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A bit less than a four-alarm fire (in a derelict apartment)

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It had started out the most normal day in the world. Shaw’s address had been leaked to some operatives and trashed in the firefight that ensued, then by a literal fire. In the subway Shaw was fending off offers for somewhere to stay. She had enough money for a hotel; hell, she’d make Finch pay for it if she had to. But Root just kept... offering.

----

Root had been flirting with Shaw for so long that she almost didn't notice when Shaw finally accepted her offer.

“I'm sorry, what?” Root asked.

“You asked if I wanted to come home with you. I said yes.” Shaw shrugged defensively, refusing to make eye contact with Root or any of other the other stunned occupants of the subway.

“But why now? After all this time…” Root trailed off, dumbfounded.

“My place is trashed and what can I say? You wore me down.”

“Oh. You just want somewhere to stay.” Root deflated, knowing it had been too good to be true.

“If I wanted somewhere to stay, I'd stay with Finch and Bear.” Shaw said meaningfully. Finch opened his mouth, no doubt to insist that it would be inappropriate when John caught his eye, shook his head. This wasn’t their business and Shaw wasn’t going to crash Finch’s cell in back - John had been back there, and it was sterile, cold.

Root smiled, led the way.

----

Shaw walked into Root's apartment like she owned it, pressed Root against the door, hands soft on her ribs, eyes soft, mouth close to Root's. Then a car outside backfired, and
Shaw pulled away, flopped on the couch, and Root had a moment to catch her breath, lock the door behind her.

“What's for dinner?” Shaw asked, flicking through the channels, and the mood had changed so suddenly that now Root like she was babysitting.

“There's food in the fridge. Help yourself to whatever you want,” Root said, as she shed her jacket, shrugged off her shirt, pulled on a hoodie instead. “Or we could always… eat out…” Root finished, turning to face Shaw with a raised eyebrow. Shaw turned away suddenly, caught watching. She hadn’t been expecting Root to change in front of her, but she hadn’t objected to the view either. Shaw looked around the studio apartment, noted the lack of other rooms. She opened her mouth to ask another obvious question, only to be preemptively answered by Root.

“It's a one bedroom apartment. Meaning one bed. We can always... bunk up…” Root said suggestively. Shaw rolled her eyes.

“Floor's fine,” Shaw said sharply. Wondering why she had taken Root up on her offer. She ran her hand through her hair. When her hand caught her ponytail she untied it, shook it out. When she looked up again Root was watching her in awe, one hand wrapped around the doorframe, head resting on her hand. Shaw rolled her eyes again. Wondering why she'd pushed Root against the door, wondering why she'd been so… gentle about it.

“There's a couch. No need to be so chivalrous.”

“Got anything for me to sleep in?” Shaw asked, heading for the fridge. Nothing on the tv, not that it had ever interested her much anyway.

In the fridge was a mostly empty jar of Nutella and a half empty pack of Twizzlers.

“Jesus, what do you eat?” Shaw asked, with due concern.

“Tonight? Pizza? Then… we'll see.” Root smiled coyly, aware of her overtures, picked up her phone. “One with the lot?”

“Make it two.” Shaw said, stomach already growling. “One with pepperchinis.” She grabbed the food in the fridge, pulled out a Twizzler as she opened the Nutella jar. She dug the Twizzler into the Nutella, went back to the couch, jaw working. Root shook her head.

“As you wish,” Root said as she made the call.

----

When Root hung up and walked back to the sofa Shaw was in her sports bra, sniffing her shirt. There were two Twizzlers left; Shaw offered Root one. Root refrained from dabbing it in the proffered nearly empty jar, chewed on it thoughtfully as she eyed Shaw. Eyed Shaw’s newly exposed skin. Shaw looked up eventually, rolled her eyes again at Root’s obvious interest in her torso.

“I've been fighting all day. Can I take a shower, borrow a towel and some pants? Shirt, too. John said he'd swing by my old place, see if anything's salvageable but I think I’ll need to go shopping. Again.” Shaw didn't look too annoyed, despite the inconvenience, despite the proximity to someone she spent most of her time batting away from her - quite gently, by Shaw's standards.

