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Chapter Text

It had been several hours since a band of kidnappers managed to crack – literally – the security of Root’s office by finding the smallest pressure point in her window that, once hit, would implode inside the room. It would take a super computer to calculate the math that would factor in all those variables to hit the precise spot. And these people had that at their disposal.

Once Root was over the surprise of someone entering through the gaping hole left by the explosion, she quickly sized up who these people could be. She was a brilliant woman who had received threats before, but none made an entrance quite like that. But even their appearance didn’t scare Root. She knew that calmness must prevail if she were going to gather as many clues about them as possible. She was savvy enough to know, if you have a powerful program, someone will want it – and some would do anything to get at it.

In the seconds before the masked men grabbed her, she turned her laptop camera on and faced it towards them. She knew to leave her cell phone on and to memorize height and weight, and listen for the voice tones of her attackers.
But they seemed to be a step ahead of her. They closed her laptop, removed her phone and didn’t speak inside her office. They knew exactly what they were doing, down to the second.

“The program in Mustique?” was the first question she asked her captors when they hustled her to the helicopter. The man behind the mask smiled and Root knew she was right. “Dammit,” she said, chastising herself for not building a broader virus detector into the machine.

“You’re going to be sorry,” she warned him because she was confident about Shaw appearing any second.

“I’m waiting for her,” the man said as the helicopter hovered. “You see, Ms. Groves,” the deep voice said calmly to her over the noise of the rotor blades. “I know your weakness and I will kill her, if you don’t cooperate.”

He then aimed a gun at exactly the spot where Shaw burst through the broken glass to the outer area. She aimed her gun as Root yelled not to do anything. Of course, Shaw couldn’t hear her, but she saw the agony on Root’s face. She feared they had hurt her in the escape, but what they had really done was to threaten her raison d'etre; her very reason for living.

The text was sent to Shaw’s phone and once the boss was satisfied she understood it, the copter took off. Within minutes, Root was roughly transported from the machine to the boat, where she was promptly blindfolded and drugged. She concentrated as best she could to memorize a direction or sounds- anything that might help. Sleep took her over before she could do much of anything.

The kidnappers’ entrance caught the attention of hundreds of people who witnessed it. The FBI considered it an act of terrorism and sent a task force to help.

“Do you have any idea what they were after?” the investigator asked Harold Finch.

He and Root had rehearsed this scenario before; in case anything happened to one of them. Harold was the unlikely target because most people simply associated the brains of BEAR with Root.

“Here is a list of projects we’re working on,” he said, taking it out of his drawer. “But until they contact us, I’m afraid we won’t know if one of these is actually what they’re after.”

The FBI noted that everyone at BEAR was very cooperative.

Except the bodyguard.

Sameen Shaw would not answer their questions and did not say where she was going when she abruptly left the conference room. They didn’t know it, but Shaw didn’t suffer fools well. And Sameen considered pretty much everyone a fool right now.

Reese knew it and he played interference for her and explained that Shaw was too upset to talk.

Upset was not the word he meant, but it would work for the task force.

What Sameen was – was bloodthirsty for revenge.

And John knew she was going to have to put that on the back burner while she worked through her plan. A plan that, Reese, Martine, and Fusco waited to hear about.

“I’m helping her,” Ayala said, loading a gun she had no authority to carry.

“She’d want you to be here, with your mother,” Martine pointed out to her girlfriend. “We don’t’ know who we’re even dealing with.”

Everything in Ayala’s brain told her to go and be with Sameen, but she knew Martine was right. Her mother’s safety was more important than her desire to prove her usefulness to her sister.

“Protect her,” Ayala said, holding onto Martine’s arm.

“With my life,” she promised, causing Ayala to feel gratitude and fear at the same time.

Ayala wanted her mother to go somewhere out of the city, but Azar refused. She knew where she was most needed was to help them with the machine. She needed to write a program that would allow her to see what they were doing in there. Stealth programs were not easy to code and she didn’t want to waste precious time.

If Martine thought she had her hands full convincing Shaw’s sister not to come, she was only going to get another handful when Janine rushed at her.

“Just tell me what I can do, please,” the woman begged.

Martine knew Janine was worried sick. “Stay by your phone. If we need anything, when this goes down, I will contact you,” Martine promised.

“Please, be careful, Martine,” Janine begged. “And don’t let anything…,” but she couldn’t get the words out.

“I know,” Martine said, giving the assistant a much needed hug.

 When the sedative wore off, Root woke with a start because of course, she had been dreaming of Shaw and their vacation. The cold air was the first thing that hit her face. She was in a dark and damp room and the smell told her she was near water. She had no idea how much time had passed.

Sameen knew how much time in seconds. She paced and paced until her legs grew tired. She called Fusco for updates, but there were none. Reese suggested she sleep and she agreed, but they both knew she wouldn’t. Bear – was on his best behavior. Fully aware of what was going on; he knew Shaw was his best hope. So, he sat by her quietly and only when she collapsed on the couch, did he approach her and put his head on her leg.

“I’m getting her back,” she said to him and he whined his gratitude.

The hours that passed were sheer torture for Shaw. But she relied on her military training to stay focused. Everyone offered to stay with her, but she refused to allow anyone – except Bear. She knew their friends were trying to help any way they could, but Sameen was certain she would have to do this her way.

Fusco pulled in every favor anyone ever owed him to gather what info he could and to ask for anyone to help out. He knew that he better get something soon, or a kidnapping wouldn’t be his biggest challenge. It would be an armed woman, with little tolerance for her fellow human beings on her best day, hurting and unsure of what to do.

“Usain Bolt carrying nitroglycerin,” was his analogy to Joss Carter, who insisted on working a double.

“Can you talk to her?” Joss asked, knowing that, in spite of his gruff manner sometimes, Shaw listened to Fusco.

“She won’t pick up; won’t let anyone in,” Fusco reported.

“Since when has that ever stopped you?” Joss asked in all seriousness.

“I’ve seen that woman drunk; I’ve seen that woman pissed at the world. I’ve seen her lash out at someone because she was unable to deal with the feelings. But this…,” Fusco shook his head and leaned closer to his friend’s side of the joined desks, “…this is dynamite on speed. Going closer will only get her more upset.”

Shaw’s head bobbed when exhaustion came at her, but she jumped up and started to pace. She looked at her phone and in spite of the directive to wait; there had been no further word from them. Wherever Root was, Shaw hoped that the person who heard her message was giving it to his boss in front of her.

In fact, he was.

“She thinks we’re by an oil refinery?” was the boss’ first question as he sat with Root as she woke up. The words made Root force herself to wake up faster because she knew what those words meant.

“Your girlfriend isn’t as smart as I thought she was,” he spat and Root struggled against the zip ties that held her hands in place. “Oh, I touched a nerve,” the bearded man said and Root could tell he wasn’t speaking behind a mask anymore. Of course, her eyes were covered, so he could remove his.

“A four alarm fire in an oil refinery,” he repeated and saw the tiniest movement of Root’s lips. “Is that her calling card, Ms. Groves?” he asked and Root remained motionless. “Because to be honest, I’m looking forward to meeting her.”

“Don’t you hurt her!” Root shouted, unable to maintain her composure.

“Are you ready to tell us where your machine is?” he asked, sitting back in the chair.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Root tried to buy time.

“Of course you do, Ms. Groves. Do you know how I know?” he asked in a calm voice. There was nothing about it that was familiar to Root. “Because first you sent your former lover away incognito when she failed to secure information. Then, you interrupted your vacation to go to remote location because your machine told you there was activity there. But what you didn’t know, Ms. Groves, is that it was a trap. That activity was there on purpose because we knew whoever knew about the machine would come. And we let you download a program which has rendered your machine practically useless. Now, we just need to get to its hardware so we can reconstruct it,” he explained.

Root was so annoyed at herself for not seeing this beforehand. With great responsibility, comes great danger, she knew and seemed to have forgotten.

“Don’t be hard on yourself,” the man said when he saw Root frown. “Your own bodyguard is about to walk into a trap and she considers herself to be one of the best.”

“Look, she’s no use to you. She doesn’t know about any of the projects I’m working on. I’m the only one who knows anything. So, you might as well get your torture started,” Root said.

“Oh, Miss Groves, you and I have a very different definition of torture. I’m not going to touch you,” he said slowly as he got up and got closer to deliver his verbal blow. “I’m going to touch Ms. Shaw.”

That made Root insane as she struggled to break out of the ties. She had to learn not to react to his threats, but it was hard to do when he mentioned Shaw.

Root had to focus on how to help, once Sameen arrived.

Because Root knew, her Four Alarm Fire… was coming.

Reese was almost as antsy was Shaw. He was walking the streets and wound up at the precinct. “What do you have, Lionel,” Reese asked, having walked in like he owned the joint.

“Well, hello to you, too, Tall, Dark and Bossy,” Lionel said, looking at Joss. “You hear this guy?”

Joss knew both men were tense and would be at each other’s throats any second. “We’re trying, John,” she reminded her boyfriend.

“We can’t just give Shaw any lead. You know she’ll go half-cocked into a blazing fire,” Lionel reminded her coworker.

“I know,” John said, sorry, but unable to say it just yet. “Is there anything?”

“We got guys looking for the boat, but that seems to have disappeared. The helicopter was wiped clean. No prints, no identification numbers. Flew out of a little airport in Jersey right to BEAR,” Joss said.

“We might have something,” Fusco said. “Her mother just texted me some coordinates. Says to look here,” he said and typed in the data.

“Call Shaw first, Lionel,” Reese said in case Fusco was going to follow some protocol. “I’ll go pick her up.”

“Those two,” Fusco shook his head. “They’re like the Mayhem Twins.”

Joss knew she and Fusco were going to be walking a fine line between following procedures, and doing things the BEAR way.

By the time Lionel got Shaw on the phone, John was outside waiting for her. “I’ll drive, Shaw,” he said and didn’t ask. Sameen knew it was the better idea. She threw a large duffle bag in the back seat and got in. All John had to do was take one look at her and he could tell how tightly she was wound. “We need a plan, Shaw,” he gently suggested.

“Here’s my plan; no kneecaps,” Shaw said and now Reese knew she was going to blow this.

“It’s not about where you shoot,” he pointed out. “It’s about not getting anyone on our side hurt.”

He anticipated the response because Shaw was a pot of emotions that had been simmering for hours. Any second, he knew, the lid would blow off. That moment was now.

She turned and grabbed the much taller man who was driving by his jacket lapel. “You think I don’t know that, Reese?” she yelled and he could feel the tremor in her hand.

“All I’m saying, Shaw, is that these guys are smart and we have to be smarter,” Reese said and for once in her life, that calm, even voice was what she needed in order to hear the message.

“How about this…,” Shaw started, “…you cover me, and I’ll blow those sonsov..”

“Okay, see, Shaw, I was hoping for a little more detail. Now look, Lionel will give us a head start, but the FBI and the NYPD will be looking to help, too. So, our moves have to be clean and quick. We are not going to be either if we don’t coordinate a plan,” John reiterated as he drove to the location.

The thing about Reese was that, in spite of the fact his calmness annoyed the hell out of Shaw; she respected him a great deal. This is why she listened to him when he talked.

Reese drove through Manhattan until he crossed over into the Bronx; one of the five boroughs. He stopped when he got to the docks that led to the East River.

Shaw’s phone beeped. ‘Boat waiting for you,’ Lionel’s text read.

“Fusco says there’ll be a boat there,” Shaw relayed.

Reese glanced back at the duffle bag that Shaw brought with her that contained her weaponry. “I hope it’s a big boat,” he said.

“Here’s the plan, Reese,” Shaw said as they walked toward the boat.

Reese had to admit, she had given it some thought.

Root decided to take some deep breaths and calm herself. She had to think this through. They were expecting Shaw. That wasn’t so far-fetched, because anyone who knew them, knew Shaw would come. But they expected her to find them. The odor of the room told her she was in an old and musty building. It must be one of the abandoned islands perhaps, she thought. The problem with this is that it meant it wasn’t their home base because the conditions were not conducive to keeping computer equipment. It was almost as if they were stopping there … and waiting.

And Root was right.

They picked this place to give Shaw a hard time to locate them, until they were ready. Now, that she was on her way – they were more than ready.

Root smiled just the tiniest bit when she thought this all through.

They may have counted on Shaw arriving, but they still didn’t count on one thing.

Shaw … being Shaw.

Truly, Root knew, no one could.

Chapter Text

Reese didn’t necessarily agree with Shaw’s plan, but he knew he wouldn’t make her change her mind. He said he would follow her orders to the tee, but he had one condition.

“You want to shoot me with a homing device?” Shaw yelled in amazement.

“I have no idea what you’re walking into, Shaw. If they get you and take you somewhere, we need to know where that is,” he reasoned.

Shaw had several reasons why this was an insane idea, but time was wasting. “Fine!” she spat and rolled up her sleeve. She waited and finally looked up at John, whose very expression told her she got it wrong. “Oh, you are freaking kidding me!”

“They’ll see the entry point on your arm, Shaw. We need a…,” and the man who rarely uttered an inappropriate word around women finally said, “…denser area.”

“You’re going to shoot me in the ass with that?” Shaw stammered. Not a muscle on John’s face moved, but his eyes told her she was right. The silence and motionless stare told her he couldn’t do it through her pants.

“I’d let you do it yourself,” he explained, “…but the trigger is very tight because of how it needs to….” That was all he could get out.

Shaw knew she had no choice. She unbuttoned and unzipped her pants and bent over the car. Fortunately for both of them, Shaw’s lacy underwear gave him a clear shot of where to hit her.

“Sonova…,” Shaw grimaced because it hurt like hell. John coughed and looked away while she got dressed. He took out his phone, put in the tag number and sure enough, a tiny dot appeared on the map. “Why didn’t you do this to Root?” she asked, thinking what a great idea that would have been.

“She refused,” John answered.

Shaw pulled her pants back up and shoved her blouse back in. “I am so talking to her about this when I get her,” she promised.

Several minutes later, the boat was loaded. “You know what to do?” she asked John as she entered the boat alone.

“Best I figure we have less than an hour before Lionel can’t hold them off any more,” John surmised as he unhinged the boat. “Be careful, Shaw.”

Sameen saluted her friend, turned the back motor on and took off in the direction of the island. “Sonovabitch,” she said, realizing it hurt to sit on the hard surface. She looked up at John. “Did you just laugh, Reese? Cause you better not have laughed.
“I didn’t laugh, Shaw,” John said, because he was worried about her plan.

The East River current was not cooperative and Shaw had a tough time navigating the small vessel across it. She touched the northern most shore, which was not her original plan. She looked down at her phone with the information that Fusco sent her.
‘North Brother Island – thirteen acres of abandoned buildings, most overgrown with plant life including poison ivy.’ “Oh, great,” Shaw said because in the dark now, there was little hope of seeing anything.

Building structures are weak at best. Many crumbling. Be careful, Shaw.’

Sameen pulled the duffel bag out of the boat and unzipped it. She had her arsenal of weapons, hand selected to cause the most damage she could in the shortest time. She ripped duct tape to make her necessary accoutrements. Then, she rolled up a ball of the tape and shoved it in her pocket. That was for if she got shot.

Armed and ready to go, she sent a text to Reese. Then, she put her phone in the boat and pushed it off shore. She turned and slowly started to make her way in the dark; her path lit only by the moon. It took twenty minutes, but Shaw finally came up on a building structure with lights. She peered through the broken glass window and saw three armed men inside.

“I’m going to need you to do something,” the man who had kept Root prisoner said as he pulled off her blindfold. Root’s eyes tried to adjust to the dimly lit room.

“What’s that?” Root asked, as she looked around at her surroundings. She was right in that it was a very old room that seemed overtaken by decay. She wasn’t surprised that her kidnapper was clean shaven and conservative looking. No tell-tale tattoos that would identify if he was with a group.

He put a phone in front of Root’s face. On the screen, she could see Sameen making her way up the dimly lit path to the house. “Tell her to be careful of the entry floor. I wouldn’t want her to fall through it.”

Root watched the screen and he nodded for her to talk. Instead, Root warned Sameen of what she thought was happening. “SAMEEN! IT’S A TRAP!” Root shouted into the phone.

Instead of being surprised, the man smiled. “By the way, you can call me Jeff,” he introduced himself, putting his phone away.

Root was now rubbing the zip ties against one another very slowly, to weaken them. “Got a last name, Jeff? Something for the headstone?”

“Oh, I do adore the undying faith you have in your bodyguard, Ms. Groves. But remember, we are expecting her,” he reminded Root.

“People think they’re expecting Shaw, but truly, she’s beyond anyone’s expectations,” Root said.

“This is what is going to make my job so easy,” the man said knowingly.

Root took a deep breath and tried to silence herself. She knew what he meant. He was going to do something to Shaw to make her talk. And she knew in her heart, he was right. Of course, he’d have to capture Shaw first.

What Root didn’t know was that Shaw wasn’t going to put up much of a fight. Oh, she shot her way in and disabled the first dozen guys that attempted to come her way. She even stuck two of the beefier guards with hypodermic needles that were strapped to her back with duct tape.

And even though it seemed she ran out of ammo, Shaw was just getting started because she had not run out of ideas.

“She…she…hurt twelve people out there,” one of the few uninjured men said as they dragged Sameen inside.

“Ms. Shaw!” Jeff said, having come into the hallway to meet her. “It is a pleasure.”

“Hold that thought,” Shaw smiled back at him.

“That was quite an entrance,” he mocked. “Jeff Blackwell,” he introduced himself. “Can I get you a water?”

“You can get me Root, so I can strike a blow to one or both of your guards, rendering them incapable of talking for months,” Shaw threatened and both men pulled back as they held onto her.

Her host laughed and told the men they could let go of her. “You aren’t here by accident, Ms. Shaw,” he told Sameen who was too busy looking around for where to lay out the bodies. “But I do appreciate the show you put on to get in. You see, you’re our guest of honor. You, Ms. Shaw, are exactly what we need to get the information out of Ms. Groves.”

Sameen knew enough about tactics to understand exactly what he meant. “Oh, so you’re going to torture me in hopes of getting information out of Root,” she said to him, leaning in just a little. “Well, good luck with that. I don’t know what kind of info you want her to give up, but I’m pretty sure kicking my ass won’t do it.”

“Don’t be so modest, Ms. Shaw,” Jeff said to her. “I saw her body flinch when I mentioned mistreating you,” he shared.

“Here’s something I bet you don’t know,” Shaw said in almost a sing song voice. “By contract, I’m only supposed to shoot kneecaps. It’s true; most of your men out there have permanent damage to their meniscus and articular cartilage,” the former doctor outlined. “Makes it easy to pick them out of lineups that way,” she sneered.

That’s what you wanted me to know?” Jeff laughed because of course he didn’t care.

“No,” Shaw smiled. “What I want you to know is that when I come for you, I’m going to break that rule and shoot you somewhere else.”

Her voice was so calm and clear, that the threat actually unnerved the man a bit. Still, she was a five foot three woman who was unarmed and about to be the pawn in his game.

But Shaw saw him flinch.

“Let’s get started, shall we?” suggested the man that had no idea the game started when Shaw touched down on the shore.

The two men pushed Sameen to follow and they walked through heavy, concrete debris to follow their leader. When they reached a room with only a light bulb hanging from above and over a chair, Shaw knew this is where they meant to bring her.

“Put Ms. Shaw in the chair and zip tie her hands,” Jeff instructed and the men did.

Seconds later, a woman walked alongside Root as she stumbled into the room. Shaw knew she wasn’t supposed to react at seeing Root, but she scanned her to see if they had hurt her. Root’s teaching was more street oriented, and she couldn’t help but call out to Shaw.

They sat Root down in a chair several feet across from Sameen. “I knew you would come for me,” Root smiled.

“Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Shaw said back. “Looks like I was invited, too. This is not going to be reflected in my Christmas bonus, is it?”

Root all but cooed at hearing her lover’s voice as she disregarded the severity of their situation. That was so Shaw.

The only problem for Root and Shaw right now, was that someone else had the upper hand. “Did you check her for homing devices?” he asked and Shaw’s heart sped up a little.

“I’ll do it,” the burly man said, but Jeff told him no and waved to the woman who had walked in with Root. “This is Claire Mahoney. Now, Claire was selected to join us because she’s excellent at solving puzzles, aren’t you?” he said as she walked over. “Now, Claire, do you think you can figure out where they may have hidden a device on Ms. Shaw?”

The man selected Claire for two reasons; he thought because she was young, Shaw would not harm her. And two, he was counting on another woman touching her to bother Root.

He was half right.

“I won’t stop looking until I find it,” Claire promised and ripped open Sameen’s shirt, sending buttons flying. Claire pulled the shirt down Sameen’s shoulders as she traced her hands up and down Shaw’s upper arms slowly.

Sameen knew exactly what they were doing and stared hard at Root to look at her and not the woman. She could tell by Root’s breathing that she was getting annoyed. She needed Root to focus because the bad stuff had not yet begun.

Claire was enjoying her search too much as she stood behind Shaw and pushed her hands down her black t-shirt and bra and cupped her breasts. Shaw could see Root’s eyes stray and come back, but she was watching this woman fondle Shaw.

“I hope that was as good for you as is it was for me,” Claire whispered into Shaw’s ear for effect.

“Never mind,” Jeff said because this wasn’t getting him anywhere. “Let’s see if I look under her skin,” he said and opened a small box that contained a set of scalpels.

“Root,” Shaw said and stared at her. Once Sameen had her attention, she slowly closed her eyes, indicating to Root that she shouldn’t look. Root nodded a little because she understood.

“Let’s look here,” Jeff said as he left a three inch cut along her bicep on her right arm. “Or here,” he said and cut along her forearm. “Now, as a medically trained person, you know what will happen if I cut deeper, but I bet Ms. Groves doesn’t know that if I do, I can sever nerves that will leave your arm useless,” he threatened.

Root couldn’t keep her eyes closed any longer and opened them to see the red blood oozing out of two long streaks in Sameen’s right arm. She knew she was supposed to know what Sameen was up to, but she couldn’t seem to figure it out. Shaw would never be captured unless she wanted to be. But what was the plan? Root’s breathing labored as Sameen tried desperately not to show the amount of pain she was in. She sat there tightlipped.

“You are in remarkable shape, Ms. Shaw,” Jeff said as he went around the back of her. He began naming muscles groups as he slid the sharp knife over them, leaving a trail of blood each time.

Root couldn’t take it anymore. “Sameen?” she called across to her.

“Do we have disability coverage?” Shaw asked back, but Root could hear the pain in her voice. “Because even though I still have two legs and an arm left, I’m going to make a sucky bodyguard for a while.”
Shaw’s nonchalance annoyed her captor as much as it confused her girlfriend. There was a message in there and Root’s brain scrambled to figure out what it was.

The next cut was less kind as he pushed the scalpel down deeper into her left shoulder.

“Okay, okay,” Root yelled because she understood now.

She had to get Jeff away from Sameen while she still had use of her limbs.

“Ready to talk, Ms. Groves?” Jeff said, sorry to see the torture end.

Root knew if Shaw was here alone, their friends were not far behind. But they were still in danger and there was plenty of time for this man to do serious damage to Shaw.
“Yes, just don’t hurt her anymore,” Root said, hoping she was half as good as Shaw was at this.

When it was over, Root was going to prove to be Sameen’s equal.

Chapter Text

Root’s mind raced to figure out what Sameen was trying to tell her. She had ‘three limbs left’, she said. But Shaw’s hands were tied behind her back, behind the chair, and she was injured. Root called out to Jeffrey to make him come to her.

“Ready to talk, Ms. Groves?” he asked again. “Or should I carve your girlfriend up some more?”

“Don’t hurt her,” she repeated and tried to keep her mind on what to say, but kept looking at the blood stained shirt behind him. “Oh, God,” she let out when she saw Sameen.

“I actually answer to a higher power, Ms. Groves, and Mr. Greer is waiting for me to tell him where the machine is,” Blackwell let out because he was caught between enjoying the pain he was inflicting and knowing what his boss would do if he didn’t call soon.

“You have to let Sameen go, first,” Root said, thinking she could bargain.

Root was wrong and as soon as she said it, Sameen knew what would happen.

Blackwell hauled off and hit her across her face, sending a surprised Root backwards in the chair. “There is no bargaining, Ms. Groves. Tell me where the machine is or the next cut on Ms. Shaw will be an artery!”

It wasn’t just the violent slap that convinced Shaw this man enjoyed his job; it was something in his tone. It was cold and desperate. Sameen surmised, as bad as this guy was, his boss was much worse. She bit down on her cheek so she wouldn’t react to that slap. If she did, he’d know he had them exactly where he wanted them. Sameen knew he’d push and pull until one of them cracked.

“Some girlfriend you got there. She didn’t even flinch,” Blackwell said and Claire asked if she should check Sameen out again. “No, I think Ms. Groves is getting ready to talk because the longer she waits, the more blood is oozing out of her bodyguard.”

“You got some balls,” Shaw said, hoping Root would see she was in the perfect position to hit him.


The man screamed in pain and fell to the floor, holding his injured cargo. While Root’s mind had been busy trying to think of what to do, her foot was already certain. As soon as Sameen said that, Root pushed her leg up, as fast and as hard as she could – right between the threatening man’s legs.

Root looked up to see the slightest smile and arched eyebrow on Shaw. In spite of the extreme circumstances, Root’s heart leapt to think she had impressed Sameen.

Root hadn’t just incapacitated Blackwell; she also gave Shaw a window of opportunity. Sameen’s military training in escape maneuvers took over. She stood up, bringing the chair with her. As the guards went to press her back down, she brought the chair down on their feet. They pulled her backwards, which she was ready for. She flipped over and up, using the chair as her weapon to hit them. Root sat there watching this ballet of carefully coordinated moves that eventually freed Sameen from the zip ties. Now, she stood there armed with the legs that she broke off from the chair. A swift crack to the oversized man’s shins brought them down, hitting their heads in the fall.

“GET HER!” Blackwell yelled to Claire as he pulled himself up gingerly.

“Oh, no! You’re mine, bitch,” Root said, standing up and grabbing the younger woman. With no weapon, Root did what she did best; she used her head. “This is for putting your hands on her,” Root said, grabbing the shorter woman and banging her head against Claire’s hard and knocking her out; her gun sliding across the floor.

“Nice,” Shaw said to Root, and Root smiled like she’d just been handed the first place medal.

“Don’t move,” Blackwell said, holding a Glock on Root from behind her. “You tell me where it is, or I put a bullet through Ms. Shaw’s head.” The gun was aimed at Shaw as he held onto Root’s shirt from behind.

“There’s that disarming appeal,” Shaw said as she looked around for options. She didn’t mean anything by it, but Root heard ‘disarm’ and thought it was her signal to do so. She grabbed the man’s arm and cracked it over her leg.

Sameen was surprised at how swiftly Root had moved and literally disarmed him.

Root took his gun and ran to Sameen. Shaw’s blouse was blood soaked from the swift movements. “Sameen!” Root said.

“Rip this into pieces,” Shaw said, and handed Root the ball of duct tape. Root did and Sameen started to apply the pieces to her cuts. Root didn’t want to ask what this would feel like when it was time to remove it. “There, all better,” Shaw said, when Root applied the piece to the deepest cut. It hardly covered the wound.

“This isn’t over,” Blackwell yelled from the floor. “You won’t get off this island alive.”

“I am going to talk to him,” Shaw said, shoving his gun in the back of her pants. Her tone was one that Root had never heard her use. It would have been familiar if Root had been with Shaw in Afghanistan or Syria, when she was interrogating people.

Blackwell laughed at the audaciousness of the two women; a tech genius and her bodyguard. “This is so much bigger than you,” he said as Sameen pulled him up and pushed him in the chair. “Oh, now you’re going to protect her?” he asked, mockingly. He reached under the chair and pulled out a planted gun. “You’re just not as good as you think you are, Ms. Shaw.” He aimed the gun at Shaw and she didn’t move.

John had given Sameen the allotted time. Now, Fusco and the FBI were on their way there. Fusco stalled them as long as he could to allow his friend an opportunity to do what she did best – be a badass. Like Reese, he too, had a condition. Shaw had answered with a dismissive, ‘yeah, yeah,’ when he made her promise. She didn’t know it, but Fusco was going to read her the riot act when he got her back.

They began their moves to the island.

Inside the decrepit building, Shaw wasn’t done.

She kept looking at Blackwell, listening to him. There was something about him that simply unnerved her, and that was besides the sadistic cutting and hitting Root. He was sent to extract information from Root and everything he did fit the MO of someone commissioned to do it.

But there was something else.

Claire Mahoney was coming to and grabbed for her gun, but Root stepped on her arm. “Tsk, tsk,” she said and picked the woman up and dropped her back down so her head hit the hard floor. “I really don’t like anyone touching her,” she said right before she dropped her.

“Don’t!” he barked at Root when she tried to get Claire’s gun.

A question pushed at Sameen about this man, until it formed into words. “You were sent…,” and even Shaw had a hard time saying the rest.”

“To get info and then, kill her,” Blackwell confirmed, and suddenly there was a beam of red light on Root’s head. “Now, step aside Ms. Shaw while we get what we came for.”

Sameen’s calculations told her that their backup was arriving and would take out the sniper outside. When the red light disappeared, she knew she was right.

“What?” Blackwell said and pressed his ear comm device.


“Let’s go, Root,” Shaw said and it would have appeared they were walking out with an armed man holding a gun on them.

But that was part of Shaw’s plan.

Shaw had already decided that even though they didn’t know what or who they were dealing with, this guy had to go. He had the personality type that would eventually, somewhere down the road, make him want to try to kill Root.

“Tell me or I will put a bullet through her!” he yelled as chaos erupted outside. “Or I’ll just put it through her anyway.”

“I was kind of hoping you’d say that,” Shaw said and waited for him to raise his gun on Root so that it would be a justified shooting.

Shaw stepped in front of Root, grabbed the Glock behind her back and shot. Blackwell fell backwards, the surprise expression at being out drawn still on his face; a bullet hole right between his eyes. “Told you I would break the rule,” she whispered to the dead man.

Then, she walked over to Claire and pulled her up. “Give your boss, Greer, a message; before he kills you, I mean,” Shaw smiled in the woman’s dazed face. “Tell him – I’ll be waiting for him if he’s stupid enough to come again.”

Fusco and Reese rushed into the hallway that was littered with a dozen men yelling in pain or passed out from their wounds. “Geez, she leaves a mess,” Fusco said of his friend’s talent.

“Kneecaps,” Reese noted of most of the wounds. “Nice.” He was pleased that Shaw didn’t go Annie Oakley on them because of Root.

The FBI task followed, wondering how many people were involved in this gun fight.

“That’s a twelve to one ratio,” Joss said in a low voice, amazed at that statistic.

Fusco and Reese walked down a hallway in the dark, just as the door to the room where Root and Shaw were, flew open.

“For guardian angels, you’re a little late to the party,” Shaw quipped and smiled at her friends. She winked at both of them; her gratitude for letting her do this her way.

“Geez, Shaw, you look like hell,” Fusco said of his duct taped friend.

“Are you okay, Root?” Reese asked and could see the red mark on her face.

“Yes, we’re fine,” Root assured him.

“What about that guy?” Fusco said, looking past them at the man whose head hung back over the chair.

“Him, not so much. The girl will give you information though,” Shaw said, tossing Claire towards an FBI agent.

“You’re going to a doctor,” Fusco barked thinking he should have made that one of his conditions.

“You two did all of this?” Reese asked of the wounded guards and the knocked out woman. Oh, yeah – and the dead guy.

“We make a good team,” Shaw said, paying Root the highest compliment.

“We do,” Shaw smiled and took Root’s hand.

“Impressive,” Reese said of the impromptu operation.

The FBI gathered the men and told Shaw and Root they would need to interview them.

“You know a good place to interview?” Fusco had to butt in. “The hospital. She needs to go,” he insisted.

“I can do this myself,” she said to him, insulted that he would suggest she needed medical help.

“Yeah, well Doctor Duct Tape, I think you might actually need a stitch or two,” he said, helping her outside.

“I can do my own,” Shaw reminded him because he’d seen her handiwork.

He looked at Root because anyone in their right mind knew Shaw needed to go. “Please, Cocoa Puffs?” he said.

“I think he has a point,” was all Root had to say and Shaw begrudgingly agreed.

Reese held onto Root as they walked outside to the police boat.

Two hours later, Shaw was stitched up and resting in a hospital bed. “Get me out of here,” she barked to Root who pointed out that her blood stained clothes weren’t wearable. “I’ve sent for some new clothes.”

The FBI interviewed the two women who were able to suggest that Blackwell was part of a group looking for a large computer and picked Root because of her technology background.

“That was a pretty clean shot, Ms. Shaw,” the FBI agent said of Blackwell’s wound. If you had measured it, it would have proven to be dead center.

“I’m a good shot,” Shaw said, anxious to get out of the hospital gown.

“And he threatened Ms. Groves and you felt it was necessary to take action?” the agent asked because the typical shot would have been in the heart area.

“He made viable threats and pointed his gun at her. I felt she was in imminent danger,” Shaw said slowly, giving the right answer.

“Okay, then,” the agent said and left the two women alone.

Of all the parts of her body that hurt, the one without any lidocaine was killing her right now. “Sonova,” Shaw grimaced as she moved in the bed.

“What hurts, sweetie?” Root asked worried.

“Oh yeah,” Shaw said, the issue dawning on her slowly. But the sleeping aid that Fusco had personally suggested because he warned the staff the patient could be most uncooperative was taking hold. “Remind me to shoot you in the ass later.”

Root frowned because she had no idea what Shaw was talking about. She slowly pulled the covers up on Shaw and stroked her face. “Thank you for saving me,” she whispered as she kissed Sameen’s lips.

“Likewise,” Shaw said from her medically induced sleep.

Reese and Fusco offered to stay with Sameen, but Root said she needed to be there. The two men took their posts outside the door.

“You know she’s going to be a maniac when she wakes up, right?” Fusco said to his friend.

“Yeah,” Reese said because he knew he was partly to blame.

Chapter Text

As Sameen slept peacefully, Root sat by her side, because she wanted to be there as soon as the patient woke up. Shaw’s friends - weren’t so sure.

“I probably… should… you know,” Fusco said, pointing to the exit.

“Yeah, I should… too,” John said, because neither of them wanted to be there when the woman awoke.

Joss had joined them, stopping by with coffee and was sitting with the two men. “You two are…,” she looked them up and down. “Afraid, aren’t you?”

“What?” the two men said and then talked in unison as they declared that was a preposterous idea without any merit whatsoever.

“Aha,” Joss said, not believing a word. She was laughing at her partner and boyfriend when she spotted real trouble down the hallway. “Oh-oh,” Joss said when she saw the woman arguing with the security guard.

“SHE NEEDS HER CLOTHES!” Janine shouted because she was on a mission.

“Let me see if I can …,” Joss started. “Oh, this is a whole ‘nother level of crazy here.” She walked out and put her hand on Janine’s arm and explained to the guard that this was Ms. Shaw’s personal assistant and she was bringing her clothes.

“That’s what I told him,” Janine said, thanking Joss.

“Yeah,” Joss said and wanted to point out that poking the guard in the chest and yelling was not the best way to get in. Janine raced to sit near Fusco and Reese and asked how Root and Shaw were.

“Root’s okay,” Reese reported.

“Shaw will be better…later,” Fusco said.

“Tell me what’s wrong with Shaw. Don’t hold back – I can take it,” Janine promised. Fusco shrugged his shoulders and gave her the gory details of Shaw’s incisions.

The woman promptly passed out.

“What?” Fusco asked, looking at Joss, as Reese helped him pull the woman back in the chair. “She said she could take it!”

“I’m okay,” the woman said, coming to.

“She’s not okay,” Joss admonished her partner.

Inside the hospital room, Root slept peacefully next to her unconscious girlfriend.

Shaw was dreaming and still on vacation in St. Lucia. The two were lying on the beach, the sun shining brightly and the cool breeze blowing across their bodies. Shaw was keeping a watchful eye on her lover’s fair skin, worried she would get sunburned. Root was keeping a careful eye on Shaw because she simply delighted in looking at her. Suddenly, the shark that Shaw had seen underwater appeared in the water in front of them. He lunged up on the beach, grabbed Root by her feet and dragged her back into the ocean. Shaw jumped up in her dream and grabbed Root under her arms; screaming at the large fish to let go. “You weren’t watching her,” the dream shark managed to say even though he was holding Root’s feet in his mouth. “I was right next to her!” Shaw fought with the shark because this woman would fight with anyone. “Oh, good; no rings,” he noticed as he continued to pull Root. “Makes it easier to digest.”
“You sonova bitch,” Shaw yelled at the imaginary talking shark and pulled Root with all her might to gain her release. “She’s mine!” Shaw yelled at him.

In reality, Shaw had just pulled her blanket all the way up to her neck. But she did shout out that warning and Root heard her. Root didn’t know what Shaw was dreaming about, but she liked the sound of Shaw’s declaration. The sun outside the window was dimmer than the smile on her face.

“I’m here, Sweetie,” Root said, putting her hand on Shaw’s head to check her temperature. She was fine.

But Sameen was still dreaming.

“Oh, hey,” the animated shark called back to Shaw as she pulled an unconscious Root to safety. “She’s pregnant.”

“What? What the hell does that mean?” Shaw yelled at the talking fish, but he disappeared back into the waters.

The dream content was enough to make Shaw jump out of her slumber and sit straight up in bed. She sat motionless, getting her bearings and wondering where the hell that shark was.

“Sameen, it’s okay,” Root’s soothing voice assured her.

“Where? What the hell?” Shaw said, her heart still caught in the dream world while her brain struggled to remember reality. The sharp pain of her several cuts were doing a hell of a job giving her clues. Shaw pushed her legs over the side of the bed. “Are you okay?” she asked, grabbing Root. “Let me see your ankles,” she insisted and made Root pull her pants up to show them to her. “Are you hurt?” she asked more slowly now.

“No, I’m fine, really,” Root said and gently tried to help Sameen sit back in bed. She could tell the woman had gotten up faster than her blood pressure could accommodate and she was dizzy.

Sameen lay back and felt what she was wearing. “What… the… hell… is… this?” she asked and pulled out the gown and looked down it. “Where are my clothes?” she yelled.

“Do you remember? We had to come here to have your wounds taken care of,” Root reminded her.

“No, someone made me come here. FUSCO!” she bellowed.

“I asked you to come, Sweetie. I was worried,” Root said and that calmed Shaw a little. “You were wonderful,” she said, kissing Sameen’s pouting lips. “Truly.”

“Yeah?” Shaw asked, because that kiss was the best medicine she had since she got there. “So were you,” Shaw said, pulling Root in to kiss her again.

“Oh, there’s the Princess Battleaxe now,” Fusco said when the yelling commenced. “You might want to give her those…,” he said, gently pushing Janine towards the door – kind of like the Romans pushed Christians into the lions’ den.

Janine knew if she stepped inside, Shaw would demand her clothes and leave. So, instead the assistant went to the nurses’ station and commanded that a doctor come and look at Shaw. She was told the doctor would be there during her rounds, but that wasn’t good enough and Janine insisted an exception should be made.

To shut the woman up, one was made.

The doctor walked down the hallway with Janine as she instructed her on how to handle the patient. “She’s a doctor, too, so don’t dumb anything down for her. Also, tell her what a great job she did with the duct tape….”

“The what?” asked the doctor who didn’t think that material was a suitable bandage for wounds.

“Well, it’s not like she had a suture kit with her when she got cut,” the woman barked. “Okay, go…,” she said when they got to Shaw’s room.

“Good morning, Ms. Shaw,” the doctor said, accessing her chart on her laptop. “Looks like you were in quite a brawl. How are you feeling?”

“Great, now let me go,” Shaw said.

“No fever, slept well,” the doctor read the nurses’ notes.

“How the hell do you know how I slept? I did not sleep well at all. There was a freaking shark…,” and Sameen stopped because she heard what she was saying. “Slept like a baby,” she changed her answer.

The doctor dismissed it, but Root didn’t.

“Let me see,” the doctor said and proceeded to check each of wounds under the gauze. “Dr. James did a nice job,” she said of the stitches. “I don’t think they’ll be any scaring.”

“What? Are you kidding?” Shaw asked, disappointed as she looked over her shoulder at the worst gash. “What will I tell our kids?” she asked without realizing it.

“Excuse me?” the doctor asked, confused by the patient’s dissatisfaction.

“I mean…,” Shaw said, trying to come up with something, “….did anyone check on her?” Shaw barked because she felt Root was left out. “Did they check on you?”

“Yes, they did, Sweetie,” Root said and truly, other than a sensitive cheek she was okay. After Shaw’s remark, the only thing Root could feel was joy.

“You did sustain a blow to the face,” the doctor said and looked more closely at Root. “I hope they caught him,” she sympathized.

“I shot him,” Shaw said, her voice cold.

“Oh,” the doctor responded and smiled nervously. “You’re… good to go.”

Janine appeared in the doorway and only came in when Root nodded. The doctor pushed past her to get out.

“I brought your clothes,” she said, her voice cracking when she saw how bandaged up Sameen was.

“Thank you. You always know exactly what I need,” Shaw complimented her. She held her hand out for the clothes, but the woman didn’t move. In fact, the only thing moving on Janine was her quivering lower lip.

“Are you…,” she choked back. “Is she..?” she turned to Root.

“Am I what?” Shaw asked Root.

“Yes, she’s been hurt, but she’s okay. No permanent damage,” Root explained.

“Will she be…,” and Janine meant will Shaw be Shaw, but couldn’t get it out.

“Yes, Janine, she most certainly will,” Root comforted her.

“You two know I’m right here, right?” Shaw asked as she watched the two women talking.

Much relieved now, Janine wiped a tear away and laughed. “Of course,” she said and handed Shaw the bag of clothes.

“Thanks,” Shaw said, not understand anything that was going on.

“I’m glad you’re okay,” Janine said and smiled as she left.

“What is going on with her?” Shaw asked, pulling out her clothes.

“She adores you,” Root said, gently helping Sameen undress and then put on her clothes.

“I don’t want her to,” Sameen said, grimacing when she had to move her arms.

“Oh, Sweetie,” Root said, kissing Sameen on her head, “…you don’t have a choice.”

Sitting up now, and fully dressed, Shaw’s memory was coming back intact. She pulled Root to look at her. “Are you okay?” she asked.

Root touched her face. “It doesn’t even hurt. I’m fine,” she assured her truthfully.

But Shaw already gave Root credit for being able to withstand the physical roughness. She could see that she was okay. “I meant – seeing me shoot…,” Shaw said, and had trouble looking Root in the eye for fear she had distressed her.

Root knew exactly what she meant. She cupped Shaw’s face to look at her. “You saved me; we both know that,” Root whispered because there was something maniacal about Jeffrey Blackwell.

Both women knew; if he didn’t kill Root last night; he would try another time.

“You saved me, too,” Shaw said and her statement wasn’t only about last night.

Joss made Fusco and Reese face their fears and go in to see their friend. Shaw was in a much better mood now that she was dressed and ready to leave.

“I’m hungry,” she announced and both men felt relieved that her mind was preoccupied.

“Oh, yeah, breakfast,” Fusco said.

“Yeah, let’s go,” Reese said, his voice tinged with enthusiasm. It was a dead giveaway.

“You know I’m not done with you,” Shaw said to Reese, staring up into those baby blues. “It still hurts!” she updated him. “And you…,” she said, poking Fusco in the arm.

She wasn’t sure what she was annoyed at him for, but she’d think of something.

Chapter Text

Root called Isabelle to assure her they were okay and would be back soon for breakfast. Banquet halls prepared smaller feasts than the chef had ready for her favorite couple and their friends. The group arrived and sat down to an extensive spread of every imaginable food delight.

“When that guy threatened to make my life a living hell,” Shaw shared of Blackwell’s threat; her mouth full of food, “… I wanted to tell him my sister is a vegan; can’t get much worse than that.”

Everyone laughed at Shaw’s joke, but Root watched her and wondered what was really going on under the dismissive humor. It was a scary experience for both of them, but Shaw would never say that.

Everyone felt the same way about Shaw when she was eating – she was simply less dangerous. But breakfast didn’t last forever and when she was done, she turned to her friends.

“So, Root,” Shaw said slowly, looking over at Reese first. “Reese here introduced me to the very latest in BEAR technology last night. He said you invented it.”

“Really? What was it?” Root asked, thinking it was a piece of technology that helped her gain access to the remote building.

“The individual monitoring device,” Reese said in a low voice.

“Oh, yes, well, we haven’t used that yet; have we, John?” Root asked.

“Really?” Shaw said, staring hard at her coworker.

“We… uhm… didn’t have a need before last night,” Reese explained.

“You used it last night?” Root asked.

“Reese insisted. Isn’t that right?” Shaw smiled, but didn’t mean it

“Because she was going in there alone, I bet,” Fusco surmised, trying to help Reese out.

“Yes,” the man of many words confirmed.

Root could kind of understand why Reese did that. Shaw was going ahead by herself, without backup, into an unknown territory. It was exactly the purpose she had invented it for.

“It’s a tracking device that we insert under someone’s skin by injecting it with a device,” Root explained to Fusco and Joss. “Why didn’t you tell me? We could have asked them to remove it from your arm last night,” Root asked Sameen.

“My arm? Oh, no, it’s not in my arm,” Shaw said, her lips pushed together now as she looked at John.

Now, Fusco and Joss were curious as to where this device was.

“Because of the shortage of time, I decided that the injection site would be noticeable on her arms,” John said in his gravelly tone, still confident in his decision.

“So, where exactly did you shoot her?” Joss asked, as she and Fusco were looking at Shaw to figure out where else it could be.

“We needed a… denser area,” Reese explained, hoping that would do it.

“You shot that thing into her head?” Fusco asked.

“Oh,” Root said and both she and Joss looked at Shaw’s derriere. “Does it hurt?” Root asked.

“YES! Of course it does. He shot me with a gun there,” Shaw complained.

“Technically, it’s a pulsation weapon,” Reese said, uncomfortable about the topic now.

“Pulsation my ass,” Shaw quipped and regretted it as soon as she said it.

Technically, that’s right,” Fusco said and drew the attention back to him.

“And you,” Shaw said, and John wiped his mouth and signaled to Joss that they should leave. “I forget why I’m annoyed at you, but it will come to me.”

“Yeah, yeah. Look, I’m just glad you’re okay. Seriously, they were a pretty bad bunch. I owe you a lecture about going in there by yourself. So, the way I see it, if you forgive Quick Draw McGraw over there, I’ll forgo that long talk I promised you,” Fusco thought through.

Shaw felt like she was missing out on getting even with these two, but Fusco was right. Things could have been a lot worse. “Fine,” she agreed.

“Okay, good,” Fusco said, getting up when John and Joss got up to leave. “You two get some rest, okay? You may not feel the effects of last night until today,” lectured the police friend.

“We have to go to work,” Shaw said.

“I think they can manage one day without you,” Fusco said.

“Root has to work on geek stuff for the machine,” Shaw explained and Root nodded her head that Shaw was right.

“And you?” Fusco asked, hoping Shaw would rest for a while.

“I… have to give… someone a list,” Shaw said, without explaining. She didn’t feel it was necessary to tell Fusco that she was talking about his girlfriend.

The power couple left for work; both with a mission in mind.

Root was meeting with the only other person who knew as much about the machine; Azar. The woman had written a cloaking program that allowed her access to see what was going on while the group controlled the machine. Azar needed Root’s expertise to push that program to take back control without leaving an IP address or other electronic signals. She was waiting for Root downstairs because she wanted to see her daughter, too.

“Oh, Sameen,” her mother said, rushing to her daughter when she saw the white bandages on her arms.

“It’s okay,” Shaw refuted, and stood rigidly when her mother hugged her. Shaw was certain affectionate hugs after a mission was against protocol everywhere on the planet.

“And you?” Azar asked, looking at Root. “What an awful ordeal you two have been through.”

If public displays of affection unnerved Shaw, acknowledging how awful something had been was a definite no-no.

“You were in the CIA, right?” Shaw asked, and didn’t mean to sound as curt as she did, but was already annoyed the surgeon had deprived her of scars.

Azar looked quizzically at Root. “She’ll be okay,” she assured Shaw’s mother.

The trio walked into the elevator and went upstairs. Root kissed Sameen goodbye when they reached her floor as she begged Shaw not to overdo things. Shaw promised, even though she had a different definition of overdoing.

“You, too,” Shaw reminded Root. “Don’t let her hug you to death.”

Root and Azar went to her office to start analyzing what happened. The older woman had spent almost all night trying to find information on the clandestine group that had kidnapped Root. She had very little to go on. Even their names didn’t produce any solid leads on a group.

“The program you downloaded allowed them to tether onto the machine for a time. But it wasn’t stable and was susceptible to increased activity,” Azar reported.

Root looked at the well-dressed woman; every hair in place, reflecting her calm demeanor as she spoke.

“They were smart, whoever they are, and they had almost everything planned out,” Azar theorized.

“Except Sameen,” Root smiled.

Oddly enough, it was Martine and not Janine who greeted Sameen when she arrived. If anyone would understand Shaw’s dissatisfaction over the good job the doctor did on her injuries, it was Martine.

“Are you okay?” Martine asked and offered Shaw a coffee.

“Yeah,” Shaw said and there were no further questions. Just the way Shaw liked it.

“Those are some nasty cuts,” Martine said because she had seen Shaw’s arms before she went to the hospital.

“Yeah, and they think no scaring,” Shaw complained.

“Really?” Martine asked in disbelief and that’s what Shaw liked about her.

“Yeah,” Shaw said sadly.

“That’s too bad,” said the woman who, like Shaw, wore her battle scars proudly.

“Thanks,” Shaw said and shook Martine’s hand. In that gesture was Shaw’s appreciation for everything.

As soon as Martine left, Janine was there, asking Shaw if she needed anything. “A door would be nice,” Sameen commented because people kept poking their heads in to see how she was.

“I can get you an office,” Janine promised and Shaw told her that wouldn’t be necessary.

The assistant left and Shaw went back to her very important work. She was making a list of the things she remembered about her dream. The whole thing was still nagging at her.

“Hey,” Ayala said, coming into the cubicle.

Shaw’s head dropped to the desk because she really wanted to finish this list.

“I came in to see if you were okay,” Ayala said. “I wanted to go last night.”

“Well, I’m fine and I’m glad you didn’t. Someone needed to watch over Root’s nerdy counterpart,” Shaw reminded her sister. “Thanks for doing that.”

Shaw’s appreciation was exactly what Ayala had hoped for. And Sameen was beginning to understand that. “Hey,” she said to her sister as she was leaving, “I know you would have done a great job last night. Just given what we’re dealing with, it really was important that you stay with mommy.”

Ayala smiled and nodded her head. She didn’t even want to tease her sister about what she just called their mother.

Sameen got back to work. She added the last few words and looked over the list. “Okay, then,” she said, taking the note and walking down the hallway. As was her fashion, she approached Iris’ office and walked in, this time, slowing down to smile at Stella.

“Sameen!” Iris said, as if she had been waiting. In fact, she was anxiously waiting to talk with her favorite patient because she heard about the incident. But, each time she went to Shaw’s office, it was occupied. “I’m so pleased to see you,” the therapist said, getting up to greet Shaw.

“Thanks,” Shaw said and didn’t sit down.

“I heard about last night. Are you and Root okay?” Iris asked, her voice filled with concern.

“Yes, thanks. Root’s okay and seems none the worse for having been held captive,” Shaw reported.

“And you?” Iris asked, hoping Sameen would sit down.

“I’m good. Look, I have a list for you,” Shaw said and pulled the paper out of her back pants pocket. The action of moving her arm hurt and Iris could see it in the tiniest expression around her eyes.

“Can you stay?” Iris asked gingerly of her unpredictable client.

Shaw looked at the therapist, trying to convey that it was unnecessary, but she felt the polite thing to do was to sit for a minute. “Sure,” Sameen said and Iris smiled and sat down, too. She immediately grimaced and moved off the injured cheek.

“Are you okay?” Iris asked, aware that something was making Shaw feel pain.

“Reese shot me,” she said, confusing the therapist. “Okay, so …,” Sameen said, looking around. She did enjoy the calmness and quite of the room, but she truly had nothing to talk about.


“So, here’s the list,” Shaw finally said after giving Iris a minute of opportunity to talk.

“What is this?” Iris asked, accepting the paper.

“I need you to interpret those things,” Shaw explained.

Shark, water, beach, ring,” Iris read from the list. “I’m not sure I understand.”

“I need you to write down what they mean,” Shaw explained. “I’ll pick it up later.”

“Are these from a dream?” the woman deduced correctly.

Shaw stared at her, wondering if she should answer that. “Let’s say they are.”

“Well, if they are, only you can say what they really mean,” Iris smiled apologetically.

“No, no,” Shaw said, thinking Iris was out of practice. “Don’t they give you a dream book or something,” she asked, looking at the bookshelf.

“Well, yes,” Iris said, because she could see Sameen looking for a book. “There are some common linkages between specific dream content variables and very broad outcomes in dream action, but usually, dreams are very individual.”

Undeterred, Shaw suggested; “Give it your best shot.”

That word prompted the therapist to suggest; “Sameen, could we talk about last night?”

“Damn!” Sameen murmured, “I should have never sat down!”

Shaw knew any minute; this woman would get under her skin faster than the tracking device had.

Chapter Text

Sameen pushed her upper body forward and leaned on her legs, wishing she could just make an excuse to leave. Light blue eyes and an angelic smile stared back at her and she just couldn’t do it. Shaw smiled and nodded her head, like you do when you know you are about to give in.

“Okay, look, I get it,” Shaw said in case there was any doubt. There never was. “Last night was adrenaline charged, tense and life threatening. It’s the kind of stuff you guys love to get us to talk about because you think underneath is a plethora of emotions. But it’s not the case,” Shaw assured Iris and felt she did a good job of doing so.

“Tell me about it,” Iris said and made no attempt to hide that she was getting the pad and pen.

“Oh geez,” Shaw moaned wishing she had lied and said it was a routine walk in the park. Of course, that wasn’t true, but picking it apart was what made good soldiers crack. Maybe Iris didn’t know that. “You know why we don’t have therapists waiting for soldiers when they complete their missions?” Sameen asked, even though they asked each and every time she completed one if she wanted to talk to someone.

“So you thought of yourself as a soldier last night?” Iris asked because –Damn! – the woman was good.

Shaw hated how Iris picked out a word and hung onto it. Now, she had to answer that question. “Doc, you don’t ever forget the training you get when you’re in the military or the CIA. Although, apparently my mother has because she was using a considerable amount of hugs this morning,” the patient segued.

“I’m sure she was worried,” Iris said in a rare slip of pure projection.

“Yeah,” Shaw agreed, seeing her point. “Anyway, it was a dangerous situation and these were some pretty bad people, Doc. The one who held Root hostage pulled a gun on her.”

“Oh dear,” Iris said, unable to imagine such a circumstance. “I want to speak to Root later. How do you think she is?”

“She’s okay, really. Root is always so in the moment that she just goes with things and last night – she really seemed to know what to do. She bitchslapped the woman who put her hands…,” Shaw was explaining when she gestured toward her own breasts. She saw the expression on Iris’ face. “Well, (cough), Root will probably tell you about that,” she said, putting her hands down.

“Okay,” Iris said, hoping Root would. “And your wounds?”

Shaw looked at Iris, slightly surprised she was being so direct. “This?” she asked, putting her arms out. “It’s nothing. Not even going to scar, if you can believe that.”

“You sound disappointed,” Iris noted and was very curious about that.

“Of course I am,” Shaw immediately responded and then stopped. A big grin came over her face as if she wanted Iris to know she was wise to her ways. “Okay, before you write that in my file,” Shaw confessed without the therapist saying anything, “…I complained about what I would tell our kids because you know, I wanted to be able to say – ‘Look, here’s the one I got helping to save your mother’,” Shaw blurted out and only then remembered there was no way for Iris to know she had said that.

Iris already knew there was a boat load of information in that sentence, and she knew Shaw was worried right now that she would say something about it. So, instead she noted; “They do tell a story.”

“Yeah,” Shaw said, thinking she had dodged a bullet. “Anyway, I should tell you… seeing how you’re the company shrink, that I discharged my weapon last night,” Sameen coughed and pursed her lips.

“Where?” Iris asked, and of course meant location.

“In his head,” Shaw answered and wasn’t being funny. Just the thought of that man aiming a gun at Root, brought back the fierce anger. Iris didn’t flinch; she waited for Sameen to say more. “This nut job, who hit Root, threatened her and aimed a gun at her. I took him out.”

“Sounds to me like you felt her life was in danger and acted accordingly,” Iris concluded.

“Yes,” Shaw said and drew a deep breath and sat back further on the couch.

“Did that experience…,” Iris said slowly, gently leading Sameen, “… make you feel anything?”

“Angry,” Shaw answered immediately, but she saw Iris was sitting patiently, waiting for more. “Where is that list?” Sameen tried to derail them.

“What else did you feel…,” Iris repeated and annoyed the hell out of Shaw. This is sort of what she was expecting.

“I WAS SCARED, OKAY?” Sameen yelled. “Are you happy?” she asked as if Iris had forced her to write in a fill- in- the blank. “I was scared that she would get hurt. He hit her and I was still tied up and I couldn’t get to him and I had to play it smart or he’d see how much I was freaking out about Root being hurt. But Root was good, she got it, and hit him and that allowed me to get free. I just wanted to get her out of there and then he got a gun and held it on her. I swear, Doc, something in that man’s voice told me… in my gut… that he was going to kill Root rather than fail in his mission. He aimed it at her and I shot him,” Shaw shared. She was animated now, moving around on the couch because of her admission.

“Sounds to me like you acted bravely in spite of feeling scared,” Iris pointed out.

“I had to protect her, Doc. I mean, she’s Root. She’s everything,” Shaw said, her voice softer and steadier now.

Iris smiled at hearing Shaw say that, but she knew they were on touchy ground now. “Tell me about the dream,” she said.

“Oh, Doc, can’t you just figure that one out by yourself?” Shaw asked, exhausted from the emotional experience so far. A raised eyebrow on the therapist told Shaw she couldn’t do that.

“I can suggest that your feeling of Root in danger might have helped produce the dream,” Iris threw Shaw a bone.

Sameen drew a deep breath, knowing this women could wear her down if she wanted to. “Okay, so the shark is probably because we actually passed by some in the waters off the coast of Mustique when we were supposed to be on vacation, but took a scuba diving side trip to check out some activity on the island,” Shaw began and Iris wrote down a couple of things just to keep up. “The water and the beach were where we were staying and I have no idea what the ring is,” Shaw reported and sat back after helping Iris with this as much as she could.

“Do you remember anything else?” Iris asked.

“Yes, the shark talked; but please don’t write that down,” Shaw pleaded and of course, Iris didn’t.

“What did he say?” she asked.

Shaw swallowed hard and looked away. This was not going the way she planned. It only confirmed her suspicion that under that pastel wardrobe was a very stubborn woman. “He said I wasn’t watching Root, but in fact I was. And then he said – ‘Oh, good, no rings; easier to digest’, the whole time he was trying to drag her into the water by her ankles.”

Shaw noticed Iris was writing all of that down and she suspected it would be placed in her permanent file that she worried would now fill a cabinet.

“What do you think he meant?” Iris asked when she was done writing.

“About not watching or about the jewelry?” Shaw asked and made the therapist appreciate how smart she was.

“Both,” Iris explained.

“Well, I don’t know what he meant about not watching her, because I literally was looking at Root in my dream,” Shaw explained.

“Could he have meant another time?” Iris proffered.

“I’m always watching Root,” Shaw said back quickly, and her tone clearly indicated she was insulted that anyone would suggest otherwise.

“So, maybe he didn’t actually mean watching her. What else could it mean?” Dr. Campbell asked.

“He was taking her, even though I was watching,” Shaw noted.

"He was taking her... away from you," Iris pointed out.  “What do you think the ring comment meant?” she asked slowly.

“I don’t know,” Shaw said and wanted to say – this is why I wanted to leave the list with you – but didn’t. She sighed and shook her head. “I don’t know; marriage?”

“So, who would try to take Root from you if you’re not married?” Iris put together.

“NO ONE!” Shaw said, her anger at the thought easily accessible.

“Sameen,” Iris said calmly in response because she would see how agitated the woman was, “… is it possible some part of you is afraid of losing Root? You went through this terrible ordeal where her life was in danger. You were right there with her, but this man could have mortally wounded her. I would think any of us would fear our loved one’s parting after such an experience.”

Shaw’s worse nightmares always sounded calmer out of this woman’s mouth. “So, the shark was that guy?”

“I was wondering if the shark wasn’t some aspect of your personality,” Iris suggested gently.

Shaw’s head snapped up and she frowned at the therapist. “So, I’m dragging Root and I spit her back?”

“Actually, you saved her. You pulled on her and wouldn’t let go,” Iris pointed out.

“So, I’m the shark, I’m the beach, I’m the rings,” Shaw said, throwing her hands up, not liking this.

“Sameen, the beach at the shoreline is a place of transition. It could be about your transitioning from your former self, represented by the fierceness of the shark, to a woman who is thinking about her commitments. Hence, the rings comment,” Iris said softly.

Shaw’s head pounded with this information, mostly because she was trying like hell not to take it in. But it was already there, having produced the dream. “He said… uhm… that Root was… uhm… pregnant.” Shaw cleared her throat that constricted with that statement.

“What does that mean to you?” Iris asked in such a warm tone, that Sameen was actually thinking of the answer.

“It’s a future thing. I… think… I mean, I know, I want to be with Root. I never really thought or cared about my future, you know? I mean, I was on some missions where I didn’t know if I’d make it back and honestly, I didn’t care. I went from assignment to assignment; the more dangerous, the better. But now, I want to wake up with Root and I want to kiss her goodnight and I want to fill all those hours in between with making her happy,” Shaw said sincerely.

Iris didn’t write a word; she didn’t move; she just sat there smiling at Shaw.

“Sounds sappy, right?” Shaw said, trying to dismiss her true feelings.

But she was with the one person besides Root who wouldn’t let her do that.

“Not at all,” Iris said, putting the pad and pen down on the table next to her. “Sameen, I know what you did last night took incredibly courage. But what you’re doing here requires bravery, too. To look at ourselves as emotional beings is not something that we’re comfortable with. We prefer to use our brains, to figure things out, like you wanted to do with your list. But we’re more complicated than that. We’re emotions and feelings and that never takes away from how intelligent or brave we are. In fact, it makes us more so,” Iris shared.

Shaw wasn’t sure she got all of that, but she liked the sound of it. She liked that there was someone she trusted who would try to convince her not to be afraid of her feelings.  She could however, see what Iris meant about the symbolism of the shark, the beach, and water. “I think I see my future with Root. I can see her with kids and I want to be a part of that,” Shaw said.

“I think that dream is telling you; you’re feeling ready to act on that,” Iris affirmed.

“Yeah,” Shaw said, and couldn’t explain this warm feeling that radiated from her heart. “I think so, too.”

There was nothing about what just happened that should have made Shaw feel so comfortable, but she did. It always amazed her how torturous she could think a session was, and yet, she walked out feeling better.

“This… was good,” Shaw announced as she stood up. She always liked to give Iris feedback.

“I’ll see you next week, then,” Iris said, smiling pleasantly.

“What?” Shaw asked, because she felt they solved the dream mystery.

“You discharged your weapon,” Iris reminded her and only did so to give Shaw the comfort of being required to come back … if she wanted to.

“Oh, yeah, right,” Shaw acquiesced because she was going to need to talk to Iris about this more.

She thanked Iris and walked out, smiling at Stella who continued to find the woman’s manners appalling. Still, she had to admit, Dr. Campbell did seem very fond of the patient.

Shaw smiled all the way back to her desk, where she texted Root and asked her if she wanted to have lunch.

Your mother is still here; should I invite her?’ Root texted back.

Yes, but tell her no more hugging,’ Shaw answered.

How about if I do all the hugging?’ Root asked.

Okay, but…,’ and Shaw was going to stipulate not in public. But she changed her mind.

Yeah, that would be great.’

Chapter Text

Root told Azar that she was meeting her daughter for lunch and invited her to come along. Azar politely declined. “Thank you, Samantha. I appreciate the chance to come up here today and see that both of you are okay. But, I think Sameen would prefer to have lunch alone with you. It has been my experience that after an event like last night, it is good to reconnect with loved ones and enjoy the moments together.”

Root looked at the woman who spoke those words with a smile, but whose tone was laced with sadness. If there had been any missions like this in her life, she didn’t always return to her loved ones. In fact, until recently, she couldn’t. Root asked her again, but she smiled and shook her head. “I cannot tell you what joy I feel when I see Sameen with you, Samantha,” Azar shared before she left. “I truly believe that you have managed to heal some of her deepest wounds; some that I caused myself.”

Root’s heart ached for this woman who lived with such regret. “I think it’s time that you forgive yourself, Azar. I believe Sameen has,” Root shared.

“Thank you,” the dark haired woman said, touching Root’s hand affectionately. “Please tell Sameen we’ll do dinner soon.”

As much as Root looked forward to having lunch with Shaw, she felt a tinge of regret when Azar left. She didn’t only admire the woman’s technical brilliance; she was beginning to see where Sameen got her inner strength from.

“Hey,” Shaw said as she approached the staff dining room where Root was waiting. “Where’s my mother?”

“She said she had some things to do, but thanked us for inviting her,” Root said, and stood there staring at the face she missed. “Did you have a good morning?”

“Yeah,” Shaw said, walking into the inner space. “I learned I’m a shark.”

She ordered… or more like wrestled the Parks Deli owner… for her sandwich and then joined Root at a table. “I don’t know how you eat salad every day,” Shaw said, the smallest piece of pastrami hanging from her mouth.

“I pretend it’s you,” Root smiled, her eyes bursting with laughter at her own joke. “How are your wounds?” getting more serious.

“Fine,” Shaw rolled her eyes.

“We have to put that medicine on tonight so they don’t get infected,” Root reminded her.

“Yeah,” Shaw said, taking a bite out of the sandwich that seemed bigger than her mouth.

“Is it because of the way you eat?” Root asked, going back to Shaw’s comment.

“What?” Shaw asked.

“That you think you’re a shark,” Root explained because the eating behaviors seemed a little similar.

“No!” said the woman who was defensive about her eating habits. “Why would you ask that?” she wondered as she ripped the next bite off her sandwich.

“Oh, I thought… never mind,” Root smiled.

“Dr. Campbell said I was the shark,” Shaw explained.

“Why?” Root asked, because she was getting the tail end of this story.

“I had a dream. A shark was trying to eat you,” Shaw explained.

“Oh, I see it entirely now,” Root smiled at the idea.

“No,” Sameen said, rolling her eyes. “Is everything sex with you?”

“You said there was a shark eating me and you were the shark, so naturally I thought…,” Root tried to explain.

“Stay with me here,” Shaw implored. “The shark was who I used to be. You know, Axis II Personality and all.”

“I never truly believed that diagnosis,” Root shared.

Sameen just stared at her, thinking that getting her lover to stay on track was like turning a moving ship in deep waters. A really big ship. “O…kay, the point is that I’m thinking about our future… together.”

Root liked the sound of that. “You are?” she asked, clasping her hands together; her heart fluttering with excitement.

“Yeah, because I want to be with you and all and we should decide what that looks like,” Shaw thought out. “And I can’t be naked when we do!”

“Wait, you can’t be naked when we talk about our future, or you can’t be naked IN our future,” Root teased.

“Root!” she warned because the woman had the uncanny knack of confusing her.

“Okay, okay. Well, I like the sound of this very much, Sameen Shaw,” Root cooed and reached over to push a loose strand of hair behind Shaw’s ear.

“We should decide about my apartment downtown, too,” Shaw said.

“Well, that’s your decision, but I hope you feel you won’t need it,” Root suggested, tucking another strand away from her mouth.

“Most people wouldn’t get that close to her when she’s eating,” Fusco said, interrupting their lunch and sitting down with Reese.

“She’s my shark,” Root overshared because she was stuck on the image.

“Ladies,” Reese said; his way of apologizing for barging in.

“No, please, sit down and disturb my lunch,” Shaw said on her next bite.

“Trust me, we wouldn’t be here unless it was really important,” Fusco said and Reese nodded. “That girl from last night just got released.”

“How does a would-be terrorist get out?” Shaw barked.

“A high priced lawyer,” Fusco answered, and took a small piece of the pastrami that fell onto Shaw’s wrapper and ate it.

Lions that have their food taken away look less fierce than Shaw did.

“Sorry, I’m hungry,” Fusco explained.

“They run out of donuts at the store?” Shaw asked.

“The point is that Claire Mahoney is back in her apartment and probably will be reporting back to whoever this Greer guy is. We’re not going to let that happen,” Reese explained.

“Yeah, me and Captain America are going to talk to her,” Fusco explained.

“I should go,” Shaw said, getting ready to leave.

“No, I think you and Root need to be here in case we need you,” Reese explained. “If she’s contacting anyone, we’ll need to know that.”

“Some shark,” Shaw huffed at not being invited.

Fusco looked at her, already giving that statement thought. “You’re more of a butterfly, Shaw.”

“WHAT?” Sameen inquired; her hands on either side of the table now.

“You’re more like a butterfly,” Fusco repeated and triggered one of her worst pet peeves of people repeating what they just said.

“Take-that-back,” Shaw warned him.

“No, it’s a good thing. When you started here, you were… different,” Fusco tried to elaborate and Reese just stared at him because he could see the disaster this was going to be.

“We should go,” Reese said, trying to save his police buddy.

“You know, all rough and stuff. And now… it’s like you went into a cocoon here,” Fusco kept going.

“Root! Make him stop,” Shaw said, even though she was staring straight ahead.

“Lionel, I don’t think Sameen appreciates the analogy,” Root pointed out.

“It’s metamorphosis, Shaw,” Fusco said and now she felt he was only adding insult to injury.

“I’m going to metamorphosis your ass if you don’t stop talking,” Shaw barked.

Don’t say it; don’t say it.’ Reese repeated in his head, praying Lionel would not remind Shaw.

“Speaking of that,” Lionel said, jumping from the frying pan into the fire. “How’s your….,” he asked, looking down. Fusco truly meant it out of his concern and wasn’t even trying to give Shaw a hard time.

But Shaw wasn’t in the mood for Fusco’s pearls of wisdom.

“Listen, Fusco, I have things on my mind. Big things and I don’t have time for your insights right now,” Shaw said.

“Geesh, okay,” the detective said, his feelings slightly singed by Shaw’s reception.

“We’ll call you when we get to Claire’s apartment,” John said, getting up and hoping to end this train wreck.

Root smiled her goodbye, but Shaw just stared hard at her friends. “A butterfly? Really?” she asked Root, her disgust palpable.

“We all change is what he meant, I think,” Root said, trying to find the silver lining.

“Change my ass,” Shaw said and that reminded her of what she was still carrying. “How do we get this thing out of me?”

Root tilted her head to the side, and scrunched up her face. That was not good. “We’re going to have to work on that,” Root said, not wanting to get Reese in trouble for literally jumping the gun.

“I am going to shoot both of them,” Shaw said to her lover.

“There you are!” Janine said as she pushed her phone into her pocket.

Something about that movement made Shaw suspicious. “How did you know…?” she was asking.

“Your portable radar device. It shows up here,” the assistant said and showed the pulsating dot on her screen to indicate exactly where Shaw was.

“Root!” Shaw said.

“Let’s go work on that now,” Root said, getting up and taking Shaw by the hand.

“Maybe it will just come out when I sprout wings!” Shaw bellowed.

Several blocks away, a very hyper and anxious Claire Mahoney was trying to reach the man she had only spoken to once. “I need to speak to Greer,” she pleaded with the man who answered the phone. “What do you mean, he’s unavailable? Tell him I have to speak to him!”

The man told her to wait by her phone and not to leave her apartment.

“Tie up those loose ends,” the elderly man in charge told his subordinate. “I really have to be more choosy in who I pick next time,” he lamented.

Claire did as she was told; she sat in the chair and waited for someone to call her back.

It was exactly where Fusco and Reese found her – dead.

Chapter Text

Root was facing a never ending challenge in her relationship with Sameen. She had to concentrate very hard to appear serious as her girlfriend ranted about being called a butterfly. Root simply found Sameen irresistible when she was grouchy about things like this. Actually, she found her entire grouchy demeanor appealing.

“Can you believe him?” Shaw questioned and waited for Root to answer.

“I think he meant it as a compliment,” Root tried because she really did think Fusco was giving thought to the changes he saw in his best friend.

That statement made Shaw stop in her tracks because obviously her kind hearted girlfriend, who saw the best in everyone, was insane. “Picture this, Root, please,” Shaw said, grabbing Root’s arm and looking up at the ceiling. “You’re in a jungle, surrounded by man eating tigers and poisonous snakes. Do you want a girlfriend who’s a shark or a freaking butterfly to protect you?”

“Actually, leopards are considered more man-eating than…oh, never mind,” Root said when she saw the frustration mounting in those dark eyes. She knew the better answer; the one that Shaw was all but leading her to. “A shark,” Root affirmed.

“See?” Shaw said; glad to have the smartest person in the building on her side. “Butterfly,” she shook her head.

“Come here, you,” Root said, pulling Shaw in for a long soothing kiss. It was so easy to lock onto those lips when Shaw was pouting.

“Oh,” Shaw said, her temper dissipating with the wet kiss that left her lips tingling. “I… can… see what…uhm….”

“He meant?” Root filled in the blank for her.

“Yeah,” Shaw said, rolling her tongue over her lips. “Maybe.”

“Good,” Root said and took Shaw by the hand so she’d remember what they were doing.

Root took Shaw upstairs to her office to break the news to her.

“So, Sweetie…,” Root began as they sat on the couch.

“Are these fresh?” Shaw said of the chocolate chip cookies that Jill put out seconds before they arrived. The text from Root was explicit – freshly baked cookies were to be on a plate waiting for them.

“Yes, they are,” Root said, pushing the plate closer. It was a little something she learned from Genrika. “So, Sweetie, that prototype that I made of the tracking device was technically supposed to be used in the arm,” Root said and put her finger on a part of Shaw’s arm that wasn’t covered in a bandage.

“Yeah, Reese thought they’d see it,” Shaw said between bites.

“Yes, and he was right because it does leave an entry mark,” Root said smiling a little bit too much.

“I feel like you’re trying to sell me something,” Shaw said, but the smell of freshly baked cookies was taking the edge off her being impatient.

“No, no, it’s just that we were successful in… inserting and removing the device… when it was in someone’s…. uhm…. arm,” Root explained hesitatingly.

Sameen got it immediately. “Are you telling me that Reese shot me in a place that was not meant for this device?”

“Well, he meant well…,” Root tried.

“Root!” Shaw yelled, not appreciating Root defending the man.

“I’m sure we can figure something out,” said the genius and it would have been better if she sounded more confident.

“So, in the meantime, I have to walk around letting my ass beep so my adoring administrative assistant can find me?” Shaw bellowed.

There was an urgent knock on the door and Martine walked in. “Shaw,” she called out.

“What? How did you know I was here?” Shaw asked suspiciously.

“I…,” Martine started to explain.

“Do you have that app that shows where the hell my ass is?” Shaw barked.

App? For what? “ Martine asked. She discretely shoved her phone in her back pocket.

“I think Ms. Rousseau was told you were in here,” Root hoped and prayed.

“Oh,” Shaw said and only then allowed Martine to update them about what Reese and Fusco discovered when they went to Claire’s apartment.

“Shot?” Root asked and immediately tried to access phone records.

“Whoever is in charge is cleaning up,” Shaw theorized correctly. “But why?”

“Loose ends?” Root asked.

“Maybe she was a weak link and he didn’t want her talking to anyone. Got a lawyer to get her out just so he could kill her,” Martine summarized.

“Let’s see…,” Root said, asking Reese to provide Claire’s cell number. A quick search of the records indicated the deceased woman made a phone call when she arrived home. “Burner cell,” she said.

“Whoever this is, Root, they’re not afraid to leave a stream of dead bodies in their wake,” Shaw pointed out.

“Who could this Greer guy be?” Martine asked.

“He sends out scouts for hackers; then he kills the scouts,” Shaw talked through. “He’s got military training, I feel.”

“Great, we got military people looking for a giant computer?” Martine asked. “That’s not good.”

“Well, for now, there’s been no activity and your mother and I successfully scrubbed any trace of their hold on the machine,” Root said.

“What do you think they have?” Martine asked.

“They said they wanted to rebuild the machine. Azar thinks they heard about it oversees and have been looking for it ever since,” Root shared.

“Why aren’t they looking at my mother?” Shaw asked, and was out of her seat.

“I think they thought she was a gatekeeper that sold it to the highest bidder. Your mother is quite wealthy,” Root said. “And the fact that she is Iranian has made every suspect she sold it in the Middle East.”

“Reese said he’s on his way back and will update us as soon as he gets here,” Martine said and left.

Shaw may have been temporarily distracted by cookies and updates, but as soon as she sat down, she remembered what they were talking about. “Isn’t this thing going to run out of juice?” Shaw asked, looking back over her hip. One look at Root’s face told her that wasn’t about to happen any time soon. “Oh, come on. I’m going to be like the Energizer Bunny here?” Shaw asked, grabbing another cookie to sooth her aggravated nerves.

“Maybe you could do me,” Root suggested.

“Now? Right here? Reese is on his way …,” Shaw felt it necessary to explain.

“Sameen!” Root said in a sing song voice that would eventually just sound like ‘I gotcha’. “Is sex all you ever think about?” Root’s eyes burst with laughter as she tried to appear shocked at Sameen.

“You said…,” Shaw tried to say with a mouth full of chocolate chip cookies.

“I meant shoot me with the device,” Root smiled because there was the lightest shade of red in Shaw’s cheeks.

“I thought you meant,” Shaw thought she should explain as if her wild eyed girlfriend didn’t know exactly what track her train of thought just pulled into.

Root leaned over and kissed the chocolate laces lips. “You are adorable,” she couldn’t help but say.

“Great! First, I’m a butterfly….,” Shaw was balking and Root knew exactly where she was going with that, so she kissed her again. When she released Shaw, she slowly licked her own lips to taste of chocolate. Both actions mesmerized Shaw. “I… can… do adorable,” she conceded.

“Oh, yes, I know,” Root cooed back, soothing her girlfriend’s ruffled feathers.

The couple decided to meet up again when Reese returned. In the meantime, Root was scowering government sub-files for anything on Greer.

When Reese returned and shared what little they knew, Shaw was even more convinced this guy was military. “Your instincts were right,” Root said, turning her laptop to face her coworkers. “Former MI6,” Root said.

That’s Greer?” Shaw asked. “He’s like a hundred years old. Fusco is half his age and can’t figure out his IPhone. How is this guy dealing with high tech?”

“The brains doesn’t always have to know how to do it; just what to do,” Root said, which was ironic coming from her.

Just then, a very astonished Janine appeared in the doorway. She opened her mouth, but nothing came out as her mouth got very dry. “Ms. Groves… it’s the office of the President on the phone for you.”

Shaw and Reese looked at each other, but Root was very nonchalant in taking the call in the conference room.

“Mr. President?” Root said and was cordial in her responses. “I’ll see what I can do,” she said before hanging up. She went back to her computer as she thought about the phone call. Reese, Martine and Shaw exchanged looks as they waited.

“So, what did the President want?” Shaw finally had to ask.

“What?” Root asked, her mind on something else.

“The President? He just called you?” Shaw said slowly.

“Oh, yes,” Root said, smiling. “Something about a global virus he wants me to take a look at. The hackers are holding companies hostage.”

“So, you’re going to… ,” Shaw said, hoping this was a fill in the blank conversation.

In those few seconds that it took Shaw to ask her questions, Root had come up with a plan. “We’re going to find the source of that virus,” Root said.

“And…?” Shaw said, feeling that pulling teeth would take less effort.

“Then, we’re going to give it to Mr. Greer,” Root said, deciding to kill two-birds with one stone.

“Wouldn’t they already be taking precautions?” Martine asked.

“Yes, as is everyone. But BEAR is about to put out an anti-virus for free. And they’d be crazy not to use it,” explained Root.

Martine and Reese were impressed with Root’s plan, and so was Shaw. But she was caught up in how angelic Root could look while masterminding a diabolic plan to bring down their enemies.

Root went off with her team to work on the antivirus software for the latest threat that was affecting hospitals in England and companies all over the world. She called Azar to keep her abreast and to ask her to take over watching the machine. Then, she set out to create the antidote.

Shaw, in the meantime, decided to test her theory. She went to the farthest place in the building she could find and waited. She made sure no one saw her as she went into a rarely used storage room. Within minutes, her theory tested positive.

“Shaw?”Martine called from the doorway. “Why would she be in here?” she heard her coworker ask.

“I don’t know,” she heard Janine answer.

“I’m going to kill him,” Shaw said as she appeared from behind a stack of boxes to face her friends looking at their phones.

“Oh, hey, Shaw,” Martine greeted her and it was obvious that she was worried. The two women fumbled to put their phones away.

You,” Shaw said to Martine,” …Go get your girlfriend.” Then, she turned to Janine. “You, get the things I’m going to text you. We’re ending this today.” With that, Sameen walked out and ahead of her coworkers.

‘What is she going to do?” Janine asked.

“My guess? She’s going to have Ayala remove that tracker.”

Chapter Text

“She wants me to come there?” Ayala asked when Martine told her what Shaw said.

“She was a little light on details,” Martine explained. “Listen, did you have any medical training?”

“Are you asking me if I can doctor you needs?” asked the younger woman. “Because I’m pretty sure I proved that ….”

“Okay, no!” Martine said, still not used to her girlfriend’s spontaneity and lack of filter. “Just come here and … yeah.”

“Well, that was smooth. She won’t suspect a thing,” Janine said dryly.

“I don’t even know what she wants her to do yet,” Martine said, defensively because she didn’t like her loyalties tested. It wasn’t that she didn’t know where they lay; she just didn’t want to deal with an upset girlfriend.

“Well, based on the items she asked me to get, I’d say you were right and we’re going to operate,” Janine said and emphasized the collective pronoun.

We? Are you kidding me?” the tall blonde woman exclaimed. “You passed out when they described Shaw’s wounds. Now, you want to be the OR nurse, handing Ayala the instruments?”

“Shaw needs me,” Janine offered as the reason she wouldn’t faint.

An hour later, Ayala sat with her sister and girlfriend and Janine. “You want me to what?” she asked, waiting to see which one of them would tell her it was a joke.

“Reese shot me with a tracking device and if you dial 1-800-Shaw, I’m pretty sure my ass shows up on your phone,” Shaw yelled.

“Okay, first, that makes no sense. And two, if Root invented it, wouldn’t’ she know how to get it out?” Ayala asked.

“It was meant to go in an arm,” Shaw said, her teeth clenched.

“Reese? Shot you? There?” Ayala laughed and then coughed to cover it up. Her sister’s dead stare was like a tractor beam.

Martine decided she needed to interpret for the two siblings. “So, Shaw thought maybe you’ve had some medical training in the army.”

“Well, sure, I had some for battle wounds,” Ayala said, realizing everyone was serious.

“Oh, there’s going to be a battle as soon as I find Reese,” Shaw huffed.

Martine attributed some of her girlfriend’s impulsiveness to her youth, but there were times when she thought the girl threw caution to the wind a little too quickly.

“Okay, let’s do this,” Ayala pushed back her chair and stood up.

“Let’s do this?” Martine said worried. “Do you have any idea how to retrieve it?”

“She said it’s in her…,” Ayala said.

“Yes, I know, but how deep is it?” Martine asked. “How are you going to find it?”

“Janine?” Shaw said and the woman produced the items that were on her list.

“You’re going to use a hand held metal detector?” Martine asked wide-eyed.

“You have a scalpel and a stitching kit?” Ayala asked like they were to do something sane.

“And alcohol wipes,” Janine announced because even though that wasn’t on the list, she thought of it herself.

“Any lidocaine?” Ayala asked about the local anesthetic.

“We don’t need that,” Shaw barked and not one person in the room with her believed that.

“Shaw! This isn’t a splinter she’s taking out!” Martine pointed out.

“I couldn’t get that,” Janine reported. She had run some scenarios through her head of where she might be able to steal some, but she didn’t have the time.

When Sameen dismissed her concern and tried to hurry things along, Martine put her foot down. “Wait here,” the woman said in a definite tone that even her girlfriend had not heard her use.

“You two are perfectly matched,” Shaw sneered of their common bossiness.

Martine was conflicted about this, but if Shaw was going to insist, she was at least going to do something to dull the inevitable pain. “Who the hell gets operated on without drugs?” she murmured to herself.

“Rousseau?” Reese said when he heard her talking to herself. “You okay?” he asked when he noticed what she had in her hand.

“Me? Oh yeah. You, I’m not sure about, but me, yep, never better,” Martine stammered. She watched his blue eyes go from her to the item in her hand. “Oh, this? Ja… Janine. She’s… pregnant. Yeah, well, she might be and we’re toasting her.”

It wasn’t just pathetic; it was the worst confabulation the woman ever came up with.

“She’s not drinking if she’s pregnant, right?” Reese said in his gravely authoritative voice.

“What? No! Geez, Reese, be serious,” Martine said, small beads of perspiration appearing on her forehead.

“Okay, we’re all meeting up later with Root,” he reminded his top security person who promptly dismissed him.

Reese stared as Martine rushed back down the hallway. She burst through the door of the conference room like someone was chasing her. Out of breath, she leaned on the closed door and said; “If you’re going to do this, please have a shot of this before. Maybe it will dull the pain.”

“You want her to drink?” Janine asked, not sure this was medically approved… anywhere. She tried to google it, but Shaw had already agreed and Martine poured some in a glass.

“You’re not the kind who sings when she’s drinking, are you? Because I don’t want you moving around,” Ayala pointed out.

“Listen you,” Shaw said, and Martine gently tipped the bottom of the glass for Shaw to drink up.

“This is nice, siblings helping one another,” Janine pointed out as she spread out the white sheet on the table. Then, she set out to cut a hole in another sheet so that only the right area of Shaw’s derriere would be exposed. “I couldn’t find any videos on YouTube on this, so I really hope you know what you’re doing,” the worried assistant implored Ayala.

“First in my class in shrapnel removal,” Ayala smiled. “Although most of it was not in the gluteus maximus.”

“You know, I should just do this myself,” Shaw balked and was beginning to believe she could. “Just give me a mirror,” she said and Martine could tell she needed a little more whiskey.

“Here you go, Shaw. No driving or doing surgery when you're drinking. I'm sure they taught you that in med school,” Martine said and handed her another glass.

“Do you have any idea how much of that I have to drink to get drunk?” Shaw asked, proud of her alcohol tolerance.

“Yeah, so drink up,” Martine said as Ayala looked at the scalpel like it was the first time she saw one. “Oh, God,” Martine said, and took a mouthful right from the bottle.

“Now, I’m going to need someone to use the gauze on the blood,” Ayala said and Martine could see the blood drain from Janine’s face.

“Yeah, that’s me,” Martine said and poured more into Shaw’s glass.

“LET’S DO THIS!” Shaw laughed out loud and Martine looked at her.

“We’re good to go,” Martine said, trying to take the glass out of Shaw’s hand, but she pulled on it until she drained it.

“Daz good stuffs,” she slurred her words.

“Only the best for you, Shaw,” Martine said.

“You know, I couldn’t stand you when I first met you,” Shaw said to the ceiling as they led her over to the table.

“Who?” Martine asked.

“All of you. I mean, at least Janine gave me her clothes, but you two were just annoying as hell,” Shaw shared.

One look at the assistant told Martine that she had to get Shaw back on track. “But you really like us now, right?” she directed.

Shaw looked at each one of her friends. “I do,” she said sincerely. “I really do.” Martine could tell that Janine was relieved and could now concentrate.

“Great,” Ayala said and was about to begin when Janine told her she had to go wash up. Ayala agreed and walked out of the room. She returned in minutes, holding her hands up like OR doctors do. Janine opened to door. She presented the woman with a sterilized gown and gloves.

“Where did you shop? Doctors are Us?” Ayala asked because the woman thought of everything. Including masks that she insisted they all wear.

“What will I do?” Janine asked.

“Probably pass out,” Martine whispered to herself. “You sit her and keep Shaw occupied. You have a very important job.”

“I do?” Janine asked enthusiastically.

“Yes, you’re going to remind her that this was her idea, ok?” Martine instructed as she and Ayala went over what they would do.

“Sameen?” Ayala said to her sister. “You need to take your pants off.”

“Sure,” Shaw said, and did so, exposing a pair of lacy black boyshort panties. “I can dead lift…,” Shaw was going to share, but couldn’t remember. “A lot.”

“I bet,” her sibling said. “Now, lets’ see where that tracker is, shall we?” she asked, as Sameen crawled up on the table.

“Tell the truth,” Shaw said on her hands and knees on the table. “You had an app that showed where the hell I was, right?”

“Yes,” Janine immediately confirmed.

“I knew it,” Shaw said and fell over on the table.

“Okay there,” Ayala said, and helped her sister stretch out and lay, face down on the table. Then, she got her ready as Shaw turned her face toward Janine and closed her eyes.

“Is it going to hurt?” Janine whispered to Martine and she meant, how much, because she wanted to be prepared.

“Like hell,” Shaw murmured because she wasn’t so drunk that she didn’t know that. “You know what?” Shaw said and got up from her horizontal position without warning.

“Oh, God, Shaw!” Martine yelled. “She could have been cutting you.”

“Yeah, but this is important,” the very inebriated Shaw explained. “If anything happens,” she said pulling Martine into her with a great amount of strength. “Give Root a message…,” Sameen said, but couldn’t put everything she felt into words.

“I think she knows, Shaw,” Martine assured her. “But nothing is going to happen.”

“I got this,” Ayala assured everyone. She really did have experience in this and was commended for her steady hand in medical procedures that were carried out when no medic was available. “Keep her occupied.”

Janine took Shaw’s hand as she appeared to fall asleep, but it was just that her eyes were too heavy to keep open.

“Hold her,” Ayala whispered to the woman who was close to Sameen in strength. Martine put her arm on Shaw’s waist so she wouldn’t move.

Ayala found the location of the tracker and pressed down on Shaw’s flesh and could feel it. “Not too deep,” she said and drew a deep breath.

As soon as the blade cut through the skin, Shaw grabbed Janine’s hand tightly. The assistant stroked Shaw’s head, assuring her it would be all right. Martine dabbed the blood while the would-be surgeon stuck the long thin tweezers in to retrieve the tracker. The incision looked much bigger than the damn transmitter that finally was plucked out. Minutes later, Ayala carefully stitched the wound and placed a sterilized bandage on it.

“All done,” Ayala announced and took a long drink from the bottle because she was far more nervous than she had let on.

“It’s all over,” Janine said soothingly to Shaw.

“Good, because she has the touch of a jack hammer,” Shaw complained. With that, the patient attempted to get up.

“Whoa,” Martine said, trying to hold Shaw in place. “How about resting for a few minutes post-op.”

“Does it hurt?” Janine asked and Shaw nodded. “Here,” the assistant said, and held Shaw’s head up while she gave her another sip of whiskey. “For the pain,” she tried to convince herself.

Sameen finally insisted she needed to get up and did so with the help of her operating room staff. “I need my pants,” she said, even though when Martine let go of her, she wobbled and almost fell over.

“I’ll give them to you, but you have to promise me that you’re rest here for a little while,” Martine bargained.

“Sure, sure,” Sameen said, and winked at Janine. Martine put Shaw’s feet through the legs and gently pulled them up. “You’re a really good friend, Martine,” Shaw said, patting the blonde woman’s head. “I would trust you with my life.”

Martine looked up at her friend and smiled; the heartfelt compliment was making her speechless.

Inebriated Shaw wasn’t done. “Thank you,” she said to Ayala. “I knew you could do it. Well, no, I didn’t know, but I figured if you screwed up, I’d just tell Mommy on you.” Then Shaw laughed at her own joke and fell over, but Janine caught her. “This woman is the best assistant I could ever have,” Shaw yelled in case the people standing right near her couldn’t hear. “She makes me smile every day. She’s so sweet,” Shaw all but squealed and automatically, Janine’s devotion subscription was renewed for another hundred years.

“Oh, Shaw,” Janine said, thinking there was no one like this woman in the world.

And Shaw should have left it at that. She had given her heartfelt thanks to each of her friends.

But Shaw was on a roll.

“I need water,” she said and insisted on walking to her office.

“No, you stay here. I’ll get it,” Martine said, “…but you have to be quiet.”

“Since when did you get so bossy?” Shaw slurred her words to ask.

“Since around your third glass of whiskey,” Martine admitted.

“I rather like it,” Ayala blurted out because she didn’t often see her girlfriend like this.

“You two were made for each other,” Shaw shared. “I used to think you and Janine,” she said to Martine, “…but we have to find the right person for her. No offense,” she said to Martine.

“None taken,” Martine said, reminding Shaw to keep her voice down as she gave her the water.

“We need someone… someone…,” Shaw said out loud, trying to decide what Janine’s type was. Now, Janine was thrilled just to be the topic of Shaw’s deep thoughts. Sameen looked at the woman, and it finally dawned on her what type of person Janine liked. “Someone… like me.”

Shaw didn’t say it in a conceited way, she was just being honest. But hearing that Shaw wanted to find someone like herself was too much for Janine to deal with, and the woman – already lightheaded from the procedure, fainted.
Ayala and Martine let go of Shaw and ran to get Janine.

Which meant Shaw was free to roam about.

Root’s team had worked very hard on the antivirus software. She asked Azar if she would use a hardcopy of it on the machine and Azar said she would stop by on her way and pick it up.

The two women were standing outside the IT room when Sameen saw them.

“ROOT!” she called out and started to walk towards her.

“Is she okay?” Azar asked, because her daughter was swaying as she walked.

“MOMMY!” Shaw called out when she saw her mother there.

Inside the conference room that just doubled as the OR, the two women were getting water for Janine when they heard Shaw outside.

“Did she just say – ‘Root’?” Martine asked in horror.

“Did she just say ‘Mommy’? Ayala asked anxiously.

“I am so fired,” Martine decided.

“I am so grounded,” Ayala concluded.

“Sweetie?” Root asked, and held onto to Shaw who looked up adoringly into Root’s eyes.

“Mommy?” Shaw said, not altering her gaze.

Azar looked at Root and then at Shaw. “Yes, dear?” she said.

“I love this woman,” Shaw declared, staring lovingly into Root’s eyes.

“Yes, Sameen, I know,” Azar assured her daughter.

“Are you okay?” Root asked and could smell the liquor on Shaw’s breath.

“Yes, look!” Shaw declared and pulled her pants down to show Root. “It’s gone!”

A fellow security member was walking by when Shaw displayed her bandage. He walked straight into the wall and bounced off, falling backwards.

“Let me take you in here,” Root said, wondering what had happened since she last saw her girlfriend. Azar helped the stunned young man to his feet as Root took Shaw in the conference room, where the three cohorts had been hiding.

As soon as Root walked in and Azar behind her, Ayala was the first to crack. “She made me do it,” she blurted out.

“Oh, this can’t be good,” Azar said.

Made you do what?” Root asked and the three women stood at attention now.

“She made me remove the tracker,” Ayala said and Martine was calculating how many boxes she would need to pack up her desk.

“Do you have medical training?” Root asked slowly.

“Some,” Ayala admitted.

“Some?” Root, Martine and Janine all asked in unison.

“I got it out!” Ayala assured them.

“Oh, sweetie,” Root said, believing that Shaw could orchestrate her own operation and make these three women participate. “Did it hurt?”

“A little,” Shaw admitted.

“And the whiskey?” Root asked, wondering whose brilliant idea that was.

Janine wasn’t about to let her friend get into trouble. She pushed in front of Martine and yelled; “That was my idea. Mine, alone. I got the bottle. You can check it for fingerprints. I gave it to Shaw,” she said dramatically, touching the bottle to smear any fingerprints on the bottle.

