burst of life surges through Root in one final pulse as the frigid, death baring metal rests against her skin. The last thing she sees is Control's finger wrapping around the trigger.
_________\ What Goes Bump in the Night /_________
"Get up," Sameen Shaw says for the umpteenth time, propped up on one arm as she gives Root a gentle but noticeable shaking with the other. "Come on, get up."
Root springs to life, eyes bursting open as she sucks in a sharp breath, mind in hyperdrive. Shooting up from her laying position in the bed, Root's hand latches to the one Shaw has on her shoulder, ripping it off before twisting to face Shaw. Not registering anything other than fight or die, Root fights, hand finding Shaw's throat in the dark and slamming Shaw's back into the solid head of the bed frame, nails digging deeply into the soft of Shaw's throat. Root pushes all of her wait into her right arm, holding her there as Shaw brings her own hands over Root's, not trying to yank her off, just letting her know she's there.
Root's eyes are vicious and wild, burning with the nightmare's lasting resentment coursing through her veins. Her heart beats sixty times a second; a steady hum that leaves her feeling sick to her stomach. Her face is damp from sweat, hair clinging to her neck and matting to the sides of her face; she doesn't let go.
Shaw makes a slight jerk, eyes closing as she struggles to swallow, hands tightening the smallest bit on Root's. Still, she doesn't fight back.
Finally, as Root's animalistic breathing slows, the fog of the nightmare leaves her eyes, and she begins to see clearly. The first thing she sees is Shaw, eyes calm on hers and shimmering in the moonlight that spills through translucent curtains. The second thing she sees is her hand around Shaw's neck.
Bewildered, Root draws her hand back quickly, and Shaw- no longer strung up by Root's force- slumps back down on the bed, choking a few times before resting her head against the backboard, taking in a couple measured breaths.
"Thanks for that," Shaw says, almost sounding amused as she runs a hand over her neck. Root sits, body still half twisted from darting up so fast, in absolute silence. Shaw gives her a minute before finally breaking the quiet. "What's wrong?" She asks in a conversational tone. Root, knowing better than to mistake the situation for casual, shakes her head slightly, forcing a smile on to her face.
"Why would you think anything's wrong?" Root counters in a voice she can only hope mimics Shaw's. In the scant light, Root watches Shaw's eyes narrow.
"Maybe because you nearly killed me?" Shaw presses, and Root feels the stabbing knife of guilt twisted ninety degrees in her heart. Her eyes shut briefly, lungs burning as she holds her breath, forcing a firm grasp on herself.
"That's what you get for waking me up in the middle of the night," Root replies at last, smirk on her face as she tilts her head. Please, she thinks to herself, the voice in her head no where near as strong as the one on her tongue, please let this go. Yet, if Shaw could read it in Root's eyes, she doesn't acknowledge the plea.
"It was a nightmare, wasn't it," Shaw somewhat muses aloud, and Root suddenly feels the walls closing in tightly around her; her heart starts to pound.
"You were screaming."
Silence. Root's lips part, waiting for words to pass through them, but they never come. She has no idea what to say, let alone how to say it, and lying seems useless against Shaw. Shaw watches her, not moving even a centimeter as she studies Root's features. Then, she sighs. Root watches as her face contorts with thought, as if she's wrenching something difficult to the surface.
"It happens, you know," Shaw starts, slowly, calculating each word as it's said. "Nightmares. It happens to you- to me- it happens." Root sits up a little straighter, consumed by the rare moment where Shaw gives some of herself away. "Sometimes... it's about what happened after the Stock Exchange... or..." Root watches her trudge on, the difficulty of Shaw's confession clear. "Cole." Shaw nods to herself once, tongue rolling over her teeth before she presses her lips together. "What about yours?"
"There's nothing wrong," Root deflects, the fear of what Shaw would think of her dream eating at her from the inside out. "Things are great," she insists, voice softer now, eyes focused on Shaw. "They're better than great, now that you're back." Root gives her a quaint smile, the first at least partial truth she's told tonight. Still, Shaw persists.
"No, Root, there's something bothering you," Shaw presses, leaning forward until there is little space between them, "and you're gonna tell me what that is." Root's soft smile pulls into a smirk, one that finally feels natural on her face.
"And if I don't?" Root remarks smartly, eyes glinting with humor. With Shaw's eyes holding her entire line of sight and Shaw's breath gently brushing against her skin, Root can't help the small hum that purrs to life within her, each nerve ending trembling with alertness. Shaw closes the already microscopic space between them, kissing Root tenderly. When she pulls back, Root finds that her nerves are all officially fried.
Still close, Shaw whispers in reply, "You don't want to know."
And maybe it's because Shaw's kiss left her to short circuit, or maybe it's due to the fact that she was too exhausted to lie anymore, but Root finally divulges a little. Only a fraction of the dream; the beginning half of Shaw's appearance in Room Number Two. When she finishes and Shaw says nothing, Root finds the overwhelming need to fill the nauseating silence.
"It's just that you were gone for so long, and I never thought I was going to see you again," Root remarks quietly, almost to herself. Shaw gives a single nod in response, digesting everything she's heard. Still, there is that silence, and Root finds her tongue slipping once again. "There was more about it all, but we can talk about it another time." More silence, and Root's stomach feels sick. "Will you say something?"
Shaw animates, rolling her shoulders as she arches her back, stretching out her stiff neck as she slides back down into the bed. "You should get some sleep," is all she replies. Root drops to one elbow, laying on her side as she peers down at Shaw, taking in every last detail of her face. Watching her breathe as she lays in bed, no longer a prisoner of war. And Root smiles.
"I can't," Root responds at last, and Shaw's eyes flicker open.
"Why not?" Shaw responds, more curious than anything else. Root takes a moment to find the right phrasing for her thoughts.
"Because as long as I'm awake, I get to see you're here," Root tells her, received by the most endearing of a cut-the-gushy-shit stare Shaw can give. Shaw holds the stare a moment before rolling her eyes with a lightly irritated sigh.
"I'm here, Root," Shaw says at last, "and I'm not going away. I promise."
With that, a dam breaks within Root, and a flood of unintelligible emotions surge over her, drowning her in their cataclysmic waves. She finds herself overwhelmed with too many things at once, and can't bring her mind to see anything clearly. So, instead of trying to think, she merely lays her head down on Shaw's collar, forehead pressed to the side of Shaw's neck a Root's fingers subconsciously toy with the hem of Shaw's tank top. Shaw wriggles the smallest bit, freeing her right arm just enough to encase Root's shoulders. Nothing more is said, yet Root knows as she lies there that they are both wide awake. Perhaps, she thinks, Shaw is waiting for her to fall asleep first, or maybe she just can't sleep either. Nonetheless, as Root lies there in the quiet, she can hear Shaw's heart beat, and it leaves her with a sense of ease, knowing they're both alive.