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White Whale

Chapter Text

“Finch, spill. You’re freaking me out.”


Finch simply fidgeted even more under Shaw’s stern gaze, refusing to meet her eyes. Standing beside her, Root tilted her head to the side, worry furrowing her brow.


“What is it, Harry?” she pressed, far more gently than Sameen. “Going undercover isn’t anything new for us.”

Harold looked up pleadingly from his seat in the subway car at John, towering beside him with arms folded across his chest. John merely gave a quick shake of the head.

“I’m not telling them.” Shaw’s eyes narrowed at the faint smirk that twitched at the edge of his lips. She stood from her own seat across from Finch.

“Look, I don’t have time for this. Give me the job or put me on something else.”

“Afraid this one’s a team effort, Shaw,” John said before turning back to Harold. “Come on, Finch, just get it over with.” With a sigh of resignation Harold closed his eyes.

“Very well. Our latest number is going to require us to leave the city for some time. All of us. Mr. Reese and myself will be serving as crew members aboard the Pacifica Borealis, while Ms. Groves and yourself will be serving as guests.”

Shaw raised an eyebrow. “A cruise ship?”


Finch hesitated, still refusing to meet her eyes. “A singles’ cruise.”


John didn’t bother to hide the smirk that played across his face, and Shaw could hear the mirth in Root’s voice as she placed a hand on Sameen’s shoulder and quipped, “About time we ladies had some time together.” She refused to entertain Root with so much as a glance.

Instead she scowled at Finch, who offered an apologetic smile. “Neither Mr. Reese nor myself are particularly believable as dashing young bachelors.” Before Shaw could get in a cutting retort he quickly added, “But you will have separate rooms, of course, and I’m told the ship’s buffet is exquisite.”

Shaw narrowed her eyes, considering.


“What about the dog?”


“Our detective friends have assured us he’s in good hands,” Harold answered.


“He has always taken a liking to Carter,” John added helpfully.

Root leaned down, her face annoying close to Shaw’s. “Plus there’s always the fun of getting to sneak your arsenal on board,” she offered tantalizingly. Shaw simply rolled her eyes and stood, displacing the taller woman.

“Tell me more about this number,” she said gruffly. Finch breathed a noticeable sigh of relief and turned back to his monitors, eager to have the conversation over with.

“Talia Hanover,” he began. “Conwoman extraordinaire.”


 Root surveyed the cabin. It was quaint, considering that it was built for one, but the bed was queen-sized. Definitely not meant for spending time alone. She chuckled.

“Optimistic, aren’t we?” she said aloud. She spent some time surveying the rest of the room; pale blue wallpaper, very oceanic; a small balcony overlooking the bay—soon to be the ocean once they left port—a few dressers; the floor-length mirror set into the back of the door; and a small, white wooden nightstand beside the bed, decorated only with a salt lamp.

She ducked into the bathroom next, and couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across her face. The porcelain bathtub was surprisingly spacious, as was the entirely glass shower beside it. Apparently it was going to be that kind of party.

“It’s too bad you boys are going to miss all the fun,” she said into the comm system shared by the team. Finch quickly replied,


“Somehow I think we’ll manage, Ms. Groves. I take it you’ve settled in all right?”


“I have,” she drawled, moving to the sliding door overlooking the balcony. She stepped outside and glanced to the balcony directly to the right to find Shaw not four feet away, leaning on the railing, overlooking the bay. The usual scowl plastered on her face. “And it looks like Sameen is enjoying herself as well.”

Shaw shot her a glare before joining the conversation.


“Thanks again for this, Finch,” she said drily.


“I appreciate your cooperation, Ms. Shaw,” Harold replied.


“Yeah, whatever. This buffet better be worth it.” With that, she tapped her earpiece, exiting the discussion.

Root did the same. “You wanna tell me what’s going on, Shaw?”


Sameen rolled her eyes, still looking out on the water. “With what?”


“You’re hiding something.” A smile crept across Root’s face as Shaw shifted her weight just so. It was a small movement, involuntary, but not wasted on Root. She knew body language and she knew Shaw, and there was something the other woman wasn’t telling. She’d had a feeling ever since Finch had explained the mission, but she couldn’t place it; it was just a matter of dragging it out of Shaw.

“Yeah, I’m hiding something from everyone on this stupid tub. That I work for an all-seeing robot with a bunch of nerds.” She shot Root a pointed look. Root returned a grin, letting the matter drop. For now.

