Yanking down the hem of her dress as it threatens to continue its slow crawl up her thigh, Shaw drops onto a red leather barstool, legs crossed with the three inch heels strapped to her feet more like stylish weapons than footwear. Her hand skims over the holster strapped only an inch or so higher than the dress and gives it a reassuring pat. She brushes a thick strand of jet black hair behind her ear, effectively turning up the volume on her ear wig. Leaning back against the bar, she smiles at the bartender, eyeing him with an edge of mystery.
"I don't believe I've ever seen you around here, mi alma," he purrs, cleaning a glass and stowing it in a nearby cabinet. His grin is pearly white, eyes a vibrant brown as he cocks a brow at Shaw. She tilts her head, letting her hair spill across her shoulder as she spins in her seat to face him. "Is there anything I can get for you?"
Shaw mulls it over, imagining the surprise in his eyes if she were to order whiskey neat. The daydream brings a humored quirk to the corner of her mouth.
"Just a margarita for now," she answers, turning up the devilish charm as he grins at her like her voice is his favorite symphony. If I keep it up, drinks might just be on the house.
"So what brings you here?" he asks, placing the golden-yellow beverage before her, small flecks of salt catching the low light of the club like broken glass. He leans in, smile growing mischievous. "Do you dance, mi alma?"
Shaw chuckles, biting her bottom lip and tracing her finger along the edge of her glass. She lets her eyes flicker down bashfully before batting them back his way. She can see it in his eyes— he's hooked.
"Not a day in my life."
His eyes widen, hands resting at either side of her drink along the bar. He looks her over, taking his time on the way back up to her eyes.
"With a body like yours, you cannot tell me you have never let it dance."
"I don't tend to use my body for dancing."
Straightening and biting his tongue with a smile, he narrows his eyes. "A lot of things that can be a dance, if you think about it in the right light," he responds with less than subtle undertones, his eyes flickering away to a customer at the far end of the bar. "Get a few more drinks in you, and I'll teach you a thing or two on that floor."
Shaw raises her brows, giving a small nod, and he flashes her a final smile before waiting on the customers down the counter.
"Looks like someone made a friend," Root's voice coos through her earpiece, and Shaw grins, taking her drink and swiveling back around in her chair to face the dance floor. Beyond the sea of bodies pulsing with the sharp beats of music, Shaw spots a flash of dark brown curls. "He's pretty cute."
Shaw can hear the humor in Root's voice mixed with a twinge of jealousy, and struggles to keep a dark smile from creeping onto her lips.
"You think he's got potential?" she asks. Root scoffs.
"Sure, I mean, not ten hours to kill in a CIA safe-house potential, but I'm sure there's something."
"Am I going to get a single word in with my date tonight?" Reese asks humorously, just as Shaw watches his salt-and-pepper hair bob along the surface of the crowd, Root tailing just behind.
"Careful, Reese," Shaw warns, taking a sip of her drink. "Once you get her started talking, she'll never stop."
Reese chuckles through the line, all the while Root's gaze catches Shaw's through a break in the crowd.
"Tease all you want," Root replies, lips upturned in a sinister smirk that makes Shaw's heart kick, "but you and I both no you've never asked me to stop anything." And just as quickly as she was there, Root is gone, leaving nothing but the ghost of a memory for Shaw to cling to. Cling like the way Root's dress clings, sharp red fabric cutting a deep ‘v’ along her chest, and back fully exposed. Shaw directs her eyes to her drink, Root's comment still burning in her ears and turning them red.
"Not to interrupt your... conversation," Harold cuts in, something slightly uncomfortable at the edge of his voice, "but any eyes on our number?"
"I've got him, Harry," Root responds, more than enjoying the night out. "Nine o'clock, Shaw."
Taking another sip of her drink, she casually swivels to the left, eyes drifting through the ocean of bodies until a man in a dark suit surfaces among the crowd. He slicks his midnight hair back with an immaculate hand, then straightens his suit jacket. A woman leans against him with a smile, doting eyes peering up at him as he waves on the waiter for another round.
Matías Martin. Avid drinker, partier, and latin dancer. The lifestyle had been hastily shoveling him into debt, and he was officially three weeks late on payment with the wrong people.