“Of course. Food in half an hour.” Shaw got up and Root sat on the couch by herself, listening to the bathroom door close, the taps turn on, a distant shuffle of clothing. Tried not to think of Shaw undressing so close to her, a flimsy door the only thing between them. Root got up, sifted through a drawer. She had a lot of costumes, bought on the fly as needed, but not a lot of clothes. She dug through, found a singlet she liked to sleep in, a pair of shorts - her pants would be too long, and these shorts would… well, they'd look good on Shaw, Root acknowledged, aware of her ulterior motive. She placed them on the bed, the side closest to the door to the bathroom, considered walking in to place them on the sink but decided against it. It was enough that Shaw had come here willingly, for now. It was enough that Shaw had looked at her like that at the door, setting every sense ablaze. She could sense Shaw’s uncertainty, tense like a coiled spring, ready to bolt… but staying, for some reason. Like she was playing chicken, trying to tough it out. Shaw came out wrapped in a towel and cloaked in steam, took the clothes back in the bathroom with her. She seemed embarrassed, shy, and it just made Root ache more.

A knock on the door took her attention and she went to open it. Pizzas, and a cake from the place next to the pizza shop. A six pack of beer too. Root tipped well; she always did. That's why she always got what she asked for. Root put the pizzas on the table in front of the tv, suddenly nervous. She hadn't thought Shaw would take her up on her offer, hadn't thought that Shaw... perhaps she had been flirting, earlier, but she wasn't now. And Root's hopes had been dashed. Not that she'd thought anything would happen but Shaw was reserved again, almost hostile again.

Shaw was...

Out of the bathroom now, singlet tight on her torso. Shorts longer on Shaw than they were on Root, but still short. Shaw threw herself down on the couch next to Root, smelling fresh, smelling like Root's shampoo, Root’s deodorant. Root looked away, tried to ignore all that tantalising exposed flesh. Shaw opened a box, folded two slices over and started digging in, seemingly not noticing where her bare knee brushed Root's jeanclad knee.

“I think. Yes. A shower. Good idea.” Root said abstractly.

“But the pizza’s hot,” Shaw said through a mouthful of cheese. Root took a slice, pretended to watch the tv, hyperaware of Shaw's knee, aware of the fact that there was room on the couch on the other side of Shaw. That Shaw had chosen to sit this close to her.

“You're quiet, for once,” Shaw said finally.

“I… I'm going to shower,” Root said. She put down her half eaten slice. Picked out something to sleep in, took it in with her. She knew she was making this awkward but then, so was Shaw.

----

Shaw had got most of the way through one of the pizzas before she started wondering about Root. She seemed withdrawn. She was probably confused; Shaw had come in with guns blazing and now she was being… domestic. Shaw still wasn't sure why she'd accepted; she had nothing to offer. Nothing a human woman would want, would put up with. Sure, they'd be hot together, but Root would want commitment or affection or both and they'd have to keep working together. Being with Root, even for a night, would be more trouble than it was worth.

But when Root came out of the shower, boxer shorts and a worn tee with a faded slogan to resume her place next to Shaw on the couch, Shaw had difficulty remembering all the reasons she shouldn't want to run her hand over her colleague's muscular thigh that was currently pressed against her own. Shaw put down her pizza, swallowed thickly, then reached for another beer. It was going to be a long night.

Root finished her slice, picked up another. Looked over to where Shaw was leaned back against the couch, staring at her.

“What?” Root asked, chewing quickly.

“I turned on the game… was there anything you wanted to… it is your place...” Shaw sipped again at her beer, thanking her quick reflexes for the easy out for her staring.

Root glanced at the tv with disinterest.

“I don’t mind,” Root said quickly, as she took another bite. This was getting awkward. “I have some stuff to work on, some research after dinner.”

“Oh,” Shaw said. “Oh,” she said again, and picked up her fourth slice (or seventh and eighth slices, depending on how Root might have counted).

“I would get started now but… greasy keyboards aren’t my thing.” Root looked longingly over to a laptop bag on the table. Then she looked back over to where Shaw’s knee hadn’t budged when Root’s had bumped against it when she sat back down in her shorts, Shaw’s bare skin warm. She savoured it through another two slices of pizza, then shoved the box over to Shaw.

“Cake in the fridge when you’re finished,” Root said as she stood, washed her hands in the kitchen, wiped them carefully before pulling out her laptop and sitting at the table beside the couch.

Shaw considered asking Root to work from the couch next to her, then dismissed the thought. It was too needy - she’d already shown her hand by accepting Root’s offer for shelter for the night. She’d already gone too far, pressing her against the door like that - Shaw rubbed her hands together, remembering the look of hungry anticipation on Root’s face, remembering the way Root’s ribs had felt pressed against her palms. Instead she finished up the pizza, threw the boxes out. Put her empty beer bottles in the recycling bin Root had pointed wordlessly to, not looking up from her screen. Root had put her hair in a ponytail, put her glasses on and damn if the nerdy thing wasn’t doing it for Shaw.

