Chapter 1: Canon
Root straightens her blouse, sparing a glance at the locked bathroom door before she opens the hotel room door.
She keeps her face professional, slightly scared and wary at the ISA agent in front of her. Sameen Shaw. “Come in,” Root says.
Shaw brushes past her, Root squeezes her eyes shut, giving into her emotions for a split second before composing her features again. She is Veronica Sinclair, for the time being.
There are far more important things to discuss, regardless that her soulmate is standing in front of her.
Root clenches her fists, unable to let the smirk blossom on her face. She slips the taser out of her skirt, tasing Shaw in the neck.
Her face splits into a smirk.
Places to be, soulmate to torture.
Chapter 2: Computing variables (College AU)
Soda dribbles across the table, rolling to the edge straight onto Shaw’s jeans. Shaw curses, pushing her chair back and grabbing her smoking laptop from the table. The soda pours from her keyboard onto the ground.
“Fuck,” Shaw hisses, shaking the laptop. She tears off her hoodie, pressing it onto her ruined laptop. Smashing the power button, Shaw growls, “Fuck.”
Laptop hastily wiped clean with water, Shaw stomps down the hall with it under her arm.
“Harold!” Shaw pounds her fist on the door. “Finch!”
Shaw narrowly avoids hitting Reese in the face when he whips the door open, hair skewed, rubbing his eyes. He squints at her, clothes rumpled and barefoot. “What do you want Shaw?”
Reese looks behind him into the room, no sign of anyone else. “Family emergency or something, he’s out of town.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“What do you need him for?”
Shaw points to her laptop. “It’s dead, I need him to fix it.”
“Maybe one of the computer science majors can help.”
“Finch is the only comp sci major I know.”
“Hold on,” Reese says raising his hand. He darts back in the room to Finch’s side and takes a post it note. “Here, Finch says she’s a genius, should probably be able to help.”
“Genius?” Shaw snatches the paper from his hand. “You know her?”
“Met her a couple times.” Reese shrugs. “Has a thing for annoying Finch, but he says she’s –“
“A genius. You said that already.”
Reese blinks, not amused. “Brilliant but her morals are more black than grey.”
“I like her already.”
“Careful Shaw, who knows what she might dig up from your computer.”
Shaw knocks politely on the door. She waits for 30 seconds and knocks again. The door opens a crack, the girl behind the door giving Shaw a confused once-over.
“Can I help you?”
“Who are you?”
Shaw huffs and presents her laptop, still damp. “Look, my laptop is fried and Finch said you were a genius, so can you fix my laptop?”
The girl looks away for a moment, a hand coming up on her shoulder.
“It’s okay Hannah,” the lanky girl behind Hannah says.
The lanky girl takes Hannah’s place. At least she opens the door wider. She doesn’t say anything, leaning against the frame of the door, staring unabashedly up and down Shaw’s body.
“You gonna stand there ogling or you gonna help me fix my computer?” Shaw asks.
The lanky girl’s eyes widen. She grins, teeth gleaming like a predator. “Are you always this grumpy or am I just special?”
Shaw’s eyes roll. She shakes her head and thrusts the laptop into the girls’ stomach as she stomps into the room.
“Hey!” Hannah protests from her bed.
“It’s fine Hannah,” the girl rubs at her stomach and puts the laptop on her desk. She turns to Shaw and gestures to the laptop. “What do you want to do with it? I’m pretty sure most of it is water damaged.”
“Can you recover my files?”
She hums and reaches under her desk, pulling out a large toolbox meticulously filled. A few minutes later, she pulls out the hard drive and plugs it into the cable attached to her computer. “It’s your lucky day…Sameen.”
Shaw shifts. “How’d you –“
The girl spins in her seat, smirking. “Harold did tell you I was a genius. You can call me Root.”
“Root? What kind of stupid ass name is that?”
Root tilts her head. “Your soulmate’s name.”
Shaw ignores Hannah’s squeak in the corner of the room. Her jaw clenches. “I don’t believe in soulmates.”
If anything, Root’s smile widens. “I’m so glad you said that, neither do I.”
“Alright,” Shaw says. She nods. “Really?”
Root shrugs, dismantling Shaw’s computer even more and wiping the parts dry. “Not in the way other people do.”
“What do you mean by that?”
Root replaces computer parts from her desk into Shaw’s laptop. “Most people think it’s just a happily ever after like a Disney movie when you meet the one.” She transfers Shaw’s files to a spare hard drive.
“But you don’t think that.”
“Nope.” Root boots up her laptop and waves Shaw over. “Is it to your standards Sameen?”
Shaw tests her computer out. She hums in approval. “This is a lot faster. How much do I owe you?”
“Coffee would be a good start,” Root says, cleaning up her table. “Just not near my computer please.”
“I thought you didn’t believe in soulmates.”
Root shrugs. “I don’t.” She smiles, leaning right into Shaw’s personal space. “But I’m a big fan.”
“Arson on the dean’s car. Bar fight up in Doug’s. You know they still haven’t found the person inflicting all those kneecap shots.”
Shaw blinks. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Your computer does.” Root pats the laptop. “So how about that coffee?”
Shaw grinds her teeth. “You’re lucky you’re hot.”
Chapter 3: The Turing Effect
This is all Harold’s fault.
A fucking shrink. Shaw does not need a high priced head doctor to tell her she has issues.
Why does she need to go in anyways? What about John? If anyone needs to be psychoanalyzed it’s John and his hero complex.
Shaw grinds her teeth, sitting on the probably $10,000 couch with her legs splayed out on the coffee table. She still hasn’t said a word and neither has the shrink.
Psychologist to the rich and richer.
Their new number.
Caroline sits patiently with her hands folded on top of her lap, staring at Shaw with a small smile.
“Miss Shaw,” Finch chirps in her ear. “Maybe you should say something, see what the threat is?”