No one believed her.

“I did it,” Martine said, grateful for her friend’s attempt to take the bullet.

“Well, it was a good idea in theory,” Root acknowledged. “But it’s going to have its own consequence I fear.”

“You… operated… on her?” Azar finally realized what had happened.

“I made them. See?” Shaw said, forgetting she had shown her mother. “Look.”

“We saw, Sweetie,” Root said soothingly as she stopped her. “I think we better get her home.”

Root could see that Azar was torn now between going with them and taking care of the machine. “Come with us,” she said. “I’ll get Reese to do this.”

Root and Azar helped Sameen onto the elevator and took her back to the Penthouse to recuperate. The only thing that took Sameen’s mind off the pain was the Root whispered in her ear that she would kiss it and make it better. It all but reduced Shaw into giggles.

Reese took the hard copy of the antivirus program and successfully downloaded to the machine in its private residence.

Greer’s team was behind Root and the BEAR team in developing something to counter the global virus.

But they were about to come across something that would help.

Chapter Text

Bear was not a happy camper. It seemed his two favorite pets had been going off on their own a lot lately. And apparently, sometimes it was dangerous. When Shaw came back covered in bandages, Root explained that they had a run in with some very bad people. Bear countered that he could have helped, and Root agreed. She explained that Shaw had taken it on her own to rescue her. He thought back to how upset Shaw had been that night alone with him.

He barked his theory that there should be a consequence for going rogue - and it sounded as if Root took his advice, because there was a great deal of yelling coming from the bedroom after that.

He had done a good job of ignoring Shaw as punishment for not taking him along. When she called to him, he turned his head up and walked away. He wasn’t sure what she meant by calling him a ‘divo’, but he didn’t think it was a good thing. When he heard them come in the door after work, he decided Shaw had had enough and he was going to be friendly.

Nothing prepared him for how friendly Shaw was.

“BEAR!” Sameen yelled in her still inebriated state. “Where’s my Bear?” she cooed and fell on her knees, pulling away from Root’s arm. Bear ran to them and stopped short, looking up at Root. She had warned him to be careful because of Sameen’s injuries.
“LOOKATTHATFACE!” Shaw was saying in that high-pitched tone that makes dogs twist their heads back and forth. “He was mad at me,” Sameen told her mother who was encouraging her to get up. “Are you mad at me?” Shaw asked and Bear decided enough was enough and ran to his adoring pet.

“Sameen!” both Root and Azar said as Shaw proceeded to wrestle the dog to the ground.

“She needs to eat. I’ll make her some soup,” Azar said and walked into the kitchen.

Bear let Shaw play rough with him until Root gently pulled Shaw to get up and come to the couch. Root put pillows where Sameen was about to rest any injured part of her body.

“Where’s my mother?” she asked.

“She’s in the kitchen,” Root said. “She wants to make you soup.”

“What!” Shaw yelled as if every injury was paining her. “Are you letting her do that because you’re mad at me?”

“What? No! I’m not mad at you, Sweetie,” Root assured her.

“Then why would you let her make me soup?” Shaw pleaded.

Shaw did raise a good point. Her mother just walked into Isabelle’s territory. “Stay right here, okay?” Root implored Shaw who seemed very comfortable on the couch.

“Okay,” Shaw smiled.

“Watch her,” Root instructed Bear.

Tempted to bark, ‘Oh, now you want my help’ – he didn’t and decided to let it go.

Root rushed over to the kitchen, unsure of what she might find and worse yet, whose side would she take. Azar meant well wanting to make something for Sameen, but the fact that she thought soup was a proper meal for her daughter, proved she had a lot to learn. She burst through the door where her longtime chef and friend was patiently telling Azar what ingredients she had to offer.

“Mrs. Morin is going to make Sameen… SOUP,” Isabelle said with raised eyebrows, and an overly enthusiastic tone.

“Oh, that’s great,” Root said and exchanged a worried look with the woman who knew Shaw’s carnivorous diet.

“With… ve-get-a-bles,” Isabelle said slowly to make sure Root saw the problem.

“It’s an old family recipe,” Azar said, having donned an apron as she cut up the ingredients.

“Is there chicken in it?” Root asked hopeful.

“No, it’s all…,” Azar was explaining when she finally realized what the two polite women were hinting at. “Oh,” she said, realizing her mistake. “I think we could put chicken in it,” she smiled, much to their relief.

“I’m all for a mother wanting to feed her child,” Isabelle whispered to Root, “…but not giving that child meat? No!”

Root thanked Isabelle for sharing her domain with Shaw’s mother.

When it was done, Azar walked in with two big bowls of it on a tray and brought it over to Shaw. Her inebriation was wearing off and the deadly effects were setting in.

“I think she hit me with something,” Sameen accused her sister.

“You know, I would have figured a way to remove the tracker,” Root reminded Sameen.

“I couldn’t wait,” Shaw admitted. “What… is… that?” she asked when she saw the soup.

Of all the things Azar could have said, what she did say, unnerved her daughter. “It’s Persian Ash.”

Ash?” Sameen asked and pulled back.

“Surely you came across it when you were oversees,” Azar said of the popular dish.

“Maybe in a truck,” Shaw quipped.

“Sameen,” her mother gently scolded her. “It’s Asheh reshte; a Persian legume soup. It has chickpeas, kidney beans, turmeric, cilantro, scallions, legumes…,” Azar listed which only made matters worse.

“No, thank you,” Shaw said, turning her head and forcing a smile. “I don’t like one thing she just said,” she shared to Root.

“Isabelle suggested I put chicken in it,” Azar assured her meat-eating daughter.

“I’ll try it,” Root offered the way you do when you’re trying to convince someone to eat something new. Like a five year old maybe. She took the second bowl and took a big spoonful, as Sameen watched her carefully. “It’s delicious,” Root declared.

Shaw scanned Root’s face to see if she could detect any sign of a lie. She couldn’t; so only then, did she turn her head back and accept the spoonful that her mother held for her. “Not bad,” she said, but only because there was chicken in it.

Sameen finished the soup and thanked her mother for making it. Then, Root said she was going to put the salve on Sameen’s wounds and Azar offered to help. She did a good job of controlling her reaction upon seeing her child with several cuts.

“What kind of monster…?” she did let out finally when she saw Sameen’s deepest wound.

“A dead kind,” Shaw assured her in the best way she knew how.

“Good,” Azar said, no tolerance for anyone who hurt her children.

The whole process wore Sameen out and she fell asleep after Root helped her get changed into pajamas. Then, Root came back down to see Azar out.

“I fear I have brought all of this to your doorstep, Samantha. The machine chose you; but perhaps there was more I could have done to stop that,” Azar mused sadly.

“Sameen and I can handle whatever comes our way,” Root assured the woman. “Reese has uploaded the antivirus so I’ll check to see if that took care of any connections from outside. I’ll keep you posted.”

With that, Azar kissed Root on the cheek and thanked her for taking such good care of Sameen. Then, she went in the elevator and downstairs, where Ayala was waiting for her to take her home. Using the universal example of logic to counter Ayala’s actions;

“She made you?” she asked to see if her younger daughter wanted to change her answer.

“Yes,” Ayala answered truthfully.

“And if Sameen wanted you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?” the mother asked concerned about what her children had done.

“Yes,” Ayala answered because Sameen would have a good reason to suggest such a thing.

Azar turned and looked at her younger daughter and could see how sincere she was. “I believe you,” she said, pushing the hair behind Ayala’s ear and smiling. Her daughters were truly forming a bond.

Root went back up to check on her girlfriend who slept quietly under the careful watch of a very forgiving Bear. Then, she got her laptop and sat next to Sameen on the bed. She carefully checked on the machine to see if there were any traces of outside activity secured onto it. As she expected, there were none. Wherever Greer was, Root wondered if he was trying to latch back onto the machine.

His team was too busy trying to come up with the program to guard against the latest global cyber attack. Root flooded the web with free copies of the BEAR antivirus program for free under another company name. It was only a matter of time before someone on Greer’s team came across it. The IT person ran to his superior at the Greer team location and explained that he found something that just might work. He was applauded for his dedication. The program was first analyzed by the IT team and when it was deemed safe, they uploaded it.

Moments after they did, Root could see where they were located.

As Sameen slept peacefully next to her, Root saw something that would keep her up all night. Her program was intended to show the location of Greer’s machine as a pulsating light on her world map.

The problem was, the more she stared, the more lights appeared on her screen.

There were over one hundred locations of the Greer machine.

Chapter Text

Root worked through the night trying to see what she could find out about the many locations that appeared on her screen. She was almost certain that her program was working as planned, but needed the team to go over every line of code to make sure they hadn’t missed anything that would cause an anomaly. The BEAR team was at work at six AM to do that very thing.

Root closed her laptop and her eyes, but kept her hand on Shaw’s bare back, gently stroking it when Shaw stirred from the pain. Isabelle was downstairs making sure she had everything available for Sameen’s breakfast; in part to make up for the dinner she had.

Finally, Sameen awoke; looking to see if Root was there. And of course, she was. It took Shaw a few more minutes of glorious sleepiness to open her eyes again.

“Did you sleep?” she asked because Root was still in her clothes.

“A little,” Root said and slid down in the bed so she could be right next to her lover. “How are you feeling?”

“Hungry,” Shaw said because she was more in tune with her stomach than her injuries.

“How are these?” Root asked and gently rubbed a finger near Shaw’s bandages.

“Fine,” Shaw lied and then remembered. “The one from yesterday hurts, though.”

Root knew immediately that Shaw remembered her promise. “Does it?” Root asked coyly, gently tugging at Sameen’s pajama shorts. “Your sister actually did a nice job here,” Root said and her breath touched Sameen’s skin, causing goosebumps. Sameen went to answer back, but Root was already applying something better than the best salve in the world; her lips. She caressed and kissed Sameen’s bare skin and could tell the effect immediately by her shuddering. Root ran her hands along Sameen’s toned legs and cupped her uninjured cheek. “I’m not going to lie,” said the woman who didn’t. “I’m going to miss being able to find you immediately,” she teased.

But Root’s teasing hit a chord and Sameen turned to face her. She pulled Root up and told her; “You have my heart, Root. No matter where I am, you’re with me.”

Even for Root, who was always in the moment, those words made her eyes well with tears. “God, Sameen,” Root said, leaning in to kiss her. Root got up on her knees and ripped off her clothes. If she felt the need to touch Sameen before; after that declaration, she needed to devour her. Shaw was hers and nothing mattered more to Root than that.

In spite of Root’s own urges, her hands and lips were soft and gentle as she manipulated Sameen’s body into a frenzy of electrical charged pulsations that ripped through her entire being. It seemed the slower Root went; the more Shaw needed it, until she arched her back, begging Root to end her glorious aching need.

Sameen wasn’t feeling the effects of the alcohol, nor the pain. All she was feeling was incredible joy. Root collapsed next to Sameen, happy to have fulfilled her promise to kiss and make it sensational.

With lightning fast moves, Shaw was suddenly sitting atop Root, ignoring Root’s pleas not to overdo anything because of her wounds.

“The only thing I’m going to overdo…,” Shaw said in a breathy tone next to Root’s ear, “….is you.”

Root’s own exhaustion made it impossible to counter Sameen with logic about being careful. Sameen moved as if her body was never injured. Her hands roamed the length of her tall lover, stopping only to gently squeeze and probe. “God, you are hot,” Shaw said because she was in love with every inch of the body she was manipulating will skillful moves.

Where Root was slow and gentle, Shaw was aggressive and in control. It always sent Root over the edge when she commanded Root’s body. Root could feel it every time; the moment when her body simply gave itself over to Shaw. It was almost as glorious as the climax that caused a guttural cry to escape her lips with reckless abandon.

Isabelle was spot on when she knew the small amount of chicken in the soup last night was not enough for Shaw. Sameen sat down and devoured sausages and pancakes like she hadn’t eaten in a week. It was a good think Root wasn’t a jealous woman, because she noticed Sameen moaned almost as much at breakfast as she had done in the bedroom. Almost, but not quite.

Isabelle beamed that she was right; Root simply smiled and stared at her omnivorous girlfriend eat. She licked her own lips unconsciously as food entered the mouth that had devoured her just thirty minutes ago.

“Is there any more of that soup?” Shaw asked, shoving the last biscuit in her mouth.
Root and Isabelle exchanged surprised glances. “Yes, your mother made quite a bit of it,” Isabelle said.

“Look, I love my mother, but you two cannot let her cook for me, okay? I mean, I’m all for trying new things… okay, that’s sorta a lie, but if the ratio of vegetables to meat is like a zillion to one – no, no good. I can’t. Now, I’m going to let it go this time because you two were being super polite to my mom, but no more. She’s not allowed in here. Put a sign up or something. Unless she can make dessert,” Sameen thought out loud to be fair. “Who gives a sick person soup? Made of vegetables?”

Sameen was dead serious and Root bit hard on her bottom lip not to laugh at how adorable she was went she ranted. Isabelle looked like her Christmas bonus came early because she was glowing from being the appointed chef of Sameen Shaw. “I promise,” Isabelle called out as the couple left.

Bear rushed to Root before the couple left. He felt perhaps Root had taken things a little too far. “I wasn’t … uhm… punishing her,” Root tried to explain the loud yelling he heard emanating from the bedroom.
He growled his confusion.

“It’s a little hard to… expound on… right now,” Root said.

Shaw burst through the kitchen day just in time to save Root from the awkward conversation. “We’ll talk later,” Root promised and went to the elevator with Shaw.

“She’s going in the pre-nup,” Shaw commented about the chef she adored.

“You want a prenup?” Root asked, gently playing with Sameen’s hand in the elevator.

“No, but you do. I have nothing. Well, I have a kick-ass arsenal, but I figure I’ll leave that to Reese and Fusco so they can update their weapons.”

“Oh, Sameen,” Root said looking lovingly at her, “… you have everything.”

That made no sense to Sameen, but she didn’t want to argue.

Besides, she didn’t know it, but she was going to need all her strength when she got to work.

Root didn’t want to send Shaw charging out to find Greer or his machines, so she decided to meet with her IT team first and update everyone later.

Martine was pacing the floor, waiting for Shaw to arrive. It had been several hours since the trio of friends had helped Sameen. Martine felt personally responsible for getting Sameen drunk, but she wasn’t going to take responsibility for what was going on in Shaw’s cubicle. She happened upon it before and she wasn’t sure she could put into words what was going on. She kept looking at the floor numbers light up on the elevator, hoping each time it was Shaw. She practically pounced in the carriage when the doors opened.

“Rousseau?” Reese said when she pushed him back in.

“Sorry, Reese. I was looking for Shaw,” Martine said.

“I heard about the operation,” the tall men said.

“She made us,” Martine automatically answered and seemingly nervous.

“Aha,” Reese said, because he could believe it. “Hey!” he called out and moved faster than his usual gait. “You shouldn’t be lifting heavy things.” Martine turned to see John rush over and grab a box out of Janine’s arms. “You have to be careful… in case,” John said and unconsciously looked at her abdomen.

“I’m fine,” Janine declared. “I’m better than fine,” she informed Reese because when you’re walking on cloud nine, you tend to feel euphoric.

“Oh, brother,” Martine said and was moving her hand in circles as if that would get Shaw there faster.

Soon enough, the door opened and there she was. “How are you feeling?” Martine asked from the elevator door, blocking Shaw’s exit.

“I’m good,” Shaw said and that was all her friend needed to hear. She pulled Shaw off the elevator and around the corner. “When I said ‘good’, I didn’t mean I was feeling up to be subdued and dragged. I should have made that clear.”

“Sorry,” Martine said, poking her head around the corner and pulling back to face her friend. “Your incision is okay?” she asked because her girlfriend may have had battlefield training, but she looked damn nervous.

“Yes, apparently not even that one is going to leave a scar,” Shaw said, rolling her eyes.

“Too bad, okay, here’s the situation,” Martine said in a low voice.

“Oh!” Shaw mocked. “We have a situation. Is it near the cafeteria?”

“Noooo,” Martine said, dragging out the word. “It’s near your office.”

“And what caused this situation?” Shaw asked only slightly intrigued.

“Actually, you did,” Martine said, looking down into eyes that rolled again. “I feel a little responsible because I gave you that whiskey, but your lips were looser than a singing canary in there.”

“Okay, first – canaries do not have lips,” Shaw felt it important to point out.

“Whatever. You were in a very sharing mood yesterday and you said some things that may have gone to someone’s head,” Martine tried to slowly build up.

“Look, if I said you were a good friend, I meant it. We’re not going to braid each other’s hair, though, okay?” Shaw explained, thinking the woman was talking about herself.

“What? No, not me!” Martine said because she would never do that. “HER!” the taller woman said and pushed Sameen to peer around the corner.

“Put it over there for now,” Shaw heard Janine order Reese. The man was holding what appeared to be a piece of the wall that divided Sameen’s cubicle from Janine’s.

“What is she doing?” Shaw asked softly.

“Gaining more access to your office,” Martine said, unable to talk the woman out of it.

“The tunnel under my desk wasn’t enough?” Shaw laughed.

“Shaw, you said some really nice things to her yesterday. Well, to all of us, actually, but especially to her,” Martine updated her friend.

“Actually, I remember being a little snarky,” Shaw recalled. “When did I say nice things?”

“Somewhere around the fourth glass,” Martine said.

Shaw was trying to figure out what she could have said that would make her friend so worried. The endless possibilities ran through her head. It sounded like she said something that was going to backfire on her. “DID I TELL MY SISTER I LOVE HER?” she finally asked, grabbing Martine by her jacket lapels.

“What?” Martine asked, thinking Ayala was amateur hour when it came to teasing Shaw. “Not your sister, Shaw. Your assistant. You told her she was wonderful and she made you smile every day.”

“Oh,” Shaw said, thinking that wasn’t so bad. “Well, okay, it’s true.”

“And how you had thought she and I would make a nice couple,” Martine said, hoping some of this would come back to the woman.

“Well, I may have overstated that a little,” Shaw said because Martine was so calm and cool and Janine was so … Janine.

“Yeah, you told us that after thinking about it, I wasn’t really good enough for her,” Martine said.

“I said that?” Shaw asked, thinking she may not have actually been in the room when these things were uttered.

“Yes, in fact, you told us that the kind of person Janine needed was more like … You,” Martine finally got to the punch line.

“Pfft, me?” Shaw scoffed. “What would she do with someone like me?” The idea seemed preposterous now.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Martine said slightly sarcastically, “…adore and worship her?”

“You’re making too big a deal out of this,” Shaw barked.

“She took the wall down between your offices, Shaw,” Martine pointed out. “She thinks you’re looking for someone like you for her.”

“I think my Matchmaking days are over. I quit while I was on top. Reese and Carter; Fusco and the Doc, you and my sister,” Shaw listed.

“Well, you made it sound like you had one more trick in your bag yesterday,” Martine shared.

“Where am I going to find someone like me?” Shaw asked - the task was impossible.

“I don’t know, but in the meantime, Janine is going to be building the Shaw Shrine and praying in front of it for her partner,” the blonde explained.

“I’ll… I’ll just talk to her. You are really making too big a deal out of this,” Shaw chastised her coworker. “I got this,” Shaw said, pulling on her blouse and taking a deep breath. With that, she walked around the corner and down the hallway.

“She so does not have this,” Martine said out loud.

“Hey, Shaw,” Reese said. “How are you feeling?”

“Good, thanks, no thanks to you,” Shaw quipped.

“I’m glad it worked out okay,” Reese said because he still believed what he did was necessary.

“Next time you aim something at me, it better be a stun gun,” Shaw balked.

“That’s more Root’s thing,” Reese said, cracking a joke, but not a smile. “Hey, do me a favor?”

“Sure, Reese, anything for a friend who shot me,” Shaw said.

“Don’t let Janine pick up anything too heavy. Rousseau told me she might be… you know… pregnant,” he updated his friend.

“Well, it’s not mine,” Shaw answered awkwardly because she felt everything Janine did was her fault.

“I didn’t think so,” Reese answered and wondered if she hit her head, too. “Are you sure you’re feeling well enough to be back at work?”

Now, Shaw was insulted. “I got this, okay?” Shaw said emphatically.

Reese watched her stomp away. “She so does not have this,” he said in a low voice.

Chapter Text

While Root was in her office with her team, applying her meticulous analysis to the program she wrote, Sameen was about to use her military tactics to figuring out what was going on in her office.

Think ballet versus spasm.

If anyone had asked Janine what was going on, she would have told them that after Shaw’s heartfelt words yesterday, she felt even more devoted to the woman who cared enough about her happiness – that she was going to find her someone.

Shaw was used to the warm greeting Janine gave her every day, but this morning’s seemed to come out in slow motion.

“OHHHHMYYYYGOOOODDDD,” Janine said when she saw Shaw standing wide-eyed in the doorway. She didn’t yell it as much as she draped it across the space between them. “Are you okay?” she asked and put her hands near Sameen’s elbows to telepathically pull her to her chair. Her new plush leather chair with pillows. It was big enough for both of them to sit in.

“I’m okay,” Shaw said, looking around. “Where’s the ….?”

“I thought this would save time,” Janine said of the missing wall. By the size of the smile on her face, Sameen could tell she truly believed it was a good idea.

“And look!” Janine said of the new chair. “It’s roomier and I put cushions on it, you know, in case… it’s…,” and she whispered the last word, “…sensitive.”

There was nothing about Sameen Shaw that said – please coddle me – and yet, this woman was reducing her to the office diva. ‘Okay,’ Sameen thought to herself. ‘What military method would eradicate this problem?’

“Janine?” Sameen said, making her first mistake of many by taking the woman’s hands in hers. The electric touch practically made the woman deaf as she reveled in it. “…so that’s why I think we need the wall back,” was the next thing she heard Shaw say.

Janine shook her head. “I thought if you put the wall over here where your doorway is, we could kill two birds with one stone,” the nine o’clock Janine train said, still pulling out of the station in spite of Shaw’s sound argument. “That way, no one can barge in without going through me first.”

“Janine,” Shaw said, sitting down in a chair that felt like she just sat on clouds. “Oh, my God,” Shaw let out, “… this is really nice.”

“Right?” said the woman who felt she knew what Sameen needed at work.

“I could nap in this thing,” Shaw said as she pushed back.

“And without that opening for everyone to walk in, I could tell you if someone was coming,” Janine expounded on her thinking.

Shaw had to admit, she had a point. “I guess the chair does help…,” Shaw said.

“Good!” Janine beamed at being right about that, too.

Then, Shaw remembered what she was supposed to do. “Okay, look, Janine,” she began and the woman sat down on the chair across from her. “I may have run off at the mouth yesterday, you know, because Martine got me drunk,” Shaw began.

“Oh, she meant well,” Janine came to her friend’s defense.

“Yes, she did, but it may have made me say things,” Shaw tried again.

“Drunken lips speak sober thoughts,” Janine said and interrupted Shaw again.

“Sure,” Shaw smiled and was growing impatient, “…but it also can make you say sober thoughts in a screwed up way.”

“You mean about telling on your sister?” Janine guessed.

“No; I said that?” Shaw asked.

“Yes, you said if she didn’t do a good job, you’d tell on her,” Janine repeated.

“Let’s remember that one for later. No, what I said to you,” Shaw clarified.

Janine sat back and thought about what Shaw said. In her mind, it was all pretty clear. “Oh, you mean about finding me someone like you?” the woman asked, getting to the point.

There! Shaw’s military precision of getting to the heart of the matter was still sharp. “I shouldn’t have presumed to know what your taste is,” said the woman who fit the bill. “I mean, you were with Devon and I never saw that coming,” Shaw tried to laugh.

“Devlin,” Janine corrected her.

“Well, by either name, he was an ass,” Shaw felt it necessary to share.

“Yeah,” Janine said, the wind slowly coming out of her sails.

“So, what I’m trying to say is I have no idea what you want, so how could I possibly help?” Shaw attempted to say.

“But you do know!” Janine countered and this time, she grabbed Shaw’s hands. Shaw tried to pull back, but the grip was too tight.

A part of Shaw’s brain was on red alert to call Root. “CLEAN UP ON AISLE THREE” her brain yelled as the woman in front of her started to melt. And something worse was coming. Shaw was beginning to understand how to handle unadulterated adoration, but what happened next she was completely unprepared for.

“Oh,” Janine said, reading the expression on Shaw’s face. She let Shaw’s hands drop as an uncomfortable smile came across her face. “Of course,” the assistant said.

Shaw wanted to believe the two had just reached simpatico on all of this, but Janine’s demeanor told her one of them just took a sharp turn.

“I’m sorry,” Janine said and now Shaw was really confused.

“Why should you be sorry? I was the one who opened my big mouth,” Shaw tried.

“When you told Martine that you guys needed to find someone for me, I thought you meant help me find someone. It was silly of me to think you meant that,” Janine said and her voiced cracked.

Voice cracking was not something Shaw was ever trainee not handle. Root would know what to do; she definitely could handle voice cracking, Shaw thought. “Root would know!” Shaw declared and the wires weren’t just crossed; they were about to get tangled in knots.

“She would?” Janine asked incredulously.

“Yes, definitely,” Shaw assured her. Root seemed to be able to handle all things emo.

“Would she help? I mean, she’s so busy…,” Janine thought out.

“Well, sure, but this wouldn’t take long,” Shaw decided.

“It wouldn’t?” Janine asked curiously.

“Root’s really good at this,” Shaw said encouragingly.

Then, it dawned on why Sameen was involving Root. Who better to find her a Shaw than the woman who had her own!

“Oh wow, that makes total sense,” Janine concurred and now her voice was back to being cheery. “You’re sure she won’t mind?”

“Not at all,” Shaw promised.

“We could make it a girls’ night out!” Janine declared and Shaw could hear the wheels screeching as she totally lost what was going on.

“Sorry?” Shaw asked.

“We could all go out for drinks and look for someone, but hey, no pressure. If we don’t find the right person, it will still be a fun night out!” Janine said.

“Yeah, but…,” Shaw tried having lost track of where they were headed minutes ago. She stood up to suggest they review what just happened, but Janine had her in a gentle bear hug.

“You are the best person, ever, Shaw,” Janine said and didn’t let go.

“Thanks,” Shaw said, totally lost.

“I’ll go take care of your schedule for today,” the woman said, and now there were tears in her eyes.

Shaw stood there afraid there would be more tears, more hugging. She remained standing until she was certain the woman was back in her cubicle.

So confused was Sameen, that she was actually happy to see Fusco standing in her doorway.

“Did you see that?” she asked in a whisper.

When he said yes, she grabbed him and pulled him down the hallway. “Well?” Shaw asked and motioned with her hands for him to explain.

“You just told her Root would find her someone just like you,” Fusco said plainly.

“No, I didn’t. I told her that I was drunk during the operation yesterday and I misspoke. My matchmaking days are over. And she can thank you for that,” Shaw segued.

“Oh, cause I’m dating your shrink?” Fusco asked.

“No, because you people exhaust me,” Shaw clarified.

“Well, now you have to tell Root that you passed the yenta baton,” Fusco put crudely.

“It’s a girl’s night out, right? Root will be okay with that. And you’re coming,” barked Sameen.

“Shaw, the very title of that precludes me,” Fusco pointed out.

“No deal; you’re coming,” Shaw demanded. “You know more about this crap than I do,” she said in a rare admission.

“That’s true,” Fusco said and Sameen hit his arm.

“You know we’re all going to be looking for another you, right?” Fusco pointed out. “And I think they broke the mold. At least, I hope they did,” the detective said as he rubbed his arm.

Chapter Text

Sameen was not at all worried about asking Root to join her in a girls’ night out. She was, however, a little concerned about sharing what the objective was. As usual, Root met the news with her characteristic assurance that they could do it.

“Of course, we are talking about someone on the Shaw spectrum,” Root said, playing with the loose strand of Sameen’s hair. “I mean, she’ll be happy with someone anywhere near you.”

Shaw looked at Root’s smile and how well she took the news. She knew, had the roles been reversed, she would have bitched and moaned. “I’m sorry I got you into this,” Shaw apologized.

“Don’t be silly,” Root assured her. “If anyone understands that woman’s obsession with you, it’s me.”

Shaw leaned over and kissed Root. She simply appreciated how uncomplicated Root made everything.

“So, I have some news,” Root said as a way to share what they learned. “Our program that was supposed to lock onto the location of Greer’s machine, found more than one of them.”

“How many?” Shaw asked.

“So far; one hundred and forty,” Root answered and looked at her computer. “It’s slowing down at least.”

“Can you tell if they’re computers or larger collections of devices?” Shaw asked and Root liked that this was her first question.

“Yes, we can,” Root smiled. “So far, these all look like smaller containment; some larger than a desktop, but could be the servers for a small group.”

“What connects them?” Shaw asked.

“The program seems to be the only common denominator; not the locations. One’s an office, another is a school, a large warehouse type shopping store; a medical building…,” Root listed.

“Information, data on people’s choices, but why?” Shaw thought through.

It seemed that Root and her team hadn’t picked their heads up to see the forest for the trees. They had been looking at geographic locations connection while Sameen looked at it from another view – what they might be taking from those locations.

“Building a large data base!” Root concluded off of Sameen’s suggestion. “Beauty and brains,” Root smiled and kissed Shaw’s surprised lips.

“Yeah, I’m the whole package,” Shaw said sarcastically to cover her blushing.

“You really are,” Root gushed because she always knew that.

With that thought about data collecting in mind, Root and her team tweaked the program to look a little deeper at what information was being stored. If it was successful, it would take hours before they knew.

Plenty of time for shopping for someone like Shaw.

“I don’t think I’ve even set out to do something where I already knew the success rate was a minus zero at best,” Martine shared to her girlfriend. She had stopped there to pick her up before they met up with the group.

“I don’t know what the big deal is. I’m like Shaw,” Ayala suggested.

“Noooo,” Martine blurted out in a deep voice that seemed to come straight from her heart. Ayala turned slowly to look at her; the insult apparent on her face. “No, I meant, yeah you’re alike because you’re sisters, but that’s not what this is about,” she attempted to dig herself out.

“Really?” the younger woman asked, her hands on her scantily clad hips. “Do tell.”

“We have to look at this from Janine’s perspective. She adores your sister. It’s almost inexplicable. Your sister grabbed her and stripped her of her clothes the first time they met,” Martine relayed.

“Sort of what I did to you,” Ayala tried because there was no mistaking she was the aggressor.

“Yes, but to Janine – Shaw’s the sun and you… you are… like a speeding…,” Martine tried to think of adjectives as the woman smiled coyly at her, kneeling before Martine and running her hands up her thighs. Just as her hands reached the apex, Martine added, “… meteorite,” the blonde barely got out as her lover’s hands collided with her core.

“I like it,” Ayala said as she set out to dominate their lovemaking.

Martine couldn’t help but think that there was a solid steadiness to Shaw that her younger sister didn’t yet seem to have. She wanted to question it, but the woman’s hands were making her forget everything.

Root was watching Shaw get ready for their outing. “Now, will I be required to perform any actually testing on the candidates?” she teased of their mission. “I mean, who knows you better than I do?”

“No!” Shaw answered emphatically, even though she knew Root was teasing. “No… touching.” She smiled after she said it, but felt a twinge of jealousy, just the same. “I don’t even know what we’re doing,” Sameen admitted, pulling up tight black pants donning a black sleeveless t-shirt. She grimaced only a little when the pants hit the operation site.

“We’re going out for a night of fun,” Root said to take the pressure off Sameen.

“Yeah,” Shaw said, liking Root’s interpretation. “Fun.”

Root’s calculation presented them with the best place for possible candidates at a club downtown. The place offered large tables upstairs for groups and looked down over the dance floor. Root’s approach was simply mathematical – the more people, the better the odds. Shaw’s approach was slightly more factory conveyor belt.

“No, no, no, nope, no, never, doubt it, what do you do?” is how Shaw entered the club, passing the long line of patrons who were waiting to get in. She was going to go through everyone she passed, in hopes of getting it over with. She stopped and opened another one’s jacket and shook her head. Root wasn’t sure what she based her negative response on, but she loved watching her go through the process.

Root smiled and grabbed Sameen by the arm so they could meet their friends.

Zoe and Joss were the first one’s there. Joss loved girls’ night out and thanked the couple for organizing it. Zoe looked ravishing as usual. “You look angry, Shaw,” she said because of the woman’s intense gaze at the population.

“She’s on a mission,” Joss explained. “She even got Fusco to come.”

“Well, he is one of the girls according to Shaw,” Zoe laughed.

“Where is he?” Shaw barked.

“I don’t know, Shaw..,” Joss said, lifting up her hand. “Did he get off his leash?” Joss and Zoe bent over laughing because of Shaw’s dependency on her friend in her missions.

Not funny,” Shaw said and Root pulled her to sit down.

“There he is,” Joss said of the only man invited that evening. Fusco had no intention of staying, especially since Reese invited him over to watch the playoffs. But he knew better than not to show.

“Ladies,” Fusco said as he approached the table. “Where’s the guest of honor?” he asked, ordering a club soda.

“Get me one of those,” Shaw said to him as she scanned the crowd. “There, that one. How about that one?” Sameen’s training told her, the sooner she got this over with, the better.

“Really?” Root said, not seeing any similarity.

“Oh, you mean the bouncer?” Zoe asked and peered over her drink at Root to rein her girlfriend in.

“Yeah,” Shaw said.

“I don’t see it,” Joss said and Fusco shook his head.

Shaw went back to sizing up the crowd when the woman of the hour appeared.

Janine always dressed nicely for work, but tonight she had taken it up a few notches. Her dress was form fitting, with a v-cut neck. She wore high heels and her hair was swept up on her head. She wore the same amount of makeup, but she had on more jewelry. “Hi everyone,” Janine smiled as she approached the table.

Zoe, Joss and Root understood that the woman was dressed for a fun night out with her friends. Shaw didn’t quite see it like that. In Shaw’s eyes, the clothing seemed to counter the woman’s innocence. Shaw went from seeking-mode to protective-mode without realizing it. “”She’s going to attract the wrong people,” a very judgmental Sameen said.

Then the waiter came over to take Janine’s drink order.

“Long Island Ice Tea,” Janine ordered. It was a concoction of vodka, rum, triple sec, gin, tequila, with a splash of soda.

“You ain’t wasting any time,” Joss teased the younger woman.

“I’ll have one of those,” Zoe second.

“No,” Shaw said of the drink choice, but Root put her hand on her leg to remind her Janine was old enough to make her own choices. “Fine,” Shaw said back without her lips moving. “You can hold her head later. Did you notice how he was looking at her?” she asked Root, but she hadn’t noticed.

The waiter returned with the drinks and placed them down. Janine had caught his eye and when he placed the drink in front of her, he lingered a moment, staring at her or at some part of her.

Shaw’s arm suddenly reached across her friend and grabbed his tie. “Thank you,” she said and stared hard at him.

“Didyoubringataser?” Zoe asked Fusco as she sipped her drink.

“She’ll be fine,” Fusco said and no one believed him. “Well, here’s to finding… “ and then he saw the look on Shaw’s face. “… luck?” he guessed.

“Don’t give up your day job, Fusco,” Joss yelled over the blaring, but enticing music.

A little while later, Fusco ordered two more club sodas and a new waitress brought them over. Seemed the waiter refused to come back.

“Is there anything I can get you?” she asked Janine and she ordered a second drink. The woman brought it back within minutes and placed it down in front of her, lingering just a second.

“Enjoy,” she smiled.

“Thanks,” Janine said, looking up at her and smiling. Their hands touched for a split second and without anyone even noticing.

“All we have to do is bring her out on the dance floor,” Zoe decided and grabbed Joss and then Janine to go downstairs to dance.

“I’ll go search the bar area, but so help me, Shaw, if someone calls the cops on me, I’m taking you with me,” Fusco warned.

Everyone went off, leaving Root and Sameen at the table. “This is impossible,” Shaw harrumphed loudly.

Instead of contradicting her with optimism and cheerfulness, Root said; “True.”

“What?” Shaw asked, surprised at Root’s answer.

“It’s impossible, but maybe not improbable,” Root clarified.

“Then why did you agree?” Shaw asked.

“Sameen, this woman adores you. What she’s looking for is love. Two different things,” Root said assertively.

Shaw stared up at Root as if she were speaking another language. “Where was that information two hours ago?”

“Well, just because I know it, didn’t mean I didn’t want to give it a try,” Root smiled. “From the minute you met this woman, you swept her off her feet. You’re bigger than life, Shaw. And nothing can replace that. No, what Janine is searching for is someone who will love her.”

“I…,” and Shaw was going to say she cared for the woman. “… like her… you know, enough to tolerate her.”

Root smiled at Shaw’s rendition of a Hallmark card. She reached over to play with the strands of hair that framed the frowning face. “She’s very lucky.”

“So, again, what are we doing here? Can we go?” asked the woman who would abort a mission that was doomed to fail.

“Janine doesn’t need another you, Shaw. She’s already got you. What she needs is someone who will appreciate the woman she is under the intensity that you bring out in her,” Root theorized as she searched the crowd.

Sameen tried to filter through those sentences for anything she could understand. “So, it’s my fault?”

“No,” Root assured her. “You can’t help that you’re charismatic.”

Shaw was on auto-pilot and immediately went to protest that she was not what Root just said, but when she slowed down, she decided she liked that word. “I’m charismatic?” she asked as if she had never given it thought.

Root looked over at her, light brown eyes reflecting the strobe lights of the dance floor. “Oh, God, yes,” she said softly and kissed Sameen’s cheek.

Shaw’s entire demeanor changed and she sat up and smiled. And then Shaw realized that this is what Janine …. or anyone needed; to be the person their lover’s eyes reflected back. Shaw always wanted to be the person Root saw.

No one saw Sameen the way Root did.

“We can’t find her someone, can we?” Shaw asked.

“Well, we certainly can increase the odds, but she’s got to do the real finding,” Root said wisely.

Shaw looked over the balcony to see how Janine was doing with that. As much as she wanted to trust that Root was right, that could take all night. “I have to speed this up,” Shaw decided and kissed Root. “I’ll be back,” she promised.

Root was not at all surprised that even after agreeing with her, Shaw felt it necessary to take off and speed up the progression. Root knew some things were learned by trial and error.

Shaw was just getting through a crowd of people she had pointed at and dismissed when Ayala and Martine showed up.

“Shaw,” Martine said from behind dark glasses.

“We’re sitting upstairs,” Shaw said, wondering what was going on.

“Sorry we’re late,” Ayala all but giggled. With that she gave Sameen a kiss on her cheek and went upstairs. “I have to talk to Root.”

“I think that girl’s going to kill me,” Martine said of the youth’s energy. “How’s the search?” If anyone could understand Sameen’s approach to this matchmaking, it was Martine.

“I cleared this side of the room. No one,” Shaw reported.

“What about the perimeter? That’s usually where shy people hang out. I’m thinking shy might work,” Martine suggested, pulling her shades down just enough to peer over.

Shaw stared at her; her hands on her hips. “How does shy resemble me in any way?”

“This is less about you than we originally thought,” Martine had decided on the way over and was updating Shaw.

“That’s what Root said,” Shaw confirmed.

“I’ll take the perimeter then,” Martine said and was about to leave when an out- of- breath Janine ran over to them. Martine took one look at the transformed woman and then looked at Shaw.

“I don’t know; I can’t explain it,” Shaw admitted, rolling her eyes.

“Hi you two,” she greeted them cheerfully. “You have to come dance,” she laughed and pulled at Shaw.

“I’m on club soda, for God’s sake,” Shaw protested, but Janine pulled harder. “What the hell,” Sameen conceded and went with her.

“You got moves, Shaw,” Joss yelled to her when she joined in.

“Oh, I can work it,” Shaw said, letting loose for a few minutes. The whole time, her eyes were on perspective applicants and her heart was upstairs with Root.

A few minutes later, the women reconvened upstairs. “Well, I checked the perimeter and found no one,” Martine reported, taking a seat next to Ayala. The younger woman had spent that time upstairs with Root talking about what her mother had been working on.

“Bar is void of anyone I would even want at this table,” Fusco reported.

“Love is in the last place you would expect it,” Ayala said, turning to look at Martine and smiled.

“In that case, I’ll be at Reese’s watching the game,” Fusco announced.

Zoe couldn’t help but ask if that was where he was looking for love. She and Joss loved to tease the goodhearted man.

“Sure, sure, make jokes,” he said as he stood up at the exact moment the waitress assigned to the table was walking over with a tray of drinks. His shoulder came right under the tray, sending the contents flying. The waitress was doused in liquor and the floor was covered in glass.

Fusco apologized profusely and helped the woman. She assured him it was her fault and someone would clean up the mess. She couldn’t have been nicer about the whole thing.

Her boss wasn’t so nice.

“What the hell, Emily?” she barked when she thought saw the accident prone waitress’ latest faux pas. It had been the kind of crash that anyone could hear over the music. “I’m so sorry, sir,” the boss said to Lionel who was insisting it was his fault. “You won’t have to pay,” she insisted back. She turned and out of sheer aggravation, pushed Emily to go get cleaned up. “This is coming out of your pay, you idiot!”

And then the panel of experts who had gathered to lend their skills in love hunting - learned a very important lesson about why their mission was failing.

They had misread the clues.

Janine didn’t want anyone like Shaw; she wanted to be like Shaw.

“Get your hands off of her,” Janine growled and the entire table turned slowly to see who that was. She had put her hand on the boss’ shoulder and turned her around swiftly to face her. “My friend explained it was his fault. Now apologize to Emily.” Her voice was a little wobbly, but stern.

The boss stared at the angelic face with the devilish voice and looked at the table for confirmation that this wasn’t a joke.

“I’d do as she says,” Sameen warned the boss-lady. “She’s a badass.”

Chapter Text

There wasn’t a person at the table who didn’t seem slightly surprised by Janine’s aggressive action; including Janine.

“I think she’s been hanging out with Shaw,” Fusco said and everyone nodded. The woman certainly did appear like a graduate of the Shaw School of Social Graces.

Although the manager attempted to point out it was Emily’s fault, Janine held onto her tightly until she reluctantly apologized. “Put all of that on our tab,” Janine ordered the woman and she simply nodded before leaving with her tail between her legs.

Emily stood there silent; bouncing on the balls of her feet and holding the tray in her hand in front of her. “Thank you. That was… really nice of you. I really appreciate that. It was very kind… of all of you,” she smiled and started to walk away.

“Hey,” Janine said, touching the waitress’ drenched sleeve, “… I’m Janine.”

“Emily,” the woman smiled back. “Let me get you new drinks.”

Everyone watched Janine watch Emily walk away.

“Well, I think that concludes our meeting for tonight,” Zoe said, the first to pick up on the connection.

“What are you talking about?” Fusco asked, still upset about the expensive mistake he made.

As the group started to explain the obvious to the detective, Root turned to the love of her life. “We had it wrong,” she admitted to Sameen.

“No kidding,” Shaw agreed. “That waitress is nothing like me. I mean, she’s my height maybe, but that’s it. I don’t get it.”

“I don’t think she’s looking for her own Shaw, Shaw,” Root said.

“You know this is like my 4th club soda and I’m thinking clearly, right?” Shaw bemoaned.

“When you admire a superhero, Shaw, you don’t want to be the superhero’s girlfriend. You want to be the superhero,” Root pointed out.

“I should have had whiskey,” Shaw said out loud.

“I think she wants to be more like you,” Root clarified and ran her finger round the bandages on Sameen’s arm.

Sameen looked at Root and then at Janine, whose eyes hadn’t moved from watching the waitress who was coming back from the bar. “So, she’s not me?” Shaw pointed at the waitress. “….she is?” she pointed at Janine.

“Yes, sort of,” Root smiled to think that Shaw was someone’s idol.

“This is making my head hurt,” Shaw complained.

“I’ll take care of that,” Root said, sliding her hand over Shaw’s thigh to rest between her legs. It was very discreetly done, but Shaw jumped nonetheless.

“You okay, there, Shaw?” Zoe asked, smiling broadly at the woman.

“You know I carry a gun, right?” Shaw asked the woman.

“Oh yes, I’ve been out with you enough times to know you’re loaded,” Zoe teased.

Shaw frowned at her, looking to see if there was a joke in there to be insulted over. Zoe truly liked Sameen and often expressed her fondness in mischievous banter. “You know, Shaw,” she said, winking at Root first, “…I don’t think I’ve ever been tempted to kiss another woman like I am with you.”

“Don’t make me hurt you,” Root said, sounding just like Shaw, and everyone broke out laughing at the good natured teasing.

The music started up again and there was one more round of drinks and dancing. Fusco even looked like he was going to join them, but Sameen pulled him back so they could talk.

“I need you to do something with me,” Shaw shouted over the noise. She cupped his ear and said it to him and he nodded. “Don’t make me regret telling you, okay?” she pleaded.

“Yeah, yeah,” the good friend answered back. He couldn’t keep the smile off his face.

“Stop doing that,” Shaw barked and he tried to wipe it off.

The group went back upstairs, finished their drinks and got ready to leave. “Who’s taking Gidget home?” Zoe asked, ever the watchful eye on the group.

“I could take her. I shoulda left hours ago,” Fusco said and looked at his watch as if he hadn’t enjoyed every moment of being surrounded by beautiful women.

“Thanks guys, but I’m okay,” Janine said and everyone had to admit, she sounded fine.

“You’re not going home alone,” Shaw ordered.

“I’m going out,” Janine said, smiling.

“Out? It’s two…,” Shaw said and Root gently leaned into her girlfriend so she’d stop sounding so parental.

“I’ll be okay, thanks, Shaw,” Janine said and it didn’t ease Sameen’s mind at all.

“You don’t need a ride?” Fusco asked and Janine thanked him.

Shaw felt very unsettled that, not only had they failed at their mission, now they were leaving the fledgling alone.

“I don’t understand,” Shaw admitted as they all said goodnight and went their separate ways. Janine had taken Emily up on her offer to go out for coffee as a way of thanking her. “Do we know what that waitress’ last name is? How do we know anything about her?”

“You know Janine can take care of herself,” Root proffered gently.

“What?” Shaw asked as if it never occurred to her, which it hadn’t. “Yeah, sure, but… but,” she repeated because she had not retort for that.

For a person who once proclaimed proudly that she didn’t do feelings, the woman who sat next to Root in the car was expressing a lot of them. “Come here, you,” Root said, pulling Shaw in to kiss her even though her lips were not done worrying about leaving her assistant alone.

“You think she’s okay?” Shaw asked, after Root had calmed her lips down.

“I do,” Root said because she could spot people who had been out on their own for some time, and surprisingly, Janine was one of them.

The couple went home and, in spite of the hour, Root insisted on changing Shaw’s bandages. “I think this one…,” she said of the tracker injury, “…is healing nicely.” She gently placed her lips near it, sending shivers directly up Shaw’s spine.

Root grazed her fingers up and down Shaw’s back as she held her in her arm.

“I feel sorry for everyone,” Shaw said sleepily.

“Tonight? Our friends?” Root asked.

“Just… everyone,” Shaw said, her eyes unable to stay awake. “No one has you, but me.”

Root watched as Shaw’s smile stayed even after she fell asleep. “I’m the lucky one,” she whispered to Sameen as she fell asleep next to her.

Root was blissfully slumbering, still holding onto Sameen, she thought, when yelling (of a very frustrated nature) woke her up. She reached to touch her lover, but she wasn’t there.

“You’d think she’d send a text, but noooo,” was the first thing Root heard. “Where is it?” she heard Sameen yell next, as drawers were opened and shut loudly. “Sonova, I put it right there,” Shaw declared and Root could hear Bear explain he never saw it.
“You never saw it because I haven’t worn it in a really long time, but I’m wearing it today,” Shaw barked as more drawers were banged.

Offering a simple solution to what Bear deemed a simple problem, Shaw refuted him. “I can’t send a text. I’m not her mother!” she pointed out. “But you would think a little consideration, right? I mean, how do I know if she’s not in an alley somewhere?”

Root decided Sameen was upset that she hadn’t heard from Janine, and that was reminding Shaw how much she did care about the woman.  She looked over at Bear who tilted his head to indicate he had no idea what had the short one upset. He sneaked over to Root’s side and wiggled his way up on the bed; front paws first until she hugged him and then he climbed all the way up.

“Oh, Bear,” Root said, but he could tell she wasn’t going to make him get down.

“Here it is!” Shaw sounded like she was updating, but she was unaware that Root was awake.

“Wow,” Root said, and Bear snuggled closer for protection.

“Good morning,” Shaw said, changing her tone and coming over to kiss Root good morning.

“You’re wearing that… to work?” Root asked out of sheer curiosity.

“Yes! Yes, I am. It says everything I feel. I won’t have to explain myself once today,” Shaw decided.

“Okay,” Root laughed and pulled Shaw back in. It was so easy; so inviting to kiss Sameen’s full lower lip when it was scowling.

Just then Sameen’s phone beeped and she pulled it out to look at it. “Ugh,” she expressed because it wasn’t who she expected.

“Are you worried?” Root asked, slowly getting up because they had gotten in so late.

“What? Worried? About what?” Shaw rebuffed.

“Janine,” Root answered even though Shaw didn’t want her to.

“What?” she asked as if Root had just asked her if she were concerned about the price of crude oil going up. “Pfft!” she tried. “That’s… so… ridiculous… really; it is,” the woman bellowed.

“Okay,” Root smiled and kissed her again as she went in to get ready.

Shaw shoved her hands in her pocket, wishing she could have continued arguing how crazy a statement that was, but no one was listening. She looked down at the dog in the bed. “Did you tell her?” she asked and Root covered her mouth when she heard that in the other room.

Going along with her girlfriend’s denial was part and parcel for Root. She knew Shaw would come to it in her own time.

And then she’d help Shaw clean up the mess.

Root was the best girlfriend in the world.

“Oh, my,” Isabelle said of Shaw’s graphic t-shirt. “So, that’s the kind of mood we’re in?”

“It’s not a mood,” Shaw corrected her. “It’s a lifestyle. It’s my anthem!”

"I see,” said the chef who didn’t buy it for a minute. “Very direct.”

“Thank you,” Shaw said because that was the whole point.

Her phone beeped again just before she was done eating. “Really” she asked no one as she took out her phone and looked. Suddenly, she finished her breakfast in one large, over stuffed, bite.

“I learned the Heimlich just for you,” Isabelle assured her because she often feared Sameen would choke on the large potions.

“I have to go,” Shaw said, jumping off the stool and wiping her mouth, before kissing Root.

“Sure,” Root said and pushed her plate back. “I’ll just be a minute.”

“Oh, I have to go… now,” Shaw explained. “I have this thing. Reese, I have a thing with Reese. He’s such a pain in the ass with his meetings,” she stammered.

“Well, I’m going to the office,” Root said, not catching on yet.

“That’s the thing, right? It’s not even at the office!” Shaw said, as if she didn’t just flame Root’s curiosity.

“Where is it?” Root asked, confused.

“It’s at a place…,” Shaw said and forgot that she wasn’t good at thinking fast on her feet unless she was being sarcastic. “That’s the really annoying part. He won’t tell me. I have to go meet him now and then, he’ll tell me.” Realizing she was simply digging herself in deeper, Shaw decided to yell her way to the elevator and leave. “I don’t know why you keep him. He’s good at what he does, but he really can be so bossy and quite at the same time,” she said which took her to the elevator. “I’ll see you at work. Martine is waiting for you,” she shouted as the door closed and she leaned back against the wall like she had just escaped.

Then, and only then, did she realize Reese would be at work and Root was bound to see him. She stamped her feet in the elevator because she was getting frustrated. The doorman asked her if she was okay.
She assured him she was. He only had to look at her t-shirt to doubt that.

Fusco was waiting outside as instructed. “Nice message, Shaw,” he noted.

“This is exactly what I want to convey to the world today,” she barked.

Today? I’m surprised you don’t have that tattooed somewhere,” her friend declared.

“Are you going to help me, or what?” Sameen said.

“I’m here, ain’t I?” Fusco pointed out. “Now, look, I’ve done this kind of thing before. So, first you gotta tell me what you have in mind.”

Sameen didn’t care for any operation where someone else had the upper hand, but she had to make an exception because she wanted to get this right.

“I don’t know,” she admitted, stopping on the street corner and looking around. “Something really nice.”

“Oh, that narrows it down,” Fusco commented and witnesses thought she growled at him. “Come on, I know a guy who can help us.”

“What does that mean, Fusco? You know a guy? I don’t want something that fell off a truck!”

Lionel shook his head. “Would I help you get a fenced engagement ring, Shaw? Come on, Princess Charming,” he called.

Amazingly, Shaw followed.

Chapter Text

Reese looked down at the text from Shaw that simply stated he could not be at work. The man of few words wasn’t about to figure this out in text, so he called her. Sameen told him that she had explained her absence at work this morning by saying she was at an offsite meeting with him. “So I can’t be here because you’re playing hooky?” he pointed out.

“Yes,” Shaw replied.

“Where would you like me to go?” he inquired and Sameen felt the need to disclose what a dangerous question that was.

“I don’t think you have time to bust balls this morning,” Fusco snapped and now Reese knew that she was with the good detective.

“You’re playing hooky with Lionel?” Reese asked and then heard his poor friend’s arm get smacked for being loud. “How long will this take, Shaw?”

Putting pressure on Sameen to complete a task she knew nothing about only served to make her more frustrated. “THIS is why I am wearing this shirt!” she said to her friend who shook his head. “Not long, okay, Reese? Pretend Carter wants to go shopping and hide somewhere.” She hung up, pushing her phone in her back pocket.

“You didn’t get that memo about treating people who were doing you favors nicely, did you? Too busy picking out that t-shirt maybe?” Lionel suggested.

“Are you going to help me?” Shaw asked because there was time later to review her character flaws.

“Come on,” Lionel said, walking to their destination.

Minutes later, the stocky detective and his petite friend, both wearing dark sunglasses and matching swaying gaits, walked into the jewelry store.

“Detective!” the owner said when he saw Lionel. “It has been too long. What can I help you with today,” he said before sizing up the couple.

“We’re looking for an engagement ring,” Lionel said in a low voice, even though the store was empty.

“Oh, of course. Congratulations,” he gushed. “You’re a very lucky woman. The detective …”

“What?” Shaw barked, just catching on to his meaning.

“OH! Oh, God no,” Lionel protested, even though he liked that someone thought he would be with a woman as hot as Shaw. “We’re friends,” he explained.

“Friends make the best lovers,” the jeweler pointed out.

“Make him stop,” Sameen demanded.

“No, Antonio, this is my friend, Sameen. She is getting engaged. Not to me,” Fusco said, taking Shaw by the shoulders and putting her right in front of the shop owner.

Now the man could see Sameen’s t-shirt. “This is a time to express your love, not your dissatisfaction with the human race,” he pointed out and now Lionel had to step back in front of Shaw to protect the man.

“Could you show us … some rings,” Lionel begged.

“Come into my office and we’ll talk. Then, I will know what kind of person is going to wear this ring,” the expert explained.

Before she could utter her favorite threat, Lionel grabbed Sameen by the shoulders and whispered that every jewelry store had cameras that were on twenty-four seven. He wanted her to choose her actions wisely.

The only thing that softened Sameen’s demeanor was answering the man’s questions about her intended. “Tell me about her,” he said and Shaw slowed down and relaxed. “For example, what did you think the first time you met her?”

“I thought she was annoying,” Shaw said truthfully and Lionel nudged her. “What? That’s what I thought.

The man laughed uncomfortably. “Okay, then, what was she like on your first date.”

“She tazed me...,” the honest woman continued to make her point, but Lionel shouted over her.

“I THINK YOU MEAN ADJECTIVES, right, Antonio?” Fusco smiled and the man nodded his head.

Sameen looked at Lionel, wondering when he got to be so bossy. “Okay, well, she’s … just the kindest, sweetest, smartest person I know. We shouldn’t even be together. I mean, I’m rough and she’s calm; I’m incredibly sane and she’s … wow, some days, she’s out there. Still, she makes me… (cough)… whole,” Shaw said in spite of how uncomfortable it was to say that to a stranger.

“We want something perfect,” Lionel added and Shaw smiled because she knew he really was the best person to help her.

For the next hour the man discussed the differences in diamonds and settings and much to Fusco’s surprise, Shaw sat there quietly and attentively. She would look at a setting and ask Lionel what he thought. Finally, the selection was made. The master jeweler said he would start working on it right away and would call Sameen when it was ready.

“He is a very good friend to you, no?” Antonio asked Shaw.

Sameen looked over at the man who had seen her at her worst. “Yeah, he is,” Shaw smiled and that simple compliment would keep Fusco on cloud nine for months. Deep down, he knew how Shaw really felt; but it was nice to hear it.

“I’m glad you finally listened to me,” Lionel teased her when they stepped out into the late morning sun.

“Yeah, well, you were right; it is time,” Shaw said, trying to push away any emotion that brought up. She shoved her hands into her pockets and stood there with Fusco.

“So, when’s it gonna happen?” Fusco asked.

Sameen hadn’t thought that far ahead. “I… don’t know. Soon, I guess.”

“Shaw, you got to set it up. Do you want to put the ring in a glass of champagne or a fortune cookie…,” he suggested.

“She could choke!” the ever practical woman noted.

“Yeah, okay, so we’ll work on the actual event then,” Fusco said, feeling he had already taxed the romance out of Shaw for one day.

Sameen was an expert at compartmentalizing things, so she didn’t look at all suspicious when she returned. Lionel, on the other hand, was an open book – screaming PLEASE READ ME!

“Well, you look happy today, Detective,” Martine noticed and then turned to Sameen. “Love the shirt.”

“See?” Shaw said to Fusco who suggested she turn it inside out on the way there. “Now, where is she?” she asked of the woman, that most mornings, she dreaded seeing.

“Who?” Martine asked.

“The party animal from last night. She never texted me…,” and then she heard what she just said. “I mean… about today and my schedule.”

Martine stared at Shaw, not saying a word about the soft spot she just exposed to them. “She’s here,” she said.

Right on cue, the woman appeared.

“Oh!” Janine said from down the hallway when she noticed Shaw and the t-shirt.

“Here’s the real test, Shaw,” Fusco smiled.

“Is that…? Is that because of…?” Janine began and couldn’t say ‘me’ out of fear Shaw would affirm it was. “Of last night?’ she finally picked.

“Last night? No, it’s because … of every day,” Shaw smiled, looking down at the graphic tee.

“But… but it’s not true, is it?” Janine asked, getting closer now.

“Here we go,” Fusco said, smiling because he knew this woman was like water; seeping into every nook and cranny of Shaw’s logic.

“Is it true? Yes, it’s true?” Shaw retorted and wondered how anyone could question it.

The assistant walked over now into Shaw’s personal space, and pulled the shirt out at its bottom. “No,” she concurred. “It’s giving off the wrong message.”

“No, it’s the right message,” Shaw said, pulling her shirt back. “This is exactly the message I want to give off.”

“So much negativity, don’t you think?” Fusco stirred the pot more.

“Well, it’s not just that; it’s an untruth,” Janine reasoned. “Take it off.”

It was hard to say whose head snapped around faster; Fusco’s or Shaw’s.

“Excuse me?” Shaw said and both Martine and Fusco stood at attention in case they needed to intervene.

“That’s not you, Shaw,” Janine reasoned and sincerely meant it. “Come on; I’ll find you something else,” the assistant said and went off to find something.

Shaw looked around for her support, but it seemed no one was willing to take on the mini-Shaw who was still directing Shaw to follow. “Root was fine with this,” she pointed out to everyone.

“Root would be fine if all you wore was your underwear,” Fusco pointed out and Martine had to agree.

“Fine!” Shaw said. “I know who will give me her honest opinion on this,” and she pointed right at Fusco when she said that because she was going to see his girlfriend.

When Lionel realized where she was going, he decided he had a lot of paperwork to do at the station.

Before Sameen could reach Iris’ office, Reese saw her in the hallway. “Shaw,” he said glancing down for a second to see the apparel. “In a good mood?”

“If everyone believed my message, I would be,” she stormed off and walking in on the therapist.

Iris had made it a point in her notes to talk to Sameen about barging in. It was a work in progress.

“What do you think when you read this?” Shaw said, pushing her chest out for the therapist to read. Iris stood up and walked around her desk to get a closer look. Although – the bold, black block lettering made it easy to see from far away.

“I think you’re making a statement,” Iris said clearly.

“And does it offend you?” Shaw asked, closing the door.

“I’m not easily offended,” Iris answered.

“Yes, it’s one of the things I like about you. No drama,” Shaw said. “So, do you think I should take it off?”

“I’d like to hear why you chose to wear it before I answer that,” Iris said, even though she was never going to answer that.

“Okay, that’s fair,” Shaw said and walked over to take her seat on the couch. “Because I wanted people to stay away from me today.”

“So, you wore a t-shirt that says; I HATE EVERYONE; hoping everyone would keep their distance,” Iris noted and sat across from Sameen.

“Yes, after last night, I decided it was the perfect day to wear it,” Shaw explained.

“What happened last night?” Iris naturally asked and Shaw frowned that she gave that one up so easily.

“We took Janine out to find her someone like me; well, we thought we did, but it turned out, after several hours, that she didn’t need our help. She was doing fine on her own,” Shaw summed up.

“That was very thoughtful of all of you,” Iris slipped because she knew where her boyfriend was last night.

Sameen took that in and thought about it. “You know what it is, Doc? People… are… soooo needy.”

“A human attribute,” the therapist agreed.

“Well, shouldn’t they get them all in order? Take out one or two a day; at most?” Shaw complained.

“Do you feel responsible to meet the needs of the many?” Iris asked.

“No, I just don’t want to hear about them,” Shaw said.

“Because you feel responsible in some way,” Iris reframed the question.

“Yes,” Shaw said because it sounded like a different question.

“How does that feel?” Iris asked, and now Shaw knew she was knee-deep into a session.

“It feels like I need to let everyone know …,” and she pointed to her shirt.

“But why do you feel responsible?” Iris asked.

Geez, this woman is stubborn,’ Sameen thought to herself, but it was written all over her face. “Because I’m stronger and can get things done and won’t let my feelings get in the way of accomplishing what I need to do.”

“You are very accomplished,” Iris said.

“And I need to concentrate on Root. She’s got a lot on her plate now. And I realized something last night, Doc,” Shaw shared now that her t-shirt issue was settled, or so she thought.

“What’s that?” Iris asked with great interest.

“I sat with all of our friends, who are really good people, you know? And I thought how fortunate I am to have them. Don’t tell them that, ok?” Sameen asked the therapist.

“Never,” Iris promised.

“And then, on top of all of that, I have Root. And I realized I would give up everything just to be with her. That I want to be with her the rest of my life,” Shaw said, looking off in the distance.

“I’m glad to hear that, Sameen,” Iris said.

“I’m going to ask her … soon,” Sameen let out even though she hadn’t planned on it.

It was the first time Sameen ever saw Iris come close to being emotional. Her light eyes watered ever so slightly as she smiled. “That’s wonderful,” she said and her voice cracked just a little.

The positive energy Sameen felt from saying those words about Root contradicted the t-shirt message. “I’ll keep you posted,” she said as she rose to leave.

“Please do,” Iris said and got up from her chair.

Sameen went to shake the woman’s hand who helped her get this far in her emotional journey, but it didn’t seem enough. Her body moved closer, but then she questioned if you were supposed to hug your therapist.
“Oh, hell,” Shaw said and pulled a surprised Iris into her and hugged her – hard. Within seconds, she pushed the woman back, still holding onto her forearms, to make sure she was steady. Then, without a word and only a nod, Sameen thanked Iris and left.
Iris was so taken with this great gesture that she had to hold onto the chair for fear she’d fall over.

It would seem no one was immune to Shaw’s touch.

Shaw left the office in what would be one of her shortest sessions to date. She walked out of there feeling elated because that’s how she felt when she talked about Root. Root just wasn’t her safe space; she was her shield against all the other annoying things about humanity.

Janine was right – the shirt wasn’t really what she wanted to convey.

She walked into her cubicle, ripped off the shirt and walked through the opening to her assistant’s office, expecting her replacement outfit to be there.

“Shaw,” Reese said because he had been summoned there by Janine. He had looked long enough to know Sameen was standing there in her black sports bra. Now, his eyes were glued to the ceiling.

“Reese,” Shaw said because nothing about her toned body embarrassed her.

“I knew you’d agree,” Janine bubbled as she took the only article of clothing that she had been able to find from Reese’s stiff hand.

Shaw was enjoying John’s sheer embarrassment and instantly held up her arms for Janine to put the shirt on her. “You okay, there, Reese?” she asked, now that she was clothed.

John could tell from her tone how much she was reveling in his discomfort, but the tables were about to turn. “Nice team spirit there, Shaw. We have a meeting now.”

The smug look on Shaw’s face turned to a frown when she tried to figure out what had him so cheery. She looked down at her new apparel, which felt stiff and uncomfortable.

“I’m sorry, it’s all I could find,” Janine apologized of the white polo, emblazoned with the BEAR SECURITY TEAM logo.

Shaw considered how annoyed she could be, but decided against it. “No, that’s okay, I’m just going to work it,” she said, pulling on the material and leaving for her meeting. “Stay the course, Sameen; stay the course,” she repeated one of Root’s mantras to her.

While Root was preparing to update the security team on the IT’s new findings, there was another meeting going on somewhere in the city.

“It would seem that Ms. Groves presented us with more problems than we had originally planned for,” the septuagenarian said as he stood at the head of the table. “I think I’ve demonstrated that I am willing to deal with any team that fails,” he warned to the people who had been assembled there as the next team.

“Mr. Greer, we have the feed now,” an IT person interrupted him.

“Put it up here,” Greer instructed him and within seconds, the team was looking at the images on the large screen behind him.

“What are we looking at, Sir?” one of the women asked.

“This is Sameen Shaw, shopping for what would appear to be some sort of jewelry. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is how we are going to get Ms. Groves to cooperate with us. We’re going to take her crown jewel,” Greer smiled confidently.

Chapter Text

Heads did turn when Sameen walked into the security meeting and not for the usual reasons. “Nice shirt, Shaw!” a couple of the members said, thinking she had finally worn the uniform of her own volition.

“Okay, okay, losers; don’t put all your hopes in one basket,” Shaw reminded them, and confused them, at the same time.

The only thing that made her not regret taking off her graphic t-shirt was the smile Root gave her when she entered the room. “I like it on you,” said the woman who never cared for uniforms.

Root began the update under the pretense of hackers trying to infiltrate the BEAR systems. After the dramatic kidnapping, she had to come up with some reason why someone would want to take her. People and the press assumed it was for ransom or to gain the latest technological breakthroughs that BEAR was working on. Very few knew it was by a clandestine group trying to gain access to the machine.

Security was increased any place that Root went and if Shaw was absent, Martine or Reese were in her place. Root was not to be left alone.

The meeting concluded and Root slowly ran her finger of the logo on the left breast pocket of Shaw’s shirt. “I really like this,” Root said and her expression told Shaw it had nothing to do with the apparel.

“I took… the other… one off,” Shaw coughed.

“So, how did your meeting go with Reese?” Root smiled.

“It was good,” Shaw smiled, shoving her hands in her pockets and looking around.

Such a terrible liar,’ Root thought, but would never rush Shaw to tell her the truth.

Root knew if Sameen wasn’t telling her something, she had a good reason. That didn’t mean she didn’t want Sameen to know that the danger posed by Greer’s group extended to her. So, after the update meeting, Root asked to see Shaw upstairs.

“Nice cover,” Shaw said of Root’s ploy.

“I need every one on their toes, and I feel bad not being able to tell them the real reasons. But I came as close as I could, I hope,” Root considered as they sat on the couch in her office.

“I think everyone understood,” Shaw assured her.

“Listen, Sameen, I need to you be extra cautious,” Root started her request slowly.

“I won’t leave your side, and if I do, Martine or Reese will be there,” Shaw assured her.

“Yes, I know, but I’m thinking you could do with some protection,” Root said and as many times as she rehearsed that in her head, it still didn’t come out right.

It was met with the predictable response. “I don’t need protection, okay? I do the protecting!”

Root was not surprised that Sameen took it that way. “Of course,” Root said, trying to soothe her girlfriend’s easily ruffled feathers. “I’m just asking you to be careful… for me.” Root had to douse the flames of irritation in Sameen, by making it a personal request.

“Sure,” Sameen said, because there was little she’d deny Root.

The machine was working hard at its twofold mission of keeping tabs on anyone trying to find her, and trying to figure out what the other cluster of machines were up to.

“Data mining,” Root had told her. “But to what end?”

The machine wasn’t the only one on a secret mission. When they were home that night, Sameen waited until Root was singing in the shower before she confided in Bear.

“Don’t go all gaga on me, okay, but I’m getting something special for Root soon and I need you to guard it,” Sameen whispered to the dog.

He howled his question.

“You don’t know what guard means?” she said back in disbelief. “I will want you to protect it. Like you do with Root,” she explained rather than insult him because there was no time for that.

He barked his addition to that thought.

“You do not protect me!” Shaw argued. “What is it with everyone around here? I do the protecting, remember? Like when that poodle in the park was annoying you because it was low to the ground and could… you know… ,” Sameen reminded him. “Never mind. It freaked you out and I had to tell the owner to get her away from you.”

Bear said he didn’t remember that at all, and besides, it was a male dog.

“See? You just tripped yourself up there, didn’t you?” said the woman who no longer questioned her sanity when talking to the canine.

Root emerged from the shower and Sameen grabbed a magazine in an attempt to look nonchalant. She looked over at Bear, who caught on that he was supposed to look like nothing was going on. So, he started to stare at the ceiling.

If Root thought Shaw was bad at lying, Bear was even worse.

Root smiled to herself at the duo. “Let’s put your medicine on,” she said, as she sat next to Shaw. Sameen gladly pulled the company polo shirt off and offered it to Bear.

“Even he doesn’t want it,” she said when he refused.

Root slowly lifted the gauze and noticed how well Shaw was healing. “Either you have incredible restorative powers, or I’m a damn good nurse,” Root shared as she applied the salve.

“You are good,” Shaw smiled to Root, “… but I bruise easy, heal quick.”

“I prefer no more bruises, okay?” Root asked, as she kissed the skin around the wound on her shoulder.

“Remember that the next time your mouth is on my neck,” Shaw teased.

“I’ll have to do a better job of hiding them,” Root said and put her hands in areas that she promised wouldn’t show.

“Don’t be so sure of that one,” Sameen suggested when Root’s hand was between her thighs.

Root pulled her back into her arms, pretending to be bothered by that. “You are mine, Shaw. All of you; every square inch of you – it’s all mine,” Root said slowly in Sameen’s ear.

The words were sweet, but the message reached far past their hearts; igniting flames deep inside. They took turns declaring which parts of the other’s body was theirs, until the two fell asleep, covered in kisses.

The couple woke up the next morning ready to meet the demands of the day. Over breakfast, Sameen shared that she thought Root’s theory about Janine was right.

“She was very bossy yesterday,” Shaw said over waffles.

“With you?” Isabelle asked amazed.

“Yes! Can you believe it?” Sameen responded.

“She’s trying to be like Shaw,” Root updated the chef.

“Ooohh,” Isabelle said as if that made perfect sense.

“I don’t get it,” Sameen admitted and didn’t care to be enlightened because she was enjoying her breakfast too much.

They finished eating and got ready for work. “I will see you later,” Sameen said to Bear as she winked. She had gotten a text that informed her that the jewelry was ready. “Hey, let’s do dinner tonight. Somewhere nice,” Shaw said, because that’s as far as she got with the event planning. Whenever she gave it thought, she would ask – ‘how hard could this be?’ and in true Shaw fashion, answered that it wouldn’t be hard at all.

Fusco was going to disagree.

“Do you want me to pick it up?” he asked when he was having second breakfast with her that morning.

“No, thanks. I want to make sure it’s perfect,” Shaw said, eating an English muffin with scrambled egg and sausage.

“So, what are your plans?” he asked, diving into his fruit salad. “To pop the question,” he elaborated as he looked around, making people look at how suspicious he appeared.

“If you ever go undercover, I’m making an office bet of how fast you get caught,” she mocked him. “And how hard could this be? Your statement says it all,” Shaw declared and added, “Pop-the-question,” using her hands to make a popping motion. “You just ask.”

Fusco pushed back in his seat, the disdain evident on his face. “Have I taught you anything?” he asked seriously.

“Wha?” Shaw asked, her mouth full of delicious food that she was certain he was about to ruin.

“You gotta be romantic. Women like that,” was out of his mouth before he realized it. Now it was Shaw who pushed back in her seat.

“Excuse me?” she said, her head moving back and forth.

“Okay, I know you’re a woman, too; somewhere in there,” he smiled at Sameen. “But Root is romantic and you can’t just throw the ring down and ask her to marry you.”

“I wasn’t going to throw it,” Shaw said defensively.

“Good, so what are you going to do?” Fusco pressed.

“I… was… going to go… to dinner,” Shaw said and now that she put it out there, it did seem flimsy.

“Wow, you figured out the food part,” Fusco remarked.

“Fusco!” Shaw warned him because he wasn’t helping.

“Okay, look. Dinner is fine, but you have to figure out how you want to ask her. After dinner, before dessert, on the way home?”

Every time Lionel asked a question, it sounded more and more complicated. “Look, I got this, okay? I’m going to ask her… after dinner… before dessert… and I’m going to speak from my heart.”

That part, Lionel liked. “Okay, good. That’s good, Shaw,” he affirmed. “When are you getting the ring?”

“I’m going right after breakfast. Martine will cover for me and I’ll be back before lunch,” Shaw said because her schedule was divided into meal times.

Fusco felt like the proud brother as he reached across the table and squeezed Shaw’s hand. “What are you doing?” Sameen asked.

“I’m proud of you, Shaw. That’s all,” he assured her.

“Okay, but no hand holding until the ring is on her finger, okay?” Sameen suggested because she didn’t want him to attract attention.

“Got it,” Fusco said as they finished their breakfast.

Minutes later, Fusco went to work and Sameen traveled uptown to the jewelry store.

The jeweler sent her a text,” the man updated Greer.

“Good,” the older man smiled. “Alert Mr. Lambert. I don’t want anything to go wrong this time,” he said in his gravelly voice.

The man turned and typed into his computer. “Mr. Lambert says he is ready.”

“Remind him, I want her unharmed,” Greer said to the underling who then sent that message.

“There’s plenty of time to hurt Ms. Shaw later - if we don’t get what we want.”

Chapter Text

Sameen had never felt more right about doing something in her life. The closer she got to the jewelry store, the more excited she felt. Antonio was waiting on a customer, but as soon as she entered, he waved to her.

“I’ll look around. Please take your customer,” the British accented man smiled.

Antonio thanked him and went to the back to get Shaw’s purchase. In his absence, the other customer walked closer to Sameen, all the time looking at the jewelry in the glass encasement.

“I’ll never find the right ring,” he seemed to say to no one.

Shaw smiled, but didn’t take up the conversation. She had a one track mind and it was to get the ring, and get out.

When Antonio returned, he took out the brightest diamond Shaw ever saw. She had seen similar jewels in drug deals overseas, but never one so perfectly set and surrounded by other smaller diamonds. “It’s is one of a kind,” he assured the woman.

“Wow,” the other customer said. “I’m sorry, but the light hit it and I couldn’t help but notice it.”

Something about this whole thing was unnerving Sameen. She smiled at the guy she was sizing up in the expensive suit. The way his jacket pulled, she was certain he had a gun. And he was invading personal space on purpose.

“Thanks,” Shaw said and smiled at Antonio to put it in a box. She thanked the man, took her purchase and stepped outside. Lambert continued talking to Antonio about rings.

Shaw called Fusco and asked him to send a cop car to the jewelry store – just in case. Then, she continued on her way.

A block away, on a side street, she heard someone call out to her: “You dropped this,” the accented man called and had something in his hand. Sameen tightened her grip on her gun and considered this might be a robbery.

But it was so much worse.

Sameen turned to see the familiar face holding out her receipt. And then she felt the needle being jabbed into the side of her neck … in broad daylight.

“Are you okay, miss?” Lambert called out and asked someone to call an ambulance for the woman who just fainted into his accomplice’s arms. Within seconds, the ambulance was there and two EMT’s were putting an unconscious woman into their vehicle.

The Good Samaritan told them that she had fainted. They said they would take care of it from there.

And by that they meant – they were taking her to the predetermined location.

Then, Lambert and the man who had injected their victim walked down into the subway station. No one was worried that any camera caught their images because Greer’s machine had seen to that.

An hour later, Sameen came to in a chair, in a small room. Before opening her eyes, she tried to establish anything she could with her other senses. This place smelled clean and the temperature was regulated. It wasn’t noisy like an office, but it wasn’t quite like a hospital. She felt the restraints and knew this wasn’t good. The only piece of good news that she was sure of was that the ring was still in her pocket. Or at least the box was.

Sameen opened her eyes and realized she was alone. She struggled, but her feet and hands were restrained. As soon as she drew her first conscious breath, Lambert came into the room. Sameen shook her head just the slightest. Her instincts had been right.

“You’re probably kicking yourself right now, Ms. Shaw, aren’t’ you? You suspected something in the store, but you didn’t act on it. Probably thought you were anxious or excited about your purchase,” he taunted her and established for Sameen, what kind of tactic he was going to use. He was going to try to press her buttons. She hardly listened as she planned her escape.

“Don’t bother, Ms. Shaw. Within a short time, your gallant boss will charge through those doors to save you. The great Sameen Shaw being rescued. Now, somewhere in that militarily trained heart, that’s got to bother you,” Lambert continued.

Sameen didn’t say a word; in fact, she hardly looked at him. She was trying to remember anything she could about what happened. She knew she was drugged and an ambulance had taken her away because she heard sirens.

“We’ve gotten to know you better, Ms. Shaw,” Lambert said in a friendly voice. “My predecessor miscalculated how dangerous you could be. I won’t make that mistake. But you see, I know your weakness and any minute, I’m going to call her. In the end, she’ll do as I say and come here alone. And when she sees how easily I can torture you, she’ll give us what we want. You see, last time we kidnapped the wrong woman. You have experience in that rescue sort of thing, so you knew how to stay calm and act. But when Ms. Groves sees you…,” Lambert foretold, “… I don’t think she’ll be able to be so calm about it.”

Shaw pulled at her restraints a little to see how difficult it would be to get out.

“Ah, ah,” Lambert warned her. “We placed them where they wouldn’t hurt your cuts. So barbaric, Mr. Blackwell was. He was, unfortunately, a tad sadistic,” Lambert said in a tone that sounded like he was apologizing. “I’ve decided the best way to get you to cooperate is through drugs.” He nodded towards a mirror and within seconds, a woman dressed in a white uniform, came in. “This won’t last long; just long enough for me to contact Ms. Groves and tell her where to come and collect you. Or your body; depending on whether or not she cooperates.”

Sameen still wouldn’t look at him, but grimaced when the nurse injected the drug into her neck. She fought it as hard as she could, but slumped over in her seat once it took effect.

“I do hope Ms. Groves cooperates this time. I would so hate to hurt that beautiful face,” Lambert said, picking Sameen up by her chin and letting her head drop.

Back at BEAR, Root had texted Sameen about lunch and the reply said she would meet her outside the dining hall. The CEO was about to leave when her phone beeped indicating a call was coming through. It was from Sameen’s number, or so she thought.

“Hi, Sweetie,” Root cooed into the phone.

“Ms. Groves, Sweetie, as your refer to Ms. Shaw, is secured at our location. She was abducted this morning, without so much as a whimper I’d like to point out,” Lambert announced.

“Who is this?” Root said and began tapping into her laptop to activate the phone beacon.

“Don’t bother trying to locate her phone, MS. Groves. I spoofed her number to make sure you would pick up. She’s unharmed, I assure you. But that isn’t a permanent condition. You know what we want. If you alert anyone, like the NYPD or your own security team, harm will come to her. Are you prepared, Ms. Groves, to play nice?”

Root’s mind raced even while she agreed to do as he asked.

“You’re probably wondering why I don’t just negotiate the machine’s location for Ms. Shaw’s release,” Lambert said and this told Root she was dealing with someone smart and devious. “That’s because my employer believes that you will be better motivated if you can see the pain that can be inflicted upon your friend.”

“I’ll do as you say,” Root said as she turned on the second set of cameras in her office.

“Good. I’ll send you the instructions on where you should come, Ms. Groves,” Lambert said and hung up.

Then, he went over to the desk of his IT staff member and watched Root in her office. “Keep an eye on her,” he said, “…make sure she does not contact anyone.”

The man moved in closer to the screen and did as he was told. The only thing he noticed was Root going over to the long credenza and pouring water into a glass and drinking it. Then, she took the empty glass and refilled it; put seemed to change her mind. She poured the water back into the pitcher and walked over to the window. There were other little gestures that the IT man assumed were fidgeting or anxious behaviors as she waited for the location.

Lambert sent Root the information and the man could see her look at her phone.

Root put on her jacket, taking a moment to pull at the lapel and button the buttons. All motions that went unsuspected to the men watching her. But when Reese checked the camera feed later; those gestures would indicate ‘4AF’ and he would know there was an emergency.

“Scramble her reception,” Lambert told the IT man and as soon as he did, Reese and Martine lost the signal that had established on Root’s phone.

Root walked to Grand Central as instructed and waited by the clock in the center of the main room. A cleaning person approached and picked up some trash nearby. He took out a rag and started to wipe the counter – leaving behind a note for Root. She was instructed to go the Vanderbilt side of the train station and enter the Campbell Bar. She was to order a drink at the bar – specifically white wine – and someone would come and get her.

Sameen came to with a start. “You’re recovery time is remarkable, Ms. Shaw,” Lambert said. “Ms. Groves is on her way over now. A little detour through Grand Central and then up here to the apartment.”

Finally, Sameen decided to speak. “What is it that you want from her?” she asked.

“Oh, Ms. Shaw,” he smiled. “Don’t play dumb; it’s unbecoming.”

Shaw’s heart rate increased, but it didn’t show on her face. She still appeared calm as she kept her breath steady.

“We need Ms. Groves’ machine to expand. We have limited capability now; a stream of city cameras, the ability to hack into some office building cameras like at BEAR. But we need to expand to really accomplish our mission,” Lambert felt it safe to share.

The fact that he was willing to tell her this, didn’t only tell Sameen how far along they were.

It told her they were never going to let her or Root leave.

Chapter Text

If Greer’s people thought they learned something about Shaw from the last time they met; Root was certain she learned something about them. She knew that people who want technological power have a myriad of ways of getting what they want. Given the activity that she, Harry, and Azar had been monitoring, Root knew they had recently acquired the ability to take over the street cameras in the City. Fearing that they could have accessed the cameras at BEAR, Root decided her every move had to be calculated.

Root decided that while they might be tracking her, they wouldn’t get that her sequence of behavioral moves in her office, would tell Reese and Martine that Shaw was in trouble.  The odd display of water pouring and then buttoning a jacket that she would leave in the lobby, were all clues for the security team to figure out.  Water was Shaw’s astrological sign; the jacket she put on, but then took off, was code for danger.

Before Root left the office, she said goodbye to Bear, using the Danish word for ‘emergency’.  All the time it seemed she was telling him to stay and hugging him goodbye.  In reality, she was passing him critical information.

As soon as Root left the building, Bear went to Reese and Martine.  Within minutes, they viewed her actions on a protected network and deciphered their meaning.  Root and the Security Team had outlined different scenarios in case of another attack by someone looking for the machine. 

“Operation Blind Man?” Martine asked and Reese nodded.  She went to get the props while John tapped into his phone to see where Root was headed. 

Shaw would have a lot of questions for Reese when she found out that Root was being tracked by her earrings and not a device somewhere injected into her flesh. 

Seconds later, John took Bear with the accoutrements he would need to appear as if the canine was his Seeing Eye companion, and followed the flashing dot on his phone.  Martine loaded schematics to his phone once he knew where Root was and now all he had to do was wait. 

Root had taken three of the most important things she could take with her; her attitude and two guns. Now, she sat at the bar as instructed, dressed in a low-cut purple, sleeveless dress and high heels. Hardly the outfit conducive to rescuing someone.

When the camera revealed that she was indeed, alone, Lambert sent someone for her. The woman approached her as Root sat there, legs crossed and calm.

“Ms. Groves?” the woman said and Root smiled and followed her. They walked to an elevator and went upstairs. Then, Root followed as the woman walked short distance down an empty hallway until they reached a door. It was a section of the grand transportation hub that few knew existed until a few years ago.

The Campbell Apartment,” Root said and smiled. Root was very fond of the long forgotten landmarks of New York City. Many of them became her refuge when she was living on the streets years ago.

Inside the large apartment, Lambert’s phone alerted him that Root was there. “Right on time,” he said to Sameen who decided she would take pleasure in hurting this guy. “Now, let me tell you how this is going to go. I believe in full disclosure,” he smiled cynically at Sameen. “I’m going to tell your boss; your girlfriend and might I add,” he said, putting his hand on the box in Shaw’s pants pocket, “… your intended; that you’re in here unharmed as long as she takes us to the machine. If she refuses, and I seriously doubt that, I’m going to open that window over there so she can witness you being tortured.”

Shaw just stared at him without flinching.

“I’m betting she caves before you do, Ms. Shaw,” he added because there was something about Sameen he actually admired.

Lambert greeted Root the way admirers meet their favorite people. “Ms. Groves, it is a pleasure. I am Jeremy Lambert,” he said as he walked into the area where she was. He signaled to the woman to pat her down for weapons. “You understand of course,” he said apologetically.

The woman removed the two guns from her purse.

“Can’t blame a girl for trying,” Root smiled at her host. “I want to see Sameen,” she said after the woman took the weapons away.

“Of course, of course,” Lambert said and put his arm out for her to walk ahead. “You’ll find that we’ve taken good care of Ms. Shaw,” he assured her, “…except for the occasional drug injection to keep her cooperative.”

Sameen had taught Root that one of the first things an enemy operative does, if they’re not already killing you, is to find your weaknesses and press down so hard, it makes you crack. Root knew this is what Lambert was doing. She bit her inner cheek to maintain her stalwart expression on her face.

He took Root to a room outside the smaller one that Shaw was in. He motioned for the woman to open the curtain so that Root could see Sameen secured in the chair, but unharmed. “We took caution not to apply those restraints to her injures,” he noted as if he knew Root would appreciate that. “So, let’s get down to business, shall we?” he asked and sat at a table.

“Release her,” Root said as she took her seat.

“Tell me where the machine is located first,” Lambert smiled.

“Tell me what you’re doing with all this hardware, Mr. Lambert,” Root said back, crossing her legs and putting her pocketbook on the table. “Besides being a voyeur.”

“I understand your natural curiosity, Ms. Groves. Mr. Greer has authorized me to tell you enough to whet your appetite,” Lambert said agreeably. “He came across a program, many years ago, stolen by a CIA operative. The operative handed over the program and kept a little something on the side; the true nature of the machine. Eventually, they sold it and it’s been handed over piecemeal to different owners until Mr. Greer acquired it. It’s a shadow of its former self, he believes, and set out to reconstruct his piece with the more powerful engine. Hackers looking to make money, like your friend, set out to find it. All roads led to Manhattan, Ms. Groves. And all of Manhattan points to you, since you are the only one smart enough to recognize what the machine can do,” he explained. “So, now I’ve told you my story; you tell me yours. Where is the machine? Or shall I show you what we’re capable of doing to your friend?”

“What do you intend to do with such a massive machine?” Root asked, concentrating on her breathing.

“We’re going to create a better world, Ms. Groves and you could be a part of that, if you wish to work with us,” Lambert said. He had disagreed with Greer on that offer, but was told to extend it, nonetheless.

“You’re very kind to offer,” Root smiled. “But you see, any second Shaw is going to grow weary of her restraints and break out. Then, she’ll overpower that scrawny woman with the needle and come out here where, if you’re smart, you’ll start to worry.”

Lambert looked over at Shaw, who sat complacent in her chair. He looked back at Root and smiled. “They said you were a little crazy, Ms. Groves, but I had no idea how far your delusions took you. Now, you’re wasting my time,” he said in a much sharper tone and nodded to a large man to go into Shaw to convince Root they were serious.

“Perfect,” Root said because she knew once Shaw got angry, she’d be like a bull in a china shop and dispose of that man.

Lambert stared at Root, surprised she didn’t take him more seriously. “You’ve just lost your option,” he lectured Root as the man went inside the room. Root grimaced at what was coming next, but felt there was little she could do. She needed the door opened and she needed Shaw to free herself. She saw the force at which the man’s arm swung at Shaw’s head.

It hurt like hell. But as Root predicted, it was the impetus to make Sameen snap into action. When her head swung to the side from the blow, she came back with full force and picked up the chair and swung around, hitting the man with the legs. Then, she threw herself at him, catching him as he fell down. She broke the zip ties as he held onto the chair to get up. It was a combination of ballet and martial arts as Sameen took care of the man in a few blows.

Lambert called for help as Root sat there calmly. “I’d be very afraid if I were you,” she taunted Lambert.

“Ms. Groves! Are you insane? I have a dozen men on their way in to tear your friend apart; limb by limb. And then, Ms. Groves you will have nothing left to barter with and I will turn you over to them,” Lambert yelled.

“Ordinarily, I’d say that’s a great plan, but you’re missing the part where I came in here armed,” Root pointed out.

“You’re bluffing,” Lambert said because she had been checked.

“Have it your way,” Root smiled as she waited patiently. Sameen may have subdued her attacker, but there were more on the way. She couldn’t see Root through the one way mirror, but she knew she was somewhere nearby.
Shaw picked up the chair and smashed it into the mirror, breaking the glass.

“Now you’ve just made her angry,” Root said to Lambert whose men were running towards the inner area.

Then, they all heard it and stopped.

The explosion of a drone carried missile hitting a section of the building closest to the Campbell Apartment. It was small and would cause the least amount of damage, but Lambert didn’t know that. Chaos ensued, as Root predicted, which allowed her other weapon to get through. As people rushed to grab Sameen and Root, Reese and Bear made their way up in the elevator.  When it opened on the third floor, Bear got off.  “Here you go,” Reese said to him and handed him the device, which he deftly grabbed with his mouth.  “Three doors down,” Reese instructed based on Morse code from Root tapping her earring.  On her prior walk through the place, she noted which rooms had an accessible desktop.

Bear walked down the hallway, and entered the room, undetected. He sat there whimpering when spotted by one of Greer’s IT people. “Get out of here,” she called to Bear who put on his friendliest demeanor. “Where did you come from?” the woman asked and petted the seemingly lost and anxious dog. “Did that noise scare you?” she asked and Bear whimpered. All the time he was actually telling her that his pet caused that explosion.  “Where is your owner?” the woman asked because of Bear’s apparel that designated him as a helper. Her phone rang and orders were shouted to her to establish a reduction in power to prevent any damage to the program.  

“They’d have my head if I didn’t protect their precious machine,” she confided in her new found friend. He whined until she guessed he wanted water and got up to get him some. It took only a couple of minutes.

When she returned, she gave him the bowl of water. He barked, now that his mouth was empty, but she didn’t understand his question about whether it was tap or bottled water. She petted him affectionately and he thanked her.

“Where are you going?” she shouted when Bear took off. Then, she turned back to her computer screen and saw that files were being deleted. “What?” she asked as she pounded on keys, trying desperately to unlock them. It was too late.

She never noticed the canine saliva covered flash drive that was adeptly shoved into the CPU and causing the damage.

Bear made his way down the hallway as people scrambled to see what the damage was. He kept walking slowly, looking for Root's scent.

“Was that your attempt at scaring us, Ms. Groves,” Lambert asked, only smiling now that he was assured there was no damage done to the computer room.

“Yes,” Root said.

In the meantime, two more men were taken care of by Shaw and Lambert called for her to be drugged again.

Before that could happen, he got an emergency call.

“What do you mean?” he shouted when he was informed that the program seemed to be deleting files on its own. “PULL THE PLUG!” he shouted.

Root looked over and tilted her head and smiled. “Take her in there with Ms. Shaw,” he shouted to two large men. They grabbed Root roughly and brought her into Sameen. They pushed her through the door and shut it behind them.

“Root! Are you okay?” Sameen said as she rushed over to her.

“Yes, I’m fine,” Root said and took Sameen’s head in her hands and kissed her.

“Did they …?” Shaw asked, but looking at Root in high heels and a dress showed no signs of being roughed up.

“No, we were having a nice chat until a small missile caused a distraction,” Root explained, looking Shaw up and down. “Are you okay?”

“Yes,” Shaw assured her and started to look around for a way out.

“Give it a couple of minutes,” Root assured her. “Oh, here,” the taller woman said, as if she just remembered. “I brought you this,” she said, taking out a tiny tube of lip gloss and a credit card.

“You’re thinking about shopping for makeup at a time like this?” Shaw asked, unable to get the meaning.

“Oil for the lock,” Root said, handing the tube to Sameen. “Worth a shot,” she said when Sameen stood there motionless.

Shaw rolled her eyes, but wasn’t sure what else to do. She applied the oil and then tried to jimmy the lock with the card, as Root sat on the table watching.

“I really thought you’d be good at this,” Root said in a noncritical tone.

“Excuse me?” Shaw barked. “You give me a tube of lube and an Amex card and you expect me to be MacGyver?”

Getting Shaw upset was like rubbing two twigs together slowly. The point was to get her angry slowly, so she’d stop thinking and use her instinct.

“They’re going to come back in here and torture us,” Root pointed out.

“Thanks for the heads up, Captain Obvious,” Shaw said, out of patience. “Almost… got… it.”

The lock unlocked and the handle seemed to turn and then stopped.

“Step back,” Shaw said, and grabbed a chair to hit the person entering.

The door flew open and Shaw lunged, but no one was there.

“BEAR!” Root said excitedly. She had told him to follow her scent. Opening the door was simply what Bear did best.

“I see you finally understood how to guard,” Shaw said of the canine. He barked that he did.  “Let’s go,” she said and Root followed her out of the room. 

“Wait,” Root said as they entered the outer room she and Lambert had been talking in.  “We may need these,” she said, grabbing her guns that had been confiscated and placed in a drawer.  

“Two guns?” Shaw asked and would have rolled her eyes if there was time.

As soon as they entered the hallway, Shaw had to subdue one of the burly men sent back to guard them.  His cries of pain caused two more to rush down the hallway.

“It’s true,” noted Shaw, “… the bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

Root raised both guns and shot the oncoming men in the kneecaps. 

“Okay, that was kinda hot,” Shaw said of her girlfriend handling weapons so adeptly. 

Bear jumped up and pressed the button for the elevator.  Shaw held the door as Root fired two more times, taking down the two men rushing at them. 

In the meantime, Lambert was inside the computer room in a full-fledged panic.  “The police will be here! Mr. Greer says to let them go for now.”

It wasn’t until they were on the elevator without anyone trying to stop them, did the women realize something was amiss.  The elevator door opened on the bottom floor into the bar area where Root had first been when she arrived. 

“NYPD is on their way,” Shaw noted by the sound of the sirens approaching. 

“Find Reese,” Root instructed Bear who took off to do so. 

As soon as the missile hit, people evacuated the building. 

 Except for the elderly gentleman who sat at the bar where Root had been before.

“Let’s go,” Shaw said, but suddenly realized Root was not walking with her. “Root!” Shaw called, but she was slowly walking toward the man at the bar. Something had caught her attention.
“NYPD is going to be swarming this place soon,” Shaw informed Root. “Wait. Is that… Greer?” Shaw ran to catch up with Root who seemed to be like a moth drawn to the fire. Shaw had no way of knowing that it was what the man was holding that actually caught Root’s attention.

The man took a sip of his drink as if nothing was going on. Glass and broken furniture surrounded the tables; damage from the small explosion. The bartender asked if he wanted more and he waved the man off. Then, he turned to greet his guests.
“Miss Groves, Miss Shaw; it is truly a pleasure to meet you both,” John Greer said in the friendliest of tones.

