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Clarity

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Root finds Shaw sitting on the roof of their apartment building. Her legs are swung over the ledge and a bottle of whiskey sits between them. Amongst the noise and drunken, sweaty bodies of Shaw’s graduation party, Root had noticed that Shaw had left abruptly, as soon as she had spotted her within the crowd. After calling her cell several times and asking around, Root was told by a mutual friend that Shaw had slipped quietly away to the roof.

Shaw turns towards her at the sound of the door to the stairwell shutting, and locks eyes with her for a moment. No matter how many times she has done this in the past, Root is always rendered breathless and captivated by Shaw’s attention and presence. It was the very thing that had drew her from day one, during their brief time as roommates before Root had gathered enough funds to get an apartment. She had spent countless days and nights in awe of the woman who had shared that space with her. Who, despite all of Root’s social awkwardness and nerdiness, had accepted her as she was, and never pried for more information, just simply let Root be Root. Shaw hadn’t realized she was the first person in Root’s life to ever do that, to just accept her, and it was surprising to find out sometime later, that Shaw had felt the same.

Root had spent much of her time back then either preparing for her classes, hanging out with her team of fellow nerds or doing something illegal that could get her both arrested and expelled. When Shaw had came into her life, Root’s thought process changed to include her in it. She was immediately attracted to her the first day Shaw came into her dorm and introduced herself, letting her know she preferred to be called by her last name and would kill her if she touched any of her stuff.

Root had never met anyone with such exotic features and couldn’t help but stare at Shaw in pure fascination until a warning growl from the younger woman caused her to look away with an amused smirk on her lips.

Shaw’s first thoughts of Root was that she was a long-limbed geek who mostly kept to herself except for when she was gawking at her like she had never seen a woman before. The only time she was free of the unsolicited attention was if Root was engrossed in something on her computer which was quite often, though Shaw never pried to find out just why her roommate would be up all hours of the night, nerd glasses on the tip of her nose and the light from the screen illuminating her face.

Not that she paid attention to what Root did or anything.

Shaw had decided not to notice the heated looks Root would give her when she came out of the shower in nothing but a towel, toned arms and legs on display. She would deny how Root made excuses to invade her personal space as time went on, and how eventually, she began to say what she was thinking when Shaw was near her.

“Good morning sweetie, I love waking up with you.” Root said one day when they had woken up at the same time. Shaw had rolled her eyes and pulled the covers over her head, so Root couldn’t see the smile tugging at the corners of her lips.

One night, when Shaw had come in late and Root was busy coding, her fingers tapping at a rapid speed on the keyboard, Shaw was soaked through her clothes from having been caught out in the rain. When Root had looked up from her laptop to greet her, she opened her mouth but was speechless as she took in Shaw’s appearance. Shaw was wearing a fitted tank top and shorts that were now sticking to her skin due to the downpour of the storm. Little streams of water were flowing down her exposed neck and over her breasts that Root was sure were bare under Shaw’s tank. Much to Root’s delight, Shaw’s nipples were hard and straining against the fabric in response to her intense scrutiny and Root bit her lip unconsciously. When Root was finally capable of thought again, she smirked, and Shaw saw the lust pooling in Root’s eyes.

“It seems, you’re all wet Shaw.” Root had said in a low voice dripping with sex.

It wasn’t the first time that Shaw had been flirted with, or someone had shown an interest in her. Shaw knew she was attractive, but was aware that she was difficult to deal with. Her lack of emotion was off putting to most people and so instead of waiting for them to leave, she never dated and was only interested in one-night stands. This way she wouldn’t have to talk much or have further interaction beyond sex.

With Root though, things were different.

Root never asked her why her face was blank most times, except when she was eating or drinking something she liked. If Shaw came in particularly pissed off due to something that had occurred throughout the day, Root would find somewhere to be to give Shaw some time alone to cool off, but she was never gone long, and after finding out that Shaw loved pancakes, she would often make them in the morning to make her feel better.

Shaw began to realize that she didn’t mind being around Root.