Shaw sighs and burrows deeper into the uncomfortably hard leather couch.
“This wasn’t my idea,” Shaw says.
Caroline shifts in her seat, eyes sparking with surprise before shifting back to a professional demeanor. Her mouth opens and closes, struggling to find the right words. Caroline shakes her head, grinning. “Well then whose idea was it?”
Shaw blinks. “No. You’ve got to be joking.”
“Miss Shaw?” Finch asks. “What’s going on?”
“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” Caroline purrs. She raises her arm, wetting a piece of napkin and brushing off the makeup on the inside of her bicep. Shaw’s scrawl across her skin.
Shaw grabs her arm, wiping at the tattoo of her words on Caroline’s skin. She narrows her eyes. Definitely her writing.
“Shaw, what’s going on?” Reese asks. “Why are you manhandling our number?”
Discretely flipping him off with the hand behind her back that John is sure to see through his binoculars across the building, Shaw frowns. “Can we close the blinds?”
Caroline presses a button on the remote, the blackout drapes automatically descending.
Shaw cuts off her connection to Finch and Reese. She takes off her jacket, unbuttoning her blouse to show her shoulder. Caroline steps into Shaw’s personal space, manicured fingernails lightly brushing against Shaw’s mark.
Caroline hums, wetting her lips. “Well, I can’t be your doctor anymore.”
“We’re not making this,” Shaw points in the space between them, “into a thing.”
Caroline’s smile decidedly takes a turn into predatory. Her body language completely changes, gone is the prim and proper Caroline Turing. It’s something else. Shaw narrows her eyes.
“I look forward to our time together,” Caroline says. “Shaw.”
Shaw frowns, her cover is Sameen Grey. “That’s not my name.”
“Sure it isn’t.”
Shaw never sees the taser come at her throat until she’s twitching on the couch.
“We’re going to have so much fun together,” Caroline says.
Chapter 4: Let the bodies hit the floor
Sometimes Shaw questions her judgment of walking out (forcefully fired) from her cushy government assassin work in favor of freelance work.
This is one of those times.
Shaw stands there, Finch chirping in her ear and a stranger in front of her who just tased the suspect she was supposed to be interrogating.
Leveling her gun at the woman who nonchalantly stares at the downed body, Shaw narrows her eyes, reassessing the currently fucked mission
The woman in her expensive suit sighs and looks at Shaw with a pout forming on her lips. “Are you going to stand there gawking or are you going to help me move the body?”
Shaw’s grip on her gun tightens. The mark across her hip itches. It’s all psychological, probably. After all, this woman just said the words that’d been seared on her skin since she’d been born.
“You tased him, you move him,” Shaw answers.
“Who are you talking to Ms. Shaw?” Finch asks urgently in her ear.
The woman turns a blinding smile to Shaw and tilts her head, looking at Shaw like a kid with a brand new toy. “Well, today is just full of surprises.”
“Who are you?” Shaw demands, her gun aimed a few millimeters off from the woman’s heart.
“You can call me Root,” Root answers. She bites her lip and trails her eyes up and down Shaw’s form, particularly taking an interest in Shaw’s biceps. “And who might you be?”
“The person who’s going to shoot you if you don’t tell me what the hell you’re doing here.”
Root pouts. “Is that the way to talk to your soulmate?”
Shaw shoots her in the shoulder.
Chapter 5: Sense-Less
Every time Shaw meets someone new, her fists curl into themselves to stop herself from punching the look of pity on their face. She’s seen it her entire life, from the doctors when she’d been old enough to comprehend them, to her parents and to her classmates.
She’d been too young to understand when her mother burst into tears after the doctor’s diagnosis.
She’d never be able to find her soul mate, not when she can’t even speak.
It’s just as well, Shaw doesn’t have any Marks on her either. No tattoo winding up or down her body with the first words that someone who’s supposed to be the one person destined for her marring her skin.
As she grows older and self-diagnosis herself after finding a DSM book sitting in her father’s library, Shaw deems her soulmate less status a blessing. After all, how could anyone fault her for being so stand-offish when she’s a mute and when she has no soulmate.
Now, Shaw polishes off her apple in the break room of the hospital. Just stretching her legs and staving off her hunger until a fresh wave of patients swarm into the ER. She tosses the core into the bin and scratches the back of her hand, her nails prickling against the tiny raised dots.
“Dr. Shaw,” a nurse hurries in. “Ambulance just arrived, car crash, multiple victims.”
Shaw nods, signaling for the nurse to prep the rooms and keeping open a few beds for the critical arrival. She runs to the loading doors and listens to the EMT’s list off the patient’s vitals. Shaw gets the patient inside the room and slides the patient onto the bed. She notes the blood pouring from the woman’s face, staining her hair and clothing.
Flicking out her penlight, Shaw shines it in the woman’s eyes. No response.
Shaw nods to the nurse who acts as her voice in these situations.
Cole gently puts a hand on the woman’s shoulder as Shaw continues on her examination.
“Miss? Can you hear me?”
“Yes,” she responds.
“Can you see me?” he asks.
The woman chuckles and Shaw glances up, frowning.
“Afraid not Doc,” she answers. “I’m blind.”
Shaw nods at Cole. Well, that explains it.
Shaw knock’s on the patient’s door, Samantha Groves, as her chart says.
“Hi,” she greets Shaw, sitting up on the bed.
Shaw frowns as she goes through her chart. Right. Blind. Shaw shakes her head. Really they should’ve assigned another doctor to her. Shaw shrugs and pulls out her phone. Usually she’d just open up a note to type into but well, circumstances change.
“Can you hear me?” Shaw makes her phone read the message.
She sits up straight in her bed, face slack for a few moments that puts Shaw on edge. There wasn’t any brain damage recorded. Maybe the techs missed something, again.
Though a few moments later, her face morphs into a smile. “Absolutely,” she answers.