Shaw wandered over to the fridge, pulled out the cake. Cut two slices, wiped her tactical blade clean and brought a plate over to Root, who again didn’t look up, just spooned cake into her mouth while typing one-handed.

Shaw took her slice to the couch, disgruntled. Root had spent all this time making all those suggestive comments only to leave her out in the cold for the sake of her beloved machine.

Not that Shaw wanted Root all over her… it just might have been nice to have an evening, a meal, a conversation. Instead of this awkward silence.

----

Root eventually sighed, stretched and stood up.

“Oh, thanks for the cake,” Root said as she noticed the empty plate beside her. She took off her glasses, put them on the keyboard of the laptop. “I didn’t realise it was so late. Good game?”

Shaw hadn’t paid enough attention to the game, bemused by Root’s proximity, so she nodded, which was enough of an answer to Root, who was rinsing the plates and spoons in the sink.

“So. Where are you going to sleep. The offer to share the bed - just to sleep - still stands,” Root said seriously.

“It's not... It's not a good idea to sleep next to a marine, Root,” Shaw said truthfully. She slept like a caged animal - all pent up energy ready to uncoil like a spring.

“Don't deny me for my sake. You know I like that sort of thing.” Root said, teasingly.

“No one likes a fist in the face when they're asleep. Trust me.” Shaw looked up, met Root’s eyes, stared at her earnestly.

“Shaw…” Root said, pouting, and Shaw turned away.

“Couch is fine,” Shaw reiterated. Root flounced away to the light, turned it off and tucked herself into bed, dim light of the tv illuminating the room.

“Goodnight sweetie,” Root called, and received a grunt in return.

----

Root couldn't sleep. Shaw was so close, and yet so far. She got up, padded over to the couch to watch Shaw sleep, squatted next to her. It might be her only chance to see her defenses down like this.

Shaw's face was open and relaxed in sleep, her lips open and slack. She'd thrown off the blanket Root had tucked over her an hour ago, and Root brought it up over her shoulders again. She brushed some hair out of Shaw's face, not surprised when Shaw's hand shot out and caught her wrist. She heard the sound of a gun she couldn’t see cocking, then heard another click as Shaw opened her eyes.

“Trained. Killer”. Shaw said through gritted teeth as she released Root’s hand.

“You looked cold,” Root said sweetly.

“I'm fine,” Shaw said slowly, shifting her hips. “Slept on more comfortable floors though.”

“You're welcome to join me,” Root said, and Shaw shot her a look. “To sleep. Honestly. If you're not comfortable here it makes me feel like a bad hostess.”

“Couch is fine,” Shaw said moving again, flinching at a crack from her spine.

“I wish you'd... “

“Sleep with you?” Shaw spat out. “I know. Root. Drop it.”

“No. I wish you'd trust me”. Root seemed sad, deflated. Root rested her chin on her hand, elbow resting on her knee.

“I was asleep. Don't do that around someone I don't trust,” Shaw said gruffly.

“Sleep in the bed. A cranky, sleep deprived agent is no good to Finch or Reese. I'll take the couch. Go.”

“It's your bed,” Shaw pointed out.

“Paid for with the machine’s money,” Root countered.

“Like I said. I was asleep. Slept worse places. Now let me get back to sleep,” Shaw gritted out through her teeth. Root's hand reached out, brushed the hair out of Shaw's face again, rested her hand on Shaw's cheek. Shaw relented a little. “You're too tall for the couch.” Shaw said patiently. “Go to bed.”

“Yes, ma'am,” Root said, and Shaw tried to ignore the way that made her feel. Root landed a quick peck on Shaw’s cheek and was back in bed before Shaw could object.

----

Shaw knew Root was some sort of genius, but she could read her like a book.

And a defeated Root was worse than a flirty one, Shaw thought, hearing Root toss and turn and sigh on the bed behind her.

---

Shaw stood by the bed two hours later. Root rolled over onto an elbow to face her, rested her cheek on her palm.

“Tell anyone, I shoot you,” Shaw said as she lifted the cover. Root just smiled, rolled away from Shaw who held herself stiffly on her back. The bed was unfairly more comfortable than the couch, and warm from Root's body heat.

When Shaw heard the rhythm of Root's breathing change, knew she'd fallen asleep, she propped herself on an elbow to look at her. Really look, noticing again the features of her face, how attractive she was.