"On it," Shaw replies, making sure to return her gaze to the dance floor before Matías spots her. With her last fleeting glance, she watches him bring something to his nose, smile ghoulishly delighted. Slipping from the bar stool, Shaw begins picking her way through the crowd, canvasing the area for a better seat.
"How are we all doing tonight?" a man asks from the large stage that swallows up the far wall. He is greeted with loud hoots and undying applause. "I expect to see everyone here having a good time. That means dancing, that means drinking, that means getting up and moving. Are you ready?"
By the fervor of the crowd's response, there is no doubting their answer. Flashing a smile and adjusting the microphone, the man clears his throat. Looking back to the other musicians on stage, he begins clapping his hands as the drummer counts them off.
"Vámanos!" he cries, and the music begins.
_____\ If Your Number's Up /_____
Discarding her third empty glass on a tray as a server skirts by, Shaw crosses her arms, lips set in a permanent scowl. Around her, bodies push and flow with the rhythmic rises and falls of the dance music, yet Shaw remains a stone in the tempest.
She hates to admit it, but Root and John are very good at dancing. It wouldn't have necessarily been a problem, if say the style was ballroom or swing, but this was different. This was latin dancing, and it was a beast Shaw was not entirely prepared to tackle.
"Where the hell did you learn to dance like that?" Shaw mutters into her com, watching as John twirls Root along the dance floor before dipping her so low her hair brushes the floor. It's only for an instant, almost too quick to perceive, before he sweeps her back up, noses nearly touching and large grins on their faces as they continue a tightly-wound puzzle of arms and legs along the dance floor.
"You gotta have something to impress women with, Shaw," John responds breathily, the third dance of the night starting to catch up to him. "Being a man in uniform doesn’t get you everything."
"I offered for you to take classes with me," Root points out, shallow breaths matching John's as the two glide along the dance floor. Turning and dipping and swaying and moving, eyes never leaving one another. Shaw feels herself bristling. "I distinctly remember you declining."
"I don't need lessons," Shaw remarks. Lessons on dancing, or lessons from you.
"Lighten up, Sweetie," Root laughs, eyes still stuck on John's as if speaking to him instead, and Shaw's lip twitches with annoyance. "You can jump in anytime."
John and Root break away, Root sliding out until only the tips of their fingers are left touching. He grins at her, raising a brow before reeling her back in, spinning her in endless circles until she's nothing more than a blur, her short dress flaring and hair whipping about like a tornado. Shaw grinds her teeth.
"Don't spin her so hard," Shaw grumbles. "Do you want everyone to get a show?"
He doesn't hear her, or maybe just chooses to ignore her, lifting Root and giving her a quick toss up before letting her drop to the floor, catching her by the wrists only inches from the ground. Shaw jolts forward, mind pouncing into medical mode at the prospect of Root falling, then stops short as he spins her about, her smile stating louder than words that she's more than fine. All around, the crowd of onlookers gasps, then cheers as he swings her back up with another low dip.
"Was that really necessary, John?" she spits, eyes shooting daggers into his back as he and Root move out of sight, leaving room for the other couples dancing in the already cramped space. When there is no answer, she grows restless. "You know, the point of being undercover is to not draw attention to yourself."
"Last time I checked, being the only one not dancing in a night club makes you stand out pretty bad," he shoots back, and red creeps from her neck to her cheeks. Fingers curling into tight fists, she becomes more rigid than ever. Her eyes pry between the dancing bodies of strangers, barely even acknowledging their number as he shimmies by with a different woman than before, looking for John and Root.
At the edge of the dance floor, just out of reach of the ring of singles bobbing up and down with the beat, the two make their twisted appearance, nothing more than a dancing tangle. As they sweep along the edge of the crowd, people cheer, clapping in time with the music and giving John large thumbs up with wide grins. John spins Root to face him, the two doing a rhythmic side step as his hands wrap around the small of her back.
"Hands up, John," Shaw seethes.
"We haven't even been on the floor ten minutes, and you've already told me that six times."
"If you listened better, I wouldn't be saying it."