“If I didn’t know better, Sam, I’d think you didn’t want to be here,” she said in feigned shock. That was enough to elicit a snort from Shaw.

“Arienne,” she corrected, reminding the hacker of her fake identity. “And yeah, can’t say spending the week holed up with a bunch of rich losers just horny and desperate enough to pay to get laid at sea is an ideal use of my time.” Her voice dripped with scorn, and there was something endearing about just how grumpy she was about the situation.

Root couldn’t help herself.


“No need to be jealous, Ari, I’m sure you’ll be able to find someone on this tub who’s willing to sleep with you.” With a wink, she slipped back into her own room, leaving Shaw to roll her eyes at the bay once again.

Chapter Text

Shaw had to admit, the ship was pretty nice. She’d spent the better part of the day getting oriented and helping Finch set up their surveillance equipment, and by the time dinner came around she found herself pretty comfortable with the layout. Unfortunately, playtime was over; dinner meant shifting back into her alias: Arienne Tousi, 35, trauma surgeon.

Who can resist a girl playing doctor? Root had taunted.

Not you, we know that much, Shaw had fired back. Root had simply smiled that smug grin that crossed her face anytime she successfully got a rise out of Sameen.

Whatever. Shaw pushed the conversation out of mind as she entered the dining room, black clutch in hand. Table 36, that was her seat. What kind of mingling event assigned seats? Lame. She was sure her disdain for the whole arrangement was palpable. But she was on a job, so with a deep breath she swallowed her pride, put on her brightest Arienne Tousi smile, and pushed her way through the room. It took a few minutes of weaving her way through cocktail dresses and tuxedos to find the table, and unsurprisingly, Root was already there.

And so, apparently, was their number, with whom the hacker was already engaged in friendly conversation.

Root’s back was to Shaw, but the number’s eyes met hers as she approached the table. Shaw smiled in feigned nervousness.

“Mind if I join you ladies?”

“Please, have a seat!” the number beamed. Root turned over her shoulder to look at Shaw, and Shaw had to admit it was pretty satisfying to see the brief moment of desire flash across the hacker’s face before she composed herself again. She could always count on Root for a good, albeit unintentional, ego boost. Shaw took a seat to Root’s right, where her name marker indicated. She offered her hand to the number across the table.

“I’m Arienne,” she smiled. The other woman returned both the smile and handshake.

“Talia,” she introduced herself. Talia Hanover, 38, owner of an esteemed Napa Valley vineyard, was a short, slender woman with piercing green eyes that stood out against her dark skin. Her hair was black and incredibly curly, currently struggling against the hairband holding it back in a ponytail. She was cute enough, Shaw decided. Her initial instinct was to assume Talia was most likely their victim—she didn’t come across as the homicidal type.

Then, having to keep up appearances, Shaw turned to Root. “And you are?”

“Lydia,” Root smiled pleasantly. Lydia Donovan, 30-something, daughter of one hotel mogul or another. Shaw hadn’t paid much attention to any of the covers beside her own, honestly. When undercover as strangers, the less they knew, the better.

“Pleased to meet you both,” Shaw smiled disarmingly. Root refused to let her eyes linger on Shaw for any amount of time, the latter noticed gleefully. Someone was flustered.

“Lydia and I were just getting to know each other!” Talia chirped. “Where are you from, Arienne, what do you do?” The interest seemed genuine, and Shaw obliged her with Arienne’s history. The three women made polite conversation, and gradually the other seats at their table filled up: three men who might as well have been clones for all Shaw could tell. They were rich, mediocre looking, and incredibly boring.

She eventually managed to disentangle herself from a conversation with the one beside her—although conversation was a loose term, as she’d barely said a word in 20 minutes and this guy loved to hear himself talk—to spare a glance at Root beside her. The brunette was engaged in conversation with the man seated to her left. Her elbow was perched on the table, her cheek in her hand, and her laughter ringing out every few seconds. Shaw’s felt a twinge in her stomach at the sight—she’d elicited the same laugh on many an occasion—but then she caught sight of Root’s other hand, under the table, fingers drumming impatiently on the edge of her seat.

It was reassuring to know she wasn’t the only one suffering through the meal.


 

“I gotta hand it to you, Finch, you weren’t wrong about the catering. Whatever that chocolate thing you boys served us for dessert turned me on.”

Shaw kicked off her heels—god, she hated heels—quickly shrugged out of the close-fitting black dinner dress, and flung herself back on the bed. She had to admit, her quarters on the ship weren’t bad at all.