“If you’re who I think you are, I’m about to change your mind,” Shaw said, getting so stiff that when Root put her hand on her arm, it felt like steel. Shaw’s head snapped to look at Root. What could she possibly be thinking?

“Go ahead, Miss Groves, take it. It’s yours,” he said of a notebook that was under his hand. He slid it across the bar a short distance.

“Where did you… ?” Root asked, almost afraid to touch the book.

“Oh, I know where you’ve been, Miss Groves,” the man smiled and Shaw stared at what Root was slowly picking up.

“What the hell is that?” Shaw demanded to know. The sirens were slowing down, announcing that the cops were approaching the building.

“Well, Miss Shaw, it’s an old diary of Miss Groves. She left it here many years ago when she was, what shall we say, visiting the Campbell Apartment? You used to stay here quite often, didn’t you, my dear?”

The man had just handed Root a piece of her history; an old journal that she wrote in. She wrote about her wildest dreams, her saddest nightmares, and her activities. When she left to live with Harry, she couldn’t find it. She made several trips back here to her secret place, but then construction took over and she could no longer access the places she used to.

“Growing up unloved is an awful thing,” Greer said and Shaw lunged at him, but he didn’t flinch. The bartender pulled out a Glock and aimed it at Shaw.

“I am going to take real pleasure in kicking your prehistoric sorry ass,” Shaw threatened Greer. She was willing to make an exception to her own moral code of not hurting the elderly. “Let’s go, Root,” Shaw demanded, but Root couldn’t move. She continued to stare at the book as if Greer had handed her - her own Pandora’s Box.

Shaw realized that this man was cleverer than either of them had given him credit for. He was disarming Root without so much as a weapon.

Greer may not have ascertained the location of the machine, but he got the next best thing.  He was harming her caretaker. 

“Each time I see you two, you surprise me. Eventually, Ms. Groves, we will figure out how you got to our machine and we will repair it. You see, machines are not like people; they can be restored after they’re damaged. A machine would never carry the feeling of being unloved around for years, causing it to do desperate things to relieve the pain of that feeling.”

Sameen calculated how fast the gunman would shoot her and if she could still throw Greer to the ground, ending his life.

“Have you told Miss Shaw all the things you did? I’m sure she’d be interested in knowing especially given what she had planned for you this evening,” Greer smirked.

Shaw had seen trained people dismantle another human being with words; and she knew instantly, Greer must have been trained by the best. One look at Root told Shaw that whatever he found out about her had just transported her back in time and stripped her of her armor.

“There’s no sense in drawing this out now.  The police will no doubt want to ask me about my offices and I will be more than happy to show them the damage to my high tech security business upstairs. Until we meet again,” John Greer said and actually had the nerve to bow his head to the couple before walking away.

“Shoot him!” Shaw said to Root, but she stood there motionless. 

“No,” Root finally uttered.  “We need him,” she said because without him, they may never know what was truly going on. 

 “What is this?” Shaw asked, wanting Root to start moving. Now that the bartender followed Greer out, the two women were there alone.

“An old diary,” Root smiled, but Shaw could see the painful affect the long forgotten journal had on her.

“We’ll talk about that later,” Shaw said, tugging on Root to leave. They did not need to be the last two people in the building when the NYPD arrived. Even pulling now, Shaw could tell Root seemed incapable of rushing. Finally, Sameen couldn’t take it. She stopped and turned to look at Root.

“What?” she asked. “What is it? A handwritten account of your darkest sins? What could be in that book?” she shouted.

“I… ,” Root started and her voice cracked. She drew a deep breath and looked her anxious girlfriend in the eye. “…hurt people.”

“Welcome to the club,” Shaw responded because she had done her fair share of that very thing. “Besides, those people you hurt, deserved it,” Shaw said of some of Root’s former foster parents.

“People I care about,” Root expanded.

“Root!” Shaw said through gritted teeth because she felt her lover was not getting the gravity of the situation if they were discovered there. “Can we do this later?”

“Your mother,” Root said … because she sorta had an impulsivity issue.

“What?” Shaw asked, because she found Root’s explanations more confusing as they went on. “What about her?” she asked, listening to hear if she could tell how far away the cops were.

“I gave your mother’s location to Greer,” Root explained and now she had Shaw’s full attention.

“What are you talking about?” Shaw asked.

“I didn’t know it was her, but I knew that someone was juicing up the electricity in the city years ago. I thought they were voyeurs because the activity seemed to follow someone. Greer’s group put out a call on the dark web looking for information about powerful machines. I tracked your mother’s activity and gave him the information. It was why she had to leave again,” Root said.

Shaw just looked at Root, trying to figure out what she was telling her.

“I didn’t know it was Azar, I swear it. When she came back into your life and I realized that she was probably the woman I pointed out to this group, I didn’t know what to do. I tried to protect her and we succeeded because no one from Greer’s group suspects her anymore.”

Sameen shook her head, even though it hurt like hell. “Does my mother know?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Root said truthfully.

“She’s okay? Right now?” Shaw asked.

“Yes, her activity has been completely masked,” Root assured Shaw.

The memory of a time when Root felt so unloved and unwanted, before Finch found her, was enough to mess with Root’s head. Even when she was with Harold, she felt a warmth and admiration for her talents, but it never filled the void Root felt all those years. Feelings rushed at Root from the deepest resources of her soul now. She was staring at the woman who adored her, and yet, she felt like an unwanted child.

Feeling unloved was a feeling Sameen was well acquainted with. She saw it reflected in Root’s eyes immediately.

“Well, not exactly the way I had it planned,” Sameen said and pulled Root over to a glass littered stool. She wiped it clear and nodded for Root to sit. “I was hoping for music playing softly, Root, but with you, I have a feeling our background music is going to be sirens more often than not,” Shaw smiled.

“What do you mean?” Root asked, sorry she had stopped them from leaving. How would they explain their presence?

Shaw took Root’s hands in hers. “From the minute I met you, you annoyed the hell out me. You made me angry and frustrated and I couldn’t believe I took a job working with you,” Shaw said and Root thought maybe Sameen picked now to share how upset she was with the news she just heard. “But you made me feel other things. Other things I wasn’t supposed to feel. Things that I had buried so far down, it gave me my own diagnosis. The only person who could stand me was Fusco and I think that was because he decided I was the punishment he deserved for driving his wife away,” Shaw shared and could tell she was confusing Root. “But you… you did things to me without my even knowing. You got past walls that everyone else failed to get through. You make me want to be a better person. You make me whole, Root. You’re my safe place and I know I can’t live without you. So…,” Shaw continued and pushed her hand into her pocket and took out the box.

Then, Sameen Shaw got down on one knee, after clearing the spot of debris first.

“I promise you, Root; I will always do right by you. I will protect you and kick anyone’s ass who tries to hurt you. There will never be another day in your life that you ever doubt you are wanted and loved. I will always be by your side. And Root, you know how you’re always telling me we’re just noise in the system and confusing the hell out of me? Well, if we are, I want us … to be a symphony. Will you marry me?”

Root’s eyes immediately filled with water as she looked at Sameen on one knee. She had never heard words that truly sounded like music to her ears. She knew she was staring at the one person who made her feel like – finally – she belonged.

This was her Shaw.

“Oh, my, God, Sameen… YES!” she said, and Sameen took the ring out and put it on Root’s finger.

Root pulled Sameen up and into the tightest hug she could manage without hurting her lover. “I love you Sameen Shaw. I always have; I always will.”

“Okay, good,” Shaw said sincerely and kissed Root back. “Now, let’s get out of here before Fusco has to put us in a lineup.”

The two women rushed out the back stairwell, because Root knew exactly where it was.

Seconds after they left, Detective Fusco opened the door to the room and yelled. “I found where it hit.” He walked through the debris and noticed something on the floor. He walked over and picked it up, shoving it in his pocket just before the police followed him in there.

“Find anything?” one of them asked him.

“I think we just missed them,” he mused and didn’t mean the bad guys the way the cop thought he did.

“Way to go, Shaw,” he said softly, knowing that this was the perfect place for his chaotic friend to propose.

Chapter Text

It was in the afterglow of burning embers from the direct hit, that Root stopped Shaw in the street and pulled her into a warm kiss. “You proposed!” Root declared in the midst of cops and firemen rushing to Grand Central, as people rushed away. She was still holding onto her journal.

“Yeah, well not the way I planned it, but yes,” Shaw smiled up at Root.

“It’s beautiful,” Root said as she gazed at her ring at the end of her extended arm.

“I’m glad you like it,” Shaw said and meant it. Since they never discussed it, she wasn’t sure she knew what Root’s taste was in diamonds.

“You have made me the happiest person on this planet,” Root said, kissing Shaw to prove it.

“Okay, I’m glad, but could we get away from the heavy police presence before they want to ask us some questions; like what we were doing there?” Sameen pointed out.

Root took Shaw’s hand and walked down the street; her smile brighter than the afternoon sun.

“How did you mess with the program?” Shaw asked when they were far enough away.

“Protocol Four. Reese and Rousseau used Bear as a Guide Dog and gave him a flash drive to put into a computer,” Root said as if she just explained a normal every day occurrence.

“Bear? Did all that?” Shaw asked. “Wait, how did they know where to find you?”

“My earrings,” Root answered quickly, playfully touching one.

Shaw stopped in her tracks. “Earrings?”

Root pushed her hair back to show the small studs in her ears.

“How come I didn’t get the jewelry choice?” Shaw asked and decided Reese was going to answer that question. A car pulled over to the curb. “Speak of the devil,” Shaw said when Martine got out and opened the back door.

“You guys okay?” she asked.

“We are, but I’m going to kill the driver in about two minutes,” Shaw said as she got in and poked the man hard on his arm. “Hey, how come I didn’t get the jewelry tracker?”

John looked in the rear view mirror expressionless. He honestly didn’t have an answer that would appease Shaw. He never even considered that as an option for the woman he thought looked most comfortable when carrying an AK-47.

“I’m sure John didn’t have that option available,” Root said and took Shaw’s hand in the backseat.

“Fine,” Shaw said, letting it go… for now.

Now, Root was torn between going back to work to work out their strategies, and announcing to everyone that they were engaged. She decided she knew where to go first. “We have to tell your mother?” she said to Shaw when they arrived at the office.

“You want to tell my mother that you gave her up to Greer?” Shaw said, both eyebrows raised high.

“Oh,” Root said wishing Shaw hadn’t reminded her of that. “Actually, I was hoping we could tell her about this…,” she said, putting her hand out. “First.”

“Okay,” Shaw said letting out a deep breath. “Then, we eat.”

The couple said goodbye to Reese and Martine who went up in the elevator together.

“Did you notice…?” Martine asked, looking up at the digital floor display.

“Yes,” John confirmed.

Then, the two returned to work without another word about it.

Shaw’s phone rang as they drove uptown to her mother’s apartment. “Nice calling card, you two,” Fusco whispered into his phone.

“Isn’t it cool? She has drones that…,” but Fusco interrupted her.

“Ah, ah, ah, Shaw. The walls have ears here,” he reminded her. “Hey, congratulations you two,” he said and hung up.

“How did Lionel know?” Root asked.

“Beats me,” Shaw wondered because she didn’t realize she dropped the box.

The couple arrived at the apartment. “Look, let me just tell my mother about this slowly. I don’t want her to make a fuss, ok?” Shaw asked.

“Of course,” Root smiled and grabbed Sameen’s hand.

Alystair greeted them and Shaw noticed he was carrying a gun in a holster. “That’s good,” she complimented him.

Then, the couple went into the room where Azar and Ayala were monitoring the machine’s security.

“Oh, thank God,” Azar said, jumping up from her seat and rushing over to hug Sameen. “When John notified us, I was so worried,” the older woman said.

“Yes, well about all of that,” Shaw started as her younger sister came over and asked if they were okay.

“We’ve been watching carefully since Reese contacted us,” Ayala started to explain and, truth be told, Root wanted to hear what they had been doing. “Those clusters that we saw seemed to have stopped. Whatever they were doing, something happened.”

Root happened,” Shaw said, smiling at her Brainiac partner.

Root beamed and actually blushed that Shaw thought so highly of her plan. The two stared at each other as silence filled the room.

“Was that your missile?” Ayala asked Root, thinking the woman had that type of hardware available to her.

“Yes,” Root said and Ayala all but squealed with delight.

“Isn’t that cool?” Shaw asked her sister and the two practically giggled like it was Christmas morning.

“Sweetie,” Root said, taking Shaw’s arm because they were way off track.

“Oh, and this…happened,” Shaw announced their engagement by picking up Root’s arm to show them the ring.

“Mazel tov!” Ayala yelled and grabbed the two women into a tight squeeze.  When she finally let go, Shaw’s mother approached.

“Arousitoon mobarak,” she said in her native tongue and hugged them both.

Shaw still struggled with hugs lasting longer than two seconds, unless it was Root, of course.

“This is truly wonderful,” her mother gushed, her eyes smiling brightly. “I am so thankful I have lived to see this day.”

“O..kay…,” Shaw said, but her mother insisted on getting out special glasses to have a drink.

Azar filled the glasses and gave each woman one. “To Sameen and Root,” she said and all four downed the liquor in unison. “May you always bring joy to each other.”

“Not bad,” Shaw said of her mother’s choice of alcohol.

“Where will you get married? We have to have a bachelorette party. Oh my God, am I the maid of honor?” Ayala asked excitedly and now her sister looked like a deer in headlights.

As much as Root enjoyed her future sister-in-law’s enthusiasm, she could feel the calmness drain out of Shaw. “We haven’t even had time to discuss… any of that,” Root smiled, taking charge as she did when she was in protective mode.

“Where did you propose?” Ayala asked, the whole event striking her inner romantic cord.

“In the debris,” Shaw answered and put her glass down. “Look, I’m just going to come out and tell you this,” she continued and Root thought she could hear the whistle of more things exploding – as in Shaw’s efforts to do this smoothly. “This guy, who took me and then lured Root there, seems to know things. Like not just about the machine, but about Root. And while I don’t want Root to lose any daughter-in-law points, she thinks maybe… she helped your paths cross in the past.”

Oh, so not smooth.

“I don’t understand,” Azar said because no one could figure that out.

“I think Sameen is saying that I may have picked up on your activity when you were back here, years ago, watching Sameen. I remember finding a program whose activity used the cameras in New York,” Root explained at a slower pace.

“And this guy, Greer, was looking for information and Root gave it to him. So, yeah, that happened, too,” Shaw summed up.

Shaw knew her mother would be diplomatic because she always seemed to be. Root knew as a techie, Azar would understand how their paths crossed based on the technology. Neither expected Azar to smile and say; “I know.”

“What does that mean? You know?” Shaw asked first.

“I was aware of a rogue source tracking me all those years before. I traced it back to the NY Public Library and found who was behind that brilliant program. I saw you, Root, sitting there are dabbling in things that, I admit, I was surprised you understood. I

knew how smart you were because you were using a popular CD-ROM game to disguise your own program. It was very clever,” Azar said with sincere admiration.

“I imagine that is why you had to leave,” Root said, feeling a pain in her heart for what she thought she caused.

“Oh, my dear, Samantha,” Azar said, taking Root’s hands in hers. “Greer was in his infant stage. He was snooping around for the genesis of his machine. He had an idea of what he wanted to do, but was terribly unsure of what he needed.”

“And you know this... ?” Shaw asked.

“I met him,” Azar said and sat down. “I took a sample of the program, told him via the same website you probably used, that I had found something. We met and talked over drinks. He tried to recruit me and I poisoned him,” Azar said nonchalantly.

Root was pretty sure she understood where Sameen got her poor summation skills from.

“You poisoned him?” Shaw asked. “Well, it didn’t take!”

“Well, I didn’t want to kill him, just erase his memory. A rather dangerous drug, but it worked. He told about his background and what he wanted to do, and I left him with some bogus coding,” Azar said. “I lost track of him. He must have taken his project underground.”

“Has he ever contacted you?” Root asked.

“No, in all the searches that I found about the machine, he was never among them. Of course, they’re usually hackers like you were, Root. Just not as bright, thank goodness.”

“Well, he’s back and badder than ever, I think,” Root said and was relieved to hear that she hadn’t caused Azar’s disappearance.

“Funny how all of our paths crossed so long ago,” Azar mused.

“Yeah, hysterical,” Shaw said. “Now, we have to take precautions and by that I mean, no leaving the house,” Shaw instructed her sister and mother.

“I’m not even on their radar,” Azar assured her daughter. “I have changed identities so many times, and left very little trace.”

“You stay with her,” Shaw said, ignoring her mother.

“Are we going to wear chiffon dresses?” Ayala teased her sister.

Shaw shook her head, regretting that she told her sibling anything. “I’m… we’re… let’s go, Root,” she said.

Root smiled and hugged her future mother-in-law. “She gets hungry … after being kidnapped,” Root tried.

“You know how to use that, right?” Shaw barked at Alystair because her stomach was growling and she had just overdosed on hugs.

“Yes,” he assured his most worthy opponent.

The couple stopped on the top step outside. “That went well,” Root smiled and pulled Shaw into her body.

“Too many questions,” Shaw said.

“Wait until you tell Janine,” Root teased and then engulfed Shaw’s mouth in the sweetest of kisses so she couldn’t yell.

After what seemed like long delicious minutes of osculating, Root finally released her fiancée. “We’ll do it together,” she assured her.

Shaw just rolled her eyes and shook her head.

She knew in her heart, her genius future spouse was no match... for Janine.

Chapter Text

It was another family reunion when the couple got home after their long day of being abducted and handled. But now was a time for celebration. Root watched as Shaw ran and then slid across the floor on her knees to greet Bear when they got off the elevator.

“Oh, my God, Bear, you really are a hero!” Shaw said, grabbing him and wrestling him playfully to the ground. Shaw’s praise was like a shot of adrenaline to the canine.

Root smiled and looked up to the ceiling, wondering if she should worry about their children when they came home with awards. “No, she wouldn’t,” Root actually said out loud.

Isabelle burst through the door and held her apron to her mouth, tears welling in her eyes. “We’re okay,” Root said and the plump woman ran to her and hugged her.

“Oh, thank God!” the woman prayed out loud. “I heard it on the television and I called Janine and she told me that it was all over and you two were okay, but I had to see it for myself.” The television reports said it was an explosion might have been caused by a gas leak. Janine filled in the real story to the worried chef.

“Janine,” Shaw said, suddenly remember a needier person than Bear. “I should… call her.”

Root smiled and watched as Shaw went into the living room to call her devoted assistant. “Isn’t that wonderful?” she said, thinking how attentive her Axis II fiancée was.

“I don’t know what this world is coming to when people will go to such lengths to get their hands on some technology,” the woman expressed aghast. Then she looked down. “Is that?” Isabelle said when the light hit the ring. It was the kind of stone that was hard to miss.

Root pulled her into the kitchen and confirmed that it was. “Oh, I can’t take it,” Isabelle said of the full range of excitement and sat down on a stool, holding Root’s hand to look at the ring. “I… I… oh, I have to stop crying,” the woman said, dabbing her eyes with her apron. When she felt she could speak again, Isabelle looked at Root. “I can’t think of anyone else I would want you to spend your life with. You two are perfect for each other. I’m so …wait, when did this happen?” the woman had to ask.

“Right in the middle of everything!” Root gushed as if she thought it was the most romantic setting.

“Oh, brother,” Shaw said, coming into the kitchen after talking to a woman whose voice pierced her eardrums. “She’s on her way over…,” Shaw said because Janine begged her to grant her a two minute audience. Then, she looked up and saw the chef rushing at her. “NO!” Shaw tried, but it was too late. She was fully embraced in a tight hug that nearly knocked the air out of her lungs.

“Oh, did that hurt?” Isabelle asked, worried she had touched one of Shaw’s wounds.

“No, it’s just annoying,” Shaw said and caught the raised eyebrow of her lover at the counter. “I mean, annoying we don’t get to do it more often!” Shaw said in a tone that even Isabelle didn’t believe.

“Oh, you,” the chef said, smiling. “I am just so happy for you both. Truly.”

“Thanks,” Shaw said and smiled. Isabelle stood there, holding onto Shaw. Sameen tried to smile back, but she was wondering why the woman wasn’t getting the food ready. She uttered the two words that propelled Isabelle across the room. “I’m hungry.”

“I’ll get it set right now,” the woman promised and went to get out the food she had prepared.

“I missed you,” Root said and Shaw was going to explain that they had only been apart a couple of minutes and that she was only in the other room, but she didn’t.

“Me, too,” Shaw said, giving the answer she thought Root wanted to hear. Root smirked with a look that told Shaw she appreciated the effort, but it still needed a little work to be anywhere near convincing.

“Shaw was magnificent today,” Root shared with Isabelle as she put a steak that could feel a family of three … on Sameen’s plate.

“Not really,” Sameen argued, taking her first bite of the deliciously prepared meat. “I didn’t shoot anyone.”

“Oh, stop,” Isabelle said, unaware of how serious Sameen was.

“I am really going to enjoy getting even with that decrepit man and his poorly socialized guard dog,” Shaw said, her mouth full.

Isabelle stared at Root who didn’t offer anything to contradict that Sameen was sincere. Root just smiled and shrugged her shoulders.

“Well,” Isabelle started to say, but had no idea where to go after that. Instead, she just listened to Shaw moan through dinner about how tender the steak was and how smooth the mash potatoes were. Later that night, she would go home and tell her husband that she wanted him to get a candle from the basement that she had been saving; the one with the picture of St. Michael on it. She didn’t think she’d ever convince her favorite couple not to get themselves mixed up with dangerous people, so she’d just have to pray for their safety.

When dinner was over, the doorman announced that Janine was on her way up.

“She’ll be up in a minute,” Sameen said to Root. “I better tell her slowly.”

Root agreed and went upstairs to converse with Harry about what their next steps should be. Even while she sat watching Sameen enjoy her meal; her mind came up with several options. She noticed the old diary she had put down in the entryway, and took it with her.

Shaw waited until Root was upstairs before instructing Bear. “Okay, now when the door opens and she rushes at me, you just intercept her, ok?” Shaw swore the dog nodded yes, but when the doors opened and Janine saw Shaw standing there, he didn’t move an inch. In that short time, he calculated that she would fall over him given the speed at which she was moving. So, he opted out.

“SHAW!” Janine said and rushed at the woman, even though she promised herself to go slow. She couldn’t help it. She was worried sick about her boss. Shaw was expecting some interference and so she was completely unprepared for the gentle assault as Janine hugged her and put her head on Shaw’s shoulder.

“I was so worried,” she confessed in way too many syllables, her arms still wrapped around Shaw.

“It’s okay,” Shaw said, frowning at Bear, but patting Janine’s back with one hand because Root had taught her people find it soothing.

“Why does this keep happening? I don’t understand why people are trying to get at you and Root,” the woman wailed.

“Well,” Shaw said and took that break in the squeeze to put distance between them. She took Janine by the elbow and led her into the living room. Should she tell the woman that there were evil people out there trying to get at a machine that was housed in a secret location? No, Shaw decided. “People be crazy,” she said, using her summation skills again.

“I’m just so glad you and Root are okay. You’re both okay, right?” Janine asked again to be sure.

“Yes, we’re really both fine,” Shaw assured her and patted the woman’s knee to indicate two minutes was almost up.

Then, Bear reminded Shaw of something with a long, soulful howl that lasted longer than the woman’s visit.

“I am!” Shaw said, impatiently, even though she hadn’t remembered before he told her. She turned back to Janine on the couch; “So…,” she started slowly as she gently pulled a pillow in-between them. “I… have… some…news.” Sameen was only hesitating because she was trying to prepare for the woman’s move.

Bear shook his head in the background thinking Shaw was making too big a deal of this.

“Am I fired?” Janine asked, because Sameen wasn’t completing her thought.

“What?” Shaw asked, and wondered how people could jump to conclusions so fast. “No!”

“Oh, I thought maybe…,” Janine said and wasn’t sure what she thought. It was just her deepest fear that Sameen would reject her.

“I’ll never fire you,” Shaw said, hoping that would put this worry to rest.

“Oh my, God, really?” Janine said of the lifetime guaranteed employment.

“What?” Shaw asked, because she wasn’t really listening. “Look, could we just stay on track here. I have something important to tell you and it’s good news. Root and I are …,” but that as far as she got before the woman lunged.
“…engaged.” The word was propelled out of her when the wind was pushed out of her chest.

“I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU!” said the woman who was always happy when Sameen was involved. “OH MY GOD! THIS IS WONDERFUL NEWS!”

“Yes, yes, it is, but I think Root wants me breathing on our wedding day,” Shaw said because the pillow had been quickly discarded before Janine hugged her again.

Nothing got between her and the woman she adored.


“Oh, yes,” Janine smiled, slightly embarrassed, but unable to help herself. “Oh, Shaw, I am thrilled for you both. You are the perfect couple. She’s so lucky.”

“Thank you,” Shaw said, because underneath it all, Sameen did appreciate how kind the woman was to her.

“What can I do?” Janine asked immediately.

“Oh, that’s very sweet of you, but we haven’t…,” Shaw attempted to explain.

“That’s okay,” Janine said and jumped up from her seat. “You take your time and decide, and then tell me what I can do to help. In any way,” she said.

“Thank you,” Shaw said and she was really thanking her for getting up so this visit could end.

“I’ll see you at work tomorrow. I’ll have everything in order,” Janine said and Shaw was afraid she was going to salute her when she stepped on the elevator.

“Okay,” Shaw winked as the door closed and thought she heard the woman humming the tune to "Get Me to the Church on Time."

“Well, that went well,” Shaw said and Bear looked at her. “Who asked you?”

Root was already done with her conference call and on the steps. “She can’t help it, Bear. Shaw has animal magnetism,” Root cooed as she walked down and closed the distance between them.

“He is not going to get that reference,” Shaw said as Root pulled her in.

“Ms. Shaw, if you would come with me,” Root said, trying to change her tone to sound serious.

“Oh?” Shaw asked, because she was becoming well acquainted with the spontaneous beginnings of Root acting out her fantasies.

“We are required at BEAR to follow strict protocol. After any dangerous mission, I am required to inspect the staff member for contusions or bruising,” Root explained as if she memorized the employee handbook.

“Isn’t that a job for a doctor?” Shaw asked because she never wanted it to be too easy for Root to whip her up into her game.

Interesting choice of word there, Shaw.

But Root was ready. She turned back to face Sameen to show she was wearing her stethoscope. “Camp Fire Scouts are always prepared,” she reminded her partner.

“I wasn’t hurt in the blast, you know,” Shaw reminded Root, trying to slow her down.

“Oh,” Root smiled. “I was actually referring to your meeting with Janine. Sit here,” Root said and pulled Sameen to sit on the couch. “Name?” she asked as she picked up a clipboard.

“You have a clipboard?” Shaw asked amazed at how quickly Root could set a stage.

“Name?” she asked.

“Sameen Shaw,” the patient answered. “Do you want me to disrobe?” Shaw asked, laughing because she thought there was a chance she could direct this play.

“Marital status?” Root asked, looking at the paper.

“Marital what?” Shaw asked because that was a new one. Root nodded her head. “Oh, I’m...,” and then Sameen realized what she was about to say. “I’m engaged to the most wonderful woman in the world,” she smiled, not at all upset that Root just led her exactly where she wanted her.

“Oh, Shaw,” Root said at hearing the sound of that, and then tried to get back into character. “Okay, now you can disrobe.”

“There’s no new bruises, I promise you,” Shaw teased.

“I’m sorry we can’t take your word for it,” Root countered. “I’m required to do a thorough body search.”

“A thorough body search?” Shaw chuckled as Root helped her off with her clothes.

“Yes, very thorough," Root reiterated as she began. “It’s protocol.”

“You’re going to check me for bruises… with a stethoscope?” the former medical doctor just had to ask because she wanted Root to be authentic.

Root was not deterred. She picked up the end of the specially made instruments and pressed a button. “It vibrates,” she smiled.

“Oh,” was all Shaw could say before the exam began.

She said it a few more times after it began; just with more syllables.

Chapter Text

The next morning, when the couple arrived at work, Root asked Sameen to come with her to announce their engagement to Harold. As it turned out, both Grace and Genrika were with him when they arrived. Sameen wasn’t sure how they were going to tell them, but Root rushing through the door and holding out her hand to show off the gorgeous engagement ring wasn’t it.

There was a round of warm hugs and congratulations. Grace couldn’t let go of Root’s hand as she admired the beautiful ring.

“This is great!” Gen said to Shaw.

“You think so, kid?” Shaw asked, wondering what a twelve year old thought of all of this.

“Yes, definitely. I’ll have to go to college locally, because you’re going to need babysitters,” Gen thought through as she looked up at the ceiling, tapping her finger to her chin.

“Wait! Whoa, kid,” Shaw said, pulling Gen away from the trio who were still talking about how it happened. “No one…,” she tried, but the prodigy train was already leaving the station.

“Taylor would be good, too, but he has his heart set on Harvard. Lee is great with kids, so we could use him as backup,” Gen decided.

Shaw stared, her eyes wide with unease over the topic. “Okay… just … no,” Shaw commanded and as usual, the youth flicked her commands off like lint on a sweater.

“They’ll be so cute!” the girl practically squealed. “And smart! OMG –so smart!”

“I’m going to stop talking to you now,” Shaw announced because it was the only way to concede defeat without saying so.

“We couldn’t be happier for you,” Harold said when the newly engaged couple left his office.

“I wonder if he’ll let me sit by his computer after we’re married,” Shaw wondered.

“Doubt it,” Root said because Harry was so particular. “You and Gen were having an interesting conversation it seemed,” said the woman who rarely took her eyes off Shaw.

“Kids,” Shaw revealed without realizing it. One look at those light brown eyes that stared back with great curiosity, told Shaw she slipped. “I mean… kids! You can’t live with them, you can’t charge them rent.”

The genius CEO simply gazed back as she tried to figure that one out.

“I have to go. I have to stop Janine from making bridesmaids’ dresses,” Shaw blathered, pointing to the elevator nervously.

Root watched as Sameen left still mumbling to herself. Genrika couldn’t help but notice. She looked up at Root. “I figured her out,” she said pleasantly as a plausible explanation. “Her volume’s much louder now.”

“You okay, Shaw?” Reese asked when she flew off the elevator.

“I think I just got made by a twelve year old,” Shaw admitted.

“Could be worse,” Reese assured her, but didn’t explain how.

It seemed Genrika’s secret power was making Sameen appreciate the sanctity of her office with her guard dog.

“Are you okay?” Janine asked, when Shaw walking into her cubicle backward. “Have you been cleared to come back to work?” the assistant asked with her hands on her hips.

“From head to toe,” Shaw said. “Listen, I want a height requirement on my visitors. Like those Disney rides. No one allowed in here who isn’t this tall,” Shaw said, shooting her hand out to indicate a height close to her own.

“Sure,” Janine said and wondered who spooked her boss. Obviously, someone under five feet, two inches.

Shaw walked into her office through the adjoining doorway. Fusco was waiting there for her with coffee and Danish. The fact that Shaw didn’t insult him, nor devour the pastry was of great concern to the detective.

“You okay?” he asked as she sat down.

“Me? Yeah, I’m …,” Shaw said, unable to formulate complete thoughts. “Do you want kids?” is how the first question came out.

“With you?” Fusco asked, unsure of what they were talking about. “Look, Shaw, aren’t you rushing things? I mean, you don’t have to be married, but you want to have some time with Captain Crunch before you think about little puffs,” he said and then started laughing at his own joke. “OUCH!” he said when Shaw regained his attention. “What?”

“Not what I meant,” she barked.

“What did you mean?” he asked, slowly pushing the food over to her. When she didn’t take it, he knew whatever they were talking about was serious.

“Wait, one of yous isn’t pregnant, are you?”

The look on Shaw’s face was priceless; Fusco’s injuries would come with a price. “Would you stop hitting me?” he bellowed.

“Would you stop being an ass,” Shaw demanded.

“You’re not making sense, Shaw,” Fusco said and decided to eat the Danish. That brought her back to her senses.

“Give me that,” she said and shoved the pastry into her mouth as she tried to figure out what she was saying.

“I hope they have Root’s manners,” the man said under his breath and then pulled back to protect himself.

Shaw chewed and downed her coffee as her eyes darted back and forth. Fusco waited, like you do when the water is heating up and you’re waiting for it to boil. Finally, she got it.

“Lionel, do you think I’d make a good parent?” Shaw whispered and leaned in so he’d hear her.

Now, Shaw and Fusco had the kind of relationship that was built on affectionate torture. Shaw had set it up like that years ago because it was the only way for her to express how much she cared. But Lionel knew when it was appropriate and when it wasn’t. Most of the time.

He put his coffee down and covered her hands with his meaty ones. “Shaw, you’re gonna make an awesome mom.”

The words hit Shaw in her heart and she swallowed hard to hold back the emotion that swelled inside. “Thanks,” she coughed.

The exchange took seconds, but it was so poignant that she had to put a lid on it.

“Did you eat my pastry?” she asked horrified and getting her emotions in check.

“You stopped eating it!” Fusco said defensively.

“You want to get breakfast?” Shaw asked.

“Sure,” said the man who decided this woman was the worst thing for his diet.

Fusco walked with Shaw to the employee dining room. She wanted to talk to her friend about her plan, before presenting it to Root.

“Each time, they find us like siffing fucks. I think we go on the offense next time,” Shaw said, her mouth so full, Fusco wasn’t sure he understood.

“OH! Sitting ducks,” he finally deciphered. “What do you propose? And remember, I’m a cop. With a badge and a sworn oath?”

“Are you done?” she asked because none of that mattered. “I say we turn the tables. We go after them.”

Them? Technically, them haven’t done anything. We checked into that company that rents the space in Grand Central and it’s a software corporation. The ‘gas’…,” and he stopped to use air quotes which made Shaw roll her eyes, “…leak explosion meant we could go in and look around. It all looked kosher, Shaw. Rooms of nerds doing nerdy things.”

“So, you’re saying I can’t go in there and settle a score?” Shaw asked in her own vernacular.

“If by settling a score, you mean going in there and shooting up the joint, then no,” the cop clarified.

“They kidnapped Root and then drugged me!” she reminded him.

“Yes, and if their fingerprints were anywhere or if we found a room where you were held, we could do something. Every office up there was work stations,” he said because Greer’s group was fast and clever.

“I’m going to get them,” Shaw said, nodding her head.

“Yeah, that’s what worries me,” said her good friend.

Chapter Text

By the time the couple met up in the afternoon, both couldn’t wait to share what each felt was the perfect plan to handle the situation with Greer.

“First,” Root said excitedly, having spent the day with her IT team, “... we create a concern in the business community about viruses. Social media picks up on it and spreads the word. Then, we offer our latest anti-virus software for free!”

The approach was a sound, logistical approach.

“What was your idea?” Root said, equally enthusiastic to hear about Shaw’s.

“A high powered rifle on the roof across from their offices,” Shaw said, with a ‘right?’ expression on her face at how brilliant that was.

Root desperately fired all cylinders of her highly developed brain to see how what would work. She pushed up on the eyeglasses that she only wore after staring at her screen for hours. “Okay…,” she said as if she figured it out, but hadn’t really. “What… will you shoot?” she asked in a ‘just to be clear’ kind of voice.

“Lambert and Greer,” Shaw said, thinking it should have been obvious.

Shaw wanted direct; Root wanted dramatic. Or maybe it was the other way around. Shaw wanted people falling over; Root wanted a slow systematic implosion of epic proportions.

“Sweetie,” Root began slowly, “… taking them out won’t stop this … whatever it is. We need to find out what they’re up to and eradicate them at the source.”

Militarily, it sounded like it made sense. “So, you want to put a firewall on thousands of computers with your free antivirus software that will detect what Greer’s doing? And then can I shoot them?” Shaw asked.

Root was not one to ever deny Shaw anything. “Yes,” she said and added a caveat.

Satisfied that they could both have their way, Shaw smiled and relaxed. “So, what was Gen smiling about so much this morning?” Root asked, playing with the hair that refused to stay back in Sameen’s ponytail.

She could tell by the way Root was asking that she already knew something was up. “She wants to be our babysitter. I mean, don’t you think she’s jumping the gun here? That kid! She’s like a mini-you on steroids. Really smart, but all over the place,” Shaw complained.

“What did you tell her?” Root smiled to think how adept the kid was at getting under Shaw’s skin.

“I mean, she wants to go to school around here so she can be available. And get this,” Shaw ranted on, “…if she’s not free, she says we can use Fusco’s kid because Joss’ son will be up in Boston at Harvard. Oh, she has it all figured it out,” Shaw laughed at how ridiculous it was.

Root wasn’t laughing. She started to smile, but something was absolutely pulling at her heart strings. Sameen saw immediately that Root was somewhere else. Sameen tried to get her back on track. “I mean, that’s nuts, right?” she asked and stared at Root.

Root pushed forward at Shaw as they sat there and took her hands. “I want your babies,” Root said.

“You want my what?”” Shaw said, pulling back because she was unsure of what this meant.

“I want your babies. I want to have kids that are like you,” Root said.

“Okay, well we know that means I would have to … you know… have like a … donor,” Shaw heard herself unnecessarily explain to her brilliant fiancée.

“Not necessarily,” said the woman with something up her sleeve. She didn’t want to reveal it just yet. “In the meantime, I have a great idea.” Root still didn’t say what it was, but Shaw could see from the twinkle in Root’s eye, that she thought it was bloody brilliant.

“O…kay,” Shaw said, getting up from her seat. “I’m… going to go back to work now, okay?”

“Yes,” Root said, coming back and kissing her goodbye. She had to get busy if she were going to test her hypothesis. She set out to get what she thought they needed to do it. An hour later, she employed Gen to help her.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” the tween asked suspiciously. “Do you have enough snacks?”

“It’s only for a short time,” Root explained. “How much could they eat?”

“I meant for Shaw,” Gen said, her chin dipped down as she looked over at Root.

“Good point,” she said.

If Shaw was methodical in her planning, it included the shortest route to complete her objective. She wanted payback for Greer and Lambert, so she’d shoot them from a nearby rooftop. Clean and simple. Root’s planning was usually a bit more unpredictable. The free software was a brilliant idea because it was targeted to the computer clusters that Greer’s machine had been data mining. But when it came to Root’s plans for her personal life; they were less precise and orderly and more… what’s the word?


“I have a surprise,” she said to Shaw as they entered the Penthouse lobby that night.

“Does it include talking Reese out of watching us, because he sucks at undercover,” Shaw moaned. John had insisted that he tail the two of them, at least for a few days, to make sure Greer didn’t try anything. “I do the protecting; I don’t need protecting,” Shaw stated again for the umpteenth time.

“Yes, but let John have this one,” Root pleaded. “Besides, you are going to be very busy tonight.” The smile on Root’s face announced something definitely was going on.

“You didn’t buy me a Wonder Woman costume, did you?” Shaw asked because the only fantasies left seemed to be in the comic book hero genre.

“Oh my, God!” Root said, having not come up with that one yet. “I love it!”

“I’m too short,” Shaw reminded her.

“I’m not,” Root said and put her two wrists up in the heroine’s signature ‘x’ position.

Sameen was expressionless, as she stared straight ahead.

“Now, remember, this is just a trial,” Root said when they reached the top floor.

It took Sameen a minute, but she finally guessed it. “You got the Extreme Sports package?” she said with such glee, that it took Root a second to figure out she was serious.

“No, silly,” Root said, forgetting Sameen’s interpretation of fun was always slightly different from hers.

And then the elevator door opened to what Root thought was a wonderful experiment for them. Shaw’s immediate expression was that she was looking out at a nightmare.

“Where… did you … who… are they? Where did you get them?” Shaw asked when she heard the shrieks of what she was sure were one dozen kids.

“I borrowed them!” Root squealed. “We’re babysitting. Oh, but there are so many.”

“No, we’re ….,” Shaw declared, but a kid in a big wheel ran into her leg.

“JEFFREY!” a familiar voice called out and came over to grab the runaway driver.

“Janine?” Shaw said, wondering what the hell was going on.

“She got you kids,” Janine explained. “Although, more than we planned.”

“She got me what?” Shaw barked; the noise seemed to come from every corner of the apartment. “OUCH!” Shaw yelled and looked down to see what just bit her ankle.

“Careful; she’s a biter,” Janine said and scooped the two year old up in her arm. “Shaw, this is Jane.”

“Tell Jane I bite back,” Shaw said, unable to get her head around that fact that she was threatening a toddler. “ROOT!”

“She’s running after the twins,” Janine said as if she just told her Root was getting groceries.

Shaw pulled on the woman who she was almost certain had pledged an oath of allegiance to her. “You knew about this?”

Janine took a deep breath. “To be honest, I didn’t think it was going to be a great surprise. But Root wanted to… you know… try them out.”

“Try… them… out? They’re not cars!” Shaw bellowed and stepped on a LEGO. “OH MY FREAKING…,” she said, hobbling on one foot. Even through the shoe, it hurt like hell.

“Language,” Janine said under her breath. “The eight year olds are really susceptible to that.”

“The what? ROOT!” Shaw called out.

Root came down the hallway, holding hands with the most adorable, curly haired identical twins. “I think I goofed,” she admitted.

“You think?” Shaw said and jumped back when the biting toddler walked back towards her.

“I thought we could, you know, try out a couple. But I asked a few people if we could babysit, and every one of them took me up on the offer,” Root shrugged her shoulders.

Root started to walk into the living room and Shaw followed; this time, the biting toddler along for the ride as she sat on Shaw’s shoe and held onto her leg. “Root! Get off, would you? Root, you offered to babysit a dozen kids?” Root turned to look at Sameen, who was desperately trying to unhinge a two year old from her leg. “Okay, just… if you could…get off… there you go. God, you have some grip.”

Watching Sameen interact with the foreign substances known as children was endearing. When Sameen put her hands out to stop the driver, the two year old reattached herself to Shaw’s leg.

“Root! They won’t listen. Get off. Get out of that car, you maniac driver. Is that a baby crying? ROOT!”

Root knew that kids were the best judges of character and it was a just a matter of minutes before they all fell under the spell of Shaw’s charisma.

Or… were locked up.

“All changed and happy,” Janine announced as she came out carrying a baby. “Here you go. Might as well try out the small ones, too,” she said, handing the baby to Shaw and then pried the toddler off her leg.

In spite of the fact that Shaw stood there, holding onto the baby with a worse expression then if she had been holding onto explosives, Root smiled broadly. Underneath the look of sheer terror on Shaw’s face and past the gritted teeth that she used to tell Root to take the baby, Root could see it.

Shaw was going to be a natural at this.

You know, after a while and some practice.

A lot of practice.

Chapter Text

Root stood there and stared; taking in the image of Shaw holding a baby and uttering that she had no idea what to do. She was biting on her lower lip as she showered Shaw with her affectionate gaze.

“ROOT!” the shorter woman bellowed and finally the trance was broken. “What.. do I do with this?”

Just then, the much needed reinforcements appeared. Or so Sameen thought. Bear came home, much to the delight of the children who ran or crawled to him.

“Oh, thank God,” Shaw said upon seeing the other biter. “Do something,” she instructed him and by that she meant; a) scare them away or b) entertain them.

But Bear had experience with these shorter beings. Their high pitch squeals made his head twist from side to side. And he was certain they were of limited intelligence because invariably, they confused him with being a horse and wanted to ride him.
He glanced over at Shaw and attempted to convey she was on her own. Then, he took off, like a bat out of hell; the fastest Shaw had ever seen him move. “CHICKEN!” she yelled and the baby got startled and started crying.

Root had never actually seen Sameen… panic.

“Oh, geez. Now, what? Where’s the off button. Kids should come with remotes. So, you can turn the volume down,” Shaw said in one breath. But, finally she got it. “It’s okay. I’m sorry I yelled. Please don’t cry. It’s okay,” she reassured the baby who suddenly became fascinated with Shaw’s voice and stopped crying.

“You’re doing great,” Root whispered. Then, she directed Shaw over to the playpen where she put the baby down.

“Let’s give them all back,” Shaw said in a tiny voice.

“Not for another hour,” Root said softly and she might as well have said they were all staying until they were ready to leave for college.

“AN HOUR?” Shaw bellowed and the baby’s lip started to quiver. “Oh, it’s okay, it’s okay,” Shaw changed her tone and the baby went back to playing with a toy. “Man, she’s such a baby,” she said to Root.

Janine came back in and reported that if they put on a children’s television show, they could gather them all in one place. It worked like a charm. Three toddlers, a set of twins, two eight year olds and a baby, all quieted down.

Shaw slowly backed out of the room and went into the kitchen. “Oh my God! I wondered where you were,” she said when she saw Isabelle. The woman was busy preparing dinner for the guests. “Here you go,” the chef said and handed Shaw a small tray of cookies. Assuming that the cookies were compensation for her twelve minutes of hard work, Shaw grabbed some and pushed them in her mouth. “Didyouknowaboutdis?” she asked Isabelle.

“Just found out before,” the chef said as she hurried back to preparing the meals.

“There’s like two dozen of them in there,” Shaw exaggerated, drinking milk that left a mustache.

“I’m giving them dinner, which will help,” the chef said.

“What… is… that?” Shaw said and picked up the square tan object and pressed down on it.

“A chicken nugget,” Isabelle explained and Shaw immediately dropped it back on the plate. “Let’s just throw that one out,” the chef decided.

“They eat that?” asked the woman who had survived Marine food.

“Yes, so I’m told,” Isabelle said because each kid came with a set of instructions.

“I bet they’re messy as hell,” Shaw decided and Isabelle handed her a napkin to wipe the milk off her upper lip.

“Now, we’re going to take this inside,” Isabelle said to Shaw as if they were planning their first wave of infiltration.

“Got it,” Shaw said, unaware of what the sight of food did to kids who were hungry. As soon as they saw it, they ran screaming to Shaw.

“Do they feed you at home?” Shaw asked the eight year old that arrived first. Everyone sat down at the table.

Then, perhaps because they were in a new environment, or perhaps because they wanted to test their babysitters, or perhaps because some of them were spoiled brats, pandemonium broke out with kids complaining about the food and how they weren’t going to eat. Sameen watched Root do her best to negotiate with the band of protesters.

Suddenly, a loud bang at the end of the table caught their attention and silenced them.

“All right, listen up,” Shaw said in her I’m in charge and not taking crap tone. “You will thank Ms. Groves for inviting you into her home. You will eat the food that is on your plate and then, you will march yourself into the kitchen, where you will thank Isabelle for cooking for you and you will offer to do the dishes. You will not leave this table until you ask if you can be excused. Do you understand that?” Shaw said in a calm, but very stern, voice.

Even the toddlers nodded their heads yes.

“Good. Now, let’s enjoy our last meal together,” Shaw said and sat down.

Little hands took the food and put it into their mouths without another complaint.

Root looked down the table at Shaw, as she helped the guests with cutting food or squirting ketchup on their plates.

There was no mistaking who the disciplinarian in their family would be.

Twenty minutes later, little people popped out of their seats, stood at attention as they held onto empty plates, and in unison screamed; “MAY WE BE EXCUSED PLEASE, SIR?”
Janine was feeding the baby who clapped her hands to join in.

“Yes, you may,” Shaw answered authoritatively and the group followed the eight year olds who marched dramatically into the kitchen.

Shaw rolled her eyes. “Let’s leave before they …. Oh, look! They’re back.”

Root and Shaw took them into the living room where they proceeded to ask for a book to be read or to wrestle with Sameen. Now that she knew she could get them to listen, they weren’t so frightening. Shaw poked her head up above the group long enough to look over at Root who was reading a story. It warmed her heart to see Root so tender.

“What’s that?” one of the boys asked when he saw Shaw’s arm.

“A tattoo,” Shaw said and they looked on with interest.

“Are you and Woot getting mawreed?” a curious girl asked.

“You should get a tattoo of Root,” the eldest suggested.

“What’s that?” the other one asked of her bandage.

“Occupational hazard,” Shaw answered and they seemed satisfied with that.

“Does it hoit?” asked one of the twins.

“Only when I laugh,” Shaw said, grabbing her and tickling her.

Root finished the story and sat there with Janine as even the baby crawled over to Shaw.

“They can’t help it,” Janine said of the children’s attraction. “She’s charismatic.”

“Yes, she is,” smiled Root who could easily imagine those children being their own.

Eventually, the various parents arrived and thanked Root for the generous offer to babysit.

“I’m taking you home,” whispered one of the youngest to Shaw and pulled on her arm.

“Well, I thank you, but I have to stay here with Root,” Sameen informed the little girl.

“Then, I’m coming back,” she answered undaunted.

“Oh, hell,” Shaw blurted out.

“When can we come back?” was the group question as they entered the elevator and left, after thanking their hostesses.

“Well, that was fun!” Root announced when silence revisited their home.

Janine took one look at Shaw and knew she didn’t quite agree. “I’ll just be going now,” the assistant said as she got her coat.

“Thanks for all your help,” Root said to her as Shaw walked her to the elevator.

“If I told her I would like to own the Yankees one day, do you think she’d have the team over for dinner?” Shaw wondered out loud to her assistant.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” she replied.

Janine left with Isabelle, who felt it necessary to tell Shaw that Root had the best of intentions, and there were more cookies left.

Shaw returned to the living room where Root sat on the couch, looking apprehensively at Shaw’s reaction to the event. “Too much?” Root asked, the guilt showing on her face.

Shaw sat down on the couch next to her. “For you? Nah,” Sameen smiled because one of the things she loved about her fiancée was her doing things over the top. “it was a… good experience,” Shaw said, reassuring her partner.

“You are the best,” Root said, leaning in to kiss Sameen. She ran her fingers up Shaw’s arm, over the USMC tattoo.

“Maybe I’ll get a new one,” Sameen suggested. “You know, so people know I’m engaged.”

“Really?” Root asked. “What would you get?”

“Something that reminds me of you,” Shaw said.

“Does it hurt to get one?” Root asked the woman who would never admit it did.

“Not worse than what we just went through,” Shaw teased and put her head in Root’s lap where she promptly fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Root had the uncanny ability to sleep in almost any position, as long as Shaw was comfortable nearby. Sameen woke up in Root’s lap the next morning and couldn’t imagine how her lover managed to get any sleep. But, she did.

After morning kisses, showers and sharing what their schedules were, they headed into the kitchen. Both were surprised to see Reese and Fusco there, already enjoying their breakfasts.

“Where they hell were you two last night?” Shaw asked. “I had a runaway driver and a biter on the loose.”

“What are you talking about?” Fusco said.

“You could have easily made your traffic ticket quota in our living room alone,” she continued as Isabelle presented her with a plate that looked more like a platter.

“You’re not helping her,” Fusco chastised the woman, but mostly out of jealousy that his breakfast was fruit and Melba toast.

“She enjoys it,” Isabelle said, and it was music to Shaw’s ears as she wagged her finger at Fusco.

“See? She gets me,” Sameen said, waving a turkey sausage at her dieting friend.

Fusco updated the group on what they learned about the software company working out of Grand Central. “Your Greer guy is former military, started his own company and now works here. They seemed to have some healthcare and government contracts. Mostly, running personnel software like payroll and benefits.”

“I bet they’re collecting all that information,” Root surmised.

Root explained about the free antivirus software that would be distributed soon and felt this would give them a window into what was really going on with Greer’s project.

“Just no more missiles,” Fusco begged. “Homeland Security still can’t figure out where that came from.”

The Cheshire like grin on Sameen’s face all but said – my fiancée’s got an army of drones.

With all the excitement, John hadn’t congratulated his friends on their engagement. He reached down and picked up a wrapped box and presented it to them. “Congratulations,” he said and smiled.

“God, Reese, if I had known getting engaged would actually make you have an expression on your face, I would have ….,” Shaw was about to tease, but Root interrupted her.

“This is very thoughtful, John,” Root said and put the box in between her and Sameen so they could open it.

“Is it a blender? Because if it’s a blender,” Shaw started and Root decided they were going to have to spend a little time on this very topic.

“Not a blender, Shaw,” Reese replied.

“Oh, they’re beautiful!” Root said of the lovely champagne flute glasses. “Thank you, John,” Root said and got up and kissed his cheek.

Shaw looked on in agony. Was this going to happen… a lot? “Yeah, thanks, Reese.”

Fusco could feel Shaw rolling her eyes next to him. “I’m waiting for you to pick out your china pattern,” he said to get even.

“Our what?” Shaw asked, her mouth full of egg.

“Chi-na pat-tern,” Fusco repeated.

“We have china,” Shaw argued.

“Well, actually, we’ve broken a few pieces,” Root offered and made Shaw stop to think about how that happened.

“Oh, yeah,” Shaw smiled. “Well, Root will pick it out,” Shaw reasoned.

Fusco was about to get the most points he ever received in the torture game with Shaw. “Don’t you want to do it… together?” he asked because he knew Root wanted to make all those decisions with Sameen.

One look at Fusco and Sameen understood he knew he just racked up a score in the triple digits. She couldn’t even counter him right now because to do so, would mean that she would be telling Root she would rather have root canal than pick out china patterns.

“What? Oh, sure,” Sameen said and the smiled reappeared on Root’s face.

After breakfast, Fusco and Reese waited near the elevator. Lionel actually pulled Reese in front of him when Shaw came out first. “I swear, Shaw, if you hit me, I will handcuff you,” he warned.

Shaw just stared back at him. “I would, but I need my strength,” she said.

“Shaw’s going for a tattoo,” Root all but cooed. She was excited that her woman wanted to ink something so significant.

“A romantic tattoo!” Lionel pressed his luck. “What do you think, Reese? Two pink hearts?”

John gave in some thought before sharing; “Something more… metallic.”

“Thank you, Reese,” Shaw harrumphed.

“So, what is it?” Fusco asked.

Shaw hesitated. “I’m… not sure yet,” she admitted. “I have a few ideas.”

“I have one of the best ink artists coming to the office!” Root shared and Sameen wish she hadn’t. Getting your fiancée to hire a top tattoo artist and having them come to her palatial office, sort of took away from the whole experience.

“Will it be televised?” Fusco asked as they went down in the elevator together.

“If Janine hears about it,” Reese said and his lip curled just the tiniest bit.

It wasn’t that Shaw didn’t appreciate that all she had to do was utter a thought, and Root sprang into action to make it happen. But getting a tattoo was a singular and cathartic experience; like praying. It wasn’t meant to do with a crowd watching, Shaw felt.

“I don’t want it to hurt you,” Root said and now Shaw was certain she needed to do this in private.

“Nah, it won’t hurt,” she assured the anxious woman. “But you know, it’s best to do this in a quiet space, so he can concentrate. So, why don’t I do this somewhere… else … and surprise you?”

“Really?” Root asked, loving the idea what Shaw would want to surprise her.

“Yes,” Shaw said.

“This is going to be so special,” Root said and didn’t realize the pressure she was putting Shaw under to make it so.

“Ye-es, it.. is,” Sameen said.

Root agreed that she would wait; not an easy task for someone who had planned on staring at every injection into her lover’s skin.

Sameen felt relief that she could just get this done now; but couldn’t decide which of the many possibilities they discussed, should be chosen.

“Nice digs,” the tattooist said of all the state of the art equipment that was set up to his specifications. “What are we doing here?”

“Look, I just got engaged,” Shaw started and the man stared at her expressionless.

“Congrats,” he said. “So, what’s it going to be?”

“I always thought I’d write something like – ‘I don’t do feelings; I do Root,” you know?” Shaw laughed and the man sat expressionless. “Because I don’t do feelings. Never mind,” Sameen said, and rolled her eyes at how hard this decision was.

“So, we’re doing a quote?” he asked.

“Well, I told my fiancée that I wanted something that reminds me of her,” Shaw went on, now pacing back and forth. “But there are so many things, right?” she asked, like he knew them. “I could pick an arrow, right? Because she thinks of me as an arrow; straight and to the point. We all have shapes,” she felt it necessary to explain. “And that’s mine.”

“How big do you want it?” he asked, but Sameen wasn’t done.

“Or I could do a zip tie around my wrist because, and this is funny, but the second time I met her…,” Shaw was laughing, but the artist was staring back wide-eyed.

“The thing is,” Shaw continued her soliloquy and the man simply put down the tool so she could continue, “…I could do a flame, because she is the hottest person I know. Especially, like when she’s shooting with two guns, which you would think was lame, but it’s not when she does it. I could do two guns. No, wait! I could do musical notes because she thinks we’re all just noise in the system, but wants us to be symphony. And that’s romantic, right?” Shaw questioned and continued before the tattooist could agree.

“Or a tazer because I can’t help but think of her when I see one. Or maybe just 4-A-F, which stands for ‘Four Alarm Fire’ which our love is; in an oil refinery, I might add, because geeezzus, we are hot together,” Shaw shared her every inner thought.

Now, she had the man’s attention because, as a true artist, he was really interested in capturing what was in this woman’s heart. He was going to have to wait.

“Or the yin-yang symbol, because she completes me; she makes me whole. Or a pile of bricks,” Shaw said and he looked at her quizzically. “Because she’s the only one who has ever broken down my wall,” Shaw said in a soft voice.

“That’s a lot to choose from,” the man pointed out.

“Or her name, because Root is just everything to me,” Shaw said in a tone that she never used when getting a tattoo before.

“Let’s get that heart off your sleeve and put it where it belongs,” the man said and assured Shaw he had all the information he needed now.

Shaw decided to put herself in his hands – literally.

Root didn’t realize how long something like this could take. After an hour, she was pacing back and forth, outside the room. “Should I knock?” she asked Martine who had joined her with Janine.

“I wouldn’t do that,” Martine expressed. “He’s probably in a zone right now and you don’t want to disturb that.”

“I bet it hurts; does it hurt?” Janine asked anxiously.

“Like hell,” Martine shared. “But Shaw will do fine.”

“I’ll kill him if he doesn’t do a good job,” Root said.

“Look at the canvas he’s got. I wouldn’t worry,” Janine suggested.

Then, the two women sat next to Root as they waited for Shaw to emerge.

Chapter Text

After the second hour, Janine had Root’s hand in hers; not so much to comfort as to be comforted. They didn’t realize that a lot of the time that passed had been on Shaw’s monologue of choices. When the door finally opened, the trio sprung to their feet.

“Are you okay?” Janine asked, as Root just smiled at Shaw. She didn’t need to ask; she could read Shaw’s expression of satisfaction.

“What do you think?” Shaw asked and extended her left arm out to show Root. There, on the inside of her limb, was an arrow; the very symbol Root used to describe Shaw. Plainly above the shaft was the couple’s alpha-numeric code name: 4AF with a flame. The arrow’s tail included two handguns because no one shot the way Root did. The tip encompassed small lightning bolts; two tiny drops of blood; and a small bracelet-shaped object. All to signify how Root tazed, drugged and zip tied Shaw when they first met.

The man used all the imagery Shaw talked about.

“It’s beautiful!” Root gushed because she understood the images immediately.

“It looks… a… little… sore,” Janine said and started to sway.

“I’ll get her to her office,” Martine said. “Nice job, Shaw.”

“It’s…so us,” Root gushed when they were alone.

“Yeah, he did a good job on this one,” Shaw said.

This one?” Root asked.

“Well, this one is sorta the one everyone can see. So, I asked him to do one for…uhm,” and Shaw looked around to make sure they were alone, “…just you.” With that, Sameen pulled the scoop neck of her black t-shirt down, exposing the upper protuberance of her left breast encased in the low cut bra.

The action of baring the burgeoning flesh made Root weak in her knees, and she hadn’t even seen the tattoo yet. When she did, she had to sit down.

“Do you like it?” Shaw asked, sitting next to her and even closer now.

“You had my name…?” Root asked, but her throat was closing as other parts of her body feverishly stirred.

“Yeah, over my heart and look, this ‘o’ is the yin-yang sign because you complete me,” Shaw explained as she tugged on her shirt to keep the top of her breast exposed. “And this?” she said pointing to the third letter in Root’s name.

Root felt so lightheaded that she had trouble seeing the orange colored circle. “Is that… a peach?” she guessed correctly.

“Yes,” Shaw said, smiling seductively. “Because kissing you is like…”

Root wanted to beg Sameen to stop talking for a second because her entire body was on overload and she was having trouble breathing.

“…biting into the most succulent peach; it’s like sweet and juicy,” Shaw listed adjectives as she stared down at it, unaware of how faint she was making Root.

“Oh…my…God,” Root uttered, her face flush with arousal.

“…and just a little wet.”

That was it.

Root’s body sprung at Shaw, knocking her over on the long couch. She grabbed Shaw’s head and pushed her down into a kiss that was so hard, she actually bit Shaw’s lip.

Shaw’s immediate reaction was to push back, because she thought Root fell over, but once she realized she was experiencing what she had just described, she relaxed and gave into it.

The door opened and the tattooist stood in the hallway for a second. Root was moaning her thoughts and couldn’t stop kissing the lips she had just bitten with her teeth.

“Dank’s,” Shaw said and looked up at him. Root stopped for a second, but only to get oxygen into her lungs.

He couldn’t remember the last time he saw a more satisfied customer. “You’re a lucky woman,” he said to Root. “She didn’t flinch.”

He wasn’t at the elevator before Root indulged in another round of unbridled passion that included soft kisses around her tattooed name.

“I’d give that twenty-four hours before doing anything,” he yelled from the elevator as the door closed.

Root heard him and pulled back to look at Shaw, worried.

“We’ll work around it,” Shaw suggested and swore Root picked her up in one fell-swoop before pushing her into the office where she locked the door behind them.

“I want to make sure he did a good job,” Root said as she was pulling off her clothes.

“You like to do you inspections… naked?” Shaw teased because it was easy to see how turned on Root was. She wasn’t even able to form words; she just pulled gently at Sameen’s clothing until they lay in a pile at her feet.

“I’ll be…,” and Root meant to assure Sameen she would be gentle, but her body couldn’t wait. She pushed Sameen back on the table where the process had just been completed. Root wanted to kiss her, but kept breaking away so she could step back to admire Shaw’s exquisite body. Her hands roamed as Sameen pulled her up on top. “I don’t want to hurt…,” she tried, but Shaw pulled her forcefully down and wrapped her legs around her.

“Nothing hurts when you’re here,” she whispered in Root’s ear, her hand draping across Root’s alabaster skin.

It was the green light that ignited Root to devour Shaw’s flesh – except the newly inked parts – as her molten need for Shaw went on overload. . Shaw was on a high from the cessation of pain and was so turned on by Root, that there was no thought given except the rhythmic motion of their bodies. Root’s fiery, cataclysmic response pushed Shaw over the edge until she shattered into a thousand pieces of delicious satisfaction.

The only thought Shaw had afterwards, as they lay in each other’s arms, was that she should have made the flame larger.

Root had her own take. “I think we just raised that four alarm fire to double digits.”

After recovering and getting dressed, the two women returned to their offices. Root went back but found herself staring out the window and daydreaming about their afternoon delight.

Shaw returned to her office where a large pillow was placed on her desk for her arm.

“You need to keep hydrated,” Janine said, giving Shaw a large glass of orange juice. “I read that.”

“You’ve been researching tattoos?” Shaw asked and smiled because Janine’s head was turned away so she didn’t have to see the newly minted arm tattoo.

“Well, a little, I can’t… the pictures,” the assistant tried to explain.

“Got it,” Shaw said and pulled a napkin up over her arm. A gesture that did not go unappreciated.

“You must think I’m a total wimp,” Janine professed.

“Are you kidding? You’re a total badass at what you do,” Shaw complimented her.

“Really? At what I do? But… what do I do?” Janine expressed, doubting herself.

“You’re my right hand,” Shaw explained. “Well, more like my left one today.”

“Yes, yes, that’s… that’s what I do,” Janine said, walking back into her cubicle.

Of course, the eager assistant was researching the process of tattooing as it related to regular people. Little of her actual investigating would relate to someone as tough as Shaw. When Root came to collect her fianceé, at the end of the day, Janine was ready with her notes.

“She should get rest and you can ice the area if it hurts. She won’t say it hurts; we both know that. So, ice it and watch it for swelling. Her lip looked a little swollen to me, but I am not sure that’s related to the tattoo,” the ever vigilant assistant shared.

Root could only smile at being the cause of the bee-stung lip. “I bit her,” she shared.

“Ooohh,” Janine said, but worried. Not one to tell the CEO of the company what to do, she felt torn because they were talking about her most favorite person. “You… will … take care of her?” she asked and by that she meant, let her rest.

There were many answers Root could have provided to that question, but she understood exactly where Janine was coming from. And it was a place of total goodness.

“Yes, I promise,” she assured the woman. “You can even call her later to check in on her.”

Had Root given Janine her Christmas bonus, the woman would have been less grateful. “I will, thank you, I will,” Janine said, before she left.

“Did you just tell her to check in on me later?” Shaw asked with a look of, ‘are you crazy?’

“You are responsible for the things you tame, Shaw,” Root quoted the famous saying. “You of all people should know that,” she teased.

“I really hate that you’re so smart, you know that, right?” Shaw complained as they got ready to go home.

“You love that I’m so smart,” Root corrected her.

“Okay, yes, but then I hate that you know that I do,” Shaw said, trying to one up her.

“No you don’t; you like that I know you so well,” Root countered.

Sameen was losing and she didn’t like it. So, she answered with the only thing she knew could get Root to stop talking.

There, in the crowded elevator as they stood behind everyone; Shaw pulled at her t-shirt to expose the tattoo that only Root could see.

“Not…,” Root said, and wanted to complete her thought about it not being fair, but she couldn’t think.

Shaw’s smile was victorious.

Across town, in the bowels of Greer’s company, Lambert was updating his boss.

“Every portal that we had managed to infiltrate, seems to have downloaded a free antivirus software from BEAR. We’re dead in the water if they included a surveillance code in that,” Lambert shared.

“I have no doubt that Ms. Groves would do that. I’m surprised you don’t know that already, Jeremy,” the older man chastised him. If it weren’t for the man’s undying devotion to the older man, he’d have gotten rid of him.

“I have the team working on a counter code,” Lambert reported, hoping to impress his boss.

But Greer was too busy fixing his tie and matching pocket square in his suit pocket. “Not to worry, Mr. Lambert. I think I may have found someone who can help us.”

“I’ll get my coat,” the younger man said.

“No, that’s alright. I’m meeting someone for drinks. I’ll be back soon,” Greer said, forcing a smile on his face. With that, he walked out of his offices in Grand Central Station and down to his car. He gave the driver the address of the café uptown. “Good employees are so hard to find these days,” he murmured to himself as his driver took off.

“Where is my mother?” Ayala asked Alystair when she returned from her workout.

“She said she was going to meet you,” he explained.

“She never said anything to me about that,” Ayala stated and dialed her mother on her cell.

The call went directly to voicemail.

Chapter Text

Azar knew there would be hell to pay when her daughters found out what she had done; but she was willing to pay that price. She knew Ayala would be especially cross because she didn’t only pride herself on being her mother’s bodyguard; she now seemed determined to impress her big sister at doing it.

Their mother had spent time accessing what happened at Grand Central and how Lambert abducted her daughter. And while she thought Root’s move to infiltrate the very machines that Greer’s program was monitoring was brilliant, she felt the need to settle a score.

It wasn’t that Azar didn’t think that Root and her elder daughter could handle the menacing group on their own. But this group had crossed a line and made it personal for Azar by hurting her family.

In reaching out to Greer, Azar slipped in some former MI-6 code names to let him know, she knew what she was doing. She presented herself as a knowledgeable hacker who had uncovered a flaw in his system. She promised she could give him undeniable proof for a piece of the action in exchange. He had no intention of doing anything until this woman was vetted.

When he decided her credentials were valid, he agreed to meet her. A very cautious man, Greer arrived ten minutes early; only to find his new friend already seated at the table. “Ms. Abdallah?” Greer asked as he approached the table. Of course she had used an alias; not unusual with professional hackers.

“Mr. Greer, it is a pleasure,” she replied. Her dark eyes smiled as she extended her hand to him. She was impeccably dressed in a dark suit with a white blouse. The blouse’s standup collar accentuated her neck which was adorned in a thick gold necklace. It caught his eye, and he decided it was probably bought in her native country because of the intricate design.

When he sat down, he noticed his favorite drink was already waiting for him. He smiled, but waved for the waiter anyway. “Would you be so kind as to replace this with an Earl Gray tea,” he asked and the waiter took the drink away.

Azar smiled. “You are either not in the mood for a drink, or you are a very cautious man.”

“The latter,” the older man clarified. “You’d be surprised by the number of people who wish me ill. But I thank you for researching my favorite libation,” he began. “Now, you, Ms. Abdallah, let me tell you what I know about you,” he countered, trying to impress her. “You are an ISFP,” Greer said, thanking the waiter when he turned with the tea.

“You’ve found my Myers-Briggs personality results? I’m impressed, Mr. Greer; it’s ancient history,” the woman confessed modestly.

“Not ancient at all, my dear,” he smiled. There was something very charming about the woman that he found alluring.

Usually the people who were out to impress him were a fraction of his age and he abhorred their poor manners. This woman’s eyes were welcoming and her smile was captivating. It had been a long time since he found stirrings in the presence of a female. John Greer had been nothing but business for years now. “You are quiet, sensitive and kind, although I do imagine your life as a hacker has peeled off some of those layers.”

Azar actually managed to blush at his accolades.

“You’re loyal, faithful and private, which are good assets in this business. But you also socially uncomfortable, prone to discouragement and do not like to draw attention to yourself. Also good qualities for someone who is going to live their life underground,” the man went on. Azar’s file was filled with lots of mistruths, but each thing revealed would tell her how far Greer had managed to hack to get the info.

“I feel as if I am sitting here…,” Azar said, her hand on her chest, drawing his attention to her cleavage, “… exposed.”

Thinking she was impressed with his research and candor, her continued. “You are flexible, open minded, likely to be original and creative,” he said as he poured the hot water into the waiting cup. His voice got a less warm when he added;

“And you suffer from cyclothymia,” he said and smiled when he thought he saw surprise on her face. “Diagnosed years ago,” he said, waiting for his tea to reach the right temperature. “I am going to say that you’re taking your medication because your mood at present seems neither manic, nor depressive,” he assessed, believing she suffered from a disorder in the bipolar family.

“I don’t always take it,” Azar confessed and casted her eyes downward, as if she were ashamed. In fact, she had fabricated everything Greer found out about her.

“No, I imagine that it dulls your senses and when you’re working, you prefer the highs of that amplified state,” he suggested. Thinking he had stripped away any doubt that he wasn’t a man who knew now how to get what he wanted, he sat back.

“Your research is… impressive,” the woman admitted and he smiled.

“That is but a small example of what my magnificent program can do,” he boasted because Azar buried her information deep so that he would feel he actually had uncovered something. “So, Ms. Abdallah, tell me what flaw you found in my system. Were you scurrying around on the dark web and think you found something I have not discovered myself?”

“Anyone who spends any amount of time there knows the potential of your program,” she started.

“Then, you know there are no flaws that I am unaware of,” he bragged.

“Oh, I think you have found it, Mr. Greer; but you refuse to act on it. Your biggest flaw design, Mr. Greer, isn’t in any of your software,” the Persian woman said, slowing taking back the control she let John Greer think he had for a few minutes. “It’s in your organization… Jeremy Lambert,” she smiled, taking a sip of her drink.

“Lambert is annoyingly devoted, Ms. Abdallah,” Greer pointed out and took a sip of the perfectly steeped cup of tea.

“Don’t confuse devotion for competence, Mr. Greer,” she smiled. “I saw the news about the gas explosion in Grand Central,” she shook her head. “Now, your system is at risk because of his ineptitude.”

“Is that so, Ms. Abdallah?” Greer grinned. He didn’t feel threatened at all because his team was already assessing what the BEAR software was doing. She wasn’t telling him anything new.

“Yes,” Azar smiled pleasantly. “For example, the only reason you came alone to meet me is because you believe your program has hacked into the security camera feed of the restaurant,” she said accurately. Greer’s head immediately went to the corner where a camera was located. “But I disrupted that signal. That has left you quite vulnerable.”

“We are in the middle of a restaurant at dinner time,” he pointed out.

“Exactly,” Azar agreed. “This is why it will take a little while for the ambulance to get through traffic to get to you.”

He sat back again. “Are you going to shoot me? What is it that you want?” he asked out of curiosity.

“I’m not going to touch you, Mr. Greer,” Azar smiled knowingly. “The tea you just drank is laced with a poison that will resemble the symptoms of a heart attack. I knew you wouldn’t accept the drink I ordered, so I had someone prepare that cup just for you. Now, you won’t actually have an attack, but they won’t know that until they’ve scorched your chest with defibrillator paddles.”

“You do have a wild imagination,” Greer laughed as he leaned in to the table. “I don’t know what your game is, my dear, but that equipment does not cause burns,” he scoffed.

“Unless your chest is first covered in an active agent that will cause the burning,” Azar smiled back, looking menacingly at him.

Now, he started to worry.

“Why exactly did you ask to meet me?” he questioned.

“You’re going to wake up later and not remember most of this. You will, however, find this card in your pocket,” Azar said, slipping a credit-card shaped object across the table.

“What is this?” he asked.

“It’s the answer to all your problems, Mr. Greer. Think of it as my calling card,” Azar explained.

“I think I’ve had enough,” Greer said without a hint of anger. His years in MI-6 left him unfazed by most subversive tactics.

Before he could rise out of his seat, Azar took her phone out and entered a code. “Remember, John, that’s the answer to your issue,” she said of the card.

Then, much to Greer’s surprise, she retrieved what looked like a gas mask and placed it over her face. The gas immediately started to discharge through the vents. Patrons dropped or fell over in their seats. He looked over in horror as he succumbed, slipping into a slumber. Azar stood up, slipped the card into his inside pocket and removed her necklace. She placed it around the neck of another patron, so that when Greer described it, and the woman was identified, people would think he was having a senior moment.

With that, the well-coiffed woman walked outside, removed the mask, dialed 911 and reported a gas leak at a restaurant with possible heart attack victim. The fire department and prearranged EMT’s arrived on the scene.

While Root and her team were attempting to get past Greer’s firewalls, the Persian former CIA operative had just delivered something that might just make it past the entire security team.

She looked up at the street camera and winked. The machine was more than willing to assist her former caretaker on this excursion. The machine understood Azar was also protecting her and in reconnecting, it re-energized the association of Azar as her guardian. The poison, the gas, the paid off EMT who would brand Greer's chest were the former CIA's doing. But the machine was with her and she was learning an important lesson from Azar in the process.

She was learning the art of revenge because … no one messes with family.
While Azar was proving payback was a bitch to John Greer, who now was receiving a large dose of volts to his un-attacked heart, Ayala was frantically trying to find her.

“I’m okay and on my way home,” her mother texted her, which didn’t settle her nerves.

“No! I will meet you at Sameen’s. We are going to talk about this,” Ayala warned her and made her mother smile.

Sameen had no idea any of this was coming her way and was already dealing with her own challenge at the moment.

“Root!” she called out from the kitchen. “Come in here and talk to him. He’s gone all Belgian Supermodel on me and won’t eat!”

Root walked into the kitchen where Shaw sat on the floor in front of the dog that wouldn’t look at her. “What is up with this devo,” Shaw asked.

“Sweetie,” Root implored, “…calling him names won’t help.”

“But he’s not eating,” Shaw explained because she took the idea seriously.

“Did you show him the tattoo?” Root asked, sitting at the counter.

“Yes,” Shaw said and tried to connect that. “He wants a tattoo?”

“I doubt it,” Root said, but wasn’t certain. “Probably has something to do with the lack of Bear imagery.”

“He’s upset because I didn’t have something of his inked on my body?” Shaw asked incuriously.

“Probably,” Root said softly, scrunching up her face.

“How about I put a paw on my ass because you are such a big pain there,” Shaw barked, adding fuel to the fire.

“Sameen,” Root called. She patted the stool next to her for Shaw to sit so she could explain. Shaw stood up and wore a ‘why me?’ expression on her face. “He’s the baby,” she preempted Root’s case.

“He did do an incredible job the other day,” Root reminded Shaw of his heroic acts.

“You’re not seriously asking me to get a paw tattooed on my ass, are you?” Shaw bellowed.

“No, silly,” Root said, leaning into Sameen. “Just give him time.”

Shaw was about to argue, but the doorman announced that Janine was there.

“You told her to call and she showed up?” Shaw pointed out to Root.

“I think she’s a visual person; she needs to see you,” Root reasoned.

“That’s your defense?” Shaw suspiciously and Root nodded her head yes. “Well, I’m not taking the moody roommate and the obsessed assistant, so you pick.”

“Come here, Bear; we’ll talk,” Root chose immediately.

“I really should have phrased that differently,” Shaw mumbled to herself as she went to face her assistant.

“Oh, my God, let me see,” Janine begged as she bounced out of the elevator and into Sameen’s personal space. She gently lifted Shaw’s arm and looked at her suspiciously. “Have you iced it?” she asked because the skin looked swollen.

“I was…,’ Shaw tried to explain why she hadn’t, but she was pulled into the kitchen.

“I knew I should have come here sooner,” Janine admonished herself. “You guys are so busy…,” she went on as she made Shaw sit next to Root as she went to retrieve ice. “Twenty minutes on, twenty minutes off,” she repeated what she read.

“Is this the only one?” she asked as she gently placed the ice along her inner arm.

“The only one?” Shaw asked, stalling and looking at Root, who could only smile at how quickly the weakest woman in the room could disarm the strongest one. “There was … I don’t think… I can…,’ Shaw tried and looked wide eyed at Root to help.

Root had to admit, she didn’t know a lot about the after care of tattoos and knew the woman had probably done extensive research. “Maybe you should put some ice on it,” Root suggested because she had placed her mouth and hands all around it.

“Where is it?” Janine asked because she needed to know in order to make the ice pack. “Is it?” she asked, looking directly at Shaw’s derriere.

“No!” Shaw said, not caring for the attention.

“Okay, then…, “ Janine said and felt there was no need for hesitation.

“Here,” Shaw conceded and gently pulled down on her t-shirt.

“OH MY GOD!” Janine said, clasping her hands. “That is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!”

Root beamed that someone else had now seen her name emblazoned across Shaw’s breast. “Isn’t it?” Root grinned.

“Yes! So romantic, Shaw,” Janine said sincerely. “But you need ice.”

“I need peace,” Shaw said, but no one paid attention.

Bear was now wailing that there were two tattoos without any mention of him. Root was trying to explain why that was. Janine was back with the second ice pack and pulled at Shaw’s shirt to place it directly where it was needed. She was so fast, that all Shaw could do was stare up at her, hoping to bring her attention to the fact that she was holding ice on her bare breast.

Thinking Shaw was being thoughtful, Janine assured her; “Don’t worry. I could do this all night.”

Sameen was an expert at keeping people physically at bay. Once they made it past her safety space, she was at a total loss as to how to remove them. Martial arts simply didn’t seem appropriate.

“Root!” she tried because she felt confident her fiancée would pry the assistant off her breast.

“I think Sameen wanted to arrange a luncheon with the security staff for your heroics,” Root was explaining and didn’t hear the cry for help. “And a trophy,” she added to lift his spirits.

Bear was making a lot of noise asking for the particulars.

“Yes, tomorrow would be perfect,” Root agreed and put it into her calendar.

“Root!” Shaw said again.

“Tomorrow, luncheon for Bear. You’ll make a small speech,” she updated Sameen.

Root would have eventually noticed that her lover’s left breast was released from its encasement and covered by the woman’s hand holding the ice bag, but the noise in the entryway distracted her.

“SAMEEN! COME TALK TO YOUR MOTHER!” they heard Ayala yell. She assured the doorman no announcement was needed seeing how it was Shaw’s mother. He tried to announce them anyway, but the couple was otherwise engaged.
“I understand your concern, but I truly don’t think we should barge in here like this,” Azar attempted to say. She had hoped to calm her daughter down before they went into the elevator, but the younger sibling wouldn’t hear of it.

Thinking the best defense was a good offense, she decided to tell her older sister first.

Root ran in with Bear; Sameen was behind her, still attached to the ice pack and its maker.

“New tattoos?” Ayala asked, wondering how her sister was so calm standing there exposed.

“What?” Shaw asked, and then slowly pulled her clothing back up, removing Janine’s hand.

“That is one devoted woman,” Ayala couldn’t help but note. Then, she remembered why she was there. “Talk to her!” she demanded even though Shaw had no idea what she was talking about. “Go ahead!” she instructed her mother. “Tell her what you did.”

“Oh, so when she does something bad, she’s my mother?” Shaw asked, not caring for the bossy tone in her sibling’s voice.

“Why don’t we all go in here,” Root suggested and no one realized it until they sat down, but Janine was sitting right next to Shaw.

“What is this about?” Shaw asked, accepting that she couldn’t shake the woman off if she tried.

“In my defense,” Azar began with the worst like she could have.

“She went out without telling anyone. She told Alystair that she was meeting me. But where was she? Go ahead, ask her!” commanded the sibling who had noticed the gas mask in her bag and questioned her on the way over.

“Look at you; raising a little pit bull of parenting skills,” Shaw said to her mother. “Now, make it easy on all of us and tell us what you did.” Shaw was mocking just a little because she couldn’t imagine what egregious thing her mother might have done what would upset her sister like this.

“I went to see Greer,” Azar said and then proceeded to straighten out her dress even though there were no wrinkles.

“WHAT?” Root and Shaw said together.

“Isn’t that the man who?” Janine asked, having seen the man’s name in the security reports.

“YES!” Shaw confirmed.

“Oh, he’s very bad. Very bad,” the assistant stated.

“What the hell were you thinking?” Shaw asked.

“That’s what I want to know, too,” her younger sibling chimed in.

“No one messes with my family,” Azar said plainly and Janine grabbed her own chest at how sweet that was, uttering, “Ohhh.”

“Look, I get it, you were probably angry, frustrated, and a little bit scared that they messed with your favorite daughter,” Shaw began.

“I’m not scared,” Azar felt it was necessary to point out, thinking she was assuring her kids.

That wasn’t the point.

Shaw was in her mother’s personal space so fast that Ayala actually stood up to protect her mother. But when she heard that her sister was speaking from the heart, she actually just stood closer to Sameen.

“Well, maybe you should!” Shaw lectured. “You could have been hurt tonight. Greer’s going to get smarter because he knows who he’s up against with Root.”

"Yes, of course. I only meant,” the older woman tried, but Shaw wasn’t done.

“And while you might not be worried about what happens to you because you have some antiquated CIA training skills you’re itching to use; other people are! Other people who care for you. Try to remember that,” Shaw finished her lecture that sprung from her heart.

Now, Azar could have pointed out that her daughter was the first person to want to settle a score when it came to someone hurting someone she loved, but she didn’t. She just sat there, taking in that her two daughters were on the same side of the issue – together. She did all she could do but jump up and grab them in a hug. Instead, she looked over at Root with a knowing look and came back to her off spring.

“You’re absolutely right,” Azar said,

“Damn straight, I’m right,” Shaw quipped.

“Damn straight, she’s right,” Ayala echoed, as they stood shoulder to shoulder.

Root leaned over to Janine. “I know who I’m going to get my parenting advice from.”

Chapter Text

Root’s passing comment in admiration to Azar’s skill at handling her daughters didn’t go unnoticed by the alert helper. Janine’s mind was still on the wedding preparations; she hadn’t thought about children. She had so many questions, but knew it was not the appropriate time to ask. Instead, she tried to concentrate on her boss.

“Seriously, mom; what did you expect to do? Greer’s probably got his machine watching him or he wouldn’t have met you alone,” Shaw pointed out, thinking like an operative.

“Yes, and now he knows what you look like. Did you really think shooting him or whatever you did was worth exposing yourself as an enemy?” Ayala reasoned.

“I didn’t shoot him!” Azar replied indignantly.

“I didn’t think she would shoot someone; too classy,” Janine whispered to Root.

“Oh, don’t get me wrong,” Azar said when she heard the remark. “I am capable of shooting a person dead center, but I didn’t want to kill Greer. I wanted to make him the Trojan horse.”

Root knew that, in spite of the woman’s training as a CIA operative, she was a hacker at heart. “You gave him something?”

The sheer look of satisfaction on Azar’s face confirmed Root’s assumption. “When he comes to in the ambulance…,” she tried to explain.

Ambulance?” Ayala said and she and her sister decided they better hear their mother out.

“I poisoned him… a little,” Azar confessed.

“Again with the poison?” Shaw barked. “Her code name from now on is Arsenic and Old Lace,” she said, thinking she was very clever until she saw the scowl on her mother’s face.

“Underneath everyone’s exterior is a human machine that continuously gives out clues. For Mr. Greer, it’s an obsession to detail. He is convinced his instrument could possible run a better world, if only he could get his hands on more hardware and harness it to the mystery machine that people whisper about; namely yours, Samantha. So, I tempted him with something that would unnerve him; a flaw in his system. He couldn’t resist and felt safe coming to meet me because he had set his program to hack the surrounding cameras. I know this because I disrupted the signals before I got there,” she explained.

“So, he walks in and you slip something into his drink?” Shaw asked, still thinking this was a foolhardy mission.

“No, first I flirted with him,” she said, but her daughters both put their hands up in protest to stop telling them such things.

“I’ll never un-see that now,” Shaw complained.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Sameen. I was cordial and polite; I didn’t touch him,” Azar chastised the overreaction.

“Make her stop,” Shaw said, grabbing her stomach.

“What did you do then?” Ayala asked, patting her sister’s leg to show her empathy.

“I told him I was aware of the flaw in his system and had the answer. I told him it was Jeremy Lambert, but of course he didn’t believe me. So, to prove I had control of the situation, I told him he had just been poisoned; that the symptoms would mimic a heart attack, and that the ambulance on its way would use the defibrillator paddles on him that would leave burn marks.”

The former doctor felt it important to point out that the devices do not leave marks. Azar smiled shrewdly and said they do, if your chest is first covered in an agent to accelerate the heat. She looked over at the looks of disbelief on her daughters. “That part was revenge, I admit,” the woman explained, smiling.

“What was the mask for?” Ayala asked.

“You wore a mask?” Shaw asked. “That… was your disguise?”

Azar smiled to think how little faith her children had in her skills. “It was a gas mask and it was for the nerve blocking vapor that temporarily knocked out the entire restaurant. I told him he wouldn’t remember a lot of what happened,” she smiled as if it had been the civilized thing to do.

“So, now he’s going to have nightmares of a dark haired woman poisoning him?” Shaw asked.

“What did you give him?” Root asked, intrigued and calmer than the siblings.

“A digital card, like the one you use to get into a hotel room. I explained that the proof of Lambert’s incompetence was on it. Out of curiosity, I think he will look at it,” Azar said.

“But he’ll have it scrubbed first?” Root pointed out because no one would just put a card into their system.

“I’m counting on it. The program he uses to decipher if that card is clean will, in fact, act as a twenty-four hour detonator,” Azar said and Root clasped her hands in awe.

“My God! You’re brilliant!” said the brilliant hacker with such admiration that it took Shaw a second to realize the love fest in motion.

“Don’t!” she turned to Root. “Encourage her!”

But Root and Azar were connecting on a different plane that her daughters could not yet appreciate. “You wrote the code for that?” Root asked all excited.

“Yes,” Azar said and Root fell back on the couch, her hand on her head in amazement.

“That is so cool!” Root gushed.

Shaw’s head spun back and forth and finally looked at Ayala, who shrugged her shoulders to indicate she was out of ideas.

“Okay, you know what’s not cool?” Shaw barked, trying to break up the nerd connection, “… going out without telling your bodyguard!”

“YES!” Ayala agreed, thinking that was an excellent point.

Even Shaw knew what her mother did was cool, though. “She is kind of old school badass,” Shaw admitted.

“And lethal,” Ayala added, amazed she had rarely seen this side of her mother. By the time her youngest daughter was aware that her mother was involved with a machine, she was in her more subdued stage. She had already taken care of the men that killed Shaw’s father.

“So, he doesn’t know he met you?” Janine asked, wondering if there was room on her worry plate for one more person to worry about.

“His memory will be very hazy at best. Someone, undoubtedly, Lambert, will ask him about meeting someone. Then, Greer will find the card. The threads are like gossamer at best, but I’m betting he’s curious enough to try and make them connect,” Azar explained.

“Were you at least armed?” Ayala asked, unsure if she wanted to know the answer.

“Always,” the woman affirmed.

Hoping to throw it back to her sister, Shaw felt it necessary to point out how her mother went out without telling her bodyguard. “I would ground her for that alone,” Shaw suggested.

“Yes, I think she’s right,” Ayala concurred. She was secretly happy her sister wasn’t blaming her for any of this.

“God, you people are so exhausting!” Shaw moaned as she held her head. “You’re all staying here tonight. I won’t take no for an answer,” she announced, thinking she would worry less if her mother and sister were under the same roof.

Of course, her relatives weren’t the only ones there.

Root looked at Shaw because she had just told EVERYONE in the room they were staying. Sameen was getting better at reading Root’s expressions. Instead of just shouting out – “WHAT?” – now she took the time to reflect on what her fiancée’s expression might be telling her. “Oh,” she said, getting it. There was no backtracking now without hurting the woman’s feelings. That didn’t meant she knew how to finesse the situation. “And that means you, too,” she said sternly to Janine, as if she needed convincing.

“Me?” Janine asked, genuinely confused why Sameen would insist on her staying. “Why…?”

Shaw looked over at Root as if to say – I didn’t know there would be a Q&A about this! Root understood she had just been handed the baton so she came up with the only thing she could think of. “Well, it’s been twenty minutes. Isn’t it time to ice Sameen?”
Janine jumped from the couch and ran – as in break neck speed – because she looked at her watch and realized it was seconds past twenty minutes. All four women stared as she rushed out.

“I need to be… iced?” Shaw said incredulously to Root.

“Is she…,” Ayala started to ask. “…going to do that throughout the night?”

With that, Janine hurried back with the long ice bag for Shaw’s arm, and a smaller one. Then, Shaw… and everyone… watched as Janine held the second bag of ice and motioned around Shaw’s breast, trying to decide the most delicate way to do this in front of everyone. “I could… should I?...” she stammered, until Shaw took it from her.

“Thanks, I got this,” she smiled and gingerly took the bag.

In spite of the fact that Root wanted to be Shaw’s caretaker, and she would be as soon as they went upstairs, she simply could not deny the assistant the sheer joy of helping Shaw. Even if Shaw sat there scowling.

Twenty minutes later, and not a minute before, Shaw was released from the woman’s careful watch and the ice. She promised she’d have the ice ready every twenty minutes throughout the night, but Sameen assured her that she could manage.

After everyone was settled in their respective bedrooms, Shaw collapsed in bed with Root.

“You’re mother’s kind of a rebel, isn’t she?” Root said, smiling.

“Yeah, she is,” Shaw had to agree.

“I think I know where you get it from,” Root teased, gently kissing the length of Shaw’s newly inked arm.

“You better not leave any marks or my nurse will have words with you,” Shaw playfully warned Root.

“You’re right,” Root said, picking right up on the game, “I better only touch places she won’t be looking. Like… right here,” Root said, invading Sameen’s short pajama leg and grazing her skin.

Minutes later, Shaw reached for the bag of ice, but put it on her forehead – in an attempt to cool her temperature that was spiking from the fires Root was setting off.

“Remember,” Root whispered to woman falling under her spell, “…if you scream, as you so often do, I know of at least one woman who will rush in here to rescue you.”
Stifling Shaw’s screams was one way Root though of heightening the intensity. And in spite of the pillow over her mouth, Bear wasn’t the only one who heard the sounds of someone in the throes of passion.

Before retiring that night, both Azar and Ayala, separately, thanked Janine for taking such good care of Sameen. It renewed her adoration with vigor. As if it could get any more extreme.

The only thing that made Sameen more civilized at breakfast was the fact that she was eating – and that Root had taken care of every pang of pain or frustration she felt the night before. Root’s lips had left a trail of hot kisses that Sameen was certain were inscribed into her skin. Shaw had used ice packs to cool off, but never one applied them to the tattoos.

When Janine inspected her arm, she could not say for certain that it looked its best. “We’re going to have to keep an eye on…,” and she hesitated, but felt it necessary to inform her boss that she meant, “... both of them,” as she pointed to both areas.

“Sorry, Bear, I can’t make a speech at your luncheon today because I’ll be bearing myself in my office,” Sameen tried to get out of the toast.

“Don’t be silly,” Root said and Shaw thought she was coming to her defense. “It’s only for twenty minutes.”

“No, that’s not the answer …,” Shaw tried, but it was too late.

Bear was getting his speech and Janine was getting her way.

When the women went to part their ways, Shaw instructed Ayala to keep her mother at the Penthouse. “Just in case she decides to settle an old score with the Girl Scouts or something,” she said and the sibling agreed.

“I texted Fusco last night. He’ll be at work to update me,” Sameen told Root on their way over.

“I hope he can do it in twenty minutes,” Root teased and Shaw told her that it was her sad duty to report that her sense of humor was lacking. Seriously lacking.

Janine was waiting and ready as soon as Sameen saw her way to her office. With limited mobility of one arm, Shaw found it harder to answer the phone and swat her assistant away. This is why Fusco stopped in his tracks when he arrived at the doorway between Shaw’s office and her assistant. Shaw’s left arm was wrapped in ice; her right hand was holding the phone, and Janine stood behind her, holding the second bag of ice in place; down Shaw’s blouse.

“You two want me to come back?” the detective asked, standing there holding coffee and donuts.

Janine was looking at her watch, counting down the time. “Three, two, one… No, detective, please come in. We’re all done here.”

In spite of the green light, Fusco moved in slowly, staring at Shaw to explain. “Yes, that’s fine,” Shaw said to the person on the other end of the phone and hung up. Once she gave up fighting, she simply went with the flow.

“What… was she doing?” Fusco asked, putting the coffee down and letting Shaw grabbed the bag of treats.

“Must you always get jelly?” she balked.

“Again, what was she doing?” he insisted.

“She read you have to ice tattoos for twenty-four hours,” Shaw said and then realized how she could get even with him. “I’ll show you as soon as I’m done,” she said, grabbing the donut and eating it.

“For someone who doesn’t like jelly donuts, you sure can eat them fast enough,” he complained because hers was the Boston crème donut. “Can I update you, or will Peggy Olsen be bursting in here to do yoga with you?”

“Peggy Olsen?” Shaw asked, getting off track.

“Mad Men?” Fusco explained.

“Why not Pennymoney?” Shaw wanted to know – if he insisted on coming up with a nickname for Janine.

“James Bonds’ assistant? It’s MoneyPenny, Shaw. Geez, that’s why she’s Peggy Olsen and not Moneypenny. Because you’re not James Bond,” Fusco explained and annoyed his friend.

“Forget all that,” Shaw instructed. “What did you hear about the restaurant?”

“One of your favorite places? Were you and Ethel there last night, because there was some funny business going on,” Fusco said, putting on his reading glasses and taking out the file he sort of borrowed. Then, he read the facts; “A call to 911 from a burner cell alerted the FDNY of a possible gas leak. Three containers of knock-out gas were found in the vents which caused all the patrons to fall asleep. Nothing taken, no jewelry stolen. One guy taken to the hospital with possible heart attack, but recovered before getting to the hospital and checked himself out; no other injuries.” He put the folder down. “Care to enlighten?” he asked, taking a bit of the donut meant for his friend.

“That was Greer,” Shaw said and Lionel verified the patient’s name.

“The guy from Grand Central?” he asked and Sameen nodded.

“You trying to take him out on your own, Shaw? I told you, you can’t do it that way,” Fusco lectured her.

“It wasn’t me!” she said defensively.

“Then, how come you know about it?” he asked.

“Apparently my mother paid him a visit,” Shaw whispered.

“Your mother?” Fusco asked, surprised. “She did all that?”

“Yes, and she believes that she left no trace, so keep an eye for that, ok?” Shaw asked like she was talking about fixing a parking ticket.

“Your mother? She went to that place with Greer? The old guy?” the detective asked, trying to piece it together.