Towards the end of Shaw’s second year, she had a final project that had started to take up most of her time and had felt completely overwhelmed because she wasn’t able to do anything else until she was done. On one of her long nights at the chemistry lab, her phone had buzzed with a text from Root.

>>10:01 PM (Root): Hey sweetie, almost done?
<<10:05 PM (Shaw): Yeah. Why?
>>10:06 PM (Root): I’m waiting for you.

Shaw had stared at the text message for awhile and wondered why Root would wait outside for her when they would see each other as soon as she got back to their dorm. Shaw got her answer when she stepped outside.

There on a brand new black Yamaha R1 motorcycle sat Root in a matching black leather jacket and boots, smirking smugly at Shaw as their eyes met.

“Hop on Shaw.” She said and tossed her a helmet at her.

Shaw caught it and did as she was told. Comfortably sitting behind Root and sliding her hands on her hips to keep herself steady, as Root drove at a fast speed which caused excitement and adrenaline to rush through her veins. She also noticed, not for the first time, that as Root weaved in and out of traffic, and the engine rumbled loudly causing the seat to vibrate between her legs, strong stirrings of desire were spreading warmth throughout her entire body.

Root drove them all around Austin and even ran a few stop lights, which gained the attention of a rookie cop who was waiting to catch someone at an intersection. As the sirens wailed loudly and the cop honked his horn signaling for her to pull over, Root increased the speed even more instead of stopping, flying past several neighborhoods to put distance between them. Eventually they lost him, and she came to a stop finally at the city’s border. To Root’s pleasure and surprise, Shaw wrapped her arms around her and pressed her body against her back, Root leaned into the touch while pulling off her helmet and turned her head to face Shaw.

Their lips met in a wild passionate dance, each licking and sucking at each other before Root’s tongue worked its way inside Shaw’s mouth. Her tongue licked over Shaw’s and Shaw couldn’t stop the moan that flowed right into Root’s eager mouth. Shaw broke the kiss then and whispered breathlessly against Root’s lips. “Take me home.”

They drove home in silence, almost crashing because Shaw couldn't keep her hands off Root. Root somehow managed to drive even faster than she was before, and Shaw knew it was the promise of sex that was no doubt driving the rogue hacker to test the limits of her motorcycle. They made it across the city and back to the university in what Shaw was sure record time. They ended up making out again intensely in the hallway, almost bumping into some students who were heading out. Root pushed Shaw up against their door and thrust her tongue back inside Shaw’s mouth while Shaw’s hands worked their way up Root’s shirt and over her stomach. Root groaned as she felt Shaw’s nails digging into her flesh and bit at Shaw’s bottom lip in response.

It was all a blur after that.

Somehow, they managed to make it into their dorm and tear each other’s clothes off. They fucked for hours, leaving scars across the other’s flesh as if it were a blank canvas they wished to leave their marks on, and when Shaw had thought they were through, Root managed to pull another orgasm out of her sending her into pure bliss and all she could do was cling to her before exhaustion overtook them both.

Shaw had woken up first and realized she had slept the night in Root’s bed in a semi-snuggle which was something she never did. So, after untangling herself from Root’s long limbs, she slid out of her bed and went into the bathroom to take a needed shower. As the water cascaded over her body, she heard the door open, which let out some of the steam from the hot water, the shower curtain slowly slid open and Root gazed down at Shaw with an unspoken request in her eyes. Shaw nodded, and Root stepped in and pulled Shaw against her body.

They ended up not leaving the dorm for the entire weekend, mostly spending it wrapped up in one another, bodies gliding together in fervent passion and subsequent exhaustion.

In the heat of one particularly intense orgasm, Root moaned Shaw’s first name repeatedly, and Shaw decided she would make an exception to her strict last name rule.

Conversation was finally had regarding their backgrounds. Root found out that like herself, Shaw also grew up in Texas and was of Persian descent. Her father had died when she was young, so she was raised by her mother and had no siblings. Root had been an only child whose father had left before she was even born and though she had lived with her mother, she had been taking care of herself for as long as she could remember.

