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Protective Root is Protective

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“Hey sweetie,” a familiar – and irritating (God, so irritating, and yet somehow so… perfect…) – voice sounded in her ear.

“Not a good time, Root,” Shaw muttered through gritted teeth. She was bleeding pretty profusely and even though it was something she could easily stitch up herself, she’d much prefer doing so while she wasn’t still in a knife fight with an operative that was almost as well-trained as her.

She always gritted her teeth when talking to Root. Something about protecting herself from the woman’s flirtations. Something about making sure Root knew she was agitated. Something about making sure Root knew how deep under her skin she got.

But something about the blood loss must have seeped through into her tone – that, or Root was extremely attentive.

Even in her haze – were her ears starting to ring? – she suspected it was the latter.

Because Root’s tone changed abruptly, from I-will-never-stop-flirting-with-you to I-will-never-stop-protecting-you in zero seconds flat.

“Sameen. Where are you?” Root asked, but Shaw could only grunt an answer. Grappling with this guy was taking all her strength, right now.

She wasn’t sure how much longer it took – it felt like only seconds, and maybe it was, because the Machine couldn’t teleport people (not yet, anyway), but it could certainly tell Root exactly where Shaw was, and the fastest way to get there, and Root would not stop until she got there, not ever – before the abrupt sound of gunshots and grown men whimpering at their suddenly bleeding legs filled her ears.

Before Root’s arms were wrapped around her body – the woman was irritatingly strong and smelled irritatingly amazing – and she was carving a path out of the building for them both, effortless and protective, holding nearly all of Shaw’s weight with one arm and her gun with the other, like both weighed nothing even though Shaw had mostly gone limp and guns always weighed so, so much more than they looked like they did.

But neither of those things were surprising. Not to Shaw, anyway. She’d never once questioned Root’s strength. Her ability to carry… everything. Not once.

What was surprising, though, was the way Shaw… let her. Let Root carry her to safety. The way she didn’t fight against her when Shaw took the weight of them both onto herself; took Shaw’s fight and made it her own.

The way she didn’t object when Root finally set her down – when had they gotten to the safe house? – and cut her shirt open and quickly, efficiently – lovingly, she might even say, if she were a different person and if Root were a different person (but as it was, they didn’t need words like that) – started stitching her up.

The way Harold hovered over them both, concerned but assuring Lionel on the phone that “Ms. Shaw is in good hands.”

The way that John didn’t hover, not exactly, but he did radiate agitation from the corner, an eagerness to help even though he knew Root had it all under control.

The way that Bear rested his head on Shaw’s good shoulder, patient and calm, because maybe he, too, knew that Shaw was in good hands.

The way she didn’t panic before she passed out, part from blood loss and part from pain, knowing she was safe in Root’s arms.

“Rest now, sweetie,” Root murmured as she slipped into blissful unconsciousness.

And it was surprising, the way her voice carried into Shaw’s sense of peace, of calm, and of being cared for.

It was surprising, knowing that she was being fully encompassed, fully cared for.

And it was even more surprising that she liked it.

Because there were definitely things she cared about here.