Shaw raises an eyebrow at the overly sweet tone.
Putting out her hands, she motions for Shaw to come closer. She grabs onto Shaw’s hand and Shaw’s whole body jerks.
She can’t hit a patient, especially not one that’s blind. No that would be a huge no-no.
Shaw’s hand twitches while she rubs her fingers along Shaw’s palms and hand, reaching the raised dots on Shaw’s hand.
“Hi there,” she says, enormous smile still plastered on. “I’m Root.”
Shaw blinks, taking one hand away from Root to type on her phone again. “You’re listed as Samantha Groves.”
“Call me Root.”
“What’s your name?”
Root’s fingertips continue to caress Shaw’s hand. She taps onto each dot. “I thought I’d never find you.”
Root’s eyebrows furrow together when Shaw doesn’t respond. “Do you know what this is?” Her nails catch on the scarred tissue.
“No,” Shaw types on her phone.
“You should look up braille then, it says Hi.”
Shaw tenses, jerking her hand back and stepping away. She quickly looks it up on her phone, seeing that the scarred dots on her skin really do spell out Hi.
Root turns her arm, showing her own scars on the inside of her forearm. Ones and Zeros. All over her skin.
“You can touch, if you want,” Root says, offering her arm up.
Shaw touches the raised skin with her fingertips, a question burning in her eyes.
“Binary code,” Root explains. “It says ‘Can you hear me?’ I was half expecting my soulmate to be an AI you know.”
Shaw shakes her head, hand still caressing Root’s skin.
The universe sure does have a sense of humor. Put in a blind and mute girl as soulmates.
Chapter 6: one liners
“Hasn’t anyone ever told you it isn’t safe to walk around the woods at night?” Shaw asks, keeping her pistol leveled at the intruder into the woods.
The intruder drops the legs of the body she’d been dragging around. From what Shaw can see in the dark, it’s a woman, tall, slim and definitely smirking at her. Shaw takes a step forward, a threat.
“It’s so nice to finally meet you,” the woman says, leaning against the tree trunk.
Shaw’s hand doesn’t waver, but her eyes widen just a fraction in disbelief. She glances at the body the woman, her soulmate, had been dragging across the woods at the dead of night.
“Who are you?” Shaw asks.
“You can call me Root.”
Root grins, flapping her arms to her sides. “Very much so.” She looks at the hole next to Shaw and points to it. “Room for one more?”
“Dig your own grave.”
Pouting Root flexes her skinny arms and practically slithers closer to Shaw despite Shaw’s gun still trained on her. Shaw shoots a warning when she’s a few feet away, enough to graze her expensive boots.
“Well, how about the shovel then?” Root asks, pointing to the discarded equipment in the dirt pile.
“You’re not burying the body here.”
“Two dead bodies at the approximate same site?”
“Pretty please?” Root asks with an exaggerated pout. “I’ll buy you dinner.”
Shaw’s stomach growls, the traitor. “Fine, but you owe me a steak.”
Root nods, grin fully back in place. She tilts her head towards Shaw’s gun still pointed at her. “How about you put that away.”
If anything, Root’s face brightens even more. “We’re going to have so much fun together.”
Shaw’s mouth ticks at that, if the dead body Root’s currently trying to dig a hole for is any indication, her soulmate isn’t going to be boring at the slightest.
Chapter 7: Starbucks
Shaw didn’t understand her soulmark until the day Starbucks became the leading business in crappy over-roasted coffee.
Tall, grande or venti?
She keeps the mark covered at all times.
Reese happens to see it when he’s digging out a bullet lodged in her hip. He raises an eyebrow after Shaw’s properly stitched and wrapped up. Shaw dares him to say something with just a glare. Wisely, he keeps quiet.
But every time they need coffee, Reese makes her go with him to Starbucks when they’re at a stakeout. She doesn’t order anything.
Her luck runs out when their newest number, Kelly Dyson, is a barista at Starbucks. Finch doesn’t buy her excuse that she has a stomachache one bit. Reese told him. That traitor.
Shaw walks into the store, nose curling at the heavy scent of burnt coffee beans. Why is there even such a long line at 17:00? Who needs caffeine in the afternoon?
She tightens her grip on the gun inside her coat as she nears the registers. Shaw comes face to face with Kelly’s expectant smile.
Well, if Shaw doesn’t say anything, then it’ll never happen. Right?
She points to the black coffee on the menu.
“Tall, grande or venti?” Kelly asks.
“Okay, venti it is.”
Shaw shakes her head, of course their number would be a little shit and try to kill her with caffeine. She stands to the side, waiting for her disgusting coffee.
“Maybe you should get to know the number Shaw, who knows you might hit it off.”
Reese. That fucker.
“Fuck off,” Shaw mumbles.
Nearly 15 minutes later, her coffee finally comes through.
The barista squints at the cup and looks to Kelly who just winks at him. His cheeks heat up and Shaw feels like punching him in his stupid face.
“I have a venti black coffee for…cutie with a scowly?”
Shaw throws Kelly the most menacing glare she can, it should be able to level even the most hardened marine into taking a step back, but all Kelly does is smile.
“I am not cute,” Shaw grits out.
Kelly’s smile stretches out even more if that’s even possible. Shaw scoffs and grabs her coffee.
“I beg to differ,” Kelly says. She takes off her apron and walks over to Shaw. “You are definitely a cutie pie.”
“She sounds nice.”
Shaw keeps her face neutral. She’s going to train Bear to pee on his shoes.
“As fun as this is, I’m going to have to ask you and Tarzan to stay out of my way.”
“What?” Shaw asks, blinking rapidly. Her vision goes fuzzy and her hand slacks, dropping the coffee onto the ground.
“Shaw?” Reese’s voice barely registers.
Kelly let’s Shaw lean on her, placing her on a chair. She gives Shaw a kiss on the forehead. “It’s so nice to finally meet you Sameen. Don’t worry it’ll wear off in a few hours.”