“For payback,” Shaw explained.

“Oh,” her friend said, because he understood that. “Still, she took some chance..,” he mentioned without mentioning all of them.

“Yeah, well apparently, my mother is a badass,” Shaw said, a mixture of surprise and proud. “She gets it from me,” she added.

“It’s usually the other way around,” Fusco pointed out, smiling. “Maybe, Shaw, you’re really not the toughest one around,” he suggested and laughed.

“Very funny,” she said sarcastically.

And then, she tried to play the ace up her sleeve to get even and win back all the points he scored the other day when he suggested she go shopping for china with Root.

“Hey, Fusco, want to see my other tattoo?” she asked and put her hand to her shirt.

The mere thought of Shaw exposing any delicate part of her body, sent the man rushing out of the room. “See you later, Shaw,” he yelled, dancing around Janine to get out of the office.

“Who’s a badass?” she asked mockingly, thinking she had just proven her point.

“Time for your speech, Shaw,” Janine informed her; and Shaw was certain she could hear her toughness deflating around her.

“I swear, I’d rather pick out china patterns,” Shaw bemoaned as she got ready.

“Oh, by the way, Root asked me to tell you you’re going shopping for china after work,” Janine delivered the message.

“Just shoot me,” Shaw said, rolling her eyes. “Just shoot me now.”

Shaw had no way of knowing it, but within twenty-four hours, someone was going to try to grant her wish.

Chapter Text

Root had only to thank Sameen for giving the speech to quell her balking. “Just mention how helpful he was in carrying out a major security task; you can leave it vague,” Root explained, since not everyone knew of their excursion to Grand Central.

Shaw walked into the large conference room where the security team was gathered. There was a long buffet table adorned with food and a large cake that said: Congratulations Bear.

“Don’t you think we’re making just a teensy bit too much out of this?” Shaw whispered to Root.

“Do you want to live with him when he’s insulted and mopey?” Root asked.

“You’re enabling him,” Shaw stated.

“Yes,” Root said as if that were completely obvious to everyone – except Bear.

“Fine,” Shaw conceded, rolling her eyes.

“You’re so cute when you do that,” Root smiled.

“Do what?” Shaw asked.

“Enabling me, enabling him,” Root said. If it weren’t for the fact that Root’s eyes smiled so broadly over her doing this, Shaw may have protested.

Instead, she drew a deep breath and stood at the front of the room.

“Sometimes, we perform security operations that are not announced; more covert because of the nature of our business. When you’re doing that, you need to have the best people by your side. In one of our latest encounters… with a… competitor,” Shaw decided to call Greer, “… Bear was with us. He not only performed magnificently, he saved the day with his quick thinking. Thanks, buddy,” Shaw said, and knelt down to hug the canine.

That was what Bear appreciated most. He proceeded to lick her face unceremoniously.

“That was really nice, Shaw,” Reese said after the festivities and handing her a wet towel.

“The speech?” she asked.

“I meant leaving food for everyone,” John said and because he thought it was funny, little crinkles appeared around his eyes.

“You know, when I’m not available, Reese, you have to be with Root; am I right?” Shaw said, the brilliant idea just forming in her head.

“Yes,” Reese said, looking at dark eyes that twinkled with trouble.

“Well, if I’m shopping for…oh, I don’t know… china patterns, let’s say, I’m not there in a bodyguard capacity. Now, am I?” Shaw smiled… broadly.

“Are you suggesting that…,” Reese attempted to clarify, but Shaw was already confirming that it was exactly what she meant.

“Fine,” Reese said, because two could play this poorly orchestrated chess game.

Sameen might have been doing this to bust Reese, but she was also grateful to have an extra set of eyes with them when she was distracted. And nothing said distraction like shopping for china patterns.

Reese accepted his fate graciously, but not without making sure Shaw had all the help she needed.

Yes, he invited Janine.

“But it’s past the twenty-four hours for her tattoo care. What possible help could I be?” Janine questioned. “Why didn’t she ask me herself?”

“You know Shaw; she doesn’t like to take advantage,” Reese reasoned.

“That’s so true,” she said, sold on the idea.

Shaw kept looking at, what would be considered by anyone who knew him, the broad smile of Reese’s face.

“I know I already have china,” Root said, oohing and aahing at the different choices displayed on the tables, “…but I want us to have our own design.”

Then, Shaw saw what had Reese smiling so much. Janine was running down the aisle, apologizing for being late. One look at Reese and she knew he had invited her.

“I’m sorry for being late, but I stopped to get these,” Janine said, passing the bag of freshly baked mini-pastries to Shaw. Then, she turned to Root and explained; “Gen says it helps to have treats when she’s doing something she doesn’t like. Not that she doesn’t like this, but just in case,” the ever effervescent assistant explained.

“We don’t pay you enough,” Root beamed because she adored the idea of someone wanting to pay such good attention to her fianceé.

“Oh, that’s not true at all,” Janine said back and handed Shaw a cold bottle of water.

Shaw thought Reese’s idea backfired and she moaned over the pastry – loudly. “Want one, Reese?” she asked, but he politely refused.

Janine would prove, once again, her worth in gold when she suggested that they have their individual design done for their plates. “Make it unique; like you are,” she said to Root who loved the idea.

“Guns on china,” Reese murmured because it was the first thing that came into his head.

“YES!” Shaw agreed. “Can we get guns on the rim? Because Isabelle makes killer meals,” she laughed at her ability to deliver the perfect punchline.

Reese shook his head and Root looked up to the ceiling, wondering if this was something she should give in on. “I was thinking… Vera Wang?” she suggested. Shaw wondered if this was just something she should give in on.

After all, marriage is about compromise, she told herself. ‘Wait,’ Shaw thought; ‘Where did I get that from?’ It wasn’t like she had ever thought or talked about the steps to a good relationship, but that literally sprung into her head. The perplexed look on Sameen’s face as she tried to answer that convinced Root that she should give in.

“We’ll design our own,” Root smiled and took Sameen’s hand.

Still confused by her insight, Sameen asked Janine to remind her she needed to talk to Doc about something. “Stuff is just coming into my head,” she whispered to the dutiful assistant, who mistook this for voices.

“You’re hearing things?” she whispered as Root looked around.

“Yeah, but it’s my voice,” Shaw said, unnerved.

While the couple shopped for things that Sameen never game any thought to, Jeremy Lambert was enacting phase one of his virtual test of their machine.

“How are you feeling?” he asked his boss who seemed to have had some side effects from the restaurant gas leak. The emergency room doctor assured him that the memory lapse was due to the noxious fumes and that it affected older people more severely.

He may never regain his recall of what happened,the doctor had said.

“I’m fine,” Greer said, but still seemed groggy.

“I’m going to test phase one of connections,” Jeremy said.

“Robbery?” Greer asked and his underling confirmed it. “Matching up thieves with prime places to commit the crime and then calling the cops? Child’s play for our little machine.”

“We have to proceed slowly,” Lambert said and this annoyed the septuagenarian who wanted to move things along.

“You really are annoying,” Greer said and waved his hand at the other man to leave.

“I’ll keep you posted,” Jeremy said, because he was always looking for his boss’ approval.

“Do that,” Greer said and put his hand in his new suit jacket and felt the card he found.

Lambert returned to his command room where he could commence witnessing the first attempt of their machine to orchestrate the outcome of an event. Information about soft targets was leaked onto the dark web; hackers sold that information to would be thieves looking for a heist. From that, Lambert could deduce when they would strike and alert police. It would go a long way to sell their program which could seemingly predict when an event would take place.

“Commence,” he said and the machine traveled through fiber networks until it took over the stores internal cameras.

“Call 911?” a worker bee asked, and Lambert told him not to until he gave the signal.

“Turn on facial recognition program,” Lambert instructed and the IT person did. “Zoom in there,” Lambert said and smiled broadly when the program identified one of his prime targets.

“Call 911?” the worker repeated.

“Yes,” Lambert gave the okay. “There is no way this can’t work in our favor,” he said.

The call to the police said that shots had been fired at the store where the soon to be newlyweds were shopping and a team of thieves had just entered. They carried weapons and assurances that armored guards would be carrying out the weeks’ receipts any second. The schedule varied, and you could only find it by having an expert hacker find it. Then you had to sell that info online to experienced thieves. Then, you called the police and everyone walks away happy. Unless, you’re the robbers.

It was a taste of how little Greer’s team cared for anything but their objective.

The issue Lambert always failed to grasp, which Greer tried to drill into his head, was that the variable most difficult to nail down was human behavior. Hackers will hack, thieves will steal, and police will respond to a robbery, but what Lambert didn’t count on were the patrons in the store.

The thieves arrived on time, staged their positions and when the time was right, they raised their guns and told everyone to get down on the floor. They knew the exact time the safe would be open to give up the receipts, and it was theirs for the taking.

The customers of the high end fine china and glassware fell to the ground. Except three.

“Root, get down,” Shaw said as her partner, not as her bodyguard.

“I got this,” Reese said and sized up the situation.

We got this,” Shaw barked and pulled out her weapon.

Root looked around, deciding there were three of them against four would be robbers.

“I want audio,” Jeremy said to the techie at the desk. “I want a gunshot to ring out right over…,” he said and took control of the mouse, “… this one’s head.”

The man did as he was instructed and the result was that the robbers all heard gunfire coming from the direction of Shaw.

As Lambert predicated, they took aim in Shaw’s direction.

“Easy there,” John said and put both hands out to ease their reaction. “No one wants to get hurt here.”

“Again,” Lambert smiled to think he was in control of this real life game playing out in front of him.

“But they’ll…,” the techie tried to say, but Lambert insisted.

This time, one of the gunmen fired in Shaw’s direction.

Root turned and would have jumped in front of Sameen, but she had distanced herself just a little bit too much.

Sameen fell to the floor and Root scrambled to grab her. She scooped her up in her arms and grabbed her body, looking for the blood.

There was none.

“I got her,” Reese said and the couple turned to see Janine in Reese’s arm.

The police arrived and stormed the store. The would-be thieves were apprehended without further incident. An ambulance was called for the wounded woman.

Which was good because Sameen was about to lose it. She had just assured Root she was okay, but couldn’t explain how she suddenly fell and hit her head. And then she looked over at Reese.

“What happened?” Shaw asked, springing from her horizontal position.

“She pushed you out of the way,” Reese said and held onto the woman as Sameen did what Sameen did well.

She lost it.


“Sweetie,” Root said, aware of what was really going on inside Sameen. But Root’s gently touch wasn’t enough to calm Shaw down.

“She’s going to be okay,” Reese said, because he was familiar with gunshot wounds.

“I’m sorry, Shaw,” Janine said because she knew she had upset her. “That’s a lot of blood,” the injured woman said and passed out.

“I’m gonna kill her,” Shaw barked and Root suggested that she hold that thought until the police were out of earshot.

The EMT's arrived and Reese explained what happened. They attended to her and asked if anyone was going to ride in the ambulance with her.

“I will because I ‘m going to kill her,” Shaw bellowed and Root smiled uneasily at the attendant.

“She’s… they’re… close,” Root explained with the innocent smile that only she could muster and be convincing.

“Okay, Lady,” the EMT said. “If you go; no yelling or touching. Promise?”

Shaw realized she had to get ahold of her emotions. “Yes,” she said and Reese said he and Root would follow.

Sameen climbed into the back of the ambulance just as they were putting in an IV so they could medicate the anxious woman.

“I’ve never been shot before,” she explained to the EMT.

“Well, you were pretty heroic from what I hear,” the attendant said as the Valium took hold.

“SHAW!” Janine said when she realized who was next to her. “This is Shaw,” she introduced her boss.

“This is the woman you took a bullet for?” the woman attendant asked because if she had to guess, she would have said Shaw did not look like she needed help.

“I couldn’t let anything happen to her. She’s getting married,” Janine said and drifted off.

“I guess you’re going to have to wait on that lecture,” the EMT smiled to Sameen.

“I can wait,” Shaw said, caught between scared and grateful.

Chapter Text

The hospital staff strongly suggested that Sameen sit with Root and Reese while they took care of the patient. They were certain the woman was having an adverse reaction to the medication because she was yelling out uncontrollably every time she came to. The wound required stitches and after the procedure, Janine was resting comfortably in her room.

Root had an unsettling feeling about what had just happened. She kept thinking how someone had to know when the store was going to pass on the receipts because the schedule varied. Then, even if the robbers were smart; she questioned how the police were there so soon. She had asked Fusco to check into that. He was on his way there with the update.

“Is it just me, or does trouble seem to follow you two, like – all the time,” the detective whispered in the waiting area. “What’s up with her?” he asked Root when he noticed how tense Shaw was.

“She’s tense,” Root answered truthfully.

“Over Peggy Olsen?” he asked, forgetting that no one knew his nickname for Janine.

“Who?” Root asked and Fusco explained. “Yes,” she confirmed.

“Look at this,” he said and Shaw came over to look at the details Fusco found. The call to the police occurred seconds after the gunmen entered the store. From a burner phone. “Several people reported those gunshots coming from the speaker in the ceiling; like an audio file,” he said and now they understood why the gunman shot in Shaw’s direction.

While they were talking, a woman asked the nurse where she could find Janine. She hurried in the direction of the small room where the patient slept.

“This doesn’t sound right,” Shaw was saying, the hairs on her neck reacting to her gut. Then, a total stranger walked into Janine’s room.

Or, she attempted to enter.

The bodyguard flew from her seat and grabbed the unsuspecting suspect and pinned her against the wall. “Who the hell are you?” Shaw demanded.

The woman was obviously not prepared to be physically slammed against the door and screamed. “I’m Emily! A friend of Janine’s!”

Root had recognized the woman as the waitress from the night they all went out, but she was too slow to stop her fiancée from the well-meaning assault.

“Of course! Emily,” Root said, trying to peel Sameen off of her and smiling like it was the way they greeted all visitors. “Sweetie, it’s Emily; Janine’s friend,” Root interpreted so Sameen would listen.

“I saw it on the news!” the woman said.

Shaw stared at her for a second and when Root’s message got through; she released her and brushed off her shoulders as if the woman had fallen down. “Sure, Emily,” Shaw said.

“Oh, brother,” Fusco said of his high-strung friend. “Shaw, you want I should get you something to eat?”

“No,” Shaw lied and he knew he better go get her something.

“Is Janine okay?” Emily asked, putting a little distance between her and Shaw.

“Yes, thankfully,” Root said in a very friendly tone, hoping to erase the welcome. “It grazed her shoulder and she only needed stitches.”

“I just heard that there was a shooting and I saw them bringing her to the ambulance on television,” Emily explained.

“I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you,” Root said and they all went into the room.

Shaw was like a caged tiger; pacing the room back and forth. There was a part of her brain telling her she was supposed to be the patient; not the visitor. It was hard for her to accept that someone protected her.

Root saw it immediately. She knew situations like this made Shaw feel out of control. So, she gave it back to her.

“What do you want to do when she’s released?” Root whispered as Janine came to and talked to Emily.

“What?” Shaw asked.

“What do you want to do?” Root asked again.

Shaw’s eyes darted back and forth. “We might as well bring her back to the Penthouse Prison where we’re keeping all the others,” Shaw said.

“Ms. Shaw?” Emily called over. “Janine would like to see you.”

Shaw looked at Root, who nodded her head, and Shaw went over. Janine was still in and out, but seeing her friend Emily made her want to sit up in bed.

Root took Emily outside for a minute.

“She seems... nice,” Sameen said.

“She is,” Janine smiled. “Shaw?” she asked, because she knew something was bothering her boss.

“Look, I’m just going to come out and say this, okay?” Sameen started because it had been building. “You shouldn’t have done that. You could have seriously gotten yourself hurt and I would never have forgiven myself if you did. I do the protecting, I don’t need the protecting,” Shaw said, but it didn’t sound anywhere near as forceful as she wanted it to sound.

“I know,” Janine said, sorry that she upset her. “I didn’t plan it, I just reacted.”

Shaw totally got that because that’s often just how she operated. “Yeah,” she replied. “Well, you’re not going home,” Sameen added as if that was some sort of punishment for her actions.

“Shaw, I’m fine,” Janine smiled because she was touched Sameen was concerned. “Emily has offered to come home with me.”

This meant two things to the woman who was unnerved; Janine wasn’t listening and she was going home with a total stranger. “Root!” Shaw called and her fiancée appeared in the room. “She wants to go home with someone who could be Greer’s operative for all we know.”

“Maybe Fusco could fingerprint her,” Root smiled and really shouldn’t have teased.

“Yes! Okay, good,” Shaw said and went outside to make sure that was done.

Root bit her lip as she looked over apologetically at Janine. Then, they both heard her say: “And we’ll need a copy of your driver’s license, too.”

Janine was all smiles at her friend’s over protectiveness. “Better Emily knows what she’s in for,” she said to ease Root’s mind.

Emily had no idea who she was dealing with.

The former doctor was about to ask for a DNA kit when Fusco suggested that he had enough information to go on after taking the glass Shaw insisted Emily hold. “License,” Shaw said and make Fusco take a picture of it.

“She’s…,” Fusco started to explain, but couldn’t find the right word.

“It’s okay,” Emily said because she knew how much her friend adored the overprotective woman who stood there, staring at her.

Shaw motioned for Fusco to get on that. “I can’t wait to see what kind of pension you give me,” he said as he went and did what his friend requested. No, ordered. He left the candy machine goodies that he got her.

Reese took in the whole picture and understood what was going on.  He left to update Martine at the office. 

An hour later, when Fusco texted Shaw that the woman was in no known criminal database, Shaw allowed the patient to be discharged. Janine received orders from her doctors for wound care; and orders from her boss to check in every hour.

Then, Shaw allowed Emily to wheel Janine to the waiting car and accompany her home. She stopped them before they got in the car. “Hey,” Shaw said to her assistant. “I just wanted to say thanks. It was a very brave thing you did and I appreciate it.”

Janine’s face beamed as she listened to her friend’s accolades.

“But I don’t want you to ever do that again!” Shaw exclaimed and then nodded for Emily to take her home.

Emily didn’t know it, but her entire future with Janine hung on a thin thread when she shared her opinion of Shaw. “Wow,” she said, when they were in the car together. “She’s a good friend.”

Janine smiled at the woman’s assessment. “She’s the best,” Janine affirmed.

Shaw watched the car pull away and then looked at her watch. If Janine didn’t call in an hour, a SWAT team would descend on her apartment. Luckily for everyone involved, she did indeed remember.

While Shaw was sorting out feelings; Root was sorting through the details of the days’ event. Fusco confirmed the timing of the events and now Root was checking out the cameras in the store. Something had hacked into them while the heist was going on.

She felt if it was Greer, it was more of a demonstration of how their system could predict or prevent criminal activities. Even if they created them to begin with.

“I think we were incidentals to the robbery,” Root surmised when they returned to work. Shaw was in Root’s office and couldn’t seem to stay still.

“But you said they made the gunshot appear as if it came from me,” Shaw pointed out.

“Yes, but there was no way for them to know we were going to be there. So, I think they staged this whole thing and our paths crossed,” Root said, typing away furiously as she tracked information on the dark web.

“So, they didnt want the thieves to shoot at me?” Shaw asked.

“No, they did,” Root said, confusing Sameen who was already on edge. One glance over at Shaw and Root knew she had to explain herself. “I think Greer’s group is testing their system to set up occurrences like the robbery. I found some info on the hackers’ site about the store where we went. Thieves can purchase that info and stage their heists based on it. But I couldn’t track the source. Then, the cops were called from a burner phone with the location and time of the robbery. I think Greer’s people were burning the candle at both ends to prove they can present themselves as a system capable of predicting events. The fact that we were there, was just bonus points.”

“I knew shopping for china patterns was dangerous,” Shaw slipped and then looked away. “If it’s Greer, can we please just blow them up?”

“Well, it will take me some time to confirm that,” Root answered. “In the meantime, I wonder what he’s doing with your mother’s card.”

Across town, the very card Root spoke of was being toyed with in Greer’s wrinkled hand. Lambert was pontificating about how he knew the machine could pull off the event without trouble. “And to have those two there at the same time was just icing on the cake,” he gloated when he told his boss that he orchestrated the audio program to make it sound as if the shots came from Shaw.

Greer was a big picture man; and while Lambert saw one successful trial run, Greer questioned what good that would do without additional hardware and programming. The event may have been successful, but it brought them no closer to acquiring what they needed.

As Greer watched Lambert’s lips move, droning on and on about the orchestrated heist, he played with the card. “Jeremy Lambert is your weak link,” he heard a woman’s sultry voice say in his head.

“Yes, yes, Jeremy,” Greer said, disinterested as he got up to end the meeting.

“I think maybe he hit his head,” Lambert whispered to another staff member when Greer left the room. He was wondering if the heart attack they initially thought he had wasn’t affecting his cognitive abilities.

Azar had cast doubt on Jeremy to make Greer question him; and she caused Greer to appear as if he had a physical malady.

And that wasn’t even the card of her sleeve.

That item; was being handed over by Greer to his trusted IT person to scour for anything that might be suspicious.

They wouldn’t find anything and within the hour, they’d hand it back to Greer. “There are word documents; that much we know,” the staff member said. “But it’s password protected.”

Greer thanked the man and started to think about what it could be. He put the card in the external drive and sure enough, the box appeared asking for a password. He thought long and hard and then typed in; A-b-d-a-l-l-a-h.

He wasn’t even sure where he got that from and was surprised when it worked. There, before him, were documents and files attesting to what someone had told him about Jeremy Lambert.

“Get Samantha on the phone,” Azar said to her younger daughter, who was cooped up with her in the Penthouse.

"Tell her – we’re in.”

Chapter Text

Root did get Azar’s message and began working with her on infiltrating Greer’s system, undetected. Shaw listened in, but she wanted a more hands on approach – as in - annihilating Greer’s hardware.

“It’s not that I’m against your way,” Root shared, because she was pretty much never against anything Shaw wanted “…but I think we can be more effective handling this from the inside.”

“Yeah,” Shaw said, but that wasn’t her style and she felt bored. Now that she knew her fiancée had her own fleet of drones, Shaw figured she had the answer to any issue they faced.

“I bet people are worried after seeing the news,” Root said, as she looked at her screen.

“I’m sure Reese updated them. They’re probably throwing Janine a parade. I mean, they should do something,” Shaw said, her feelings mixed about the whole thing.

“I’m sure there are some people who would feel relieved seeing you,” Root said, laying out the breadcrumbs to lead Shaw where she needed to go.

“Like Martine? She’s fine,” Shaw countered.

“I was thinking Doctor Campbell. You know, she’s kind of out of the loop in terms of office updates. I bet she’d love to see you after the news. You know, to make sure you’re okay,” Root tried.

“What makes you think she’d think I wasn’t okay,” the very sharp, dark eyed woman asked pointedly.

“No, I meant after hearing the broadcast; I’m sure she’d be relieved if you just went in and said hi,” Root clarified.

“You think she’d feel better?” Shaw asked, always willing to help the Doctor.

“Yes,” Root said; leaving out the part where she also thought it would do Shaw a world of good, too.  This was simply, Root being Root.

“Okay,” Shaw replied and kissed Root goodbye.

Sameen made her way back to her floor, where for the first time in ages, her cubicle seemed very empty. There was no one there to greet her or give her messages. She sat down in her large leather chair, but she couldn’t get comfortable. In fact, her whole office felt uncomfortable for some reason.

Maybe Root was right – she should visit the doctor.

Sameen was walking down the hallway when Martine approached. “You okay there, Shaw?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Sameen answered halfheartedly.

“That was really something,” Martine assessed. “Reese says Greer’s group might have something to do with it,” she noted, looking around to make sure no one was there. “When are we just going to put an end to those people?”

If Martine had told Shaw she won the lottery, she would have been less enthusiastic. “RIGHT?” she said to her kindred spirit friend.

“I know the offense is probably more sophisticated than that,” Martine admitted, “…but I would really enjoy putting a hurting on those bastards.”

“YES!” Shaw said and moved in to hug the woman she thought was bloody brilliant in her analysis. She caught herself, coughed, and patted Martine on the shoulder. “I think we should discuss this further with Reese later.”

“Good,” Martine said, happy to see Shaw agreed.

“I gotta go make sure the doc is okay,” Shaw explained as she left.

Root wasn’t far off the mark when she said Iris was probably worried. She had seen the news and spoken to a certain detective who could update her. But she was concerned about what he couldn’t see going on with his friend.
Iris was deep in thought about her favorite patient when the woman suddenly appeared in her doorway. So surprised was the therapist, that she leaped to her feet and called out Shaw’s name in a high pitched, excited tone.

“SA-MEEN!” Iris said, astonished, yet thrilled, to see the woman standing right there.

“Hey,” Shaw said and looked around the office to see what had the doctor so excited.

“I’m so pleased you stopped in,” Iris said and Shaw figured Root was right – again.

“Yeah, Root said you would be,” Shaw replied and walked in. Since she was only there to show the therapist that she was okay, she wasn’t sure if she should sit. She walked behind the couch; her finger running along the back of it.

Iris tried to put together what she knew about her client. “Can you stay?” she asked, not assuming Shaw was there for herself. She knew Shaw’s approach would be indirect.

“Oh, well, I don’t know,” Shaw said, looking at her watch. She wasn’t sure why she would stay now that Iris could see she was alright. Maybe she had questions. “Sure,” she said and came around and sat down.

“I saw the news; I’m glad you’re okay. How is Janine?” Iris asked.

“She’s okay; she’s on her way home with a stranger that everyone seems to think is perfectly normal. I wanted her to stay with the rest of the captives at our apartment, but she suddenly got a stubborn streak in her and wanted to go home, so we let her,” Sameen replied.

Iris loved that Shaw’s spontaneous responses always offered them so much to discuss.

“So, you don’t trust the stranger?” Iris asked.

“I don’t trust anyone,” Shaw reminded the woman. “Except Root, of course, and you. Fusco, most days, but not about restaurants; and Reese, for sure, except about tracking devices, and Martine. Especially, Martine,” Shaw smiled because the woman had impressed her with her analysis.

“And Janine?” Iris asked , secretly happy she was on that list.

“Oh, yeah, of course,” Shaw responded. “Except when we’re shopping and there’s a robbery. Do you what she did? She pushed me out of the way. One minute, I’m standing there with my gun drawn, ready to take care of business, and the next thing, I’m on the floor!” Shaw explained and Iris could hear the tenseness in her voice.

“That must have taken you by surprise,” Iris suggested.

“By? Surprise? Yes, it did!” Shaw confirmed. “I mean, looking at it doc, you might think it was brave, but it was very careless, and she could have been hurt much worse than she is. I mean, I… I appreciate that she tried… that she did…but, I didn’t need her to.”

“Sameen, those sound like conflicting feelings. You had the situation under control, but Janine instinctively protected you,” Iris summed up.

“Yeah, how messed up is that?” Shaw exclaimed.

“Do you think it speaks to her affection for you?” Iris asked gently.

Dark eyes, filled with storms of confusion, glared back. It took a minute for words to form to match her feelings, but when they did, they were razor sharp.

“Affection? Do you know what you get when you have affectionate people? Accidents, careless mistakes, people who can’t concentrate on the mission at hand. And even worse?” Shaw asked, jumping up from her seat now. “…responsibility. I have a house full of people I’m responsible for now. My mother, who took it upon herself to walk into the enemy’s den and, brace yourself for this, flirted with the man.” Shaw’s whole body shuddered when she said that. “I’ll never unsee that, Doc.”

Iris was in the dark, but that was okay. Shaw’s feelings were coming through loud and clear. She leaned back in her chair, not yet ready to grab the pen and pad.

“I told my sister to keep an eye on my mother at our place because she got away from her once. God knows, what that woman will do next time. It’s like the CIA training in her woke up after all these years. Do you have any idea how dangerous it was for her to meet that man?”

“I’m guessing it was very dangerous,” Iris admitted.

“It was insane. Now, Root is encouraging her because she managed to slip the old guy a chip or something, I don’t know. But Root is cheering her on and the two of them are having a nerd-fest upstairs, but they don’t know what they’re up against,” Shaw affirmed.

“What are they up against?” Iris asked and it slowly dawned on Shaw that Iris was, indeed, clueless about these events. She sat back down on the edge of the couch cushion.

“Root has a… competitor, who’s pretty cutthroat in his attempts to steal Root’s… ideas. Sort of,” Shaw said, not really good at lying to this woman. “My mother thought she could help. Now, they’re like two nerds in a peapod. Someone’s got to watch out for them!”

“And that someone is you,” Iris stated.

“Yes!” Shaw said, glad the woman could so easily connect the dots. “But how am I going to do that if Tinker Bell is trying to protect me?”

“And Janine is Tinker Bell, “ Iris identified.

“Yes, I mean no. I don’t know, doc. Look at what you’ve done to me,” Shaw said, almost pleading. “You have awoken this giant blob of feelings inside and now I’m useless.” Then, to drive her point home, she waved her finger at Iris to pay close attention to what she was going to say next. “I… almost… hugged… Martine.”

Then, Shaw sat back and threw her arms out as if to ask Iris what more proof did she need after that.

For a split second, Iris thought it might be helpful is she installed a seatbelt on her chair to keep her steady with the twists and turns of Shaw’s sessions.

“Did you?” Iris asked.

“Did I what?” Shaw responded.

“Hug her?” Iris clarified.

“NOOO!” Shaw said, as if she had escaped the jaws of death.

“So, you were able to stop yourself,” Iris pointed out.

“Barely,” Shaw huffed. “I mean, I was this close…,” she said putting her thumb and index finger a half inch apart to show the proximity.

“But you didn't,” Iris pressed.

“Sometimes I think you think you’re making a point, but really what you’re doing is not,” Shaw said.

Iris had to control the smile that often wanted to appear at Shaw’s candor. “Sameen, what I am suggesting is that the feelings you have, about Janine and what happened, seem mixed to you, but that’s because you can have more than one feeling at a time.”

Shaw looked at the therapist like she just explained human nature using the terms of calculus. “More than one? At a time? You mean, like when I adore Root, but wish she wouldn’t get so turned at the most inopportune moments like in the middle of a crowded room?”

Iris smiled; not surprised that Shaw would ask for clarification using her feelings for Root.

“Yes,” Iris confirmed. “I’m sure you appreciate what Janine did, because she acted out of great concern for you, but it also left you feeling as if the tables had been turned. The point, Sameen, is that you handled all of that and were aware of your feelings enough to know when to refrain from hugging someone.”

Sameen listened carefully and thought about what the therapist offered. “So, I’m not going to turn into one of those people who emote all over the place, right? She was asking for Iris’ guarantee on that.

“I’m certain you won’t,” Iris said, going out on a professional limb. “The goal of this process, Sameen, is not to change you, but to make you more the person you are inside.”

Considering Shaw’s level of ego confidence, that sounded okay with her. Shaw being more Shaw. She liked it.

“Okay, then,” Shaw said, nodding her head and feeling like they had accomplished something. “I’m glad you’re feeling better,” she added because that had been the singular purpose of her visit.

“I truly am,” Iris shared, smiling as she walked Sameen to the door and watched her leave. “You have no idea,” she whispered.

Chapter Text

Lionel couldn’t help but notice that Iris seemed to smile all through dinner. At first, he thought she was really happy to be spending time with him; which she was. But she kept staring off into space and grinning. “Happy to be here?” he finally asked.

“What? Oh, yes,” Iris said, looking down to see that he had just filled her plate with spaghetti and meatballs.

“I used that turkey meat, like you said,” he shared because he was watching his weight.

“Oh, that’s great,” Iris said encouragingly.

“So, what’s new?” he asked, even though he knew she couldn’t share too many details of her job.

“Well, I had a really good day at work,” Iris summarized.

“Yeah? That’s good,” Lionel said without asking for details. “Mine started out going downhill,” he said.

“Oh, no! Why?” Iris asked, not accepting the grated parmesan cheese he offered. He started to put it on his meal, but stopped and sighed.

“I swear,” he said sitting down and pouring them each a glass of red wine. “… trouble just seems to follow Lucy and Ethel.”

Iris was getting more acquainted with her boyfriend’s common practice of assigning nicknames. “The robbery?” she felt she was allowed to ask because it was in the news.

“They were shopping for china or something and this big robbery happens at the same time. Weird that the cops were called just as they got there. Anyways, Shaw’s assistant jumps right out in front of her and pushes her down. Well, Maybelline ain’t happy about that, you can imagine,” Lionel said, eating a big forkful of spaghetti twirled around his fork.

“Oh?” Iris asked and complimented his culinary skills. “This is really good.”

“Thanks,” he took time out to respond. “Yeah, this assistant – you must know her – pulls Shaw down and takes the bullet. Well, gets grazed. She’s rushed to the hospital and Shaw is pacing back and forth like she’s upset. Oh wait, I got garlic bread,” he said and jumped up to take it out of the oven. “Careful, it’s hot,” he said as he a piece onto Iris’ plate.

Iris thanked him, folded her hands and rested her chin on them; smiling across the table at him.

“What? I got sauce on my face?” Fusco asked, becoming self-conscious.

“You’re a wonderful friend to Shaw,” she commented.

“What?” he asked, as if they had been talking about something else.

Iris went back to eating. “Whenever you talk about her, you get this look on your face.”

“Yeah? Is it my totally aggravated look? Because, between you, me and the lamppost outside; she can be one pain in the ass. Like today, she’s ordering me around like I’m on her payroll. She fingerprinted a visitor! Had the woman hold onto a glass so I could take it back to the station. Do you have any idea how many times the guys in forensics asked what case the evidence was for? “ he complained, but not convincingly.

“You two have a special bond,” Iris said, in spite of his long diatribe.

“Yeah,” Fusco conceded. “She’s still a pain in the ass, though,” he wanted to make sure she knew.

“This is delicious,” Iris said, ignoring his remark.

Across town, Joss and Reese were sitting down to a nice meal in a quiet restaurant that they liked to frequent. Their schedules seemed to be making it harder and harder to have quality time together.

“So, Taylor really wants to go on this trip next week with his robotics team. They’ll stay in the college dorms right on campus. It will give him a real taste of what college life will be like, I think,” Joss said as she cut into her chicken francaise and ate a piece.

Reese looked across the table as the candle light flickered in big, soft brown eyes. “Oh,” he said, finally getting that this was Joss’ way of saying they might get to spend some time together. “Good.”

Not one to be easily put off, Joss raised her eyebrows at him and said; “I hope you mean good for you; not just good for Taylor.” If there was a line in the sand for what Detective Carter would stand for, it was a foot deep with signs pointing to its location.

And Reese knew it. He had never met a woman who could get so much across with so few words.

“No, I meant it will be nice,” he said, putting his hand across the table to touch hers.

“Damn, you are good,” Joss smiled because the man’s touch was enough to melt her instantly. Now that their schedule was settled, Joss asked Reese what else was going on. “I see that look on your face, John, and I always know who you’re worried about when I see it.”

“Damn, you are good,” Reese repeated back and she laughed. “Someone’s after BEAR’s …, “ and he stopped because he respected Joss’ professionalism.

“Stuff?” she offered.

“Yeah, stuff,” Reese smiled. “And they’re getting more brazen in their attempts.”

“Well, if I know you bunch, you’re all in it up to your necks together. And if that’s true, then I know you have a certain detective who’s right there with you. So, I’ll keep my ears out for anything,” Joss smiled as she ate the last of her chicken.

“Thanks,” the pair of blue eyes smiled back at her.

“I’m not having dessert unless you promise me we’ll work out later,” she said, peering over the dessert list when they brought it over.

Reese smiled and pulled the menu out of Joss’ hand. “Let’s have dessert at home.”

One of the things that Root admired most about Azar was her impeccable timing. The woman knew that she was overstaying her welcome, even if Sameen insisted she be there when they got home. Instead, Root found a lovely bouquet of flowers, thanking them for being such wonderful hostesses. She assured them that Ayala was going back to her townhouse with her.

“Oh, she said to thank you,” Isabelle said when she saw Root. “Now, dinner is all ready and waiting on the hotplates. Now, unless there’s anything else you need, I’ll be off.”

“Leaving us?” Root teased the woman.

“I think you two need a little alone time. Leave the dishes and we’ll take care of them in the morning,” Isabelle instructed.

Root smiled, thanked the chef and picked up the two large pink shopping bags that had been delivered a short time ago. She ran upstairs and got ready.

When she heard the elevator coming up, she knew it was Sameen.

“Where is Isabelle going? I saw her going down the block,” Shaw asked, slightly panicky that they would be left on their own for dinner. “You’re not? I mean, we’re not…?” she tried to explain her concern.

Root looked right at her with a knowing look and invaded her personal space. She played with Sameen’s long strand of hair as she gave her a look. “Are you saying I couldn’t make you a decent meal?” Root asked and Sameen opened her mouth, but only garble came out.

“I’m… saying…,” Shaw started as her throat got dry, “…that your… particular…talents… lie elsewhere,” she finished and was pleased with how she recouped.

“You’re a terrible liar,” Root informed the former operative.

“But eating is so important,” Shaw tried to counter.

“I couldn’t agree more,” Root said, dragging Sameen into the kitchen where dinner was waiting.

“Oh, you really meant…,” Shaw pointed to the hallway as if her words were out there. “I thought you were alluding to…,” she stammered. “Where… where is my mother?”

Where is my mother?” Root repeated. “That’s the best you can do, Shaw, after getting caught red handed; accusing me of making sexual innuendos? “ Root teased mercilessly.

“I didn’t say you said,” Shaw dug herself in deeper. “It’s just that usually you twist…,” she tried to explain, but Root had taken Shaw’s index finger and placed it in her mouth. Her wet tongue surrounded the digit, as it slid up and down it. She slowly pulled it out of her mouth before asking; “Twist?”

Shaw’s breathing had quickened as her body reacted sharply to the gesture. “Twist…,” she tried to complete the thought. “…me around your finger.”

“Sweet,” Root smiled and got the two plates that Isabelle had prepared.

“I’m not so hungry,” Sameen admitted because another hunger was craving her attention right now.

“Oh, trust me, Sweetie,” Root said coyly, putting the plate down in front of her lover, “… you’re going to need your strength for the night I have planned.”

Shaw blinked hard; amazed that Root could sound so sweet and innocent when issuing those warnings.

“Okay,” Shaw said and sat down.

Finally, it dawned on Sameen that they were alone. “No, really, where is my mother?” she asked as she devoured the steak.

“She went home with your sister. She promised to stay put until we speak,” Root conveyed.

“That woman never does what she’s told!” Shaw barked.

“Hmm; let’s test if that’s a familial thing,” Root proposed and confused Sameen.

“A familial what?” she asked as they finished dinner.

“Let’s see if you’re any better than your mother at following precise directions,” Root explained.

Shaw looked around for a clue to explain what Root was talking about. “Oh, I get it,” Shaw finally said. “You want me to do the dishes.”

Root found Sameen’s slowness to pick up on her sexual teasing endearing. “No,” Root said. “I’m going to give you some directions,” she said, taking Sameen by the hand into the living room. “And we’ll see if you are any better at following them.”

“Is this like truth or dare or something?” Sameen guessed terribly wrong.

“Get undressed,” Root said as she sat on the couch.

“You want me to get undressed? Oh, so this is how you’re going to prove…?”

“Now,” Root said, fully aware of what would happen.

“Excuse me?” Shaw said back annoyed.

“And put this on,” Root said, pulling the low cut, black lace one piece negligee.

“Oh,” Shaw smiled as she did as her fiancée requested. Her clothes lay in a pile as she pulled the Victoria Secret item over her head. “Nice.”

The matching lace V-string panties dangled on Root’s finger. “Maybe not,” she smiled seductively as she threw them back in the bag.

“What about…,” Shaw was asking when Root pulled open her blouse and displayed the white lace one piece teddy. “How did you?” Sameen tried to ask, but Root was already pulling her down to sit on her lap.

Shaw laughed at Root’s theatrics. “No firewoman saving me from a fire?” Shaw teased of Root’s often played out fantasies.

“Oh, there’ll be fires,” Root promised and began to slide her hands up Sameen’s very firm thighs. She felt the smoothness of cream as she massaged Sameen’s legs. Shaw removed the tie from her hair and shook it loose, sending it cascading down her chest.

Root reached up to touch the ample curvy flesh and squeezed them gently. She buried her head there before pulling the thin material aside to envelop them in her mouth, one at a time.

Shaw pushed Root slowly back on the couch so she could slide the spaghetti straps of Root’s lingerie off. She bent over, leaving a trail of kisses across Root’s shoulder and down her collar bone to her breasts.

In the meantime, Root grabbed Shaw’s perfectly formed buttocks and massaged them, causing Sameen to sit back up. This gave Root full advantage as she moved her hands to the cleft between Shaw’s brazenly exposed legs. “There isn’t an inch of you I don’t want to taste,” Root said as Sameen arched against loving hands.

“Oh, God, Root,” Shaw said, unable to slow down as she squirmed at the invasion.

Minutes passed as Root maintained her pressure with steady, but slow circular motions until Sameen begged her to increase the speed. Root moved her hand in response as she pressed forward and hugged Sameen so she wouldn’t fall. Shaw’s pulsating need was met with the right touch, sending her crashing in waves of body shuddering joy. Shaw screamed out in ecstasy as Root brought her down into that pulsating abyss. Then, she gently helped her lover to lie on the couch. Shaw’s was breathing in little gasps, and her heartbeat could be felt when Root put her hand on her chest.

Shaw let out a laugh, when she wasn’t trying to catch her breath. “I’ve never…(gasp)… like this… (deep breath)… in my life,” Sameen complimented her lover.

Root smiled to think she could cause such thorough and unabashed abandon in Sameen.

Shaw’s incredible workout routine meant that she could physically recover quickly from these heightened bursts of pleasure. This was great because Root was so turned on, she couldn’t stop touching Shaw’s incredibly toned arms. She enjoyed that Sameen could be so physical with her, in spite of the height difference.

In seconds, Shaw sat up and pulled Root so that now she was atop her. Root squealed at the dizzying thrust. She loved when Sameen pinned her hands above her head and she playfully struggled as if there were a chance she could get free. This was Sameen in perfect balance; using her muscles to restrain and excite; and using gentle ministrations to cause Root to gasp. Shaw slipped her tongue past Root’s lips and stroked her mouth to frenzy. She ran her hands over Root’s smooth skin, gently pulling and encasing her flesh in her mouth. Each time Sameen nipped at her skin, Root arched her back in excitement. Time seemed to stop as Shaw moved slowly down Root’s body, leaving a throbbing trail of fires that built up inside her. Sameen managed to hold Root’s hands down at her side, which always excited her. She’d pull against Shaw, just to feel the strength of the hands that held her in place. Even as Shaw positioned herself between Root’s legs and toyed with soft flesh.

“Pleeaaassse,” Root could barely get out before Shaw deftly touched her most sensitive spot and granted her release, making her body convulse in pleasure. The fires extinguish brought a warm feeling throughout Root’s body.

Shaw moved up alongside her breathless partner. “I think that proves what a good listener I am,” Shaw teased.

“Yes,” Root panted.

"Oh, I do love being right," Shaw boasted. 

In an apartment in Queens, Janine was feeling much better, thanks to the care of her new friend, Emily.

“I’m not sure chicken soup is actually good for bullet wounds, but it’s about the only thing I can make,” Emily admitted as she brought in a large cup on a tray.

“It’s a good thing I’m ambidextrous,” Janine said and then blushed when Emily said; “Interesting.”

“This is really good,” Janine lied because she didn’t care for the taste, but appreciated the effort.

“Please try to finish it. You need your strength,” the woman said as she straightened out the pillows on the couch where Janine was lying.

Janine didn’t want to insult her guest, so she pushed past the taste and soon finished the whole cup. “That was good. You’ll have to…give…me…,” Janine said, but was struggling to keep her eyes opened.

“Go to sleep now,” Emily said and caught the cup before it fell out of her hands.

She watched as the woman succumbed to the drug induced sleep. Then, she grabbed her phone. “Tell Lambert I’m ready,” Emily said as she waited for instructions.

“Nothing like getting in behind the firewall,” Lambert laughed as he texted Emily what he wanted her to look for.

While Root and Shaw took showers and got dressed, Azar and Ayala were working at monitoring Greer’s operation.

“Nothing like getting in behind the firewall,” Ayala said as she wrote down what she was seeing.

Chapter Text

Shaw and Root sat on the couch after their showers. Sameen was busy playing with Bear as Root checked in with Azar.

“Keep me posted,” Sameen heard her say as she hung up.

“Your mother and sister are very good at this,” Root said, pushing next to Shaw to gain some of her affection, too.

“Yeah?” Shaw said, not sure what ‘this’ was, but betting it was nerdy tech stuff. Then, feeling a twinge of being left out, she uttered; “I can do nerdy.”

“Yes, yes you can. You did it several times before,” Root teased her lover. “Oh look,” she said as she turned the volume up on the television. The news was reporting the foiled heist at the china store. The image on the screen was of a person being taken out on a stretcher. “The woman is said to be making a full recovery, although she has not yet been identified.”

A bolt shot through Sameen as she sat up so fast; Bear almost fell off the couch. “What?” Root asked, feeling Shaw’s body turn to steel.

“You can’t see her face,” Shaw said and flipped the station to see if it was being reported anywhere else. It was being replayed there, too. “Look,” Sameen said and pointed. The EMT’s were blocking Janine and no camera had caught her image.

“Yes?” Root asked.

“Get dressed,” Shaw said and flew upstairs, Root behind her.

“What are we…?” she attempted to ask as she dressed quickly.

“Emily said she saw Janine on the television,” Shaw explained and pulled out her gun from the nightstand. “She couldn’t have.” The buried feeling she had about this woman rose back up inside her.

“Have you heard from her?” Root asked, almost certain she had or there would have been hell to pay.

“Yes; every hour like I asked her to,” Shaw said, stuffing the gun in her waist. “Let’s go.”

Root listened as Shaw called Reese, Martine and Fusco and gave each of them a specific set of orders that dovetailed their actions. Reese would be up on the roof with a gun that, Shaw was certain, could cut through concrete, in the dark. Martine was going to meet them at Grand Central. And Fusco was going to leave the trunk of his parked car open so Shaw could access a cache of stolen weapons.

“They took her,” Shaw said when Fusco reported that the local police in Queens found the apartment empty. “And we’re going to get her back.”

Root was happy that Shaw used the plural. She gave Azar control of the machine to keep working from inside Greer’s hardware.

They found the car Fusco parked and each of them loaded up on rifles and guns. Root decided that they should wear their earpieces to communicate.

“It’s kneecap time,” Shaw said as they walked into a back entrance to the large transportation building. Root instinctively knew, from that little bit of info, what Shaw’s plan was.

After all, if you send an arrow to do the job, it’s going to be fast and on target.

The elevator doors opened to Greer’s company’s floor and Shaw took aim and fired. She hit six people before a gun was shot in their direction.

It was quite the racket.

Minutes before, in a large office all the way in the back, Greer sat behind his desk, having been updated by Lambert about the kidnapping. “Has she talked at all, Mr. Lambert?” he asked of the kidnapped assistant.

“No, but as soon as Ms. Groves and Ms. Shaw find her missing, I promise you, they will be more cooperative,” the younger man said. He sat there with a smug expression on his face because he had come up with the plan on his own.

Suddenly, the rapid gun fire announcing the couple’s arrival could be heard and Lambert seemed startled. He grabbed his phone, but on one answered.

“I believe Ms. Shaw and Ms. Groves have come for their friend,” Greer said, and shook his head at his associate’s lack of insight into an operative’s mentality. He watched as Lambert tried to get someone on the phone and ran out of the room.

With each effort to impress his boss, Lambert’s qualifications came into question. Greer opened his laptop and accessed the multiple camera sites and watched. Sameen Shaw walked down the hallway of his company, armed with two AK-47’s; firing at anyone who got in her way. Root followed, walking backwards and taking care of anyone who rushed at them from the side hallways. They were like an armed machine, mowing down his staff. He was almost certain Root looked up at the camera – and smiled. “I fear you have bitten off more than you can chew, Jeremy,” Greer said to the screen. For a military man of so many years, watching these two women was like poetry in motion. He knew they couldn’t have had much time to plan this assault, and yet, they were in perfect rhythm.

Finally, a heavily armed guard aimed a bazooka at Shaw and she stopped. That was one big-ass gun and she knew it. She hadn’t counted on Greer’s group having such heavy artillery. She almost had to rethink her attack, but she heard the blast of a Glock, pointed at the back of his legs. Shaw nodded her thanks to Martine, who removed the hardware from him, as he yelled in agony.

“You guys okay?” John asked in their earpieces and Shaw said they were.

“This way,” Root said because she was getting information in her earpiece after the machine did a thermal scan of the rooms.

“I’m unarmed,” Lambert announced as he appeared at the end of a long hallway.

“That was your second mistake,” Shaw said as she shot so close to his ear, he grabbed it. “Where is she?”

“She’s unhurt,” he said and prayed that the two men hidden out of sight were better shots than the women walking towards him. “Now, my program will make predictions of when you will shoot, Ms. Shaw, so I advise you to remember that.”

This told Root that their program was watching them and would be able to decipher the tiniest movements in Shaw’s motions.

“Tsk, tsk, Mr. Lambert,” Root said as she swayed alongside Shaw. “You crossed a line.”

“I like to think of it as a bargaining chip,” Lambert said.

“That’s where you’re wrong,” Sameen said and shot so close to his shoulder, it tore his jacket.

“NOW!” he yelled, but Shaw was one step ahead. She ran and slide across the floor as two men appeared. She hit one and Root took the other out.

“You do understand, one word and your little assistant will get hurt,” Lambert felt it necessary to explain.

Shaw looked at Root with a raised eyebrow. “I guess we can’t let him talk,” she said and aimed a gun at his head.

“Guess not,” Root shrugged her shoulders. She couldn’t help but feel incredibly turned on by how badass her fiancée was.
“Tell me where she is, or I will shoot you,” Shaw promised and when he laughed, she grazed his other arm enough to cut skin.

“SONOVABITCH!” Lambert yelled and grabbed his other arm.

“You’re running out of limbs, Lambert,” Root said in a singsong tone.

He went to grab the phone, but Shaw warned him. “See the tall blonde woman down the hall? She is dying to end you. So, why don’t you ….,” Shaw suggested strongly. Root told her she knew where she was.

“It would seem it’s your machine against ours?” Lambert said and watched to make sure Sameen didn’t shoot him again.

“I’m actually going to enjoy this,” Greer said as he sat back, relaxed. He picked up his phone and dialed his security team. “Code blue,” he said to invoke the team to ready for an invasion.

“You’re going to be sorry now,” Lambert warned when he heard the siren.

Shaw had to admit, their counterattack was an unknown. She knew she had to draw them towards the window where Reese could see them. “Let’s go,” she said to Lambert and pushed him in front of her.

“This way,” Root said, leading them to Janine.

They walked down a long corridor and could hear orders being barked. Then, they heard the loud noise of Reese’s weapon sending a canister crashing through a large window and depositing an exploding container.

“Your welcome,” Shaw heard in her earpiece and smiled.

Inside the room, Janine had come to and found herself zip tied to a chair. She was stunned to find Emily there with her and at first, thought the two of them had been captured. “I don’t understand,” she repeated when she realized her friend was not tied down and in fact, was holding a weapon.

“You will draw Shaw and her friends to us. We will then use you to get information from them,” Emily explained.

“They won’t give you any information,” Janine said because she couldn’t imagine what they wanted from BEAR.

“That’s where you’re wrong. Once your boss finds out that we have you, she’ll talk her little girlfriend into giving us what we want,” Emily added.

“It’s fiancée,” she felt it important to correct. “What do you want?” Janine asked.

“Her machine; the one we suspect she’s hidden somewhere. We need hers to expand ours,” Emily said.

“And what will you do with all of that?” Janine asked, wondering if they weren’t trying to be Apple’s rival.

Emily smiled her indoctrinated smile. “Rule the world, you fool,” she said critically.

“Emily, listen to me,” Janine said because she could see the woman was a puppet. “It’s not too late for you. Take me out of here and we’ll explain to Shaw.”

The young woman laughed at the idea. “Why would I do that?”

“Because if Shaw finds you, she’s going to be mad. Very mad,” Janine explained.

“I’ve never met a woman who could act faster than this,” Emily said smugly and took out her gun and patted it.

Janine shook her head. “You don’t know Shaw,” she felt compelled to say. “What do you get out of all of this?” she asked.

“A new world order,” the brainwashed woman responded.

When Root indicated that Janine was inside the room they stood outside, Shaw pulled Lambert by his collar. “If anything happens to her, I’m going to kill you,” Shaw promised.

“She’s armed,” Lambert said of the woman watching over Janine.

“Not for long,” Shaw growled.

“Sweetie?” Root said, listening in her ear.  Shaw turned to wonder why Root would interrupt her entrance. Root pulled Shaw to stand in front of the wall outside the room. “40.7528 North, 73.9773 West.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Shaw asked, impatiently.

Martine kept praying Lambert would make a move so she could shoot him.

“Here,” Root said, grabbing a pen from Lambert’s pocket and putting a dot on the wall. “Shoot there.” Sameen hesitated as she stared hard at Root, but the woman nodded to hurry up.

Shaw did as she was told and shot. “That’s my girl,” Root smiled. “Now, go in.”

Shaw pushed down the door and found Emily bent over, holding her hand. The one Root’s instructions aided Shaw in shooting the gun out of.

“SHAW!” Janine yelled. “Be careful.”

Emily may have been without her gun, but she wasn’t giving up without a fight. She raised her fist to hit Sameen, who simply put her one hand up to stop it. “Don’t worry, Emily. You’re going to have your chance,” Shaw said in a deep voice.

Root rushed in and untied Janine and asked her if she was hurt.  “They’re coming,” Root said of Greer’s security team.

“Give me a minute,” Shaw said and handed Root her gun.

“Me and Emily are going to have a talk.”

Root was helping Janine up when the assistant sized up what was happening. She put her hand on Shaw’s steel rod arm.

“You won’t…?” Janine said and the tremble in her voice made Shaw looked over at her.

The woman was destroying any hope Shaw had at exacting revenge for her kidnapping.

“Fine!” Shaw finally relinquished.

“Not unless she hits me first,” Shaw smiled because she knew the woman would.

Chapter Text

In spite of the fact that Root could hear people approaching, she granted Sameen’s request to be alone with Emily. She knew Sameen needed very little time.

Emily’s breathing quickened as she watched Janine give her one last pitiful look before walking out. She had played such an instrumental role in Lambert’s elaborate plan and now it was taken away from her. She yelled and lunged at Shaw, but Sameen caught her fist again. “Please don’t make me hurt you,” Shaw smiled and then felt it important to tell the younger woman that she meant that sarcastically. “Sit down,” Shaw said, throwing the woman into a seat. “Was this Lambert’s idea?” Shaw asked and the girl nodded. “What’s in it for you?”

“Jeremy says our machine will bring order to chaos and help us make better choices than we’d ever be able to do,” Emily spouted the rhetoric.

“By making our choices for us, I bet,” Shaw said. “Look, kid, while you were buying all of this crap from Gramps and his poorly socialized pet, you hurt a really sweet friend of mine. I’m taking it that she really believed you were her friend. You hurt an innocent and that pisses me off,” Shaw explained.

“I am working for the greater good,” Emily shouted.

“You are working for two crazy people who think they have the technology for a utopia. Now, Root would tell me we’re all just bad code and it’s not our fault, but today I’m going to say it is your fault. Now, you have a choice, Em-i-ly. You can leave this place and not look back and go on with your life where you get to learn by trial and error, or you can stay here and go down with the good ship lollinuts,” Shaw lectured. The younger woman stared at her as if she were speaking another language.

Then, Emily pulled a knife.

“Oh, crap,” Shaw said the way you do when you don’t have time for someone’s drama or nonsense. “You’re not even holding it right.”

“AARRGGH!” Emily yelled as she lunged at Shaw and was quickly disarmed.

Shaw threw her in the chair and did the only thing she thought Janine wouldn’t give her hell for. She slapped her across the face. “Listen to me, you little twerp. The only reason you’re not doubled over in severe pain is because the woman you betrayed asked me not to do anything too rough. And the reason she did that is because she’s a kind, wonderful woman. Otherwise, sister, I’d have paid you back, with pleasure. Leave or stay, the choice is yours,” Shaw said to the woman who was sitting there holding her cheek. “But come near her again, “ Shaw issued her final promise,” …and I will hurt you. Badly.”

With that, Shaw left and rejoined Root and Janine. “Are you okay?” Janine asked.

“Yeah,” Shaw said and she meant she would have been better had she been allowed to beat the crap out of someone.

“Thank you for coming for me; all of you. I don’t know what they wanted with me,” Janine said sincerely.

“They’re running out of ideas,” Shaw said, looking at Lambert.

“No harm, no fowl,” Jeremy Lambert proposed as Martine held a gun on him.

Martine was shouting ‘do it’ silently in her head when Sameen hauled off and punched Lambert square in the face and sent him flying backwards to the ground. Shaw pulled down on her jacket, satisfied with her work.

Greer watched from the safety of his office as the operation fell apart and the man whose brilliant idea it was, lay on the floor in pain. Shaw looked up at the camera, as if she understood that the man was looking at them. “You’re next,” she said, pointing to him.

“I am looking forward to it, Ms. Shaw,” Greer said to his screen. Somewhere, in the back of his head, he wondered if he couldn’t tempt the two women to join him in his quest. Especially, since he believed Lambert’s days were numbered. He had no idea how right he was.

“I feel like we keep coming here, but we’re not shutting them down,” Sameen complained as she pushed Lambert in front of her down the hallway.

Root knew the subversive way was too painstakingly slow for Shaw.

“You can’t stop us, Ms. Shaw,” Lambert scoffed as he held his aching jaw.

“I really want to shut him up,” Shaw said to Root, pleading.

“Me, Ms. Shaw? I’m the one who could provide you with ample opportunity to do what you do best instead of babysitting spoiled CEO’s,” Lambert tried, hoping to turn his botched kidnapping into a recruiting event. “You spent years working for the CIA, doing their bidding. And now, you follow Ms. Groves on shopping sprees.”

Martine knew exactly what he was doing and watched to see how her friend would react. Shaw laughed at his attempt.

And then perhaps because he was grasping at straws to impress his boss after this debacle, he dove to the floor, grabbing an injured guard’s gun and shot at Martine, grazing her ankle and sending her falling.

“Now, he’s just pissing me off,” Shaw said and kicked the gun out of his hand. In one fell swoop, Shaw had him pinned against the wall. Root rushed to help Martine up, who was more annoyed at herself for taking her eyes off Lambert.

“We can do you great harm, Ms. Shaw,” the captured man threatened smugly.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Shaw said and head butted him. “I needed to get that out of my system,” she added and threw him in the direction she needed him to go. “Come on,” she said and Janine let Martine lean on her as they headed for the elevator.

Another canister was released on the other side of the building and the couple knew that Reese was buying them some time. “Take her downstairs,” Shaw instructed Martine, because even injured she was better at this than Janine.

A slight smile came across Sameen’s face as she looked at Root.

“We’re minutes away,” Root said as she looked at her phone.

“That’s plenty of time,” Shaw said, having calculated that Emily would not listen to her and would try to help Lambert by tossing him a gun.

In fact, Shaw was counting on it.

“I tried to warn you,” Lambert said as he held the gun on them; Emily cowering to his side.

“Put it down,” Shaw warned because she had been properly trained.

Shaw could see his finger starting  to pull on the trigger. “You’re fools,” he said.

Seconds later, there were two blasts of gunfire and they had hit, mass center.

Emily smiled thinking Shaw was about to fall over, but it was her boss that fell back and slumped over on the floor. She screamed as she grabbed him, realizing what happened. She went to put her hand out for the gun, but stopped and looked at the woman who had just shot him. The cold look in Shaw’s eyes made the woman stop.

“Ladies, it’s time to go,” Reese said in their earpieces. Fusco had let him know that cops were on their way.

Shaw backed away and got in the elevator with Root, but not before looking up at the camera and pointing one more time.

“Bravo, Ms. Shaw,” Greer said without a hint of sentiment that his number one staff member had just been shot.

The loss of his right hand man may not have caused Greer any pain, but the chip that he had inserted into this program from the mysterious woman was about to crack open his whole system.

The couple joined their friends outside. Fusco was waiting there and helped them wipe the stolen weapons clean of any fingerprints. They deposited all the borrowed arms in the trunk.

“Any bodies?” Fusco asked, tossing the keys in the sewer.

“Do you really want to know?” Shaw asked him.

“No,” he admitted. “I hope your Kodak trick is working, too,” he said of Root’s machine’s ability to disable street cameras.

“You wouldn’t believe the magic she is performing,” Root practically giggled. Shaw turned to look at her because she didn’t know what that meant. “You’ll see,” Root said, her whole body twisting with excitement. Sameen just shook her head.

“I’ll give Wilma and Betty a ride home,” Fusco said, handing out new nicknames.

“Must you?” Shaw asked because it was one of his many annoying habits. Then, she went over to Janine. “You okay?” Shaw asked the assistant who had been through the ordeal.

“Yes. I’ll stay with Martine to make sure she gets settled,” Janine said. Shaw looked over at Martine who winked that this was her idea of how to keep an eye on the kidnap victim.

Janine started to walk away, but came rushing back at Shaw. “I just wanted to say – thank you,” the rescued woman said.

Then, she hugged Root and Shaw.

“You’re never getting rid of her,” Root whispered to Shaw when the woman walked away.

“You rescued her, too,” she pointed out.

“I don’t think she sees anyone else when you’re there,” Root teased.

Uptown, Azar watched the screen as Greer’s program’s code appeared on her screen. A few small clicks and the virus that Root programed was ushered in through the back door. And the front door. And the side entrances.

Ayala was on the phone with Martine, who expressed her sympathy for having gotten shot. “I’ll come over to take care of you,” her girlfriend promised, but Martine warned her that she already had full time nursing care at the moment. “I’m making you chicken soup!” they both heard Janine yell from Martine’s kitchen.

Root and Shaw got back into their apartment and went to bed. Well, Shaw collapsed in bed while Root went to freshen up. It was two o’clock in the morning.

And all seemed right with the world.

Greer would wake up to his IT staff panicking that an unknown virus had infected his program and corrupted every line of code. The NYPD would arrest half his staff for illegal possession of guns. Emily would be sent for a psych evaluation because when she described the three women whom she claimed where there, the video camera feed showed two men breaking in and exchanging gunfire.

And it that wasn’t creative enough –

The machine had managed to place the three women at various locations far away from Grand Central. In fact, the New York Times would run a picture of the newly engaged Samantha Groves with her fiancée, Sameen Shaw out to dinner that night. And there in the background, was their bodyguard, Martine Rousseau.

Shaw was drifting off to sleep when she heard the loud noise; making her jump up in bed. The sound of loud fire sirens from the street seemed to be right in her room.

Then, she looked up.

“I heard there were some fires in need of quenching,” Root cooed from the doorway; decked out in a fireman’s coat and hat.

And nothing else.

“You almost gave me a heart attack, Root!” Sameen barked.

“Oh then, I better take your vitals,” Root said and placed her hands on Shaw’s chest. “You really are happy to see me,” Root teased.

“You’re crazy,” Shaw said, her tone softening because Root had a way of disarming her.

“And you’re my Arrow,” Root said, pushing her fianceé back in the bed to teach her a thing or two about fire and safety.

Mostly fire.

Chapter Text

Root may have played firewoman rescue all night, but there was the smell of real smoke in the morning as the smoke alarm went off downstairs. The couple rushed into the kitchen to see if everything was alright. Well, Shaw rushed; Root sauntered after her.

“Are you okay?” Shaw asked Isabelle, her tone laden with concern.

“Oh, yes,” she said fanning the smoke out the window. “I wasn’t paying attention and burned the toast.”

“Oh, good,” Shaw said and was afraid they’d have to go out for breakfast.

“Speaking of hot smoke,” Root said coyly, sitting down at the counter; her top teeth over her bottom lip. “I’m surprised the smoke alarms didn’t go off last night with the four alarm fire we started.”

Root was quite proud of her latest fantasy and was realizing she really enjoyed uniforms. Sameen just stared at her, hoping to discourage the sharing of private information.

“Root!” Sameen warned.

“I think I saw singe marks on the sheets,” Root continued, unfazed.

Next, Sameen tried to say her name through clenched teeth; “ROOT!” but it was just as ineffective.

Unaware of her boss’ innuendos, Isabelle brought over two plates for the couple. She placed one with fruit and a small bowl of steel cut oatmeal down in front of Shaw. The woman stared at it as if she were solving a mystery. “What the hell is that?”

“Oh, sorry,” the chef said and took the plate back and switched it with Root’s. Finally, the scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, and pancakes were in front of Shaw.

“Are you okay?” Shaw asked because the woman had just scared her.

“It’s this news!” Isabelle confessed. “I shouldn’t watch it because it upsets me.”

“What is it?” Root asked.

“Another shoot-out of some kind in Grand Central,” Isabelle reported. “Two men went into an office there and were involved in a gun fight!”

“No!” Root said, smiling because she knew the machine had altered the facts.

“It’s some kind of Software Company, they said, but these hooligans…”

“Hooligans?” Shaw interrupted her. “No one says hooligans.”

Undaunted, the chef continued: “Well, it’s better than the word I’m thinking of.”

“What? Ruffians?” Shaw teased her as she shoved pancakes in her mouth.

“Anyway, it was a big to do and the police were there and even fire engines were sent because canisters of …what is that called?”

“2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile,” Root answered because they were hers.

“Tear gas?” Shaw answered in English.

“Oh, you saw the story already,” Isabelle said, sorry to waste their time.

“You could say that,” Root smiled.

“Well, I’m just glad to see the two of you had a night off from work and were out enjoying yourselves,” the chef added, pointing to the picture of them in the New York Times.

“We do look like we’re enjoying ourselves,” Root confirmed.

Shaw looked at the picture and then at Root; who shrugged her shoulders and smiled. But Shaw was annoyed at pointed to the image of Martine standing behind them, watching.

“Tell your machine; I do the protecting; I don’t need protecting,” Shaw explained, even though the entire picture was fabricated.

Just then, Isabelle’s phone rang and she excused herself. The couple finished eating, but could hear the woman speaking sternly into the phone. Then, they noticed that she seemed upset when she hung up.

“Are you okay?” Root asked.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Just my neighbor. He’s a terrible nuisance,” Isabelle shared.

“What kind of nuisance?” Shaw asked.

“Nothing to be concerned about,” Isabelle smiled, but didn’t meant it.

“Oh, is this your neighbor… Anne something?” Shaw asked and Root was surprised Sameen knew any of Isabelle’s neighbors.

“Anne? No, she’s on the other side of me. This is Francis, the man on the other side,” Isabelle corrected the woman who was guessing.

“Oh, got it,” Shaw said.

The couple went into the entryway where Bear was sitting with a child’s size Fire Chief hat on his head. Shaw’s head snapped back to stare at Root. Root’s head and shoulders swayed as she tried to explain that it was the only way to keep him away last night while he heard yelling coming from the bedroom.

“Maybe someday you can play something that has no assistant position,” Shaw theorized as they got on the elevator.

Shaw indicating that she was giving thought to their next game sent a tingling sensation throughout Root’s body. “So, you’re saying… someday,” she all but giggled.

Thinking her fiancée was asking her, Shaw added; “Yeah, maybe something that doesn’t need a uniform,” Shaw thought out loud on a topic she had given little thought to. “Like a principal or ….,” Shaw was talking without thinking.

“OH MY GOD!” Root squealed as the elevator door opened. Her dream of Shaw actively participating in the planning was coming true. Root floated through the open door. “That’s a great idea!” Root called back.

Shaw then realized what she had just started. Root was practically talking to herself as she thought of all the possibilities. “Oh, brother,” Shaw groaned as she followed Root.

Then, Bear chimed in.

“I know there are assistant principals,” she barked at the canine who pointed out the flaw in her suggestion.

Outside the building, Root started to walk in the direction of work, but Sameen pulled her back. “Where are we going?” Root asked.

“We’re going to visit Frankie,” Shaw smiled smugly, happy that she got the information out of Isabelle.

“Oh,” Root said, “… you are so clever.”

“I know,” Shaw replied as they got in the car with Bear.

A little while later, the couple pulled up in front of Isabelle’s home. Shaw watched until she saw a man coming out of the house next door. “Who is that guy?” Shaw asked and Root immediately typed in the address and came up with the information.

“Professor at NYU of Music; 54 years old; never married; owns an original Stradivarius violin,” Root reported.

Shaw had all the information she needed. Root followed her as she jumped out of her car. “Hey, Professor,” Shaw called out and waved.

The stern looking man stopped and stared. “Do I know you?” he asked, wondering if the attractive woman was a student.

“No, and you don’t want to know me,” Shaw smiled so convincingly, he thought he misunderstood.

“What can I do for you?” he asked, now staring at Root.

“Eyes here, Professor,” Shaw corrected him. “Every morning I wake up to the most wonderful breakfasts,” she began and the man looked at her strangely.

“I mean, the most mouthwatering pancakes and eggs and. Anyway, you get my point,” Shaw segued.

“I don’t, actually,” the man confessed.

“Well, the thing is this, Frankie; can I call you that?” Shaw asked and didn’t care.

“I’d rather you didn’t,” he attempted to answer.

“But this morning, Frankie, they were the tiniest bit off,” Shaw shared.

“Really?” Root asked because Sameen hadn’t said anything.

“Yes, Root, they were. I didn’t to complain,” Shaw explained. “Anyway, the reason I know this, Frankie is because I eat them every day. And, get this, she burnt the toast,” she said, tapping the man on his arm like they were old friends.

“I don’t see how this has anything to do with me,” the Professor professed.

“My chef is your neighbor,” Shaw said, getting very close now.

“Good!” the man exclaimed. “Then maybe you can tell her to keep her car in front of her house and not in my driveway!” To make his point, he pointed to the car.

Root looked at the space configuration and then Shaw looked at it. Isabelle’s car wasn’t even close to encroaching on his driveway.

“Oh, I get it,” Shaw said after inspecting the spot. “You’re just one of those grumpy old people who like to make trouble for people.”

“I am nothing of the sort,” he protested.

“Okay, let’s show you what we mean,” Shaw said, grabbing him by his collar and dragging him to the end of his driveway. “See that spot? That’s where your driveway ends, Frankie. See where your neighbor’s car is? It’s like two feet away. You have plenty of room to pull in and out without an issue,” Shaw told him.

“Unhand me,” he demanded, but Shaw pulled him closer instead.

“She does have a point,” Root affirmed.

“I don’t want you ruining any more breakfasts for me, Professor. So, stop bothering Isabelle. Or we’ll publish those picture of you and your student,” Shaw smiled. "You know the naked ones… with the Stradivarius.”

“You don’t have any such pictures,” he protested, but Shaw could hear the tremor in his voice.

“You don’t want to test me, teach,” Shaw said.

“You don’t,” Root repeated.

“Fine!” he said because Shaw took a lucky guess and nailed it.

“Good, now when Isabelle comes home, I think a nice bouquet of flowers and a bottle of scotch would do for an apology,” Shaw suggested and saluted him as she walked away with Root.

“I don’t think Isabelle drinks scotch,” Root said, getting into the car.

“That’s for me for having to take care of her lame ass neighbors,” Shaw explained.

The couple arrived at work where Shaw checked in on Martine. She was hobbling around on crutches until she finally threw them down in the corner.

“How are you doing, Rousseau?” Shaw asked.

“I have to stay off it a couple of days,” Martine said in disgust.

“Hey, you did good last night,” Shaw whispered.

“Thanks,” her fellow security staff member said. Shaw could hear how annoyed the woman was at herself for getting nicked by Lambert.

“No!” Janine yelled coming up behind them.

“Oh, oh,” Shaw uttered as Janine picked them both up.

“The doctor said no weight on that foot. Hi, Shaw. Are you okay? Would it be okay if I spent the morning helping Martine?” Janine asked.

“Well, I…,” Shaw said, caught between her two friends. The wide eyed look on Martine told Shaw that she wanted her to say no. The puppy dog pleading eyes on Janine told her to say yes. “Well … you should … really ask…,” Shaw was stammering.

And Sameen would have stood there stuttering if she hadn’t heard her name being called over the company loud speaker -

Will Miss Shaw please report to the Principal’s Office immediately,” the female voice said.

And it wasn’t Root’s.

“The what?” Martine asked, confused.

“We don’t have one of those,” Janine felt it important to point out.

“I don’t… think… I think it meant Prin-ci-pal, as in a principal officer of the company,” Shaw coughed as her eyes closed in embarrassment.

“Oh yeah, sure,” Martine nodded trying to appear nonchalant.

“Didn’t that sound like school to you?” Janine was asking as Martine grabbed her and the crutches and nudged the woman towards her cubicle.

“I’m going to kill her,” Shaw said, thinking Root’s games had just gotten out of hand.

Chapter Text

Shaw muttered all the way up to Root’s office. She told herself that she had come a long way in granting Root some freedom on her public displays of affection and her wild fantasies, but there was a limit. And she was convinced with every fiber of her being that Root had just crossed it.

“She’s in a…,” was all that Root’s admin assistant,  Jill, was able to get out before Shaw burst through the door.

“Seriously, Root?” Shaw barked and marched over to where Root was standing. “Look, I’m as up as the next girl for a little role playing and I appreciate that you took my suggestion to do one that didn’t require a major overhaul of our house to make it look like a jail or a fire station…” she began.

“Sweetie?” Root attempted to slow the locomotive mouth.

“And I wasn’t thinking when I suggested your latest thrill. I mean, I just threw that out there, because I thought it didn’t require uniforms,” Shaw spilled as she walked back and forth in front of Root’s desk. “But doing it at work? I mean, I honestly expected to see the Principal sign on your door. No, I’m glad you didn’t do that.”

“Sweetie, I’m not sure this is the time….” Root tried again, reaching out to touch Shaw, but she moved away.

“Oh, now’s not the time?” Shaw scoffed, her head swaying back and forth. “You had me summoned over the company loud speaker, for God’s sake. Root!” she pleaded. “There will be detention jokes for a month!” the injured party said, throwing her head back. “Everyone heard it!”

“Not everyone,” Root murmured because she was totally unaware and confused.

“This is something I just want to keep between us, okay?” Shaw begged and Root tried one more time to get her to stop.

“Then you might want to stop…,” Root warned her.

“We can go back to uniforms,” Shaw suggested because she was thinking out loud. Apparently, without them, Root could carry out her fantasy anywhere. “We’ll do something at home, okay?” Shaw proposed so that Root would understand. She was attempting to make up for squashing this idea.

“Okay, honey, that would be great,” Root smiled, really hoping that was the end of it.

But Root’s concern was conveyed in odd facial expressions that Sameen mistook for disappointment. She thought quickly to find an alternative. “Maybe…,” Shaw said, coming up with something as she moved around Root’s desk.

“Shaw,” Root said, but was quickly distracted when Sameen got the most seductive tone to her voice.

“I could put on that white dress you like,” Shaw started and Root immediately knew the one she was talking about. “The double-breasted one*, with long sleeves,” Shaw said close enough to touch Root’s arm as she slid her finger down it, “…and cut down to here,” Shaw reminded Root as she pulled on her white t-shirt to expose how far down the dress line went.

Root was totally on board and forgot not only where they were, but how to breathe. “Yeah?” Root said and now Sameen was standing really close.

“Yeah and you could be…,” Shaw hesitated because that was as far as she got, and scrambled to come up with something. ‘Uniform, think uniform,’ Sameen shouted to herself. “A TSA Agent!” she finally yelled out.

“TSA?” Root asked, unable to take her eyes off of Shaw’s hand that still tugged at her t-shirt.

“No one likes TSA Agents,” Sameen was certain Root said.

“Okay, traffic cop and you can pull me over for speeding,” Shaw said, trying to come up with something, but obviously a novice at this.

“That…,” Root uttered, swallowing hard.

“Yeah,” Shaw agreed, taking pride in her imagination. “And you can do a full body search,” she cooed coming back into Root’s space.

“Much better!”

Shaw heard the words, but Root’s lips weren’t moving. “How did you…?” she asked.

“What?” Root said, pulling her eyes up to look at Sameen’s mouth. “What?”

“How did you do that without moving your lips?” Shaw asked slowly.

“Oh,” Root finally said, regret in her voice.

She leaned back and looked directly at the large computer monitor. Root tried to tell Sameen when she barged in that she was in the middle of a video conference call with the IT department. “Uhm, thanks guys,” Root said and thunderous applause broke out over the couples’ final decision.

“WHAT?” Shaw said, stunned that there had been an audience. She looked over and saw a group of ten to fifteen people waving back. “Hi, Sameen,” a couple called out.

“We’ll pick this up later,” Root smiled and disconnected the call. “I tried to tell you,” she explained.

“They heard all of that? ROOT?” Shaw whined, falling back into the chair.

Root was sorry she got so distracted, but Sameen had no one to blame but herself for being so damn sexy. “Don’t worry, sweetie, they understand that we’re young and in love. And that you’re incredibly hot,” Root said.

“Well, if you hadn’t called me to the Principal’s Office over the intercom, Root, none of this would have happened!?” Shaw complained.

“I didn’t do that,” Root replied.

“What do you mean; you didn’t do it? Who did it then?” Shaw asked.

“Wait,” Root said, returning to her keyboard and checking a few things. “Oh, I see what happened.”

“What? You posted Root’s favorite role playing on Twitter?” Shaw bellowed.

“I was researching top fantasies at the same time that I was working with the machine and I guess she took it upon herself to carry out something to help,” Root surmised. She almost sounded pleased.

“You told the machine…about our fantasies?” Shaw practically croaked.

“I converse with her… about a lot of things,” Root said truthfully.

“What is she; Siri on steroids? Tell her to stop helping! She’s not helping,” Shaw barked.

Root didn’t want to admit it, but she was fascinated that the machine had the cognitive process to put things together and act on them. “I will. It will be okay,” Root said soothingly.

Shaw raised her head, hoping to take in some of Root’s sympathy and assurance, but noticed she was busy typing on the keyboard. “Hello?” she said, annoyed Root could think of work at a time like this.

“Just…one minute,” Root said, her fingers flying across the console. “There!”

“Could you tell me what was so important that it couldn’t wait?” Shaw asked annoyed.

Root smiled sheepishly and came around to sit next to Sameen. “I had to order a uniform,” Root explained. “You didn’t expect me to ask Lionel, did you?”

“Not! Funny!” Shaw said, pointing at her partner.

Root leaned over to kiss the pouting lower lip. “Let’s go to lunch,” she offered to soothe Sameen’s nerves.

“Fine! But I get to shoot anyone who makes a joke about being sent to detention,” Shaw declared.

“Okay, you can,” Root said as she walked her upset fiancée to the elevator.

The usual lunch of the Parks Deli sandwich, along with the fact that no one commented on Shaw’s faux pas, was enough to make her calm again.

Until, of course, Lionel showed up.

“So this is where you’re being detained,” he said because that was actually a cop phrase.

“What? What did you say?” Shaw said, staring at him hard.

“I was looking all over for you,” Fusco said, grabbing the scraps of sandwich that were still on the paper that her sandwich came in. She slapped his hand, but he pulled away. “I wanted to give you guys the latest,” he said and ordered a cottage cheese salad when the waiter came over.

“I’m not sitting with you if you’re eating cottage cheese,” Shaw complained.

Root put her hand on Sameen’s so Lionel could talk. “Well, because there was someone actually killed at the scene, there’s a full investigation,” he explained.

“Finally, you’ll actually be working for the NYPD,” Shaw quipped and pulled the paper with her sandwich in it, away from him.

“Will that present a problem for you, Detective?” Root asked pointedly. She understood that Lionel was a stand-up guy.

“Naw, I didn’t see anything, so I can partake in the investigation,” Lionel explained, grabbing a clump of pastrami and placing it over his mouth to devour it.

“If you don’t stop eating my food, there’ll be another murder to investigate,” Sameen warned, but he scoffed at her threats.

The waiter placed the large plate of white curded cheese surrounded by fruit in front of him.

“Now, that’s just wrong,” Shaw assessed.

“Hey, I’m losing weight,” Lionel said, patting his stomach. “Six pounds.”

“That’s how much sweat I lose when I work out,” Shaw taunted him.

“Anyway,” he said, ignoring her, “… because we don’t know much about this company, they’re calling in some expert from Brooklyn.”

“Great. Do we have to sit here and watch this?” Shaw asked because odd foods made her queasy.

“Detective Jackson,” Lionel said as he took a big forkful of his diet lunch.

Chapter Text

Once Root got hold of an idea, there was little letting go. As Sameen made her way back to work, Root asked Lionel if he could do her a favor.

“Now, what in the world would you need a red police light for?” he just had to ask.

“Are they illegal?” Root wondered out loud.

“Only if you steal one from the police station,” Lionel pointed out.

“Oh,” Root said, getting his drift.

“Might I suggest that while this investigation is going on, you and Lucy lay low?” Lionel said with the best of intentions.

“I see,” Root said. “Thanks, Lionel.”

Shaw sneaked back into her cubicle when she heard Janine asked Martine if she needed anything else.

“No, thanks,” Martine said exasperated. “I think the four pillows were just enough.”

“I’m just going to get your lunch and I’ll be right back,” Janine said and hurried off.

“Mother of mercy,” Martine let out and Shaw was up on the cabinet, peeking over the wall.

“Fun, ain’t it?” Shaw asked, glad someone else was getting a taste.

“Shaw!” Martine said, jumping up. “Take her back, please. I’ll do anything.”

“Oh, come on, Rousseau. She means well,” Shaw reminded her.

“She’s mothering me,” Martine pointed out.

“Yeah, it’s kind of sweet,” said the woman who had grown accustomed to it.

“Take her back and I’ll tell you where Reese keeps the heavy artillery,” Martine bargained.

“Reese never told me!” Shaw complained.

“Deal?” Martine asked.

“Sure,” Shaw agreed.

No sooner had Janine returned with Martine’s lunch when she offered to cut it up. “I hurt my ankle, not my hands,” the woman pointed out.

“Hey,” Shaw said, stepping in to the cubicle. “Are you done taking care of her? I need help over there,” she complained.

Janine stood at attention. She wanted to help her friend, but Sameen needed her. She may have hesitated, but only out of politeness – because there really was no contest.

“Shaw needs me,” Janine said apologetically. “I can come back.”

“NO!” Martine said, not wishing to miss out on this opportunity. “I’ll manage. Shaw needs you.”

“Yes, she does,” Janine repeated.

Shaw returned to her cubicle with Janine in tow. Root texted Sameen and asked her to meet her at a restaurant for dinner and to please – underlined – wear the white dress.

“Wasting no time with this, I see,” Shaw said and then remembered her dress was in the cleaners.

She was about to tell Janine she had to go when the woman offered to go. “I’ll take care of it,’ said the assistant who seemed to need something to do.

“Hey,” Shaw said to the woman. “Are you okay? I mean, about last night.”

“Sure, yes, I’m fine,” Janine said and it was obvious she was not.

“Do you want to talk about …,” Shaw offered.

“No, no…no, I’m good,” Janine said, shaking her head.

But Shaw knew she wasn’t. “Listen, I want you to go in and talk to Doctor Campbell.”

“No, she… won’t have time. You need an appointment and …,” Janine stalled.

“No you don’t,” Shaw said sincerely because she had never had one. “You’ve been through a lot and it’s important to talk about it. You need to express those feelings and not push them back or they just come up at you,” the learned woman said and then frowned, to hear those words come out of her mouth.

“I don’t know. I’ll see if she has any time,” Janine said, unsure of what to do.

That decision was about to be made for her. “Come on,” Shaw said, taking the woman by the arm and marching down the hallway.

Shaw walked right past the woman at the desk and knocked on Iris’ door. “Doc?” she said, walking in. “See?” Shaw turned to Iris and said when no one was in there.

“Hello, Sameen,” Iris and then saw the other woman. “Janine,” she greeted her.

“Look, doc, we’ve been through… Janine was involved in some…,” Shaw started. “She needs to talk.”

“Oh, I saw the news, Janine. I’m glad you got my phone message,” Iris said and Shaw turned and squinted at her devious assistant.

“Oh?” Shaw said and Janine’s eyes went everywhere except looking at Shaw.  “Well, Doc, you don’t know the half of it. And I’m pretty sure Janine used a gun; or was near a gun; or…anyway, she was around some bad guys last night and things got messy,” Shaw tried to sum up.

“Messy?” Iris repeated.

Shaw turned to Janine. “She does that a lot; you’ll get used to it,” she said of the doctor’s habit of repeating her words. Then, acting like the perfect matchmaker, Shaw patted Janine’s upper arms, the way coaches do before sending in a player. “You got this,” she said.

“You’re ready, right Doc?” Shaw said because she wanted only the best for her friend.

“I will do my best,” Iris said, smiling at how Shaw was orchestrating this whole thing.

“Oh,” Shaw said, before leaving. “She’ll get it out of you anyway, so you might as well just tell her everything up front,” she instructed Janine.

With that, Shaw left and Janine stared at Iris. “I’m really glad you came in, Janine,” Iris said, her voice warm and calming.

Janine sat down on the couch; trusting that Shaw was right and she should talk about this. “Should I start with the bullet wound or the kidnapping?” she asked.

Janine’s phone beeped and she looked at the therapist to see if it was okay to look at it. Iris nodded, because she had a sneaking suspicion of who it was.

'Start with kidnapping,' the text from Shaw read.

Sameen walked back to her desk, proud of how she handled that. It felt good to help the woman who was always helping her. When she got back to her area, Ayala was there helping Martine leave for the day.

“Hey,” Ayala said when she saw her sister. “Good job last night.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Shaw said.

“You be careful, okay?” Ayala said and then reached out and hugged Sameen.

“I will,” Shaw said, and patted her sister’s back. “Where’s mom?”

“We’re bringing dinner back to her place,” Ayala said.

Dinner!” Sameen repeated, remembering that she had to get her dress to meet Root. She said goodbye and went downstairs to the dry cleaners. She talked the guy into letting her change there, grabbing the shoes she brought with her. Minutes later, she emerged decked out in her low cut white dress and stilettos.

“Need a lift?” Shaw texted Root, but she said she would meet her at the restaurant.

Root was leaving BEAR, sashaying her way to the side street, where John was waiting for her. She had asked him if he knew where she could get a car similar to the unmarked cars that police used.

Of course, John did.

“It’s perfect,” Root said and thanked him for getting the details right.

“Now, you’re not going out to arrest anyone, are you?” Reese asked, just to be safe.

“Not just anyone,” Root said and smiled broadly, getting into the car and winking. She threw her duffle bag into the passenger side and took off.

John stood there as she drove off. “This is not good,” he said out loud.

Root’s plan was simple; give Shaw instructions to drive along a deserted strip of road under a highway that had no traffic and no pedestrians. It was the perfect place to pull over your speeding fiancée and tell her you were sorry, but you were going to have to bring her in for questioning. Shaw had made it clear that she wasn’t crazy about Root playing in public, but technically, there was no public around.

Shaw drove along the road and questioned out loud where the hell Root was leading her to. She pulled over and texted her fiancée: ‘Where are you?’

‘Perfect road to do 60 mph,’ Root’s text read.

‘I hope your machine isn’t letting this be caught on camera,’ Shaw replied.

‘All taken care of,’ Root assured her.

‘Are you texting and driving?’ Shaw barked.

‘No! I pulled over to get changed,’ Root assured her. “I bet I beat you to the restaurant.’ Challenging Shaw was the quickest way to get her to do something.

‘Never!’ Shaw texted back. She wasn’t sure how Root was getting there, but she was certain it wasn’t in anything as fast as her car.

So she took off.

Sure enough, an unmarked black cruiser with a red flashing light was soon in her rear view mirror.

“Seriously, Root?” Shaw said. “You have got to be kidding me! Oh my God, she set this whole thing up so she could play traffic cop? Okay, two can play this,” Shaw said, thinking her crazy girlfriend had just taken her role playing to a new level.

The spotlight shining on Shaw’s mirror made it impossible for her to see. She shielded her eyes as Root walked slowly up to the side of the car.

Shaw pressed the button to lower the window and opened the top button on her dress. “Oh, hello officer,” she said in a sultry voice. “I’ll take mine out, if you take yours out,” she cooed to Root as she bent down in the window.

“How about I take out my badge and you keep whatever you were going to take out – in place,” Detective Jackson said.

“What?” Shaw said, scrambling to cover herself up.

“See? I should be surprised that of all the people speeding, I should be lucky enough to be sitting right there when you passed,” the Brooklyn detective said. “But I’m not.”

Shaw was stammering to explain that this was all a misunderstanding when another unmarked police car pulled up with the red and blue lights flashing.

Root emerged from the vehicle, decked out in a police uniform.

“Oh, this ought to be good,” Detective Jackson said, not surprised that Root was there.

“You’re really not going to give me a ticket, are you?” Shaw laughed as if they were all old buddies.

“Not before I give her one for imitating a police officer,” the woman responded.

“WAIT!” Root said, running up to the car. “This is all a game!”

Shaw dropped her head on the steering wheel.

“Oh, so imitating a police officer and speeding were just part of a little game for you two?” the detective asked and Shaw knew this wasn’t good.

“Well, yes,” Root said, not seeing the harm.

“I don’t even know where to begin with you two,” the older woman said, shaking her head.

Chapter Text

Detective Jackson had just come upon the latest episode of Root taking her gaming to a whole new level. Shaw got out of the car now, in an attempt to save Root. Speeding was one thing; impersonating an officer was quite another.

“What are you doing here?” Shaw asked with a mixture of surprise and excitement that one uses when you’re actually happy to see the person.

“Stop stealing my lines, Shaw,” the woman suggested.

“This is all a huge… misunderstanding,” Root tried, but the sight of her fiancée in the dress was making her speech slow down.

“Totally,” Shaw smiled, pulling at her dress to cover up.

“Let me guess,” said the woman with a lot of years’ experience. “You want to keep the spark in your relationship; so, you…,” she said pointing at Root, “…come up with the idea to play traffic cop and speeder.”

“Actually, it was Sameen’s idea,” Root gushed because she was still so happy that Sameen was actively involved.

Really?” Jackson said, turning to look at Sameen who couldn’t look her in the eye. “Now, that, I didn’t expect.”

“It was… I wasn’t…,” Shaw attempted to explain, but couldn’t.

“So, you get all dressed up and take off into a deserted stretch of roadway thinking since there’s no one around, you’ll just rev that car of yours and do seventy mph without anyone noticing,” she smiled at Shaw. “And you, got the idea to actually dress up like a cop and borrow a cruiser, complete with flashing lights, to apprehend the speeder,” the woman continued.

“Well, I was …,” Root tried, but the woman wasn’t done.

“And then you would tell her you’d have to bring her in for questioning and possibly a strip…,”

“OKAY!” Sameen cut her off. “I think you have the general idea. Good work, Detective. Well, if you would just give me my ticket…”

“Do I look like a traffic cop to you?” the Detective responded.

Root looked around at the surrounding area. “What are you doing out here?”

“Yeah, why are you in Manhattan?” Shaw added. “Doesn’t Brooklyn need your exquisite deductive skills?”

The woman smiled and turned to Root. “When you’re interrogating her later, you might want to remind her that taunting the police is punishable by law.”

“You’re working on the shooting at Grand Central,” Root said, more to inform Shaw because she knew she wasn’t paying attention to Fusco when he told them.

“You?” Shaw asked. “Why?”

“Because I have many areas of expertise, Shaw. One of them is corporate espionage. And there is something funny about that company that was involved in the incident,” the woman shared.

“And you thought you’d come to an abandoned stretch of roadway to ….?” Shaw asked, looking around.

“Think,” Root said at the same time Jackson did.

“What’s to think about,” said the woman who believed in action. “The two men who went in there wanted something, and when they were met with gunfire, they shot back.”

“It’s amazing you never got the gold shield,” Jackson teased Sameen. “You two have actually had some run-ins with these people,” the detective said because there was an FBI report of when the captured Root.

“If you call both being kidnapped by them as run-ins; then yes,” Shaw said, giving out TMI.

“Both?” Jackson questioned because there was no file on Shaw being kidnapped. “You must really hate these guys.”

“You have no idea,” Shaw said and Root grimaced to think Jackson just led her to where she wanted her.

“Oh, I might have some idea,” the detective smiled. “So, do you want to tell me where you were going to dinner?”

“Why the hell would I do that?” Shaw barked, but Root already knew why.

“Detective,” Root said in her calmest voice, “…do you think you could come by tomorrow and we could tell you what we know?”

Detective Jackson looked at Root and then at Shaw. “I would hate to be the one to break up a romantic tryst,” she smiled.

“Right, like it’s not ruined already,” Shaw complained.

“Please promise me, Officer Groves, when you take her in, you’ll convince her that real cops are not going to find her sense of humor so charming,” Jackson said to the only woman who could get through to Shaw.

“I promise,” Root saluted.

“See you tomorrow,” the Detective said and went back to her car.

“Well, what do you know,” Shaw remarked. “No ticket and no arresting you for impersonating an officer. Maybe she is human.”

“That’s a fellow officer of the law, Miss,” Root said, crossing her arms. “We don’t take kindly to that.”

"Kindly? Where are we, the South?" Shaw looked at Root and then looked around at their surroundings. “What did you expect to do out here?”

“I was going to frisk you and take you on the hood of your car,” Root shared.

My car?” Shaw asked in horror. “Not my car.”

“Okay, then I’d put you in the backseat of the police car,” Root shared Plan B.

“Have you ever been in the backseat of a police car, Root? They’re nasty,” Shaw felt it necessary to share.

Getting Sameen back into play mode was not easy once she was distracted. It called for drastic measures.
“Can I see you license and registration?” Root said, in a serious tone.

“Really? You still want to do this now?” Shaw balked.

“Obstruction of an investigation is punishable by law,” Root informed her.

“Root! I flashed my boobs at a cop. She wants to talk to us tomorrow. That woman is second only to Doc Campbell at getting things out of me,” Shaw complained.

“Oh, I think I know a better way to get things out of you,” Root smiled and moved in. “How did you flash her?” Root asked. She refused to give up on a perfectly good role play.

“I unbuttoned my dress,” Shaw explained and demonstrated to make sure Root knew how close she was.

“Tsk, tsk,” Root said, staring at Sameen’s opened dress. She leaned in and kissed Shaw; reigniting the flames.

“Root, maybe,” she tried, but Root was ready with kiss number two and this time, she didn’t let go until she felt Sameen’s resistance melting.  “Okay,” Shaw gave in. “I don’t know where my license is.”

“I’m going to have to ask you to turn around. You could be carrying a dangerous weapon that I can’t see,” Root explained and Shaw smiled, but finally turned and put her hands on the car.

“Oh, God, I love my job,” Root said as she ran her hands over Sameen’s front.

“You know you’re supposed to pat me down,” Shaw teased because Root’s hands were practically massaging her breasts.

“Oh, sure,” Root said, but her hands were now running the length of Sameen’s legs.

“Are you done mauling me, Officer?” Shaw teased, but had to admit that being physically interrogated in public was exciting.

“I think I better take you… in,” Root said, leaning on Shaw from behind. “Who knows what else you have under that dress.” With that, Root took handcuffs and put them on Sameen.

“Oh, not the back of the car…,” Shaw balked until she saw that Root had the interior of the car altered. “Is that steak?”

“We don’t torture our suspects,” Root said, gently guiding Sameen to sit in the back of the blacked out windowed car.

“Did Isabelle make that?” Shaw asked because the aroma was very familiar.

“Now, Ms. Shaw, if that’s your real name,” Root began. “I can’t take the cuffs off so if you’re hungry, I’m going to have to feed you.” Root couldn’t keep the smile off her face as she divulged her plan.

“Oh, really?” Shaw said, wanting to laugh at how inauthentic Root was.

“And I would hate for anything to happen to your white dress,” Root pondered as if she didn’t have it planned.