Reese's brow creases with the hint of annoyance as he slides his hands higher on Root's back.
"Didn't think you'd get so jealous, Sam," Root teases, and Shaw sneers.
"I'm not jealous."
"No, she's not jealous," John agrees, an icy edge to his tone, "just a backseat dancer." Root's laugh is mellifluous, her head tilting back as tendrils of hair spill along her shoulder blades, completely covering John's hands. Shaw can't help but watch the way the muscles pull in her arms and legs, feet floating more than stepping along the floor, and eyes spilling with life. John releases her once more, Root spinning out and away from him before her draws her back in, wrapping his arms around her waist from behind. Root's eyes are sparkling in the low light, nose crinkled with humor as her eyes lock in on Shaw's. She and John sway, Root's brow cocking at Shaw's less than pleased countenance, and places her hands over John's, which are— now that Shaw takes another look— a little lower than her waist.
"Something the matter, Sweetie?" Root goads, clearly egging Shaw on, but at this point just about anything will do the trick. Just like how John's hands are definitely lower than Root's waist now and don't quite look close to stopping. Just as Shaw's lips part to bark another warning John's way, the music cuts, and the two separate with an exhausted exhale.
"Take a minute everyone," the man says into the mic, sweat glistening on his brow from the heat of the stage lights and the heat of the ever moving bodies, and— probably more than anything else— the white hot heat of Shaw's mounting anger. "Maybe switch things up a bit? New partners, new faces on the floor. And you, Miss? Señora in the red?"
Root turns to the stage, and he gives her a wink.
"Looking good out there." There are whoops of agreement echoing throughout the club, people whistling and clapping and laughing. It makes Shaw sick. Someone from the crowd hands Root and John drinks, murmurs of, 'on the house,' greeting Shaw's ears, and the two tip their glasses his way before slugging them back. Once her glass is officially drained, Root closes her eyes, lowering the glass.
When her eyes open, they're set on Shaw.
"There's no way you learned all of that in one lesson," Shaw mutters as Root begins her slow approach, closing in like a tiger on its prey. Root cracks a toothy grin.
"There were multiple lessons, but if you can persuade me, I'll teach you everything I know."
Shaw rolls her eyes, but Root's gaze remains deep and intense on her, causing her heart to hammer.
"And how do you suppose I persuade you?" Shaw asks, met by Root biting her bottom lip in thought, eyes swirling with ideas that leave Shaw with the first traces of a blush.
"I trust you to be creative," she replies, voice low, and Shaw's anger is driven out by the flutter of butterflies in her stomach, threatening to burst free. As Root approaches, each minute detail solidifies— hair tussled almost to the point of messiness, dress hanging close while leaving just enough to the imagination, dark red lipstick immaculately held in place but begging to be smudged— Shaw can think of more than one way of being creative.
"Do we have a deal?" Root asks, close enough now that Shaw can hear her without the ear wig. Arm slowly outstretching, black fingernails angled at Shaw's hand, ready to tug her onto the dance floor as the band settles back into place.
Until a figure only a few inches taller than Shaw slides between them, leaving her with a view of a black suit jacket and shiny, slicked hair. He smoothes it back with both hands before straightening his collar.
"May I have this dance?"
_____\ We'll Find You /_____
Root gives Shaw an apologetic look over her shoulder as Matías Martin guides Root to the dance floor, hand pressed to her back and smile wide as he whispers something to her. Tearing her focus from Shaw, Root gives him a quaint grin and nods.
"Someone's popular," John remarks, coming to Shaw's side with eyes on Root. Shaw gives him a glowering look.
"Thanks to you."
He chuckles, gaze slipping down to her, not seeming to feel the sharp malice of her gaze. He extends a hand her way. "Wanna dance?"
His usually stoic face breaks into a hearty grin as Shaw's lips purse, jaw locked as she tears her eyes from him, steam ready to spill from her ears.
"Take your dance, and shove it up your—"
"Excuse me?" a woman cuts in, slipping in from behind John and Shaw. Her hair is chopped short, dress even shorter, and she ogles up at John. "I don't mean to interrupt," she starts, smile pearly white and wide as she gives Shaw less than a cursory glance, "but would you mind dancing with me? You're very impressive out there."