Shaw clumsily reaches for the gun in her coat, her fingers barely graze it before her whole body sags and she’s out.
“Who is she?” Shaw demands.
She watches Finch place another photo besides ‘Kelly Dyson’. A congressman died of a heart attack. No investigation necessary. They know better now.
“She calls herself Root,” Finch says. “A hacker and killer for hire.”
Shaw takes Root’s picture. That annoying smug grin radiates off her seemingly innocent smile. Shaw smirks.
She’s got a soulmate to hunt.
Chapter 8: Holiday Cheer
But most importantly, Christmas is the worst holiday for Shaw. Her mother always went on the lookout for her, calling her at the end of the day casually just to ask if she met them yet.
Answer’s always no.
Now with the ISA, Shaw can’t request Christmas off and hole up in her apartment with pizza and beer shutting the world away.
She tries to complete her assignments well before Christmas even nears, but sometimes that just doesn’t pan out. Cole gives her weird looks when she insists on spending the day up on the cold sniper perch.
As of this moment, Christmas is still her top shittiest day.
Shaw discreetly tightens her forearms, moving the zipties on the chair back and forth. Her ears perk up, hearing the distinct sound of heels clacking against cement echoing around her. Warehouse. Most likely empty. Large by the sound of it.
The steps come to a stop before her. Her hood gets torn off and Shaw squints in the new light. Her captor turns around and fiddles with metallic instruments of torture to her right, Shaw rolls her eyes. Setting up the stage so quick.
The woman turns back to her with a perky smile. Great, she’s got a psycho on the loose. Shaw grits her teeth and works the zipties some more. Shaw glares at her. In another world, Shaw would’ve tried to pick her up at a bar after a few drinks. But she’s here right now in an abandoned warehouse about to be tortured, attractive woman be damned.
Tilting her head to the side, the woman crouches in front of Shaw and puts her hands on Shaw’s knees. She pouts and slides them up her thigh.
“It’s Christmas, how about a smile?”
Shaw’s eyes widen involuntarily. Her jaw clenches. No. Fucking. Way.
The woman puts a hand up to Shaw’s hoodie and unzips it.
“Now, I don’t want to hurt you,” she says, grabbing a blowtorch. “But I have a few questions and I’m sure that you won’t answer them. Well, not yet anyways.”
The woman waggles her eyebrows.
Shaw licks her lips. “You know I sort of enjoy this sort of thing.”
The woman blinks. Her smile gets even wider. She puts the blowtorch down and grabs a scalpel instead.
“I am so glad you said that,” she says, putting the blade on Shaw’s stomach and tearing away her thin tank top. “I do too.”
“Still not telling you anything,” Shaw insists.
“I thought so...” she sighs. She digs the tip into Shaw’s stomach, tracing curves and lines in blood.
Shaw jerks against the chair. The cuts are shallow, enough to scar for a few months but not enough to completely disfigure her. She knows what’s she’s doing.
The woman drops the knife near Shaw’s feet.
“Well, I suppose as my gift to you…” the woman grabs her purse and jacket from the ground. “I’ll leave you alive.”
“We should do this again sometime, good bye Sameen.”
She leaves Shaw alone and bolts the door shut. Shaw quickly twists in her chair and kicks up the scalpel to her hand. Shaw hisses when she gets free and presses her ruined shirt against the cuts. She tilts her head and reads the upside letters.
What the hell does that mean?
Chapter 9: The Ball Drop
It’s New Year’s Eve. Streets piled with merry half-drunk tourists drinking to a better tomorrow.
Not for Shaw though.
She’s spending her night tracking down a relevant number. Tonight she gets to use her newly liberated pistol.
It’s her kind of holiday.
Except her target proves to be the festive sort. Winding his way through the bars close to midnight, preying on the overly intoxicated to be his bedfellow for the night.
Shaw nudges her way through the bar, shaking off her warm puffy jacket and primping herself up. Might as well get a drink and be a honeypot trap. She shakes out her hair, tugging her v-neck down to reveal her impressive cleavage. She swipes a full glass of scotch from a couple too busy making out with each other to properly drink and sits at a recently vacated seat at the bar, tugging the four empty martini glasses in front of her. The number makes eye contact with her and Shaw’s lips quirk into a slow smile. She squints just a tiny bit, feigning symptoms of intoxication.
The number grins, his eyes lowering to her cleavage and back up to her face. Hook. Line. Sinker. He makes his way through the crowd towards her.
The bar erupts in a chant, counting down along with the TV. She almost grimaces, waiting for him to hurry the fuck up so she can kill him already. Just five more steps, how long does it take to walk?
Shaw turns to the woman who interrupted her mission and stares. Blonde. Pretty. Killer looks in a leather jacket. Any other time Shaw would take her up on that offer but she’s got a mission to –
The woman tugs her by her neck and kisses her.
Everyone else cheers and Shaw keeps her eyes open, glancing over at her number who’s standing stock still now, leering at her.
The woman leans away, licks her lips and smiles.
“Thank you,” she says and attempts a wink. She jumps off the stool and brushes past the number.
He checks out the woman’s parting backside for a moment longer before stumbling over to Shaw, his face screwed up in a lewd smile.
“Think she just stole my New Year’s kiss from ya.”
Shaw takes an imaginary sip of her martini and clumsily pokes his chest.
He grins and clears his throat. He frowns, clearing his throat again. “I…I…” He coughs, his face turning purple.
Shaw stands back, watching as he struggles to breathe before crashing to the floor. Some patrons scramble away muttering about drunken idiots. Shaw bends over on the pretense of helping him up, discreetly checking his pulse. None.
Shaw rushes out the bar, searching for blonde hair. She spots it, in a trash can across the street. Shaw curses under her breath, rushing all around to look for her, but of course it’s too late. She patches her cellphone through a secure connection.