Shaw learned that Root was a computer science major and was in her last year of school, though she stated she would attend graduate school to obtain her masters. She was a self-taught coder and hacker who had made a small fortune working for companies who wanted information to shut down potential competition, she had saved her money to get into one of the top universities in the state and had paid off her tuition.

Shaw thought that made Root even hotter than she was.

Shaw had expressed to Root her desire was to become a doctor and once she finished her degree she was going to apply for med school.

Root thought Shaw would be an incredible doctor and wanted to assist her financially in any way possible.

She asked Shaw to be her girlfriend. Shaw accepted.

By the end of the school year, Root had found an apartment close to the university that had an on-site gym since discovering Shaw worked out daily to relieve stress and asked Shaw to move in with her.

Shaw had thought was Root was crazy to want to be in constant contact with her, she told her that eventually she would hurt her because she couldn’t help it and had yet to truly find out why she was the way she was.

Root had told her that she loved her because of how she was.

Shaw moved to the apartment with her.

Root obtained her degree and to celebrate, took Shaw to Cancun, which had ended up being one of the best times of Shaw’s life. They stayed in a cabana by the sea, toured the city and bar hopped without a care in the world.

On their last night, Root told Shaw that she had never been happier, and she believed they were soul mates.

Shaw responded by burying her face between Root’s legs until she blacked out.

Upon their return to the states Root had begun to open up more to Shaw, letting her know that she believed that the U.S government was monitoring everything that its citizens were doing through an artificial intelligence that she and her small team of hackers were determined to find.

Shaw thought that Root was crazy but enjoyed the passion in which her lover spoke with and always listened whenever there was some progress that Root wanted to share with her.

One night while they laid together in bed, on opposite sides because Shaw was still working through intimacy issues, she decided to ask Root a question that had been on her mind for a long time.

“What made you decide to go by Root instead of Samantha?” She said while Root trailed a finger idly over her stomach causing her to shiver slightly from the sensation.

Root smirked and met her eyes with a look full of mischief, “It doesn't sound so bad when you say it Sameen.”

Shaw glared, knowing Root was deflecting and pinched her side in response.

“Root.”

Root sighed and turned on her back looking away from her. “When I began hacking, the first place I started was the internet, breaking through encrypted codes and firewalls on various websites, stealing information and using it to blackmail companies. One day as I was typing a domain name in a URL, the forward slash stood out to me for some reason and the technical name for that symbol, is Root...” She trailed off to glance at Shaw with a smile, “I felt more connected to that word than my actual name, I felt it really defined me as who I was becoming and not what I had been born as.”

Shaw shook her head as she absorbed the information and rolled over to straddle Root, looking down at her as Root’s hands came to her hips to steady her.

“You’re such a nerd you know that? Now I’m going to always think about you whenever I surf the web and see that forward slash. You've completely ruined web browsing for me.”

Root chuckled and pulled Shaw down to her for a kiss, against her lips she whispered, “Good.”

Time passed at a fast pace as Shaw became more engrossed in her classes and Root focused on finishing up her masters. Towards the end of Shaw’s third year, Root had began interviewing for potential jobs that she learned Root only wanted to have as a legal cover for her mostly illegal activities, and then came the morning that had changed everything.

Root received a distressed call at about five in the morning from her aunt that her mother had been shot while leaving a grocery store and their small house had been broken into and ransacked. Shaw had sat up in bed as she listened to Root’s aunt relay more details before she took a shuddery breath and sobbed out the words that would change Root forever.

“She…she’s dead Sam. She died at the hospital.”

Shaw had watched something dark flash in Root’s eyes and then it was gone, almost as if it hadn't been there to begin with.

But Shaw knew Root, and she knew in that instant that Root had been hiding from her all this time. Hiding the caliginous side of her mind underneath a bubbly personality and fake smiles.

Root spoke in a firm voice devoid of emotion when she finally replied to her aunt.

“I’m coming home.”

When she hung up she immediately rose from the bed and began packing. Shaw looked on silently watching as Root moved from one room to the next, she wasn't programed for these sorts of things. There wasn't a book or a manual that provided directions on how to comfort your girlfriend when her mother has been murdered.

Shaw just knew that maybe Root didn't need to be alone.