“My hands are cuffed. How are you going to get my dress off?” Shaw smirked.

“I don’t need it off; I just need it opened. You know, so nothing spills on it,” Root reasoned and opened Sameen’s dress.

“Much better,” she said and before Shaw could protest, she opened the tin foil with the sandwich. “Wanna bite?” she asked coyly.

“I am hungry,” Shaw admitted.

“Open wide,” Root said, her eyebrow arched.

Shaw did and took a big bite. “You think…(chew)…that…(another bite)… food…(chew) is my weakness, don’t you?” Shaw asked, taking another bite.

“Isn’t it?” Root laughed and wiped Sameen’s mouth slowly with a napkin.

“No, Root,” Shaw said, and in spite of the comical mishaps of their plans, she became serious. “You are; you are my weakness.”

If Sameen had wanted to speed things up, lighting gasoline would have taken longer to ignite than what her sentiment did to Root.

Admitting to her that she was Shaw’s weakness set Root ablaze.

Root leapt over onto Shaw’s lap, held her jaw and kissed her hard. “I love you, Sameen Shaw,” Root said when she finally broke the kiss.

Shaw’s hands were suddenly on Root’s face. “I love you, too,” she smiled.

“I should have known I couldn’t keep you locked up,” Root laughed, taking Shaw’s hand and kissing the palm. “Against your will, anyway,” she added and kissed Sameen again. “Marry me, Sameen.”

“I think we’re on that track already,” Shaw pointed out.

“No, marry me now,” Root said.

“Now?” Shaw asked, trying to see if Root was serious or just onto her next game. “Root, we… we….,”

“Now! I want to be your wife. I want you to be mine,” Root implored.

“Could we…?” Shaw was trying to say. “Oh, hell, why not now?”

Chapter Text

As soon as Shaw agreed to the immediacy of the nuptials, Root kissed her passionately. Root knew with every fiber of her being that she not only wanted, but needed, to be with Shaw. For Root, the details were inconsequential and they would simply make it work.

As soon as that kiss was planted, Shaw started to think of the reasons why the timing was not ideal, and why it wasn’t going to work. She knew she had seconds to stop the speeding bullet of Root’s planning.

“Wait,” Shaw said, gently pushing Root back so they could talk. Root was straddling her lap in the back of the borrowed cruiser, and now soft brown puppy dog eyes waited for Sameen to explain. Upsetting Root’s plans was challenging on any given day; but when her eyes were pleading, it was damn near impossible.

“What?” Root asked concerned.

“Root,” Shaw said and Root instantly knew Sameen was trying to prepare her. “I want to get married and there’s no reason why we couldn’t …”

Except?” Root asked, knowing there was.

“Root, I want to marry you more than anything in this world, but I want to do it surrounded by the people who care about us. I think that’s important,” Shaw said, not sure how Root would take it.

Root thought they were on the precipice of getting married when Shaw agreed. Now, there would be delay if she went along with Sameen’s plan. But she looked down into dark eyes and knew in an instant, this was something Sameen really wanted.

“Yes, let’s tell them,” Root said and reassured Sameen with a sweet kiss. “Now.”

“Now?” Shaw asked, as her hands slid up Root’s thighs. “Are you sure you want to release me so soon, Officer?”

“Oh, yes,” Root said slowly.

It took Root only seconds to get back into character; but nearly an hour to conduct a thorough search.

They eventually did make it to dinner, after Shaw combed her hair and straighten out her dress and put her shoes back on. They discussed how they would tell people, but agreed they wanted to keep it small and have it soon. Root listed the choices as Sameen ate and nodded yes or no.

“Do you want a bridal party?” Root asked, as Shaw dove into the steak.

“No!” Shaw grimaced. “Just Fusco. I have to ask him or he will never let me hear the end of it.”

“Okay, so if you ask Lionel, I will ask…,” Root said, tapping her chin with the pen she borrowed to write down the to-do list. “Your sister.”

“My sister?” Shaw asked, surprised by Root’s choice.

“Yes,” Root answered having given it thought.

“Shouldn’t it be someone who you’ve known for a really long time?” Shaw asked.

“I don’t know anyone for a really long time that you’d want at the wedding,” Root teased and ran her foot up Shaw’s leg.

“Oh,” Shaw said, remembering her fiancée’s friends. “What about the kid?” Shaw suggested.

“Genrika?” Root asked, eating her chicken in small bites.

“She wants to go to school around here so she can babysit. That alone should earn her a spot,” Shaw theorized. “Besides, I want my sister and Martine on security detail.”

“What about Reese?” Root asked.

“He should walk you down the aisle,” Shaw said, biting into the tender steak.

“Harold will want to do that,” Root said. “Wait, what aisle?”

“Oh,” Shaw caught herself. “I thought maybe you’d want to walk down an aisle?”

“I was thinking outdoors,” Root said and with each response, the plot thickened.

“Wait!” Shaw said remember Root’s skill set. “We’ll taze, drug, and zip tie them all. Voila! They wake up on a Caribbean island. They can sit wherever they want,” Shaw decided, thinking this was as simple as she made it sound.

Root laughed at her suggestion. She loved that her fiancée saw the world in black and white; yes or no; a quick solution to every problem. “I can’t think of one person we’re going to have to drug in order to come,” Root mused.

“Okay, so tomorrow we’ll tell the people we want to be there to be ready. Destination wedding!” Shaw said, raising her glass of wine to clink Root’s.

Root smiled back and they drank their drinks. She looked down at the list and realized – she didn’t really have anything written down. Shaw caught her eyes looking at the blank paper and snapped her fingers. “We’ll get Janine to orchestrate the whole thing. What could go wrong?”

Now that was a list Root could have written in seconds and it would have filled the page. Instead, she smiled, shrugged her shoulders, and agreed.

“To us,” Shaw said when she was done with dinner.

“To us,” Root smiled and leaned over for another kiss. “God, I love your lips,” she whispered.

“And I love yours back,” Shaw said, gently running a finger along Root’s bottom lip.

The couple quickly paid the check and returned to the sports car and headed home.

The elevator door opened and Bear ran to greet them. The couple looked at each other and said: “Ring Bearer,” simultaneously and laughed out loud.

He looked at them quizzically until Root explained in his native Dutch. He stood at attention and barked.

“No, there’s no trophy. Your job is not to slobber all over the rings,” Shaw explained.

Bear immediately took off to practice.

“Thank you for waiting,” Shaw said, pushing Root up against the dining room table slowly.

“Time has nothing on us, Sameen. The universe has destined us to be together. Nothing will change that,” Root said close to Sameen’s ear.

The couple took each other’s hands and went upstairs to bed.

Nothing could get in their way, but it didn’t mean people wouldn’t try.

The plan was to go to Shaw’s mother’s house early because they were certain that they two of them couldn’t keep it from Isabelle. It was bright and early the next morning when they arrived at Azar’s home.

After no answer to the repeated pressing of the doorbell, Shaw took to banging on the door. Ayala rushed down the stairs and whipped the door open; her hand on her gun.

“Are those… your… pajamas?” Shaw asked, staring at the Disney character ensemble. “Minnie Mouse?” Shaw said and burst out laughing.

Her sister was somewhere between relieved and annoyed now. “Mommy… got them,” she explained and made it worse.

“Oh, my God,” Shaw continued to laugh and Root smiled apologetically beside her.

“We would like to talk to both of you,” Root said and Azar appeared at the top of the steps.

“Is everything okay?” she asked because it was so early.

“If you call a former IDF solder dressed in Minnie Mouse pajamas okay, then yes,” Shaw said, between bursts of laughter.

“Sameen,” her mother said.

“I’m sorry, it’s just…,” she defended herself and pointed.

“Should I change?” Ayala asked and was looking at Root.

“No, I think Sameen can contain herself,” Root suggested as they walked into the living room. She had to nudge Sameen because she was still staring.

“Oh, yes!” Shaw said and got back on track. “We’re getting married soon and we want you to be there.”

Azar rushed at her daughter and pulled her up to hug her. She then pulled Root in and hugged them both.

“Great; more hugging,” Shaw said, because it was too early for all this physical affection.

Her mother let go, but only in time for Ayala to repeat the action. “When?”

“Any day now, so be ready,” Shaw said. “I mean it could be tomorrow, so get whatever you need to come.”

“Where are we going?” Ayala asked.

“Somewhere where that outfit is outlawed, so don’t pack it,” Shaw said, snickering all over again.

“She gets punchy if she hasn’t had coffee,” Root explained.

“So, details to follow, okay?” Shaw said and her mother grabbed her again.

“Hug her tight, Mom,” Ayala prompted her mother because she knew her sibling hated it.

Then, the couple said goodbye and went outside.

“Breakfast?” Root asked as if she had to.

“There’s going to be a lot of hugging, isn’t there?” Shaw asked, her head hanging low.

“Oh, yes, I bet there will be,” Root said, grabbing Sameen’s arm and going back to the Penthouse together.

The person they wanted to tell next was Isabelle because Shaw couldn’t imagine anyone else catering their wedding. They told her over breakfast.

“PLEASE!” Shaw begged and the chef looked at her as if she needed to.

“Of course,” Isabelle said, honored they would ask.

“Oh, put her in the prenup,” Shaw said between bites. “No, really.”

Root smiled and looked at Sameen out of the corner of her eye. “There’s no prenup.”

Now, it was Shaw who looked over. “No, you have to have one,” she insisted.

“Well, I’m not having one,” Root insisted.

Isabelle felt like she was at the tennis matches as the couple went back and forth.

“But won’t Harold want you…,” Shaw said and Root cut her off.

“I said no, Sameen!” Root slammed her hand down and got up.

Shaw had never seen Root so upset and Isabelle was certain she hadn’t. The two women looked at each other as Root politely said she had to get ready for work; even though she was already… ready.

“What?” Shaw asked the chef for clues.

“Go talk to her,” Isabelle suggested.

“But… I’m…,” Sameen said, looking at her food. One look at the older woman told her what needed to be done. “God, everyone is bossy,” she complained as she went to see what was troubling Root.

Root was shoving things inside her pocketbook angrily.

“Hey, I’m sorry,” Shaw said even though she had no idea why. “I didn’t mean to…,” she said, pointing back to the kitchen – the scene of the crime.

“Sameen,” Root said, because it only took Shaw’s voice and apologetic expression to calm her. “There’s no need for anything like that between us.”

“I was… thinking of your protection,” Shaw said, because she had heard wealthy people often had them.

Root looked hard at Sameen, to make sure she had her full attention. “I would never need protection from you… for any reason.”

“Yeah?” Shaw said, because she was feeling badly that she upset Root. “Suppose they captured me and…and… put a chip in my head, right? And programed me to do crazy things. And then, they let me go and I came back and I couldn’t tell what was real and what was ….,” Shaw stammered trying to come up with a scenario where her theory would be right.

Root pressed her finger on her animated fiancé’s moving lips. “Sameen,” she said gently. “No one would ever take you without my hunting them down and getting them. If they ever put anything into my beautiful girl’s head, I’m pretty sure you would still override any device. And lastly, you will always know that is real because there is nothing more real than our connection.” Root took Sameen’s hand and kissed it. “I will spend every day of my life making sure you never doubt that.”

Sameen was always so touched by Root’s words. No one ever said things so poignant to her like Root did. “Yes,” she said because she agreed with all her heart to what Root had just uttered so beautifully.

Root kissed her, letting her know everything was okay. “Let’s go,” Root said.

“I… I… only meant…,” Shaw tried to get her thinking back on track.

“I know; you want Isabelle,” Root smiled, knowing exactly what Shaw meant.

“Well, yeah,” Sameen agreed.

“No way,” Root teased as they went down in the elevator. “She’s my only bargaining chip for keeping you in line.”

Sameen knew immediately that Root was teasing her. “I… would do anything to keep that woman,” Shaw admitted shamelessly.

“Oh, I know that,” Root smiled, winking at Sameen.

Back uptown at her mother’s house, Ayala and Azar were having breakfast.

“I noticed you didn’t mention the good news,” Ayala said to her mother.

“I only wanted to focus on their good news,” Azar explained. “Besides, Root will know as soon as she gets to work.”

Azar’s device had indeed opened the gateway for Root’s virus to completely infect Greer’s machine.

That was the good news.

The bad news was – he was hell bent on exacting his revenge.

Chapter Text

The couple was in the process of sharing the news that their wedding was going to take place soon.

Root wanted to tell Harold next, so they went to his office as soon as they arrived at BEAR. He was his usual graceful, but subdued, self. “You’re on the list of candidates to walk her down the aisle,” is how Shaw informed Finch of his possible involvement. “So, let’s up that excitement.”

“Oh, yes, of course,” Harry said because Sameen was staring directly at him.

“We’re very happy for you both,” Grace said and Shaw believed the woman lived up to her name.

“We’ll be in touch,” Shaw said to Finch, who confessed to Grace after they left that she still made him nervous.

“With good reason,” Grace said because she knew Sameen was being protective of Root.

Genrika was just on her way up when the engaged couple ran into her. The perceptive prodigy only had to look at their faces before she asked. “When is it? Am I invited? Please say I’m invited,” Gen begged excitedly.

“Soon, and yes, you are,” Shaw replied. The child leapt forward and hugged Shaw around her waist. “More hugging,” Sameen said to Root as the tween held her tightly.

“I want to wear something special,” Gen said, running off to find the perfect outfit. “I have to tell Yale no!” she thought out loud as she went down the hall.

Root looked at Shaw. “I told you,” Sameen said of the child’s plans to go to college locally so she could babysit.

“Well, I do want your babies,” Root said, grabbing Sameen’s arm as they went to speak to Janine.

Having been physically accosted twice now, Shaw was ready for the next person they told. The couple wanted to ask Janine if she would mind organizing the affair. As soon as the request was out of Root’s mouth, Shaw jumped back and put her arms out in front of her to ward off the next round of hugging.

But nothing happened.

Janine was so honored they asked, that she snapped into administrative assistant extraordinaire immediately. “I will come up with a list of questions that will help us narrow down what needs to be done; such as location, invitees, and meal,” the woman said.

“Oh, okay, good,” Shaw said. “Give that list to…,” she was saying as she pointed to Root, but caught Root’s raised eyebrows. “…US,” she overly emphasized, her finger waving between her and Root.

“Remember, I wanted to run away,” Root said, toying with Sameen’s hair.

“Oh, no!” Janine said and then caught herself. “I’m glad you changed your mind.”

“Well, Sameen has a habit of doing that easily,” Root smiled and kissed her fiancée goodbye.

Root left to go upstairs and moments later, Detective Jackson appeared. Realizing that she had to go through Janine’s office now, she asked if Shaw was in.

“Oh, crap!” she heard Shaw said because she’d forgotten about their run in.

“Nice to see you, too, Shaw,” the woman said and placed two cups of coffee and a brown paper bag down.

“What’s this?” Shaw asked suspiciously.

“Rumor has it that you’re a lot easier to be with if you’re eating,” Jackson said, taking her coat off and making herself at home. She opened the bag and offered it to Shaw.

“Refresh my memory, would you, Detective,” Shaw said as she reached in and took out a jelly donut. “Cops and donuts,” she interrupted herself. “What are you doing here?”

“Are you telling me that the other cop who arrested you last night had some effect on your short term memory?” the woman smiled.

“I wasn’t…,” Shaw said, her mouth full of donut when she saw the woman’s expression. “Funny, very funny.”

“Ms. Groves suggested I come back today to talk to you both about how much you can’t stand Greer and whether or not you know anything about the incident that took place at his office the other night,” Jackson reminded her hostess.

“The man is nuts, okay? He’s got some kind of software company and he’s looking for Root’s hardware to expand. He’s a nasty competitor if you ask me,” Shaw said, thinking those details were safe.

“Kidnapping is a rather dangerous way to go about getting your competitor’s secrets,” Jackson pointed out. .

“You’re telling me? The guy is crazy,” Shaw repeated.

“So, when they kidnapped you two, they didn’t say why?” the woman skilled in asking questions asked.

“No, they said they wanted something from Root. First, they kidnapped her, then when that didn’t work, they kidnapped me,” Shaw said.

“Determined,” the cop noted.

“Insane,” Shaw corrected.

“Two men entered the premises the other night, shot up the place and killed one of their top managers. Sound extreme to you?” Jackson asked.

“Sounds very extreme,” Shaw affirmed. “Any idea who these guys are?”

“No, and you want to know the interesting part?” the cop asked eating her own donut. “No fingerprints, no DNA.”

“What about casings from the guns?” Shaw asked because she knew there were some.

“Tested them; turns out guns were stolen from a drug dealer’s cache,” Jackson said.

“Well, this is all very… not… interesting, so, if you don’t have any other questions, or donuts, I have a wedding to organize,” Sameen explained.

“Well, that’s good news, Shaw. I’m actually very happy for you two,” Jackson said, taking the hint and getting up to leave.

“Thanks,” Shaw said and happy the woman was leaving.

Shaw had too many things to do to think too long about what the Detective was setting out to do. She had made a mental list and now she was about to take care of the next thing on it. She called Fusco on the phone. “Of all the days, you picked today not to be here?” she asked Fusco when he answered.

“I do have a full time job, you know,” he answered.

“I just spoke to your friend from Brooklyn,” Shaw told him.

“Yeah, she’s the expert they called in. Be careful what you share with her, okay? She’s sharp,” Fusco warned.

“Yeah, yeah, listen; Root and I are getting married…,” is all she got out when Fusco fired off questions about where, when and how. She repeated his name until he stopped. “Done?” she asked. “So, I want you to be my Best Man, okay?” There was a long silence while Fusco choked back tears at the honor. “Fusco? Oh, geez, are you crying? I didn’t think there would be anything worse than all the hugging, Lionel!”

“Shut up, Shaw,” her best friend said as he cleared his throat. “I’d be honored.”

“Okay, good. And you can bring a guest; you know,” Shaw said without saying her name.

“I’m not sure she’d come, Shaw, but thanks,” he said, unsure if Iris could cross that professional line.

“What?” Shaw barked. “Of course she will.”

“She’s pretty definite about boundaries,” Lionel explained because not once had Iris ever said anything about Shaw to him.

“Boundaries, my ass,” Shaw said and hung up. “I should have eloped,” she said because each time they told someone, there was something else to deal with.

She marched down to Iris’ office. “She’s free, “ said the receptionist at the desk as if it mattered. Shaw knocked and walked in.

“Hello, Sameen,” Iris said from her desk, as she pulled off her reading glasses. “It’s nice to see you.”

“Look, doc, we have to talk,” Shaw said and started pacing. “Root and I are getting married.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful. I wish you…,” Iris said, getting up from her seat.

“Thanks. Root wanted to elope, but I talked her into doing something with the people who matter to us and she agreed. So, I asked Lionel to be my Best Man,” Shaw explained.

“I’m sure that means a lot to him,” Iris said, knowing in fact that it did.

“Doc, part of the reason I want people there is because I get how important that is now. I didn’t used to and since I met Root, I get how it’s good to have others in your life,” Shaw explained.

Iris smiled to think these thoughts were being expressed by a woman who claimed to be a non-feeling Axis II personality months before. “That’s wonderful,” she said.

“And you’re one of them,” Shaw openly admitted and then swallowed hard at the emotions that rose inside. “I know you’ve got boundaries and stuff, but I think we can navigate this.”

Iris had considered what she might do if ever this exact occasion arose. Technically, she wasn’t supposed to socialize with any of her clients. Shaw simply wasn’t just any client.

“I’d love to, but…,” Iris said, knowing she was crossing a line.

“Doc, it’s going to be the most important day of my life. And I couldn’t have gotten this far if it weren’t for all the times you tortured me in here,” Shaw said, hoping Iris would appreciate the humor.

She did.

“It might mean that there are consequences that you and I must face,” the therapist cautioned.

“Yeah,” Shaw said, because she understood that Iris in the office was not Iris out of the office. “We’ll talk about that if it happens.”

“Deal,” Iris said, happy to hear her favorite’s patient’s openness.

“Okay, good! Thanks, Doc,” Shaw said and Iris smiled as she left.

Then, Iris dialed her own therapist; to discuss the decision she had just made.

Detective Jackson was satisfied with her interview with Sameen. She then made her way upstairs to see Root.

“I understand I’m imposing on your planning a wedding, so I won’t take long,” the woman said.

“Thanks, Detective,” Root welcomed her. “How can we help?”

“I have to check every lead, and since you and Shaw had contact with the staff of Greer’s company, I thought I’d ask you some questions,” she explained.

“Sure,” Root said, not worried at all.

“Do you think it’s odd that both you and Shaw were captured by this group?” she started.

Root smiled at her and offered her some coffee, but the detective refused. “Here’s what I know,” Root began. “There is this theory that a massive machine exists somewhere out there. It’s been rumored on the dark web for years. People want it because it would allow their programs to do things that are not possible right now. I’ve been the target of these suspicions because of the work I do and because I’m good at what I do,” Root explained.

“Do you have this machine?” Jackson asked directly.

“If I did, I’d never let it get into the wrong hands. Greer and his group, Detective, are the wrong hands,” Root answered.

“I can’t imagine Shaw not seeking revenge for your kidnapping,” Jackson noted.

“The same could be said about me,” Root proffered.

“You took the works out of my mouth,” the detective replied.

“They were desperate for an angle. They tried to kidnap me and then they took Shaw. Both times, it was in an effort to make us give up what we couldn’t,” Root explained.

“Where were you the night before last,” Jackson asked.

“Out to dinner with Sameen,” Root answered. The detective did see the picture in the paper.

“Okay, thanks, Ms. Groves. I appreciate your time,” the cop said and shook Root’s hand. “Best of luck with the wedding plans.”

“Thanks, Detective. Let us know if there’s anything else you need,” Root offered.

As far as Root was concerned, she was protecting the good detective from finding out anything that might put her at risk.
Root went back to checking up the latest updates. According to the machine’s monitoring, Greer’s system had crashed from the virus that corrupted his files. It would be some time before they could rebuild.

Plenty of time to have a wedding.

Chapter Text

Root's business was so successful, in part because, she could solve almost any issue in twenty-four hours. She had developed programs to solve crises in less time. So, working out the logistics of a wedding to Root was child’s play. By the time Sameen had secured Iris’ willingness to attend, Root was more than halfway through Janine’s list.

Shaw went up to Root’s office to tell her what a great job she was doing in telling people. There were some challenges. Martine gave her such a slap on the back when she asked her to come, that she almost regretted not getting hugged.

“I think she’ll look fabulous in this one,” Shaw heard Janine say to Root as the two women hovered near the computer screen.

“It would show off her incredible arms,” Root said.

“And incredible everything else,” Janine added bluntly.

Shaw said hello, but no one heard her.

“Not too short?” Root asked, staring at the screen.

“Hello?” Shaw said.

“Are you kidding?” Janine answered because there was little Shaw couldn’t pull off.

“Are you picking out my dress?” Shaw said, pushing her way into their line of sight.

“Oh!” Root smiled. “Where did you come from?”

“I… work… here,” Shaw answered. One kiss from Root and the annoyance at being ignored melted away. “Is that for me?”

“What do you think?” Root said of the short white sleeveless dress and satin color.

“So, we’re going with white, are we?” Shaw laughed.

“We could go with cream,” Root said seriously.

“I can pretty much work whatever you get me, so don’t worry,” Shaw said, flopping in the chair and putting her feet up on the desk.

“That’s so true,” Janine said sincerely.

“I’m going with long,” Root said and showed Sameen what she was thinking of.

“Very nice. It will look great on you,” Shaw agreed.

“All agree?” Janine asked and the couple nodded their heads. “I’ll get these down to the designer. Now, they may want to take measurements,” she informed them as she left to carry out her duties.

“I would love to be the woman who has to take a tape measure to you,” Root said, sitting next to Sameen and imagining doing just that.

“You have the wildest, most active imagination I have ever met in a person,” Shaw commented as Root’s eyes scanned her from head to toe.

“Thank you,” Root giggled. “Do you want to write our vows?”

“Write them? No,” Shaw said, thinking she would wing it. “Top of my head, tip of my tongue,” she teased.

“The tip, eh?” Root said seductively, lost in the thought.

“Earth to Root,” Sameen said.

“Oh,” Root said coming back to focus. “Are ready for this?” Root asked.

“I’ve never been more ready,” Shaw replied. She was so sincere that Root had to grab her face and kiss her. “We’re not going to make it through the ceremony,” Shaw grinned.

“Oh, yes we will,” Root smiled back. “Because after the wedding is the honeymoon!”

“Good point. So, where are we doing all this?” Shaw asked.

“How about Hawaii? It’s warm, it’s beautiful,” Root asked.

“Yes, but very cliché,” Shaw laughed of the honeymoon destination.

“True,” Root agreed. “How about Paris? After all, Paris est la ville de l’amour,” she cooed close to her fiancée’s ear.

“Do you know how fast someone will find us there?” the security guard suggested.

“Well, I know a private area in Tahiti,” Root was suggesting.

“Sold!” Shaw said, loving the heat.

“Great!” Root said, clicking some keys on her keyboard at her desk and making the arrangements. “Where should we get married?”

“Some place where Isabelle can cater it,” Shaw said, listing her number one priority.

“That woman would follow you to the ends of the earth,” Root pointed out.

“I hear it’s crowded there this time of year,” Shaw teased. “Hey, let’s take everyone to Cameroon and get married there. Then, they can film them making their back home without any help; like Wedding Party Survivor reality show!”

“Janine would win,” Root said earnestly.

“What? Over Reese and Martine? No way!” Shaw argued.

“Janine would be in Cameroon. You would be in Tahiti, but then, you’d be back in New York. Do you think anything would get in that woman’s way to be back here on the first day you return from our honeymoon?” Root laughed.

“Good point,” Shaw conceded.

“I think we should get married in New York. This way, we can just leave for Tahiti when it’s over,” Root proposed.

“Great. Who will do the service?” Shaw asked.

“Well, you won’t believe this, but Reese told me that Joss was an ordained minister before joining the army and then the force,” Root shared.

“Perfect! Joss always gets to the point quickly,” Shaw said.

“Did you ask Fusco?” Root questioned, checking off the items and decisions were made.

“Oh yes,” Shaw said, rolling her eyes. “I had to make sure his girlfriend would be there for him. I mean, someone has to hand him the tissues when he cries.”

“I’m leaning towards asking Grace as my Maid of Honor,” Root said, thinking the woman would really appreciate it.

“Good, she can help walk Fusco down the aisle,” Shaw mused. “I’m serious about Finch. He better learn to crack a smile or Reese is walking you.”

“I’ll have him practice,” Root promised.

“Well, I guess that it. When do you want to do all this?” Shaw asked.

“Well, do you have any sporting events that you can’t miss the day after next?” Root asked and for a second, Sameen gave it serious thought.

“Oh, funny,” the shorter woman responded.

“We can go over everything at dinner,” Root suggested and the couple kissed goodbye.

There were still some things on Root’s list, but as she made phone calls and made arrangements, she doodled with her pen; writing over and over again – Root Shaw; Samantha Groves Shaw; SGS.

The reason the couple was going to be able to pull this off so quickly, was because everyone was pitching in to help. Even Bear had his part.

When Sameen returned to her office, Bear was waiting for her. Sitting in the guest chair, he barked at Sameen to look at the samples of rings that were displayed in a case.

“Let me guess,” Shaw laughed. “You know a guy.”

Bear was very serious about his new job and barked at Shaw to sit down.

“Did you just tell me to… sit?” she asked, thinking the role reversal was crazy.

A growl told her she was right and to do it.

“The world is crazy and you’re the mascot,” Shaw complained as she sat down. “I need a plain gold band because light reflects off diamonds and makes it easier for snipers to spot you,” the former CIA operative explained as she chose her ring. “But this…,” she said, taking the double row of diamonds band, “… this is Root.”

Bear barked his appreciation and closed the box with his nose. Then, as if he truly believed their roles, he bent down and retrieved a granola bar and held it in his mouth for Shaw.

“You think you’re giving me a treat for a job well done, don’t you?” she barked back at him.

He looked as innocent as a canine can and sat there holding it.

“Fine,” Shaw said, wiping off the dog saliva before ripping it open and eating it.

With that, he grabbed the box and went on his way. He barked something to Janine as he left, which of course, Shaw understood.

"Hey, I already know how to catch a ball," she shouted back.

And then regretted it. 

"I really wish I hadn't said that," she said, her mouth full of the treat.

Chapter Text

It didn’t take Lionel long to realize what a responsibility he had when he accepted Sameen’s request to be her Best Man. Given how quickly the couple was moving, he wasn’t sure there would be time for any of the usual festivities.

It seemed everyone knew what to do, except Lionel.

Janine was busy helping Isabelle decide on the menu; Martine was working with Reese on security and Root was wondering if they should have people do readings at the wedding. Joss was honored that the couple asked her to officiate and was researching nuptial services as Fusco was carrying on.

“What are you worried about, Preacher Carter. Not like anyone is going to argue with the clergy!” Fusco pointed out.

“I haven’t done this is a long time,” Joss shared.

“Well, it’s not like I’m a Best Man every day,” Fusco retorted.

“Shaw will tell you what to do,” Joss proposed and that’s when Fusco figured out he better go talk to her.

He was so caught up in his thoughts that he grabbed Detective Jackson on the way out and asked: “Do I even think about doing a bachelor party?” He didn’t wait for the answer and hurried on his way.

“I cannot wait to get back to Brooklyn,” Jackson said in response to the general chaos she found with these people.

Fusco murmured his whole way over to Shaw’s. “Don’t tell me they got you working on this, too,” he said to Bear, who rode up in the elevator with him.

Bear whined that they did, and that they probably wouldn’t be able to pull it off without his help.

“Working you like a dog, eh?” Fusco asked, and laughed at his own joke. Bear’s distaste was evident in his blank stare. “What do you have there, a ball?” the detective asked when he saw the tennis ball in the dog’s mouth.

The door opened and Fusco noticed Bear was walking ahead of him and heading into Shaw’s area. The dog was whining now to Janine and Fusco could hear the woman explain that she had neither the time, nor the inclination, to allow him to demonstrate his proof.

“You’re talking to him like you understand him,” Fusco pointed out. “You’re a full-fledged member of the Froot Loops Brigade?”

“Detective, how are you?” Janine asked, already looking at her list.

“Good, thanks. Maybelline in?” he asked the woman who kept tabs on her.

“Yes, but she’s very busy,” Janine explained.

“Too busy for the guy who’s going to be holding the wedding rings?” Fusco asked proudly.

Bear immediately dropped the ball and began to growl angrily. Had Fusco been able to understand him, he would have realized that the canine Ring Bearer was pointing out that his name was in the very title that he wore.

“Oh, uhm,” Janine said, not wanting to get in the middle of this. “You both should go into to Sameen… now.”

“What’s got your boxers in a knot?” the detective asked the dog, and then realized what he was doing.

Sameen had just hung up the phone when the man and man’s best friend began talking to her at the same time.

Bear begged her to explain to the man who needed to lose a few pounds that he was mistaken and that he was carrying the rings.

Fusco was asking what kind of circus was this that people were talking to the dog.

“Okay, okay!” Sameen said, realizing the issue at hand. “He’s the… Ring Bearer,” she informed her Best Man.

“Yeah, so?” Fusco asked, not a bit surprised.

“You said you were in charge of the rings and it upset him,” Shaw explained.

“Well, I hate to inform yous, but usually the Ring Bearer walks down the aisle with fake rings; seeing how it’s usually a little kid and all,” Fusco felt it necessary to explain.

There was another round of loud barking in which Bear defended himself capable of holding onto the real rings.

“He said…,” Shaw was explaining when she saw Fusco’s face.

“Well, tell him that the Ring Bearer hands over the rings to the Best Man,” Fusco argued.

“He said…,” Shaw caught herself translating Fusco’s message and stopped. “No, no,” she decided, throwing up her hands. “You’re the Best Man, you work it out.”

Bear couldn’t believe the audacity of the man he had come to respect. He argued his point, but when Sameen was leaving, he stopped, picked up the ball and tossed his head up – throwing it to her.

“I’m not playing ball until you two have settled this,” she said, bending down and catching the ball on a bounce, but not returning it. With that, the two males started arguing again as she walked out into Janine’s office.

“Well, what do you know,” Janine said when she saw Sameen. “He said you couldn’t catch it.”

Sameen turned back to look at her office where the dog was and was going to dispute his claim, but decided they had exceeded the crazy portion for the day. “Nope, not going to do it,” she promised herself and decided she needed to see Root.

Having cleared most of her list, Root sat at her desk reading one of those ‘How Well Does Your Lover Know You' questionnaires in a Bride’s Magazine.

Shaw’s timing couldn’t have been better.

“Do you know where my erogenous zone is?” Root asked as soon as Sameen entered and sat down on the couch.

“Manhattan?” Shaw said, thinking her sense of humor was as sharp as a knife.

“What about my favorite color?” Root asked.

“Blue?” Shaw guessed.

“Favorite video game?” Root pressed on.

“Oh, I got this,” Shaw said, confident. “It’s… it’s about settling the west,” she snapped her fingers. “Oregon Training… Trail!”

Root raised an eyebrow to indicate Sameen had one point.

“What did I want to be when I grew up?” Root asked the next question.

“Old? Tall? Whisperer to an all-seeing electronic over lord?” Shaw laughed and then coughed, because Root seemed to be taking this seriously. “A ballerina!”

“Yes!” Root said, getting up and joining Sameen on the couch.

“What did I want to be?” Shaw asked, an eyebrow arched because she couldn’t remember sharing it.

“A Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader,” Root answered correctly. “Which reminds me, I would love to see you in …?”

“Yeah, yeah, sure, but how did you know that?” Shaw asked.

“I did a little digging,” Root answered cryptically. “My top pet peeve?”

Shaw gave this one some thought because Root was truly the calmest person she knew. “Oh!” Sameen finally said. “When Harry or my mother call the machine – it – instead of – her!”

“Very good, Ms. Shaw,” Root teased. “I think you’re moving up to the bonus round. Multiple choice.”

Only Root could get Sameen to forget why she came up there and get her spontaneously involved in a made up version of Jeopardy.

“After a long day at work, I like to… A) go home and read, B) work on a program that will obliterate people like Greer, or C) Watch the NBA playoff finals or whatever they are,” Root said.

“Or whatever they are?” Shaw asked, horrified. “Uhm,” she said, having a tough time with that one.

“D,” Root gave her the answer.

“There was no D,” Shaw protested, but Root was closing in on her mouth before she could continue.

“D – kiss the most beautiful set of lips I have ever kissed,” Root answered.

“Are you going to flatter me when we’re married for years?” Shaw asked, the tongue automatically slipping across her bottom lip to savor Root’s lipstick taste.

“I’m always going to tell you the truth,” Root explained.

Fusco had some mean negotiating skills and it wasn’t long before he and the Bearer of Rings worked things out. He went upstairs to tell Shaw the good news, knocking on the office door and interrupting a tender moment.

“Hey, you two, get a room. There’ll be plenty of time for that. Right now, we got decisions to be made,” Fusco announced as he barged in.

“Sometimes, I want to shoot him,” Shaw admitted openly to Root who smiled at the well intentioned man.

“The feeling’s mutual,” Lionel said. “I figured you were sitting at the edge of your seat over the brouhaha that was going on downstairs.”

Root looked at Sameen to explain. “Best Man versus Ring Bearer,” Sameen said, rolling her eyes.

“Oh,” Root said, asking Fusco to sit down.

“I hope your kids have her manners,” Fusco said to his friend.

“What did you agree on?” Root asked interested.

“He’ll carry real rings down the aisle and then give them to me,” Lionel shared. “At least I think that’s what he said,” the cop said, frowning and wondering now.

“How did you…?” Shaw asked.

“Well, I outlined the choices and when I hit that one, he barked like he was happy,” Fusco surmised.

“I’m so glad the two of you could work out your differences,” Root gleamed.

“What differences?” Shaw quipped. “Oh, you mean Bear being smart and Lionel….”

“Listen, smart ass, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I mean, am I giving you a bachelor party? And if so, what kind is it that I’m having?”

“No,” Shaw answered at the same time Root said, “Yes.”

“It’ll be fun!” Root said.

“Well, what is it going to be? Cause I’ve only been to the kind where women …,” and he stopped when he saw the looks on his friends’ faces. “Entertained.”

“Girls’ night out!” Shaw said and couldn’t believe her friend just walked into that one. “And Lionel’s hosting!”

“Oh, geez,” the Best Man moaned. “No good deed ever goes unpunished with you, Shaw.”

Chapter Text

Fusco may have balked at hosting the couples’ night out, but he told the manager of the club that he wanted top shelf and anything else the women wanted. Everyone was invited and Fusco made sure that Reese was there. “Who knows what can happen with these two,” he said to John on the phone when he told him he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

“That was really nice of them to ask the kids to be included,” Joss said to Fusco and Reese.

“What are you talking about?” Fusco asked.

“Lee, Taylor and Gen – they’re handing out the programs when people arrive,” Joss explained.

“She tells me nothing. I’m the Best Man and she tells me nothing,” he complained to them.

“Got your speech ready?” John asked.

“Kinda,” Fusco said and then offered to repeat it for John, but Reese told him it was bad luck to hear the speech before the wedding. “I think you made that up,” Fusco said.

As more and more guests arrived, Root watched Sameen carefully. She thought about how far they had come from when they first met and Shaw walked out of the restaurant. Even now, Root had trouble explaining how fast she tuned into Sameen and every fiber of her being felt she had to be with her. She had done some outlandish things in her day; but tazing, drugging and zip tying had been her trifecta of making sure she got what she wanted. And she knew from the moment she met her, she wanted Shaw.

“And you’re sure you want to marry this one?” The question from Zoe Morgan broke Root’s reverie as the woman teased.

“With every cell of my being,” Root answered and kissed Sameen.

“See?” Shaw said to the defeated Zoe. “She’s crazy about me.”

“Or just crazy,” Zoe tried. “Where’s the honeymoon?”

“Right, like we might tell you,” Shaw balked. “Actually, I told Root she could abduct me anywhere she wanted. She likes that sort of thing,” Shaw shared.

“Kinky,” Zoe mused. “I like it.”

“You’d think you’d give her the night off, Sameen,” Ayala teased her sister when she saw Janine sitting at the end of the long table, going over her list.

Sameen couldn’t abide by anyone not having fun, so she immediately grabbed the preoccupied woman and pulled her up on the dance floor. Janine finally gave into the urge to relax and enjoy herself.

“Your dog should be as well behaved as Shaw’s pet,” Fusco interjected to Root as she smiled at how easily Shaw could get people to do things.

“I think Bear could match your obedience,” Root joked and Joss informed her work partner that he had just been burned.

“No respect for the Best Man, I swear,” he swore.

The music played, the drinks poured, and the women danced until their feet screamed no more. Any time Root wasn’t up there with Shaw, she was sitting at the table – staring. Any time Shaw wasn’t next to Root, she was gazing at her thinking how lucky she was.

“You know this should never have worked out, right?” Shaw confided to Fusco.

“What? You and Froot Loops?” he asked. “Are you kidding me?”

“No,” Shaw said sincerely, looking down the table at Root laughing at a joke Zoe was making. “Look at how her whole face laughs. Not just her lips, like you and me. Her eyes get to the punch line before her lips do and they light up. She blushes, like you said something embarrassing, but you didn’t. And she is the kindest person I know,” Sameen went on. Then, in a moment of temporarily panic, she grabbed Lionel by the lapels of his jacket and said; “What if she deserves someone better, Fusco?”

Lionel was not used to his friend having any lapse in her self-confidence and it took him a minute to realize she was dead serious.

“Look, Maybelline; I don’t want to reveal my entire speech here, but suffice it to say, there have never been two people more suited for one another. She’s nuts about you and behind that façade of ‘look how tough I am’ – you’re crazy about her. So, let go of me before people think you’re just plain crazy,” he kidded her.

Shaw listened and took in what he said. “Yeah, yeah, you’re right. We’re made for each other,” Shaw repeated and then stared at her partner. “I am so lucky.”

“No, I am,” Lionel replied. “Otherwise I’d have to put up with you by myself for the rest of my life,” he added, earning him a nice size punch on his arm. “Do you see her assaulting your partner, here?” he shouted to Joss, who laughed and waved him off. “You’re gonna make some preacher, letting your partner get hurt like this.”

Amidst the noise of the group of friends, Janine got word on her phone that everything could be set for tomorrow. She showed the confirmation to Root and Shaw.

“Well, I hope you guys aren’t busy tomorrow at 3 PM,” Root announced, “…because I am going to marry this wonderful woman.”

The friends erupted into cheers and raised their glasses to toast their friends. The only one who seemed worried was, of course, Janine. “I’ve got to go,” she said hurriedly, even though it was just past midnight.

Root tried to talk her out of it, but Sameen stopped her. “Don’t, please,” she said. “If you stop her, it will just build up and she’s likely to explode.”

“I’m going home to sleep until the wedding,” Zoe said and kissed them goodnight.

Then, Joss and Reese got up to go. “Don’t forget – something borrowed, something blue, something old and something new,” she reminded the brides-to-be.

“Well, I’ve got Fusco to cover all of that,” laughed Shaw. “I’m borrowing him tomorrow; he’s NYPD blue; he’s as old as dirt, and hearing him say something he’s actually written down - will be new.”

“I love you, too,” Fusco said and hugged Sameen until she yelled ‘uncle’.

“You let me know if you need anything,” Ayala said, hugging her sister.

“Oh God, that’s enough…,” Sameen was complaining when Reese leaned in and hugged her. “Okay, now I know it’s bad.”

“I’m happy for both of you,” said the man who’d never make a living in the greeting card business.

“Thanks… Reese…,” Shaw said staring at him to make sure he was okay.

Root and Shaw were walking out of the club, hand in hand, and smiling at the gathering of friends who were all returning to their homes to plan for the event.

“I am the luckiest…,” Root was about to say, but Sameen was already kissing her lips.

“I know,” Sameen smiled and Root pushed her body into her.

The couple went outside with their friends. “Shaw, you want to stay with me tonight?” Zoe asked.

“Why would I do that?” Sameen laughed.

“You can’t see each other before the wedding! It’s bad luck,” the rule breaker announced.

“I don’t pay attention to that stuff,” Shaw said, but turned to see Root biting her lip – a clear indication that maybe she did. “Can you stand to be without me tonight?” Shaw teased.

“No,” Root said, but there was a part of her that used to plan all of this in her head when she was little. “But…”

“I’ll tell you what,” Shaw said, turning Root to face her. “I’ll stay at my apartment tonight and get things in order. I am giving up that place, so one more sweep through it for old time’s sake would be good.”

“Are you sure about this?” Root asked, not liking the idea of being apart. “I don’t like this,” she declared.

“You’re crazy about me, aren’t you?” Shaw cooed, the last drink making her lips looser than usual. “Think about how much you’ll want me… after a few hours apart?”

Root smiled and turned her head, unable to resist the obvious display of self-confidence that oozed out of Shaw naturally. “I am going to miss you,” Root said, kissing Sameen tightly.

“Wow,” Shaw said, unable to deny how wonderful that kiss felt. “I’ll be there early.”

“Promise?” Root asked.

“Promise,” Shaw said and asked Fusco to drive Root home.

“Oh, not seeing the bride before the wedding? Now, that’s a great idea,” said the old fashioned man, as he took Root to his car.

Sameen went to the sports car and waved to Root. She got in and drove the short distance to her old apartment downtown. The whole time she drove, her phone beeped with messages.

Can we text at least?’ Root asked. Three times.

Yes,’ Shaw smiled as she parked and went upstairs. ‘But we need our sleep, too.’

Bear misses you,’ Root texted and added, ‘…not as much as I do.’

‘I miss him, too. Not as much as I miss you, though,’ Shaw typed as she entered the building of her old apartment.

“Geezus 3B,” a guy in shorts and a ripped t-shirt said when he saw her. She thought for a moment he was going to say he missed her because it had been quite some time. “Thanks for finally clearing away the delivery menus from your door. I almost killed myself tripping over them last week!”

Shaw stopped and thought about that. Maybe someone cleared them up, but it was unlikely that it was anyone who lived on the floor. “Nice to see you, too,” she said softly when he slammed his door closed. She inched her way down the dimly lit hallway. All those nights she held onto the grimy walls to her apartment so she crawl into her bed, seemed like a life time ago. Now, the smell and feel of the place repulsed her. She slowly took out her gun just as her phone beeped.

Are you there yet?’ Root asked.

Shaw let out a long breath. If she didn’t answer, Root would worry. ‘Yeah, just let me get inside and I’ll text you.’ She pushed the phone back into her pocket and resumed her slow and steady walk down the hall. She slowly put her hand out on the doorknob and was certain she could turn it. Maybe squatters took over since she rarely came back. She unlocked her gun and slowly turned the handle and pushed open the door.

Sure enough, someone was there – sleeping in her bed.

“What the hell?” she said as she walked over.

Suddenly, she realized she had fallen for the old trick of pillows under the blankets to look like a body. The guy jumped her from behind, disarming her immediately and tossing her across the table. It was dark, but she made him out to be six feet, medium build. She raised her foot and was certain she cracked his rib. But he was fast and could obviously work when injured, because he lunged at her and swung her around, throwing her down and holding her in a lock.

“Shaw!” she heard him say. “Stop! It’s me!”

With that, he loosened his military trained grip on her and let go. Sameen shot up to face her attacker.

“Cole?” she asked, as the man bent over and held his injured side.

“Who else?” her former partner grimaced.

“Who else? What the hell are you doing here?” Shaw asked and he pulled her away from the window.

“I’m in trouble, Shaw. A lot of trouble,” he said, his eyes busy watching the street outside. “I need your help.”

Chapter Text

“What does that mean, Cole? What are you doing here?” Shaw asked sternly as she looked around and noticed his things were dispersed throughout the room. “How the fuck long have you been here?”

“A while; look, Shaw; I don’t mean to impose,” her former CIA partner said, but didn’t mean.

“Impose? Cole, impose is - can I have your Netflix password to watch porn. This is…,” Shaw said, her arms sweeping the area of her apartment. “… invasion!”

“They have porn on Netflix? Are you sure?” he kidded, because he knew he better diffuse her temper or the scariest thing wouldn’t be outside.

But Shaw wasn’t so easily distracted. “You have exactly sixty seconds…,” she threatened and now he could hear her phone buzzing in her pocket.

“A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a… a negotiation… undercover,” he explained and noticed how hard he had been hit in his ribs. “Geez, you’re in good shape,” he tried to segue, but Shaw said, “Forty seconds.” “It was supposed to be in and out, but it turns out one of the guys made me from that deal in Istanbul.”

“Operation Black Storm?” Shaw asked because she remembered all of her missions – especially the only one she screwed up.

“Yes, exactly,” Cole said and slowly went to the fridge that he had stocked with beer. He grabbed two bottles and opened them. He walked back over and slowly held one out to Shaw, but she didn’t take it.

“No, thanks,” she said while she thought this through. “So, the guy makes you and you run?”

“Something like that,” he said, draining the first bottle of beer, but not taking his eyes off of Shaw. Even in the dimly lit space, he could see how good she looked. “You look… different,” he chose his word carefully.

“It’s called happy, Cole,” Shaw replied.

“Last I saw you was at the gun show where you were completely and utterly preoccupied. How is that going?” he queried of her status.

“Look, Cole,” Shaw said, in her typical fashion of not answering any question he asked, “… you can stay here as long as you like. I’m giving the place up.”

“Oh, it’s that serious?” he asked because Shaw always needed a home base.

Sameen stared at him as she tried to decide how much information he needed. The constant buzzing of her phone made it obvious that someone was looking for her. “I have to take this,” she said and walked into the bathroom and texted Root.

Sorry, neighbors all wanted to say hello,’ she texted with a rolling eye emoji. ‘I miss you.

I don’t know if I can sleep without you here,’ Root confessed in her text.

We need to get our rest. We have a big day tomorrow.’ Shaw reminded her.

I cannot wait to see you,’ Root said.

Are our honeymoon plans made?’’ Shaw asked, just to be sure.

All set and I promise not to taze or drug you,’ Root texted.

You left off zip ties,’ Shaw answered on cue.

I know,” Root answered quickly with a smiley face. ‘Night, Sweetie.’

Night, Root,’ Shaw said and bit her bottom lip.

Sameen shoved her phone back in her pocket and made a mental list. Tomorrow at the wedding, she was going to punch Zoe Morgan right in the mouth for even mentioning this night apart. But first, she was going to have to make her way uptown and stay with her mother. But before all of that, she had to tell Cole she was leaving.

She started to leave and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Cole had actually given her a black eye. She touched it to see how tender it was and decided it wasn’t too bad. She stopped and looked around the bathroom; at how grimy and dirty it was. How the hell did she ever live like this? She smiled to think how much Root had elevated her life. The days of being off on deadly missions and coming home to nights of drinking herself into a stupor were long over.


As soon as Shaw said Coles’ name to blast him for hitting her, she saw the red laser dot on his head. She lunged at him, taking him down just in time before a hail of high powered bullets blew out her window and pierced furniture and walls. She lay atop him now, having saved him - yet again.

“They found me,” he said, inhaling her perfumed scent.

“No shit!” Shaw barked, but didn’t move while the bullets flew overhead. “We have to get you out of here.”

She started to move, but he grabbed her elbows. “Like old times, Shaw.”

“No, Cole. Not like old times. Like fucked-up times. I’m getting married tomorrow and if you get me killed, Root will be your worst nightmare,” she growled.

“Root?” he asked, as if they had time. “Isn’t that your boss’ nickname or something?” After seeing them together and then seeing how distracted Sameen was, he considered connecting those dots. But nowadays, all he had to do was pick up a paper and he could read about them.

There was another deluge of firepower above their heads.

“Yes, I’m marrying my boss. Okay? Can we get the hell out of here?” she yelled and couldn’t believe the man was so unfocused that all he could do was smile at her.

“I’m happy for you, Shaw. I’m jealous as hell, but I’m happy for you. She’s a lucky woman,” he said sincerely.

“Thanks. Now, this is the part where we move out of this space and find out who the hell is shooting at you,” Shaw barked.

With that, she moved off him and onto the floor where she carefully pushed her way through the debris not to get cut. She stopped only a second to look at a bullet to see what kind of firepower they were dealing with. They were aiming to kill, that’s for sure. “They're not fooling around,” she said back as he followed her to the door. In total darkness now, Cole reached up to touch her foot to know where to follow. Finally, she felt the front door and told him to be ready. Once they opened it, the light from the hallway would show they were leaving.

“Now!” she yelled and opened the door as the two slipped outside. The two sat there, waiting for the bullets to begin before they moved, but they didn’t.

“The guy from that mission swore he’d never forget my face,” he decided to remind Shaw. Now, she felt culpable for this mess. She had never allowed their identities to be known in a covert operation, except that one time. And now, Cole was paying the price for her carelessness.

"I'm sorry...," Shaw started, but he wouldn't hear it.

“I’m sorry I didn’t warn you about coming back here,” Cole said, thinking was better off not bringing this trouble to Shaw’s door.

“Your timing sucks,” Shaw said, peering through a hole in the door. “We better go to the roof,” she pointed and the two crawled the short distance to the staircase. “We can jump to the building next door,” having been familiar with that exact exit route.

The elevator started to move and Shaw knew the men from across the street were making their way up. “Let’s go,” she said and pulled Cole with her as they took the steps up to the roof at a rapid pace. Night air hit them as they emerged on the roof, out of breath. “Over here,” Shaw said quickly and Cole followed the woman who had always led their missions. Shaw ran to the side of the building and slide down the metal ladder to the lower building next to hers. Cole looked over the side and hesitated for a minute, wondering if he shouldn’t just end this here and leave Shaw out of it, but she read his mind.

“I swear to God, Cole, I will kill you if you try to be a hero,” Shaw yelled and started to come back up.

“Okay, okay,” he said, knowing Shaw was a Marine at heart and would never leave him, even if he allowed himself to be killed.

Gun fire ripped the night air through silenced weapons. They whizzed right past them as they narrowly escaped down an opened roof door a few buildings down. Shaw pulled Cole into an apartment that had been abandoned and out through a back window. He followed – as he always had done – because he had come to trust the woman with his life.

The woman he should have feared was uptown in her Penthouse, tossing in her bed.

“This was a terrible idea,” she confided in Bear who simply barked he agreed. “I know, you miss her, too,” she consoled him.

An alarm went off on her computer and she jumped up to grab it. It was a program she was tinkering with to test the machine’s capabilities. She gave her certain parameters and variables to test if she could predict when someone was in trouble. It was a beta program and Root was having all kinds of issues with it. But tonight, it seemed to be working.

Shaw is in trouble,’ the message read.

What kind of trouble?’ Root asked, as she put the laptop on audio and grabbed her clothes.

“Nine men are converging on her position,” the machine reported.

“Where is she?” Root asked, grabbing her guns.

“Rear entrance of a Radio Shack, Barrow Street,” the machine responded.

“Good, we get can her an earpiece,” Root said, steps ahead and motivated by her desire to help Sameen. “Text her phone and tell her to get any hearing enhancer and tell her the aisle or she’ll lose it. She has no patience for shopping,” Root instructed so calmly that Bear stared at her.

Bear barked at Root as she affixed her own earpiece. “No, you stay here. If I need help, I’ll get Reese and Fusco, I promise.”

Root didn’t need to know who or what was going on just yet. She just needed to know where Shaw was so she could get her.

And then the machine added one more piece of information that Root could have done without.

“She is with a Michael Cole,” the machine reported.

Root sucked her teeth and shook her head. “Okay, now they’re in trouble.”

Shaw’s phone vibrated and she feared that it was Root unable to sleep. “Shit!” she said and took it out to look at it. “Oh,” she said in a calmer voice.

“What?” Cole asked, looking around for a way out.

“Aisle three; hearing amplifiers. I need one,” Shaw said when she read the text.

“Trouble hearing, Shaw?” Cole teased as they made their way over in the dark.

“I’m pretty sure trouble is on its way,” Shaw said, because if the machine was sending her texts; she was doing so at Root’s request.

"You  mean those guys?" he asked, listening for them.

“No, I mean .... real trouble.” Shaw said, ripping open the package and putting the device in her ear.

Chapter Text

Shaw had emptied her gun when the men followed them to the roof. Cole was out, too. They were pretty certain the men did not see them come in to the store, but it was only a matter of time before they located them.

“How is it that you have these thugs coming after you, and you only carry one gun?” Shaw admonished Cole as she searched for possible items. He attempted to answer, but Shaw bellowed, “I know, I know; mini blow torch and aerosol cans. This ain’t my first rodeo, okay?”

He had no way of knowing she was speaking to the machine over a BOSE speaker that she had ripped out of the box. “I know that, Shaw,” he said wondering why she sounded so defensive.

“What about ball bearings?” Shaw asked and Cole looked around for some. “What for?” Shaw asked and then got all cocky. “Don’t know everything, do you?”

“Shaw, did you hit your head?” Cole asked, trying to figure out the strange behavior. “Here,” he said, handing the canister of small steel balls that she dispersed on the floor by the door.

“What are we in, Home Alone?” he asked, looking around for something that would inflict something more dangerous than a fall. He grabbed some spools of wire and began wrapping it around the door knob of the door they had just come through. Shaw understood immediately and grabbed some batteries to connect it to. “It will only be a shock, but it will alert us if they come through that door.”

The two former partners sat down to plan their next move. The could see a car moving slowly down the street and decided to stay put until the men moved on. “Got anything for an actual weapon?” Shaw asked and Cole looked around, but of course, she wasn’t talking to him.

“Hey, maybe they have a staple gun?” Cole thought out loud.

“All out, won’t be in until next Tuesday,” Shaw repeated because the machine had accessed the store’s computer.

“Come on, Shaw,” Cole said, sitting back opposite Sameen so he could look at her. “I’m the funny one; you’re the dead serious one who saves our asses.”

In that one quip, Cole had summarized their partnership. She led, he followed; she was impulsive; he was the planner; she was fearless, he was only like that for her. “We made a good team,” he decided to remind her.

“Until Istanbul,” she immediately repeated.

“Always the perfectionist,” Cole shook his head.

There was something different about Sameen he thought as he looked at her. He had seen this woman not wait for his instructions and walk into a room full of armed insurgents and shoot them all. It was like she was wired to know exactly where they were. But now, he finally decided, she actually seemed – anxious.

“Been out of the field too long, Shaw?” he asked and she threw him a scowl. “I’ve never seen you look nervous.”

Shaw shook her head to dismiss his assessment, but she knew he was right. “It’s not about those armed friends of yours,” she assured him.

“I promise to get you to your wedding,” Cole said and put his hand on Sameen’s leg.

She looked at his hand and then up at his eyes and he removed it. “It’s not that,” Shaw said as they listened for the group of people looking for them. “It’s Root.”

Now, Cole prayed the men didn’t find them too soon, because he wanted to hear what his former partner had to say.

Uptown, Root had pulled over to pick up Reese and Martine. “Hi, Kids,” Root greeted them as she drove quickly downtown and shared what little detail she knew.

“Shaw didn’t mention this?” Reese asked and Martine wanted to hit him for touching on, what she imagined to be, a sore point right now.

“No,” Root smiled, but Martine thought it was one of those dangerous grins. “But I’m sure we will talk about that when it’s all over,” she added and Martine dropped her hand in her hands.

This was no way to spend the night before their wedding.

Meanwhile, Cole was enjoying his time alone with Shaw, in spite of the danger. “Hey, I’m sorry I got you involved in this… and right before your wedding.”

“It’s okay,” Shaw said, because helping a buddy was a priority of hers.

“Are you nervous about telling your fiancée?” he asked because he wanted to hear that word – even though it was like picking at a scab. Ultimately, he wanted what was best for Shaw because he cared that much.

“Telling her? No, I’m worried about what she’s going to do when her all seeing overlord tells her exactly where I am,” Shaw blurted out and then told him to forget it.

“You are concerned,” he said because he knew her.

“If you knew Root, you’d be worried, too. In fact, after she’s done with me, she’ll probably go straight for you,” Shaw informed him as she looked around.

“What do you think she’s going to do?” Cole just had to ask.

It was a reasonable question. Not appropriate for the moment, but it did make Shaw think.

“First, she’s going to be very relieved that we’re okay. Then, she’ll give me this look – it won’t be harsh or mean, but her eyes will fill with the disappointment over my not telling her. I’ll offer my excuse – you know, not wanting to upset her, not having time to say I’m being chased by angry arms dealers, but I’ll see it. She’s not the kind to yell or get angry, so you have to look for it – that disillusionment in her eyes. It’s awful,” Shaw finally concluded and her shoulders fell at just the thought.

Cole listened carefully because he couldn’t ever remember Shaw actually talking about… feelings.

“What?” she said when she caught him staring and made her self-conscious. “It’s the therapy, alright?”

Now, that was surprising.

“You’re… in therapy, Shaw?” he asked and now he worried that her former missions maybe had gotten to her. He stayed in the CIA just so he didn’t have to have a life where he reflected back on his history.

Shaw realized what she had just said. “Shit!” she cursed. “Yes, okay, I’m in therapy. Not a lot, not heavy duty. I have to go every time I shoot my gun. It’s a company policy,” she tried to explain.

“Looks like I just bought you six more weeks,” he smiled warmly.

“Yeah,” she smiled, finally relaxing a bit.

The machine had an update – the men had circled back and were coming – and they were armed and more numerous.

“They’re coming back,” Shaw updated Cole and he wondered how she knew. “Take those aerosol cans and the blow torch; turn the batteries on, grab that piece of wood,” she shouted instructions.

“Shaw, these guys are going to have…,” Cole said.

But the machine had just informed Shaw of how large an arsenal they were packing. “A lot of fire power,” she finished his sentence.

“Listen to me, Shaw. You leave. I know you don’t want to, but it’s your freaking wedding day and this will be my gift. Please for once in your life, listen to me, Shaw,” Cole pleaded and wished he had convinced her earlier.

And for a second, Sameen thought about it because she really didn’t want to die before marrying Root. “I can’t,” said the former CIA operative whose Marine values were ingrained for life.

“At least let me...,” he tried, but Shaw was up as soon as they heard the back door blast open. “So much for a warning,” he said of the wire that was blown to smithereens.

Four men appeared and four men were immediately disarmed and shot by each other’s weapons, when Shaw used them as her shield. Now that she was armed, the machine just had to tell her the coordinates. Cole grabbed a gun, too, but it was Sameen who shot through walls and items on shelves with pinpoint accuracy.

“Two guns, Shaw?” Cole noticed as she shot to her right and left. “That's... kinda hot.”

But there were more men than bullets and soon, the former CIA partners were surrounded.

“Let her go; it’s me you want,” Cole said from a kneeling position when the men forced the two of them down.

“You’re right,” the offended party said to Cole. “I do want you… dead. But I’ll take her as a consolation prize.”

“Oh, crap!” Shaw let out because the machine had just informed her that reinforcements had arrived.

“What is in her ear?” the boss shouted and one of his goons ripped it out. “So, you have help?” he surmised.

“No!” Shaw said and told him she was hard of hearing.

The boss instructed most of his men to surround the building and kill anyone who tried to get in.

“I swear to God, Cole, if you get even a scratch on her, I will end you,” Shaw barked through gritted teeth.

Shaw attempted to get up, but the gun pointed out her would stop her in a heartbeat.

“Let my team take care of things and then, after I kill your friend, we’ll be on our way,” the leader sneered at Sameen.

Maybe it wasn’t Root; maybe Fusco got a call and it was the police outside. Maybe the machine told Root and she called Reese. “God, please,” Shaw let out because there was nothing she could do.

There were multiple sounds of weapons being fired and bodies falling. There was a blast of smoke that filled the front of the store. Shaw turned to hear more bodies falling behind, outside the exit.

The boss turned and waved his two last remaining men to find out what was going on. They were disposed of quickly. Sameen started to get up when her captor turned to hear two shots, right to his kneecaps.

“That’s unconventional, “ Cole said as he grabbed the injured man’s guns.

“That’s how we do it at BEAR,” Shaw smiled.

And out of that white smoke that had been released to hinder the enemy’s sight, walked Root – dressed in black pants, black leather jacket and high heeled boots – and a mask that allowed her to see in the opaque covering.

“Root!” Shaw said, relieved that she wasn’t hurt.

“Miss me, Sweetie?” Root said, walking over to Sameen.

“This? Is your fiancée?” Cole said, impressed with the counter attack that saved them.

Then Reese, impeccably dressed in his suit and white shirt, walked in from the back with Martine.

“You CIA guys,” Reese said, shaking his head.

“Are you okay?” Shaw was asking Root and Root was busy surveying her lover.

“Your eye,” Root noticed right away.

“It’s nothing,” Shaw said. “How did you?”

“Oh, a little program I wrote to find trouble spots in the city. I didn’t expect it to be you,” Root said, touching Sameen’s injured cheek.

“Listen, Ms. Root – this was all my fault,” Cole said.

“Oh, this should be good,” Martine said, thinking this guy was clueless.

“I made Sameen come with me,” Cole lied, trying to assure Root her fiancée was coerced.

“Mr. Cole,” Root said, smiling and touching Sameen’s lip. “No one can make this woman do anything.”

“Okay, that’s true,” Cole admitted. “Still this was all my doing,” he tried again and even Reese shook his head to stop him.

“Yes, I know,” Root said, not even looking at him. “Sameen would never leave a friend in need.”

“Exactly!” Sameen said, relieved that Root had figured it out.

“So, that part doesn’t surprised me,” Root said, looking so calm and sweet.

“Didn’t I tell you Root would understand?” Shaw laughed to Cole nervously.

“What did surprise me was you not telling me you were in trouble,” Root added and the room became very still.

“Oh, dammit,” Martine let out, worried for her friend.

“But we’re going to talk about that on the way home. Right, Sweetie?” Root said, looking at Shaw whose mouth opened, but nothing came out.

Cole may not have known Reese and Martine, but he felt compelled to share that he had never seen Shaw look so intimidated.

“Wait till she gets to you,” Martine smiled and walked out with Reese. “You’ll understand."

Chapter Text

Cole couldn’t take his eyes off the woman whom he had known to talk her way out of hostage situations that, by all accounts, should have left them dead. Now, she stood silent while her rescuer slash fiancée walked outside with her.

“Let me make sure Reese and Rousseau can manage,” Root said to Sameen and now the shorter woman knew they were going back alone. Shaw got an idea of how just upset Root really was when she assured John he could take Sameen’s prized sports car to drive back. “The key?” Root asked nicely and Sameen’s shoulders dropped as she shoved her hand in her pocket and took it out.

“Hey, Shaw could come with me if you guys want to…,” Martine said in a valiant effort to save her friend, but Root assured her they’d be okay.

That took care of everyone… except Cole.

“Listen, I just want to thank you guys,” he said to the group. “I certainly wouldn’t have involved Shaw on her wedding day, so I want to apologize for that.”

Root stared at him as he spoke sincerely and appeared to genuinely care about Sameen. She felt the jealousy bubbling inside, even though she knew it was unwarranted. She was certain she knew what happened – and that Sameen would never leave a friend in need. Root knew she really wasn’t upset with Cole.

Still ….

“And I’m sorry about your eye, Shaw,” Cole said and Sameen waved him off, wishing he’d shut up.

“You… gave her that?” Root asked and Martine grimaced when the honest man said he did.

In spite of the fact that sirens could be heard in the distance, and Reese and Martine had to walk around the block to get Shaw’s car, and Cole had to make his way back to her apartment; Root took the time to haul off and punch Cole… hard.


Shaw looked more surprised than he did because he understood what just happened. “I… deserved that,” the polite man conceded, holding his face. Reese nodded his head as a sign of kudos for the man’s compliance.

“Now that that’s settled, Michael,” Root said in the friendliest of tones. “If you’re not being hunted down by a band of arms dealers later, I hope you’ll come to the wedding at three o’clock.”

“What?” Shaw and Martine said at the same time. Reese’s expression said he was thinking the same thing.

“Come on, Sweetie,” Root said sweetly as she walked to the car she borrowed.

“I know it doesn’t look like it,” Martine whispered to Shaw, “… and she certainly doesn’t sound upset, but something tells me you’re in a whole lot of trouble.”

“I know,” Shaw said and walked to the car, trying to figure out her next move.

The issue for Sameen was she had not really experienced this before. If she had upset Root, she pretty much knew it right away. Root always told her what she was thinking. Now, it seemed to Shaw, she was toying with her.

“The best defense is a good offense,” Sameen said to herself as she got in the car.

The problem with that theory was that she was sitting with a woman who could strip her of any defense immediately.

Root took off into traffic without saying a word. Shaw decided that was good because if Root didn’t want to talk, it gave her more time to think about what she was going to say.

Root knew the silence would kill Sameen, and she’d start talking immediately.

“Look, Root,” Sameen said, caving in before they reached the stop light, “… I had no idea Cole was there. I was going back to my apartment because we agreed to be apart, which was a terrible idea to begin with. I was surprised to find Cole there and then he started to tell me about this deal that had gone wrong. I was yelling at him, but my phone was vibrating and I went into the bathroom to take your texts. I was about to leave and go to my mother’s when the guys he was telling me about started shooting up the place. I had to get him out of there, so we crawled out of the apartment and up to the roof where we escaped through another building into the store. He wanted me to go ahead and let them kill him for God’s sake! Do you see what kind of a pain in the ass I’m dealing with? Anyway, then I got your machine’s texts and we figured out what to do and the guys came and we took care of them, you know, until the reinforcements came… and we ran out of bullets. That part really sucked,” Shaw blathered on as she tried to take Root through the sequence of events.

There was dead silence as Sameen looked upward to see if she left anything out. Oh, yeah.

“Oh, but you guys were awesome,” Shaw added. “The smoke canister? Was that your idea or Reese’s? And you guys really saved us, which even though Cole thanked you, he’ll be pissed about, but it’s his own fault because he had one gun on him. I mean, who carries one gun?” Sameen said, feeling more confident and relaxed the more she told her story.

It sounded so credible to her, that she was convincing herself that Root’s silence meant she was agreeing that Sameen did the best she could – under the circumstances. They were almost home when Shaw pushed the seat back and put her feet on the dashboard to continue.

“To be totally honest, I felt responsible for Cole’s predicament. I screwed up in Istanbul on this mission. I don’t know if I ever told you. Anyway, he was outed as an operative. Would you believe it? A guy from that long ago turns up working with the arms dealer that Cole was trying to work with? Of course, the sonovabitch remembers Cole and that was how he ended up in my apartment. And I wouldn’t have been there, if it weren’t for Zoe Morgan and her stupid ass suggestion. I mean, it goes to show you,” Shaw carried on, her voice almost cocky now, “…we should never be apart.”

And that was how Shaw explained everything.

It wasn’t until Root pulled over in front of their apartment and parked, did Shaw realize that she hadn’t said a word.

“This is the part where we kiss and make up; not that there’s anything to make up for, but I know you were worried and I’m sorry that happened,” Shaw added, impressed with how she saved the day with all of that.

Then, she caught the rigid stare from Root.  Shaw finally took her feet off the dashboard and put her seat upright.

“We’re going to talk about this upstairs,” Root said and Shaw still had a hard time deciphering if that tone was anger or worry. She went with worried. Or maybe it was anger.

If there was any question in Shaw’s mind about what Root was feeling, it became clear when they entered the apartment and Bear was waiting, holding his white security blanket. He only used that in times of dire anxiety and right now, he was bringing it over to Shaw. He wasn’t sure what she did, but he knew it was worse than the time he gnawed away on Root’s prized autographed ballet slippers.
He tried to howl in a low tone to Shaw. “I’m not going to hide,” she said back to him, and he shook his head indicating he tried to warn her.

Root was putting away her guns and taking off her jacket when Sameen had enough.

“Okay, fine, you want to be upset with me, go ahead!” she threw her hands up in the air and then crossed them in front of her – waiting.

Root was so used to expressing all of her feelings immediately that having to stop and rescue Sameen meant they were a little backlogged. She was scared – that something happened to Sameen; she was angry – that Shaw didn’t tell her; she was jealous – because Shaw was with Cole and he would have been the last person to be with her if things had gone badly. Having sorted them out, Root was about to explain them when her body cut to the chase.

She grabbed Sameen so hard that the shorter woman was certain she was about to be slapped. But the thrust was pushing her back to the wall and securing her there. “You could have gotten killed!” Root yelled – the fear jumping ahead of the other feelings. “What would I do if that happened?”

Shaw understood Root’s distress. “I’m sorry, Root…”

But Root wasn’t done.

“And you were texting me? Right before it happened and you didn’t think to mention that you were with Cole? And that people were after him?” Root snapped next.

“I… would… have, but… the wedding,” Shaw offered, but it wasn’t convincing.

“Oh, so you get to decide when to tell me you’re in danger? Will that be one of your vows later today?” Root spat and now the hurt was coming through.

“No, I tell you…. I’m not usually in danger,” said the woman who was in a very dangerous situation at the moment.

“And with Cole? He would have been the last person you saw if something bad happened,” Root suggested.

“I think they were going to kill Cole and take me, actually,” Shaw explained and really shouldn’t have.

“Sameen!” Root shouted and startled her fiancée who had rarely heard her raise her voice. “Are you not listening to what you’re telling me? You were in mortal danger. If the machine hadn’t detected that you were in trouble, I would have been here, trying to sleep. And today, we would be exchanging vows of faith and trust and love and you would have lied by omission!”

Lying by omission was actually something Shaw would have listed on her resume under skill sets.

The woman had faced torturous interrogations what were less painful that the one she was experiencing right now.

“What do you want me to do, Root? I said I was sorry! But if I had to choose to involve you in a suicide mission or leave you at home, I’d choose not to tell you,” shouted Sameen.

Now, given that Sameen had never been this far into a relationship and rarely augured with Root, meant that she was relying on pre-Root skills and beliefs.

In other words, she was screwing up royally.

Root was having trouble because these emotions were bunching up and overriding her very analytical brain.

In other words, she was on overload.

Even Bear could see this was an awful combination. He was about to send them to separate corners when Root said; “Maybe you need more time to think about what you want, Sameen.”
Shaw was pretty sure she had outlined what she wanted perfectly. So perfectly, that she was insulted that Root was suggesting she needed to think things through when it was obvious to her, Root was confused.

“ME?” Shaw barked and stared back hard.

That was it. Shaw was in uncharted territory and when that happened in a mission and she had no idea what to do next, there was only one thing to do; Abort the mission.

“Fine!” she said, grabbing Root’s jacket by mistake and going to the elevator.

The door opened immediately and she got on it and pressed close. Fueled by anger and a sense of unfairness, Shaw stomped out of the building and kept walking.

Bear was stunned at how this had spiraled downward so fast.

Root stood there motionless for a few seconds until the emotions overwhelmed her and she went upstairs crying.

Bear looked at the elevator – and then upstairs. “Pre-wedding jitters,” he barked to himself. He had never seen his two pets act so irrationally. “Maybe they’re not up on their shots,” he questioned. The only thing he did know now was the he needed help.

But everyone was running around for the wedding that might not take place.

Then, he remembered what he did last time there was trouble in paradise.

Chapter Text

Sameen stood on the street corner, her head turning from right to left, trying to decide which way to go. If she went to Fusco’s, he’d lecture her. If she went to Reese’s, he’d stare her to death. It was too early to call her therapist. She knew she had to choose quickly because she could almost hear the nagging little voice in her head telling her to go back to Root and make it all better.

“Bullshit!” she shouted and made her decision.

Root knew exactly where to go after their outburst. She needed a place to lie down and cry because she was so overcome with emotion. Root somehow always maintained that balance between what she felt and what she thought. She wasn’t so analytical that she wasn’t in touch with her feelings; and she wasn’t too emotional, that she couldn’t think things through. Except today. Right now, every time she thought she knew what to do, the fear of what could have happened to Sameen or the hurt that she didn’t trust her, grabbed at her. But Root had someone to talk to and he was carrying his special blanket into her room and offering it to her.

“Oh, Bear,” Root cried. “What if she doesn’t come back?” That very thought made Root dissolved into more tears.

Bear let her hug him and whined his assurances that everything would be okay. He wanted to point out that Isabelle still worked there and he was certain that alone would ensure Shaw’s return. But the two of them had really screwed this up and so, he figured he better put a plan together. First, though, he’d let Root get his fur wet with tears.

Two legged people were so needy.

The inner voice was getting louder, so Shaw took off in the direction of the person she thought might help. Not in an understanding, let’s have a cup of tea and talk about it, but someone she could unload on.

Her mother.

The sun was just peeking over the horizon when the bagging and door bell ringing occurred. Again, Ayala jumped up and went downstairs, her gun in her hand.

“What the hell are you doing here?” was how she greeted her sister, which was perfect for Shaw.

“What the hell business is it of yours?” Shaw barked back – looking for a fight.

“Wait… are you okay?” Ayala asked, finally opening her eyes all the way and taking in how her sibling looked. “You look like hell.”

“Azizam?” Azar’s soft voice came from the balcony as she looked down to see what the commotion was.

Now, Ayala started to speak Hebrew and her mother answered in Farsi. Sameen could only catch a smattering of what was being said, but she didn’t like it.

“Hey! I’m right here!” she said, her hands on her hips.

“Put tea on, Ayala. Sameen, come into the kitchen and we’ll talk,” her mother instructed.

Tea? Talk? This was not what Sameen wanted.

“The hell I will,” Shaw said, her arms defiantly across her chest.

“I’ll get the tea,” Ayala said, rolling her eyes in a similar fashion as her sibling often did.

“What… happened?” Azar asked and pointed to the couch to sit down, but Sameen refused. She paced back and forth like a wild animal.

“There’s… too much to explain. The wedding is off,” she summarized. “Root is being totally unreasonable. Ask Bear, he’ll tell you,” she blurted out. “I mean… “

“I’m glad that your pet is on your side, Sameen, but can you tell me what happened?” Azar asked, folding her hands in her lap.

“And, I don’t care what you say; I am not crawling back to her. No!” Sameen shouted as if her mother had suggested that. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” the woman protested too much.

“Okay,” her mother said.

“Right, like you would know,” Shaw jumped the gun. “She’s always so calm and easy going. Ha! But when she gets upset, she doesn’t yell. She looks at you, right? And you can see it all the way in the back of her eyes; staring back at you.”

“What do you see?” Azar asked.

“How disappointed she is,” Sameen said annoyed, as if her mother hadn’t read the manual.

Shaw stared down into the calm, warm smile of the woman who, up until recently, she didn’t even want to talk to. Now, she was in her house, at the crack of dawn, seeking her counsel. Instead of taking advantage of the woman’s compassion, she became afraid.

“You’re just like Root, aren’t you?” Shaw turned on her mother.

“How so?” the wise older woman asked, not surprised that her daughter would project her feelings.

“You want me to be a… a feeling person. You want me to drown in my own emotions because that’s when I’m confused and I’ll give in,” Shaw bellowed.

Azar sat in silence, knowing her daughter had more to get off her chest.

“I told Root, from the very beginning; I do the protecting. And that’s going to mean that sometimes I don’t tell her when I’m in danger – like last night,” Shaw revealed.

“Last night?” Azar prompted.

It was just enough to get Shaw to spill the beans in her rant, as she paced the room. She told her about Cole, the botched mission and how they came after him. How she texted Root, but decided not to tell her what was going on and how, in the end, Root’s stupid machine interfered anyway and Root saved the day. She skipped the part where she told Root she didn’t want to involve her and would do it all over again and went right to –

“And now she’s mad at me!”

“Come here, Azizam,” Azar said, using a Persian term of endearment that Sameen remembered.

“I’m not at fault here!” she said defensively, which told her mother a great deal. “I told her everything after it happened. I went back and we talked and then she told me maybe I needed to think about what I wanted after I told her everything and so I left,” Sameen said, but now she was sitting and her mother bravely pulled her so that her head rested in her mother’s lap.

Azar’s hand immediately lightly grazed Sameen’s cheek. “And this?”

“Cole jumped me,” Sameen explained and then smiled and told her how cool Root was about the rescue until Cole admitted he did that and she punched him.

“You must be so tired,” her mother said and Sameen said she wasn’t and that she was still very much annoyed at Root.

“How the hell am I going to get married if she doesn’t trust me?” she asked, but her words were getting softer and softer as she drifted off to sleep.

“You’re going to talk to her,” Azar said, stroking Sameen’s hair.

When Ayala returned with the tea, her mother told her to contact Janine as soon as it was a decent hour and make sure everything was going according to plan. Then, Ayala went and got a blanket to put over her exhausted sister.

“By the way,” she whispered to her mother, “…when it’s my turn, I’m eloping.”

While Shaw sought solace at her mother’s, Root was in therapy with Bear.

“I never felt that way,” she shared as he listened. “But she was texting me – as Cole was there and telling her he was in hiding. If she had told me that, I would have helped sooner,” she explained.

Bear suggested that Sameen didn’t know the full extent of the trouble when she was texting.

“Yes, I know, and I get that things happened quickly. But you heard her; she said she’d do it all again. I thought we were partners, through thick and thin, Bear.”

Damn, Root was making good points.

He howled that Sameen was crazy about Root and she’d do anything for her. He reminded Root she told Sameen what was in the past didn’t interest her and that she only wanted to think about their future. He also suggested that it was Root who told Sameen she better think things over.

“Damn, you make good points,” she acknowledged. “What should I do?” she asked the wise canine.

Root picked up her phone and texted Sameen, but her phone was off. She grabbed her laptop and accessed the machine who located Sameen.

Bear tilted his head and barked, telling Root she had all the information she needed. “Now, go get our girl!” he barked loudly.

“I don’t know, Bear,” Root hesitated and the dog groaned at how stubborn two legged people were.

“How am I going to trust that she won’t do this again?”

Bear shook his head, frustrated at the present situation. Even answering all Root’s questions, she still had doubts.

Maybe words weren’t enough. It was time for action.

Shaw woke up an hour later with a start. She sat up quickly, unsure of where she was. “Fucking shark,” she said of her recurring dream that she had in that short time. The symbol seemed to permeate her dreams from time to time.

“Sorry?” her mother asked.

Shaw looked and realized she had slept in her mother’s lap. “I dream about sharks,” she said, taking the cold tea and drinking it so she didn’t have to talk.

“What does it mean?” her mother asked calmly.

“It’s my former personality. The one that saved Cole’s ass last night,” Shaw declared.

“What did you dream?” Azar pressed, believing in their resourcefulness.

Shaw let out a deep breath. “I dreamed it was way off in the water- the deep water, where it belongs,” she said.

“Where were you?” Azar asked.

“I was on the beach with Root. And we were wearing rings,” Shaw remembered.

“Of course you were,” Azar said confidently.

“Yeah, well… not today,” Shaw said.

The short slumber didn’t clear anything up for Sameen, who seemed to be doing the opposite of what she usually did. Instead of forging into battle to accomplish her goals, she was retreating.

“I gotta go,” she said, as if she were late for something.

“Where?” her mother inquired.

“I don’t know,” Sameen said, annoyed someone would ask what the next step was when she hadn’t figured it out. She got up and walked past her sister, who knew better than to try and stop her.

“Nice tattoo,” her sister said, causing Sameen to look at the inked reminders of all the things that were Root.

“Shut up!” Shaw snapped, walking out and slamming the door behind her.

“If you ask me, Root has her work cut out for her,” Ayala shared.

“I didn’t ask,” Azar replied.

Chapter Text

Bear was losing patience with Root.

“Are you sure about this?” she asked again. It was times like this that he envied Shaw’s ability to roll her eyes. “I’m not happy that she said she would do it all again, Bear,” Root explained...again.

Bear let out a long sigh. He had seen how Root was able to get Shaw to do almost anything, so he was confident of a resolution. He had suggested she bring Shaw a treat bag though; just like the kind they took with him to the park. But Root said no. She didn’t want to feed Shaw to get her to comply. He disagreed, but in the end, they went empty handed.

“You realize you’re asking me to go to her mother’s to have this discussion?” Root asked him, just to be clear.

“Power in numbers,” he barked.

But while Root was making her way there, Shaw was already on her way out.

Shaw’s attempt to argue fell flat at her mother’s. What kind of a former CIA operative doesn’t express their opinion, she wondered. Still unsure of how to handle this, she thought over the list of who else she could talk to. It was a pretty short list. She decided she needed someone who was objective; someone who wouldn’t panic that the wedding was off, and who wouldn’t hold back on their opinion. In other words, someone who would say something so Shaw could get upset and yell, letting out the pressure that was building inside her.

She needed the Kid.

Getting into Harold’s building was a piece of cake. Getting into his apartment was even easier. She had to guess which bedroom was Genrika’s, but the giant picture of Albert Einstein on the door gave it away. However, getting the tween to wake up was another matter. Shaw tried subtlety first. She tossed a soft pillow at her head. Then, she gently shook the bed, hoping to break the pre-teen’s slumber. “Nerds,” Shaw said, rolling her eyes and shaking her head at how soundly the girl slept. Finally, she bent down and whispered in Gen’s ear: “You’re report card just came and there’s a B on it.”

Shaw had to pull back quickly, as Genrika shot up from her sleep upon hearing the horror.

“Shaw?” Genrika said, trying to command her eyes to focus.

“Oh, hey, Kid,” Shaw said, like they just ran into each other on the street.

“Shaw?” Gen asked again, trying to figure out what she was doing there. “Are you okay?”

That was a question Shaw always answered in the affirmative. “Me? Sure,” Sameen said, sitting in a chair and looking around the room. “Where’s all the Disney themed stuff, Kid?”

Gen slowly crossed her legs and got more comfortable, her eyes still heavy with sleep. “I have to get into a good school, so I’m kinda serious.”

Kinda?” Shaw scoffed without realizing it. “What about being a kid and having fun?”

“I write programs that help children in poverty stricken areas learn,” Gen said, not believing for a minute Shaw stopped in to see how she was doing.

“Oh, that’s… great,” Shaw said, unsure of where this conversation was going. “So, Kid, the wedding’s off,” Sameen dropped the bomb.

“WHAT?” Gen said, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. She shoved her feet into her sensible slippers and stood in front of Sameen. “What does that mean?”

“It’s not happening. Root is….Root wants…okay, Root said…,” Shaw said, tempted to dump this all on Root, but couldn’t. “I screwed up,” is what came out of her mouth instead because she was sitting with an innocent. “Look, sometimes adults don’t see eye to eye on things.”

Shaw’s admission was making the junior sleuth suspicious. “What did you do?” she asked and her tone wasn’t accusatory the way Fusco’s would have been. Gen sat back down on the bed now so there was no avoiding eye contact for Sameen.

Shaw started to act like it was Gen who just broke into her bedroom. She got up from the chair and paced around, looking at all the advanced textbooks on the shelves. “You understand all this stuff?” Sameen asked, trying to change subjects.

“Yes,” said the kid who understood a great deal about human behavior, too. “What happened?”

“God, you’re pushy,” Shaw tried, but it fell flat. “Fine! I’ll tell you,” Sameen caved and sat back down in the chair across from the inquiring mind. “I went to my old apartment and not because I wanted to, but because someone suggested that we not be together the night before the wedding. Make a note, Kid – don’t listen to anyone. Anyway, my friend, Cole was there and he was in trouble and I helped him, but I didn’t text Root about it because I didn’t want to disturb her and I didn’t want her to be in danger. Turned out, we needed Root’s help and she found us and actually, did a great job of saving us. And that should be the end, right? But she wanted to taaalk about it,” Shaw said dramatically, dragging out the word. “Which really, in my book, rarely helps.”

Gen listened carefully and watched Sameen’s body language. “What happened?”

“I said I’d do it all over again if I had to. Not the part about running out of ammo, just the part about not telling her,” Shaw clarified.

“Hmm,” Gen said, getting the gist of the issue.

Hmm – what? You think it’s my fault, right?” Shaw barked.

“I’m thinking how scared Root must have been to think you were in danger and she didn’t know it,” Gen started.

“Yeah, well she’s got an all seeing app for that,” Shaw added.

“Still, imagine if you were here with me now and unbeknownst to you, Root was in danger. When you found out, wouldn’t you be upset that you didn’t know?” she proposed.

“That wouldn’t happen,” said the former operative confidently.

“How come?” Gen asked.

“Because Root would tell me,” Shaw said and then stopped in her tracks.

Gen not only led Shaw where she thought she needed to go; she let her hit her head on the reality.

“Dammit!” Shaw said when she realized what she said.

Gen let her uninvited guest think about what she had just said. Shaw would look away, her eyes darting back and forth in her head as she thought over this revelation. Then, she’d look back at Gen whose expression merely indicated that it was Shaw’s own confession.

A few minutes later, it came to her.

Shaw realized that she couldn’t do things the way she used to. It wasn’t fair to Root.

“Hey, Kid, I gotta go,” Shaw said and started to walk out. She turned back, grabbed Gen and pulled her into a hug. “Thanks,” Sameen said.

“See you in a few hours, Shaw,” Gen said, yawning and returning to bed.

While Sameen was seeking counsel, Root was trying to find her at Azar’s. The doorbell rang only once this time and Azar answered it, since she was already up.

“Samantha,” she said warmly, and took Root’s hand and pulled her into a hug. “Sameen has already left, I’m afraid. But come in, please. Hello, Bear,” she greeted them.

“Do you know where…?” Root was asking when Azar turned and gave Root a knowing look.

“You have at least two ways of finding her,” the older woman smiled.

“Oh,” Root replied. “You mean the machine and Bear.”

“Actually,” Azar smiled as they went into the kitchen where she poured Root a cup of tea she knew she wouldn’t touch. “I meant…,” and Azar touched the side of Root’s head and her chest.

“Maybe” Root blushed because she doubted herself. “Did Sameen…?”

“Tell me? Yes, in her own way. Samantha, do you know what I have seen almost every time I see Sameen? The fight going on inside of her, to be different from what she thought she had to be.”

“What do you mean?” Root asked.

“There is the world that Sameen used to live in, and then, there is her world with you. Sometimes, she forgets which one she's in. Sameen is fighting her worst possible foe to remain in that world, Samantha. She’s fighting herself. Her head is telling her that she has all these skills to survive, and her heart is telling her that she needs to do things differently with you,” the wise woman shared.

“I want Sameen to be just the way she is,” Root said.

“Well, that didn’t work out so well last night for you two,” Azar gently reminded her future daughter-in-law.

Root stood up quickly and looked down at Bear. “Makes sense,” he barked.

“I have to find her,” Root said and started out of the room quickly. She turned back long enough to thank Azar.

Root stepped outside and grabbed her phone at the same time that Shaw was texting her.

“We need to talk,” the exact same message was written, sent and received. Followed by the second duplicate; “I’m sorry.”

They were at locations equidistant to the Penthouse, so both women rushed to meet there. Shaw stopped walking when she saw the tall figure of her partner moving out ahead of the few pedestrians stopped at the light. Her heart leapt in her chest and pounded, as if it were a beacon, trying to pull her towards Root.

When Root saw Sameen, tears welled in her eyes. Nothing was more important than the two of them being together. Eyes locked on each other, the two women walked until they met outside their door.

“Root,” Shaw said, wanting to get her prepared confession out, but her lips were engulfed in Root’s kiss.

“Shaw,” Root said, when she let go, but Sameen’s entire head was offline now.

“Finally!” Bear barked and walked inside, too tired to do anymore for them.

“I’m sorry,” the two women said at the same time.

“Sameen, there isn’t anything about you that I want you to change,” Root said, her forehead touching Shaw’s as they spoke.

“You’re my reason for wanting to do things differently, Root,” Shaw shared.

“Let’s go upstairs,” Root said, taking Sameen’s hand and playfully pulling her inside.

“What are you two doing out?” the doorman asked. “Don’t you two have a wedding to get ready for?”

“Yes,” Shaw agreed. “We do.”

The two rejoined lovers rushed into the elevator, where Bear patiently waited for them.

“Good job, Bear,” Shaw praised him and made him happy.

The two women entered the apartment and kissed. It was Root who pushed Sameen backwards, telling her how glad she was that she was back.

“I’m sorry, Root. I forget that I can do things differently with you sometimes,” Shaw confessed as she leaned back against the dining room table.

“I’m sorry, too, Sameen. I lost it when I thought you weren’t safe,” Root said and found it absolutely necessary to touch Sameen to make sure she was okay – again.

Hands roamed, clothes were carefully discarded until Root pushed plates out of their way and gently pushed Sameen down on the table. There was no resistance, not push and pull this time. This time, there was just the physical expression of both women happy to have each other back.

“I don’t ever want to spend another night away from you,” Root said as her hands massaged Shaw’s aching body.

“Same,” Shaw said and then pulled Root on top of her as their bodies intermingled. “Ever.”

The lovemaking drained what little energy the couple had and they collapsed on the oversized couch, cuddling under blankets.

“We have plenty of time,” Root assured Sameen as they both drifted off to sleep.

One of them really should have set an alarm clock.

Chapter Text

Janine was aware of the arrangement Root and Shaw had made of spending the night apart. The women had agreed to get ready at their respective apartments and meet at the church. This is why Janine had teams of prep people going to each residence the day of the wedding.

That plan was in the process of being terribly disrupted.

The only one who was intolerant with the lack of communication was Janine. She had been handed the social event of the year to organize and it was going to go off without a hitch. She had planned for every possible scenario – except the one where the Shaw got into a scuffle with arms dealers, Root saved her, and then they fought about it. Her plan included having the team of stylists and dressers ready to go at twelve o’clock. When the group showed up at Sameen’s apartment and found it in shambles, they called to report. Then, the team that was supposed to be at Root’s apartment reported that they were denied access – because Root had locked the elevator last night.

Janine went into panic mode.

Two cell phone lay among the shattered china dishes on the dining room floor, buzzing away incessantly. The only thing they were disturbing was the pile of broken pieces that moved every time they vibrated.

Bear had impeccable timing and was the reason Root never needed to set an alarm clock. But he found fixing romances exhausting and was oversleeping upstairs. Isabelle was preoccupied with the wedding preparations and had told Root, she would leave a prepared brunch because she couldn’t imagine Shaw being polite to guests if she hadn’t eaten.

A group text started a domino effect of worry. Fusco and Joss immediately checked the police updates. The escapade last night had not escaped the news – and even though there was no mention of Sameen, both detectives suspected something.
Azar updated Janine that both of them had been there, but at separate times. Azar said she truly felt they were searching for one another, but she hadn’t heard from either one.

Janine demanded that the doorman override the elevator lockout because of the time. When she found the couple spooning on the couch, she grabbed her chest with emotion. “Shaw?” she tried because time was of the essence.

“I’m here, Root,” Sameen murmured.

“Root?” Janine tried, putting all formality aside.

“Right here, Sweetie,” Root whispered.

Janine wished she could have left them alone; in their blissful slumber. Then, she noticed Shaw’s black eye and all bets were off.

“OH MY GOD!” Janine shouted, causing Shaw to jump up and reach for the gun she didn’t have. Root simply smiled and stretched lazily.

“What the hell?” Shaw barked at the interruption.

“You… you… you have a black eye!” the wedding planner said horrified.

“Oh, yeah,” Shaw said and fell back onto Root.

“No, no, no,” the woman said, pacing around and calling the woman to make sure she had something to cover it. “I’m calling your makeup artist.”

“I have a makeup artist?” Shaw asked, scoffing at the thought. “Can I be a clown?”

“You are going to be the most beautiful bride,” Root said and then realized Janine was there alarmed. “What time is it?”

“IT’S ALMOST TWO O’CLOCK!” Janine said, dialing person after person. “I have them. No one is ready.”

“She has us,” Root laughed and pulled Sameen into a hug.

“She’s so lucky,” Shaw said, suddenly aware of how hungry she was. “I’m starving.”

“No, there is no time – oh, who am I kidding?” Janine realized. “Root – shower; Shaw – kitchen,” she said and the women slowly got up and kissed goodbye was they separated.

By the time the prepared brunch was whipped out of the refrigerator and set in front of Shaw, Root was singing upstairs in the shower.

“Do you want to see Root before the church?” Janine asked and Shaw said no. She immediately picked up a two way phone. “Team B, please meet at the church.”

“I knew you’d be perfect for this job,” Shaw said, shoving the last of the croissant in her mouth.

“Let’s go,” Janine said.

“You’re incredibly bossy… oh, pulling me off the chair, okay,” Shaw said as she was escorted into the other room.

Root came down with Bear and the other group came up in the elevator.

“I will see you in a little while,” Shaw said, kissing Root as the group of people watched them.

“I’ll go with Shaw,” Janine said, thinking she was the less organized of the two. “You have your vows, right?” she asked the two women who stared at each other with blank expressions.

“I know it’s hard to believe,” Root said, ignoring the question and pulling Shaw in, “…but the next time I see you, I will more in love with you than I am right now.” With that declaration, the taller woman leaned in and kissed Shaw so sweetly, that it left her motionless.

“I really hate to do this,” Janine whispered, “…but if you don’t stop doing that, she won’t be able to say her vows.”

“Good point,” Root whispered back and winked at Sameen.

The assistant gently guided Shaw to the elevator, where they waved goodbye to Root.

“God, I love that woman,” Shaw confessed on the way down. “I would propose to her right now if I hadn’t already.”
Janine took Shaw to the church where the team were waiting to get her ready.

People were already at the church, expecting the brides to arrive soon. When Fusco saw Shaw being pushed into the back, he froze.

“Did I just see her? In black? She’s not wearing black is she?” he asked as he rushed to the room. One look at how disheveled Shaw looked made him panic. “HOLY CRAP!” he yelled out. “When they said something blue, Shaw, they didn’t mean your eye!”

“Ouch!” Shaw said as the woman gingerly applied cover-up makeup on the bruise. “I think I look good.”

“Was that? That was, wasn’t it?” Fusco asked about the report of an explosion downtown on her street.

“Maybe,” Shaw said unconvincingly.

“Where is Coca Puffs?” he asked, pacing the floor.

“She’s at the apartment, getting ready,” Shaw reported.

“Will she remind that dog to bring the rings?” the Best Man asked and drew stares as the attendants looked at him.