“I need a favor.”
“Happy New Year to you too Shaw.”
He sighs and Shaw can imagine how much he’s rubbing his forehead. “Okay fine, what do you need?”
It takes Shaw a week to track the infamous Root. Root who’s gotten a name in swiping kills from agencies and freelancers all around the globe.
In that week she’s had time to reflect. The loopy script of Kiss me taunt her every time she showers. She scrubs furiously at her ribs, leaving the skin raw.
She shouldn’t look for her.
If there’s even a miniscule chance of her being… Shaw dreads to say, her soulmate, well, she should run as far away to the other side of the world as fast she can.
Shaw can’t help herself. Professional pride she reasons. After all that woman took her target from right under her nose.
Shaw corners Root at a hotel room. Root’s sitting in a chair, back to Shaw with her feet up on the table.
“You stole my kill,” Shaw says, gun pointing at her.
Root looks over her shoulder and grins. “It’s a free for all world out there Shaw, can’t help it if I’m just better.”
Shaw narrows her eyes at her. “Who’s got the gun pointed at who?”
“You’ll find that looks can definitely be deceiving.”
Shaw frowns a split second before her entire body seizes up and she drops her gun. Tased. She drops heavily to the ground.
Root grabs her arms and drags her off the ground onto the chair she’d just vacated. She slides her hands up Shaw’s thighs and relieves her of all the hidden weapons.
“Now you didn’t think I’d let you find me unless I wanted you to did you?”
Shaw can’t formulate a proper response yet, but she nonetheless glares.
“I think we’ll make a great team.”
“I don’t work well with others.”
Root leans over her, yanking at Shaw’s hair until she hisses. “You’ll find that we’re…compatible, in more ways than one.”
She lets go of Shaw’s hair and drops a bag onto Shaw’s lap, opening it for her to see. To any other person, the contents of the bag would be seen as an intimidation tactic, showing the torture they’d most likely be subjected to. Except Root pulls out a lighter and a candle, she bites her lip and waggles her eyebrows suggestively.
Chapter 10: ER visit
Root shifts on the tiny hospital bed and hisses at the sharp ache on her side. Stab wound. She tells the nice policemen about the mugging gone wrong and the most generic description of a tall man in a suit grabbing her purse and knicking side. She doesn’t tell them that that man was her victim first and well, he’s quite dead with a bullet to the head in his own room; suicide note already crafted on his computer and her blood washed and bleached from his kitchen knife.
Now she waits for her doctor to stitch her up so she can go about using her very much earned blood money. A nice bottle of whiskey or perhaps scotch.
The curtains part and Root stops the doctor from speaking before she even approaches her side.
“Wrong side, I’m deaf in this ear.”
The doctor, Root peers at her nametag, Doctor Sameen Shaw, pauses. Root waits for the inevitable apology and gentle curious inquiries about how she’d injured her ear. Instead Shaw shrugs and walks over to her good side.
Doctor Shaw does an amazing job, nimble fingers, fast neat stitches. Root hums. Very minimal scarring.
“So, how’d you get stabbed?” Shaw asks, snipping the last thread.
“With a knife.”
Shaw levels an unimpressed look at Root’s smirking face.
“So am I ready to go Doc?” Root bats her eyelashes.
Shaw pauses a moment, staring at Root, she nods tightly. “The nurse will give you release papers. Keep the dressings dry, change them every 72 hours. Come back in two weeks to get the stitches out.”
Root nods, as if she has every intention to come back here. She waits for Shaw to leave before she edges off the bed and gathers her clothes, slipping out of the hospital before the nurse ever gets a chance to come over with release papers. She stops at a computer terminal and quickly accesses the hospital security cameras, erasing her existence.
She blames the unnecessary morphine shot Shaw gave her for numbing her senses. It takes four blocks of walking and almost stealing a car before she notices her.
“Grand theft auto?”
Root turns around and tilts her head inquisitively. “Hello Doc.”
“You steal cars in addition to jumping medical bills?” Shaw nods to the car in question. “Least you picked a sweet ride.”
Root shrugs. She likes fast cars, especially if she plans on using it to get out of the city fast and in style. “Not part of your job description to chase down fleeing patients now is it?”
Shaw deliberates, teeth grinding she barely nods and steps back, walking away. Root travels another five blocks, her side starting to burn, before she steals a car.
A week into her recovery, Root finally runs out of excuses to check up on Sameen Shaw, at least on the computer and hacking into the hospital surveillance feeds. Shaw guzzles an unhealthy amount of coffee and energy bars, typical for a doctor she supposes. Her fingertips hover over Shaw’s file, her personal, handwritten notes scanned onto the hospital database. She stares at the handwriting, tracing the loops of Shaw’s cursive. Very messy. But she definitely recognizes the letters. Root smiles.
Two weeks later, she returns to Shaw and pointedly wears a low cut shirt, her mark peeking just under the collarbone.
Shaw glances at it and steps in on her good side.
“You can call me Root.” Root lifts up her shirt, showing the neat stitches still attached.
Shaw gets to work on removing the stitches, quick and with minimal pain. “How’d you lose your hearing?”
“That’s a long story…maybe we can discuss it over dinner.”
Shaw barely misses a step. “Can’t.”
“Can’t date your patients?”
“I’m sure the hospital can make an exception…” Root pats Shaw’s hip.
Shaw grits her teeth, she is not as gentle now removing Root’s stitches. “Or I can call the police.”
“And tell them what? I paid my bills.” Root grins. “Now … how about that steak joint down on Columbus?”
“There’s a 4 week wait.”
“Reservations for tonight.”
Shaw tapes up the healing wound and presses on the bandage harder. Root whimpers but otherwise doesn’t move. “Fine, but you’re buying.”
“Of course sweetie, I’ll pick you up.”
“In the Ferrari?”