His humored smile settles into a polite grin as he extends his hand to her, which she gladly takes. Walking back out to the dance floor, she turns her head, mouthing something to a cluster of women giving her encouraging waves. Steam radiates from Shaw on all sides, cooking anyone in a ten foot radius.
"Mi alma," the bartender's familiar voice coos, his hand resting on Shaw's shoulder just long enough for Shaw to register. He slides to the place by her side where John once stood, looking her over with amused eyes. "You look like you could use another drink."
"I could use about eight."
He laughs a deep, rumbling melody, eyes warm as he puts his hands on his hips.
"I'd offer to get them for you, but I just got on break."
"What a shame," she responds, quickly losing patience and her friendly facade, "you make a good margarita."
"Maybe a dance will lighten your mood?" he suggests as the upbeat trill of a new song kicks in. Shaw barks out a bitter laugh, arms folding.
"I know by the tan line that you're married," Shaw deadpans, and his right hand immediately travels to his left ring finger. "You don't need to keep this up."
"Tips are always better for a single man," he points out, still in a surprisingly good mood. He leans in. "And, mi alma, I know by the scowl on your face that you're not single either."
She pulls away from him, eyes screaming murder as his ignite delightfully. He rubs his hands together, looking out into the mass of dancers.
"So which one is it?" he asks, eyes devouring the throng. "Whoever it is has to be pretty important to make you flirt with a married man."
Shaw raises her brows, not denying it, as her gaze falls back on Root. She immediately sees red, but it has nothing to do with Root's dress.
With the song less than halfway through, Matías has already made himself more than cozy with Root, and Shaw notices that the light her eyes held with John is completely extinguished. Smile faltering, motions mechanic, body tilting further and further away the closer he tries to get. Her eyes dart to Shaw, then immediately back as Matías closes in, being a little more handsy than warranted.
I don't know if it's just the straight alcohol pumping through his veins, Shaw glowers, eyes narrowing on the back of his head, but I'm about five seconds away from being the reason why his number came up.
Eyes darting to the left, Shaw catches sight of John. The woman in his arms is grinning from ear to ear, clearly enjoying herself, though John's attention lags. He spins the woman before him, round and round and round, taking the time to peer over his shoulder to Root. Then to Shaw. Then back to Root.
Do something, her eyes command, but the woman already has her hands wrapped tightly around his neck, pulling him out of sight. Shaw rolls her eyes, tension coiling in her neck and pooling in her chest.
"I think I've had enough of this," she mutters, stalking directly into the sea of dancers. The bartender watches her plow to the center of the dance floor like a freight train, couples stumbling out of her way as she goes.
"You're with Matías?" he calls after her with surprise. She's too enraged to give a humored grin, knowing he'll be even more surprised to see that it's not Matías at all.
Coming to Root just as Matías begins to bring his hand down Root's leg, Shaw takes him by the wrist, snapping his hand skyward and pulling him back. His glazed, cheery eyes snap to her, focus, then lose their shine. His brow furrows, nose flaring as he tries to pull away from Shaw's killer grip.
She tightens her fingers, feeling her nails sliding between his bones as he grimaces.
"I think I'll take it from here," Shaw tells him, wide smile backed with ice and eyes shooting him a warning he doesn't heed.
"Get off me," he slurs, lips pursed with anger as he tugs back again. Again, Shaw holds firm. "This ‘ssmy dance."
"Not anymore," she shoots back, smile dropping and eyes dark. He looks at her, a deep-set fear leaking into his face as his hand goes slack against hers. She lets go, and he takes a step away. Eyes shuffling between Root and Shaw, the anger swirls in with the fear, but not enough to overpower his better judgement.
"Whatever," he spits, turning and grabbing a different woman from the edge of the crowd. Shaw watches him a moment more before Root's arms drape over her shoulders, pulling her in.
"Thanks for the help, Sweetie," Root breathes, large grin immediately overtaking her as she begins tugging Shaw along with the beat. Her hands slip down to Shaw's, placing them at her hips before returning her hands to Shaw's shoulders. "I'm surprised it took you this long."