“I’m sure,” Shaw said confidently.

Fusco was so busy worrying that he didn’t realize that Shaw was now undressing and getting into her bridal wear. He was murmuring and looking up at the ceiling as he tried to calm himself. When he finally stopped and turned, Sameen was standing there in her white dress. It was a very short, long lace sleeved dress, with a lace top above the bodice. Her hair was brushed back in a ponytail, with her signature strands adorning her face.

Fusco turned to see his friend and stared. He had never seen her look more radiant. If was the first time he actually believed Shaw was blushing, as he stared.

“I look okay?” she asked, smiling and hesitant.

“Shaw,” he said and his voice cracked. “Geez, Shaw, you look beautiful.”

“Thanks,” Sameen said.

“Look, I know you two are going to go back and forth at some point about who is the luckier woman, but I’m telling you, Shaw, it’s Root,” Fusco said, tears welling up in his eyes.

“Save some of that mush for your speech, okay?” Sameen teased him.

“You want me to walk you out?” Lionel offered.

“I thought I’d ask my mother,” Sameen said and Fusco second that idea.

“Good idea. Hey, look, I got you something. You know – for something new,” Fusco said and handed Sameen a rectangular box.

“Is it Yankees’ season tickets?” she teased and opened it up. It was a beautiful diamond tennis bracelet. “Fusco!” she said of the extravagant gift.

“Look, you never let me get you anything and I really wanted you to have something special,” Lionel said, but stopped talking when Sameen pulled him in for a tight hug.

“We… you know… better get ready,” Lionel said, choking back tears.

“Thanks, Lionel,” Sameen said, putting on her bracelet.

Shaw walked down the hallway and reentered in the back of the church. Her mother and sister were just arriving and both women stopped in the tracks.

“Sameen,” her mother said, her eyes watering at the sight of her beautiful child.

“So, you want to walk me down the aisle?” Sameen asked and her mother nodded.

“I thought you might want to borrow these,” Azar said, and pressed a pair of diamond earrings in Sameen’s hand. “I wore them when I married your father.”

Sameen looked down at the brilliant diamonds. “They’re really nice, Mom, thanks.”

Just then, Taylor, Lee and Genrika came out for a peek. “You look great, Aunt Sameen,” Lee said and the others concurred.

“Thanks. Hey, I got something old with me,” Shaw said and reached down the front of her dress to show Genrika the medal she had given her a long time ago.

Lee and Taylor stood there – not meaning to be disrespectful, but unable to remove their eyes from Shaw. “Let’s go guys,” Gen said, pulling her friends back inside.

“You look gorgeous,” Ayala said and kissed them both before she went to take her seat.

“Oh, hey, wow,” Martine said, joining them. “You okay?” she asked her friend.

“Never felt better,” Shaw replied.

The music started and Shaw strained her neck, trying to see if Root was there. “She’s outside,” her mother confirmed as she allowed Shaw to take her arm. “I hope you don’t mind, but I gave Root something that covers all of the required items.”

“I’m really glad you’re here,” Shaw said, as the doors opened and they started walking.

“Me, too,” Azar said, squeezing her daughter’s hand with hers.

Making the entrance he had rehearsed for, Bear came up the steps of the church and into the vestibule. He sat at attention to make sure Sameen got a good look at the black bow tie and the bag he was carrying that announced he was the Ring Bearer.

“Nice job, Bear,” Sameen said as the dog took off at a slow pace down the aisle towards Fusco.

Then, the music changed and announced that the brides were there. The guests all turned to see Sameen walking with her mother. Cameras flashed as she passed.  Her mother walked her to the front of the altar and kissed her on both cheeks before taking her seat.

The music swelled and the back door opened again and there stood Root. She was dressed in a stunning long white dress with the slightest flair at the bottom. The lace top formed a diamond shape opening in the back. She carried a bouquet of white roses.

Shaw was almost certain her heart stopped when she saw Root standing there. She looked like an angel and Sameen was certain, she had never seen Root happier. Her eyes twinkled her smile as she walked the length of the aisle.

Suddenly, Shaw walked quickly down the two steps and down the length of the walkway. Rather than wait for Root to join her, she stood in front of her now. “I want you to know, I will always come to you,” Shaw said and Harold smiled and released his niece.

With that, Root took Shaw’s arm and they walked together back to the altar.

“You look… just… wow…,” Shaw gushed when they got there.

“You look wonderful, Sameen,” Root said, staring back in her lover’s eyes.

Joss cleared her throat softly after waiting a full minute.

“It is my deepest honor today to join these two women in holy matrimony,” Joss began and everyone spontaneously broke out in applause.

“Oh, geez,” Fusco said as tears began to stream down his cheeks and Iris slipped him some tissues.

Chapter Text

Joss had memorized what she was going to say for the service, but found that when she looked at her two friends, the words just came from her heart. She occasionally looked over sympathetically at her work partner who was sniffling through the entire ceremony.

“And now the brides will exchange their vows,” Joss announced and stood back just a little.

Politeness took center stage as Root nodded to give Shaw her turn, and Shaw offered to let Root speak. Finally, Root accepted. Taking Shaw’s hands in hers, she said;

“Sameen, there isn’t a person in this room who doesn’t know how crazy I am for you. From the moment we met, I knew we were meant to be together. You are my arrow, unyielding in your love and care for me. I will spend the rest of my days doing all I can to be worthy of such devotion. I promise to build our tomorrows together and to always strive to bring harmony to our symphony. And I will love you and have faith in your love for me, through all our years, and in all that life may bring us.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including Sameen – who chastised herself for not going first because talking was going to be hard now.

“Oh, wow, Root, okay,” Shaw said, taken a little by surprise at how emotional she was in response to Root’s words. “Here goes,” she said, drawing a deep breath.

“Root, when we first met, I couldn’t stand you,” Shaw began and brought smiles to all the attendees. “You wouldn’t leave me alone and I found it so annoying. I really thought we were like a four alarm fire in an oil refinery. But you didn’t give up. And then, one day, I realized – I liked that about us. Root, I told you I was different, and you told me that’s why you loved me. I told you I didn’t feel things, and then you proved me wrong by making me feel the most wonderful things I’d ever felt. I built walls, and you walked around them to get to me. There are times when I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I always believe in what you’re saying. I promise to be there for you, Root and to be the person you deserve. Today and all the tomorrows, Root – are our some-days.”

Fusco was crying so hard now that Bear had to step on his foot to get him to take the rings. He couldn’t believe they asked the two legged guy to deliver them.

Joss expected Fusco to be emotional, but it stopped her in her tracks when she saw Reese grab a monogramed handkerchief to dab his eyes.

“Sameen Shaw, do you promise to keep these vows in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for now and forever?”

Sameen turned to take the ring from Fusco and then placed it on Root’s finger. “I do,” Sameen declared.

“And Samantha Groves, do you promise to keep these vows in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for now and forever?”

Fusco handed Root the ring that she first kissed and then placed on Sameen’s left hand. “I do,” she smiled.

“I now pronounce you married,” Joss and the place erupted into applause and the couple kissed.

They had kissed a thousand times before, but Root couldn’t remember a sweeter one than that one on the altar.

Shaw was surprised at how different this one felt – as if Root charged her lips first – because the feeling shot through every part of her.

The music started again and the brides joined hands as they walked down the aisle through the well-wishers.

When they reached the vestibule, Janine asked if they wanted to greet everyone and they said they did. Person after person emerged from the church and waited in line to speak briefly to the brides. Sameen’s mother hugged her warmly and congratulated them. Bear was careful not to jump on them even though he was so excited with their praise for a job well done.

“You did well, Shaw,” Gen whispered as she leaned in for a hug. “Thanks, Kid,” Shaw said.

Reese and Joss were next and the brides thanked Joss for the great job she did. “Who knows, maybe I’ll return to my former profession,” she laughed.

Martine and Ayala were next to exchange hugs with the couple. “Nice bruise, Shaw,” said the only woman who could actually admire Shaw’s wounds and abrasions.

Shaw had no idea who was on the line; she just kept getting hugged. But when Cole appeared next, she remembered that Root had invited him.

“Well, Shaw, I got to say it – I’ve never seen you happier,” her former partner said. “And I owe you a big debt of gratitude,” he said to Root. “Thank you for inviting me.”

“I almost feel bad that I invited him now,” Root said as Cole walked outside.

“Why?” Shaw asked.

“Because I did it to show him what he would never have. I admit, I did that when I was feeling jealous,” Root confessed.

“You… were jealous? Of Cole?” Shaw asked amazed.

“Yes,” is all Root would say for the moment.

Fusco was next and he grabbed Shaw so fast, her arms were pinned to her side as he held her in a bear hug. “I am so happy for you. For both of you,” he said.

“Tell Root, please, tell Root,” Shaw said, squirming to gain her release. “Doc, please,” she begged when she saw Iris was right behind Fusco.

Iris gently put her hand on Lionel’s elbow, causing him to unlatch from her immediately. “Cocoa,” he said, unable to drop the term of endearment.

“Thanks for coming,” Shaw said as Iris and she hugged. It was exactly the kind of embrace that Shaw expected from the woman; warm and sincere.

“Thank you for inviting me,” Iris smiled.

Isabelle and her husband approached, but the woman was sobbing and could hardly speak. “Everything all set?” Root asked and she nodded her head.

“Where’s…?” Shaw was asking when the woman who pulled this altogether reappeared. Shaw reached out and grabbed her. “Thank you,” she said to the woman who got everything done.

Janine’s knees nearly gave out in the tight embrace from the woman whom she admired and adored. “I would do anything,” Janine said and knew that Shaw understood the rest of that sentence. “Everything set?” Shaw asked and the woman nodded.

“I have the Sofreyeh Aghd all ready,” she said and Root looked at the quizzically. “That is the traditional Iranian wedding tablecloth and items that symbolize a happy marriage,” Janine explained.

“I thought… you know… my mother… would like that,” Shaw explained.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Root said, kissing her thoughtful wife.

The rice was thrown and the couple stepped into the waiting car for the short drive to the place where the reception would take place. Reese insisted on driving them. Now, they sat in the back of the limo and kissed.

“I am so glad you asked me to marry you,” Root shared, holding Sameen’s hands.

“I’m so glad you said yes,” Sameen said and kissed Root back. She sat back in her seat and looked out the window. “That was a really nice ceremony,” she mused.

“It really was,” Root agreed as the car drove through the streets. She leaned in and ran her hand over Shaw’s lap. “Oh,” she said when she felt something.

“I’m always armed,” Shaw said of the Nano attached to her thigh.

“Well, I’ll just have to disarm you, won’t I?” Root teased, squeezing Sameen’s knee.

Shaw sat there smiling as she thought about how everything worked out, after all. “We’re not doing a first dance are we? Or cutting the cake and feeding each other?” she suddenly asked about the typical wedding reception traditions.

“Do you want me to feed you?” Root cooed, because any mention of Shaw’s mouth tended to melt her.

“No, I mean, yeah, that would be fun, but, you know, not in front of a bunch of people who have been drinking,” Shaw said, thinking of how she always made fun of traditions like this.

“How about if I just hold grapes over your mouth while you eat them?” Root asked coyly, taking them off track.

“What? Sure, but don’t smash cake in my face. That’s like a total waste of cake,” Shaw lamented.

“Okay, Mrs. Groves-Shaw,” Root said and got a tingling sensation up and down her spine at the sound of it.

“What?” Shaw asked, a little busy the night before the wedding to concentrate on their joined names. “Oh, hyphens?” she asked with some distaste.

“Don’t like it?” Root asked without an ounce of feeling threatened.

“I like my name,” Shaw confessed.

“Ms. and Ms. Sameen Shaw?” Root tried.

“Can’t we just we Root and Shaw?” Sameen asked sincerely.

“Sure,” Root assured her. “We’ll work on the document name later.” She knew the best way to get Sameen to think about things was to give her all the space and time she needed to grow impatient and come back to it.

“Thanks,” Shaw said and realized they were on a highway now. “Where is the reception?” she asked, straining her neck to look around at their surroundings.

“Tavern on the Green,” Root said of the restaurant located in Central Park.

“And we’re going via Queens? Hey, Reese, you suck as a driver,” Shaw laughed to him. The dark divider that separated the back of the limo from the front rose slowly.

“Geez, he’s a little sensitive,” Shaw said, thinking the man was shutting her out.

“You look absolutely stunning,” Root said, pulling back to take in Sameen in her dress.

“Thanks. I like what you have on. You look like a real bride,” Shaw mused.

Shaw realized they were going through a toll booth now, which of course, there wouldn’t be on the short distance to Central Park. “Root?” she asked slowly, looking out the window. “Where are we…?” she asked turning back and seeing Root wiggling to get out of her white dress. “I was hoping I could help you with that later….,” Sameen laughed, but now Root was sitting in her lace underwear. “Root, now? With Reese right up there?” Shaw asked, concerned.

“No, silly,” Root said even though the thought of doing it in the back of the car was exciting. “We have a plane to catch,” she explained as she pulled a green lace dress out of a bag on the seat across from them and put it on.

Chapter Text

“We’re leaving now?” Shaw said, looking out the window again. Everything told her they were on their way to JFK airport. “I thought you’d want to stay….”

“What I want is to be with you,” Root smiled and took Sameen’s hand. “I’ve had to share you with enough people.”

Shaw looked over at Root. “I’m so glad we’re married.”

“I intend to keep it that way,” Root confirmed and pushed her shoulder into Sameen’s.

“I have to confess, Root, I kind of suspected you might do something like this,” Shaw smiled.

“Really?” her wife responded.

“I told Fusco that I wasn’t certain we’d be there for his speech. He said we’d have to listen to it when we got back,” Shaw said, her expression smug.

“You didn’t say anything,” Root noted.

“Root, we’re married now. There’s little you can do that will actually surprise me,” Shaw pointed out.

“You are good,” Root said, in a tone someone uses when they’re leading the know-it-all exactly where they want them to prove they know very little.

Maybe it was the experience from the night before with Cole that got Sameen back in touch with her former CIA survival skills, but she was feeling pretty confident that that she knew what her wife was up to.

The problem was, Root could see it in her. And she simply wasn’t sure she liked it.

“Let me guess; no clothes,” Shaw said haughtily when Reese opened the trunk and their luggage was there. Sameen whipped open a suitcase and looked in. She was right – there were no clothes, but what was in there confused her.

“Why is there an iron in there?” Shaw caved in and asked.

Root smiled coquettishly and opened another suitcase. “Our clothes might get wrinkled.” Shaw looked inside and there were their clothes.

“You’re not going to have Reese steal these off the plane?” Shaw guessed incorrectly.

“Not this time, Shaw,” Reese promised as he handed the bags to the attendant. “Nice wedding,” is all he said before smiling and leaving.

“Yeah, you ought to try it,” Sameen teased him back, but he never acknowledged it.

The couple walked to the waiting private jet on the tarmac.

“So, no tazing; no drugging; we’re just going to get on that plane and take off? Like an old married couple,” Shaw tried to tease.

“Yes,” Root answered and then greeted the pilot of the plane.

The couple ascended the staircase and went inside. Sameen’s jokes seem to fall flat, so she tried a different tactic. “Hey,” she said when they were alone. “I don’t care where we go as long as we’re together,” she said, pulling Root in to kiss her. It was a long kiss and when Sameen let go; their lips took a second to peal apart.

“Me, too,” Root said.

The pilot announced that they were getting ready for departure. Root sat across from Shaw as Sameen buckled in. “So, where are we off to?” she asked.

“That all depends,” Root smiled.

“Depends on what?” Shaw laughed. “Which way the wind blows us?”

“I realized something about you, Sameen,” Root said, crossing her hands and draping them across her long crossed legs.

“You did?” Shaw asked, and now she noticed Root wasn’t strapped in. “Don’t you want to…”

“I saw something in you last night that I hadn’t seen before. Maybe it was the rush of not knowing exactly what you were up against; the excitement of being in a dangerous situation; the heightened adrenaline pulsing through your body,” Root listed her observations.

“Yeah, well, waiting for Isabelle’s cookies can do the same thing to me,” Shaw kidded.

“No,” Root disagreed. “There was something else I saw last night. At first,” Root said, slowly putting her hands on Sameen’s knees and letting her hands move upward. “… I thought it was because you were back with Cole.”

“Root, don’t be ridic…okay…,” Shaw said, as she shivered at Root’s touch.

“But then I thought that was silly and I decided not to kill him,” Root smiled, but Sameen was wondering if she was kidding or not.

“This is you jealous? Is that what you felt? Well, thanks for not killing him,” Shaw said and her voice squeaked a little because Root’s hands were on her thighs.

“So, if it wasn’t Cole causing that look in your eyes, then it was the situation. It was the rawness of being outnumbered and chased; or the near death experience of being shot at,” Root said, but her fingers were speaking a completely different language.

“Root… could you…maybe…shut up?” Shaw said, thinking the talk was a buzz kill.

“So, I decided there was only one way to find out,” Root said and now she was making the slowest of motions at Sameen’s core and leaning in to kiss her hard.

“Oh, God, Root…,” Shaw gasped when Root released her lips. “Please don’t throw me out of the plane.”

Root slowly caused Sameen to cascade over the edge, but thankfully, she was still in her seat.

“That was nice,” Shaw said of the physical touching as Root sat back smiling, holding Sameen’s gun that she had taken.

“Yes, I know,” Root said. “I decided to think of a way to provoke those same feelings, Sameen. If I can’t, I will always be afraid you won’t be truly happy,” Root theorized – getting back on track.

“What? What are you talking about?” Shaw asked, annoyed they were still talking about this. “Did we not just exchange vows? Where I told you how I feel?”

“Yes, and I believe all of that, Sameen. But I’ve never seen that look in your eyes before last night. Not even when Greer’s men were chasing us. There was something in that look. And if you can’t have that with me, I’ll know it’s missing; that you’re missing something.”

“Root!” Shaw yelled and then decided to change her tone. “Please?” she asked in the sweetest tone she could muster even though she was very frustrated.

“Cute,” Root said of her wife’s attempt to persuade her.

“What… what about… Cameroun? Or when you had us barter for your friend? Or when we helped Raul save the jaguar population? Right? I was… wow… was I on fire. I mean, not everyone gets to be a social activist and go on vacation, right?” Sameen tried, but could see she wasn’t convincing Root. “You are very stubborn, do you know that?” she added.

“I read you file again,” Root said.

“What file?” Shaw asked, worried Iris kept notes.

“Your CIA file. I read it before, but this morning I read it more closely,” Root shared.

“Yeah, and?” Shaw asked.

“You took the most dangerous assignments, always. Sometimes with Cole; sometimes not and my guess is because he didn’t have a death wish,” Root surmised incorrectly.

“No, he just wasn’t… the right man for the job, that’s all,” Shaw explained.

“Yeah, that’s how I knew it wasn’t because of him,” Root said thoughtfully. “That’s how I came up with my plan.”

Root was creating a scene right out of the combination of Shaw’s file and her wild imagination.

“Oh, good, you have a plan? Because I was beginning to think this was a sucky beginning to our honeymoon,” Shaw said.

“Would you do something for me, if it’s really important?” Root asked, taking Sameen’s hands.

“Sure, anything,” Sameen said sincerely.

“Good,” Root smiled and kissed Sameen’s hands.

“Cryptic and crazy. Okay,” Shaw said. “Please strap in,” she asked, as the plane ascended.

Root smiled and sat back, complying with Sameen’s request. “I love you, Shaw,” Root said.

“I know,” Sameen replied. “Please strap in….”

Root did finally sit back and put her seatbelt on; never once taking her eyes off of Sameen.

When they leveled off, a steward brought out the prepared lunch Isabelle had made for them. “If there was one person I would take with us, it would be her,” Shaw said, moaning at how good the sandwich tasted.

“If you divorce me, you get her,” Root smiled.

“Right,” Shaw scoffed, her mouth so full she had to push a napkin against it. “As long as you keep her, you know I’ll never leave,” she tried to joke, but Root was off somewhere. “Are you okay?”

“Never better,” Root said and ran her hand up Sameen’s leg.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” Shaw said, getting out of her seat. When she returned, she found Root staring out the window in the seat next to hers.

“I don’t know where we’re going, but can we nap before we get there?” Shaw asked, falling in the seat and putting her head on Root’s shoulder. “Wake me when it’s time to put our bikinis on.”

The couple did sleep – soundly, but Root woke up before Sameen did and put a pillow under her head and covered her with a blanket. Then, she went and readied their things.

“How much longer?” she asked the pilot.

“We will be over Darian Gap in thirty minutes,” he informed his boss.

“Sweetie?” Root said softly to her sleeping wife. “It’s time.”

Shaw tried to open her eyes, but she was still a quart low on rest. She pushed up her arms and stretched to rid her body of the tiredness, but even that took effort.

“I need you to change,” Root said and Sameen’s eyes fluttered, as she wondered why Root would change while they were inside the plane.

When Sameen finally got her eyes open, Root came into view. Not dressed in a bathing suit, but in khaki’s, boots and a t-shirt. She felt tenseness in her stomach that propelled her to look out the window.

“Root? Where are we?” Shaw asked suspiciously. The terrain below showed no beaches. Just thick brush.

“Darian Gap,” Root replied.

“Darian what?” Shaw asked, sitting up straight.

“That little strip of land between Panama and Columbia. Now, hurry; we don’t have much time,” Root said and handed Sameen some clothes.

“Is this a stop over? Tell me this is where we are stopping for fuel?” Shaw asked as the plane started to descend.

Root motioned for Sameen to hurry and the woman did as she was told; getting out of her white dress and into the outfit Root provided.

“Why do I need boots if I’m going to a beach, Root?” Shaw asked, putting on the boots.

“We’re delivering this first,” Root said and opened up a silver metal case with several phones.

“You’re bringing cell phones to a jungle?” Shaw asked, getting dressed quickly.

“Satellite phones,” Root smiled, tilting her head. “And yes. I thought this would be a good way to kill two birds with one stone.”

“You know,” Shaw said, tying her boots,” … you say that like it makes sense. What birds?”

“We’re going to give the indigenous people a fighting chance because they’re caught between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia and the Columbian Government,” Root outlined.

“We’re landing in the middle of a war zone?” Shaw asked, waiting for Root to explain.

“Yes,” Root said.

“What’s the other bird, Root?” Shaw asked, thinking Root was on a good will mission.

“I want to see if you get that look in your eyes,” Root said seriously.

“Root!” Shaw yelled. “How about the look I get when we’re in the bedroom?”

“That’s important, Sameen. But I don’t want you missing anything because you’re with me.”

“This is insane, Root,” Shaw bellowed. “You want to land in the jungle and hand out phones to see if I get a rush?”

“No,” Root said and Sameen let out a sigh of relief. “We can’t land there. There’s no airstrip.”

Shaw was protesting, but someone was helping her on with a parachute and attaching it to a harness that would hold her in place when the hatch door opened. Two helmets were placed on their heads with com sets.

“I’m going to kill you,” Shaw threatened her wife.

“You say the sweetest things,” Root replied.

With that, the doors were opened and the whoosh of air pressure pulled at them.

“Sonova bitch,” Shaw said into her mouth piece at being thrust around. “We’re in and out, Root,” she said because she had no choice.

“As long as it takes,” Root said back and that didn’t seem to fit with Shaw’s directive.

With that, the attendant unhooked Root and she jumped.

“Does anyone know we’re here?” Shaw asked him.

“No, ma’am,” he said as he unhooked Sameen and she thrust herself forward to follow her wife, just as she had promised to do.

Chapter Text

As soon as Sameen jumped out of the plane, she regretted telling Root she had her figured out and couldn’t be surprised. The fact that they had parachuted into unknown territory when they first met, in no way prepared her for a repeat performance. She willed herself to stop thinking of what she would do to Root when they got down to the ground, and instead, concentrated on getting there. She saw Root’s parachute open and watched as she drifted down into a heavily canopied area. It was a sure fire way to get stuck.

By the time Sameen maneuvered her body through the tall trees and was dangling by the chute, Root had cut her cords and was climbing down the vines.

“Am I the only one who wants to kill their wife on their honeymoon?” she said to herself, but Root’s voice came through the helmet.

“You don’t mean that. Now, hurry, Sweetie. We are not going to find too many friendly people out here.”

“What? No wedding reception? No; you may now kiss the bride?” Shaw quipped, her sarcasm on full steam ahead. She found a knife in her small knapsack and cut the lines.
Just before making her way down the vine encrusted tree, Shaw noticed their plane was a tiny dot in the sky against the rising sun. “I’m really looking forward to the part where you tell me you booked us a room at the Four Seasons in a friendly town near here.”

As soon as Sameen touched ground, she realized the only thing they had, besides the silver briefcase, were the parachutes and small knapsacks that were very light. “I hate to be a stickler for details, honey, but did you happen to pack guns?”

“Just one each,” Root said because she was a stickler to details and she wanted to keep as many variables the same.

“You might want to wait to give me mine,” Shaw said, trying to sound menacing, but Root’s head tilted to the side and she grinned.

“Oh, here,” Root said digging into her small backpack and pulling out an aerosol can. She immediately began to spray Shaw from head to toe in a mist of bug spray.

Shaw stood there, staring straight ahead, expressionless. “If you put sunscreen on me…,” Shaw quipped, looking around to get her bearings.

“Okay, let’s go,” Root said, looking at her phone.

“Care to enlighten me? Are we meeting someone at a café that serves breakfast?” Shaw asked, walking behind Root.

“Carlos is going to meet us 9.65606 kilometers due north,” Root reported.

“Six miles? In this heat? Oh, geez,” Shaw said, already making plans for how they’d drink and stay alive.

“It’s going to rain halfway to our destination, so that’s good,” Root said cheerfully.

“You know, I should be conserving my energy,” Shaw said, climbing over fallen tree trunks,”… for when I kill you later, but I just have to ask – when did you make these honeymoon in hell arrangements?”

“After you left to get ready for the wedding,” Root replied. “I thought – what could I do that would duplicate the situation Shaw was in so that I can give her whatever prompted that look,” Root explained because she never lost patience with Shaw. She stopped and turned to look at her wife. “It was a very distinct look, Sameen.”

“Jesus, Root, so you’re flew us into a jungle to deliver iPhones so you can make sure I look the way I did that night?” Shaw asked. “I can’t even begin to list the flaws in your experiment here,” she shouted.

“No, there are none,” the tech genius said because she was all about stimuli and response. All Root had to do was to duplicate a similar situation, or in this case, a more heightened version. New York had Cole and arms dealers. Root had jungle, arms dealers, drug lords, government officials and the good guys.

It was a sure fire hit.

The couple walked in silence, but only because Shaw knew she needed to conserve her energy for the amount of yelling she was going to do once they were done. The bush gave way to an opened area of a long dirt road that rose above the sloped sides of the terrain. Root had stopped to pick fruit along the way and kept handing it back to Shaw, who consumed it immediately.

And as Root predicted, the sky darkened and the rain began.

“Doesn’t that feel good?” Root said of the cool falling liquid that hit their faces.

“Root?” Shaw said, looking at the vastness of the dark clouds. “We’re going to need to get to shelter.”

“It won’t last long,” Root said because she had the app that measured the weather in real time.

What Root hadn’t counted on was that rainstorms in Darian Gap were torrential. Six minutes after the much sought relief was granted, the dirt under their feet gave way as it became porous. “Root!” Shaw said, leaping forward to grab her wife as she began sliding down the slope.

“SAMEEN!” Root yelled, holding onto the heavy suitcase that aided the gravity that was pulling her.

Shaw looked around, but there was nothing like the vines in the rainforest they had left. “Sonova,’ she said as she sat on her bum and allowed the mud to propel her downward, hoping to catch up with Root.

A full minute and several hundred yards later, Root slid to her resting place. When Shaw’s feet hit a rock, it sent her forward so that she landed right on top of Root. Mud soaked and covered in muck, the women lay there, out of breath.

Shaw was certain there was mud in every crevice of her body. She rolled off and lay there as the rain mixed with the dirt on her body. Then, it stopped – almost as fast as it came.

“Are you okay?” Root asked as she tried to get up, but the suction of the sludge made it difficult.

“Yes, are you?” Shaw asked and Root nodded her head.

“Is this the look, Root?” Shaw asked, her eyes holding her in a cold stare.

Root looked because she thought Shaw was asking sincerely. “No,” she said and pulled herself up out of the mud. She extended a hand to her wife who then decided to make a list of the ways she was going to pay Root back for this.

Root found large leaves that collected the rain water and they used that to rinse out their mouths and drink.

One, I’m going to tell Janine you need help,” Shaw started her list. “Two, I’m going to tell Fusco you want to join a bowling team.”

“What are you doing?” Root asked pleasantly.

“Listing the ways I’m going to get even,” Shaw said sincerely.

“Oh,” Root said, not one cell in her body threatened.

Shaw was up to number fifteen when the women finally reached their destination. Or what was supposed to be their endpoint. The small houses were burned out and empty. Root and Shaw hid behind the trees that surrounded the area.

“That’s not good,” Root admitted.

Shaw stopped her verbal revenge list and focused. She searched to see if anything was left that they could use. There was an old car on the far side that hadn’t been destroyed by the fire.

“I’ll go around and see if that car…,” Shaw was saying when Root was at her heel. “Stay here!” Shaw said; her eyes filled with urgency.

Root stopped following and watched as Sameen practically crawled to the other side of the area and slipped into the car. There was no key, so Shaw bent down to see if she could hot wire it.

Root thought she heard something off in the distance. She stared at the car as she inched closer. She slipped the suitcase in an opening between two bushes and stood still. Seconds later, she heard the gun click behind her. “Do not move, senorita,” the man said. Root dutifully put her hands up.

“I lost my tour group,” Root said, smiling pleasantly and turning so she could size him up.

He was very large and wore a handkerchief around his neck, stitched with Commando de Muerte, under a skull and danger. Root was calculating how hard she would have to hit him when they both heard the roar of the car engine, defying all odds and starting.

“Rest of my tour group,” Root smiled and hit him as hard as she could.

He didn’t flinch. In fact, Root thought if she had hit solid rock, her hand would hurt less.

“Loco,” he said as he shoved her to turn around and pushed her towards the car.

Shaw’s head popped up above the dashboard, excited that she remembered how to attach the wires to start the engine. There, in the distance, stood Root with her captor behind her.

Shaw assessed the situation and did the only thing she thought would help. She pressed her foot down on the gas, aimed the car at them, and took off.

“Getouttatheway, getouttathetway,” she kept saying to Root who calculated exactly when to lunge to the left. Her muck covered clothes made her very slippery and her accoster lost his grip on her. Sameen hit him hard enough to send him flying.

Sameen jumped from the car to make sure he was rendered unconscious. Then, she turned her sights on Root.

“Are you insane?” she asked, marching her disheveled body over to stand in front of her.

“He’s the first of many,” Root surmised, ignoring the question. “We have to go.”

“Oh, we have to go? Are you sure? Because I thought maybe we could spend the night in this lovely village!” Shaw barked.

“Sameen, I need you to focus,” Root said and it was warm and friendly. “If Elbar was going to meet us here, and ran into trouble, we have to figure out where they are.”

“Well, according to the tag around your friend’s neck, he’s part of the death commando gang. So, let’s not head back that way,” Shaw said, reading the man’s handkerchief.

“Let’s keep going north then,” Root said and started to walk.

“What about the car?” Shaw asked.

“Too noisy,” Root said and walked ahead.

Shaw threw her hands up in the air, but did go back to get the man’s gun. Something reminded her that Root brought one gun each for a reason. She emptied the man’s gun and threw it in the bushes. “I’m as insane as she is,” Shaw murmured to herself. She couldn’t explain why, but she felt it necessary to keep things the way Root wanted them.

“Oh, Sweetie, would you get the case? It’s between those bushes,” Root called back.

“Sure, and maybe I’ll pick up a dozen eggs and some bacon while I’m there,” Shaw barked.

Root smiled to one side of her face and slanted her head. “Save your energy, Sameen.”

Shaw did as she was asked and retrieved the heavy silver cast. “Sixteen; I’m going to tell Iris that you thought all of this up on your own based on a look. A look! Man, when she hears that, she’s going to have you on that couch for weeks!” Shaw said out loud.
Joining her wife, the two started on their trek again. The midmorning shower did nothing to ease the heat and Shaw was certain they were in venomous snake country. “I think a spider just laughed at my insect repellent, honey,” Shaw said sardonically.

“There’s a river,” Root called out. “We can bath there.”

“We’re going to bathe…out here?” Shaw asked, looking around.

“Our clothes will dry in minutes in this sun,” Root theorized.

“When we get home, no more watching those surviving the wilderness shows for you,” Sameen yelled as Root started to take off her clothes.

“One in, one out,” Shaw yelled and waited on the shore as Root went in the water. “Do you even know what’s in that water?” she asked, pointing her gun at the surface in case it was snake filled.

“It’s not clear, but it’s surprisingly refreshing,” Root said, rubbing the grime off her body. Then, she took her clothes and removed the dirt. Minutes later, she emerged from the water like Venus.

“You’re the only person I know who could find snake infested water refreshing,” Shaw said, watching the other shoreline carefully.

“I think the snakes are farther south,” Root said as if she had read that in the brochure.

“Well, let’s hope so,” Shaw said when Root was on solid ground. She took her clothes off, complaining of the filth and went into the water. Sameen had training on how to make the most of a short dip and she was in and out with minutes.

Root watched Sameen, not the other shoreline like she was supposed to. It proved too hard when her well-endowed, curvaceous wife was naked and glistening in the afternoon sun.

Unfortunately, Root wasn’t the only one noticing.

Men looking through high powered rifle scopes were too mesmerized to follow the order to shoot.

Chapter Text

Shaw dressed quickly as Root’s eyes fixated on her. “I miss you,” Root said, biting her lip.

“Well, Mother Theresa, when you’re done saving the world with SAT phones, maybe we can resume our honeymoon on sand,” Shaw suggested.

“Yes,” Root said, wondering if she should have conducted this experiment another time. No! She knew what she saw that night and she needed to prove she could induce that look or not.

There was less to occupy the band of rebels minds when Sameen dressed, so it was only a matter of time before one of them finally listened to the man in charge and shot. Bullets whizzed right past Root and Shaw grabbed her, knocking her to the ground. She pulled her behind some trees and searched the other side of the river.

“Six, maybe seven,” Shaw said, noting the reflection of the sun on their scopes. “All of them idiots,” she said of their carelessness.

“We have to deliver these phones,” Root said, reminding Sameen of Part B of their mission.

“I slid down a mountain of mud, hit a huge guy with my car, and took a bath in – that,” Shaw said, pointing to the river. “….and you haven’t seen it yet?”

“Nope,” Root said firmly.

“Aarrgh,” Sameen said as she looked back. “Oh, look, they’re coming out of their hiding.”

Sure enough, across the stream, seven men were standing on the bank with the guns raised. “This way,” Root said and crawled to the road which disappeared down another stretch.
No more bullets were fired, but their presence was known. It wasn’t every day you found two women in that part of the area. Sameen and Root kept running until the men’s voices and gunfire was farther and farther away.

“Oh, good,” Root said when she realized they weren’t being followed.

“I don’t know,” said the former operative as she looked around. “They know this area. Either we weren’t of interest or…,” Shaw said, looking at the ground.

“Or?” Root prompted her to finish her sentence.

“Or those snakes that weren’t in the river are out here,” Shaw surmised.

“You know that they say,” Root said, standing erect. “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” With that, Root bent down and found two large tree limbs that would do the job. “Here you go,” she said, handing one to Sameen and walking ahead without a care in the world.

The couple walked through the grassy area without incident and with little conversation. They stopped for food breaks and ate the fruit from trees. Sameen was certain she never tasted mangoes as tasty as these. Streams offered water to keep them hydrated.


By late afternoon, they came upon another village. This one, thankfully, was intact.

The inhabitants were friendly to the two women emerging from – what they said was the most dangerous part of the terrain. They offered the couple lodgings and food.

The elders immediately sized up that Root was the friendlier of the two, as Sameen’s scowl indicated she trusted no one. At best, their English was broken, but good enough that Root understood her contact was up the road at the next village. Given the dangers of traveling at night, they suggested the women stay with them for the evening and head out early the next day.

Sounded like a good plan.

Women gave the newlyweds dresses to wear while they washed their clothes. Children brought them large plates of local cuisine that was both tasty and nourishing. And after dinner, one of the men entertained them with his trained venomous snake that twirled around his arms and neck.

“Do you see that look yet?” Shaw asked because she was afraid she’d have to shoot the reptile.

Shaw had a better chance of shaking that thing off the trainer than she did getting Root to let go of her mission’s goal.

“Sameen, I can’t explain it, but I know I haven’t seen that look in your eyes before,” Root explained again.

Sameen was tired and although she wasn’t hungry, she wanted to be at the Four Seasons hotel, sipping alcohol. “So, what if you don’t see it? We stay out here? We keep going on dangerous missions until you’re satisfied?” Shaw asked loudly and now the locals turned to see what the ruckus was.

“I’m going to see it,” Root said assuredly because she truly wanted to.

“Well, good luck with that, because I have no control over whatever it is you think my eyes are saying,” Shaw retorted.

“Maybe we should get some rest,” Root suggested because she knew every inflection of her wife’s voice and right now, she knew she was grumpy.

“Fine!” Shaw said as if she didn’t agree and was giving in.

The locals began to talk among themselves about the upset newlyweds. They decided to encourage them to be more amorous, so the musicians in the group went and got their violins to play beneath the couple’s window.

“Would you think it was rude of me to drop cold water on them?” Shaw asked, her patience on empty now.

“Yes,” Root said and lay down next to her. “Tomorrow we’ll find Elbar and deliver the package. Then, we’ll find our way back to an airport and leave,” Root said, but Shaw heard the disappointment in her voice.

The problem for Sameen was that she didn’t know how to give Root what she wanted. She had tried to duplicate the look she saw, but all it did was make Root ask if she felt okay because her face was contorted. Why did her wife have to produce these impossible scenarios, she wondered, as she drifted off to sleep.

Tomorrow, she decided, she would resume her efforts to please Root.

The villagers maintained peace by allowing soldiers to come through their area whenever there were rumors of drug or human trafficking. This would explain why there was a military presence when the couple woke up the next day to noise from a festival in the streets. Root was all about soaking up the local ambiance as Sameen got dressed. She watched from the small balcony outside their room.

“We eat, we go,” Sameen summed up their plan.

Root grabbed the silver case and knapsack and followed Sameen. The owners prepared a light breakfast and the couple ate as they watched the colorful display of the indigenous people. The festivity lifted Root’s mood, but Sameen still wore her frown as they made their way out into the crowd.

Two women in western dress stood out easily from the locals. But that’s not what caught the interest of the soldiers. It was Root’s silver case – often used in the movement of drugs from one location to another. That’s why they followed them as they left.

Root and Shaw’s timing couldn’t have been worse. Elbar’s location was now due west, exactly through the parade gathering. As soon as the women were midway across, the dancing began and people’s motions divided them and caused them to separate.

Soon, soldiers were behind each of them, making sure they were pushed through the crowd in two different directions.

“Hey, my wife,” Shaw said nicely, thinking they misunderstood.

“It’s okay,” she was assured and now she knew they did that on purpose.

“No, you don’t understand; we are on our honeymoon,” Shaw said and the men smiled. “She doesn’t speak Spanish,” Shaw tried, but they assured her they spoke English. Tired of being polite and getting more anxious that they were separated, Shaw finally asked; “Then what the fuck do you want?”

It’s wasn’t the best approach, but it was working better than the one Root took which was to refuse to hand over the case and to warn them if they didn’t take her to her wife, she would kill them.

Sameen was going to have to go over how to negotiate with the local authorities after this trip.

Housed in two different buildings across from one another, the man in charge spoke to Shaw and then to Root. He had the silver case in his possession, but no one could access it. Shaw had already assessed that they were crude in the tactics, but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t hurt them. If fact, when she heard Root scream, she was certain of it.

“Let me see her, and I’ll talk her into opening it, okay?” Shaw tried, struggling against the rope on her hands, tied behind her back. She just wanted to see Root. When her request was ignored, she threatened them. “If you hurt her, I’m going to hurt you,” she yelled.

The men didn’t feel threatened, especially since there were six of them and one of her. The odds where the same in the room where Root was. She had just been slapped to gain her cooperation, but that hadn’t worked.

Then, the man in charge figured it out.

He warned Root that he would hurt Sameen and he saw her flinch. He told Sameen the same thing, and she did a better job of hiding it, but he smiled at her attempt nonetheless. Sameen called out to him, hoping to stall him while she planned her escape. She was tied in a wooden chair, with rope. She saw that her knapsack with her gun was only a few feet away.

So, she did what she did best.

Picking the chair up and slamming it down on the foot of the one closest caused the commotion she needed to break free. She dove, rolled on the floor and grabbed her knapsack and her gun; dodging bullets. She hid behind a desk and shot six times, hitting six men in their kneecaps.

“Dammit, Root,” Shaw cursed when she realized that her weapon was of no use to her now; just like Root wanted it. She ran to the soldiers to take their weapons, but they chambers were empty. Budget cutbacks made bullets a commodity.

Shaw looked across the small road to the building where she heard Root’s scream come from. Another scream told her that whoever was holding Root still had her.  She exited the building and walked towards the one where her wife was. “I’m unarmed,” she yelled to the captors. She was halfway there and no one had responded to her declaration.

Then, she heard it.

Much to Shaw’s horror, the room where they were holding Root, exploded - sending glass and debris flying and knocking Shaw down to the ground from the force of the blast.

Sameen pulled her head up to look and could easily tell – it was total devastation.

Chapter Text

Shaw jumped up and raced toward the building, stopping only when she saw someone was walking toward her. “Root?” Shaw said to make sure she hadn’t hit her head and was dreaming.

“I’m okay, Sweetie,” Root said and ran to Shaw. “Are you okay?”

“Yes,” Shaw said - her breathing labored as she stared to make sure Root really was okay.

In the seconds that followed, Root got what she had been looking for. There was the look she had seen in Shaw’s eyes – staring at her. Two dark eyes staring at her with what Root now understood to be Shaw’s unwavering love.

And in that same moment that Root gained what she set out to find, she lost the smokescreen of what she really had done. Root had been smart enough dream up the rival situation to Shaw’s night with Cole; and was clueless enough not to figure out what really caused the expression.

“How could I have been so stupid?” she said, holding onto Shaw’s arms as the woman caught her breath.

It wasn’t the situation that evoked that look in Shaw – it happened when Root arrived! That was when she saw it and she should have realized then what caused it.

“Oh, Sameen,” Root said, pulling her in. “I’m so sorry. I was so wrong about all of this.”

“Yeah?” Shaw said, breathing heavily to calm down. “Your big brain finally figured it out?”

“It was me, all this time. I saw that look when I came to help you. That’s when I saw it,” Root confessed.

“I was never so happy to see you,” Shaw said. “Until right now.”

“Oh, Sameen,” Root said, her eyes watering as flames reflected in Shaw’s. “I just wanted so much to give you what you wanted.”

“I think you wanted me to give you what you wanted,” Shaw corrected her in a rare moment of utter clarity.

“God, you’re right. This was so selfish,” Root said, frowning as it dawned on her.

“It’s okay, Root. I understand why you did it. It was insane and over the top and dangerous and insane,” Shaw listed.

“You said insane twice,” Root noted.

“I know,” Shaw said and in that response was her smile. “But that’s you, Root. Everything you do is over the top and as crazy as that is, I kind of like that you’re unpredictable.”

“Really?” Root said, her face blushing as she grinned broadly. “You can forgive me…for all of this?” Root asked as her hand swept the area.

“Forgive you? Yes,” Shaw assured her because she understood her wife. “Pay you back? Most certainly.”

Root laughed nervously at Shaw’s quip, but there was no time to ask her to explain. “We better go,” Root said and took Sameen by the arm.

“What… happened in there?” Shaw asked.

“One of the phones was booby trapped. They took it out and …. That,” Root explained, looking back.

“Are they…?” Shaw wondered.

“Unconscious from the blast,” Root explained, having ducked in time to avoid the detonation. “Let’s go,” Root said and the women walked off into the bush-land to get to the next town.

When they were finally away from the excitement, Shaw started to think about what happened.

“You and me are going to review how you do missions,” she said to Root. “Like not keeping your partner in the dark and sharing all the details so she doesn’t have to do all the work of figuring it out.” She had spent the last mile or so thinking about how Root had put this plan together hastily.

“You’re right,” Root agreed. “What did you figure out?”

“Those are SAT phones, right?” Shaw asked, and Root nodded her head. “I’m betting BEAR has its own satellite and that this is how your friend Elbar is going to be able to communicate with his people.”

Root stopped and looked at Shaw. “God, you are beauty and brains,” she cooed.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m not done,” Shaw said confidently. “If those phones are programed to your satellite, then I think something else is connected to it.”

“Yes?” Root said, but the smile on her face told Sameen she was right on track.

“I asked the pilot if anyone knew where we were and he said no. But someone does know where we are, doesn’t she? Your robot overlord,” Shaw theorized.

“Oh look! There’s the village,” Root said, seeing the town up ahead.

“Oh, not cooperating, eh?” Shaw noticed the non-answer. “That’s okay; I’ll get it out of you later. We have ways of making you talk, you know.”

“Why do you think I brought the iron,” Root answered, her eyebrow raised.

“You know, one of the things they left out of my file,” Shaw said, as they continued to walk, “… is I kind of enjoy that sort of thing.”

Shaw’s admission excited Root so much that she nearly stumbled. Turning to Shaw, she grinned and said: “I’m so glad you said that; I do, too.”

“You’re not supposed to enjoy interrogations, Root!” Shaw said because her wife was violating the rules of war.

“Are we naked when you interrogate me?” Root asked, unable to stop the Groves’ Fantasy Train from leaving the station.

“Sure, Root, I always torture my captives naked,” Shaw barked because it was a ridiculous suggestion. “This is why the CIA is very selective, you know.”

“Hurry up, Shaw, we have to complete our mission,” Root said, suddenly motivated to complete the task at hand.

Elbar was very surprised to see his guests. He never expected them to be able to make it through the treacherous landscape of the Darian Gap.

“You are very brave,” he complimented them.

“Or just insane,” Shaw quipped.

The women sat and ate with their new friend as Root instructed the man on how the phones worked. By sunset, they were on their way to the boat that would take them to an airport where their plane was waiting.

Shaw understood that Root’s missions were always altruistic at the heart of them. She really was trying to do good things for the people who needed it most.

Sitting across from one another now in the safety and comfort of the plane, Root gazed at Sameen. “You really are the most wonderful wife in the world,” Root complimented her.

“I know,” Shaw said because even she was amazed at how calmly she handled that whole scenario. She knew what she was most concerned about was Root’s safety. “What are you… a medium?” Shaw asked as she closed her eyes.

“Medium?” Root asked.

“Bowling shirt. I think you’re a medium,” Shaw said, smiling wickedly.

Root thought about the long list of Shaw’s threats that she repeated on their long walk through the Darian Gap. “Okay, that’s fair,” she said reluctantly.

“Oh, I haven’t begun to be fair, Root,” Shaw added.

Root was positive she could turn anything Shaw handed her into something fun.

“And no, Root, they don’t bowl naked,” Shaw answered before Root could ask.

Root decided she had plenty of time to change Shaw’s mind before they returned, as the couple started their second honeymoon.

Chapter Text

The house that Root borrowed from a friend was spacious, on the beach, and stocked with Isabelle’s food that was flown in specifically for Sameen.

“Fusco said he got a standing ovation on his Best Man’s speech,” Shaw reported when Root emerged from the shower. “Thunderous applause and I had to stop several times because they were laughing so hard,” she read. “What the hell did he say?” Shaw worried, looking at Root.

“I’m sure he told the truth,” Root tried to assure her.

“The truth? I didn’t want the truth. If I wanted the truth, I would have picked the Kid as my Best Man,” Shaw balked.

A soft kiss on Shaw’s pouting lips distracted her from her worst imaginings. But Sameen wasn’t thrown off the track so easily. “I can’t be annoyed at Lionel; I need him,” Shaw said, her hands now moving slowly up the back of Root’s short robe as they stood there.

“You need Lionel?” Root laughed. “What for?”

“I need him…,” Shaw said, touching Root’s arms, causing goosebumps to appear on her skin, “… to get you a spot of his bowling team.” She gently pushed Root down into a chair and fell on her knees in front of her. Sameen’s hands were working their way up Root’s body, pushing the tie of the robe open now.

Root wanted to feign protest, but Sameen’s mouth was surrounding the apex of her breast and gently tugging. “Sure,” Root said because she would have agreed to anything. “I’m a… good… bowler.”  Root actually gasped the last words out as Sameen continued her sensuous ministrations on her wife’s body. “I have missed you,” Root said as Shaw’s hands covered her skin gently. But each time, as Root pushed up to meet Shaw’s touch, Shaw moved somewhere else.

Shaw’s touches were unhurried and deliberate. “I think there’s something you want to tell me before we continue,” she said, getting up and moving behind Root now and softly traversing her shoulders, as the robe fell back off of them.

“I… don’t … think so,” Root said, trying desperately to play this out because she loved that Shaw was initiating the playful fantasy of interrogation.

“We can do this the easy way, or …,” Shaw was warning when Root turned and damn near begged for the hard way.

And in case there was any doubt, Root declared; “I’m not giving you any information.”

“I’m sorry to hear you say that,” Shaw smiled wickedly and took the sash from Root’s robe and began wrapping it around one wrist and securing it to the chair and then the other.

For someone who spent a great deal of her time fantasizing about Shaw, Root was having trouble keeping it together. “You can torture me,” she said and meant to continue that it wouldn’t matter, but it came out more as permission than an ultimatum.

“Oh, I intend to, Ms. Groves,” Shaw said on cue, pulling on the satin tie that secured her wife. “It’s only a matter of time before I get what I want.”

“Oh, God,” Root let out, biting her bottom lip not to lose it and to make this last longer.

“You see…,” Shaw said from behind her again, leaning into her ear with a warm breath; “… you’ve been a very bad girl.”

Sameen assumed she was doing what Root wanted, but even she was surprised at the guttural growl that left Root’s lips as her body twitched with the ache. Shaw stopped only momentarily to make sure Root was okay. Root was fine and Sameen smiled when she realized that, for a novice, she was really good at this.

“So, when did you decide to include your robo-buddy on this insane mission of yours?” Shaw asked, not terribly concerned about the answer at all.

Even if Root was interested in telling her, she couldn’t have possibly formed the words that would have been coherent. “I can’t really… say,” she answered.

The only thing Root wanted right now was for her answers to continue to fuel this glorious form of torment.

“Wrong answer,” Shaw whispered menacingly as hands caressed bare breasts gently. Root threw her head back and closed her eyes as Sameen seemed to have more than two hands, because she could feel Shaw’s touches everywhere.

“You can’t make me…,” Root said, but her voice was shaky now from the anticipated excitement.

“Of course I can,” Shaw said in an intimidating tone. The only reason Shaw was calm right now was because she was in control – complete and utter control – and she liked it. Kneeling now in front of Root, her hands back to exploring her wife’s skin, she began her teasing again. “Not talking, eh? Well, I see we’ll have to use our best tools,” she said and her tongue started the long trail up Root’s exposed thigh.

“That iron…,” Root tried to say, but panted, “… has… nothing… on you,” she finished, but each word was a little higher as Sameen’s tongue moved in the same direction.

“We’ve found a more direct approach works better,” Sameen said and her mouth left a trail of fire on Root’s other thigh.

“Oh, God, Sameen,” Root said, unable to stay in character and instead, gave into begging for relief.

But therein lay the torture – the sweet, sumptuous, agonizing torture of Sameen withholding her release.

Sameen brought Root to the edge so many times that her breath was ragged and every muscle taut. And much like her training taught her to sense when someone was about to crack, Shaw knew in a more tender and sensitive way, when Root couldn’t take anymore.

The charade was over and all Shaw could see was how much Root needed and wanted her. She untied Root’s hands which could have easily escaped on their own, and lifted her wife’s almost listless body in her arms. She placed Root on the satin sheets, which felt cold under her hot to the touch skin.

And then Shaw said exactly what Root needed to hear; “I’m here, Root.”

She bent over and kissed Root’s lips as her fingers traced the length of her body and entered her, more easily than ever before. Root felt Shaw’s touch and within seconds, the fire exploded and shattered throughout her body. She could feel the waves of release rise up her chest and flow down her legs at the same time. Her muscles shook as she dissolved into pleasure, calling out confirmation that it was what she wanted repeatedly.

It was a violent response to so gentle a touch that it left Root in tears. Every feeling Root ever had lay open on the bed, as if Sameen had removed her outer layers and exposed her. She couldn’t even comprehend what happened. She knew with every fiber of her being she just needed Shaw with her. She pulled Sameen up on her, craving to feel the weight of Shaw’s body on hers.

“Don’t ever leave me, Sameen. Promise me,” Root said, shocked at the helplessness in her voice.

Shaw was only slightly taken aback from Root’s emotional response. Sex was never about feelings for Shaw before she met Root. She got that it was more complicated when you were with someone you really loved. It’s what made it so good.

“I won’t, Root. I promise,” Shaw said, kissing her lips as small tears cascaded from Root’s eyes.

Root was exhausted, physically and emotionally. Shaw moved to her wife’s side and put her arms around her, holding her as she slept a blissful sleep.

When Root woke a couple of hours later, she did so with renewed strength and yearning. It was as if she was seeing Sameen for the first time all over again. She gently stroked Sameen’s face into waking up and waited anxiously to kiss her.

“Do you have any idea how much I love you?” Root asked as Sameen smiled to see her looking down at her.

“Well, given that the refrigerator is filled with Isabelle’s prepared meals, I’d say quite a bit,” Shaw smiled.

“More than words can convey, Sameen,” Root said, staying focused. “I would give you the world if you wanted it.”

Sameen could have made a joke in response, but she could see how sincere Root was being. The fact that there was a pause at all showed the difference in how Sameen responded. “I know,” she said.

Gazing at Sameen reignited Root’s desires and she pulled at Shaw’s clothes to undress her. “Are you sure…?” Sameen was asking when Root’s hands pushed her down. “I know what happened, Sameen,” Root said as if they had been in a conversation about something.

“You do?” Shaw asked, wondering what they were talking about.

“I was jealous,” Root said, putting her legs on either side of Sameen’s legs now.

“Oh, yes, well you had nothing…,” Shaw tried to assure her.

“Not just jealous; but angry; no furious,” Root thought through.

“Well, I’m glad you …,” Shaw tried.

“That Cole could do something for you that I couldn’t. It wasn’t true, but I panicked,” Root admitted.

“Well, unlike your all-seeing overlord, you’re actually human,” Shaw said, her hands on Root’s hands to get her to come back from the thoughts. “It’s okay,” she assured Root.

Root knew everything was okay and that she had no reason to be jealous. But it was the threat of even the smallest possibility of losing Sameen that was pulsating through her. “I just need to be sure,” she blurted out because her she never had anything like she did with Shaw and a nagging part of her brain was telling her – it wasn’t forever. Very little in Root’s life had ever been.

“We’re good,” Shaw reminded her.

“You’re right,” she finally smiled to Sameen, but set out to make sure. She leaned down to kiss her shoulder, but found her mouth was open and gently nipping at Shaw’s skin. “I want to taste every part of you,” she admitted as her mouth began to leave a trail of love bites, her hands fondling Shaw’s ample breasts.

Sameen had to admit, the display of Root’s need right now was a turn on. Root was working her way down Shaw’s body with urgency.

Pushed by something even Root couldn’t put her finger on just yet, she put her head up and announced – “I will never share you.”

Shaw was used to being confused by Root’s arbitrary declarations, but she pulled Root to look at her. “You don’t ever have to worry about that.”

Root smiled her appreciation of Shaw’s assurances. Then, she continued to consume every inch of Sameen with repeated effectiveness, until Shaw’s body thrashed with exquisite pleasure.

With little energy left to do much of anything, the newlyweds went outside, watching the sun as it sunk below the ocean.

“This is perfect,” Root said, lying next to Sameen in a large hammock.

“Now, this is a honeymoon,” Shaw concurred, as Root held a bunch of grapes over her mouth and teased her with them.

“Just a few more days,” Isabelle assured Bear when he came into the kitchen and flopped down on the floor. “It’s nice to have a few days away and just be together,” she explained as she wiped the counter for the third time. “Look at this; I’m talking to the dog,” she said as if it were a sign of her losing it.

Look at this, I’m talking to the chef!’ barked Bear and she assured him it was just a few more days.

Daan came into the kitchen now and tried to entice Bear to come play. Bear was not in the mood to entertain the man. He needed to be with someone who truly understood his misery. He needed to be with Janine.

He jumped up and got the leash that kept Daan connected to his collar. 'Let’s go, sport,' he barked and Daan mistook it for enthusiasm about going for a walk.

“Do you want to go out?” Daan asked and Bear looked at him and then looked over at Isabelle.

“I swear that dog just rolled his eyes,” she said when they left.

Chapter Text

Daan was rubbing his shoulder with the ache he felt, having been pulled several blocks to the BEAR building.

As soon as they entered, the canine sensed it. He barked at his guest to ask if he couldn’t detect the change in the entire place with is pets away.

“It’s fine,” Daan assured him and Bear decided he needed to ditch this guy.

STAY!’ Bear barked and grabbed the leash with his mouth. Daan went to follow him, giving a clear indication that he didn’t understand. ‘STAY!’ Bear said and this time, bared his teeth to make sure the man understood.

“What has gotten into you?” Daan asked, but didn’t follow as the dog went up in the elevator.

Bear jumped up at the buttons and pressed Sameen’s floor. ‘Go play,’ he suggested as the man just stood there.

The door opened and Bear exited, making his way to Janine’s cubicle. “Hey, you okay there, buddy?” Martine asked and wasn’t a bit surprised to see him. He stopped to jump up and give her as close a hug as possible.

“Bear!” Janine said when he entered and bent down to give him a heartfelt hug. “I miss them, too,” she said because she could read his expression.

She sat back as Bear began whining about how he was sure it had been longer than two weeks, but she assured him it was only one more day. Then, he howled that he wasn’t sure he could wait anymore.

“You know,” Janine said, looking around to make sure no one could hear her, “… this might sound crazy, but when Shaw is really upset, she goes in to see the Doc.”

I have one of those,’ Bear informed the well intentioned woman. ‘A for effort, though,’ he barked because he had come to understand the two legged ones like acknowledgement.

“She’s really good,” Janine said in a sing-song voice that made the dog’s head twist back and forth.

He was already there and his therapist was ineffective at best. ‘What the hell,” he barked and marched down towards the therapist’s office.

“Do you know….?” Janine was asking when he turned and looked at her. “Oh, right, sense of smell and all.”

Bear waltzed past the receptionist without being noticed and jumped up, putting his mouth on the doorknob. He was so effective and quiet that Iris never noticed him entering until he was sitting in front of her desk.

“Oh,” she said and took off her reading glasses. “Hello, Bear. How are you?”

He whined how he was missing Root and Shaw and although Root called and spoke to him, he was really missing them. ‘It’s been weeks,’ he barked.

“It must seem like a long time for you,” the therapist said, thinking how daily contact with them would make this separation hard. “Do you want to…?” she was asking, when Bear jumped up on the couch and lay down. “Okay, then…,” said Iris who wasn’t exactly sure where to sit. She didn’t know if he wanted to be petted or nap. Bear looked at her and then at her usual chair she sat in with clients. “I guess I’ll sit here,” she said and sat down, almost certain the dog was directing her.
Iris Campbell had very little experience with pets other than the dog she had growing up. But being a true empathic, she could easily understand how he would miss his humans. “If I understood…,” she coughed when she almost said Lionel’s name as her source, “… they’ll be home very soon.”

I know about you and Lionel,’ Bear woofed and Iris smiled back, not understanding a single bark.

“Missing is very hard,” Iris proffered and some of that was her own feeling about missing her favorite client. Shaw’s attendance was erratic at best. “But it speaks to how much we care about them.”

That made sense to the canine. He did go on about how there were two of them and only one of him.

“Sometimes it helps to keep ourselves busy,” the therapist heard herself reveal, and in truth, was giving herself the same advice.

That sounded like a great idea. Bear needed his own project. Janine was right; this woman was good. He leapt off the couch and pushed his head under Iris’ hand so she could pet him. Humans liked that. He barked his thanks, went to the door and opened it himself.

“Well, that’s a first,” Iris smiled as he left.

Well, that’s a first,’ Bear thought to himself of how helpful the therapist was. He was going to fire his old one and switch over to Dr. Campbell.

The only drawback to Root borrowing her friend’s beach house was that the neighbors all knew each other. It was only a matter of time before someone was jogging along the beach and invited them to dinner. At first, they refused politely, stating they were on their honeymoon. But one night, they gave in and accepted. It was an outdoor affair, relaxed wear and plenty of champagne. The crowd all greeted the couple and congratulated them. Sameen felt as if she was surrounded by people who knew her, but she knew no one.

In other words, she didn’t like it.

“We heard you skipped out after the wedding,” one woman shared and tapped Root’s knee to emphasize how fun that seemed.

“We couldn’t wait to just get away,” Root said innocently and everyone laughed. Root was polite enough to smile, but Sameen stood there staring – her deathly glare.

Sameen had just recently assured her wife that there was no need to feel jealous without making Root feel bad for feeling that way. She understood that when you grow up with so little, you sometimes latch onto what you do have later on in life. That fear of losing always stays with you. Root was so touched that she could admit these feelings, that it soothed her beyond measure. She would always feel protective of Sameen, but she realized there was little need for the green-eyed monster.

Sameen – didn’t realize it, but she was about to experience some of the same emotions.

Root was in her element; a group of strangers didn’t put her off. In fact, she shone with her friendliness and heart melting smile. It was just a matter of time before they fell under Root’s angelic spell. Shaw stood at a short distance when she went to get another drink. She could watch Root smile for hours she thought, as she looked at her wife. Root possessed a natural grace with people that Shaw admired and maybe even envied. She just couldn’t understand how Root could draw each person in as she talked about things. Shaw had no patience for that. But she liked watching Root do it.

“Oh, Root,” one man said and handed Root another glass of the bubbly, “… I think you and I should work on a project I’m developing,” the wealthy techie thirty something suggested. The man was speaking Root’s language. He hit her with the trifecta of her interests; technology, philanthropy and vision. Root couldn’t help but be enticed by his suggestion.

Because – it was all about the work.

Billy Blare wasn’t coming onto the newlywed; he wasn’t being inappropriate, nor was he aware that her wife didn’t care about any of that. “I just go my black belt in Tang Soo Do,” Billy bragged, thinking that sharing some personal information would tempt Root to do business with him.

Root understood what he was doing because she was often sought after by business proposers. Shaw didn’t care. She wanted to be with Root and was growing impatient with having to be so polite.

“I could snap you like a twig,” Shaw appeared out of nowhere and shared with him as she bent over to reach his ear.

“Oh!” he said and wondered how in the world Sameen could mistake his gestures as flirting.

Sameen didn’t care.

“No, I was trying to offer your wife an opportunity to put our philanthropic talents together,” he explained.

Damn!” Shaw thought to herself. If there was one way to get to her wife’s heart, it was to off her a good deed opportunity. “Do you want to do this?” Shaw turned and asked Root who was both surprised and taken by her wife’s response.

“I would like to talk to Billy further,” Root said, hoping it didn’t ruin the mood.

The man turned to look at Sameen, hoping this would assure her that he had no ill intentions.

Shaw didn’t care.

Something was coursing through her veins right now and she was on auto-pilot.

But… when we get back to New York,” Root added and that made Sameen smile.

“Let’s go,” Shaw said, holding her hand out to Root, but never taking her eyes off the man who annoyed her.

“I have to go,” Root said, but her tone was almost a lilt from the excitement of Shaw being so domineering.

Sameen took Root’s hand and pulled her gently until they were away from the crowd.

“Look, I’m sorry if I made you leave…,” Shaw said, because she was beginning to sense her reaction was over the top.

Over-the-top was exactly what turned Root on instantly.

“Don’t apologize, please. I love it when you’re … like that,” Root said, stopping in the sand and kissing Sameen.

“A pain in the ass?” Shaw asked, not quite getting it yet.

“Domineering,” Root spelled out.

“I wasn’t … I would have stayed …,” Shaw tried to explain and was about to ruin it if Root didn’t stop her. “Look, if you want to work with the guy… “

“Shut up, Sameen,” Root said and kissed her hard. One look in those soft brown eyes that were gazing back at her finally made her realize Root was trying to tell her something.

“You don’t want to work with him?” Sameen guessed incorrectly.

“Sure I do,” Root said, trying to get this back on track. “If it’s okay with you that I’m working at night…maybe alone…. with him?”

“Why would you have to ….?” Shaw asked and then she noticed Root was swaying, biting her lip with anticipation. “Ooh, I see what you’re doing.”

Thank God,’ Root thought, afraid of missing an opportunity for some playful time alone.

“You don’t want me to be jealous really, you want me... to... be …,” Shaw said and got stuck.

“In charge, bossy, heavy-handed,” Root spelled out.

“Heavy handed?” Shaw asked as if she never heard the phrase.

Root’s expression was one of total excitement of Shaw getting this right.

“Oh, so you want me to … ?” Shaw asked, unsure of the depths of Root’s fantasies.

Shaw’s suggestive look took their play from zero to sixty in seconds. Root didn’t expect Sameen to connect the dots so quickly. “Oh… my…God,” Root said, her knees weakening at the mere thought of it. Sameen caught her wife before she tumbled in the sand.

“Okay, then,” Shaw smiled devilishly, thinking she was getting the hang of this intense foreplay.  "Let's go."

Chapter Text

There was intensity about Sameen Shaw that propelled her through life. It was there for college, medical school, basic training, the CIA, and anything else she undertook. There was no two ways about it - She had to be the best. Second place at anything would hurl her into fury and she’d go back and do something a thousand times to get it right. When she wasn’t the first in marksman shooting, she stood outside for hours, shooting the gun until she had gained laser like accuracy. Her commander admired her, but pointed out the short comings of such an obsession. Her fingers were bleeding and he suggested she take a day off. Sameen taped them up, ignoring the pain, and returned the next day to be first in her class. Intense was the word that appeared in all of her reviews, and they were right.

Whenever Sameen did anything, especially something she had never tackled before, she was hyper focused.

There had been no fantasy playing in Sameen’s sex life before Root. She loved them and left them and by that we mean, she never loved them. Sex was a fun release and was never made complicated by feelings. Some lovers were good, some weren’t … but

Sameen was always excellent. With a body like hers, there was little need for foreplay to get what she wanted.

And then Root happened.

Root was the only person Sameen ever wanted to please; to be invested with both physically and emotionally. She enjoyed their sex life because it was everything it had never been before. It was deep and caring, and given Root’s proclivity to fantasy, it was never dull.

Sameen didn’t mind the surprise of Root’s desires; she just didn’t want to fail at providing for them.

As if.

If Shaw had asked Root – what can I do to make this perfect – Root would have answered – Just be there. But Shaw was pressing herself to come by these requests naturally and the pressure was on to understand exactly what Root wanted.

Feeling like she may have promised more than she could deliver, Shaw tried to piece together what happened as Root practically skipped all the way back to their beach house. It wasn’t that Shaw couldn’t be in charge, it was just that her being so usually included being short tempered and demanding. There wasn’t a mission or situation where Shaw hadn’t been in charge, because she possessed the skill sets to convince people she was the best at it. She barked orders, refused to let people fail, and took over if they did. She wasn’t exactly sure those skill sets were going to help her provide Root with the latest idea for time alone.

The whole thing weighed on Sameen’s mind as they walked back to the beach house. Root stopped on the steps to the back of the house and turned to Sameen. The moon was shining on the water and into Root’s eyes.

“Ready?” Root smiled and Sameen knew there were high hopes behind that question.

“You know,” Shaw stammered, trying to think of something, “… you… go… inside and I’ll be right there,” Shaw suggested, but her hesitation was clear.

“What is it, Sweetie?” Root asked, picking up on it immediately.

Sameen saw the twinkle fade in Root’s eyes and panicked. “Oh, no… no,” Shaw said, taking Root’s hands, frantically trying to keep Root’s optimism up. “…. I just thought that… you… would want to … put something on,” Sameen thought quickly and Root smiled. “…before I take it off,” Shaw added and got it right.

Root practically squealed, before turning back to kiss Sameen. “Thank you,” she said and Shaw forced a smile on her face.

Now the pressure was really on to get this right.

I’ll take a shower,” Root called back and disappeared in the house.

“Okay, Shaw, get this,” Sameen said, walking back and forth in the sand. “Domineering, bossy, heavy-handed,” she repeated as if the definitions would gel in her mind. Sameen saw the light go on upstairs in the house and new she had to get this right fast.

Then, it dawned on her. She was thinking about this from her perspective. Those words meant something else to her. All she had to do was think about them from Root’s perspective. Root wanted her to be domineering; not in a military trained way; but in a sexy playful way.

Sameen pulled on her blouse as if straightening it out. “I got this,” she said to herself.

Before Root turned on the lights, she peeked out of the window to see her wife pacing. The moment had passed, she feared and as much as Sameen would try, it wouldn’t be what she hoped. She knew her ideas of what was exciting far surpassed Sameen’s notion. Disappointed, Root took her shower and took her time. It was, she decided, a lot to ask.

She didn’t blame Sameen for not knowing what to do. It was, after all, very personal. Root was a powerful woman who dominated meetings and groups all day long. There was just something exciting at being the one dominated with someone she felt safe with.

She sighed at the lost moment and exited the shower. It didn’t mean she and Sameen couldn’t have a fun last night.

In the same amount of time that Root decided the moment wasn’t meant to be, Shaw was pulling everything together to make it happen.

“Can I get you a glass of something?” Root asked as she walked into the room, no paying attention to her wife.

“Yes,” Sameen said and her voice sounded different. “Scotch, and bring it here, please.”

Please,’ Root said to herself. If there was one thing that killed a game of heavy-handedness, it was manners.

Then, she turned around... and dropped the glass.

Sameen had rushed to her clothes and pulled out the only thing that she thought would say – “I’m in charge.”


Black, tight fitting, leather.

Sameen stood there, her legs apart, her hands on her hips. She wore black leather pants, a leather low cut top and stiletto heeled leather boots. The pants left nothing to the imagination and the top exposed Sameen’s ample cleavage as she stood there, waiting.

“Do I make you... nervous?” Sameen asked in a low voice.

Root had never seen Sameen stare so seductively and menacing at the same time. “Jesus,” Root said and felt light headed.

Sameen hadn’t even started walking towards her and when she did, Root had to grab the table and sit down. Root sat there staring as Sameen sauntered over and put her finger under her chin to lift it. “Let’s play,” Shaw suggested, bending over and putting her hands on Root’s knees.

Root felt electricity shoot up her legs. “Yes,” Root said, but her throat was getting dry. She had to focus to make this last. “I mean – maybe,” Root tried and tore her eyes away from staring at Sameen’s breasts.

“Maybe?” Shaw said, going behind Root now. “There’s no maybe in this. You’re either going to play and lose, or wimp out.”

“I never lose,” Root countered because it was easier when she wasn’t staring at Sameen.

“Oh, you’re going to lose,” Shaw promised in her ear and Root’s eyes clamped shut from the tingling sensation she felt spreading. “It’s just a matter of how much you can take…,” Shaw said in a knowing tone as her fingers played with Root’s hair, pulling it back off her shoulders. “… before you beg me to stop.”

The sensation of Shaw’s touch was making it so hard for Root to speak. She cleared her throat, pulled her satin robe over her legs as she crossed them, and sat up straight. “I can take quite a bit,” Root refuted, but not convincingly.

Sameen came back around and this time she pushed Root’s leg off the other so she could straddle her lap. “Did I ever tell you that kissing you is like kissing a peach?” Shaw asked and suddenly there was one in her hand.

“Yes, you have,” Root said, hoping Sameen wouldn’t list the adjectives.

“They’re… just … so…,” Shaw said slowly and Root’s hands flew out to hold onto the sides of the chair before she uttered the last word, “… juicy.”

Shaw smiled devilishly when she felt Root squirming in the chair. She exaggerated the bite into the peach, going slowly and making noise. “So juicy,” Shaw repeated, as she allowed juice to run down her chin. “I bet you want to lick that,” Shaw smiled and Root didn’t move, but swore she could hear her heart beating. “But you can’t,” Shaw said, getting up off of her lap. Instead of being surprised, Root felt relieved because she was amazed at how turned on she was, and was afraid of exploding at one touch.

“And do you know why?” Shaw asked, wiping her face off with a napkin.

Root’s eyes refused to turn away now and stayed glued to Sameen’s mouth. “

"Because you’ve been very bad,” Shaw accused her and stood there with her arms crossed.

“I… have… my… ways,” Root said, shaking her head so she could look away.

“Oh, Root,” Shaw said, kneeling in front of Root now. “… your ways have gotten you into a lot of trouble,” Shaw said and each word pierced Root’s body like a jolt of electricity, as hands roamed under the robe.

Root had expected to be turned on; she didn’t expect to lose control of her limbs.

“And now…," Shaw said, continuing her part without deviation, as she stopped and stood back up, “… I’m going to have to punish you.”

That was all that Shaw had planned for her dialogue, so she pulled Root up from the chair, finding it difficult, because Root was like dead weight. Root’s knees struggled to keep her upright. “I think I know exactly what to do,” Shaw threatened, and cupped her wife’s derriere sensuously.

That was all Root could take. She felt as if she had been starved for days and just released into a buffet of scrumptious foods. She pushed Sameen so hard back on the couch; she took the leather-clad woman by surprise.

But Sameen was not to be outdone. Remember? See her file about wanting to be first.

Root may have been able to jump and pull Sameen from of the frenzy her body was in, but Shaw was pure strength, and Root felt it when she was flipped over on the couch. “Ah, ah, ah,” Shaw warned, making sure Root knew she was in control.

Root stared up at the muscled tone arms of her lover and wanted them. She wanted to touch every part of Sameen. The fire inside her was bordering on painful and the urge to feel Sameen was making her shake.

And then she uttered one word that softened Sameen instantly.


Shaw saw the need again – and finally allowed herself to feel it. It had been hard denying it as she played her role.

“Yes,” Shaw said, leaning down to kiss Root tenderly on her lips. “Whatever you need, Root,” she said.

Hands clawed at each other as clothes were pulled off and tossed. Hands couldn’t stop touching legs and arms. Lips locked, making both women dizzy with excitement.

The idle threats that fed the fire, gave way to passionate kissing and tender prodding. Tender stroking gave way to urgent touching that finally allowed both women to climax together and scream each other’s names as it happened.

Long moments of tense excitement gave way to waves of pleasure that gave way to collapse.

Holding Sameen in her arms now, stroking her bare back, Root leaned over to kiss her wife. “You are really good at this,” Root said, having never felt so intensely excited in her life.

“Yeah, I know,” Shaw reflected.

Chapter Text

There was no sleep to be had that night, in spite of the exhaustion the newlyweds felt. Neither of them wanted to miss a moment of being awake with the other. The sunlight finally pierced the sky and the two rose to get ready.

“Do you know what I’m most grateful for?” Root asked as she played with the long stands of Shaw’s dark hair as they enjoyed their coffee on the couch.

“That I brought leather to a tropical location?” Shaw asked, proud of how her wardrobe choice played into their most exciting night there.

“I think you’ve managed to give me a leather fetish,” Root laughed, her foot dangling over the couch and touching said clothing. “You need to wear that more often.”

You… need me to wear it more often,” Shaw corrected her.

“True,” Root confessed. “What I was thinking,” she said, getting back on track, “… was how lucky I am to be with you.”

“Fusco agrees,” Shaw said, remembering what her friend said.

“Well, Lionel and I finally agree on something,” Root teased.

“It’s not about whose luckier, Root,” Shaw said, giving this thought. “It’s about us – being so right for each other.”

“Beauty…,” Root mused, pulling her wife into her, “… and brains.”

“I’m the full enchilada,” Shaw announced, unabashedly. “Oh, God, now I want one of those.”

Shaw jumped up in the sheet she’d use as her robe, looking in the refrigerator for the exact food she mentioned.

Root got up and stretched slowly. “Anything?”

“No,” Shaw said disappointed. “I really don’t know why you keep her,” she teased.

“Because you will always come home for dinner as long as I have her,” Root answered.

“Good point,” Shaw said.

A tender kiss between them made Sameen forget all about food and made Root forget to update the pilot that they would be late.

Hours later, the honeymoon couple arrived back their Penthouse apartment in New York. “Now, remember, even though I Facetimed with him, he’s usually not happy when we get back,” Root reminded Sameen.

“How about if I just lie down and expose my throat as a gesture of …,” Shaw was mocking when Root said it might just work. “So not doing that,” Shaw said seriously.

The door opened into the spacious entryway and Root braced for Bear’s greeting – but there was none. What they did hear was a group of people speaking loudly, coming from the study. Root looked at Shaw, who immediately drew her gun out of her holster.

“That sounds like… your mother,” Root whispered.

“Did you invite her to live here?” Shaw asked, and she was serious.

“No, I mean, I don’t think so,” Root said, aware that she was so caught up in the wedding, she could have said anything to anyone.

Shaw listened and she could hear her mother’s distinct accent speaking to her friend. “Detective, this would assist the Canine Unit.”

The women walked closer as they heard Fusco respond: “It’s not the Canine Unit. You need Animal Control or something.”

“Oh, hey,” a voice came from behind them and made Sameen jump. “Welcome back, sis,” Ayala said without explanation of why she was standing there holding a large bowl of chips. Shaw looked from her, to the bowl, and then back. “For Lionel,” her sister explained. “Well, I can tell from your color, you two actually got some sun this time,” Ayala smiled.

“What is going on in there?” Root asked in a friendly tone.

“Oh, Bear’s project – he’s got everyone involved,” Ayala said, shrugging her shoulders.

“What the hell are you talking about?” Shaw barked.

Her sister looked at her with a scowl. “Don’t yell at me. I’m sure he’ll have a part for you two. I mean, I know how Root loves philanthropic endeavors – like marrying you,” Ayala laughed.

“I better go see…,” Root said, unsure of how this happened.

“Oh, you might want to get to a safe place,” Ayala said to Sameen.

“I’m not letting that dog kiss me and jump all over me,” Sameen announced.

“I’m not talking about him,” Ayala said and with that, Janine appeared from the kitchen.

“SHAW!” she yelled and Ayala whispered that she had tried to warn her sister. “YOU’RE BACK!”

“Ohhh,” Shaw’s voice quivered as she tried to find a place where the impact wouldn’t be so hard, but it was too late. The only thing Sameen could lean back on was the wall when Janine grabbed her. “It is so good to have you back. I’ve lost all track of time.”

“Thankyou,” Shaw said, the expression puffed out in one word when the woman grabbed her.

“Oh,” Janine said, noticing the marks on Shaw’s skin because she managed to get so close. “Do you want me to get something…?”

“No, no, thanks,” Shaw said, backing away from the woman who had once made it her personal mission to lesson Shaw’s love bites. “They... don’t… hurt.”

“Well, you look wonderful. Did you have a nice time?” Janine asked, her eyes smiling.

“Yes, it was really nice. How are you?” Shaw asked, backing up a little more.

“Oh, good. I hope you don’t mind, but Bear was so upset when he came in one day, I suggested he go to Doc Campbell,” Janine whispered because she had worked in Human Resources and respected people’s privacy.

“He? Went? To see Iris?” Shaw asked, wondering what that actually meant.

“Yes! I mean, I know he was going to that other guy, but he was so sad, I thought he needed to talk to someone who would get what he was going through. It seemed to go very well because I noticed there’s a request to transfer his files to her,” Janine said and pointed to the study.

“He typed a form to get his files transferred to my therapist?” Shaw asked, the possessive pronoun unconsciously chosen.

“No, silly,” Janine said, thinking her boss must be jetlagged. “It’s a form you download. I figured Isabelle did it for him.”

“Right,” Shaw said, forgetting not everyone drank the ‘dog can talk’ Kool-Aid. “She doesn’t see … animals.”

“I know, but you know the thing with Bear is - sometimes, you forget he’s a dog,” Janine said, amazed at how the canine interacted with people.

“Yeah, usually I just think of him as a big pain in the ass,” Shaw said, her feelings of not liking this coming more to the surface.

“After he saw Doc that day, he dragged me to some places in the city. Shaw, you should see the neglect going on in some of these lots and yards. Anyway, then after I videoed it, he took me to your mother’s. I wasn’t completely sure why we were there, but your mom seemed to understand that he wanted her to write a program to watch these things,” Janine explained, shaking her head.

“So, he wants to be the Canine Crusader?” Shaw asked bluntly.

“I like it! We could have cups made up. Come, see what he’s doing,” Janine said, grabbing Sameen’s arm and pulling her.

“Hello, Sameen,” Azar said warmly and got up to kiss her daughter’s cheeks.

“Hey, Shaw, welcome back,” Fusco said and gave her a light tap on the upper arm. “He’s something, right?”

“What the hell is all this?” Shaw asked and noticed now that Bear was being his charming self with Root which he did when he really wanted something – like the remote.

“So, I’m sitting at the station one day,” Fusco began to explain when he took a few chips and pushed them in his mouth, “… and who walks in, but this guy. I figured he was lost or whatever, but he kept pushing at me and Joss until we looked at what he had in his mouth. It was a cell phone with a video on it. He got Flacka over there to go with him and video dogs being chained up and abused. We called the Animal Control people, you know, to investigate, but they’re really backlogged. So, next thing I know he leaves with your trusted assistant and your mother calls me and asked me to come here. She’s got some program she’s working on that would monitor these things,” Fusco said, with raised eyebrows to indicate the machine.

Shaw looked over at Root who seemed to be grilling Bear about how he did this. “Yes, of course it’s important,” she heard Root say.

“Let me get this straight,” Shaw said, drawing a deep breath because she had been away from all of this, “… he went to my therapist, and then got my assistant to go on a mission with him, and then went to my friends to get them to follow up on it, and then went to my mother to help him monitor dogs being abused?”

“You said my four times,” Ayala pointed out.

“She doesn’t share well,” Fusco confided in the younger sibling.

“Tell me about it,” Ayala said because that was the natural sibling response.

“I’m standing right here!” Shaw barked. “I can hear you.”

“Wow, you must have been away too long, Maybelline,” Fusco said, staring at Shaw’s expression. “It’s like you don’t remember what it’s like in Coo-coo Town.”

“No!” Shaw went to disagree, but couldn’t keep up with what she was refuting. “What are you doing again?”

By this time, Root had gotten the truth out of Bear, simply by giving him her knowing look. “Bear has decided that he needs a project and he’d like it to be doing something for the strays and neglected pets in the city.”

“He went to see Iris,” Shaw repeated because that was what stuck out in her mind.

“We’ll talk about that,” Root said, back to soothing her wife’s ruffled feathers.

“I mean, I don’t care,” Shaw tried to recoup her overreaction.

Root looked over at Lionel and smiled, tilting her head. “I know, Sweetie,” Root replied.

“I’m hungry,” Shaw decided.

“Sharing will do that to you,” Fusco said, making things worse as usual.

“Shut up, Fusco,” Shaw said and wanted to say it was his girlfriend’s fault, but didn’t.

“Oh, hey, let’s get you something to eat and I’ll tell you about my speech,” Lionel suggested, taking his friend by the arm.

“ROOT!” Shaw bellowed.

“I’m coming, Sweetie,” Root assured her, following them to the kitchen.

Chapter Text

The next morning, the couple woke up to their quiet abode. Team Bear had left the night before after a plan was put in place.

“I think I can smell bacon,” Shaw said because she was anticipating eating Isabelle’s feast.

That’s what’s on your mind?” Root teased her wife.

“But you know what it will be like,” Shaw defended her obsession. “Warm, delicious and sprawled out in front of you.”

Root couldn’t resist the similarity. “That’s what I said about you last night,” she smirked.

“Very … okay yes, but ….,” Shaw stammered because Root had done with her what she pleased. “And that’s… exactly why I need a good breakfast. To regain some strength… back.”

“That was weak, Shaw,” Root shook her head. God, she enjoyed playing with Sameen.

The couple showered and dressed and went downstairs, where the chef was so happy to have her favorite couple returning, that she cooked all of Shaw’s favorites.

“Oh, my God,” Shaw said when she saw the display of eggs, bacon, pancakes, freshly baked bread, orange juice and cakes.

“Welcome home!” Isabelle yelled and had rehearsed not rushing at the couple, but couldn’t help it when she actually saw them. She grabbed Shaw first and held her tight. “It is so good to see you,” she said and meant it. “You have color!” she said, when she released Shaw and grabbed Root.

“You say what like you didn’t think we’d be in the sun,” Root teased the woman as she embraced her.

“Well, you know. Come, eat,” the chef said, and poured Root a glass of juice.

“The reception was magnificent,” Isabelle reported. “Everyone had such a good time.”

“Sorry we missed it,” Root said and was only a little sorry.

“Oh, everyone understood,” Isabelle assured her. “And the Best Man’s speech!” she added as she put a plate of bacon in front of Shaw. “He did a great job.”

“See?” Shaw said to Root with her mouth full. “What did he say?” she asked.

“We were sworn to secrecy,” the chef reported. “But it was a lovely speech.”

Shaw eyed her suspiciously, but decided she’d get it out of Fusco easily enough. “This is so gooood,” Shaw said, eating as if there were only a limited amount.

“I’m so pleased,” said the woman who loved to cook for her.

Thirty minutes later, when Sameen felt she couldn’t eat another bite, she pushed back in her seat and held her stomach. “Everything was so …”

“…Tempting?” Root asked because her wife reminded her of a kid let loose in the bakery.

“Yes!” Shaw replied.

Root watched as Isabelle prepared a bag of small pastries for Shaw to have – on the way to work. There was no denying that her wife worked off a lot of these calories, but Root worried about how healthy all of this was. She’d speak to Isabelle about it and ask the woman to come up with some healthier food choices.

Little did Root know, they’d have no choice soon enough.

When Shaw arrived at work, she thought she could hear her trusty assistant arguing with Reese.

“It’s on the schedule and has been for weeks,” he reminded her.

“Yes, but I had no idea that she would be just getting back from her honeymoon,” Janine countered.

“There’s not much prep work,” Reese said in his low voice.

“Are you kidding me?” she whispered.

“Oh, good; Shaw you’re back. Nice tan. Please handle this crisis, would you,” Reese said as he walked out.

“Crisis? I gave them up,” Shaw said, walking into her office. “Well, I can honestly say, I didn’t miss this,” she said of her surrounding quarters and the paperwork.

“Shaw,” Janine said in a tone that was full of – I have bad news and I need you to stay calm. “John just reminded me that… tomorrow is the Security Team physical.” Janine pulled back in the chair just the slightest as if she were expecting a reaction.

“Okay,’ Sameen said and got out her phone and typed it in.

“It’s not boxing or anything,” Janine said, just to be clear.

“You mean… a doctor comes in, right?” Sameen said, not wanting to point out she used to be one. “I used to be one, remember?” she added, changing her mind.

“Oh! Yes, that’s it. That’s it exactly,” Janine said, wondering if she should leave it at that.

“You’re acting weirder than usual,” Shaw noted.

“No, maybe you’ve just been away from weird for so long,” Janine tried.

“I was with Root, remember,” Shaw laughed.

Janine laughed, too, but it was an exaggerated response as she slapped her own knee. “Good one, Shaw,” she said, as she got up and slipped out of the room. “I need the big guns for this,” she said to herself as she left to get help.

As soon as the assistant left, Fusco made his way into Shaw’s office. “Be prepared to be entertained,” he shouted as Shaw kept her back to him.

“I’ve seen your idea of entertainment, Fusco. It sucks, so there better be… donuts,” Shaw said and turned around to see a huge bag of Krispy Kreme donuts and two large coffees.
If he had any chance of getting Sameen to listen to his Best Man speech, he knew she had to be eating.

“Look, Shaw,” he said, opening the bag, “…Chocolate iced with filling, jelly, and original glazed.” The aroma hit her just as he planned when he put the bag near her.

“I want this one,” she said, putting her hand in and grabbing the jelly one.

“They’re all for you,” he said and she narrowed her eyes on him because she knew there was a catch. “I mean, I can’t eat this anymore,” Fusco said, and his sadness was palpable. “Watching the waistline.”

“Yeah, we’re watching it too, and it’s growing,” Shaw laughed as she and Fusco returned to their sibling like banter.

“I lost weight!” Fusco protested and took out his reading glasses to get started. Then, he shoved his hand into his pocket and took out the four page speech. “Sit back, Shaw. You’re going to enjoy this.”

“Why didn’t I just schedule a root canal today,” Sameen balked, but did as her friend asked. “Go ahead, get it over with.”

Fusco smiled, as he cleared his throat to begin. He had really missed this teasing.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” he began.

“What am I dead?” Shaw barked.

“…and all invited guests,” he kept going.

“Ladies, Gentlemen AND invited guests. Didn’t we invite…,” she tried, but Fusco pushed the donut up closer to her mouth.

“I wasn’t surprised when Shaw asked me to be her Best Man. It’s not like she has a lot of friends, or even people who can put up with her,” he said.

“Fusco! What the hell,” Shaw complained and he just lifted the bag so she could pick her next donut.

“I was honored just the same,” Lionel resumed. “I have known Shaw the longest of any of you here, pretty much. And we’ve been through some things together. Some things I can tell you and some I can’t,” he continued reading.

“You said this? In a room with my mother?” Shaw questioned, imagining the worst.

“Yeah, did you think I was going to share all the times you were off on a bender and I had to come get you?” Fusco asked, looking over his glasses.

“Well, thanks for not making my wedding reception into a twelve step program, Fusco,” Shaw barked.

“They don’t work if you’re not there, Shaw. Anyway, you’re getting off track. I’m just getting up to the really funny parts,” Lionel said.

“No, no,” Shaw said, unable to eat more or hear more. “I’m done,” she said, wiping her hands on the napkin.

“But you haven’t heard the best parts,” he complained.

“Look, I have a lot to do today, including discussing a certain therapist’s choice in clientele,” Shaw looked at him.

“Oh, yeah, you and the dog are sharing now, eh?” Lionel remembered.

“No, even, funny, Fusco,” Shaw said, saying each word slowly.

“Well, I’m saving this for when you have time,” the detective said and put his speech back in his pocket.

Just as Fusco was leaving, he ran into Janine and Root. “Hey, tell your canine I’m working on it. I keep getting text messages from him,” Fusco complained. “No one believes I have a full time job,” he complained when he got on the elevator.

“I really appreciate this,” Janine said to Root.

“Not at all. I’d rather break it to her,” Root said and walked in.

“Do you believe that guy?” Shaw said, complaining about her friend as she finished her third donut. “I think I’ll have to work out the rest of the day,” Shaw said, looking in the bag and realizing she finished them.

“Sweetie,” Root said sitting down and taking her wife’s hands. “Tomorrow is ….”

“Yeah, I know. She told me,” Shaw said, suspicious about her wife’s appearance. “What is this, a caloric intervention?” she laughed. “I’ll work these babies off in my kickboxing class later.”

“You know you have to … fast,” Root said slowly and gently.

“Fast? “ the former doctor questioned.

“There’s blood work, tomorrow,” Janine said from the safety of her doorway.

“Okay, so?” Shaw asked.

“No food after midnight,” Root explained.

“I know what fasting means,” Shaw said, getting annoyed.

“Okay, then,” Root said, sitting back and looking at Janine. “I’m glad we’re all on the same page.”

“You two,” Shaw shook her head as if there were no need in the world for either of them to be concerned.

Root kissed the sugar coated lips and then licked her own. “I wish Fusco stopped by more often,” she said of the literal sweet kiss.

“Well, that makes one of us,” Shaw said, going back to work.

She wasn’t sure what the big deal was, but she heard her assistant wishing Root good luck.

Root went back to her office to work on the projects, while Sameen returned to her own tasks.

Later that afternoon, Bear visited Sameen. He barked at her and dropped a piece of paper at her feet.

“You know, I already have about six bosses,” she said as she picked the paper that contained an address. “What’s this?” she asked and the dog pulled her by her hand.

“Saying you’ll explain on the way does not make me feel good, Bear,” Shaw complained, but followed her new boss into the elevator.

Following his cues, Shaw went to her car and let him in. Then, she drove to the location, pointing out the whole way that she couldn’t just drop everything and go with him, every time he got it into his canine head.

Bear let her rant on because he had watched Root do it this way and it usually worked. Sure enough, by the time they reached their destination, Shaw had stopped complaining.

“So, we just ring this doorbell?” she asked, after waiting until someone opened the front door and they sneaked in. The tall apartment building was in a bad neighborhood and Sameen made sure her gun was where she could reach it.

Bear put his nose by the door and growled a low growl. The hair on his back stood up. “Okay, okay, we’ll check it out,” Sameen said and knocked on the door.

She heard someone walk towards the door and undo the latch and lock. “Well, you don’t look like one of my neighbors, lady. You lost?” the six feet, two hundred and fifty pound man asked. His arms were so muscled that the t-shirt hugged them tightly.

“Geez,” Shaw said unsure of what she was supposed to do next. “No, I… thought I heard something.”

“You heard wrong, lady,” the man said in a warning tone.

“My dog…,” Shaw was saying when Bear decided the humans were taking too long. He pushed passed the man and went into the disheveled home. “Sorry, he’s got a mind of his own.”

“Hey, get back here,” he said, going after Bear and Shaw going after him.

It suddenly dawned on Sameen that Bear took after Root when it came to putting missions together – impulsive with little info.

“Lady, you better get your dog or I’ll…,” the brute was saying, when Shaw saw where Bear was. The Belgian Malinois was standing in front of another dog, as if guarding her.

It was obvious to Sameen that the dog had been beaten. “Is this how you get off, you messed-up coward?” Sameen spat at him.

“This is my house, lady. What I do to my dog is my business,” he sneered.

“Not today,” Shaw said and told him to get out of their way.

The man laughed and went to grab the belt he had used on the dog, but he was too slow. Bear grabbed the man’s arm and growled, causing the man pain. Bear let go when the man yelled and stood there, to make sure he didn’t move.

“Let’s go,” Shaw said, her hand on her gun now in case the man got up.

Bear barked at the other dog, who followed him outside. Shaw told the man not to follow them and he didn’t. But he was going to report his dog missing to the police.

“Great, I’m a vigilante in Lassie’s gang!” Shaw barked as they made their way downstairs.

She complains a lot,’ Bear barked to the other dog.

“I heard that, Bear,” Shaw said, hurrying to get them both in her car.

Chapter Text

Root swore time slowed down when she saw Sameen approaching with Bear. The two seemed to share the same swagger as they walked down the street to the apartment. And as if Root’s grin couldn’t have gotten any wider, she all but melted when she saw Sameen holding a German shepherd puppy in her arms.

“If we weren’t already married, I’d ask you right now,” Root greeted them and kissed Sameen. “What do we have here? Oh, hello,” Root said to the dog that was still shaking.

“Bear rescued her,” Shaw said. “We just came from the vet. She’s okay, in spite of the bastard that was her owner.”

“Oh, you poor thing! Goed gedaan, Bear,” Root said in his native tongue. “Let’s take her upstairs.”

Team Bear went inside and took their rescued canine to the apartment. Bear pulled out his treasured blanket and laid it down near her. The other dog could sense she was safe here and curled up on the soft material. Bear kept pushing at Shaw to thank her because, of course, without her help, it would have been harder.

“Yeah, yeah,” Shaw said, trying to downplay it. “I can’t go out every time you find out there’s a puppy in trouble, you know,” she tried to say and Bear walked over and sat down. The puppy immediately walked between his legs and stayed there.

“Oh, my God!” Root squealed. “Is that not the most adorable thing?”

“He’s suckering you in, Root. We’ll be doing daily canine capers if he keeps this up,” Shaw warned.