“Thank you, Ms. Shaw, for that…unnecessary bit of information,” Harold’s voice, clearly uncomfortable, came through her earpiece. “You and Ms. Groves are off duty for the rest of the evening; John and I will keep an eye on Talia.”

“You’re the boss.” With that, Shaw removed her earpiece and placed it on the night stand beside her.

She closed her eyes, arms folded behind her head, and settled into the pillows. The thought that she should unpack or shower or give her weapons a thorough cleaning did cross her mind, but as the drowsiness took over she resolved that those were all things that could wait till the morning.


A knock at the door roused Shaw from her sleepy state. She glanced down at the watch on her wrist—she’d only been dozing for about twenty minutes. She rolled off the bed and made her way to the door, standing on tippy-toes to look through the peephole.

“Oh, Jesus,” she muttered before steeling herself and opening the door halfway. Her suitor from dinner stood on the other side of the threshold, bottle of wine in one hand and two empty glasses in the other.

“Remember me?” he asked cheekily. Shaw mustered her best fake smile and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

“How could I forget?” With her other hand, the one concealed behind the door, she reached for the clutch on the dresser, where she’d concealed her handgun. It was just out of reach. Shit. “How, uh, how did you find me?”

“I have to confess, it wasn’t easy. I had to pay off some crew members in order to sneak a peek at the passenger manifesto, but you—” he pointed to her, wine bottle still in hand. “I had a feeling you would be worth it.” His eyes wandered down her body and lingered a little too long, and with a flush of embarrassment Shaw realized that she’d answered the door in nothing but bra and underwear.

Her companion’s eyes glinted hungrily with something that was definitely the wrong idea. Goddammit. Before she could come up with an excuse to leave the poor fool in the hall, there was a shuffling in the room behind her. She whipped around to find Root coming up behind her. She shot Shaw a wink before making herself visible to their friend in the hall.

“Ari, are you coming—oh, hello,” she smiled at him disarmingly. His eyes widened hopefully, and both women could see the gears turning in his head.

Root ran her hands lightly down Shaw’s biceps, purred “So nice of you to order room service,” and in one fluid motion stepped forward, extracted both wine bottle and glasses from their unwelcome visitor’s hands, offered him a charming “thank you” and shut the door in his face.

Shaw stared at her a moment, not bothering to hide her admiration.

“That was smooth.”

Root grinned, already opening the wine. She glanced down at Shaw’s ensemble: a black bra and matching briefs. “It’s a good look, Sam. I’ll say this for our friend, he has good taste.” She poured Shaw a glass, which the latter gratefully accepted.

“I’m not arguing,” Shaw replied coolly. “Just like I shouldn’t be surprised that you were listening in and snuck into my private room.”

Root took a sip from her own glass. “What can I say?” she drawled, moving closer to back Shaw up against the door. “I’m the jealous type.” Her eyes were bright as she raised her glass to Shaw’s. “Cheers to finally getting a much-needed ladies’ night.”

“I’ll drink to that.” Shaw clinked her glass to Root’s before downing her drink in one gulp, snaking an arm up around Root’s neck, and pulling her into a kiss. Root was warm and soft and smelled like pine needles—Shaw never knew how, but there was a comforting familiarity in it. The aliases changed every day, and the costumes along with them, but they always smelled like Root.

Shaw heard Root set her glass down on the dresser, and moments later felt slender hands settle on her waist, pulling her closer. A smile twitched at the corner of her lips. There was something alluring about Root’s complete inability to resist her. She was always pulling Shaw close, bringing their bodies flush together, refusing to let any space linger between them. Shaw pulled back from the kiss and sure enough, Root followed, eager to close the distance.

Shaw only leaned back further until her head hit the door. Root narrowed her eyes.

“Sameen…” her voice was low, guttural, bordering on a whine. It was hot, Shaw had long since discovered, how quickly the former killer and con artist’s smug bravado faded away when they were alone together. How earnestly Root longed for her, needed her.

This time when Root leaned in, Shaw met her with equal intensity. Lips crashed together and Root’s tongue slipped into her mouth and god, was that woman good with her tongue. Shaw had just reached around to unzip Root’s dress when the taller woman broke contact. Shaw gazed up at her, puzzled. Root was staring just over her head, struggling to catch her breath.

“Copy that, Harry. We’re on it.”

Shaw let her head fall back against the door once again. Of course.