"John's one thing," Shaw answers, painstakingly finding a small ounce of rhythm. Shaw had danced, yes, but never in front of Root, and certainly never with her. With Root so close, it's a certain kind of harrowing— an exhilarating kind. "I know he likes yanking my chain. Our number's something different."
Root's eyes flare with amusement, and soon affection begins spilling from them, grin still left unchecked.
"I've been waiting for you to come out here all night," Root says, spinning Shaw out and drawing her back in. Shaw wraps her hands tightly around Root's back, mostly for balance after the unexpected flourish, and feels Root shudder. Her nails scrape against Shaw's neck, snagging a strand of hair between her fingers, and Shaw smirks. They’re close, no room left between them, Shaw gazing up at Root with lips almost touching.
"This the best you got?" Shaw asks, and Root chuckles.
"If I'm working with a beginner."
"Trust me," Shaw replies, starting to lose herself in Root's gaze. "I'm a fast learner."
Jaw hanging slightly agape as she looks Shaw over, Root raises a brow and takes Shaw's word for it. They pick up the pace, each strike of the drum and clap of the crowd mixing into one as Shaw sweeps around the dance floor, focus slowly closing in on Root. Only Root. Her mahogany eyes glowing, lips parted in a grin and breath hot on Shaw's face, Shaw's neck, Shaw's ear. Her waist swaying rhythmically with the gentle persuasion of Shaw's hands pressed on her hips, and the catch in her breath as Shaw's hands travel down.
Root's grin pulls into a devilish smirk as she pushes Shaw away, throwing her into a long spin before reeling her back in, Shaw's back pressed to Root, and Root's hands circling Shaw's abdomen. Root's breath is quick at Shaw's ear, and Shaw knows the surging of her heart in her chest has little to do with the physical exertion of dancing, and everything to do with Root.
"Maybe we should do this more often," Root whispers in her ear, voice husky, and Shaw suppresses a tingle that runs along her spine. Root tenses ever so slightly against her, right hand leaving Shaw's abdomen and making a steady trip down. Shaw's gaze follows Root's fingers as they glide along her black dress, slipping along her waist, over her hip, and start for her thigh.
"Root," Shaw warns, fluster thick on her tongue as the butterflies hovering in her stomach begin beating against her chest. Shaw hears the breath of a laugh escape Root, nose pressed at Shaw's ear, and she presses her lips together tight.
Root's hand stops just at the edge of Shaw's dress, lingering a moment, before slipping just below the hem. Shaw's heart bursts, leaking adrenaline into her veins as her breath finally gives her away. Fast, shallow, eager. Her fingers trace back up Shaw's leg, and Shaw yanks her gaze away.
"Root," she tries again, fluster still there but overshadowed by the hitch in her voice. Her chest thumps faster than the beat of the music, faster than a drum line, faster than a hummingbird, knowing now is certainly not the time but not equating that with wanting her to stop.
Shaw feels the latch of her holster click, and Root expertly slips the gun from its place against her thigh before drawing it out before them. With Shaw still held close to Root, she's able to see right along the sight to a man with a large syringe holding Matías around the neck. She clicks off the safety just as the man peers up to check for witnesses. Seeing Root, he plunges the needle into Matías's neck.
The music skitters to a halt as the surrounding dancers stop, see the gun, then rush for the exits. The word, 'gun,' is echoed throughout the club, the once pulsing throng now a herd of unruly bulls ready to stampede.
The man staggers, Matías still in his arms, thumb on the plunger of the syringe.
He drops, needle still left in Matías's neck as he crumples, hands floundering between his chest and his leg. Stunned, a silent scream still present on his lips, Matías pulls the syringe from his neck, stares at it a moment, then drops it to the ground with wide eyes.
"Sorry to disappoint, Sameen," Root purrs in Shaw's ear, unraveling her arm from Shaw's waist and walking purposefully towards Matías. Shaw's stuck in place, Root's touch still lingering on her skin, before her cheeks grow painfully hot.
Stalking forward, she finds the syringe and crushes it under her heel.
