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connective tissue

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Sometimes you find Root folded up on the edge of your wide living room windowsill, with her forehead pressed up against the glass, staring out at god knows what. Sometimes, if she doesn't notice you intruding on her moment, you stand and watch her, drinking in the way her hair falls in soft waves around her shoulders, her delicately crossed ankles, the angle of her jawline. She'll perch there, completely still, just gazing out at the building across from yours with a forlorn look on her face, like someone's melancholy, abandoned child.

When this happens, you tend to roll your eyes, march over, and take her slender, pale hands in yours: you pull her up and into you, away from whatever dark void she's witnessing or projecting. She always comes easily, obediently, and lets you distract her however you see fit.

Sometimes you tease her, "hey Eeyore, where's my perky psycho today?"

Other times, you go sit beside her and you're silent together.

If anyone understands Root's silences, it's you.

You have your own silences, after all. It's only by some stroke of luck or nature that the two of you have managed to connect at all, despite your competing forces of chaos and quiet.

You may not be much of a talker, but you are a thinker. And when it comes to thinking about Root, and yourself, and the overlap between the two of you, you realize pretty early on that the only way you can really understand it is through nature. Feelings aren't your thing, never will be, but animals... you can do animals. You can relate to dogs and foxes and really any wild (especially predatory) creatures. In fact, the less language something has, the better chance there is that you're going to understand it. Which is why, when it comes to you and Root, you resort to trolling your memories for interactions with the rest of the world that can help you make some... sense... of this thing you're doing, this life you're weirdly building together.

There's one instance you keep coming back to:

It's the early 2000's and you're on a short leave with nowhere to go, one October, three years into your Marines career. some of the boys are stuck on base and at loose ends as well. Maybe it's not October, maybe it's Thanksgiving, you forget now. They talk you into going deer hunting with them- you've never shot anything that wasn't a person or a target before, and you're curious, so you agree.

You and three buddies and a cooler of beer end up squatting in a rickety elevated blind in the middle of the some stretch of woods. You're not sure the beer is such a brilliant idea, and the salt lick not too far from you stinks of cheating, but this is how it's done, you suppose.

After three hours of freezing their asses off, the guys distract themselves with the usual collection of dirty stories. You throw in a comment now and then (usually a reminder that something they're claiming to have done is medically impossible). For the most part, your eyes never leave your scope. The murmur of your companions slips out of your consciousness. You're the only one who notices the doe in the distance, nervously picking her way out of the saplings at the farthest edge of the field.

She is young, you guess, long legged and pale. Maybe still a fawn. You can't really tell. Her ears twitch and her large soft eyes roam the clearing. She takes a tentative step toward the salt lick. Her haunches are slim, not muscular. Her flanks are under-developed and you suspect that if you got closer, it wouldn't be hard to spot her ribs under her coat. Her head seems almost too big for her long neck.

There's something about her that broadcasts fragility. It trips some unknown instinct in you, As you watch her wobble closer and closer to the certain death, you want, fiercely, to protect her, to prevent your half drunk friends from filling her trembling body with hot lead. You think about firing wild, making a sound. But that's not how this game is played.

You make it quick for this poor animal, a single shot. She's dead before she can jump in surprise.

You get a congratulatory round of shots that night. But you don't feel good about this kill... You don't feel bad either.

Seven or maybe eight years later, you're not a marine anymore. You're not black ops anymore. You're not even (officially) alive anymore. You're a different kind of hunter now. In a dark turn of events, you find yourself freshly unemployed, following a lead to a hotel room, and talking to this woman who is supposedly an associate of Cole's. She has large brown eyes and light brown hair. She's gracefully long-limbed- like a ballerina. You catch her eyes tracking your every motion, darting up and down the length of your body as you drop your coat on the coffee table and pace toward a sound you hear in the bathroom.

It's not until you're tasered and ziptied to a rolling chair, and she's sort of picking her way around the room, preparing to torture you, that you realize, in your semi-fried brain state, that she kind of moves like that deer edging its way into a clearing. It's not nervous movement, per se, but not nearly as careless as her annoying perkiness would have you believe. There's something wild and unsure about this woman.

You tell Harold you've found your next hobby and you're not sure if you want to end her or... something else.

Some nights later in a warehouse, you could kill her. You should kill her. You don't kill her. She stands with a pistol wavering in Harold's direction, probably intent on bringing him down. But she's pale and thin and unhinged and her soft wide eyes aren't looking for sanctuary or salt, they're looking for answers. The wildness of her voice and that psychotic vulnerability unlock that instinct that you thought you dropped with your first deer. It's hot and demanding inside of you. Your job is to protect Harold. But this woman... she's something else.

So you fire wide and clip Root's shoulder, not even a center mass shot. She crumples to the floor with a spray of blood and a dramatic wail of anguish.

Payback for the tasering, you figure.