“Duty calls,” Root said ruefully, shifting her eyes to Shaw’s. “Number’s in the casino with John, and someone else is playing hide and seek in her room. We get to go pay a visit.”

Shaw sighed heavily. “Harold has truly impeccable timing, y’know that?”

Chapter Text

“We don’t know for sure that she’s not the perp.” Shaw’s jaw was set in defiance, her scowl even more pronounced than usual. “For all we know, she could’ve taken the hit out on herself. God knows it wouldn’t be the first time.”

Root ignored the pointed jibe and sighed, exasperated.

“I don’t see why it’s such a big deal, Sameen. I’m hardly alone.” She gestured to her ear, a reminder of her constant connection to Her.

Shaw snorted. She’d never seemed to grasp the extent of the Machine’s reach, and certainly didn’t respect Her. Even Harold and John, despite their respective fear and mistrust, knew enough to reserve a healthy bit of awe for their AI ally. But not Shaw. Never Shaw.

“Right, your better half. Good thing it doesn’t have Samaritan-sized problems keeping it off the radar and underground.” Shaw’s voice was cold, bordering on condescension, and she folded her arms across her chest. “If it could help us it would’ve done so by now. Look at you!”

She grabbed Root’s recently-bandaged wrist, and a jolt of pain shot up her arm. Root sucked in a sharp breath. In any other context, God, that would have been hot. As it was, Root had to make an effort to control her heart rate. It was infuriating how the slightest bit of contact from Shaw threw her off her game entirely. Shaw knew it, too. Root could see the gleam of satisfaction dart across her face.

She wasn’t wrong, either. With Samaritan still on the hunt for them and the Machine, She had to keep a low profile. She spoke to Root when she could, but those moments were becoming fewer and further between. She hadn’t even been able to warn Root about the attackers that ambushed her and Shaw in the number’s room.

The number. That was their concern right now.

Root pulled her sprained wrist back. Shaw re-crossed her arms.

“We’re running low on options, Shaw,” Root persisted. “seeing as her room is now an interrogation chamber. We can hardly pull John away from that to stand guard, and we need Harry where he is.”

“You’re not standing guard all night. You don’t know a damn thing about hand-to-hand combat, and you don’t bring a taser to a gunfight.”

“If I had a gun—” Root began to protest.

“You don’t,” Shaw interrupted bluntly. “You can thank Finch for that.”

Root let her hands fall to her side. It was true. There was no way for them to utilize firearms aboard the ship without drawing unwanted attention to themselves. And Root knew Shaw well enough to recognize the look on her face. The furrowed brow, the tensed jaw, the way her fingers twitched impatiently against her bicep. There was no chance of Shaw backing down.

“Fine,” Root relented. “Same room, alternating shifts.”

“Same room, you sleep.” Shaw countered.

“You haven’t slept since we boarded 24 hours ago, Sameen.” Indignation crossed Shaw’s face and Root quickly continued, “Whether or not you need it, you’re more use to the mission this way.”

Shaw stared her down, still scowling. Root stared right back. They didn’t argue often, not really—nothing beyond their usual rapport of her affectionate banter being met by Shaw’s mild irritation—but when they did it could drag on endlessly. They were both too stubborn, too evenly matched.

Too worried about each other, though neither would ever admit it.

“Careful, Shaw, you almost make a girl think you’re concerned for her well-being,” she challenged. Shaw scoffed.

“Don’t flatter yourself. I’m only looking out for the mission.”

Root almost believed it.

Almost.

But two hours later, when the number was asleep in Shaw’s bed and Root was curled up on a pile of blankets in the corner of the room, halfway to sleep herself, she heard the soft shuffling of someone moving around the room; felt the familiar weight of a certain leather jacket being draped over her shoulders; heard Shaw settle herself in front of the door.

Root wouldn’t bet her life on it, but she thought maybe—just maybe—there was more at stake than just the mission.

Chapter Text

Shaw absently pushed her eggs around her plate with her fork. She felt like shit. Her head was pounding, every beat of her pulse feeling like a hammer to the skull, and whereas yesterday the clamor of the dining room had been mere background noise, today every laugh and clink of glasses was amplified to a nearly unbearable level.

Her suitor from the previous night kept attempting to strike up a conversation—apparently relieving him of alcohol and shutting the door in his face hadn’t been enough to deter him from hitting on her—but between her cold silence and a few signature Look At Me Again And I’ll Kill You stares he eventually caught on.