Root grins. “The red one.”
Shaw nods once and leaves. While pokes her head out, watching as Shaw stalks around with her commanding presence. Root bites her lip, hopefully the universe doesn’t disappoint her; but as she watches Shaw glare at another doctor and cut him down to size in a few swift words, Root decides that an ass that good in scrubs is definitely worth a peek down the soulmate train.
Chapter 11: Weapon of choice
She really shouldn’t have wished for an eventful day. Shaw settles for having a boring weekend filled with errands, she just has to go to the bank, deposit her paycheck (they STILL haven’t gone digital yet) and be on her merry way to buy some groceries. She’d been looking forward to cooking that steak for herself and Bear. After she steals him from Finch.
But of course, she’d been so bored waiting in line she wishes someone would rob the bank.
Now, Shaw has her stomach to the ground with guns pointed at the back of her head and she wishes for a million dollars. What? It might happen.
She could just take out all these amateurs in two seconds but of course the security guard plays hero and tries to shoot one of the robbers. Newsflash, there are five of them and all of them have guns and stupid ass is just a rent-a-cop who can barely shoot a target six feet in front of him. So now, they’re taking hostages and Shaw narrows her eyes as they pick the weakest ones.
A kid and an old lady.
They’ve got another two minutes before cops arrive, plenty of time to take them out, now if only she brought her gun – except, one of the robbers apparently has a brain and actually did a pat down on all of them and took away her gun. She’s going to break his knees first.
She sits on the ground, her hands behind her head, next to a brunette who’s surprisingly not panicking. The woman loses her balance a bit and leans against Shaw. There’s a bump in her pants pocket.
"That better be a gun in your pants,” Shaw mumbles to the woman.
The woman blinks owlishly and shakes her head. "Sorry sweetie, taser."
Shaw grits her teeth. Great. Just great, could her day get ANY worse?
The woman, her soulmate apparently, gives her a wink. “Well, don’t worry darlin’, I’ll get you that gun in 10 seconds.”
Shaw frowns, shit, what is she going to do? She better not get them all killed.
In five seconds, the woman slips her hand in her coat pocket and tases the robber doing his rounds. He grunts and slams to the ground, his gun skidding to her and gathering the attention of the other robbers. She snatches the gun and quickly shoots out all their kneecaps.
The woman depresses the taser again and grins devilishly at her before stowing it back into her coat. Shaw swallows. Damn. That was too hot. Maybe tasers aren’t so bad after all.
Noticing Shaw’s sudden lack of breath, the woman grins widely and bounces her eyebrows. “Maybe if you’re lucky, I’ll use it on you.”
Shaw rolls her eyes and shakes her head. “Seriously?”
The woman turns on her heels and marches out of the bank, Shaw quickly following her.
“Wait, where are you going?”
“I’m thinking we should get Japanese, ramen or sushi?”
“What, we?” Shaw reaches for her elbow and pulls her to a stop just at the corner of the bank. She ignores the sirens around them.
“Well, I’d like to get to know my knight in shining armor before we talk about the whole soulmate thing. So, sushi or ramen?”
Shaw blinks. Her mind fumbles to come up with a coherent response and the years of waiting to brush off this whole soulmate shtick. “I…sushi?”
“Excellent choice.” The woman links her arm around Shaws’ and pulls her along. “Now you can call me Root.”
“Sameen…” Shaw automatically says. She stares down at their linked arms.
First, she’ll get that free lunch, really, she’s going to make Root pay for it all and then they can talk about the taser thing.
Chapter 12: Big Fan
Sameen Shaw – World Class Gymnast
Sameen Shaw – Top violinist
Sameen Shaw – Artist Extraordinaire
Sameen Shaw – Judo Master
Sameen Shaw – Fastest Runner
Sameen Shaw – Etc. Etc.
At least those were the dreams Shaw’s parents had invoked upon her ever since she’d been big enough for them to read her mark. She’d been put in every art form conceivable that can garner any sort of fans. Gymnastic, as much as Shaw loathed the spandex uniforms that kept riding up her butt, has proven its merits.
Case in point, shimmying through an air duct so she doesn’t get blown up in the ensuing blast that she set charge to.
“You’ve got another 30 seconds Shaw.”
Shaw grunts, listening to Cole rattle on and on about exit strategies and tunnel collapses. Shielding her head from a loud bang, Shaw shifts faster in the ducts. She finally smirks, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Literally. She knocks on the grate and Cole quickly pulls away the flashlight while Shaw jumps off the side of the building and lands gracefully.
Stuck her landing.
Suck it Coach Ferdinand.
“Ten seconds!” Cole shouts as he runs to the van.
Shaw sprints ahead, reaching the driver’s side before he’s even half way to her. She reaches over and opens up the passenger door and starts the car. Cole pants, dropping into his seat and yanking his hand back in pain when she peels off the pavement, the momentum shutting the door for him and only slightly smashes his fingers.
A few miles out in the middle of nowhere, Shaw ditches the van and nods at Cole.
“I’ll see you when I see you,” she says, barely taking a look back at him.
“Tomorrow, we’ve got a new number.”
Shaw continues walking and Cole huffs slightly and gets on with his own exit strategy, watching her go into the woods while he goes off into the city. She always finds her way back, no matter what outlandish place she walks into.
Shielding her hot coffee from the brisk New York air, Shaw glances at her phone as it bluejacks the number. She side eyes their new number, tall blonde holding hands with two kids, definitely doesn’t look like a terrorist. But as always, looks can be deceiving.
“Come on Cole, tell me a story.”
“We have a Veronique Chereu, nannying for the Winstons. Charles and Anna, twins.”
Shaw hums. “Still don’t see it.”
“Well the Winstons have a non-profit that’s got millions, seems to be getting a lot of anonymous donations.”
“What’s the non-profit for?”
“Building wells for any country that needs it.”