“Your mother is working on a program as we speak,” Root updated her wife. “Isn’t that right, Bear,” she added.

“Okay, look; when they lock us up, you know they won’t let him be our lawyer, right?” Shaw reminded Root.

“OH MY GOSH!” Isabelle said when she walked in to see the new addition. “Is that not the cutest thing? Bear has a friend?”

“Welcome to the love-fest, but we actually have more pressing issues than overdosing on cute,” Shaw said.

The puppy immediately looked up at Bear to be reassured that this one didn’t bite.

Watch,’ he said and went over and jumped up on Shaw. She bellowed and balked, but eventually she let him slobber her face in kisses. ‘See?’ he barked to his guest.

“Okay, okay, you’re welcome,” Shaw said, not realizing this was actually a demonstration of well-trained she was.

“What’s the matter?” Isabelle asked Sameen as she wiped her face on her sleeve.

“You mean, besides the fact that I’m covered in saliva? No offense,” she said to Bear who barked he’d let this one slide. “I have to have blood work tomorrow,” Shaw said, taking the woman’s arms in her hands to make sure she understood the magnitude of this. “I… have… to… fast…after…midnight,” Shaw said and let it sink in.

“Oh, my!” Isabelle responded.

“Tell me about it,” Shaw concurred. “It’s going to be hell.”

Root sat there, her eyes ablaze with laughter at how adorable Shaw was when she wasn’t trying to be adorable at all.

“Should I make Italian or steak?” the chef asked and Shaw answered; “Yes.” “What about for the guest?” she asked.

“What? You didn’t get him his own Amazon account with one hour free delivery?” Shaw mocked.

Just then, the elevator doors opened and Fusco walked in, carrying – you guessed it – a large bag of puppy food. “Don’t ever say I never bought you anything,” he said, giving Shaw the bag. “Oh, my God – a German Shepherd? He’s adorable!” the man gushed when he saw her.

“She,” Root corrected him. “Why do men assume dogs are male?”

“Because, Cocoa Puffs, the text said … ‘Can you get him puppy food?’” Fusco read from his phone. “Can I pet her?” he asked, getting down on the floor and allowing the dog to get used to him. “What kind of bastard does this to a dog?”

“Excellent question, Lionel,” Root said and smiled as she watched the bulky man play so gently with the puppy.

“I always want him to be your friend,” Root whispered to Shaw, but Fusco heard her.

“She owes me too much money for us to break up just yet,” he winked back at Root.

“Oh geez, he heard that? Now, he’ll be telling me you want us to be BFF’s and all. Thanks, Root,” Shaw retorted.

“Detective, would you like to stay for dinner?” Root asked and Isabelle told him what was on the menu.

“Yes! I mean, if it’s okay with you guys,” Fusco said, never wanting to pass up a home cooked meal. “I wouldn’t want to miss Shaw’s last meal,” he kidded.

“How do you know that?” Shaw questioned.

“It’s all over. Whenever you’re a danger to yourself or others, Shaw; an APB goes out,” Fusco half kidded.

“Don’t you have a girlfriend?” Shaw asked, her hands on her hips now. “And like, a kid?”

“Joss took a bunch of the cops’ kids to the Yankees’ game tonight. My… girlfriend… said she had some important paperwork she needed to get done,” Fusco said and now he was lying down and letting the puppy sit on top of him.

“You’re embarrassing yourself,” Shaw announced, but no one agreed.

“I’ll get dinner ready,” Isabelle announced and it was the first good news Shaw heard.

“At lease someone understands me,” Shaw pouted, but Root was right there to press her lips on the protruding edge.

“You are my hero,” Root said affectionately.

“Yeah, it was pretty cool,” Shaw admitted of Bear’s caper.

“You’re very brave, too,” Root cooed in her ear.

“Well, it’s not like your dog gave me a choice,” Shaw admitted.

“I meant about… the fasting,” Root teased, setting her ruse up slowly.

“I’ve gone longer,” Shaw said.

“I was thinking…,” Root smiled, now playing with Shaw’s hair and pressing into her, “… I might be able to come up with some things to keep your mind off it.”

There was no mistaking now where Root was going with this.

“I don’t know,” Shaw said, getting better adept at picking up on these things, “… it’s going to take a lot to get my mind off eating.”

She wasn’t as fast as Root, though.

“Oh, I don’t know that I want your mind off that completely,” the taller woman admitted, pressing her leg into Shaw and capturing her mouth when it opened.

When Root was sure she had distracted her wife enough, she released her. “That… will... work,” Shaw confirmed, much to Root’s delight.

They do that a lot,’ Bear barked to his guest.

At dinner, Fusco marveled with envy at how much his friend could eat. He teased her about how dangerous it was to put his hand near her when she was eating. Bear had to explain that this was a way humans made themselves feel better – by comparing themselves to the four legged superior beings.

“He sure is barking a lot tonight,” Fusco said because they could all hear Bear during dinner.

“He has a lot to explain apparently,” Root smiled.

“You telling me you understand every word he says?” Fusco asked suspiciously.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Lionel. He’s barking now, he’s not using words,” Root clarified.

“You now it’s crazy, but I swear sometimes I understand exactly what he wants,” the kind hearted man shared.

Crazy’s not a word I would use if my girlfriend were, you know, a shrink,” Shaw smirked.

“So, will you two do like couples therapy, now that you’re both going to the same therapist and all?” Fusco teased as he ate another piece of the finest steak he ever tasted.

“You know I’m the only thing that stands between you and more of that steak right? “ Shaw said as Fusco threw caution to the wind and went off his diet.

Uncle,” Fusco said immediately because he hadn’t eaten anything so good since the reception.

Everyone finished dinner and there wasn’t anything left by the time they did. “Well, I guess that’s it for the night,” Shaw said, pushing back her plate.

“Geez, Shaw, it will take you hours to work that off,” Fusco reminded her.

“I don’t see that as a problem,” Root retorted, pushing her foot up Sameen’s leg.

“You should go,” Shaw said, turning to look at her friend.

“Yeah, I better. Thanks for dinner,” Lionel said and got up and said good night.

He offered to help Isabelle with the dishes, but she assured him she would take care of everything before she left. Even she knew better than to stay too long.

By the time everyone was on their way, the dogs had been walked and the newlyweds were getting settled in bed.

Root slipped alongside Shaw and began rubbing her back. “Thank you for going with him, today,” Root said because she knew it was a bad neighborhood.

“I have a feeling our lives are going to be one impulsive mission after another,” Shaw thought out loud.

“Speaking of impulsive,” Root cooed and began stroking Shaw’s lower body. “I feel it is my absolute duty to preoccupy and exhaust you tonight,” she informed Sameen, and began a trail of kisses from her shoulder, across her breasts where she lingered until both were covered, and downward, across her stomach, until she touched her so softly, Sameen shivered.

But Sameen resisted the enormous temptation to give in. “Now, this...,” she said, grabbing her wife and flipping her over, before she was satisfied, “… is impulsive.” Shaw straddled Root’s legs and took either side of her pajama top, and pulled hard. Buttons went flying in the bed as Root lay their exposed and inviting.

“God, I love when you’re spontaneous,” Root squealed as Sameen touched her skin everywhere.

“Oh, I can do spontaneous,” Shaw affirmed as she took full advantage of her position and held Root in place as she invaded her mouth with her tongue.

Root made every attempt to push up, to gain the dominant spot back, but Sameen simply wasn’t having any of that. She playfully reminded Root she could bench press more than she weighed.

“That is so hot,” Root said as Sameen continued her journey.

Soon enough, Shaw’s deliberate ministrations induced an uninhibited cry of ecstasy from Root’s mouth, at the same time as Root’s motions injected a tidal wave of power throughout Sameen’s body.

They do that a lot, too,’ Bear was barking downstairs, to explain the noise coming from the bedroom.

The puppy settled into her new home, right next to the dog who saved her. Any loud noise from the streets startled her, but Bear would just put his paw around her and pull her back in.

For the first time in her little puppy life, she was safe.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Lionel.

Chapter Text

Root’s best intentions were working perfectly until Bear decided he needed Shaw.

This is how you wake them,’ he barked softly to his protégé. The puppy put her front paws on the bed and watched carefully as Bear gently nudged, then licked, Shaw’s face.

Shaw stirred, but didn’t respond.

You better get back; she’s grumpy when you do this,’ Bear explained. The puppy backed off the bed and sat at attention.

Next, Bear nuzzled his cold nose on Shaw’s neck. “Root, that’s cold,” Shaw laughed, still asleep.

How was he ever going to explain all there was to understand about these complicated two legged people to a puppy?

Next, he barked loudly – and Shaw shot up in bed. Disoriented and immediately annoyed, she grabbed her head and then felt her wet face. “I’m going to …,” she started to threaten the dog who never took her seriously, but noticed the apprehensive puppy looking on. “This better be good,” Shaw snapped at Bear.

Bear barked that it was imperative. He had been sleeping when he heard the constant buzzing of Shaw’s phone going off.

“You know she owns you, right?” Shaw asked as Bear bent down, picked up her phone that had been vibrating, and dropped it in her lap.

Shaw looked down and noticed it wasn’t as late as she thought, and that there were several missed calls. “Why is Joss calling me?” Shaw asked and redialed the number.

“Shaw?” Joss said when she picked up. “Oh, thank God. Listen, is Fusco with you? He’s not picking up.”

“No, he left a couple of hours ago,” Shaw estimated as she put her feet over the side of the bed. “What do you mean, he’s not picking up? Where’s Lee?”

“He’s with me and Taylor, he’s fine. It’s not like Fusco to not be home when Lee is going to be there,” Joss explained.

“Did you call…,” Shaw started to ask.

“I didn’t want to worry her,” Joss answered because she was a good cop and knew how to handle these things. “He’s not answering,” she repeated, meaning he certainly would even if he was with Iris.

“Sweetie?” Root said, hearing Shaw’s voice and reaching for her.

Just then, Shaw noticed a strange number coming. “Let me call you right back,” Shaw said. She quickly turned to Root. “Joss says Fusco isn’t answering his phone.” With that, Shaw put her phone on speaker and answered the call. “Hello?”

“Is this the lady who stole my dog?” the man’s voice asked.

“Who is this?” Shaw asked back.

“I’m the guy who had his dog stolen. Remember me?” he asked sarcastically.

As soon as the puppy heard his voice, she cowered under Bear and whimpered. Bear began growling towards the phone.

“Listen, you’re not getting the dog back,” Shaw informed him.

“Oh, I think you’ll bring her to me when you find out I have your cop friend,” he updated her.

Shaw shot up out of bed. “Listen to me you scum bag, that’s an NYPD Detective you got,” she snapped.

“Yes, I know; I found his badge and his gun,” the man said. “Now, either you bring me the dog that I spent weeks training, or I make your cop my drug mule – after I kill him.”

Shaw’s head bobbed, her breathing labored as she tried to sound calm. “Where?” she asked.

“Warehouse on 17th Street and Twelfth Avenue. Just you and my dog. If you bring anyone else, especially that attack dog of yours, I’ll shoot your friend, several times.” Then, to make his point, he put his phone on Facetime so she could see Lionel tied up in a chair. It was obvious his face had been struck.

Then, the call ended.

“What will we do?” Root asked, getting up out of bed and grabbing some clothes. Shaw was doing the same and trying to formulate their best plan.

“We need one of those dog carrying cases,” Shaw said and Bear pulled the puppy in closer. He wasn’t quite sure what humans did when it was between one of his own, and one of theirs.

By the time they drove to the location, Shaw had explained what she thought was the best course of action. It really helped to have a tech genius for a wife.

“And I’ll have this, just in case,” Root said, taking out a high powered rifle from the trunk of the car.

“Okay…,” Shaw stopped and noticed, “… that is hot.”

“Thanks,” Root replied, as the two of them got into position.

Sameen carried the heavy dog crate and walked with it to the warehouse. She went through the doorway the man instructed her go to. He didn’t want any attention from the people he worked for, so he chose not to include anyone on this adventure.

“Sonova,” Shaw said when she walked in and saw her friend; his face swollen from the blows.

“Put that down and take out your gun,” the man said, holding a gun on her.

“Lionel,” Shaw said as she did what the man requested. “You okay?”

“Peachy,” Fusco replied because he would never give the guy the satisfaction.

“You know, as luck would have it, as I was leaving the ER for my dog bite from your nasty dog, I looked over and saw my dog leaving the vet. So, I followed you to that fancy apartment. You would think a chick with money wouldn’t go around stealing other people’s dogs,” he said and waved his gun at Shaw to put the crate down.

Fusco looked over at Shaw and the crate. It was moving and the puppy was making whimpering sounds inside.

“So, I waited and noticed this guy carrying dog food in. A couple of hours later, I grabbed him,” the man said.

“He pistol whipped me,” Lionel elaborated.

“That’s got to hurt,” Shaw said, sympathetically.

“Why did you steal my dog? Who the hell are you?” the man asked, thinking he had it under control.

“Ordinarily, I’d be the girl kicking your sorry ass,” Shaw smiled. “But you woke me up from a dead sleep and I’m tired.”

“I don’t care,” the man said.

“You should. Because you see, I’m fasting for some stupid blood test tomorrow which means I’m not going to have my usual delicious breakfast,” Shaw felt it important to explain as she sat on the chair.

“She gets really grumpy,” Lionel said, stalling because he hoped his friend had a plan.

“Plus,” Shaw added, “… he was doing me a favor when you abducted him. So, now, I’m never going to hear the end of that.”

“She’s right. I’m holding this over your head for months, Shaw,” Lionel confirmed.

“See?” Shaw said to the man who felt like he was caught in the middle of a lovers’ quarrel.

“Shut up! I just want my stupid dog,” he said and bent down to the crate. He pulled open the latch and shoved his hand inside to pull out the puppy he heard crying.

Lionel was waiting for Shaw to jump him, but she sat there smiling. She was waiting for Root’s device to do its job.

The soft fur he felt led the guy to believe he was grabbing his dog. But instead, he was clutching a fur covered device that, once he touched it, shot enough volts through him to propel him backwards. Now, Shaw was up and disarming him; her foot on his throat.

“You hurt innocent dogs and that really pisses me off. Ordinarily, I’d let the cops take care of you,” she whispered as she kicked his gun away. “But I’m going to let you off the hook because when your boss finds out you don’t have your mule dog, I bet he’s going to do a lot worse to you.”

Fusco watched as Shaw waved her gun at him and he pulled himself up on the chair. She was walking over to her friend when she changed her mind.

“Oh, hey!” Sameen called out and turned back. “This…,” she said right before shooting him in the kneecap, “….is for hurting my friend.”

The guy flew backwards onto the floor in agony and only then noticed the red dot on his chest, warning him not try anything.

Sameen walked over and untied her friend. She looked up in the rafters and winked at Root, who had a gun on him the whole time.

“You okay, there, Lionel?” Shaw asked and only used his first name when she was worried about him.

“Joss got Lee?” he asked immediately.

“Yeah, she says you owe her overtime for babysitting him though,” Shaw kidded.

Lionel walked outside with Shaw and Root met up with them, once she was certain they weren’t being followed. Off in the distance, they heard cop cars approaching.

“We better get out of here,” Shaw said and the three of them got in the car and took off. “Tell Joss you’re okay,” Shaw instructed. “I’m taking you somewhere you can get cleaned up.”

With that she drove to Iris Campbell’s apartment. “Put ice on that, okay? I don’t want you looking all freaky on me tomorrow. I have a tough enough day,” Shaw said, trying to sound annoyed.

Lionel knew his friend well enough to know what she really meant. “Yeah, I love you too, Shaw,” he called back to her, as Iris opened the door – shocked to see her boyfriend there in that state. She pulled him inside immediately to tend to his wounds.

The couple drove back from the successful mission and went back to bed.

“We took care of him,” Shaw said to Bear who then assured his friend she was okay. In spite of the late hour, the puppy was expressing her gratitude in a continuous stream of high pitched barks. “Okay, yes, you’re welcome. Go to sleep now,” Shaw begged as Root figured out what to do.

“Take your shirt off,” she said to her wife.

“Root, please, I’m exhausted and I’m pretty sure the lack of food in the morning is already making me weak,” Shaw moaned.

“No, silly,” Root said, pulling Shaw’s t-shirt off.

“Root, I am….,” Shaw was protesting when she realized that Root had rolled up the article of clothing and given it to the puppy. The canine laid down on it and stopped barking immediately.

“See?” Root cooed as she got back into bed. “Everyone just wants to be near you.”

“That was my favorite Yankees t-shirt,” Shaw pointed out, her voice softer as she drifted off to sleep.

“Oh,” Root said, hoping Bear would teach the pup not to rip other people’s clothing.

After a full day of training, Bear was too exhausted to do anything.

Chapter Text

Root read the headlines the next day - Drug Dealer Gets Shock of His Life – which the police concluded when they found him crying on the warehouse floor and the heavily charged faux dog.

Root put her phone down and stroked Sameen’s back lightly to ease her awakening. “Good morning, Sweetie,” Root whispered, and placed soft kisses on Shaw’s bare shoulder.

“Good morning,” Shaw said, smiling and enjoying the sensation of goosebumps on her skin.

“I thought we’d sleep in late this morning and go right into work,” Root explained.

“Maybe they could airlift me right to the blood work,” Shaw laughed as Root leaned in to kiss her.

“I could make that happen,” said the woman who owned a helicopter.

But - the woman who could make all things right for Shaw was about to step on something that wouldn’t be so easily fixed.

“Oh, oh,” Root let out when her foot hit the floor.

“If that dog peed in our bedroom…,” Shaw warned, not yet warming up to what it was to own a puppy.

“Not quite,” Root said and then stood up and grabbed Sameen when she rounded the bed. “Now, Sweetie, remember – material things can be replaced…,” Root tried as Sameen looked down in horror at a piece of gray cloth with her favorite baseball team’s logo on it.

“SHE CHEWED MY SHIRT?” Shaw yelled, not yet having the energy for that. Her voice actually squeaked and the sensitive hearing mammals heard it downstairs.

“The important thing is no one got hurt last night,” Root said, attempting to distract Sameen. It was ineffective at best.

“Well, someone’s going to get hurt now! That’s my … where are they?” Shaw asked, taking off and going downstairs.

“She’s a puppy, sweetie. They do that when their teething,” Root explained, following Sameen.

Hearing the commotion, Bear got himself and the puppy into position. ‘Watch and learn,’ he barked. H already knew it Shaw’s favorite shirt, but the puppy had been rambunctious, and tore it to pieces anyway.

“This was… my…,” Shaw was trying to yell, but Bear had perfected the guilty look – and was using it now on behalf on his cohort. Big brown eyes looked up at Shaw in pathetic submission. “Well…, okay… look, it’s not your fault,” Shaw said, because it didn’t make sense that Bear would be responsible for the puppy’s actions.

Bear walked closer to Shaw, his body language clearly stating how sorry he was, while the puppy sat there – panting and watching.

“It’s okay,” Shaw said, as Bear put his head under her hand and whined. “Forget it, I’ll get another one,” she said and Root hugged her around the shoulders.

That’s how it’s done,’ Bear barked to the ingénue, but she was processing it a little differently. She wanted to show Bear that she could be his protector, too.

“You!” Shaw said, in a calm tone to the puppy. “No!” That was the extent of Sameen’s dog training knowledge. She turned to walk away when she felt something tugging on her sock. Hoping to impress Bear, the puppy was now pulling at Shaw’s ankle.

“Really?” Shaw said to Bear who moved over quickly to disengage the youth.

Root was busy biting her lower lip at the display of Shaw versus Beast. “Let’s get you to work. Daan will be here to take care of them,” Root said, and walked Sameen back upstairs to get dressed.

“How about I meet you right after your physical and we get something to eat?” Root asked when they arrived at work.

“YES!” Shaw said, her stomach already growling miserably. “Wait, you mean –eat like breakfast, right? Like food?” she asked just to be clear.

“Really, Sameen,” Root teased her wife, “… is sex all you can think of?”

“Right!” Shaw countered loudly, forgetting she was in a crowded elevator now. “I’m the one who can’t stop thinking about sex! Right!” she blurted out.

Her statements reached everyone’s ears, but no one dared look at her. “I… eh…,” Shaw attempted to clear things up, but Root simply leaned in and kissed her.

“I’ll see you later,” she said as she kissed her wife goodbye.

Before Shaw went to her physical, she wanted to see Iris.

“Hey,” Shaw said when she saw her in the hallway. “I wanted to see if … everything… was okay.”

“Yes,” Iris said, bending her rule on discussing personal issues with clients because she knew Sameen was worried. “Everything … is better this morning. In fact, everything … insisted on going to work.”

“Really? Well, I could kick everything’s ass for you, if you want?” Shaw offered, but Iris told her she thought it would be okay. Sameen was reserving her right to do that later anyway.

The doctor had been warned that his first patient of the day would probably arrive with her assistant. Janine was waiting right there for Sameen when she got there.

“What… are you doing?” Shaw asked as the woman walked in with her.

“I want to make sure everything is okay,” Janine explained because this was her life’s mission.

“I don’t have the strength to do crazy this morning,” Shaw countered.

“Good, then it’s settled,” Janine said and greeted the doctor and told him that he was to take very good care of Sameen.

“I take good care of all my patients,” the man tried, because he had no idea what he was up against.

He introduced himself to Shaw, explained what he was going to do, and proceeded with the blood work. When he put the stethoscope on Shaw’s chest, Janine was right next to them, watching him. “Do you always…?” he tried to ask his patient, but Sameen waved him off.

“She’s a force to be reckoned with,” is all Sameen could say.

He took Sameen through the paces of the next steps, which included a stress test, and other various measurements.

“Blood pressure is good, heart rate is that of an Olympic athlete,” he reported and Janine’s smile was that of a proud parent.

At the end of the exam, he said pending her blood work; he thought he could pronounce Sameen fit for duty.

“Let’s go,” Janine directed and told Shaw she was to escort her to Root’s office.

“Root? Told you to escort me?” Shaw asked suspiciously.

“Shaw!” Janine said, as she pressed the elevator button. “You haven’t eaten in hours! I’m not taking the chance that something will happen to you on the way up there.”

“All that CIA training down the train,” Shaw mused.

Reminiscent of the CIA, Janine delivery of Shaw to Root’s office was nothing short of a military handoff. “Package is delivered,” Shaw said as Janine left.

“I’ve gotten used to her being your shadow,” Root pondered.

“You have to invent something that will decode her,” Shaw countered.

Maybe it was the shortage of caloric intake that was affecting Sameen, because she started to feel lightheaded. “The doctor said the blood work will be back tomorrow,” Shaw reported.

“Well, we can do whatever adjustments we need to, you know, if we have to,” Root said, concerned about her wife’s carnivorous diet.

Playing with Root’s glasses that were tossed on the desk, Shaw put them on. “I’ve got it all figured it out,” she began. “I’ll make a Ulysses Contract.”

The sight of Shaw in glasses was making it hard to Root’s brain synapses to fire. Then, hearing intellectual proposals coming out of her mouth was sending the genius over the edge. “A… what?”

“A Ulysses Contract; you know, where I make an agreement with my future self,” Shaw pontificated as she stood up as if she were leading a lecture.

“A Ulysses…,” Root repeated, but was too preoccupied with staring at Shaw.

Getting into her act now, without realizing the effect she was having, Sameen whipped off her glasses and said; “You see, it’s not enough to just make resolutions, Ms. Groves. One must have actionable steps to carry through on those….”

But that was as far as Shaw got in her scholarly speech.

“Actionable steps,” Root repeated as she pulled Sameen in and kissed her hard. “Say it again,” Root pleaded, unable to express what a turn on this was.

“Actionable steps,” Shaw said, seductively running her tongue over her top lip, and smiling at her wife.

Root pushed Sameen back on the desk as she swept papers out of her way. “God, I love it when you talk…”

“Dirty?” Shaw teased.

“That, too,” Root said, running her hands up the length of her wife, unable to keep them off her. “I want to do it with you in a library,” Root whispered in Shaw’s ear.

“Well, after my performance in the elevator this morning, the library will be a piece of cake,” Shaw mused. “Cake,” she repeated. “Root, I’m starving.” Root pulled back and gave Sameen her face that was as close to admonishment as Root ever got. “I’m really hungry,” the carnivore lamented.

Root shook her head and smiled understandably. “Okay, but then you’re meeting me at the library later.”

“You have a library?” Shaw asked as Root continued to play with her hair.

“The big one – on 42nd and 5th,” Root explained.

“Deal,” said the woman who was suddenly aware of how famished she was.

Root sat at the table, watching with adoring eyes as her wife consumed what some people would consider breakfast, and then lunch. When her friend, the owner of Parks Deli heard that her favorite customer had been fasting, she fixed her order without any of the typical argument. Coming over to the table, the woman dropped the bag in front of Sameen. “Don’t think I do this every day,” she barked because the terse banter was part of what made the food taste so good for Shaw.

“Did I ask you to do this?” Shaw answered back.

The only thing that could ruin her favorite sandwich was pleasantries.

“No more,” the woman answered gruffly and walked away, winking at Root before she did. While most people enjoyed their meals with a side of salad, Sameen Shaw enjoyed hers with a full plate of irritation.

Shaw had her mouth full of the delicious pastrami when Root asked; “What should we name the puppy?” which actually made Sameen stop mid-chew.

“WHA?” Shaw asked. “No, no, no….,” she said, swallowing and wiping her mouth because she felt this was very important. “Root, if you name her… you know… it will… be harder to… you know….to…,” Shaw really wanted her brilliant wife to fill in that blank correctly.

“I know!” Root said, and Sameen breathed a sigh of relief until Root finished her thought. “…get her to come to you,” she filled in incorrectly, according to Shaw.

“No, no, Root,” Shaw said, taking Root’s hand in hers now, “… a puppy… is… a lot… there’s the constant feeding, the difficult training, the constant barking!”

“I know! Won’t if be fun!” the dog lover asked.

“But shouldn’t we… share that?” Shaw tried weakly. “Maybe Fusco wants a dog? You saw how crazy he was about her. Or Janine! She lives alone and could use the companionship.”

Root’s pursed her lips, and tilted her head sideways – the entire expression saying – “Nice try, Shaw.” “I think Bear should have a say in this,” Root concluded.
Sameen believed in fighting fire with an extinguisher the size of Rhode Island, but she did see Root’s point. “Okay, but if he’s okay with it, we’ll check with Fusco and Janine. Or my mother? Hey, Martine loves dogs,” Shaw listed as they finished.

“I’ll see you after work,” Root cooed as she reminded Sameen where to meet. She kissed the lips that seemed to be moving as Shaw put her plan together.

Shaw – was going to find the puppy’s new owner.

Root – was simply going to tell Bear.

It was about to be an all-out puppy fest.

Chapter Text

Okay, that was close,’ Bear told his protégé after his pets left.

‘I can take her,’ the puppy growled and Bear shook his head at her naiveté.

We don’t take them,’ he explained. ‘We train them, we play with them, and we protect them. The list of what we do for them is exhausting.’

‘Oh,’ said the younger canine who was trying to get her head around this. ‘Let’s play,’ said the furry boundless ball of energy.

Bear looked over at Daan who seemed to be of no help at keeping the youngster occupied. So, Bear threw the ball to him – hoping he remembered what he was supposed to do with it. Fortunately, he did and he began playing with the puppy.

This was going to work out just fine, Bear decided.

He didn’t know at the moment that Sameen was doing her best to upset his plans.

“How you feeling, Fusco?” Sameen said, stopping in at the station.

“How do you think I’m feeling? Like I got hit with the butt of a gun. Oh, wait, I did,” Fusco whispered.

“You’re healing nicely, though,” Shaw said and kept smiling and making Fusco suspicious. “I mean it’s done wonders for your cheery disposition.”

“What do you want now?” he asked, but he wasn’t upset; he really meant it.

“I was just thinking, you know, how … what’s that expression – Man’s best friend? That maybe you and Lee want to adopt that puppy,” Shaw said as if it was the greatest idea since sliced bread.

“Shaw?” Lionel said quietly. “Look at me, please,” he said to make sure he had her attention. When he was sure he did he said – “No!”

“Come on, Fusco. She’s adorable and you loved her and she was so taken with you,” Shaw tried.

“I thought for sure Root would keep her,” he said, ignoring his friend and going back to his mound of paperwork. “Here, put this in alphabetical order,” he said, handing her a stack.

“What am I ….oh, fine,” Shaw thought better and accepted the work. “Well, it’s not decided yet, but I thought if I found her a really good home, Root might consider it.”

“I think you’re barking up the wrong tree here, Shaw,” Fusco said over his glasses and then got hysterical laughing.

Joss walked to her desk with two cups of coffee. “What are you two up to? Fusco, you got anything on that drug dealer who got shot? The guys in Anti-Crime were hoping we’d know something.”

“Carter, want a dog?” Shaw asked.

“Why, you got one?” Joss asked.

“Yes, a German Shepherd puppy and she’s adorable,” Shaw said without thinking.

“Oh, yeah?” Joss asked and that pricked her attention because the guys were telling her about the incident last night where the perp was yelling his dog was stolen. “You got papers on her?”

“Papers? Like is she trained?” asked the woman who didn’t grow up with dogs.

“You know, papers,” Joss said slowly, without looking up. “Bill of sales, adoption receipt, a note from your mother.”

Shaw looked at Fusco. “What is she talking about?”

Joss tossed the paper with the incident update onto Fusco’s desk. “So, there are lots of dogs stolen,” he said without reacting.

“Perp said an angry Persian sociopath shot him after taking his dog,” Joss said, sipping her coffee so no one could see her lips moving.

“I resent that,” Shaw said, not realizing she just confessed to a crime in a police station. “I mean… on behalf of Persians.”

“Damn, that fan makes it so hard to hear in here. Doesn’t it Fusco? Talk to her,” Joss said through gritted teeth as she went to get, yet another cup of coffee.

“Maybelline!” he said and smacked Shaw’s leg. “Carter is by the book. She’s not going to rewrite it like I do to accommodate you.”

“Oh, yeah,” Shaw said, wishing she could take that back.

Fusco picked up the paper. “Wow, they recovered evidence at the scene,” he said and was warning his friend.

“I better go,” Shaw said, wondering if Root could take care of this.

“Shaw?” Fusco said, taking back his paperwork. “Be careful.”

“That’s my middle name,” she laughed, trying to assure him as she walked out.

“No, your middle name is “Do as I please,” Fusco corrected her.

Sameen left the station and called Root. “Hey, I may or may not have just implicated myself…”

“It’s done,” Root said in the calmest voice.

“It’s done or I’m done?” Shaw asked, to be sure.

“Meet me at the library. Go to the main desk and ask for this book; JMF-05-607,” Root instructed.

Shaw grumbled, but she did it. She trusted Root to mean it was taken care of.

Root in the meantime, went back to her laptop in the reading room of the library and typed the instructions in to the machine. The evidence system at the station was immediately infiltrated and numbers were scrambled. John Reese was dispatched with false documents that allowed him access to the evidence room where shell casings were collected and a certain dog crate was misplaced.

As he left the station, Fusco was coming back in from getting a sandwich when he passes a familiar looking face in the hallway.

“Detective,” Reese said as he passed Fusco as if they were buddies on the force.

“Right,” Fusco said, not stopping for a second. He looked up at the internal camera and wondered how long it would be offline.

Shaw did as she was told and requested the book at the main desk in the massive structure of the New York Public Library.

“This way, please,” the librarian said and walked Shaw in the direction of the library stacks. “You’ll find your book all the way down there.” With that, he handed her a duffle bag and walked away.

“Okay, this isn’t weird at all,” Shaw said and her phone beeped. She looked down at Root’s message. ‘Get changed.’

Sameen opened the bag and found a black dress, high heels, and glasses. “How does she keep her mind on dress-up when I just confessed,” she asked.

‘Because there’s no evidence, silly,’ Root texted her.

“I hope you’re right,” Shaw said and looked around to make sure no one could see her change into her play clothes. It actually was a very nice dress and Sameen liked the feel of it on her skin. She took out the black heels and glasses. “What librarian do you know that ever looked like this?” Shaw quipped as she pulled her hair up in a bun.

My kind,’ Root texted back. ‘Get your book,’ the next text read and Sameen pushed her clothes into the bag and did as her wife requested.

“Of course,” she smiled as she looked at the call numbers on the books until she found hers. It was a large volume and when she went to remove it, there was her wife peeking at her.

“Hi,” Root smiled from the other aisle.

“Hey,” Shaw smiled back. “How to Name Your Pet?” she said, holding the book that Root asked her to find.

“Subtle, eh?” Root asked.

“Very,” Shaw smirked.

With that, Root disappeared and while Shaw was looking for her through the open space, she appeared at the end of the aisle. “Excuse me,” she said, getting into character. “Do you have this book?”

“Oh, right, I’m the librarian,” Shaw said, always a step behind the creator of these imaginings. “They always dress in heels and tight cocktail dresses,” she noted. “Sure, I can help,” Shaw said, clearing her throat and wishing some instructions came with these games.

Root walked closer – in fact, in Sameen’s space as she handed her the title of the book. “God, you look so hot,” Root exclaimed, pulling back and staring at her wife from head to toe.

“I think it’s over here,” Shaw said in a voice she made up and started walking away, swaying her hips as she did. She bent over – all the way – to look at the bottom shelf. “Is this it?” she asked. “Women’s Top Ten Fantasies,” Shaw made up the title.

“Ten?” Root asked, certain they had covered more than that.

“It’s a volume set,” Shaw the librarian replied quickly, pulling her glasses down just a bit.

“Oh, then I’m looking for the one,” Root whispered as she joined the ‘librarian’, “… on how to do it in a library.”

“Oh, that’s very popular,” Shaw said, in her fake voice, “That would be his one,” she said, and retrieved another book that had nothing to do with the topic. “Let’s see,” she said, opening it up. “Here it is; first, find a very quiet library.”

“Done,” Root replied, almost out of breath.

“Next, make sure no one is around,” Shaw made up.

“Oh, but that’s half the fun,” Root countered.

“Then, take your lover and gently and quietly, push them up against the stacks,” Shaw said, pulling her hair loose and shaking it out.

“Holy crap,” Root said, sounding more like her wife. She was easy prey for the seductive librarian who pulled her in, pushed up against the books and started kissing her. Root enjoyed the freedom of playing out fantasies, but nothing sent her over the edge so quickly as when Shaw was a willing participant.

“To reach maximum overload,” Shaw said as if she were still reading the how-to book, “… insert here.” Her hand slipped under Root’s dress and pressed on her fiery core. Root pulled Sameen in when the noise of other patrons started to distract her.

There, in the quiet, Sameen helped Root live out yet another of her fantasies. Without removing an article of clothing, Shaw delighted her wife with the sweet invasion of skillful fingers.
It wasn’t hard for anyone within earshot to guess that something was going on in the corner when Root yelled out – “OH MY GOD!”

“What is going on over there?” someone asked the librarian who actually worked there.

“Oh, one of our most generous benefactors is examining … the library,” he smiled.

There was a loud noise of books being pushed off shelves as Root – not so gently – pulled Sameen onto the floor.

“It’s fine,” the librarian smiled politely to the other patrons.

Back at home, Bear was noticing the difference between himself and the new addition.

She didn’t have a name.

‘We’ll work on that tonight,’ he told her.

Chapter Text

As the couple lay on their backs in the middle of the aisle of the New York Public Library, Sameen broke out in a soft laughter. Her knee was bent up, with Root's hand on her exposed thigh.

“What’s so funny?” Root asked, making the tiniest circle with her index finger on Sameen’s skin. The more Shaw thought about it the more she laughed. “What?” Root said, laughing with her even though she was unsure of why.

“Oh, Root,” Shaw said, out of breath from giggling. “I was trained to carry out missions in the most dangerous situations, you know,” the former operative mused. “But you – you get me to do the wildest things in the strangest circumstances,” Shaw said, and leaned over Root and kissed her. “I’d follow you anywhere. Even to the stacks in the library,” she laughed when she was done.

“It’s fun, isn’t it?” Root inquired.

“Any place is, with you,” Shaw agreed.

“Have I told you that I love you?” Root asked, putting her leg over Sameen’s as the couple lay there without a care in the world.

“How much?” Shaw asked.

“More than any written language can express,” Root answered seriously, running her finger the length of the very personal tattoo on Sameen’s left arm. “My arrow,” she uttered and almost felt lightheaded with the thought.

“I am,” Shaw declared.

The couple emerged sometime later, holding hands, and smiling at the other visitors. People stared as the duo passed, looking very much in love.

Shaw could tell from the look in some of the other patron's eyes as they eyed her wife up and down - just what they were thinking.  Bending down to one's ear Shaw whispered; "Better than any of your dreams."

"What did you say?" Root asked.

"Nothing," Shaw fibbed and pulled Root down the long marble steps.

It wasn’t until they were in the elevator on their way to the apartment that Sameen remembered to tell Root she was working on getting the puppy a new home.

“Oh?” Root said, her plan already in place. She nonchalantly pressed her phone to send the message.

“Dog your battle stations!” Isabelle said and then felt embarrassed when the two dogs looked up at her. “It was a play… on words… never mind,” she said as she helped put things in place. “Remember, not until after she’s eaten.”

Shaw was very surprised that Root didn’t have more to say about the puppy issue, but got distracted when she stepped into the apartment and the aroma of her favorite meal greeted her. “Steak?” she asked as if there were any doubt.

“Yes,” Isabelle smiled.

“With potatoes?” Shaw asked as if they didn’t always accompany the steak.

“Just the way you like them; plenty of butter,” said the woman who was in on the plan to butter Shaw up.

Shaw sat down immediately at the kitchen counter and Isabelle started to serve the food.

“Don’t you look lovely,” Isabelle said and Shaw thanked her.

“We were at the library,” Root beamed.

“Hey, Isabelle, why don’t you take the puppy,” Shaw asked, thinking she’d strike while the iron was hot.

“Me? Oh, no, I couldn’t,” Isabelle politely protested and handed Sameen more steak.

Sameen and Root finished dinner, including Sameen’s favorite desserts. “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that woman was trying to bribe me,” Shaw laughed as they walked into the living room where Phase Two was about to begin.

Sitting on the couch now, the women were approached by Bear. Worried that he was leaving this whole plan in the hands of the two-legged, he had devised his own.

“Bear, don’t you have something for Sameen?” Root asked as they sat on the couch.

Bear barked and the puppy dragged the bag that he gave her across the floor and stopped. Bear barked again, reminding her they had rehearsed this. She picked it up one more time  and brought it over to Sameen.

“What is this?” Shaw asked, bending down and picking it up. “Did you pick this out all by yourself?” she asked when she saw the new Yankees t-shirt. “Thank you,” Shaw said, petting the pup and all seemed good until Shaw added, “… I still say Fusco’s our best choice. I mean, we did just rescue him.”

“We did get him kidnapped,” Root pointed out.

Bear looked at Root whom he mistakenly took to be out of ideas.

Phase Three was about to begin.

He put his head down on Sameen’s lap and gave her the most wanting, pathetic look he could muster. “There’s a good boy,” Shaw said, mistaking his performance for neediness.

Bear looked at Root and shook his head. “No, she’s not,” Root argued quietly while Sameen turned on the television. She wasn’t about to let Bear complain that her wife was thickheaded.

Bear decided it was time for the big performance. ‘Just like we practiced,’ he barked quietly to the puppy, who sat at attention.

The puppy went over and fell at Shaw’s feet. She looked at Bear, who looked at the distracted Shaw and barked to take it up a notch. The puppy began whining.

“Oh, what’s wrong with her, do you think, Sameen?” Root asked and if Bear could have winked, he would have.

“What?” Shaw asked and looked down. “Are you okay?” she asked and petted the listless dog. “She seems… very un-puppy like.”

“Yes, she does,” Root said on cue. The ruse was supposed to be the puppy acting adorable and irresistible. She was acting more… sickly.

“Come here,” Shaw said, sliding off the couch in her cocktail dress and onto the floor next to the dog. “Does she look sick to you?”

“Let me see,” Root said and looked over. She did, in fact, not look well.

The vet was called and no one was more surprised than Bear who simply thought his friend was the canine Meryl Streep.

“She’s like … not doing anything,” Shaw said, her voice laced heavily with worry. “How do you reboot puppies?”

“Just hold her until the doctor gets here,” Root said and the man arrived within a half hour.

The puppy shook with fear when the man came near her and Shaw insisted on holding her while he examined her. Root watched as Sameen spoke softly, assuring the puppy that she was okay.

“I’m going to give her a shot that should boost her immune system. Keep her warm through the night. I suggest someone stay with her in case she gets worse. We’ll know in the morning if she’s okay,” he said. “Oh, and I would keep the other guy away from her. You don’t want him to get it, if it’s anything serious.”

Bear was upset and the only one who could assure him was Root. “I’ll stay with her,” Shaw volunteered when the vet left. “You take Bear upstairs. We don’t want him to get anything,” she decided.

Root kissed her wife goodnight and made up the couch for her. But Sameen continued to sit on the floor with the lethargic puppy.

Root… and Bear… watched through the banister from the upstairs landing. “See? This is why having puppies is hard,” they heard Shaw say. “You’re needy, whiny, eating all the time. But you’re adorable. Hmm; you actually remind me of me,” Shaw laughed softly as the puppy slept in her arms.

“Isn’t she just the best,” Root cooed softly to Bear.

Root got up very early to find her wife and the puppy missing. Bear ran downstairs ahead of her, just as Shaw was coming in with the canine patient. “Look who’s all better!” Shaw said as she walked in. The dog barked hello to Bear, but wouldn’t leave Sameen’s side.

“Are you okay?” Root asked Shaw, happy to see the puppy back to her exuberant self.

“Yes and watch this,” Shaw said and walked across the entry way. As she expected, the puppy followed right behind her. To further demonstrate it, Shaw walked into the living room and stopped. The dog followed. No matter how many times Shaw put distance between them, the puppy closed in on her.

“It’s like she’s your shadow,” Root mused, happy to see the connection.

“Root!” Shaw exclaimed. “That’s a great idea.”

“What is, Sweetie?” Root asked.

“We’ll call her… Shadow,” Shaw decided, looking down at the dark furry face.

Bear looked up at Root with a knowing look. He understood that once the pet selected a name for you, they were hooked. ‘My work here is done,’ Bear said going into the kitchen and getting breakfast.

“I think it’s a perfect name,” Root said, adding; “She does seem very attached to you.”

“Yeah, right?” Shaw said, unaware of the full impact of what was going on. “I never had a dog,” she shared.

“You do now,” Root contemplated out loud.

Shaw looked up at Root, then down at the puppy that was staring right back at her and wagging her tail furiously. “Oh,” she said, finally getting that she had been part and parcel to the very thing she had originally wanted to foil. “Are you sure Bear is okay with this?”

“Oh, I think so,” Root smiled, because there was no way Bear was letting go of his new friend.

“You know I don’t know anything about them, right?” Shaw questioned her wife.

“Daan will help,” Root said.

“What’s the worst that can happen?” Sameen asked because she really had no idea.

The puppy had now passed what Bear told her was the most important test. She had a name. ‘Not a bad name at all,’ he barked to her as they enjoyed their breakfast.

I own her now,’ Shadow barked, her mouth full of dog food.

Bear couldn’t help but notice the resemblance when he looked over at Shaw who was talking to Root - you guessed it – with her mouth full of food.

A little while later, Shaw was explaining to Shadow that she had to go to work and that she would be back later. “Call me if she needs anything, okay?” the new owner asked Isabelle.

“I will,” she promised. Then, turning to Root, the chef whispered to please let her know about the bloodwork results. “I have a lot of cleaning out to do if it doesn’t go well,” she whispered.

“You might hear it from the rooftops,” Root replied, hoping it didn’t come to that.

Chapter Text

Bear turned to see his pets leaving and then looked back at Shadow. Her face was covered in food. It slowly dawned on him who might be in charge of this dog’s upbringing. They’d be laughed out of Central Park if Shadow didn’t clean up her act - literally.

He had to speak to Root about this.

When the couple arrived at work, Root was caught between not wanting to make a big deal out Sameen’s test results, and wanting to be there to support her. “So, your blood work results come back today?” Root asked nonchalantly.

“What is everyone concerned about?” Shaw asked as if the world didn’t notice her terrible eating habits.

“We care,” Root said and her voice cracked.

“You all think he’s going to tell me that I have like terrible cholesterol or something, don’t you?” Shaw asked suspiciously; pursing her lips, raising an eyebrow.

“The thought did cross my mind,” Root said, her finger grazing Sameen’s bottom lip to soften the stare.

“I’ll have you know that I burn those calories I take in,” Shaw pointed out.

“I know you do,” Root smiled. “I can think of more ways for you to – you know – if you need to.”

“I bet you can,” Shaw smiled as she kissed her wife goodbye.

No one was more anxious about the impending results from the doctor than Janine. She had already researched various diets in case the doctor suggested one. There was a box filled with cookbooks for various cuisines in case she needed to give them to Isabelle.

“You going vegan on us?” Martine asked Janine when she stopped in to see Shaw. The woman knew what an adjustment that could be, considering she was dating one.

“No!” Janine said, closing the box. “This is in case…,” she said, looking around. “You know.”

Martine did not know. “In case there’s a run on beef?”

“No!” said the woman who knew her boss would be there any second. “In case someone’s doctor recommends a change of diet because of bloodwork results.”

“Do you mean…?”

“Shaw!” Janine said loudly as her boss entered.

It was typical for her assistant to have a weird look on her face, but it was another thing when Martine looked that way. “You okay?” she asked Martine.

“Me? Oh, yeah, I’m good,” Martine replied, wondering what her friend would do if they removed meat from her daily diet. “How about those Yankees?”

“How about them,” Shaw said and started at the two women.

“I gotta go… see Beef. I mean, Reese, Reese. I have to go,” Martine fumbled.

“She’s acting like you,” Shaw pointed out. “So, who are you today?”

“Me? Ha ha, I’m me,” Janine said, practically laying across the box with the books inside.

“Yes, you are,” Shaw rolled her eyes and went into her office.

For a department whose main purpose was security, there was nothing secret about Shaw’s tests. News of the assessment spread throughout BEAR and everyone was waiting. There was a company pool that heavily favored Shaw having to change her carnivorous diet. The owner of Parks Deli was especially concerned because if Shaw wasn’t there, there was no reason for her to open each day. Even Iris was warned that one of her patients could be dealing with difficult news that day. The vague update left the therapist wondering what it could be about.

“Put me down for five,” Shaw heard a familiar voice say. Seconds later, Fusco walked in with a bag of donuts. “Get your results?” he asked and Shaw stared at him.

“Are you betting on my blood work?” she asked, grabbing the bag away from him and looking in. “There better be jelly in here.”

“I’m partaking in an office pool,” he tried to defend himself.

“What are the odds?” Shaw asked calmly, biting into the large donut, the contents of which squirted out onto her t shirt.

“Not as good as the chances of you wearing more of that donut than eating it,” Fusco relayed. “I bet you’d do just fine, by the way.”

“I can’t believe you and the rest of this office have nothing better to do than to obsess over my health,” Shaw harrumphed.

“Oh, I don’t think it’s just your health there, Shaw,” Fusco spilled faster than the jelly did. He regretted it as soon as he said it.

“What does that mean?” Shaw barked and hit his arm; certain she wouldn’t like the answer.

“It’s your... reputation. It’s just that you get … a little intense… when you don’t eat,” he tried.

“What am I in a Snickers commercial?” Shaw complained.

“Actually, that’s a great analogy. Ask them if you can still eat candy,” Fusco said, snapping his fingers.

“Please don’t make me give the Homicide Department more business,” Shaw threatened, but he couldn’t understand her with the dough in her mouth.

“Hey, who did you sucker into taking the puppy?” Fusco asked, smelling the contents of the bag and closing his eyes.

Shaw stopped chewing. “I wathent tryingtosuckasomeun,” she said and Fusco took the bag away.

“Say it in English, please,” the detective begged.

“I wasn’t trying to sucker anyone. That dog would be a gift. Only someone really smart would want to keep her. She’s great,” Shaw protested too much.

“So, they pretty much suckered you into keeping her?” Fusco asked, connecting the dots. “How did they do that to you?”

“They – didn’t do anything,” Shaw argued. “She was sick and I took care of her and she bonded with me and now she won’t leave me alone!”

“Don’t you have one of those already?” he asked, and jerked his head toward Janine’s office. His hand slipped into the bag to tear off a piece of one of the donuts.

Shaw grabbed the bag back abruptly. “Aren’t you on a diet?”

“Don’t remind me,” Fusco said sadly. “Hey, how’s the big guy taking you having your own dog?”

“Bear? He’s fine,” Shaw said.

“Real-ly?” Fusco asked, planting a seed of doubt.

“Fusco, I think it was his idea,” Shaw admitted, now that she thought about it.

“Yeah, but he’s kind of use to have you to himself. He’s not jealous? You know that dog doesn’t know he’s a dog, right?” Fusco suggested. “Hey, speaking of which, I gotta go. I have a meeting with Animal Control about these reports we’re providing them with.”

Just then, Bear appeared in the doorway, looking very serious.

“Geez, it’s like he heard us,” Fusco whispered. “Shaw, he don’t look happy.”

“He’s fine, aren’t you, Bear?” Shaw asked and the dog just sat there, looking perturbed.

“Are you jealous?” Fusco came right out and asked, but Bear just stared at him. “Okay, on that sour note, I’m going. Let me know how you make out, Shaw.”

“Ah, I’m touched you care, Lionel,” Shaw said.

“I got money riding on this,” he explained, slipping past the canine who was next to see her.

Shaw stared at Bear as he stared back. “Got a bone to pick with me?” Shaw asked and cracked up laughing.

None of this was funny to him because his reputation was at stake here. Seconds later, Root appeared behind him.

“Hi,” Shaw said and went to kiss her wife, but Bear nudged them apart.

“Sweetie,” Root said and went into Shaw’s office to sit down across from her. Taking her hands, she looked into Shaw’s eyes. Bear barked when he thought they were taking too long. “Bear suggested that maybe it would be helpful if … You know when you get a new puppy and you’ve never had one?” Root segued.

“Actually, I do know that feeling since 8 o’clock this morning,” Shaw kidded and Bear shook his head. This was no time for joking.

“Well, Bear thought it would be great if we set up some training,” Root smiled.

“Oh, that’s a great idea,” Shaw said, seeing the need. “Daan?” she asked and Bear actually howled at the suggestion.

“Bear!” Root said, chastising the dog for being so snide. “No, we were thinking someone better skilled at dog training.”  Bear knew Shaw would break Daan in a minute.

“Okay, sure,” Shaw said. “Do they come to the house, or do we drop her off?”

Bear looked over immediately at Root. “Actually, you stay with her, you know, like I did with Bear.”

“You… had… him… trained?” Shaw laughed and fell back in her chair. She only apologized when Bear growled his displeasure.

“The point is that when you have a… a… companion… it’s good to learn the type of training that works best with them,” Root said.

Shaw leaned in closer to Root. “Tell me the truth; he thinks I’m the one who needs the training, doesn’t he?”

“Well, he’s just concerned that Shadow have … the best,” Root smiled.

“Fine, but when we take first place in doggie school,” Shaw said, her competitive nature always present, “…. I want a graduation party!”

“Yes!” Root said, because she thought that whole thing went rather smoothly.

“Shaw?” Janine interrupted, from the doorway with trepidation. “The doctor is on the phone for you.”

Janine looked at Root who looked at Shaw as she picked up the phone.

“Am I going to live?” she teased as she answered. The doctor explained that he had the results of her blood work. “So, what you’re saying then is….,” they heard Shaw ask and Janine grabbed her stomach. “So, effective immediately?” the patient questioned. “And you’re certain about this? Are there any further tests?” she asked, lowering her head. “No, I understand, doctor,” Shaw said and thanked him before hanging up.

“Sweetie?” Root said, because Shaw wasn’t saying anything.

“The blood work is back,” Shaw said slowly. “And I am one hellova healthy specimen. He wants me to keep up whatever it is I’m doing, because everything is so good!”

“Sameen!” Root yelled because she realized now she was teasing them on purpose. She grabbed Shaw and hugged her. “You scared us!”

“Yeah, I know,” Shaw said, not meaning to be an ass, but succeeding. “Go shout it from the mountains, Janine. There will be no change to my diet!”

Janine was so relieved that she had to hug her boss. “We were so worried,” she chimed in.

“You people are unbelievable,” Shaw concluded.

“Well, I for one am very glad you don’t have to change anything,” Root said, kissing her wife’s lips and tasting the sugar from the donuts.

“Well, it seems that I burn a lot of calories,” Shaw said, gently pushing into her wife. “And, so I can eat more than the average… bear,” she said on purpose and looked directly at the dog.

The canine couldn’t take it anymore and walked out.

“What is up with him? Hey, you don’t think he’s jealous, do you?” Shaw asked.

“I don’t think so,” Root replied. “I mean, he seems pretty happy to have Shadow.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Shaw said, unable to decipher the senior dog’s behavior. She didn’t realize it was her influence on the new pet that had him worried.

“Well, I will see you for dinner,” Root said as she kissed her wife goodbye.

“I can’t wait!” Shaw said and meant it.

Shaw was expecting Janine to be exuberant and maybe Isabelle, but when the owner of Parks Deli entered her office and presented her favorite sandwich to her on a plate, she was stunned.

“I heard everything is okay,” the woman said, placing the plate in front of her favorite customer.

“What is this?” Shaw asked, frowning. She pushed back in her chair and looked up at the woman.

“I’m happy you okay,” the woman said, crossing her arms in front of her.

“What are you doing here?” Shaw asked, as if the only place the woman truly existed was in the cafeteria. “You’re freaking me out!”

The woman knew she was taking a big risk by changing the usual way they did things. “Just today!” she shouted as if Sameen had asked her to deliver. “Not again, so don’t ask,” she barked and walked out. She gave Janine a big smile as she passed her desk.

“They’re all nuts,” Shaw complained, looking at her favorite sandwich like someone spit on it. She looked around and decided, since it was there, she might as well have a bite.

Shaw was enjoying the very last of her sandwich and standing in the hallway when she saw the oddest thing – Bear was leaving Iris’ office. Could Fusco have been right? Was he upset with Shaw? Bear walked off in the other direction, having spent the last half hour simply getting things off his chest. Since Iris had no idea what he was saying, he felt he could unburden himself without worry. Iris, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure that she was the appropriate choice for the canine. She was about to ask Root if she could discuss this with her when someone barged into her office.

“Is he talking about me?” Shaw shouted, in the worst place for paranoia to display itself.

“I’m sorry,” Iris said to Root’s secretary on the phone. “I’ll have to call back.”

Chapter Text

Sameen’s feet were in Iris’ office before it dawned on her that she sounded paranoid. “Not that I care,” she said, attempting to dig herself out. “… you know, you should talk to him about his superiority complex.” She was pretty sure she could hear the dirt hitting the floor behind her as she dug herself in deeper.

“How are you, Sameen?” Iris asked, her voice always warm and pleasant. She moved from her desk and sat down in her chair, waving her hand to invite her unexpected guess to sit down.

Shaw hesitated only a minute before she did. “You probably think we’re all crazy because we talk to that dog,” Shaw laughed and Iris returned a noncommittal smile.

“He’s very unusual,” she did admit. The dog had marched into her office and sat in front of her, barking up a storm. The woman swore he was trying to tell her something with the various inflections in his vocalizations, but of course, she had no idea.

“Okay,” Shaw said, putting her hand on her forehead as if she were preparing for the deep dive. “We… got another dog and Fus…someone… put it in my head that maybe Bear was jealous, so naturally, I figured he might have come in here to tell you,” Shaw blurted out. She smiled uncomfortably and added: “If you want to sign those commitment papers now, Doc, I’ll understand.”

Iris let out a soft laugh in response to Shaw’s humor. “There are studies that show that dogs do display jealous behaviors when their owners interact with other dogs,” the learned woman said. “I’m sure if you were to divide your time and pay attention to him, he will adjust.”

This is why I shouldn’t listen to people bearing donuts,” Shaw said of Fusco.

“Oh,” Iris said, recalling her boyfriend said he had to stop for donuts, but assured her they weren’t for him. She was beginning to think Lionel was living vicariously through Shaw’s diet.

“Hey, I don’t know if you were in the office pool or not; actually, I doubt it, but I wanted you to know that my test results came back and I’m in perfect health,” Shaw updated Iris.

“Well, I’m glad to hear that,” the therapist concurred.

“Well, I have to get back…,’ Shaw said, uncertain if there was anything else she wanted to talk about.

“Things going well with you and Root?” Iris asked, giving Shaw an opportunity to stay.

“Root? Oh, yeah,” Shaw said, sitting back because she had all the time in the world to talk about Root. “She’s great. Things are really good,” she smiled and Iris wasn’t at all surprised. She had rarely seen two people more in love. Just the mention of Root’s name caused Sameen to drift off into deep thought and her whole expression changed. “We did it… in the New York Public Library,” Sameen mused and then heard her own words outside her head. Her head snapped up to look at Iris who definitely heard that and was just sitting there smiling. “We… did… a… contribution?” Shaw said, hoping that was in English, as her voice cracked. “Root… is big… on… contributing,” Shaw said and was surprised she could still see Iris as she dug deeper.

“She is very generous,” Iris smiled.

“I think I better go before you make me say anything else,” Shaw said and willed her embarrassed body to stand up.

Iris stood up slowly, allowing Shaw to control this unexpected visit. “I’ll see you next week, then,” she said.

“Next week?” Shaw asked because none of her visits were scheduled.

“I know for a fact that your weapon was discharged,” Iris said, because she was sleeping with the person who witnessed it. “You are required ….”

“Oh, right, yeah,” Shaw said, no longer protesting because she enjoyed these talks with Iris. She just wished she’d stop pulling stuff out of her. “I’ll see you then.”

Root was upstairs negotiating her latest deal. She excelled at this because of her skills and her ability to listen to all parties involved. She could massage tense clients into accepting better terms because she was subtle at convincing them of the benefits. Those skills were about to be tested in a much more tense environment.

Shaw arrived home first and Isabelle greeted her at the door with a tray of delicious hors d’oeuvres. “I heard,” the chef said enthusiastically of the good news.

“Were you afraid you’d have to shop for tofu?” Shaw teased.

“I was more afraid you’d have to eat it,” Isabelle confessed. “I’m just glad neither of us has to face that. Although, I could make some healthier…,” she was suggesting when Sameen shoved another puff in her mouth.

“Idonthinkso,” Shaw said.

Shadow heard her pet’s voice and came running into the entry way. Still learning to navigate tile floors, the dog ran and slid right into Shaw, sending the tray and its contents, flying. “I don’t know if she should have that,” Isabelle worried.

Now, Bear had just come up in the elevator with Root with had the name of the premier dog trainer that had a reputation for difficult clients. “You know Shadow is the client, right?” Root asked him and he gave her a sideways glance. Root did her best to convince the dog that he was taking this a little too seriously, when the door to the elevator opened.

There was Shaw, scooping up several hors d’oeuvres at a rapid pace, and shoving them into her mouth. Shadow thought it was manna from heaven, so to speak, because food seemed to rain down. She was scurrying to get more than one of the treats, but Sameen was too damn fast.

Shaw was trying to protect the puppy from ingesting something that may not be good for her.

To Bear – and maybe Root for a second – it looked like a food contest that Shaw was winning.

“Oh hi,” Shaw said, sitting on the floor and pushing the food in her overstuffed mouth. Shadow had managed to grab one and was busy licking the pastry crumbs off her own lips.

Tell me you don’t see that?’ Bear barked.

“Okay, I’ll call,” Root whispered and went to help her wife up off the floor.

“Thanks,” Shaw said, proud of her performance.

Shadow proceeded to tell Bear all about her day in high pitched yelps and constant movement. ‘What have you learned today?’ he asked, hoping to spark her interest in education.

My pet does not share well,’ Shadow barked.

Shaw was trying to tell Root something, but the noise was incessant. “Shadow, please,” Shaw implored, but the dog paid her no mind. “Shadow!” Shaw uttered more demonstratively. Still, nothing. “We should have gotten one what was preprogrammed,” she lamented.

“I think a trainer will get her to listen in no time,” Root said and suggested she set up the first appointment.

“No skin off my nose,” Shaw replied.

“I happen to like that nose very much,” Root said, leaning in to kiss it.

Dinner was a feast that night and Root marveled at the relationship between the woman who cooked and the woman who ate. As soon as Sameen’s plate was close to empty, the woman placed something new on it to try.

Isabelle smiled when she was preparing to say goodnight. There, in the living room, was her favorite quartet. Bear was exhausted from playing with the puppy. Shaw had her head in Root’s lap as the ballgame played on television. And the yet trained puppy was chewing on something she wasn’t supposed to; Root’s bunny slippers.

"Shadow!" Shaw yelled and the dog went running.

As far as the household was concerned, the lessons couldn’t start soon enough.

Chapter Text

As if the demise of one perfectly good pair of bunny slippers wasn’t enough, Shadow was going to keep demonstrating the need for some immediate training.

The dog could finally reach Shaw’s face while the woman lay sleeping in bed with Root. Shadow planted a kiss on her the next morning when she wanted to go out. “Did you… oh, yuck, you licked my face?” Shaw asked in horror. The dog was growling for Shaw to get up. “Okay, okay,” she relented and dragged herself up. “Just be quiet.”

Shaw got ready, washed her face, and came back to kiss Root good morning.   "Thank you," Root smiled. 

"You're just lucky I washed up," Shaw said without explanation.  Then, she told Root she’d be right back.

Sameen asked Bear if he wanted to come, but one look at the out of control puppy convinced him he could wait. ‘I’m not being seen with that,’ he said.

 It didn’t take an experienced dog owner to know that the puppy was without any discipline whatsoever. She pulled Sameen through the park and picked up whatever was in her track. “You are one pain in the ass,” Shaw barked, but the dog had no idea what she meant. Shaw prevailed, but not without a tense struggle to keep the dog in tow.

Back at the apartment, Sameen fixed herself cereal, since it was too early for Isabelle to arrive. She poured milk into the big bowl of cereal, and went to put the container back, when she heard it. She turned in surprise to see Shadow sitting on one of the stools – looking quite suspicious.

“Did you… just stick your tongue in my cereal?” Shaw asked and looked at the white droplets surrounding the bowl. “I’m not eating that,” the human declared, much to the dog’s delight. Shaw pulled the bowel back onto the counter, out of reach; or so she thought.  She turned to get another bowl and start over.  The distance didn't faze Shadow, who simply stepped on the counter to finish the sweet dish.  Shaw turned around, big box of cereal in hand.

Of course, to anyone entering the kitchen, the scene did appear to look as if Shaw was getting the dog more cereal.

I can’t look,’ Bear said to Root as the two walked into the kitchen. Drops of milk were all over the dog, the counter-top, and the floor.

“She took my cereal,” Sameen complained, sitting next to the dog now. She took a large spoonful of cereal and put it in her mouth and then decided to share that the dog wouldn’t clean up either.

“We don’t let them sit on the chairs,” Root whispered to Sameen as she kissed her good morning.

“Get down,” Shaw said and the dog blinked at her. “You better get that trainer soon,” she conceded.

“She’ll be here this morning,” Root updated her, going in for a longer kiss this time.

Shadow thought that was the perfect time to sneak in and take some of Shaw’s cereal. Of course, Sameen disagreed and started to chase the dog, but Shadow was getting fast.

We don’t eat their food,’ Bear updated his friend.

But I was faster,’ the puppy informed him. ‘Faster than her!’‘

'We eat special food,’ Bear explained.

I eat everything,’ Shadow countered.

Where is she?’ Bear wondered about the trainer.

Back in the kitchen, Root was helping Shaw clean up two bowls of cereal. “I just realized that the dog’s name has the same letters as your name.”

“Yeah?” Shaw said, disinterested and wondering where Isabelle was.

“If you jumbled her name,” the anagram enthusiast said, “It would say Do Shaw. I actually like the sound of that.”

“You do, do you?” Sameen laughed. “Where would you like to do me?”

If it weren’t for the fact that the chef would be arriving soon, Root would have shown her wife the places in the kitchen. Instead, she pulled Shaw into the library, cleared her desk in one fell swoop, and pushed her onto the desk. Knowing exactly how to spark Sameen’s interest, Root looked down and asked her wife if she was ready for the first workout of the day.

A delicious smile crossed Shaw’s face as she eagerly took the bait. “You think this is a workout?” Shaw scoffed and did exactly what Root wanted her to do – she flipped her wife over in one move. Now, Sameen was looking down at Root, whose pupils dilated with a wanton need to touch her lover. “Take your shirt…,” Root was saying when Sameen reached up and pulled it off herself.  “Just the sight of you…,” Root was trying to explain when Sameen lingered her breast over Root's mouth to take. 

The sucking sensation sent fire throughout Sameen. She began to skillfully, and painstakingly slowly - pulled her body the length of Root’s. Just when Root thought the pressure would send her over the edge, Sameen stopped and pushed herself back up, straddling Root’s legs. She grabbed at Root's clothes, pushing and pulling them off.

Root tried to speak, but Sameen’s fingers inched farther along the smoothness of Root’s skin, making her speechless. Deeper. Lower. Root gasped in anticipation.

One of the things Root loved was that even now, knowing her wife as she did, Sameen could still conjure up a dark, dangerous look in her eyes. It conveyed something untamed, suppressed just below the surface that Shaw could access at any time. For Root – it was a complete turn on. Shaw’s domination was gentle, but definite, and Root reveled in trying to push up, only to have Sameen counter her every move.

They worked in perfect balance. Shaw loved being in control and Root loved being out of it.

Shaw pushed Root’s hands above her head and rode her body in a rhythmic motion that resulted in perfectly timed, glass shattering relief for them both.

The screams could be heard downstairs, where Shadow questioned how to respond.

They’re okay,’ Bear said and decided he was not the one to explain this.

Suddenly, Isabelle ran to the elevator. The dogs watched as she greeted a very large woman whose demeanor was quite stern.

“She told me eight o’clock,” the guest was saying to the chef. She didn’t sound happy that she was going to be kept waiting.

Oh, oh,’ Bear said when he realized who this was. He turned to the puppy who was sitting right next to him. ‘Listen to me; you’re going to be okay.’

Okay,’ Shadow replied.

“Oh, oh,” Root said when Isabelle texted her. “The trainer is here.”

Sameen was surprised that Root actually seemed nervous as she scampered to put her clothes on. “What’s the big deal?” she asked.

“She’s very hard to get for private consultations,” Root explained.

“I thought we were doing a class?” Shaw asked, getting dressed now.

“This is the interview part. She’ll talk to you and Shadow and decide which class would be best,” Root said.

“She’s going… to… interview us?” Shaw asked, this concept foreign to her.

“Evaluation is key,” Root said, sounding like she memorized the brochure. “You are going to do fine.”

“I am going to do breakfast,” Shaw said, because she had her priorities straight.

Root and Shaw emerged from the study, where it was obvious to them that Isabelle was having a challenging time with the trainer.

“Eight o’clock is eight o’clock,” the woman repeated and the chef sighed audibly when Root appeared.

“She’s all yours,” Isabelle smiled.

“Thank you so much for coming, Helga,” Root smiled warmly and shook the woman’s hand.

“How’s it going?” Shaw greeted her and walked into the kitchen.

“Before we begin,” Root smiled, “…Could I offer you some coffee?”

The woman was explaining that she wanted to start, but Root had put her hand on the woman’s broad back and was guiding her into the kitchen.

“Just some coffee,” Root suggested in her friendly tone that always convinced people.

Isabelle poured the woman a cup of coffee as she took a seat at the counter.

“Who will be with the dog?” Helga asked and Shaw raised her hand, because her mouth was too full.

It didn’t take the woman long to notice how Sameen ate with reckless abandon.

“So, if I understood correctly,” Root said, trying to draw her attention away from Sameen eating, “… you will evaluate Shadow and decide which class will be more beneficial?”

Helga looked at Root and then back at Sameen, who barely covered the burp that escaped her lips, with her napkin when she finished.

“Boot camp; definitely boot camp,” Helga decided right there on the spot.

“But you haven’t met…,” Root was saying, pointing to the living room.

“No need. Boot camp it is,” Helga decided.

“I actually have the shoes for that,” Shaw laughed.

The experienced woman went inside with Root and Shaw and met the dogs.

“This is Bear,” Root said and the woman looked him over as he sat there, looking her over.

“He’s very well behaved,” the woman said and Bear decided he might like her.

“And this is Shadow,” Shaw said and the dog took off, running around. “Hey look, she was abused as a puppy, so we have to go easy on her,” Shaw said.

“We will keep that in mind, of course,” Helga said and sat on the floor. “Come,” she said in a stern voice to the puppy.

“Yeah, good luck with that…,” Shaw laughed, and then watched at Shadow approached the woman.

“Sit,” Helga said and pressed on the dog’s hind to show her what she wanted. “Good girl,” she said when the dog complied.

The woman took Shadow through a couple of more exercises and came to the conclusion that she so often did – it wasn’t the dog that was the issue at all; it was the untrained human.

The stocky woman stood up and told the couple she would see them in the park later that morning.

“Later? I have a full time job, lady,” Shaw barked and Helga stared at Root.

“I really don’t think we have a minute to waste,” the trainer said and Bear second that.

“Sweetie,” Root turned to her wife. “Do you think we could try to make it just for today?”

Root asking Shaw was more effective that what the trainer did with Shadow.

“Sure,” Shaw agreed instantly. “But I’m wearing my boots!”

Root smiled back at Helga, triumphantly. “You have excellent training skills,” she said to Root.

When Reese saw Shaw at work, dressed in camouflage pants, black boots, and a black t shirt, he had to question it. “New look, Shaw?”

“Puppy boot camp,” is all she said, but everyone heard.

“Clear my calendar, I’m going to puppy boot camp,” she told Janine, but everyone heard.

This is why people started to rearrange meetings on their calendars.

No one wanted to miss this.

Chapter Text

When Reese received his fifth request from a staff member to take an ‘early’ lunch, he decided to investigate. It took Janine less than sixty seconds to convince him that it was a team building experience to have everyone there to support Shaw. Whether she wanted it or not.

She did not.

Except, of course, Root – who sashayed down the street to meet Shaw as she was walking into the park with Shadow.

“You see that woman,” Shaw said, standing there in her boot camp outfit and aviator sunglasses. “… I would do anything for her,” she shared with the puppy who was jumping around excited to be out with her pet.

Bear had imparted his wisdom to the younger dog before she left. ‘Listen to them and do as they ask; it gives them the utmost joy when they believe they’ve taught you something.’

The Puppy Boot camp was comprised of ten different owners and their pets. One guy had two very excited poodles that were yapping very loudly.

After kissing Root hello, Shaw asked if she could tell Shadow those were actually French pastries.

“No,” Root laughed and stood back to look at Sameen. “Don’t you look all military,” she said, amazed at how sexy her wife could be in fatigues.

The pants hugged Sameen’s waist and ended inside the tight black boots. The black short sleeved t shirt accentuated, well everything, from her toned arms to her abs.

“Well, I want them to know I’m all business,” Shaw said and could feel the weight of Root’s inviting stare. She had this gleam in her eye and a smile on her face. “Where are you going with this?” her knowing lover asked.

Root shook her head and tried to look away, but her face was blushing at being caught at building her next fantasy.

“Are you kidding me?” Shaw said when she saw throngs of BEAR staff walking into the park. “Do any of you people have full time jobs?” she queried as they passed.

Martine was the only one to answer. “Remember, Shaw, dogs are pack animals. They listen to the alpha in the group.”

“Oh, I’m all about being alpha,” Shaw assured her friend.

“Got get ‘em, Shaw,” Martine said, as if her friend were going into battle.

Sameen thanked her as Martine went to take her seat. Reese walked into the area, as if he just happened to come upon the spectacle. “Not you, too,” Shaw said when he walked over in a perfectly pressed suit and white shirt, “… I didn’t expect you to lower yourself to this. Really, Reese?” she balked.

“I’m here to show support for a fellow staff member,” John said in a low voice.

“I don’t need your support for doggie training,” Shaw reminded him.

“I didn’t mean you, Shaw,” Reese quipped, almost smiled, and walked away.

She was mocking Reese when she saw someone else entering the park. “Are you freaking kidding me!” she said when she saw Fusco walking in.

“Hey, fancy meeting you here,” he attempted, but failed. “Look, I got a plaque from Animal Control, thanking me for helping them rescue so many dogs. I figure I’d show it to Bear since he really deserves it,” Fusco explained.

“He’ll be thrilled, Lionel,” Root remarked.

“Oh, is this your doggy training? I’d like to stick around for that,” Fusco said as if he didn’t already plan to do that. “Do they know beef is back in your diet? Lionel asked, as he waved to John and joined him.

“I swear, I didn’t tell anyone!” Janine said and that was the truth. It was Sameen that people overheard.

“Well, thank God there are no Shaw t-shirts,” Sameen said, looking on the bright side.

Janine smiled awkwardly as she told her boss good luck. “Lose the t-shirts, lose the t-shirts,” she whispered to those who still had theirs from other Shaw-centric events.

The instructor was calling everyone to join in a circle. “You’re going to do great,” Root said, kissing Sameen’s lips.

“Of course I am; it’s her you have to worry about,” Shaw said, looking down at the excited dog. In all the time they had been standing there, Shadow hadn’t been still.

Sameen took Shadow and walked into the group. People greeted her and everyone had to say who there were and why they were there.

“Oh, gawd, I hate groups!” Shaw barked as they started. “If she puts a name tag on me….”

“Here are name tags with your name and your pet’s name…,” Helga said and pressed Sameen’s on her upper left hand chest because she knew she was the type who wouldn’t wear it.

“Hey, Shadow; that’s a cool name,” the guy with the two animated poodles remarked. “And your same is Shaw? If you jumble those letters ….,” he was about to say.

“Yeah, been there, done that,” Shaw cut him off.

“Let’s begin,” Helga said and proceeded to instruct the owners on the best way to incentivize their pets to comply. She explained that most of the puppies in the class were young, and that their attention spans would only allow for basic learning. She then handed out laminated sheets in a binder that was emblazoned with PUPPY BOOT-CAMP on the cover.

“This is a lot of shit to cover,” Shaw said to the dog who wondered what any of this had to do with her. “Here,” she said and put the book down in front of Shadow.

“Of course, the better you are at learning these techniques, the better chance the dog will have at learning it,” Helga was saying when she saw where Sameen’s book was.

For the next ten minutes, the instructor explained the logic behind her first training exercise. Then, she asked the humans to try it with their dogs. Every single one of them got it – except Shadow, who wanted to play with Shaw, instead of listen.

“YOU CAN DO IT, SHAW!” the class heard someone in the crowd yell and Janine’s voice was unmistakable.

Then, Shaw decided how to get through to the furry ball of energy at the other end of the leash. She pulled out her phone, googled German Shepherds and read the accolades to her pet. “German Shepherds are natural protectors, adaptable and so intelligent, they have performed just about every job known to dog,” Shaw read to Shadow. “Is it no wonder you guys are used by police and the military? You’re two thumbs short of being invincible. You guys rock. Now, let’s show these people who rules this class, okay?” Shaw proffered and Shadow stared at her, trying to take that all in. She certainly liked the sounds of what Sameen was saying. She glanced over and noticed how foolish the other dogs looked as they sat, stayed still, and came to their pets.

Let’s do this,’ Shadow barked and sat next to Sameen.

Shaw walked twenty feet – and the dog stayed right at her side.

Shaw told her to stay and walked away – and called her – and Shadow came on cue.

Shaw told her to sit, lie down, and sit back up – Shadow complied perfectly.

“That’s a good girl,” Shaw said and patted her chest for Shadow to leap up. Shaw hugged her and petted her head. “Ready to go?” she asked and Shadow barked.

Shaw ripped off her name tag and pressed it in Helga’s hand. “Thanks for your help. But, we got this,” Shaw announced and pulled her sunglasses out and put them on as she and Shadow walked towards the BEAR crowd.

Root smiled because she knew it was only a matter of time before Shadow learned what everyone in the crowd already knew – there was only one side of Sameen Shaw you wanted to be on – and that was her good side.

Sameen and Shadow returned to applause and congratulations.

“Nice going, Shaw,” Reese said and petted the dog. “Don’t make her into …,” he said and looked around.

“Are you suggesting that our beloved Bear is spoiled?” Shaw asked her coworker.

“I’m suggesting something like that, yes,” Reese confirmed.

Even Bear noticed the change in his protégé when she walked back with Shaw. ‘Do you know we’re among the most intelligent breeds?’ the puppy asked in a calm manner.

‘Most intelligent… what?’ Bear asked.

In the short time it took Shaw to take Daan through her ideas for how to train Shadow, Root was busy getting things ready for her next meeting.

People kept congratulating Sameen, who was feeling pretty good about how she handled all of that.

There was a celebratory luncheon back at work because – why not? With everyone occupied, it was the perfect time for Root to call Sameen into a meeting.

“I brought you up a sandwich,” Shaw announced as she walked into Root’s office and closed the door. “What the hell…?” she said, when she saw her wife standing there – in the same bright blue dress as before, but it was covered in a military jacket.

“Please seat down, Private Shaw,” Root said and walked around the desk.

What are you wearing?” Shaw laughed, slow to pick up on what was really happening.

“I am wearing the uniform befitting a five star general,” Root said in what she thought such a person would sound like.

“Oh,” Shaw said, trying like hell not to laugh. The stiff jacket was indeed, adorned with five gold stars. “What… does this mean?” Shaw asked, uncertain.

“It means, I outrank you, private,” Root said – the idea born on the grass in Central Park when she saw how sexy her wife made military-wear look. “Now drop and give me ten.”

“Drop and give you what?” Shaw laughed.

“Ten … pushups,” Root said, unsure of the expression.

“You want me to do ten pushups?” Shaw asked, shaking her head at her wife’s role playing.

“Could you?” Root asked, because she absolutely loved watching Shaw work out.

“Sure… General,” Shaw smiled and did as she was asked. Doing ten pushups for Sameen was nothing, but to Root who was watching – it was a beautiful display of her wife’s perfect physical form. She couldn’t peal her eyes off of her. “You know I wasn’t a private, right?”

“Still,” Root said, unable to form complete sentences just yet.

“How’s that, ma’am?” Shaw asked when she finished.

“That was really good,” Root gasped. “Now take off all your clothes,” she instructed.

“You’re not allowed to tell me to …. Oh, you’re taking yours off, too?” Shaw noted.

Root had whipped off her pretend jacket and was unzipping her dress. Once it was off, she leaped into Shaw’s arm, pushing her back on the couch.

“You know I can’t keep up with your fantasies, right?” Shaw said and Root pulled at her t-shirt and belt.

“I know,” Root said, unable to express how hot seeing Sameen in uniform was. “Just show up for them; I’ll do the rest,” Root implored.

“Deal, Major,” Shaw smiled as she pulled her wife down on top of her.

“I’m a five star General,” Root reminded her.

“No such thing,” her former marine wife informed her.

“There is now,” Root cooed in Shaw’s ear.

Thirty minutes later, the couple’s playful banter dissolved into laughter as they both redressed. Suddenly, Root’s private number beeped. It was used only in emergencies. She looked at Shaw and went to answer the call via her laptop.

“You’re looking marvelous as ever, Ms. Groves,” the man said and the image of the octogenarian appeared on Root’s screen. “Ms. Shaw,” Greer said when he saw her, “… always a pleasure to see you, my dear.”

Chapter Text

Greer wasn’t the least bit surprised by what he saw - the cool, calm, calculating Root and her cool, but less tolerant, threatening partner. The military theme did, however, catch his attention.

“Congratulations on your promotion,” he smiled at Root when he saw the jacket.

“I was wondering when you’d crawl out from under the rock,” Root said matter of factly.

“I don’t think we got your new address,” Shaw snarled. “Would love to drop off a house warming gift.”

“Your humor is always so refreshing, Ms. Shaw,” Greer sneered and Root could feel her wife tense alongside her as she sat at her desk. “I see you’ve been reduced to training the animals for BEAR.”

He was desperately trying to prick at Shaw’s temper, but the only thing he was succeeding at was... just being a prick.

Root and Shaw both knew what he was doing. “How’s that virus doing?” Shaw asked.

“We’ve managed to clear all our hardware of it. Thank you for asking,” Greer said.

“Is there a reason for your call?” Root hurried him along.

“Oh, yes, I almost forgot. I’m retracting my offer to work together, Ms. Groves,” Greer said as if this were a business meeting.

“I don’t remember that offer,” Root pondered.

“Oh?” Greer replied as if he were truly surprised. “Perhaps you didn’t give Mr. Lambert the chance to tell you.”

“He was a little slow on things,” Shaw retorted, smiling at the old man. “I see you’re all choked up about him.”

“I am a man of great practicality, Ms. Shaw. I will feel much the same way at your demise,” Greer countered.

“Listen to me, Greer,” Root barked and he smiled. He had pressed on her tender spot and he knew it; the thin smile of his face conveyed that.

“No need to waste your energy threatening me, Ms. Groves. This was a courtesy call; to remind you not to count me out. As you can see, even as I rebuild, getting into your private emergency number was child’s play,” Greer reminded them.

“I am really going to enjoy kicking your scrawny little ass,” Shaw answered back in a calm voice.

“I do enjoy our little chats,” the older man said as he signed off.

Shaw started to pace immediately, because she saw this as a failure of security. Root knew that a man of Greer’s caliber would figure out how to get to her without too much trouble.

“I really hate that guy,” Shaw said when Root closed her laptop. “How the hell did he get through…?”

“Dangers of wireless transmissions and cameras, I bet,” Root suggested. “I think we need to revisit our plan for the machine. We have to be ready for whatever his next move might be.”

“I’m going to kick his ass when we find him,” Shaw said again.

The joviality of the office luncheon was soon replaced by the serious tone of John Reese as he instructed his team on the latest news. Root’s IT team began a complete scan of their operations as the couple went to visit the only person who could help them with the machine; Shaw’s mother.

“It is good to see you,” she said when Alystair showed the newlyweds into the living room at her brownstone residence. “I take it the honeymoon was enjoyable?”

“After the first leap out of the plane,” Shaw said and didn’t say anything to explain it. “Greer is back.”

“He hacked into my private line,” Root explained.

“And congratulated me on training the new dog,” Shaw pointed out.

“You have a new dog?” her mother asked.

“Long story, but yes,” Shaw answered.

“He wants you to know he’s watching you,” Azar pointed out.

“How do we know he doesn’t have our places bugged?” Shaw asked and looked around at her mother’s place.

“Ayala does a sweep every day,” Azar relayed.

“I think it would be wise to increase security while he’s trying to reemerge,” Root suggested. “Especially, at ….”

She didn’t need to say the machine’s location. “I’ll have Ayala come with me today and we’ll check everything out.”

“We can go,” Shaw said.

“He’s watching you two; he made that clear,” her mother reminded them.

Root thanked her newly minted mother-in-law, and the couple returned home. There was a warning tone in Shaw’s voice when she reminded Alystair to keep her eye on her mother. He assured her he would.

If there was any doubt about the need for upgrading, it was made perfectly clear when Root and Shaw arrived home. There, in the middle of the entry way on the table was a large gift box. Isabelle had carefully placed it down when the doorman brought it up. She apologized for not being able to quiet the two dogs, who were obviously aware of the menace contained within.

“Do we know where that came from?” Shaw asked.

“The doorman brought it up,” Isabelle explained. It was policy for large deliveries to be brought up to the apartment.

“The regular doorman?” Shaw asked.

“Now that you mention it, I think Michael is on vacation, because it was someone filling in for him,” Isabelle recalled because she asked. The usual doorman was indeed on duty when Root and Shaw arrived.

“Maybe they didn’t come through the front door,” Shaw suggested.

Bear barked at Root. ‘It was here when we got back from our walk,” he said.

“It’s okay, Bear. Good boy,” Root said because the dog knew it was unsafe. Bear would have alerted them had it contained any explosive, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t something else in there. They called Martine and the removal team.

“He’s finding every crack in the system,” Root noted as they waited in the kitchen as they contained the box and removed it.

“And he’s doing it without haste. He certainly has replaced his army of nut-jobs quickly,” Shaw pointed out.

“All clear,” Martine said when she told them the box was gone. “Good boy,” she said to Bear and played with him – just the way he liked.

Hey!’ Shadow barked, wanting to get in on the action. Martine was happy to oblige. “Greer?” she asked as the dogs went to survey the premises again.

“That guy is really getting on my nerves,” Shaw admitted.

“He wants us to know he’s back,” Root confirmed.

“Well, you let me know if there’s anything else I can do,” Martine said before leaving. “I can stay if you want,” she said to Shaw as she walked her out.

“Thanks, keep an eye on my sister, would you?” Shaw asked.

But that wasn’t the person Martine thought she should be watching. She had an unsettled feeling of late, and now was the time to check out whether or not she was right.

Chapter Text

The first rule any BEAR Security Team member is taught - is to always have backup. And there was no one better at understanding that than Martine. She may have been tough like Sameen, but she followed rules like Reese – only breaking them when absolutely necessary.

Twenty minutes after she left Shaw and Root, Martine met John at a predetermined location. She didn’t need to outline her whole plan; she simply had to tell her boss she needed him, and John was there.

“I’m not sure I can explain this,” Martine admitted, in case Reese had his hopes up.

“That’s okay,” he assured her because he had never known the woman to be anything but surefooted in her strategies.

“It’s a vibe I get, when I’m there. I figured now might a good time to check on it, since they’re both out,” she explained.

“I’ll go through the back,” John said, leaving the detail to his coworker.

“If I’m wrong, we’ll say we were there on business,” Martine suggested and Reese nodded.

As soon as Reese was out of sight, Martine rang the doorbell. Since Ayala’s trip with Azar to check on the machine was unscheduled, Martine felt confident she could act like she didn’t know.
“Oh, Ms. Rousseau,” Alystair said when he opened the door. “I’m sorry, but…,” was all that was out of his mouth when the tall women stepped inside. “She’s out with her Ms. Morin.”

“Oh,” Martine said and looked at her watch. “I guess I can wait.”

“O…kay,” the man said and smiled. His smiled was forced, but that often seemed the case with this man. “Perhaps you could text her?” he suggested.

“She didn’t answer. Hey, I’ll take a water, if you’re buying,” Martine smiled and he went into the kitchen to get it.

All the times she had been in her girlfriend’s home, the man had always been civil to her. But he was also like a ghost; staying away from the main living areas. Truth be told, she had little interaction with him, so she didn’t have a lot to go on.

“Where are they, do you know?” Martine asked when he returned and handed her the glass. She put it down on a coaster on the table and thanked him.

“No, I’m afraid I don’t,” Alystair replied and Martine knew he could have just be avoiding sharing that information.

After all; he was a bodyguard. And he was usually always serious. Which would make it harder to detect his tell, if he had one. His smiles were rarely around the eyes and always just his lips. Except once, when Azar was recalling how much she admired his father. That was the only time Martine swore she saw his face soften at all. She had tried to talk herself out of her suspicions because – she wanted to trust that Ayala would know if something was up. But it is often the people closest to us that are the most difficult to perceive. Now that Greer was back and actively pursuing Root and Shaw, she was going to check out her doubts.

The longer she stayed, the more agitated him seemed to get. Not noticeable to an discerning eye, but certainly to one trained on picking up on these things. “Am I keeping you from anything?” Martine asked, smiling like she meant it.

“No, not at all,” he assured her. “Just going to check on scones I was making,” he said. Martine heard him texting as soon as he went into the hallway to the kitchen. He was warning someone.

Change of plans,’ he texted and almost instantaneously got a response; ‘Already here.’

Azar and Ayala entered the nondescript doorway, blocks from where the machine was housed. After walking down a long hallway, Ayala pushed on a door that opened into a long stairwell. She waited until her mother was right behind her before proceeding cautiously through the maze of hallways and entrances. Finally, they were at the building where the machine was located.

“How does it look?” Ayala asked after her mother sat at the desk and ran some tests.

“She looks fine,” Azar reported. “Although activity measures have spiked. Could be Greer getting closer,” she assessed.

Ayala sat at a laptop and searched the dark web. There were no messages of people looking for the machine as there had been in the past. It meant Greer could be trying other ways to find what he wanted. “There’s no activity at the old offices at Grand Central Station,” Ayala reported, which told them Greer had moved. “How many people do you think he has?” she asked.

“Two would be too many,” her mother concurred.

Believing that the uninvited woman was sitting in the living room, Alystair went to the door to tell the man he was expecting that they had to hurry. When he opened the door, the man was standing right there, but he wasn’t standing alone. Reese had him by the collar, after disarming him. “Is this who you’re looking for?” John asked.

Alystair stared for a moment, trying to decide what to do. In that time, Martine had followed him to the kitchen, certain he was up to something. And he was. In his hand was a flash drive that was supposed to be handed off.

“Let him go, Mr. Reese,” Alystair requested, aiming his gun at John.

“I don’t think so, Alystair,” Martine said, her gun now on him.

“Bloody mess,” Alystair uttered and raised his gun in the air to surrender.

But the disarmed man jumped forward and grabbed Alystair’s gun and fired, hitting Martine. John grabbed him and restrained him as the bodyguard regained his gun. Reese pushed the shooter inside and held his gun on him, waiting for Alystair to make his move.

Finally, he did. He warned Reese that he would shoot Martine again.

“Your friend is bad; let him go or she’ll die,” he said and Reese halted. John sensed something and time was of the essence, so he put his gun down. He waved John in the injured woman’s direction.

“I’ll take care of them,” Reese heard Alystair said to the other man. “You take this and get it back to them.” John watched as he handed the flash drive over.

“You sure you don’t want me to…,” the guy asked, looking to get even with John.

“I got this; you go,” Alystair assured him. “He’s waiting.”

Reese’s attentions were focused on Martine now. The bullet hit her upper left chest, above the heart, but dangerously close. Reese was about to reach for her gun, when he heard Alystair call 911 and request an ambulance for an emergency.

“I’m sorry, Reese,” the bodyguard said… before firing two more shots.

Ayala was used to working alongside her mother, which meant she was familiar with her every move. Checking her watch every couple of minutes was not her typical behavior. “Got a date?” she finally asked as she ran the activity program again.

“You might say that,” Azar smiled and went back to checking on the machine.

“Hey, no fair; I had to cancel my date tonight because of this,” Ayala kidded.

Back uptown, Reese was staring at Alystair, who had just shot the ceiling twice. “He’ll expect that I’m killing you. It was a set up,” Alystair said, grabbing more towels to push down on the wound. “Azar set it up.”

“I’m sorry, Reese,” Martine said before losing consciousness.

“You’re going to be okay,” Reese assured Martine, but she was already out.

The EMT’s took over and put Martine on a stretcher. “Gunshot wound to the chest, severe bleeding,” they said into the communication device to alert the hospital.

“She suspected you,” Reese said, waiting to follow them out.

“And she was right,” Alystair agreed. “But it was Azar’s way of getting Greer to come out of the dark. No one was supposed to be here.”

“Well, somebody was, and now Shaw’s going to have someone’s head for this,” Reese warned him.

Reese went into the ambulance and called Fusco. “Meet me there,” he instructed Lionel because he knew he would need all the help he could get.

For a woman whom he barely had long conversations with, Reese and Shaw shared a lot more than most people thought. John had an innate understanding of how Shaw processed things because they were very similar soldiers. He knew Shaw would be upset that her mother had not shared her plan. He also knew Martine might not be the only one injured when this was all done.

Then, Reese called Shaw.

Within seconds of hearing that Martine was hurt – while on duty – she grabbed Root’s hand and they were on their way to the hospital.

“You can’t park there…,” a guard shouted, but Shaw was out of the car, tossing him the keys and telling him to put it wherever he wanted. She and Root rushed into the Emergency Room entrance.

“Where is she?” Shaw asked, when she saw John. She never even thought to question why Fusco was there, but Root did.

“Lionel?” Root said, a quizzical look on her face.

“She’s bad,” Fusco whispered to Root about Martine’s condition.

“Reese? What the hell happened?” Shaw asked and was looking for her friend when he informed her that she was already in surgery.

“She thought someone was up to something. I went with her to check it out,” Reese said, taking Shaw in a small room where her explosion would cause the least amount of disturbance.

“Why didn’t you call me? What the hell is this about?” Shaw asked.

“She suspected…,” and he slowed down when Root and Lionel joined them. “Martine thought your mother’s bodyguard was up to something.” He had to put his hands out on her forearms to hold her from bolting out of the room. “She was wrong. He wasn’t.”

“So, he shot her?” Shaw barked.

“No, the man who was sent there by Greer did,” Reese said. “They set this up to lure Greer’s people out of hiding.”

“Who’s they?” Root asked so her wife didn’t have to.

John looked back at the woman who wanted to push him out of her way. “Your mother.”

A long awaited text arrived and Azar looked down. ‘Handoff’s been made, but not without collateral damage. Get Ayala to New York University hospital.”

“We have to go,” Azar suddenly said to her daughter.

“We’re not done…,” Ayala pointed out, but her mother was already moving. “I’ll put it on auto for a couple of hours. We’re needed somewhere.”

On the short cab ride over to the ER, Azar gave her daughter the bad news. “What did you do?” Ayala shouted at her mother.

“I had no way of knowing Martine would be there,” Azar said weakly.

The women rushed into the hospital space and saw the group at the end of the hall. Sameen was the first to rush to her sister and hug her, assuring her that the best doctors were with Martine. Then, she turned to see her mother standing there. Azar couldn’t look at the heavy stare that fell upon her.

“I’m sorry,” Azar said, her voice cracking.

“You and I are going somewhere to talk,” Sameen sneered, her jaw clenched tightly.

Chapter Text

Root went with Sameen as she directed her mother into another room. “If blood makes you squeamish, you might want to get out,” Shaw barked to a hospital worker who was trying to enjoy a much needed cup of coffee. The woman looked up at Shaw with a quizzical look. Of course she wasn’t afraid of the sight of blood.

“Could you excuse us?” Root asked so her wife didn’t have to figure out why the woman hadn’t vacated the room.

“I cannot believe this happened,” Azar said, and it was obvious to Root how upset the woman was.

“Let’s start with what the hell was going on,” Shaw ordered and pointed to a chair for her mother to side down.

“None of my answers will please you,” she forewarned her daughter.

“No, but one might refrain me from having you arrested,” Shaw said, even though she hadn’t yet thought through what the charges would be.

“I was monitoring the machine, while you were on your honeymoon. I noticed random activity spikes and suspected Greer’s group right away. But there was nothing consistent. Even locations changed. Ayala scoured the dark web, but there were no tell-tale signs that he was looking for the machine. But…,” she said, folding her hands. “… he was looking for people.”

“How could you tell?” Root asked.

“Inquiries into high end tech job websites; as well as militarily trained personnel websites. I started to trace them back and they pointed to one location. We… I… decided to use Alystair to flush them out. He applied as a disgruntled employee and they nabbed his resume. He has the skills they’re looking for. At first, we couldn’t tell if it was Greer’s group. He was interviewed and they checked his background. He told them exactly what he did and it only served to pique their interest. He was told that he had passed the first two interviews. It wasn’t until he was on the third round, did we begin to believe that it was Greer’s group behind all of this. He was told he’d be on a project to acquire substantial amounts of hardware for an incredibly new program that could do massive calculations. He was told their clients might include the US Government, and that his military background would come in handy.”

“So, you used him to infiltrate what you thought might be Greer’s new group?” Root said, summing it up.

“Where was our update, Mom?” Shaw barked. “When the hell were you going to tell us?”

Azar looked at her daughter and then Root. Her dark eyes were steady, but not apologetic. “I wasn’t going to,” she answered truthfully and Shaw pounded on the table with both of her fists.

“Who told you you could make these decisions? Your daughter’s girlfriend is fighting for her life in there because of your secret!” Shaw blasted back.

“When did you arrange this?” Root asked since the visit to the machine was spontaneous.