There was a deranged look on her face, one that she had never seen before and it led her to finally find her voice.

“Do you want me to come with you?” Shaw asked when Root came back into the bedroom to put on her shoes.

Without even looking at her Root replied, “No…I won’t be gone long.”

Only, she was gone long.

A year, to be exact.

The first couple of days had been the worse, as Shaw tried repeatedly to get in contact with Root. She called, texted and even emailed. After receiving no reply, she reached out to her geek squad and one of them whom Root was closest to, named Caleb Phillips, told her that if anyone knew what Root was up to, it would be Hanna Frey, Root’s childhood friend.

Shaw had run through every possible conversation in her mind that she had had with Root. Not once had she mentioned someone named Hanna Frey.

She found out from Caleb that Hanna was a student there at the university and looked her up in the student directory. On her way down the hall to her dorm Shaw saw Hanna coming towards it with books stacked in her arms. Shaw walked up to her and was surprised to see recognition from her as their eyes met.

“Hello Shaw.” She said, “Mind holding these for me?”

Shaw had taken the textbooks from her as she rummaged through her pocketbook to unlock the door and motioned for Shaw to follow her in. The room was kept minimalistic and clean, Hanna took the books from Shaw and set them down on her desk.

After several moments of silence, Shaw growled low and finally asked, “Any word from Root?”

Hanna shook her head and then met Shaw’s intense gaze. “Do you know all of what Sam does?”

Sam.

Shaw had overheard Root’s aunt calling her that and now Hanna, it made her feel as if there were many different sides to Root, and she had only been exposed to one.

“I know that she’s involved in hacking and she helps get rid of competition for different companies by blackmailing them.”

Hanna nodded and replied, “Well, one of those blackmailed companies was mob related, and they hired a hacker to find Sam. It took them a while, but they found her address and assumed that it was her mother and not her.

So, Root thinks it’s her fault, Shaw had thought quietly to herself.

Hanna, following Shaw’s train of thought nods and gives her a sympathetic look, “it’ll be some time before you hear from her again, knowing her, she will not return until she has fixed this.”
Hanna was right.

Root returned for Shaw’s graduation, she had spotted her in the corner of the auditorium when she rose to get her degree and knew that Root was aware of the party that was going to be had at their apartment.

She was so angry that she felt her blood run cold when she looked at her.

Root had shown up at the apartment as she had expected her to and sent Shaw into a fight or flight response, which she decided to retreat silently to the roof, lest she kill Root in front of thirty people.

Shaw couldn’t describe what it had felt like to have Root leave for as long as she had, without a word or even an attempt to get in contact with her. She just knew it was painful and it made her want to hurt something.

As Root came toward her she growled threateningly, Root simply ignored her and sat down on the ledge, never breaking eye contact.

She smiled then and said, “I’m proud of you.”

Shaw returned the smile mockingly and replied, “Go fuck yourself.”

Root looked away then, Shaw didn’t miss the hurt that shown her face.

“Tell me something, did it ever occur to you that it might fuck me up to have you just leave and not know where you were or even if you were dead or alive?”

“Shaw.”

Shaw stands, wanting nothing more than to punch Root in her pretty face and break every bone in Root’s body. She wanted Root to bleed, she wanted her to feel all the rage that she had for her in that moment.

Shaw settled for walking away.

Root got up then and pulled Shaw against her body, crashing their lips together. Shaw shoved her off, but Root yanked her back and pressed her up against a wall blocking her escape. Root kissed her again, desperately and Shaw felt her resolve melting away at the heat of Root’s mouth. Shaw clawed at Root’s back, breaking her skin beneath her shirt and Root moaned from the feel of it, biting Shaw deeply in the neck in response.

“Root..Fuck me.” Shaw breathed out.

There on the rooftop of their apartment building, during Shaw’s graduation party, they fucked each other mercilessly. Frustration and agony guiding the thrusts of their fingers, relief drawing out their orgasms.

Somewhere in the darkness of the night, the had made it back down to their apartment and continued.

Shaw woke the next morning to a tear stained pillow and cold sheets.