“They make any so far?”
“According to their website, they have.”
Shaw crosses the street and tosses her now cold coffee into the trash. Veronique waves the children off into school and walks off into the park.
“So what do you think, maybe the nanny’s the middlewoman.”
“Doesn’t seem like it, her digital trail’s clean. Nannying for the past 10 years, mostly for rich families. Maybe the rich like the French. Could be the Winstons you know.”
“And what? Research decided to glitch and tell us the nanny is involved? What they gonna kill her?”
“Possibly. Or unwilling accomplice?”
Shaw huffs, watching Veronique sit in the park and seeing a dog bound right towards her as if she’s some Disney princess. Veronique pats the dog and gives him a good rub down while the owner, some weird looking guy in a three piece suit limping towards her all apologetic.
“Nothing’s going on Cole, you track the Winston’s down?”
“Think you’ll have better luck with them?’
Shaw buys a hot dog as Veronique waves good bye to the dog and just sits back in the bench with her phone. “Definitely.”
Perhaps Shaw should have really paid more attention to the nanny, seeing as she’s currently towering over Shaw’s fallen body. Veronique, or whatever her name is, tsks at Shaw like she’s one of her kids.
Veronique tucks the taser back in her dress and lifts Shaw up into a nearby chair. Studying Shaw, she carefully handcuffs Shaw to the chair and pointedly puts the key in her bra. If Shaw could roll her eyes she would, really? Such an amateur move. Veronique pulls off her blonde wig – of course she’s a brunette – and drops it at Shaw’s feet. She grins maniacally and stoops over Shaw.
“I’m a big fan of your work.”
Shaw’s eyes widen and she bites her tongue.
Veronique glances over at the man Shaw had actually been torturing, now knocked out before Veronique got the drop on her. She grins and picks up the knife Shaw dropped when she’d been tased.
“You know torture never actually gives good information,” Veronique says, without her French accent. She wipes the blood on Shaw’s sweater and brandishes it in front of Shaw’s face. “Now who is she working with?”
Shaw’s finally regaining some mobility in her limbs and she intends to fully draw this out and teach Veronique a lesson. Though what Veronique says makes her blink. Veronique on the other hand just tilts her head to the side and nods as if she’s listening to someone, an accomplice?
“Oh…hmm…are you sure?” Veronique sighs and sets the knife in Shaw’s lap instead. “Well I’m disappointed…we didn’t even get to have any fun.”
She pouts and grabs a usb drive from her bag, slipping into Shaw’s pocket. “Have Michael take a look at it, it’ll have everything you need.”
Veronique takes one last lingering look at Shaw and over to the unconscious tortured man. She sighs. “Such a shame.”
Within 30 seconds after Veronique leaves, Shaw cuts off her binds and shakes off the effects of the taser. Too late though, Veronique is nowhere in sight. She kicks up gravel on her way to hotwiring her car, intending on fully finding out just who the fuck she is… and then kill her. Soulmate or not. It’s her fault Shaw’s been in every single art form conceivable. Big fan her ass, a big fan of her torture technique??
Shaw finds Root in an abandoned library surrounded by computers. She waits until after the guard dog and the man in the glasses leave. Turns out they knew each other and Shaw’d been played.
“Just a second Harry, I’ve got – “ Root turns around and sees Shaw’s gun pointing right in her face. She doesn’t even blink, just raises an eyebrow, almost daring Shaw to shoot.
Shaw pulls back her gun and Root relaxes, only for Shaw to punch her right in the jaw. Root lands in a heap on the floor and spits out blood from her mouth.
“You had that coming,” Shaw says.
Root freezes until a maniacal smile, seriously it’s very maniacal with all that blood still staining her teeth, spreads across her face.
Shaw probably should have just shot her.
Chapter 13: Bride
Two things Shaw can infer from her soul mark.
- She will be engaged
- It will not be to her soulmate
Barring any other sort of acting gig or random passerby remark, that is the most likely scenario. It’s hard to imagine being married at all, what with her lifestyle and all that. Which is currently making her dangle off the roof of a building waiting for a helicopter.
Shaw scoffs again at the coldness seeping into her fingers. “Anything yet Cole?”
“Just a bit, they wanted a detour to the Trump building.”
“Why? They gonna crash into it? Saves me a lot of trouble then.”
Cole chuckles, his low voice crackling through her earpiece. “Afraid not, even then Trump’s not in the building.”
“Less than five minutes.”
Shaw shimmies a bit on the roof again, grateful for the vigorous training Hersh put her through; including one instance where he made all the recruits dangle off a brick wall for over an hour. Shaw had been the only one who completed the entire hour. Though she couldn’t move her fingers for days afterwards, a bit of a cramp on her sex life but hey, it’s definitely helpful now. Her short reminiscent musings get cut short by the sounds of an approaching helicopter. She flexes her fingers.
It’s show time.
She lifts herself up over the ledge, watching the helicopter descend. Shaw watches the passenger jump off onto the tarmac with her heels. Quite a feat, she didn’t even teeter one bit. The helicopter takes off again, leaving Shaw’s target ripe for the picking.
“Hey,” Shaw says, appearing from the shadows.
The elegantly dressed woman looks up from her purse and opens her mouth to scream. Too late. Shaw’s already wrapped her in a chokehold, counting the seconds until she passes out. Shaw drags her over to the corner of the building after securing her with zip ties and a jab of sedative. She lifts a tarp over her body, plus a blanket. Don’t want her freezing out here. Shaw rifles through her purse and pulls out the sleek black envelope in triumph.
“Got it,” Shaw says to Cole.
“Great, got your evening wear ready?”
Shaw grins and unzips her jumpsuit, revealing a nice wrinkle free black gown. “You know we’d make a fortune if we sold this to those fashion gurus.”
“Maybe, but then everyone’s going to be a Charlie’s Angel.”