“Once we felt certain that the people Alystair was dealing with were Greer’s or close to him, he started to tell them about his employer. He shared that he was working for someone who might be able to help them amass the hardware they were looking for. He presented himself as someone who was looking to make money, the kind that would appropriate some of the hardware his employer had and wouldn’t miss.”

“What was going on tonight?” Shaw asked, her teeth gritted.

“He was handing off a flash drive of serial numbers of units that he convinced them he could steal,” Azar said.

“Why not include us in your plan?” Root asked in a calm voice.

The tension in the room would have dulled the sharpest knife. Shaw stared at her mother, hoping for an answer that would convince her not to lose it. “What did you hope to do when you found him?” she asked.

“I didn’t tell you because I intend to kill him,” Azar said and for the first time, put her eyes down.

Shaw was having none of this heroic planning. She pulled a chair out from the table and sat down. “Let me see if I got this. You were going to lure Greer out of hiding by tempting him with a phony list of hardware and then you were going to march in there on delivery day and shoot him?”

“Yes,” Azar answered.

“Well, you didn’t plan on Martine’s gut that told her Alystair was up to something. And she was right, except no one told her that it was intentional and a ploy. Those are two pieces of information that really might have helped prevent this, Mother,” Shaw said, hitting the table again with her fists.

Root could tell that as sorry as Azar was, she wasn’t saying she would have done it any other way.  "I would have been more careful."

“You…you are…,” Shaw barked, but couldn’t complete her thought.

The door flew open as Ayala burst in. “She needs blood. They say… she’s being operated on…,” the woman said and broke down in tears. Shaw immediately turned to her sibling and grabbed her in her arms.

“Talk to her,” Shaw said to Root because she knew nothing her mother said would make her feel better. She walked out, holding onto her sister.

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” Ayala said, trying to assure Shaw as much as herself, wiping away her tears.

“Did you know…?” Shaw asked of her mother’s plan.

“No! I had no idea. She kept the entire thing from me,” Ayala said, but she sounded more surprised than angry. “That’s our history, though,” she added as they walked. “When she would leave to come back to America to watch you or intervene in some way; she didn’t tell me what she was doing. It wasn’t until later that I knew about you. It’s how she operates, Sameen,” her sister explained as if she understood.

Ayala asked a nurse where the chapel was. “I gave blood already. Now, I’m going to pray,” she said to her sister. “Because I don’t know what else to do.”

Her sister didn’t have that dilemma. She walked over to Reese and Fusco. “Here you go, kid,” Lionel said, handing Shaw a coffee. “You gotta eat something,” he said, putting a granola bar in her hand.

“We need to find this guy,” she said, turning to Reese. “I’m going to kill him.”

Reese wasn’t in the least bit surprised by his fellow soldier’s declaration. “We need to get Martine through this,” he said softly. “Then, we can take care of him.” Reese was like the calmer older brother who just told his agitated sibling, we’ll kick ass, but first we have to take care of this.

What did unsettle the two men was Shaw turning to look back at the room where her mother was. “He won’t be the only one I hurt if she doesn’t make it,” Shaw said, her voice cold.

The three walked into a room where the nurse was taking blood donations. They filled out the questionnaire and waited their turns. “Okay, make a fist,” the nurse said as she tapped Sameen’s arm. She hesitated only a minute to find the vein before the former doctor grabbed the needle and inserted it herself.

“Well, that’s a first,” the nurse declared.

Ayala had every intention of going to the hospital chapel, until she remembered the security cameras that were always on at her mother’s house. Not the one that Alystair knew about. Azar was the only woman she knew who had a security system that watched her security system. He would have shut it off as proof that he didn’t want his employer to see who he was handing off the information to.
Ayala knew if she could access those recordings, she'd find the man who showed up at the door.

And she’d take care of him.

Chapter Text

It didn’t strike Sameen as strange that her sister went to pray. She didn’t know if such a thing gave her sister any solace, but she figured she needed time alone. It did strike her odd, that Ayala was gone so long.

Shaw sat with Root across from her mother, Reese and Fusco in the waiting room on the recovery floor. “Based on the description John gave me of the shooter, we might just get hit on him. Although these types usually hurry underground pretty quick,” Fusco hypothesized.

Fusco couldn’t have been more wrong.

The shooter had delivered the flash drive and was on his way back to his apartment to rest. In the forty-five minutes between Ayala leaving the hospital and the shooter handing off the information, he had been tracked and identified. And she knew his address.

It took several minutes for the former IDF soldier to put together an explosive device that would detonate when the man used his microwave.

Ayala waited downstairs across the street until the shooter returned to his residence. A small smile crept across her face when she heard the windows on his apartment blow out. No one was injured, except the gunman. She was back at the hospital just as the doctor came out to update them.

“Ms. Rousseau is out of the operating room,” the doctor came to tell everyone.

“How is she?” Ayala asked first, walking back to the group.

He took a moment to pause to look at everyone. “We’ll know in the next couple of hours. The bullet did a lot of damage.”

“I’ll be right here,” Ayala told him and then sat next to her mother.

Azar took her daughter’s hand in hers and never let on that she felt the grainy substance on them.

“Sonova bitch,” Fusco murmured when Joss told him that they went to the apartment of the suspect, but there had been an explosion. “They think there was a gas leak,” he said to Shaw and Reese.

It took Sameen two seconds to put the timeline and her sister’s absence together. Her head snapped in Ayala’s direction. The gaze that met her eyes told her everything. Her sister had left to take care of the man who shot her girlfriend. It was as neat an execution as she would expect of someone with Ayala’s training.

“I’m not sure who should get all the credit for your training,” Shaw said to her sister, but looked right at her mother.

If there was ever a time the group needed a distraction, it was then. And one arrived, rushing down the hallway and pushing a nurse out of her way when they asked who she was there to see.

“Is she okay? What happened?” Janine asked and it was obvious how upset she was. “What can we do? Does she need blood?”

“She’s… out of surgery,” Shaw said, getting up and taking Janine’s hands. “We’ll know is a little while how she’s doing.”

“Who did this? Why would they shoot her?” Janine questioned, her voice quivering.

“It was…,” Root started to say, but was unsure of what the story was supposed to be.

“My fault,” Azar said, standing up. “And I am sorry.”

“Your fault?” How could it be your mother’s fault?” Janine turned back to Shaw.

“Trust me, they’re not the Brady Bunch over there,” Sameen answered.

Turning her attention to her boss now, Janine asked if she was okay. “What can I do?”

“There’s nothing to do right now,” Shaw admitted. “We wait.”

Joss and the cops at the scene were collecting enough evidence to put together that the explosion was caused by an explosive device placed behind the microwave that was detonated when it was used.

“Joss says whoever did this was pretty sophisticated,” Fusco reported when he hung up with Carter.

If there had been any doubt before, the look of satisfaction on Ayala’s face would have sealed it. “So, no one else was hurt, yes?” she asked the detective.

“Nope, damage was contained right in the apartment,” he reported because he didn’t know she already knew that.

“Good,” Ayala said and sat back.

In spite of the fact that the group consensus was that time slowed down to a crawl, the doctor did return in two hours.

“The next few hours will be very rough for Ms. Rousseau, but she’s showing signs of improvement already. The best thing right now is to let her rest,” he said.

“I want to see her,” Ayala said and stood up straight.

“I would suggest…,” the doctor tried.

“She does not know all her friends are here. I want to tell her,” Ayala said and Sameen noticed how definite the woman sounded.

“You can go in for a minute,” the doctor agreed.

Sameen grabbed her sister’s arm, as if to relay a message, but hesitated when the words stuck in her throat. “Tell her… uhm… you know… she’ll be fine because she probably got my blood. Tell her, don’t embarrass me now,” Shaw tried to joke.

“I will,” Ayala promised.

There was a collective sigh of relief that they at least had some good news.

“I’ll go to work and update everyone,” Reese said and left with Lionel.

Root shared what information she thought Janine could handle. Martine was at Azar’s place when there was a break-in. Azar felt responsible for not locking the door, where the gunman entered.

“Where is she going to stay?” Janine asked and no one had thought about that. “She can’t stay with you,” she turned to Azar, in case her daughter had that in mind. “She’s not going back to the place where she was shot. And she can’t stay with you,” she announced, looking at Sameen and Root. “No, she’ll have to stay with me,” the woman decided.

“Do you think…,” Shaw was asking if they might want to talk to Martine when she was shut down by her own assistant.

“No! Someone has to look after her! She almost died in there, Shaw. And I don’t know what happened exactly,” she shouted now that her emotions were bubbling up, “… but if Martine blames you, I’ll strangle you!” she said to Azar.

Root turned to look at the former CIA operative, whose trained instinct would have propelled her out of her seat to defend herself. Janine was practically in her face. But Azar would know what a real threat was and what wasn’t. Her eyes softened as she looked up at the overly protective friend. “I understand,” Azar said.

“O…kay,” Janine said, hearing herself and realizing she wasn’t getting the fight she wanted.

“You know…,” Shaw whispered to her wife, “… with a little training, this one could be our secret weapon.”

Ayala returned and told them that Martine was conscious enough to know that her friends were all there. “She wants to see you,” she said to Sameen.

“Me?” Shaw said, surprised.

“Yes,” Ayala confirmed.

Shaw looked over at Root who squeezed her hand. “Tell her anything she needs, we’ll take care of.”

“Good, yes,” Shaw said and stood up. She didn’t move right away and Root knew instinctively, that it was the emotions that kept Sameen in her place.

“I’ll be right here,” Root said, taking Shaw’s hand.

“Yeah,” Shaw said as if it just dawned on her she would be. It was as if Sameen found the courage she needed to face what she was feeling. “Good,” she said and smiled at Root.

Shaw’s medical training should have prepared her for the scene she walked into. Martine was in bed, tubes in her arms, white bandages covering the left upper part of her chest, machines making noises as they monitored her. Sameen expected to walk in, assess the situation, say a few words of assurance, and walk out.

That’s how Doctor Shaw would have handled it.

But this wasn’t Doctor Shaw – this was Sameen - who had met the most wonderful person in the world; a woman who simply kept at her until Shaw allowed her in. This was Sameen - who had worked hard at not being afraid of her feelings, in spite of the fact that she hated what they could do. This was Sameen - who finally felt safe whenever she was with Root. And she knew where Root was right now – waiting outside for her.

“Hey,” Shaw said, and put her hand on Martine’s. The woman’s eyes fluttered open.

“You look like hell, Shaw,” Martine tried to smile.

“Have you seen a mirror, Rousseau?” Shaw teased back because that was what Martine would want. It brought the smile on her friend’s face that Sameen hoped for.

“Listen, Shaw,” Martine said, pulling on Shaw’s hand. “Ayala told me – about what happened,” she said and her voice was raspy from the intubation tube.

“She’s not saving any surprises for when you get out, is she?” Shaw remarked.

“Shaw, promise me you won’t do anything. I don’t need you going Rambo on your own family, okay? We’re the good guys,” Martine said, the drugs pulling her back into slumber. “Promise?” she said, fighting to hear the answer.

“I promise,” Shaw said and waited until Martine was sound asleep.

Sameen emerged from the room and there was Root, standing right there, waiting for her.

“Doctor says she’ll probably sleep for hours now. Why don’t I take you home and we’ll come back later?” Root offered.

“I promised her I wouldn’t do anything,” Shaw shared with Root and her tone was one of surprise.

“That’s probably a good idea,” Root said, not at all amazed that Martine would think of Shaw at a time like this.

Ayala insisted that her mother go home and rest as well. Any concern they might have about someone checking up on the last place the shooter visited, was dismissed when Azar told them the machine was watching the house.

“Alystair will be there, too,” Azar reminded them.

“Just don’t do anything … stupid,” Shaw implored her mother.

“Not at all,” her mother said, but didn’t promise.

Chapter Text

Before they left, Shaw went to her sister. “Listen, Janine has it in her head that Martine should go home with her. I can’t imagine…”

“That’s not going to happen,” Ayala interrupted her very tired sister.

“Yes, I know,” Shaw said, pulling up what little patience she had left. “But I just want you to understand that she means well. “

“Truthfully, Sameen, I don’t ever see her leaving your side,” Ayala admitted.

“Okay, that’s not…,” Sameen went to counter, but then looked over at the woman who was talking to Root. “Yeah,” Shaw huffed. “I get it.”

“Then it’s up to you to explain it to her,” her sister said and annoyed her more.

“Seriously? You’re on my last nerve today,” Shaw said.

“I’ll leave room for Mommy,” the woman retorted.

“Really?” Shaw barked, looking at Root, but her hands indicating her sister.

“Please call us if there’s any update,” Root implored politely as she put her arm around Sameen and let her grumble.

“She’s spent way too much time with my mother,” Shaw theorized about her sibling.

Turning to Janine now, Root smiled and said; “I think Martine is going to need us all at our best. I suggest we all go home and rest up.”

“I’m going to work,” Janine said.

“It’s seven o’clock in the morning!” Shaw pointed out.

“I know; I’m late,” Janine noted.

“Look, we’re going to let Martine make up her mind where she wants to go, right?” Shaw asked bluntly.

Janine understood exactly what her boss was doing. “Yes, of course,” she agreed. “I was upset. I overreacted.”

“It’s hard to detect with this crowd,” Shaw quipped, shaking her head.

Root and Shaw returned to their apartment where eight furry legs ran with great speed to greet them. Root was kneeling now, allowing Bear to lick her face and tell her how worried he was. Shaw had collapsed on the floor, allowing Shadow to lie across her chest and nuzzle her neck. There was plenty of whining and assurances that everything would be okay.
Finally, the couple stood up again and went upstairs to shower.

“Who knew dog- spit would be the highlight of my morning?” Shaw suggested.

“Oh, I think I can top that,” Root smiled, willing to take that challenge.

What was that awful feeling?’ Shadow barked to her mentor.

It happens when we miss them,’ Bear explained.

‘It was awful. Let’s eat,’ his protégé suggested.

Fusco had lost the argument for Reese to stay at the hospital after connecting all the dots. “If that Greer was told you and Rousseau were dead, shouldn’t you be laying low?”

“That might have worked if the shooter hadn’t been visited,” Reese said. “I’ll stay out of sight, don’t worry, Lionel.”

“If it is Greer, killing his messenger might have stirred up a hornet’s nest,” Fusco whispered.

“See if the gas leak theory sticks for a while, would you?” John asked.

“I’ll see what I can do,” Fusco said, thinking it was John’s girlfriend he’d have to convince.

Fusco returned to the precinct, where Joss was already working on her paperwork. “How’s Martine doing?” she asked as soon as he got there. She offered him a cup of coffee, which he gladly accepted.

“She’s okay, not great and we’ll know more as the day goes on, but she’s a fighter,” Fusco said, only then taking his first sip.

“So, she was at Shaw’s mother’s house and an intruder broke in?” Joss asked suspiciously.

He wanted to suggest that she get this information from Reese so he could be spared the interrogation, but that wasn’t possible if Reese way laying low. “That’s what the bodyguard said. The backdoor was unlocked and the gunman gained access,” Fusco said.

“And the bodyguard didn’t get hurt?” Joss asked.

“He wrestled with the guy, so just some scrapes,” Fusco reported.

“But the guy got his gun and shot Martine,” his partner questioned, her lips pursed.

“Yep, got a good look at the guy so we put that sketch out, but that was all we had,” Fusco answered.

“And this intruder suddenly winds up dead in an explosion in his own apartment?” Carter cornered Fusco.

“Karma strikes, Carter,” Fusco tried, but she kept staring at him. “Look, alls I know is that the guy works for a really bad guy, okay? It’s no skin off our noses if another scum bag gets taken care of,” Fusco stated.

“Our job is to catch them, Lionel. It looks to me like someone is trying to stay a step ahead of us and taking the law into their own hands,” Carter pointed out.

She had a point. A really good point.

“Let’s keep the gas explosion story out there for the press for a while, okay?” he pushed his luck and asked.

“You know I’m counting on my pension, right Fusco?” his partner reminded him.

“Yeah, I know,” Fusco said, caught between his friends and a hard place. Right now, that hard place was making him very uneasy.

Ayala sat right outside the recovery room, waiting for the doctor to allow her back in. In another hour, she was told she could visit for another minute.

“Hey,” she whispered and put her hand on Martine’s face. The patient opened her eyes and smiled.

“How bad?” Martine asked.

“Close range shot, damage, but none irreparable,” Ayala reported. “You’re going to need rest and patience.”

“When can I go home?” Martine asked, demonstrating neither was her forte.

“No, you’re staying,” her younger girlfriend said and squeezed her hand. “I need…,” Ayala said and words stuck in her throat. She cleared it and pushed back the emotions. “You…need … to get better.”

Martine stared up at her partner. “Sure,” she said smiling. “Okay.”

Martine knew from her level of exhaustion how bad things were. She felt the numbness wearing off where she was stitched. “Tell Shaw this is going to be one hellova scar,” she said, falling back to sleep.

“I will,” Ayala promised.

Azar returned home and updated Alystair, who was unnerved by the events.

“I should have known she knew something was up. I just didn’t put it together fast enough,” he said, his voice full of regret.

“You were following my orders; I bear the responsibility alone,” his boss said, sitting back in the chair and staring out the window.

“How is Ayala?” he asked.

“She’s … better now, I think,” Azar smiled because revenge can give you a temporary sense of relief.

“What do we do now?” the bodyguard asked.

Azar smiled at him as she closed her eyes to rest. “Plan B, Alystair; Plan B.”

She waited until Alystair went to make her tea before picking up her phone. “We need to talk,” she said softly.

Root and Shaw were getting dressed when they heard Isabelle arrive. They knew she was there by the excited yelps from the dogs.

“No word from anyone,” Root said, looking at her phone. “I’ll take that as good news.”

Shaw looked at her wife who always seemed optimistic and calm. “Listen, I…,” Shaw began and hesitated. “I’ve been thinking...”

“Yes?” Root said, turning to face her wife.

“I don’t trust my mother,” Shaw announced as if this was news.

“I really think she believes she’s was doing the right thing,” Root offered, in hopes of quelling Sameen’s anger at her.

“I know, but I’m not sure that even this whole incident did anything to change her mind. She’s not going to stop,” Shaw suggested.
Root thought about that – and had to admit, it made sense. “What can we do?” asked the woman who always thought of them as a team.

“I can’t believe I’m going to suggest this,” Shaw said, putting her hand to her forehead and shaking her head. “I thought maybe you could connect to the machine somehow to keep tabs on my mother. Well, not my mother directly, but to make sure she’s not using the machine to track down Greer. I’m afraid of what she will do.”

“So, you want me to become the machine’s analogue interface?” Root asked.

“Suu-re,” Sameen answered, not certain she understood the terminology.

“That’s so techie of you,” Root smiled, moving closer into Shaw’s space.

“Oh, I can do nerd,” Sameen boasted.

“I personally enjoy the way you… do… nerd,” Root said slowly.

Sameen laughed softly at Root’s innuendo. “So you can be the anaface interlogue?” she asked, mixing up her words as her wife’s kisses on her neck distracted her.

“That, too,” Root assured her.

Chapter Text

Things actually seemed to calm down in the following weeks for the couple, and for everyone at BEAR. There was no apparent backlash from the group the man had passed the flash drive to, and Azar was beginning to wonder if it had been Greer or someone else, all along. Maybe she had been wrong and Greer truly was out of the picture. Had it actually been him, she was convinced; there would have been some retaliation.

Azar was wrong; it had been Greer, and there would be payback. Greer was a ridiculously patient man.

Root had granted Shaw’s wish and began wearing a special earpiece that kept her in touch with the machine. “You know what they say about being an analogue interface,” she teased Sameen soon after wearing the device.
“No, what do they say?” Shaw asked, still not sure how comfortable she was even though she asked for this.

“Once you hook up with a machine, you never go back,” Root said and Sameen stared at her.

“That’s not funny,” Shaw said and meant - on so many levels.

It was weeks after Martine was shot and in spite of the fact that she was not cleared for active duty, she was back at BEAR against her girlfriend’s wishes. The press had lost interest in the story of the man whose apartment blew up and no one seemed to be looking for Martine or Reese. In fact, it was eerily quiet. But Root could at least assure Sameen that Azar was not interacting with the machine and if she was looking for Greer, she was using Google.

Janine may have seen to getting everything Martine needed at work, but it was Shaw who would be a better dose of medicine.

“You want to see the scar?” Martine asked Sameen when she welcomed her back.

“You have a scar? How big?” Shaw asked, enviously.

“I don’t understand this at all,” Janine admitted.

“Oh, well, that is big,” Root admitted when Martine pulled open her blouse and pulled back the bandage.

“Wow,” Shaw said, thinking of all the stories her friend would get to tell over that mark. “That’s a beauty.” Root turned to stare at Sameen who gave her the ‘what’ expression in return. “It is,” she declared.

“I don’t recommend getting one,” Martine finally said, but only because Root’s expression implored her to do so.

“Right,” Shaw said, still regretful that her own injuries healed so well.

“Show time over?” they heard Fusco call out from the hallway, outside of Martine’s cubicle.

“For a cop, you’re a real chicken,” Shaw prodded her friend.

“For a cop, I walk a fine line with all of yous,” Fusco reminded her. He walked into the small space and sat down. “While I got you all here,” he continued and pulled out his reading glasses to look at his notes. “I just got an update that I thought might be of interest. Forensics found no prints or any other evidence on the explosive device in that apartment bombing a few weeks ago. So far, it’s a dead end.”

“So far?” Root asked.

“Yeah, so far,” Fusco repeated, knowing fully well that they had the means and motive to make evidence disappear. “Apparently, our guy was a hacker for hire who did time in prison awhile back. Might have been working for someone he met on the inside.”

Fusco wanted to give them what the going theory was, so they understood.

“Okay,” Shaw said, grateful that nothing was coming back to her sister.

“Even security cameras were offline around there,” he confirmed because there were many that they had to go through.

“Wow,” Root said, aware of just how that happened.

“Yeah, so that’s the update. Shaw, you can take me to breakfast,” the detective said, thinking it was a small price to pay.

“Fine,” Shaw agreed. “I don’t have to watch you eat though.”

“Well, good to see you,” he said to Root and slipped a piece of paper in her hand. She waited until he was on his way to lunch with Shaw before she opened it. ‘Evidence Room B; Box 455.’

“Everything okay?” Martine asked her boss.

“It will be; I assure you,” Root smiled because they had the capability of keeping the evidence trail away from Ayala.

Shaw had said little about the incident after it happened. She had promised her friend that she wouldn’t act on her feelings of setting her family straight. “It will serve no purpose,” Martine told her and while Shaw couldn’t say she agreed, she didn’t argue the point.

That didn’t mean she didn’t wonder what was going on in the townhouse blocks from where they lived.

“Are you surprised my mother has been so quiet?” Shaw asked Root that night as she played with Root’s hair. She was sitting on the couch as Root lay with her head in her lap. The dogs were asleep on the floor.

“No, but I think you are,” Root noted, looking up at Sameen.

“Yeah, I am, but she’s been so low key, I don’t have anything to explain that feeling,” Shaw noted.

“I’m more surprised that Greer hasn’t wielded his ugly head,” Root admitted. “It’s like radio silence out there.”

Sameen played with Root’s locks, touching her ear. “It’s a good thing I’m not the jealous type,” Shaw admitted. “I heard you talking to her this morning.” She was referring to hearing her wife speak out loud to the machine. “Is that new?”

“Sort of,” Root said, but didn’t look up.

“Sort of… how?” Shaw asked.

“Well, in tapping into her to monitor your mother and things, she’s been able to tap into my surroundings,” Root explained.

Your surroundings… like where?” Shaw asked, gently pulling at Root’s chin to look at her.

“Like here, for example,” Root said, sweeping her arms across the room.

“Anywhere else? “ Shaw asked, eyebrows raised.

“I turn it off in the bedroom, if that’s what you mean,” Root smiled.

“That’s exactly what I mean,” her wife confirmed.

“I had to,” Root said, trying to sound very somber. “She complained you were making too much noise.” She tried to finish on a serious note, but started laughing.

“Not funny,” Sameen said, taking advantage of Root’s horizontal position to reach down and tickle her.

“Sameen! Stop!” Root gasped between fits of laughter, which woke up the dogs, who insisted on joining it. “No!” Root yelled, but Sameen encouraged them to join in and nuzzle her with their noses. “It’s cold!”

“That’s what you get for lying,” Shaw said, holding Root in place as they all teased her.

Azar was clever enough to know that her daughter and daughter-in-law had retrieved control of the machine. She made no attempt to access it because she was interested in seeing what Root would do when she realized just what the program was capable of. The machine was, in part, designed to follow someone; alert if they were in danger. She wondered if Root would soon understand what the implications of that could be. Azar didn’t want to interfere with that.

Instead, she relied on her former training. Ayala was spending a lot of time helping Martine recover and even renewed her contract with BEAR as a consultant. This gave the older woman plenty of time to plan her next moves. Without the machine, she had to be more creative; but that had never been an issue for Azar Morin.

It might take her longer than she expected, but she was going to execute her plan in spite of that. Her motive was simple; Greer had hurt her family… and now he would pay.

Plan B was almost in place.

The challenge was that Azar knew she couldn’t do it alone. She needed someone who was specially trained for situations like this. Someone who could carry out their part quietly, effectively, and not look back when it was over. Fortunately for her, she had found just that person.

They had spent hours together now, working out the details. She told them she was open to any suggestion they had, except one; don’t do it. Her accomplice had only one thing they needed clarified.

“You know what the consequences of this might be, yes?” they asked the woman. “She may never forgive you.”

“Yes, I know,” Azar said because she had given that a great deal of thought.

She knew more about Grier than anyone understood; about the way he thought about the potential power he could have. And she knew there was only one way to stop it.

She was going to cut the heart out of the other machine… if it killed her.

Chapter Text

Sameen could barely remember a time she awoke and Root wasn’t right next to her. But this morning, she rolled over and found an empty space. Almost as odd; she wasn’t even being bothered by a dog. She opened her eyes and could hear Root talking across the hall in an upstairs study. Sameen sat up and went into the bathroom to freshen up and get dressed. Minutes later, she emerged, still drowsy, but went to see what her wife was doing.

“You see what I mean about the algorithm sequence here?” she heard Root say when she opened the door.

“Yes, so if we changed this part here …,” Genrika was saying eagerly.

“Oh, good, math first thing in the morning,” Shaw smiled and sat down in a chair near them and closed her eyes. “It’s too early for this.”

“Hey, Shaw,” Gen said, looking over at her idol. “You look…”

“Don’t Kid, just don’t,” Shaw warned her.

“Good morning,” Root said and kissed Sameen.

“Where’s the other dynamic duo?” Shaw asked of the pets.

“Daan took them to class,” Root said, getting back to her work.

Sameen looked over at Gen. “Dare I ask?” she said sarcastically. “Pottery class, right?”

“She is so silly,” Gen said to Root as if it were such an outrageous idea.

“Paw painting?” Shaw ran with the preposterous, enjoying her own jokes.

“I think she’s hungry,” Gen decided.

“You could be on to something,” Root concurred.

“You know I’m right here, right?” Shaw asked of the other two.

“Of course we do,” consoled Root.

“So, what’s going on in Nerd Club?” Shaw asked, looking at the screen.

“We are working on a program to test if the machine can make accurate predictions of when someone is in need of help,” Gen explained.

“Speaking of people who need help; is my mother leaving any electronic tracks out there?” Sameen segued.

“Digital footprints?” asked Gen and Sameen rolled her eyes.

“She’s been very quiet,” Root admitted.

“You’re spying on your mother?” Gen asked with the excitement of a pre-teen doing something they’re not supposed to. “Oh, my God!”

Shaw looked at Root after realizing what Gen might do with that information. “We’re not spying; we’re monitoring the machine,” she explained.

“You want to see if your mother is using the machine, right?” Gen put together.

It was too early in the morning for Sameen to battle wits with a prodigy. “No, we… my mother…,” Shaw began and ran out of steam. “Tell her, Root,” she said, and proceeded to get up.

Root had great respect for the youth and her intelligence. She didn’t believe in fabrications for children under normal circumstances. The fact that this tween could pretty much see right through the couple also had something to do with her answer.

“Shaw’s concerned that her mother is using the machine to flush someone out,” Root said and Sameen stopped in her tracks and turned around.

Really?” she said to Root whom she was hoping could make up a believable story.

“You mean for shooting Ms. Rousseau?” Gen asked, but was already considering other possibilities.

“What?” Shaw asked, coming back to the desk. “Did you tell her?”

Root shrugged her shoulders and said no, but wasn’t surprised that the tech genius could find out any information.

“Police radio chatter,” Gen said, answering the question before it was asked. “Plus, I keep tabs on the staff at BEAR.”

“Shouldn’t you be selling cookies or making volcanoes for schools projects?” Sameen wondered.

“Oh, yes!” Gen said, snapping her finger. “I have to bring an adult to school to show my portfolio to…,” the youth said, looking right at Root. “You know, my top projects for the year.”

“Oh, good,” Shaw said, thinking she had dodged that bullet. She started to walk out again.

“Can I please borrow Shaw?” Gen asked Root. “PLLEAASE!” she implored, clasping her hands.

Root smiled at how much Genrika wanted to have Shaw with her. “It’s not my permission to give,” Root said and looked at Sameen.

“What? Me? No, I can’t do that. A portfolio – of all your work? Like, a lot of papers and stuff? Root’s your woman for that,” Sameen strongly suggested.

“But I’m already working with Root on something,” Gen pointed out.

“Yeah, but Root gets all that nerdy science stuff, Kid,” Shaw countered and looked at her wife to jump in and safe her. “Right? Root?”

Root only had to glance at Gen to see the disappointment in her eyes. But there was something else in them, too. The little genius was reeling her line back in and casting it with new bait.

“I know you guys are busy, and I wouldn’t ask, but Mr. Charles says that if I don’t do well in my portfolio, I won’t get into MIT next year,” she shared.

“That’s ridiculous!” Root declared.

“That’s right. You’re not going to school in Massachusetts. The traffic is insane going there,” Shaw complained.

“Mr. Charles says it’s the best school for someone interested in my field,” Gen shared.

“First, you’re too young to have a field,” Shaw said, her fingers making air quotes. “Second, who is this guy?”

“I can’t imagine you having an issue getting into any school you decide to go,” Root said.

“And besides, I thought you were going to school in New York. You know,” Shaw paused. “In case we need you or something.” She remembered Gen saying she wanted to be close by to babysit.

“I do, but Mr. Charles says that the local universities won’t challenge me the way MIT will,” Gen said. “Plus, I need a letter of recommendation from him.”

“Who is this guy?” Shaw asked with great impatience. “We need to see him. Root, go,” the caffeine deprived woman spoke.

“I think we will both go and pay him a visit,” Root decided.

“What?” Gen said with great enthusiasm, at the same time Shaw uttered the word incredulously. “You’ll both come?” Gen said, excitedly.

“Why do we both have to go?” Shaw asked with disdain. The last time she was at Gen’s school, she ran into an old teacher.

“I think you and I have been lax in our duty to oversee Genrika’s educational plans, Sameen,” Root decided.

“Oh, it’s not enough that you let her play robo-overlord with you? Now, we have to plan her future?” Shaw huffed.

“If we don’t oversee her progress, Shaw, who will?” Root proposed.

“How about Harold and Grace?” Shaw countered.

“They’ve been very attentive,” Gen said, but cast her eyes away. She wasn’t missing out on an opportunity to have Root and Shaw involved in her life.

“See? Attentive!” Shaw pointed out. “And we all know how Harold can be attentive, right?”

“Yes, we do, Sameen,” Root said, but it was less a tone of agreeing and more a tone of – ‘I want you to think about what you just said’. Shaw heard it immediately.

“Oh,” Shaw replied, knowing in spite of Harold’s good intentions, he could be a real pain.

“And besides, as Gen’s financial benefactors, we need to take an active role in her choices,” Root decided on the spot.

“You’re paying my college tuition?” Gen asked with astonishment.

“Yes, I think it only fitting to repay you for all your hard work at BEAR, and here,” Root winked.

“Why don’t we throw in a car?” Shaw asked, grumpier by the minute.

“I’m twelve, Shaw,” the prodigy reminded her.

“She’s going to be twelve and in college?” Shaw asked Root. “Are you kidding me? That’s not going to work. I can’t be running up to a college who knows where every time there’s an issue. The traffic to Boston alone will kill me…,” Sameen ranted as she walked out of the room. “You can’t go to school and be surrounded by Red Sox fans!” the die-hard Yankee fan yelled back.

“Does she know I’m not really a …..?” Gen whispered to Root as they followed Sameen.

Root pulled the youth back and held onto her tightly. “Don’t tell her, please,” she begged.

Gen barely ate at breakfast, more interested in how much food Shaw could fit in her mouth at once… and still attempt to talk. “You do know the Heimlich maneuver, right?” she whispered to Root, but everyone heard her. Isabelle broke out in a loud chuckle over that.

“Don-encourage-her,” Shaw instructed the chef, waving her fork at Genrika.

Isabelle hurried and filled small plastic containers with food for Gen’s lunch and snacks. “This is too much,” smiled the tween when she saw all of them.

“Oh, these are for you,” Isabelle clarified and took three of the containers and put them in a lunch bag. “These are so someone doesn’t bite your teacher’s head,” she said and put the rest of the food in a bag for Shaw.

“I can’t carry that into school!” Shaw balked, but then popped open on of the lids. “Did you make these?” she said, and shoved a chocolate chip cookie in her mouth. “I’m naming my first kid after you,” Sameen moaned as she took another cookie.

“Why, thank you,” Isabelle replied.

“I wasn’t talking to you,” Shaw teased as she looked longingly at the cookie. “Do we have enough here? Her school is all the way uptown.”

Gen felt like her feet didn’t touch the ground, she was so excited to have her two favorite people coming later to the portfolio conference. The couple agreed to be there by eleven o’clock. Enough time for Shaw to have breakfast at work.

Shaw asked Martine if she wanted to come for breakfast and the woman jumped at the invitation. “If Ayala isn’t cutting up my food at home, Janine is putting a napkin around my neck so I can have lunch. I love them, but they’re driving me nuts!”

“My sister is being motherly? Okay, I didn’t see that coming,” Sameen said. “Hey, have you noticed anything different about my mother?”

“Different?” Martine asked for clarification.

“More stealthy than usual or making up poisonous formulas in her kitchen?” Shaw spelled out.

“Ha, no,” Martine confirmed. “Whenever I visit, your mother and Alystair are very apologetic.”

“Did it scar?” Shaw asked with envy.

“They did a good job of sewing me up,” Martine admitted with some disappointment. “But I think they’ll be some mark for a while.”

“Lucky,” Shaw said without thinking because what good was a story if there was no proof of your heroics.

“Hey, Shaw, you have to take Janine back. She only does well when she’s worshipping you,” Martine begged. “And Reese won’t give me any assignments, so I’m stuck at my desk.”

“Where is he? I haven’t seen him for more than five minutes in days,” Shaw mentioned as they enjoyed their meals.

“He does seem very busy, whatever it is,” Martine agreed.

Azar had approached John Reese when she formulated her idea. She needed someone who would agree to help her only after giving it careful consideration. Reese had, and in part agreed because he knew the woman was going to go ahead regardless of his answer. He had only one request – and that was for Azar to give thought to what Sameen would do when she found out.

“This is bigger than both of us,” Azar sighed when she thought about his question. He made a very valid point. “If someone does not stop him, John, he could move forward with his maniacal plan.”

“How can you be sure of what he’s capable of; let alone, what he’s planning?” John asked.

“I’ve been in his shoes, John,” Azar said. “I know what it’s like to have that potential power in your hands.”

“Why not involve Root and Shaw?” John asked because he wanted to be able to say he did when they asked him.

Azar smiled, knowing why he asked. “Because they will have to make that decision for themselves soon enough.”

Chapter Text

Sameen did finally see Reese, but they were both going in opposite directions. She had to get something before joining Root to go to Genrika’s school and saw him in the lobby. “Reese,” she said as the man approached with a very large black bag.

“Shaw,” he said, barely slowing down.

“You’ve been unusually quiet, even for you,” Shaw noted when John stopped walking.

“Busy,” the man who never overused words explained.

“Busy…doing what?” Shaw asked because she was comfortable being blunt.

“Taking care of things,” Reese said and thought that was vague enough to satisfy his coworker. “Apple, Shaw?”

“Going to school,” she explained.

“You don’t strike me as the type to bring one to a teacher,” Reese noted.

“It’s not for the teacher; it’s for me to eat,” Shaw explained.

“Okay, then,” John said and started his leave again.

Neither of them really believed they had enough information from the other to understand what was going on.

Reese was curious; but, Shaw was suspicious.

Root joined her wife in the lobby when Reese was out of sight.

“What?” Root asked, seeing the expression on Shaw’s face.

“Reese. He’s been quiet lately and by that, I mean, practically flat lining on the talking scale,” she said.

Root grabbed her by the arm and squeezed. “I love it when you talk doctor. Which reminds me,” Root said as she walked Sameen outside.

“You just had a physical, Root,” Shaw said, her mind on Reese.

“My insurance changed,” Root explained without skipping a beat.

The two made their way up to Gen’s school and made their presence known when Shaw screeched the car into a parking spot and revved the engine. “I love when you make an entrance,” Root smiled, only encouraging her wife. “Is that for the teacher?” she asked, when Sameen leaned in the back to retrieve her red apple.

“Nope,” Shaw said, rubbing it against her t-shirt.

“You have no idea of how jealous I am of that fruit,” Root teased.

“Wait until you see me bite it,” Shaw taunted.

“I’m not sure you should bring that in, Shaw. I’m serious,” Root said, knowing how distracted she got watching Shaw do anything with her mouth.

“Too late,” Shaw teased as they entered the building and signed in.

“We’re here to see Mr. Charles,” Root smiled nicely, but Shaw could already see what her wife was up to.

“I hope he didn’t wear a white shirt,” Shaw said to the receptionist who handed them passes to go to the classroom.

“Two can play this game,” Root said to Sameen as they walked down the hallway. She pulled out a pair of glasses and put them on.

“What?” Shaw said, because she really enjoyed seeing her wife in glasses for some reason. It upped her nerdiness, which Shaw found a real turn on. “That’s not fair.”

“SHAW! ROOT!” Genrika called out and rushed to the couple when she saw them in the hallway. “You’re right on time.”

“Of course, we are, Kid,” Shaw said and stiffened up when the youth grabbed her in a bear hug.

“We’re next. Now, this is how it’s going to go,” Gen tried to tell the women.

“Oh, I know how this is going to go,” Shaw smiled and polished her apple… again.

“No, it’s really important. Mr. Charles will show you my work and then he’ll discuss what he thinks I need to improve on…,” Genrika tried to explain.

“That will be a very short conversation then,” Root smiled and Shaw got this excited feeling in her stomach.

“This is going to be good,” Shaw winked at Gen who didn’t quite share her enthusiasm.

“Miss Zhirova?” the teacher called out and his voice startled the girl.

“We have to go,” she said, pulling on Shaw’s arm. “Please don’t hit him,” she pleaded.

“Me?” Shaw asked, as innocently as a former CIA operative could.

“And who do we have here?” Gen’s teacher asked in a friendly, albeit reserved tone.

The couple walked into the classroom where two chairs were placed in front of the man’s desk. Root said down in one chair and Shaw pulled Gen to sit in the other. “I’ll be over here,” she smiled at the man and cleared a space on a table a few feet away.

“Oh, okay,” he said, surprised at how comfortable Sameen was making herself. “Introductions, Ms. Zhirova?” he prompted the girl who was uncharacteristically anxious.

“Ordinarily, I’d be the girl…,” Shaw blurted out and then realized she wasn’t supposed to introduce herself. “Sorry.”

“Mr. Charles, may I introduce Ms. Samantha Groves and Ms. Sameen Shaw. This is my teacher, Mr. Charles,” the youth said.

“It’s our pleasure to finally meet,” Root said, smiling and Sameen loved how her wife could be so polite even though she was boiling under the surface.

The reserved teacher explained the purpose of the meeting was to review some of Gen’s work that she produced over the past semester. It was his hope, he said, that the guardian’s in Gen’s life would take an interest in her work since the child had such high aspirations.

“You’re about to get hit in your ass…pirations,” Shaw said under her breath and put the apple to her mouth.

“We have not doubt that any goal Genrika sets for herself, she will attain,” Root smiled and turned to look at the youth. “I believe the correct question is whether or not she’s in the right environment to nurture those aspirations.”

If Genrika had any concerns that this wasn’t going to go well, those fears were allayed when Root spoke. There was something warm in her voice even though her threats were thinly veiled.

The only sound in the room now was the crunch of someone biting into an apple and making themselves comfortable.

The teacher finally cleared his throat and decided to show some of the student’s work that would enlighten his guests.

That wasn’t going to go well… for him.

“Turn right up here,” Azar instructed Reese as he drove her to a cemetery in Queens; a borough near Manhattan. He drove where she instructed and noticed she had a map of the cemetery in her hand. “Turn left and park over there, “ the older woman instructed. John pulled the car into a small parking lot that was in the older section of the graveyard. It was a large expanse of many acres that were dotted with headstones dating back hundreds of years. John thought maybe she chose the place because there was so little traffic – and certainly quiet.

Azar reached into her pocketbook and handed John a folded newspaper. He took it and looked down at the article; Philanthropist Donates Money to Maintain Mausoleums.

“New charity?” he asked the woman who the article was written about… anonymously.

“New location,” Azar said and opened up her laptop to access the hardware that would allow her to probe anywhere she wanted to. He noticed that the location of each of the larger mausoleums was marked on her computer. “Many of these vaults date back decades. They won’t allow you to build them anymore and many have fallen into a state of disrepair. One Ms. Edith Chelsea donated money to have they spruced up and taken care of,” she informed Reese, and meant she used an alias.

“You’re using them to store hardware?” Reese surmised correctly.

“I have enough for a program to run on that can do a very good job of tracking Greer. He’s busy trying to reestablish his machine,” she said.

“How far is he along?” Reese asked her.

“Far enough along that he has named it,” she said, looking out the window. “The man had the nerve to call it ‘Samaritan’,” she scoffed.

“The plan?” John asked.

“I’m going to locate him; give him an opportunity to dismantle his machine, and if he refuses, I’m going to kill him,” Azar said with the cool calmness of an operative on a mission.

“Do you really…,” John was asking when Azar turned to him.

“That’s not true, John; I’m not going to give him the choice. I’m just going to kill him,” Azar blatantly admitted.

“Won’t someone else run the machine?” John asked the obvious question.

“That’s where this comes in,” Azar said and turned her laptop to show the coordinates of a satellite.

“I’m not sure which I’m surprised by more,” John said of the woman’s ingenuity to use long forgotten real estate to harbor her hardware – or her own satellite.

“Only be surprised if they don’t work, John,” Azar said confidently.

Reese almost smiled at how ironic the location was since, when Shaw found out, she’d want to bury them both.

And he knew just from that short interval he had with her today, Shaw was already onto them.

Chapter Text

Gen’s advisor, Mr. Charles, wasn’t sure which he found more annoying; the apple crunching noise or the woman who sat in front of him who just raised her index finger to interrupt him – again.

“I recognize Genrika’s particular gifts,” the teacher said, and Shaw smiled when he found it necessary to pat his forehead as perspiration formed.

“I believe by particular gifts, you mean highly intelligent functioning across many disciplines,” Root corrected him and Shaw’s smile was getting wider. Even Genrika looked over at her when she let out the smallest squeal.

What? This is good,” Shaw said as if she were watching her favorite show; which in a way was exactly what was happening. Observing her wife put people in their proper places was one of Sameen’s favorite things to do. She would have had the pompous ass by his lapel, but Root had this gifted way of dealing with people without ever once touching them. It was beautiful.

“Ms. Groves, are you suggesting that Gen’s proposal of a possible all-seeing network of computers that could somehow interact with other systems and control the stock market is not more science fiction than fact?”

Shaw waited with an anticipatory expression, even waiting to take her next bite, to see how Root would respond. Root cast an eye down at Gen as if asking her – ‘what do you think?’.

The student tapped her finger to her chin. “Okay,” she said as if she and Root were communicating telepathically. Then, Root nodded and smiled and asked Mr. Charles if he would like a demonstration.

“I should have brought more apples,” Shaw let out because she finished the first one; much to Mr. Charles’ delight.

Sameen knew that Root’s degree of sarcasm was directly related to the level someone was being obnoxious. This guy better lighten up or he was going to get a heavy dose of it.

“Maybe Gen could give you a live demonstration of what her program could do,” Root suggested and the student took her I Pad out.

Mr. Charles cleared his throat and watched as the student tapped the keys to access a program she designed in which one computer had access to another computer. One was written with the specifics to ‘do no harm’ in helping a fabricated city. The second program was written with directives that included helping the second city to excel. The teacher watched with feigned interest until he saw a report of death toll flash on the screen.

“What is that?” he asked cautiously.

“That is the result of the second directive, Mr. Charles. Food supplies were dwindling and so they accessed the second simulation and took their food,” Root explained.

“But it’s a video game,” he erroneously suggested.

“I don’t think the residents of City A would agree,” Genrika added. “The programs were allowed to talk to one another. The second program began to access where the weaknesses were in the first City. On its own. Then, it used that information to access data and have food supplies rerouted.”

“That is …,” the teacher tried to say.

“Amazing?” Root suggested.

“You wrote these programs?” he questioned because on paper, Gen’s theory about such devices appeared more science fiction than reality.

“Yes, sir,” Gen confirmed and shut down the programs.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like this before,” said the high school teacher.

“She’s way above your pay grade,” Shaw chimed in.

“Now, there’s been some suggestion, I believe,” Root smiled and Shaw knew there was really nothing friendly in her expression because her wife smiled with her eyes first, and Root’s eyes were unwavering. “…that Genrika will not have a choice among the top schools that she wishes to go to.”

“I suggested MIT because of her interest,” Mr. Charles said unsteadily.

“I believe schools will be knocking on her door, so I’d like to suggest that we support Gen to make the best decision herself,” Root said.

“She’s saying suggest, but she means it would be unwise not to,” Shaw interpreted.

The teacher looked from Root to Shaw and understood. “Of course,” he said as if there hadn’t been an issue.

“I guess that concludes Gen’s portfolio review, unless there’s something else you’d like to say?” Root asked the nervous teacher.

“No! No, I think we’re on the same page here,” he assured the intimidating woman. His nerves were due in part to realizing that Genrika’s genius was way out of his league.

“Great!” Root said and got up and shook his sweaty hand.

Shaw jumped off the table and stood up. “We’ll be checking with Gen from time to time to make sure she’s getting the support she needs at school,” Shaw said to the teacher as she left. She pointed her two fingers to her eyes and back at him… in case there was any mistake she meant him.

Genrika was happy that Root and Shaw were there, but worried about the repercussions. She expressed her concern to Shaw.

“Listen, Kid, it’s good to have another super nerd who understands you, but you can’t take Root to college. So, you’re going to have to learn to stand your ground,” Shaw lectured and Gen knew she was right, but she was, after all, only twelve. Shaw listened to her advice and saw the expression on the girl’s face. It reminded her that she often forgot how young the genius was. “And you’ll call me, if anyone messes with you,” she added and Gen’s face relaxed as she smiled. “Not like someone took the last Jello stuff, though, okay?”

“Shaw, I don’t eat Jello,” Gen said as she walked them out. “Do you know what it’s made out of?”

Shaw immediately put her fingers in her ears and started humming. “Tell her to stop, Root. I love Jello. I want Jello right now. I am going to have Jello,” Shaw shouted in case Gen was going to ruin it for her.

“She’s crazy,” Gen laughed and hugged Root for coming.

“Yeah, but she’s our crazy,” Root hugged her back as she watched Shaw go to the car, all the time listing the things she liked about the gelatin.

“It comes in every color. Blue! Where else can you find a blue dessert? And it jiggles. Only crazy people would try to ruin Jello for someone,” Shaw yelled.

So concerned that the desert would somehow be taboo, Shaw continued to talk about it the whole ride to work.

“Seriously, the kid can create simulation universes, but knocks Jello? I bet there was Jello in that first City that the second computer stole. You better talk to her before she goes to college, Root, or she’s likely to get her ass kicked. I would kick someone’s ass if they dissed Jello in college. I lived on Jello one semester,” Shaw ranted.

And then, she saw Reese.

“Ladies,” John said, returning the same time as Root and Shaw.

Root smiled and said hello, but Shaw pulled her back so they could watch John walk into the building.

“There is something up with him, I know it,” she said to Root. “Did you see his shoes?”

“No, why?” Root asked.

“There was dirt on them. Reese had dirt on his soles, Root. Mr. GQ never has dirt on his shoes. I bet I can find out where he’s been,” the shorter woman declared with confidence.

Shaw was certain if she could get a sample of the soil on his shoes, she could track it down. At first, it was just a way to solve the puzzle of where her coworker was sneaking off to. But when Shaw was in her office later, she had a visitor. Azar stopped in to see her older daughter.

And Shaw noticed something immediately.

Azar’s shoes had dirt on them, too.

Her gut told her it was the same as Reese’s.

Chapter Text

For a highly trained former CIA operative, Sameen was very susceptible to the power of suggestion when it came to food. “I need Jello,” she said, more than once. And by more than, we mean so many times that Root actually reached out and took Sameen by the arm and said, “Okay, Sweetie, we’ll get some.”

The only thing that distracted her – was sitting in front of her right now in her office.  Her mother's visit was unexpected; and so was the dirt on her shoes.

 “I thought maybe you’d like to go for lunch. Root could join us, if she’s free,” Azar suggested.

“You know, that’s a great idea. I have an urge for Jello,” Sameen said and walked around her cubicle, trying to think of a way to get her mother’s shoes off. “Have you ever wanted something so much, you’d stamp your feet if you didn’t get it?” she asked.

Azar smiled, thinking this just another example of her daughter’s obsession with food. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt that strongly…,” she smiled.

“You’ve never stamped your feet?” Shaw asked incredulously.

“Not over food,” Azar laughed and unknowingly thwarted her daughter’s scheme.

Looking down at her mother’s shoes, she tried her second attempt. “Can I try you shoes on? I love that color,” Sameen said next.

“You do? I like them. What size are you?” Azar asked and Sameen said something like whatever size those shoes were, was her size.
Sameen proceeded to rip her boots off and insist that her remove her shoes. “Come on,” Shaw said, urging her mother to share.

“Of course,” her mother said and did as her daughter asked.

Sameen proceeded to shove her feet into the narrow heels which were just a half size too small. “I like them,” Shaw said, almost tipping over, but laughing her way into Janine’s office. She put her finger up to her mouth and grabbed a tissue. “THESE ARE NICE!” she called out to her mother. She took the tissue, wiped the dirt off, and put the tissue in a plastic bag which she put in Janine’s drawer. “But a little tight,” Shaw reported and walked back into her office, barefooted.  Shaw handed the shoes back to her mother.

“Lunch?” her mother asked. 

“Sure!” Sameen said triumphantly.

When they emerged and she saw John at the end of the hallway, she suggested her mother go get Root and she would meet them in the cafeteria. Her mother agreed and went on the elevator to Root’s office.

“Get Fusco to come here,” Shaw whispered, leaning back into Janine’s office. She took the bag with the small sample of dirt and put it in her pocket. Then, she grabbed another baggie and headed off to get a sample from Reese’s shoes.

The issue was that John had just walked into the men’s room.

“Really, Reese? Now?” Shaw complained under her breath. She hid in Janine’s office and stood on the chair, waiting until she could see the tall man’s head emerge from the lavatory. He started to walk towards Janine’s office and Shaw jumped off the seat and sat down.

“So, then Root said – ‘I believe by particular gifts, you mean highly intelligent functioning across many disciplines’. It was so funny,” Shaw said, with an exaggerated laugh.

Her voice was so weird that even Reese stopped to look at her. “You okay, Shaw?” he asked.

“Never better,” Sameen said and he nodded and kept walking.

“Did you see that!” Shaw whispered when he left.

“No, what?” her assistant asked.

“His shoes were clean!” Shaw said aggravated. It meant he had wiped them off… in the men’s bathroom.

“John is always very particular about his clothes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wrinkled even,” Janine thought through.

“Yeah, yeah, well his shoes were dirty before and I have to find that dirt,” Shaw said as if there weren’t anything peculiar at all about that.

Thinking she misunderstood her boss, Janine asked; “You want dirt on John?”

“Just from his shoes,” Shaw explained as she got ready to leave.

“Where are you going?” Janine asked.

“Apparently, to hell and back,” Shaw quipped and walked out.

Shaw approached the room Reese had just exited. She put her hand on the door and hesitated. “Come on, Shaw,” she chastised herself. “Remember the bathrooms in Kabul?”

“Are you… going in…there?” the next man to approach asked.

“What?” Shaw said, coming out of her reverie. “Yes, I mean there’s an issue and uhm… Reese asked me to check it out.” Shaw was bouncing on the balls of her feet as she prayed this guy bought that story.

“Okay, sure,” the man said and went away.

Sameen pushed the door opened and went in with the determination of fire personnel going into a burning building. “OH GEEZ!” she said when she saw the napkin strewn floor and the general condition of the room. “You guys are pigs,” she concluded and when a man emerged from the stall she added, “No offense.”

He stared at her and maybe, just maybe because he was so distracted, he started to walk out. “Are you going to wash your hands?” Shaw asked in horror at the thought of how many handshakes were truly just a transfer of germs. Something she had never really considered before.

“Yes,” the nervous man said and washed up quickly.

Shaw did not come prepared and in fact, the only thing she had was the baggie and a sharpie pen. Glancing at the amount of napkins she was going to have to go through, she needed to keep people out. She opened the door and scrawled ‘Out of Order’ on the door and closed it. There, that should do it.

Sameen decided John would sooner be caught shopping than throw a napkin on the floor so she decided her best bet was to check right in the trash bin. “Oh, God,” she uttered as she started to take one napkin out at a time. “I’m never going to feel clean again,” she decided and dug deeper.

Finally, after many tries and much revulsion, Sameen picked up a paper towel that had dirt on it. “Bingo,” she said and put it into the baggie.

She emerged triumphantly to a small group of men crowded around the bathroom, all wondering what the issue was. “Oh,” Shaw said nonchalantly and tried to erase the indelible ink. Seeing that it didn’t work, she simply fixed the issue by writing “No Longer” on top of her first message. “All done,” she informed the group. “And for God’s sake, wash up and throw the towels in the trash, would you?”

Now that she had her two samples, all she had to do was get Fusco to test them to see if they were both from the same location.

After she showered.

Shaw ran to the gym and proceeded to strip off her clothes and shower. She practically moaned the entire time she was in there. “You okay in there, Shaw?” Martine called out.

“Have you ever been in a men’s bathroom? I mean, of course you have. Long line at bar and too many beers and sure, we’ve all used the men’s room,” Shaw carried on as she grabbed a towel to dry off.

Martine stood there listening to her friend. “You showered because you were in the men’s bathroom?” she asked.

“Not just the bathroom, which I could do by the way without being skeeved out, but in the trash bin?” Shaw asked and shuddered all over again. “It’s nasty.”

“Should I ask why you were in the men’s trash?” Martine asked.

“No, but could you get me some clothes? I want to burn these,” Shaw said, holding her pants and t shirt at a distance.

“I’m sure Janine has extra clothes for you,” Martine decided and texted the woman. Within seconds, the assistant appeared with a new set of clothes.

“How did you…?” Shaw was going to ask when Martine waved her off.

“Please don’t,” Martine begged.

Shaw’s phone was beeping with texts from Root asking where she was. “Gotta go,” Shaw said and took the two bags of evidence with her.

“Detective Fusco said he would be up soon,” Janine reported as Shaw went off to join her wife and mother for lunch.

Shaw rushed into the room, knowing she was already suspiciously late. She bypassed her favorite sandwich station and went straight for …. You guessed it, the Jello. She chose one from each color and put the containers on the tray and rushed to sit with Root.

“Jello?” her mother asked because there was so much of it.

“I love Jello,” Shaw declared. “And don’t tell me what it’s made of or I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Azar smiled.

“Everything okay, Sweetie?” Root asked because she knew Shaw was late … and in different clothes.

“Yus,” Shaw said, sucking in a large spoonful of the red gelatin. “This is like the perfect food.”

While Root and Azar ate their salads, Shaw consumed more Jello than most third grade classes did that day.

After her mother left, Root looked over at Sameen. Her expression clearing indicated she was waiting for an explanation. “I was in the men’s bathroom,” was not even on the top twenty things Root had considered. “Remember the dirt on Reese’s shoes? Well, my mother had similar dirt on hers. So, I got a sample and Fusco is on his way here to get it tested.”

Someone else might have suggested that Shaw’s idea … and method of collecting data… was crazy. But not Root. She listened with rapt attention and even squeezed Shaw’s hand when she described how gross the men’s bathroom was.

“So, you think your mother is working with Reese on something?” Root asked.

“I know they are,” Shaw corrected her. “I just have to figure out what it is.”

Fusco arrive and joined his favorite couple at the table.

“What’s this all about, Shaw?” he asked and she slipped him the two clear plastic bags with dirt in them. He watched as she ripped open a container of blue gelatin.

“You know that that stuff is made out of?” he asked, more curious about what she was eating than what she asked him to do.

She instinctively put her hand on the back of her pants for her gun, but she didn’t have it. “Stop talking about this. Do not ruin Jello for me or so help me, Fusco, I will so something.”

“You know, I can’t be the forensic guy and the messenger, Shaw,” Fusco complained.

“No, you’re just the messenger,” she clarified. “I want you to give it to the forensic guy.” She had missed the point.

“Can I ask how you got these?” Fusco asked out of curiosity.

“I think my mother is working with Reese. Their shoes had that dirt on them and I’m betting those samples are one and the same. Oh, and I need to know where it came from,” Shaw said between spoonful’s of her food.

“Your mother… and Reese?” Fusco asked surprised. “You’re not thinking…?”

“What?” Shaw said and put down her spoon waiting for him to insinuate something .

“You think they’re working together on something?” Fusco decided.

“Yes, and I don’t trust her,” Shaw pointed out. “How did she seem to you?” she asked Root.

“See seemed fine,” Root admitted because they had talked while waiting for Sameen to show up.

“See?” Shaw said to Fusco, as if that were proof enough.

“How did you get these?” he asked.

“I had to go into the men’s room,” Shaw said as if that entitled her to heaps of sympathy. “And it was disgusting.”

Instead, her friend burst out laughing.

“Lionel,” Root said to stop his teasing.

“You were grossed out? In the men’s room?” Fusco asked astonished.

“Fusco!” Sameen slapped his arm.

Now, Fusco and Shaw’s relationship was based on a rock solid foundation of busting each other. Today was no exception.

“Oh, my God, Shaw; I see it now. I should have seen it before, you know, but it’s all becoming clear to me,” Fusco said authoritatively.

“What the hell are you talking about?” Shaw demanded.

“You’re becoming... domesticated!” Fusco threw out there and drew a deadly stare when his words hit his target. Dead center.  "You never cared about things like this.  And now you do.  Domesticated."

“Root, would you please get my gun?” Shaw begged.

“I’ll get back to you with this later, Shaw. Unless, you’re ironing or dusting or something,” Fusco pushed his luck.

“I’m going to have to kill him,” Shaw decided.

“I know, Sweetie,” Root smiled because she understood this push and pull friendship.

Later that evening, Fusco’s friend in forensics got back to him. “Okay, Fusco, you owe me lunch for rushing this,” Carl said as he sat down at his desk. Fortunately, Joss was out on a case and not sitting across from him. “Turns out the two samples are exactly the same and I was able to narrow it down to cemeteries in Queens.”

“Thanks, Carl,” Fusco said and called Shaw with the news.

“Thanks, Fusco,” Shaw said as she sat on the couch with Root and the dogs. “Want to go for a walk?” she asked Root.

“Sure,” Root agreed. “Where?”

“The cemetery,” Shaw said.

Chapter Text

“What possessed us to think it would be easier with two doo-og…I mean Shadow and Bear?” Shaw corrected herself as she walked with Root from the parking lot next to the row of graves.

“Did you ever, you know, do it in a cemetery?” Root asked as the moon shone down and the wind picked up.

“What? In a what? No!” Shaw avowed and kept walking. Then, she stopped. “Unless you count some of the lower country in Afghanistan because, man, that was just like a graveyard.” Sameen meant it as an offhand comment about some of the terrible geographic locations she’d been.

That’s not how Root took it.

Usually, Root didn’t go near the fact that Sameen rarely talked about her past lovers. She told Shaw her past didn’t matter to her and that was true. Except when she thought about the fact that Sameen had one. Shaw was still laughing over the quip, but Root was no longer at her side.

“Come on, Root,” Shaw said, waving her hand at her.

“You made love to someone on a dirt road?” Root asked.

“What? No,” Shaw said and still didn’t get it.

If I were closer, I’d bite her,’ Bear said to his unknowing protégé. He had an uncanny ability to sense when Root was upset, which was amazing, because Root didn’t get upset often.

“I asked if you ever did it in a cemetery and you said…,” Root started to repeat.

What are you talking about? No, it wasn’t … it was not like that,” Shaw said, and was looking around for what could possibly interest her mother and Reese at this location. She bent down and touched the dirt and felt the same pebbly substance that was on their shoes. “I’d bet anything this is where they were. But why?” Sameen said, still unaware that Root was staring at her.

Sometimes – not often at all – but, sometimes, Root looked at Sameen and worried about losing her. It was a natural fear for someone who grew up the way she did – without anyone, without stability. It was an old fear that reared its head at moments when Root felt apprehensive that she and Sameen were on different pages. It was a tiny spark that usually was extinguished with Shaw kissing Root hard or holding her tightly. But that spark was igniting with Sameen being – at the moment – clueless about what her words were doing to Root.

“I can’t decide if not trusting my mother is a good thing or not,” Shaw proffered as she looked around. “Bear, do not let her do anything here. It’s a cemetery, for God’s sake,” Shaw lectured.

Finally, she realized Root had been silent.

“What? What is up with you? Are you freaked out? Do you want to wait in the car?” Shaw asked in rapid succession.

“How do I know one of your many lovers won’t come back someday,” Root asked and cringed at how desperate that sounded. But she knew if she didn’t ask, it would gnaw at her.

“My many what?” Shaw laughed out loud and Bear felt it imperative to do something.

So, he bit her right on the ass.

“Ouch! Did you… did he just… he just bit me!” Shaw bellowed and put her hand there.

Shadow watched intently, but had to admit, she had no idea what was going on. ‘It takes time,’ Bear howled.

“Sameen,” Root said and Shaw was starting to get she was serious. “How do I know that one of those people won’t show up at our door someday?”

There was dead silence while Bear…and Root… waited for Shaw to think about this.

“Oh,” she finally said and walked back to where Root stood, bathed in moonlight. Smiling eyes looked up at her and Sameen put her hands on Root’s crossed arms. “First, there were never… you know…many. I didn’t have time for that. And second, Root, they happened so fast, no one ever got a full name or address. There was no one, and I mean no one, who mattered to me before you,” Shaw said, her expression one of calmness as she reassured Root.

The light of the moon reflected in the water that gathered in Root’s eyes at how touched she was at her wife’s assurances. “No one,” Shaw repeated and stretched up to kiss Root’s lips.

“Thank you,” Root whispered.

“It’s the truth,” Shaw said and never once complained that they were in the middle of a cemetery, on a mission, and it was bad timing.

She’s learning,’ Bear said to Shadow.

Root held onto Shaw’s arm as they walked down the narrow path, past graves.

“Do you see any cameras?” Shaw asked and Root looked around. Vandalism to grave sites sometimes caused them to put security cameras up, but not at this peaceful place.

“None,” Root assured her and checked her phone.

“So, it makes sense that they’d come where there are no cameras, right? But to do what?” Shaw asked, looking around.

“You know, as I look at the coordinates of this place,” Root said, checking her phone, “…this is directly in a triangulation of a dead zone; no pun intended. No cameras for blocks.”

“She thinks she’s so smart, doesn’t she?” Shaw said. “But what would she need Reese for? Muscle? To shoot someone? She’s been too quiet lately, have you noticed that?”

“I think the whole Martine incident really threw her,” Root reminded Shaw.

“Nothing throws that woman. It’s like she’s got nerves of freaking steel,” said the daughter who shared that same characteristic. “Which is why it shouldn’t surprise us she picked a cemetery to conduct her business. But what business?” Shaw asked.

Root wondered what her mother-in-law would see in a place like this. No cameras and away from everyone. Finally, she noticed the small structures off in the distance. “Over there, Shaw. Is it possible she’s using those mausoleums?”

“My mother… is a grave…robber now?” Shaw yelled, her eyebrows rose at the thought. “That’s just…not cool.”

“I don’t think she’s taking anything out of them, Shaw. I think she might be making a deposit,” Root surmised, thinking about the cool interior that CPU’s could operate in.

“Is she putting bodies in there?” Shaw asked, not quite clear on the possibilities.

“Let’s see, okay?” Root said and they both went to the first mausoleum, with their pets.

“Do not touch anything,” Shaw instructed the dogs. “No…bones, okay?” she said and then admitted she was losing it.

Sameen looked up and saw the surname engraved in large letters. “I’d like to apologize to the Henry Family for anything my deranged mother might have done,” she said looking around.

Root used her phone to access the security code for the lock. “Voila!” she said.

“I love it when you speak French,” Shaw said, smiling and walking inside.

There, in the darkness of the inside of the vault, were tiny green lights flashing. “What the hell?” Shaw asked and Root turned on a flashlight.

“Genius, actually,” Root had to admit.

“Why do you have to admire her diabolical ways? Didn’t that woman ever hear about not disturbing the dead?” Shaw barked.

“Given the dates on the tomb, I don’t think there’s much left of the Henry Family here,” Root said optimistically.

“So, she’s running a Best Buy out of a dead guy’s tomb?” Shaw asked.

“Well said, Sweetie, but I don’t think she’s selling; I think she’s collecting,” Root said, accessing one of the machines.

“So, she’s up to something,” Shaw decided. “And she got Lurch to help her? I’m going to kill him!”

“There are only six here. If she were building something, she’d need more than this. I bet she’s got them in all those vaults outside,” Root surmised, doing the math.

“Why would she….?” Shaw asked, wondering if it were possible.

“Build her own machine?” Root filled in the blanks. “I’m not sure yet,” she said, tapping some keys. “Oh, I see,” she finally said.

“What? What do you see?” Shaw asked, pulling Root back to look at her phone. The screen scrolled with code.

“She’s looking for Greer,” Root said and had to admire the woman’s tenacity.

“How do you know…?” Shaw asked, pacing now and trying not to trip over dogs.

“She’s searching for high end activity. And I think she’s found it,” Root said.

Now, it would be hard to say exactly what happened next because they were, for all intents and purposes, in the dark. Bear would swear he did not touch the door, but Shadow did wear a very suspicious look on her furry face. Shaw would swear she only tapped the door with her hand; certainly not hard enough to make the door close. But that is what happened.

The door to the mausoleum closed and the two women… and canines… were locked inside.

“Root?” Shaw said and grabbed her wife’s hand. “There’s no doorknob on this side.”

“I guess they didn’t expect anyone to actually need one – to get out,” Root said, smirking.

Shaw immediately went into operative mode as she tried to figure out if there was a way out. Root went back to studying the information that kept showing up on her phone.

“Someone closed that door,” Shaw said and wanted one of the canines to confess.

“I think we walked into this,” Root started to surmise.

“Of course we did,” Shaw said, losing patience.

“I think your mother wanted us to find this,” Root said slowly.

What little light emanated from the machines and Root’s phone was enough to see how wide Shaw’s eyes got. “She…set…us…up?” she said.

Root didn’t have the heart to say yes, so she just nodded her head… and prayed Shaw’s ranting didn’t use up all the oxygen in the room.

Or raise the dead.

Chapter Text

Shaw immediately grabbed her phone and tried to call her mother. “No bars!” she said. “Are you freaking kidding me? No service?”

“I guess …,” Root started, but Shaw was losing it.

“If you say they didn’t think anyone would be calling from in here…,” she warned.

“No, Silly, I was going to suggest that the thick stone is probably what is causing the problem,” Root surmised. “Or no cell tower… or….”

“What…,” Shaw said, holding onto Root’s hand to get her to stop talking. “What are we going to do?”

“Hmm,” Root said, not quite sure yet.

“And how come if your phone doesn’t work, those computers work?” Shaw asked and Root thought that was a very good question.

“Let me see if I can use the computers connection…,” Root said, hoping to gain access.

“I’m going to kill her,” Shaw said. “If she set this as a trap…”

“I don’t think she purposely set it as a trap; I think she probably knew you’d figure it out,” Root said because she knew her mother-in-law knew how smart Sameen was.

“Really?” Shaw asked, not having considered anything good about this.

“Well, you are the whole package,” Root complimented her wife.

“That’s true,” Shaw just had to agree.

Root went back to deciphering the information that was coming out of the computers. “I think she left these here,” she finally concluded.

“Left them here for what reason?” Shaw asked and was trying to feel if there were any openings. “Maybe I can break that stained glass window up there.”

“I don’t think we can reach and besides, I’m not even sure Shadow would fit through that,” Root said.

“When I get ahold of her, I am going to kill her. Then, I’ll have to go to the Doc’s office for like – forever because I killed my mother. I’ll be on a Shakespearean leave of absence from work. It’s a shame, too, because I thought she’d make a good grandmother,” Shaw ranted.

“You thought about that?” Root asked, stopping what she was doing because the idea of Sameen thinking of kids made her insides flutter.

“Yeah, you know she could get to do all the things she didn’t do,” Shaw suggested. “What are these computers connected to?”

“Underground cable I think,” Root said, but was really thinking about Shaw with a kid. “You are going to make a wonderful mom.”

“You think?” Shaw asked and Root nearly melted at the sight of the light shining on Shaw’s face. “I’d be good at the sports and fighting. There would be no bullying, I promise you that. “

“Oh, you would teach them so much more than that, Sameen,” Root said, falling in love all over again. “You’d teach them how to be brave and courageous and truthful and a good person,” she gushed.

Shaw had to admit, she wanted to be the woman that Root was describing. “After I kill their grandmother, though,” she said, because she tended to have a one track mind.

“I think Azar means well,” Root said.

“DON’T! Please don’t say she means well,” Shaw spat, using air quotes around the phrase she found most offensive. “That woman meant well all my life and it cost me my father and a childhood and…,” she was hollering, when Root put her arms around her and hugged her.

“I know,” Root said. “I think she might be trying to make it all up to you by doing this.”

“By locking me in a tomb?” Shaw asked.

“By protecting you,” Root said and cringed as soon as the words left her mouth. She could have mouthed the response her wife uttered.

“I don’t need protecting; I do the protecting!”

“I know,” Root said, even though she knew Azar was not giving Sameen that choice.

“If she knew I would figure this out, why trap us in here?” Shaw asked and started pacing again.

“Do you think about dying, Shaw?” Root asked, because her wife was leaning against the wall where the Henry Family members were interred. “Jacque Henry was only forty-eight when he died,” she noted.

“No, I don’t,” Shaw said quickly, because that was her standard answer. What soldier doesn’t think about dying? What soldier would ever admit it?

“I think we continue on,” Root theorized.

“Like reincarnation? Because I am not coming back to this. No, I want a one way ticket,” Shaw replied.

“No, like we never really die. We’re energy, we’re code. Sometimes we’re just bad code, so maybe we come back as something else. Like it they downloaded our minds into a machine. We would be there forever,” Root thought through.

The entire conversation unnerved Sameen.

“Look at me,” she said, pulling Root out of her reverie. “…you and I are always going to be together. You’re not going into a machine and I’m not going to prison when I take care of Azar. You and I have paid our dues, Root. We deserve a happy after ever life and we’re going to get it. I am not going along with how things have to be. That’s bullshit. I’m making sure you and I get what we deserve and that is to be together and happy. Period.”

Root’s knees felt weak at her wife’s loving declarations. No one ever said they would take on the world more sincerely than Sameen Shaw. “I like that,” Root said and kissed Sameen hard.

“Woot? Woot?” Shaw said, her lips unable to form the proper R because they were being gripped by Root.

“Yes, Sweetie?” she asked, finally letting go.

“We have to get out of here,” Shaw reminded her.

“Right,” Root said, refocusing because she could have died in Shaw’s arms right there.

“You know, I just want to point out,” Shaw said, looking down at the two dogs and pointing her finger at them. “You two are of NO help! I mean, we could have two cats that would be more helpful right now. At least they could climb and fit through small spaces.”

Shadow was just happy Sameen was paying her attention, but Bear got the insult and started to bellow immediately. He was barking his defense in rapid succession.

“Don’t give me that,” Shaw answered back.


“What?” Shaw asked, turning to Root.

“Is that you?” came the question.

Shaw looked at Root who wasn’t saying those things. The voice was coming from outside.

“What the hell are you doing in there?” came the woman’s voice.

“I’m picking out property for when I die!” Shaw shouted back.

“That sounds like…,” Root was about to say, when the locked opened and Zoe Morgan stood in the doorway.

“Shaw? Root?” Zoe asked again.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Shaw asked her rescuer.

“You’re not going to believe this,” Zoe said, pushing the door all the way opened. “I received an envelope with five thousand dollars cash and instructions to come here tonight.

“And you just came?” Shaw asked amazed.

“I brought this,” Zoe said, taking a Taser out of her purse that matched her high heel shoes, which complimented her dress. “Hey, I didn’t … uhm… interrupt anything, did I?” she teased.

“I was just plotting revenge on my mother,” Shaw admitted as she and Root stepped out into the night air.

“And you brought your dogs?” Zoe asked, hoping to make some sense out of this.

“How would my mother know to contact you?” Shaw asked, suspiciously.

“I’m a fixer, Shaw. I fix things; everyone knows that,” Zoe reminded her.

“Well, we are very glad you showed up,” Root said.

“Yeah, thanks,” Shaw said unenthusiastically and walked to the car.

“She always looks so angry,” Zoe noted to Root.

“Yeah, she’s … upset with her mom,” Root conveyed.

“I should take her out shooting or something,” Zoe offered.

“She’d like that,” Root replied.

Root thanked Zoe again and the couple and pets got back into their car and drove back to Manhattan.

“I’m going to go to her house and really let her have it,” Shaw decided.

“I’d be surprised if she’s there,” Root admitted.

“Where is she, Root? Can’t you get on the Batphone to that all seeing machine and find her?” Shaw implored.

“I’m wondering if she could find her,” Root thought out loud. “I don’t think Azar wants to be found, Sweetie.”

“All the more reason why we have to,” Shaw answered.

The couple decided to go home and think through their next step. At the very least, Shaw wanted to drop off the dogs that proved useless in their mishap that night.

But as they rode up in the elevator, Bear and Shadow both started growling as if something were wrong.

“Oh, now you decide to help out,” Shaw complained.

“There’s someone in the apartment,” Root decided.

Shaw drew her gun and put her arm out in front of Root so that she could go in first. The dogs sensed the danger immediately and continued their slow approach.

Within seconds after entering, they all saw the problem – waiting for them.

“Hello, Sameen, Root,” Azar said, sitting comfortably on the couch.

Chapter Text

There was about to be a battle of wills in the Shaw-Groves penthouse. Azar was going to come face to face with her two most formidable foes. And she wasn’t in the least bit worried. She had decided the ends justified the means and there was no turning back.

Azar had so many things on her side, it almost seemed unfair. For one, she had history – a past that she remembered clearly and vividly. She had so little of Sameen’s childhood and yet, she replayed every minute she had. Sameen had always been, what polite people said; strong-minded. Family warned her parents that such inflexibility could hinder her. Sameen’s father took a very different approach and spoiled her. So, the job of disciplinarian fell on Azar’s shoulders.

But she was a wise mother – and knew when to pick her battles. She recognized the strength in her daughter’s trait. When Sameen dug her heels in, Azar allowed her daughter the space to explain her side. If it were reasonable, she supported her. If it was not, she explained why they couldn’t allow it. Azar never chose a battle and lost.

After all, where do you think Sameen got that determination streak to begin with?

Azar already knew that no one would agree with her wanting to take care of Greer. They had more than once usurped his hardware with malware and viruses. They had battled his highest soldiers and won. But the man was not just determined; Azar understood he was obsessed. And nothing was going to stop him. Except her.

She understood what it was like to have such power at your fingertips. Nobody truly mattered to John Greer because he was on a mission for a new world order. Azar had spent many a night touching the keys to her machine, knowing she could manipulate things and make the world pay for what it cost her. But it also went against everything Azar held dear; and she never once came close enough that it scared her.

She knew the same couldn’t be said for the man who possessed no soul.

“Are you insane?” Shaw barked as soon as she saw her. She flew from Root’s side to stand in front of her mother. “Wait; don’t answer that, because I already have the answer. Did you think you could put computers in crypts and use them to find Greer?”

“I knew you’d figure it out,” Azar said and meant it as a compliment. “Especially, when you saw the dirt…”

Root could tell her mother-in-law regretted not catching that detail because it might have delayed her daughter from tracking them.

“Please, that’s CIA operative 101 and you know it,” Shaw said and now the dogs were busy walking back and forth, unsure of what to do.

“I thought it was brilliant,” Root blurted out because she did and then she realized that wasn’t helpful. “But still…,” she tried to recoup her wife’s good graces.

Shaw wasn’t having any of it. “This is what’s wrong with you computer types,” she waved her finger at both women. “You think you can answer any problem in the world with just writing some code and executing some process.”

“Sameen,” Azar attempted to explain.

“And you recruited Reese? You couldn’t tell me about it, or Root, but you got the big guy to help you?” Shaw said, and both Azar and Root could hear the hurt in her voice over not being chosen.

Root knew where this train was going. “Did… Ayala know?” she asked gingerly and prayed the answer was no. Having John picked was one thing; have her sister chosen over her was another.

“No, she has no idea,” Azar said because she was that good.

“Oh, thank God,” Root let out and then smiled when her wife stared at her. Nothing was going to make this better.

“What exactly were you doing out there?” Sameen asked, her hands on her hips as she stared down at her mother.

I’m hungry,’ Shadow barked, but only Bear was listening.

‘Not sure it’s safe to leave yet,’ he explained because he was attuned to the tension in the room.

Azar was, by far, the calmest in the room. Her dark hair was swept up and neat; her dark pants suit was impeccable, and the white collar on her blouse was turned up, framing her face. Her hands were crossed over her knee and her nails were polished red. She hardly appeared to be the woman hell bent on carrying out an assassination.

“I will tell you… everything,” Azar smiled, “…but I need you to sit down.”

“What you need is an incredibly talented shrink who can help you work through whatever these issues are that you have,” Sameen snapped. “Now, tell me what you were doing with the tombs?”

Azar looked up and saw Sameen when she was four years old, in a very similar stance, as she protested about having to wear a dress. The preschooler’s argument was sound and logical and Azar wondered if one day, Sameen wouldn’t become a lawyer. It was so good in fact; that Azar agreed her daughter could choose her own clothing from that day forward.

“What are you smiling about?” Shaw demanded and broke her mother’s reverie. “You’re in a lot of trouble. I’m not sure… exactly what for, but I’m certain you’re in it.”

Root bit her lip at her wife’s attempt to handle this situation. She needed to help Sameen.

“Azar, are you building another machine?” Root asked, and sat down on the couch.

“I have already built it,” Azar confessed and Sameen’s breathing labored.

“What? Why would you do that?” Shaw asked, pacing now.

“Sameen, I don’t understand everything about the machine’s capacity; only you and Root will determine that. But what I do understand is Greer’s thinking. In one sense, we are losing our humanity,” Azar said and Sameen stopped pacing and stared at her mother. “We are becoming packets of data, floating around out there. What the CIA used to do, private startups are doing. They’re collecting data and it is there for the asking. Almost any program can assess more details about you within minutes.”

“What does this have to do with… with ANYTHING?” Shaw barked.

“Greer is collecting data; in massive amounts. He’s looking to establish the largest bank of knowledge that then can be used in ways we can’t imagine yet. He can manipulate the stock market, but make it appear his machine is what saved us all from a crash. Or he could develop programs that appear to cure a disease, all the time collecting DNA samples,” she explained. “His power is endless if he continues.”

“So, he’s going to play god, and you’re going to slay him. Got it,” Shaw said sarcastically. “Shouldn’t we be eliminating this from its roots, rather than chopping off the snake’s head?” Azar was well aware of her daughter’s CIA training dueling with her impatient self.

“I believe Root did that,” Azar pointed out and Root started to notice how incredibly calm the woman was. “And you and your friends did an excellent job of infiltrating and taking out his top people,” she added. “But if we don’t stop Greer, he will recruit more people and soon, his machine will be autonomous. “

“It will try to protect itself if it becomes self-aware,” Root hypothesized correctly.

“Yes,” Azar confirmed.

“So, you were building your own in the graveyard?” Shaw asked, getting tired and sitting down next to Root.

“I needed an area without cameras and the mausoleums were falling into disrepair. Everyone benefited,” Azar replied. “My program was only strong enough to find massive activity which would point to Greer. And I found him,” Azar said matter of factly.

“So, where is he? Let’s go take care of him,” Shaw said, sitting up in her seat. “Let’s go!”

“I’ve already seen him,” Azar smiled.

“You what?” Shaw bellowed and was back on her feet.

“Sameen, a man like Greer would know if someone were tracking him. So, when I found him, I extended him the courtesy of letting him know just who was looking for him,” Azar explained.

“Oh, so you found him and went calling… or did you meet him at a Benihana’s?” Shaw shouted because she was upset her mother would take such a risk.

But this was proof to Azar that her daughter didn’t understand Greer.

“Sameen, he could find me if he wanted to. He doesn’t believe I pose any threat. In fact, although he’s curious about where my program is, he believes I retired. He is, however, concerned that Root could easily enhance what I once had in the program.”

“You see?” Shaw said to her wife. “This is why I’m going to kill the bastard!” She turned to her mother and leaned down. “Where…is…he?”

“Sameen, we have time, so please…,” Azar said and patted the couch for her daughter to sit back down.

“You will tell me where he is; then I’m locking you upstairs in one of Root’s many rooms and then, she and I will take care of this,” Shaw suggested plainly. “Where is he?”

Shaw was trying to figure out what Azar’s plan was. Knowing she was a very detailed woman, she wondered how she factored in all this time to explain things to them. She finally concluded that Azar couldn’t have.

“Azar, is Reese working with you?” Root asked, moving the pieces of the puzzle around to see where they fit.

“John was kind enough to assist me with the machines you saw,” Azar explained.

“Where is Greer?” Shaw barked because this was taking too long.

“When I met him, he was in an abandoned warehouse. He found nothing about me threatening and so he came with only a bodyguard. He seemed tired, as if he’d been up late a great deal,” Azar relayed.

“I’m going to…,” Shaw growled and Root gently pulled her by the hand to sit down and listen.

“I explained I found him by using a few CPU’s and a heat activity program. He was impressed,” Azar smiled and Root put her hand on Sameen’s to prevent her from jumping up.  “Anyway, I told him that he had made this personal, by going after you and Root, and that I was going to have to kill him,” Azar smiled as she finished her tale.

“What did he do?” Root asked.

“He laughed and said he knew I had no weapons on me and that if I made a move towards him, his security man would shoot me,” Azar relayed. She was smiling as she relieved the moment.

“What did you say?” Root asked.

A haughty smile came over the woman’s face as she leaned forward. “I told him he would never see it coming.”

The look in her eyes was so obvious that even Shaw caught it. And it made her think.

“I want you to tell me what you’re doing right now or so help me…,” Shaw yelled again.

“Sameen, I know you don’t agree with me, but this had to be done. And it had to be done this way,” Azar asserted.

“Isn’t that how you do everything? Your way? Isn’t that what you’ve been doing all these years, mother? Didn’t you learn anything from the last time you so royally screwed up and ruined my life?” Shaw yelled.

The hurt was palpable and as much as Azar wanted to comfort her daughter, she knew she wouldn’t let her. She stood up, her arms outstretched, but not touching. Azar knew only Root could do that. Root walked over to where Sameen was and took her hand.

“No!” Shaw barked. “This is what she does. She gets something into her head and does it.”

“Is that what you think? Did you really believe I just rode off into the sunset after losing you and your father?” Azar asked.

“I think... you managed to go on with your life,” Shaw growled. “After you ruined mine.”

Azar was expecting Sameen to be upset with her. She was annoyed at herself that she didn’t prepare for old wounds to be opened again. She should have seen that coming, she told herself.

“I know that nothing I do, Sameen can make up for that. But I have been trying to start over with you. I want you and Root to be protected,” she said and Root cringed at her choice of words.

Root immediately grabbed Shaw’s hand so it didn’t go flying. “I DON’T NEED PROTECTION!” she shouted. “I DO THE PROTECTING!”

There were perhaps a few different responses that Azar could have used to help soothe her daughter’s agitated state. Root hoped she’d pick one laced with an apologetic tone; something that would calm things down.

That wasn’t the exact route Azar chose.

“Not this time, Sameen; I’m sorry,” is what she said instead; her words only fanning the flames.

Shaw raised her hand to strike back, but stopped herself. But in watching her movement, Root realized the time on Shaw’s watch– and how much of it had passed since they were there.

“You wanted to keep us here,” she finally said to Azar.

Azar didn’t smile, but she acknowledged Root was correct.

“What? What does that mean?” Shaw asked, turning to Root.

Azar didn’t answer; she picked up the remote and put the television on where she was certain the news would be breaking.

In breaking news tonight, there has been a massive explosion in space. A corporately owned satellite appears to have veered off course, causing it to collide with another satellite. The bright light from the explosion could be seen by NASA and other powerful telescopes. No word yet on what caused the satellite to go off course.’

“Greer has a satellite?” Root asked.

“Not anymore,” Azar answered, shutting the television off.

“You…have a satellite?” Shaw asked, amazed.

“Not anymore,” Azar smiled softly. “If Greer was able to upload his program to space, there would be no eradicating it here.”

Shaw had to admit, her mother’s tactics were good. The soldier in her had to give her mother credit for thinking about the big picture. “But his program is still here? Somewhere?”

“Sameen, Greer was recruiting not just people through the dark web, but the next generation. He was introducing his machine in video games so that kids would get used to interacting with an AI that could appear benevolent. Imagine having children playing in your home that you believe are safe, but aren’t,” she proposed and then looked at her daughter. “He had to be stopped.”

“Mother, is this a stall tactic?” Shaw asked of Root's assertion. "Because I'm not leaving your side now."

Azar’s phone beeped and she looked at the text. “It’s done,” Azar said very calmly.

“What’s done?” Root asked, although she had a good idea.

“What I couldn’t do for my daughter, I promised to do for my grandchildren,” Azar said without any arrogance.

“Greer is dead.”

Chapter Text

Hearing that a nemesis was removed should have made Shaw and Root feel relieved. But they never saw him as the potential threat that Azar did. It was, perhaps, too early in their relationship with the machine to realize just how powerful a weapon Greer’s program could have been.

Now, Azar was convinced this would give Root, especially, the time she needed to come to terms with the difficult decisions that could lie ahead.

“Your satellite took him out?” Shaw asked and she didn’t really want an answer; she wanted to figure it out. “You didn’t have Reese do it, did you?”

Azar was so far ahead of Root and Shaw on this that it didn’t seem fair. “No, of course not. I would never involve Mr. Reese more than I needed to.”

That wasn’t exactly an answer, but it was one that Shaw could understand. As much as she hated to admit it, she understood what the former CIA Operative was doing. She had assessed a threat and was eradicating it.

Azar decided it was time for her to leave. “I’ll see myself out,” she smiled because she could see both women were exhausted, trying to piece this together.

“This doesn’t make it okay,” Shaw said sharply, touching her mother’s arm.

“I understand,” Azar said. She leaned in and hugged Sameen who found it harder to be mad at her mother when she did that.

Then, she turned to Root and smiled, giving her the same warm hug. “I didn’t do it just for you and Sameen,” she said to her daughter-in-law. “I did it for the future.”

Root had the sense that Azar knew more about this than even she did at the moment.

“I’m taking you home,” Shaw announced and her mother knew she had no say in it. Root didn’t offer to go with them, deciding that perhaps Sameen needed this time alone with her mother.

The car ride was silent as Shaw’s thoughts tossed around in her head. Where to begin? What to say? Was it about just this one thing, or a lifetime of issues? Sameen was ready to talk by the time she pulled up outside Azar’s house.
“How do you know that Greer’s people won’t mount a counterattack? Figure out it was you and retaliate?” was her first question.

“I don’t,” Azar answered truthfully. “Although one doesn’t usually suspect a retired CIA operative to have her own satellite,” she pointed out. She could see the streetlight reflect in Sameen’s eyes and they showed her worry. “Sameen, this had to be done. Listen to me; he has people out there recruiting the best and the brightest at a very young age. Only Greer would try something as audacious as that. No one had all the information except him. Now, they’ll be scrambling, but they’ll never have his vision. That…,” she said looking out the window, “… takes a dedicated zealot.”

Sameen’s eyes darted back and forth as she tried to sort out her feelings. “I don’t know what to think, Mom. I mean, on one hand I totally get what you did. You’ve been trained. I had no idea how well you were trained, but I see it now. But, I can’t have you running off putting yourself in danger…and…not telling us. I mean, Root and I would have gone with you. We would have helped,” Shaw said, looking at her mother now.

Azar slipped her hand across to touch Sameen’s. “I know you would have. And you would have been the first person I called if I needed further help or was in trouble.”

Those words alone softened Sameen’s confusion.

“This had to be done,” Azar repeated, in case that was the only thing her daughter remembered.

“How do you know he’s dead?” her daughter asked next.

“I know,” Azar said, but didn’t say how.

“I’m sorry… if I said stuff…,” Sameen said, her voice cracking.

“Listen to me, Sameen,” Azar said, taking her two hands now as they sat in the car. “You have every right to be angry and hurt. I don’t ever want you to stop sharing your feelings about that with me. I am responsible for a lot of the pain you suffered and if I could do it all again, I’d never have endangered your father or you. I can’t turn back the clock, Azizam, but I will do everything I can to earn back your trust and your love.”

Shaw’s breathing labored as emotions swelled in her chest and throat, making it hard to speak. Her mother leaned in and kissed her forehead and pressed her hand to Sameen’s cheek. Her thumb wiped away a tear that streaked down Shaw’s face. Sameen swallowed hard and closed her eyes to keep herself calm.

“I will call you tomorrow,” Azar said and started to exit the car.

Sameen’s hand shot out to grab her mother before she left. “I have… never… stopped loving you,” she said, looking straight ahead.

The sentiment made Azar’s heart swell with feeling and she squeezed her daughter’s hand. Then, she got out of the car and walked up the stairs to her doorway. Shaw was out of her side of the car within seconds, and walked behind her mother, watching.

The door whipped open and Sameen’s younger sister was there, yelling. “Where have you been? I have called your phone a dozen times and you never once answered. What did we tell you about this? You’re to be in contact with me when you go off on your own,” Ayala ranted. She stood there like an irate parent, demanding to know why her mother didn’t keep in touch.

“I think you’re grounded,” Shaw said to her mother.

Azar smiled warmly and turned to her younger daughter. “Yes, I know, dear,” she said, but Ayala was still carrying on.

Shaw had to laugh at the role reversal as her mother went inside and she returned to her car. She drove the short distance home, strangely calmer now that she talked with her mother. She wasn’t sure how that happened, but perhaps she’d ask Iris to explain it to her.
Root rushed to the entryway when she heard the elevator door open. She didn’t even stop to ask how things went; she just pulled Sameen into her arms and kissed her. In that kiss, Root could tell that her wife was calmer, more at ease.

“I’m sorry you married into such a crazy family,” Shaw said later as they cuddled on the couch.

“And you think Harold is normal?” Root laughed of her adoptive uncle.

“You have a point,” Sameen conceded.

Root moved alongside Sameen and pulled a blanket up over them. It had been a long night of trekking around and discussions. There would be plenty of time to go over everything in the morning.

It wasn’t until Sameen was lying in Root’s arms, in the dark and quiet that her mind reviewed what her mother had said. Like any good operative, she listed what she did know and what she didn’t know. She didn’t know yet how Greer died. She did know her mother was hell-bent on taking him out. Then, the phrase repeated in her head; ‘recruiting the best and brightest at a young age’. “The best and brightest,” Sameen repeated as her eyes grew heavy. “The best and brightest,” she repeated and Root pulled her closer.

For every point Sameen’s mind made, it attempted a counter argument.

“He’s using video games to introduce his machine.”

“The best and the brightest.”

“At a young age.” Sameen only knew one person that description fit.

“But…Genrika doesn’t play video games.”

Even though Sameen’s body was in a deep sleep, safe in Root’s arms; her mind worked on this puzzle.

“Maybe...,” it finally proposed; “… Greer had other ways of getting to the best and brightest. Maybe he used something other than technology. Maybe…,” Sameen’s mind worked out, “… he used people.”

Chapter Text

Bear knew better than to try and come between his favorite two humans while they slept in bed, but Shadow hadn’t learned that particular lesson. Until that night. She crept slowly up between Root and Shaw, but by the morning, the shepherd dog had been schooled. She was pushed, legs rolled over her, and in general, she was shook.

I warned you,’ Bear said smugly.

What were they doing?’ Shadow asked and Bear snickered (well, as well as dogs can, of course), at the state of her fur.

Something is troubling them,’ the wise canine said, looking up at the women who had not slept well.

Bear was right; neither Root nor Shaw slumbered well. Root tossed and turned about what Azar’s message meant, and Shaw had this nagging suspicion about who helped her mother. The restless sleep was so severe that both dogs just stared at their owners when they awoke.

What…happened to their fur?’ Shadow asked, and sat behind Bear for security.

It happens when they don’t sleep well,’ he explained and the two canines ran out of the room. It was bad.

Root reached over to Sameen and pulled her in. “Didn’t sleep?” she asked and already knew the answer.

“I keep thinking about my mother,” Shaw said, snuggling into a comfortable position on Root’s chest.

“Me, too,” she concurred. “She put it that way for a reason.”

“She’s so slick,” Sameen said and wasn’t sure if she admired it, or was annoyed by that fact. “I don’t think Greer was taken out by a satellite.”

“What do you think she meant when she said Greer was using people?” Root asked.

It was too early to think and Shaw said she needed coffee, so they got up and went downstairs. It was even too soon for Isabelle and Sameen had to settle for cereal and milk.

“I could make you something,” Root offered as she sipped her tea.

“NO!” Shaw said and didn’t mean to sound so adamant, but of the many talents her wife possessed, cooking was not one of them.

“What?” Root said, catching the tone.

“No, I mean, don’t go to any trouble and besides, Isabelle likes to cook…for me…so, we don’t want to make her feel like she’s not useful,” Shaw said, her mouth full of a dye-colored surgery cereal.

“You’re afraid of my cooking?” Root asked, feigning hurt.

“No, I love your cooking,” Shaw lied because that’s what wonderful spouses do when challenged about such a thing.

“Okay, good,” Root said, her lips pouting.

The sugar content of the second bowl of Fruity Pebbles was enough to get Shaw’s brain back online. “She got someone to help her and it wasn’t Reese and it wasn’t my sister. Fusco would spill his guts to me, and Joss would never do it. Zoe was with us,” Shaw listed as milk dripped down to her chin.

Root’s hand was there with a napkin to wipe it off as her wife continued to think.

“We’re going to have to track video games now,” Root said, working on Azar’s other puzzle. “But she said he’s recruiting them young and with people.”

Both women stared off into space as they worked on their respective mysteries.

Root understood her mother-in-law to be a very bright woman when it came to technology; Shaw had witnessed the woman’s operative training and knew how engrained it was.

What would I do?” was what both women uttered as they thought about it.

Sameen never had anything as elaborate as her own satellite at her disposal, but had she, what would she have done to take care of Greer back here on the ground. “Sniper,” she said, shoveling in another