Months after you shoot her, Root breaks into your loft and kidnaps you. This, she decides, counts as the beginning of your relationship. It is a relationship you are dragged, literally, forcibly dragged, into. You get inundated with uninvited touches and innuendo. You could try to shut her up with a punch, or ignore her until she left. Instead you roll your eyes and banter back with witty rejections to her advances.

Somewhere the banter becomes second nature. It's less a "get the fuck off me" and more a friendly fire sort of exchange. Not long after your working relationship stabilizes, Root offers you a repeat of the one time fuck fest that happened in the CIA safehouse.

No mistakes there. It was probably the hottest ten hours of your life, even including that two day leave you had in Budapest, in your first year as a Marine. Root was all wanton gasps and wet, arching, searing, desire. Her mouth was hot and demanding, her fingers harsh and gentle all at once. You were undone completely, over and over.

Which is why you don't bother making a show of resistance when she follows you home one night, traipsing happily by your side in silence (sometimes, it's like no matter what you do, she enjoys just being around you, it's stupid. You could be installing plumbing and she'd want to tag along and watch you). At the door to your building you stop and give Root a quick once over: she's tilting forward expectantly, with her hands stuffed in her coat pockets. She tips her head and says,

"Well, Sameen, are you going to invite me in?"

"No." You lie, flatly, unlocking the door and tugging her in behind you. "Do you even have a home of your own to go to?"

Root shrugs, "I sleep wherever She decides."

This statement makes you more unhappy and unsettled than you'll ever admit. You blame the discomfort on the close quarters of the elevator you've just stepped into, that and the way she's managing to grope your ass for two floors without getting her fingers broken.

"So you thought you'd follow me back to my place, do some couch surfing?"

"I was just enjoying a walk and some conversation."

"We didn't have a conversation."

"But you brood so eloquently." She gives you the most awkward wink in the history of awkward facial expressions. You almost laugh.

"ugh. shut. UP." you say instead, "let's just do this ok?"

"By 'this' you mean...?"

"Sex, Root. Let's just have sex and maybe can the verbal foreplay."

"Oh. ok," and with that she bends down, right in the middle of the service elevator, and kisses you for eight floors. She waits for you to open your mouth before sliding her tongue in, and when she does, all coherent thoughts leave your body. You almost don't make it to the doors of your loft. And once you get in, you almost don't make it to the bed.

But then you're on the bed, and Root's tugging your boots and jeans off and laughing when your concealed switchblade clunks to the floor. She grins, her teeth sharp and almost feral in the moonlight.

"Always prepared," she murmurs as you pull your shirt off and slide out of your bra.

Root presses the length of her body into you as her hands busy themselves, one hand pinning your wrists over your head, the other wreaking havoc down your breasts, pinching and stroking and teasing a trail from one nipple to the other, across your stomach, and finally, finally, settling hard and fast between your legs.

Root's fingers find you wet, already, and she works you up with firm, deep strokes. She kisses you, hard and fierce. After the way she took the lead that first time (and that she always flirts with you), you'd figured Root was probably pretty dominant in bed. You're not wrong, you realize as she's pinning you to the mattress, restraining your wrists, and fucking you. Somehow the way she controls the kiss seems to be her most overt way of dominating you. Root's tongue strokes inside your mouth in perfect sync with the rhythm of her fingers stroking between your legs. It's deep and wet and searing and wonderful.

"Open for me," she commands, between kisses and occasional bites. You spread your legs, you feel yourself relaxing, opening wider for her as she slides two, then three, searching fingers deep into you. Root grins down at you as she curls her fingers, looking for your g-spot.

"You're so delectable when you're all turned on like this."

you laugh, "shut up and fuck me"

Root leans in and bites your neck, almost hard enough to break skin, you gasp and clench hard around her fingers.

"Did you say please?" she breathes into your mouth.

You must say please after that because she starts fingering you in earnest. Your hips rise up and pleasure flares at every nerve ending. Root is a hard, determined, merciless fuck. She pumps in and out of your slick, wet heat. Root's fingers go so deep inside you, you imagine you can feel her touch echoing all the way at the base of your spine. Root smiles, softly, at you, as she thrusts, deep and fast and hard. It's that smile that pushes you over the edge, the impish curl of her lip... Your first orgasm rushes you, your second drowns you, your third exhausts you, and your fourth has you outright begging for her to let up.

She smiles wickedly. "Is it time for me to use my mouth now?"

You grumble. "When do I get to fuck you?"

Root pats your cheek patronizingly, "when you've earned it."

"And when's that supposed to be?"

Root rolls you over and straddles the back of your thighs. Her hand slides down to your ass. She squeezes one cheek, appreciatively, before landing a sharp smack on you. You glance back at the kinky little smirk on her face.

"Don't move unless I tell you to," She smacks you twice more, a little harder and more purposefully each time. You grin. It's gonna be that kind of party...

She leans over you, pressing your chest and face into the mattress as she bites, assertively, on your shoulder, "and I'll let you know when it's your turn."