Shaw could feel Root’s eyes on her every now and again, but she refused to look at her. She wasn’t in the mood for snide quips or god, even worse, curiosity. Thankfully, Root busied herself with chatting up the number, who was handling herself remarkably well considering the price on her head.

Between John’s interrogation and information provided by Talia herself, they’d largely managed to piece together what they were up against. Ironically enough, it wasn’t even one of her own schemes that had gotten the conwoman in hot water; in a classic case of wrong-place-wrong-time, she’d been witness to a hit mandated by a local senator who was now trying to clean up his mess. Finch had already notified detectives Fusco and Carter, who’d be meeting them at the next port to take in Talia and the charming gentlemen in John’s care. They’d bring charges against the senator once the testimonies were all lined up. Talia would likely face charges for some of her crimes as well, though she seemed optimistic about her lawyers’ abilities. Figured.

Another wave of nausea racked Shaw’s body and she set down her fork. The sooner they got off this wretched boat and back to the city, the better. Shaw would rather die than stay at sea any longer. She stood, mumbled a quick “’Scuse me” and quickly rose from the table.


 

Shaw flushed the toilet for the third time before finally staggering to her feet and pushing her way out of the stall. She gripped tightly onto the edge of the sink, head hung low, and tried to collect her breathing.

“You wanna tell me now what’s bothering you?” a voice behind her asked.

Shaw closed her eyes. Root was the absolute last person she wanted to be around at the moment. The last person she ever wanted to be vulnerable around, actually.

“Where’s the number?” she asked through gritted teeth.

“John has it under control,” Root answered dismissively. Shaw heard her move closer, felt a light hand placed on her back. “Sameen—”

Shaw shrugged her off roughly. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and then reached for the faucet, quickly busying herself with freshening up.

“What, your Machine isn’t feeling chatty enough today?” It came out far more harshly than she intended, but Shaw was too exhausted to take it back. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt so utterly like garbage.

“I’m trying to help, Shaw,” Root replied coolly. Shaw winced at the twinge of anger in her voice. She knew Root’s relationship with the Machine was a touchy subject these days. She knew it was a low blow.

“I don’t need help,” Shaw grumbled, pride outweighing her guilt. She grabbed a handful of paper towels and made her way for the door when another wave of nausea hit. She slumped against the bathroom wall to support herself. Almost immediately Root had her by the elbow and was steering her back into a stall.

Thank god she at least had the decency to wait outside.

“You could’ve told me you got seasick,” Root said quietly when Shaw had finished cleaning herself up again. “They have patches for that, you know.”

“If the boys hear about this, I’ll kill you forever,” Shaw threatened. Root rolled her eyes and wiped a bead of water from Shaw’s cheek.

“I’m sure you will. Get a patch.” With that she turned on her heel and departed, leaving Shaw to make her way back to her room alone.

When she arrived, there was already a box of anti-nausea patches waiting neatly on her pillow.


 

She hated to admit it, but Root was right about the patches: within a matter of hours Shaw was feeling like herself again. She was in the midst of packing her bags (just the one, really; she traveled light) when Finch’s voice cut in over the comms.

“Are you there, Miss Shaw?”

“Always. What’s up, Harold?” “

We’ve come across a bit of a…situation, I’m afraid.”

Shaw perked up.

“The kind of situation that requires gunfire?” she asked hopefully.

“Not immediately, I hope.” Finch answered. “We’ve received some more numbers, so John and I are going back to the city with our detective friends and Miss Hanover. In the meantime, you and Miss Groves will continue on to the port in Bergen. I have a contact there who may have some resources to aid us in our fight against Samaritan.”

“Norway, Harold? Really?” Shaw whined.

“Miss Groves is familiar with the language, so that shouldn’t be an issue. And I assume the two of you will manage to procure sufficient firearms.”

Shaw allowed herself a smile. Fair enough. She was already itching to get her hands on a gun again, and at least she’d be back on solid ground once more.

“Does sound like my kinda vacay.”


 

So it was that Root ended up in Shaw’s room again hours later—once they’d seen the boys and the number off safely—to go over plans for their trip.

“What’s our contact’s name?” Shaw asked, flipping through the files Finch had left them on their covers.

“Don’t know yet,” Root answered. She was busy getting their passports and miscellaneous travel papers in order. “Harry never met them in person, so all we have to go by is a screen name.”

“It’s never easy with you IT nerds, is it?” Shaw sighed. “So what, we go traipsing through the Norwegian countryside hoping to stumble on a lead?”