"I don't— I don't understand, it doesn't make sense, it—"
"You shouldn't borrow money when you can't pay it back," Shaw cuts in, Matías's eyes darting fretfully to her.
"I was going to pay it back, I just needed a little more time— I would have gotten it all back—"
"It doesn't matter now," Root replies with a smile, handing the gun back to Shaw. Mind flashing back to the way he was with Root earlier, she has half a mind to shoot him. Instead, she stows it away. "Consider yourself debt-free."
"Really?" he asks hopefully, smile creeping onto his face. "You'll pay it?"
"No," John responds, coming up swiftly from behind and grabbing Matías by the upper arm, "but prison should keep you safe from these guys for a while."
"Prison?" he echoes, immediately trying to yank away from John's stone-clad grip. "I can't go to prison!"
John ruffles through his pocket, revealing an NYPD identification and badge. Seeing it, Matías's eyes enlarge even more.
"Detective Riley, NYPD. I noticed your use of narcotics earlier, and I'm going to have to take you in for questioning."
"I don't have anything!" Matías shrieks. He squirms again, but John holds him steady, slipping his badge back into his pant pocket before tugging open Matías's jacket. Fingers slipping into the small, inner pocket, he pulls out a baggie filled with white powder. Matías swallows hard.
"What about them?" he cries, gesturing to Root and Shaw. "They had a gun! They shot it in public!"
"What gun?" Root replies, and Shaw holds both of her empty hands up. His brow furrows as he looks down at the man on the ground.
"He was coming at me with a syringe, and you shot him, he— he— where's the syringe?" he bellows, a world of defeat on his lips as his eyes search the ground for what Shaw's heel had completely disintegrated moments ago. "It was here a second ago, I swear, I saw it."
"Sir, I think you're currently under the influence, and you have no idea what's going on," John responds, stone cold, yet his icy blue eyes flicker with victory Root and Shaw's way. "Let's get you to the precinct."
"It was here! It was here!" he shrieks, fighting against John with all his might. Shaw watches as he is escorted from the now empty club, the faint wail of a police siren on the rise. Retrieving her gun once more, Shaw wipes it down along her dress before tossing it to the ground.
"We'll leave that one up to Fusco," she murmurs, looking up and catching Root's dazzling grin. "You ready?"
With a nod, Root slips her arm through Shaw's, and they pick their way through shattered glass and spilled drinks towards the exit doors. Shuffling stirs from the bar, and the bartender's head slowly peeks over the counter. Seeing Shaw, a relieved smile tugs on his features.
"Definitely worth the jealousy," he remarks, a tremble in his voice as he nods Root's way. Shaw smirks.
"Guess I owe you for the drinks."
He shakes his head, raising his fingertips off the bar.
"Consider them on me," he replies, then gestures to the mess of liquor splattered along the floor. "The rest of the bar did."
"Sure you don't need help making up the loss?" Shaw asks, and he grins.
"I'll make you a deal. You come back here another time and prove to me you can dance, and if you still want to pay for those drinks, I'll let you."
Shaw nods with a soft chuckle, giving him a short wave in farewell as they escape into the brisk night. Feeling the cold slowly take over, Shaw slips her arm around Root's waist, melting into the crowd of dancers who stand in awe, watching "Detective Riley" cuff Matías and assist him into an awaiting squad car. No one notices the two's escape, and with any luck on Harold's end, the security cameras didn't notice either.
"So, we'll be coming back here then?" Root asks, a hint of excitement in her words as they slip down a nearby alley to Shaw's awaiting car.
"Once I get better at it," Shaw responds, peering over at Root. In the darkness, Shaw can just make out Root's silhouette, hair catching the flittering strands of moonlight that peek out behind the clouds. "I'm gonna need you to teach me some things." Root shifts at her side, sheepish grin turning her cheeks a violent red that is more than visible in the low light.
"When do you want to start?"
Shaw ponders a moment, releasing Root as she rounds the car to the driver's side door. Her eyes scan Root's from across the car, a devious brew mixing in them.
"The night's still young."
Root lifts a brow, thinking it over with a smirk.
"It could take all night," Root warns, and Shaw can't help but smile.
"Then I guess we should get going."