Shaw scoffs. “Really? That the best you can come up with?”
“The only female spies with style I know of. Maybe when they have a female James Bond, hey you can play her.”
Shaw shakes her head and glances at the fallen woman’s shoes. She looks down at her boots. Well, good thing they’re the same size.
Lifting her arms up, Shaw appears to look bored as the security personnel scan her for any weapons. In reality, Shaw’s already scoped out four different exit strategies and eleven different improvised weapons. Twelve if Shaw is desperate enough to upend that tray full of mini steaks.
“Invitation please,” a guard asks, holding his hands up.
“Of course,” Shaw says in an accent. Muddled enough to be from any of the Asian regions and definitely a point for small talk. She hands him the black envelope embroidered with a name that is most definitely not hers.
“Thank you.” The guard scans the envelope and looks at the screen of his phone. He frowns at the picture and looks back at Shaw. His phone glitches just slightly and the picture reflects Shaw’s face. He shakes his head and smiles apologetically. “Thank you Miss Isa.”
Shaw smiles politely as he takes the envelope and stashes it with the others.
“Fingers cramping there?” she mumbles.
“Sorry, their phones were more encrypted than intel said. Got you through the door didn’t I?”
“Barely. Almost had to use my sidearm.”
“Use your charm Shaw, you don’t have a mask on this time.”
Shaw takes a flute of champagne off a tray and wets her lips, blending into the crowd. “Definitely remodeled.” Shaw takes note of the set of high tech sensors up on the walls and reinforced steel walls. “Added rooms and massive security tech.”
“How different are the blueprints?”
“Think the Riviera hotel turning into the Bellagio.”
“Shit, we should –“
“I’m fine. Just gotta…improvise.”
Shaw sips at the champagne now, no harmful effects as of last wet lip test. She eyes the steak and hurries to take one off.
“Ah well if it isn’t Miss Isa!” a loud booming voice says to her right.
Shaw plasters on the best rich person fake grin and tries not to knee the man in the groin when he hugs her, linger his hands a bit too long near her waist.
“It’s Ambassador Livingstone,” Cole quickly supplies.
“Ambassador, how good to see you here.”
“Of course,” he takes her left hand and kisses it, again lingering far too long. He pauses. “I had heard you were engaged, are the rumors not true?”
Crap. Engagement ring. Shaw just shyly ducks her head and pushes a piece of hair behind her ear. “Oh no the rumors are true, just wanted to keep it to us for a bit longer.”
Shaw sneaks away from the gropey old man when she trips a waiter into spilling wine all over his expensive tux. Time to get a move on. Shaw checks her phone, she’s got another five minutes before the shift change that means –
Someone tugs on her arm and Shaw forces herself to not break theirs. Instead she has to plaster on that same old money smile and turn towards the menace. White woman. Tall. Hair in a nice bun. Plunging neckline red dress. Distracting only for a second.
“You’re the bride right?” she asks.
Shaw freezes. Ah shit. Not now. Seriously?
She nods and tries to tug her arm back but the woman is not letting go and drags Shaw deeper into the off limits parts of the house. Well, she’s closer to her destination, but she can’t do her job with this woman literally on her arm.
“Now you’ve just got to tell me all about the engagement!” the woman says in a Texan accent. She drags them both passed the guards who just roll their eyes at their girly antics. They stop at the end of the hall where Shaw gets pushed into a room.
“We have two minutes until they look for us,” the woman says and lifts her leg up to the couch, sliding a knife out.
Shaw reaches down to her own weapon, ready to take her down.
The woman either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care that Shaw is about to kill her. “You’re Shaw right?”
Shaw keeps quiet, waiting for Cole to say something. Anything. Not a peep.
“Don’t Sam, we’re on the same team. Well sort of. Now if we’re going to find that terrorist of yours, we have-“
The doorknob rattles.
The woman sighs. “Looks like we’re out of time.” She grabs her knife and heads towards the window.
Goddamnit. Shaw can’t blow this mission. She grabs the woman by the waist and shoves her against the wall and hikes up the woman’s dress obscenely high. Shaw grips her thigh so hard it will most assuredly bruise.
The door breaks open and a few guards spill out with guns drawn out. “What’s going on-“ he stops mid-sentence, staring at the compromising position the two women are in. He coughs.
The woman grins slightly and wraps her arms around Shaw’s neck. “Sorry fellas, my fiancé and I were just…well…you know.”
“Well…it’s off limits here, we uh…” he looks away, face flushed.
Shaw manhandles the knife away from the woman’s back and tucks it back into the thigh holster.
“Of course, just uhm…give us a few moments? We’re sort of…” the woman gestures to Shaw and herself.
The guard commands the others to move out and leaves them alone.
“Well honey,” the woman says, caressing the back of Shaw’s neck. “If you wanted some sugar you could’ve just asked.”
“I am not your fiancé,” Shaw growls.
The woman stiffens slightly and finally she grins so wide Shaw swears she’s going to punch her. “Well well, soulmate then.”
“Oh sweetie, that’s no way to start a relationship. I’m Root.”
Shaw blinks. “Wait…Root?”
Thirty minutes later, Shaw finally gets back into contact with Cole, the old part of the building was apparently a natural faraday cage. Cole relaxes when he sees Shaw slide in, but stiffens again when Root decides to climb up into the back of the van with her.
“Hello Michael,” Root says. “So glad to finally meet you.”
Shaw sighs. “Root.”
Cole holds a hand up. “Wait, what?”
“You heard me,” Shaw says, dropping a USB drive into his lap. “Now we got the –“
“No, WHAT?” his mouth drops open and he swivels his head back and forth. “Root? As in-“
“Your boss, yes,” Root answers. She runs a finger down Shaw’s arm and Shaw just rolls her eyes. “And her soulmate.”
Cole blinks three times. He looks at the empty energy drink on his table. “Did you spike my drink?”