“You're infuriating,” she said matter of factly. Wondering why she'd accepted the offer of accomodation. Perhaps she'd wanted to see how Root would react if she didn't fight her advances. Perhaps she was tired and wanted somewhere safe to stay. Perhaps she was tired of hotel rooms better furnished that her own empty place. Shaw watched Root a few more moments, then rolled over away from her and let herself run the sleep sequence that she'd learned in training. Sleep was important; too important to be interrupted by uncomfortable surfaces and loud noises. That's what she'd learned. Yet she’d allowed Root’s pouting to get to her.

Halfway through she felt the mattress shift, and an arm slip over her torso. She tensed, but Root's breathing suggested she was still asleep. And since Root was asleep and Shaw was certain she'd wake first, no one would ever know about this.

The way she could feel Root's breasts pressed against her back, her breath filtering through her hair, the bare legs mixed with hers... Shaw knew she should disengage, but she couldn't. Root was finally asleep, finally not bugging her. At least not intentionally. She didn't need to run the rest of the sequence. The arm wrapped around her was comforting enough.

----

Shaw fitted so nicely in Root's arms. She was just short enough that her head tucked neatly under Root's chin, just soft enough to be comfortable pressed against her. There's muscle; a lot of it, and bones that Root wanted to trace but didn't just yet. But there was a softness to Shaw when she was asleep. Something soft, and almost sweet about her.

Shaw moved, slid further onto Root, hummed contentedly. Her mouth pressed against Root's collarbone for a moment and Root's breath shook on the inhale, fingers tracing Shaw's shoulder bones between her singlet sleeves. Following the knobs of her spine, lingering over scars she couldn't see. Shaw sighed in her sleep, burrowed closer into Root. She seemed... comfortable. And so was Root. Shaw's hand rested curled on Root's ribcage, and once more Shaw shifted, her hand curling around Root's waist. There was a little grunt from Shaw, she sounded content. Seemed peaceful.

Root had been obvious about her intentions with Shaw, hadn't been crushed at the constant rejections. She'd thought she'd wanted Shaw sexually, thought she wanted her body... And here it was, and perhaps this is what she wanted. Perhaps this is what she was after, having Shaw let her be physically close. To have Shaw trust her. But without the context of a sexual relationship, this kind of friendship, this kind of closeness was foreign.

----

Shaw woke once, noted that Root's body was her pillow. Didn't move her head from Root's shoulder, noted the fingertips tracing an old wound on her shoulder.

This was... nice. Shaw didn’t get happy. Instead she was... pleased by this. When she agreed to come home with Root she thought the other woman would continue with her constant pursuit of Shaw, but she'd been restrained, been well behaved.

This was... not the wild night she'd been hoping for, but somehow it wasn't a disappointment. She kept still, feigning sleep until it overcame her again. Staying awake as long as possible, trying to identify what she was feeling. If Root had made an advance, a physical move, Shaw would have met her with her own moves. But Root had been sweet but withholding all evening,and was certainly not pressing any boundaries considering Shaw was draped over her. Shaw had expected… something else. She'd expected her signals to be translated correctly, to have Root significantly less clad in her arms.

----

Shaw woke up early, but not early enough to disentangle herself before Root woke up.

She found herself still sprawled on her front over Root, who was still lying on her back, pinned under Shaw. A hand was gently running over her shoulder blade. Shaw sprang away as if burned.

“Never figured you for a cuddler,” Root's voice said, almost teasing. “I've got a mission, but I couldn't bear to wake you. You seemed so... peaceful for once. Like a sleeping bear cub. Cute but potentially deadly.”

“Tell anyone…”

“You'll shoot me. I know the drill, sweetie.” Root stretched, got out of bed, started dressing like Shaw wasn't there, like Shaw wasn't watching her hungrily. “I assume you'll have a new place today, but you're welcome here or wherever I'm staying if you run into trouble.”

Shaw had been expecting more teasing, but Root was matter of fact and... half naked. Shaw blushed, looked away, got out of bed. She only had yesterday's dirty clothes to wear, but she had some money so first thing was new clothes. A black dress for work. Then groceries. Steak, too maybe, for tomorrow night's dinner. Treat Root.

Then she remembered she wasn't planning on staying here again, and it made her... wistful. She looked over at Root, pulling her shirt on over that lacy contraption. She looked away, rolled out of bed, pulled her dirty clothes on, brushing at a burnt sleeve. When she patted down her pants there was a lump in the pocket.

“Lock up when you leave,” Root called from the doorway, in a pair of scrubs for some reason. The door closed, and Shaw dug in the pocket. The lump was a key, and when she left, she tried it on the apartment lock. It fit, and Shaw smiled as she walked down to the nearest American Eagle. Time to start buying dresses in bulk.