Root looked up from the papers in her hand, eyebrow quirked just so.

“I’d think by now you’d have a little more faith in us, Shaw.”

Something about the challenge in her voice made Shaw look up, and she felt a pang in her gut at the sight before her: Root sitting cross-legged on the bed, hair tied up in a loose ponytail while she sifted through their papers; a few wispy hairs falling across her cheek. She was clad in a faded, baggy t-shirt and gray sweats, and gazing across the bed at Shaw. Root was always gazing, whether she meant to or not. And more often than not these days, Shaw was really, really into it.

“Well Finch is hardly Mister Simplicity, and it’s impossible to get you to sit still for more than thirty seconds,” Shaw scoffed. Root’s face lit up with a mischievous grin Shaw knew all too well.

“Is that a challenge, Sam?”

“Might be."

Root carefully extracted herself from the bed, collected the papers and set them neatly on the dresser—it was infuriating how organized she was at all times—and slowly, agonizingly slowly, returned to straddle Shaw.

Instinctively, Shaw’s hands found their way to her hips. A low hum escaped her throat as Root began to place soft kisses down her neck. Kisses that quickly turned to playful nips that turned to teeth at her throat. Shaw grabbed a handful of hair and pulled Root back, eliciting a short hiss before their mouths crashed together. God, was that good. She’d never particularly cared for kissing—it was too intimate, a waste of time—but with Root’s tongue slipping past her teeth, searching for her own, it was hard to remember why she’d never appreciated it.

She took Root’s bottom lip between her teeth and bit down. Hard. Root let out a soft gasp and surged forward hungrily, slipping a hand behind Shaw’s neck to pull her closer. She brought their lips together again, and a chill ran up Shaw’s spine at the ferocity of the kiss. The next thing she knew she was on her back, Root still straddling her hips.

The taller woman leaned back to pull of her shirt, and Shaw was delighted to see that there was no bra beneath it. She ran her hands up the impossibly lean torso, admiring how Root’s eyes fluttered shut at the faintest touch of her thumb brushing over a nipple. Shaw tried to sit up for better access, but Root pushed her back down with a firm hand on her abdomen, other hand already working at the zipper on Shaw’s jeans.

Someone was eager.

The pants were discarded and tossed aside, and Root wedged her knee between Shaw’s legs. Shaw grabbed Root’s face in her hands and kissed her deeply, eagerly, as she grinded against the source of friction. Root’s tugged at the hem of Shaw’s tank top, and that was pulled off next, her bra following close behind. Shaw let out a low groan as Root’s tongue teased lazy circles around her nipple, painfully slow and gentle.

“Root,” she growled, and before the name had left her lips Root bit down. Shaw’s back arched in painful satisfaction and Root moved up to her clavicle, one hand palming the other breast and the other digging into Shaw’s hips. She took an earlobe between her teeth and shifted her knee for better friction, and that combination was doing wonders for Shaw.

And then she stopped.

She sat back on her haunches and pulled her hands back. Shaw was left pouting up at her, puzzled and disappointed.

Root smiled wickedly.

“You say I can’t sit still, but let’s see how well you do,” she purred. “You touch me and we’re done, understand?”

Shaw narrowed her eyes, unsure of what was coming. Regardless, she was determined to win.

“Understood.”

And then Root, damn her, slid her hand down her own fucking waistband.

While still straddling Shaw.

Root’s eyes were closed, her mouth hanging open just slightly the same way it did when Shaw was choking her. The way it did when she was really turned on. The way that left Shaw really, really turned on.

She was grinding against Shaw slowly, but not against Shaw—against her own hand—causing just enough friction for Sameen to be excruciatingly aware of the material separating them. She fought the urge to buck her hips upward. Instead she clenched her fists at her side and locked her gaze on Root’s face.

Root was beginning to let out the faintest of whimpers, each one sending a wave of heat through Shaw’s core. She was itching, aching to flip Root over, to replace the hand eliciting those delicious moans with her own. Instead she clutched at the sheets, beholden to the one rule. Root was moving more fervently now, and Shaw could tell she was getting close. The throbbing between her own legs grew with each gasp pulled from Root’s lungs, and she found herself fidgeting, fighting not to break. She couldn’t touch, she wouldn’t, she wouldn’t.

Finally, thank god, finally Root brought herself to climax, head bent forward and shoulders tensing jerkily as she came. She hadn’t even finished riding out the wave before Shaw had her flipped onto her back and thrust two fingers inside her.

Root cried out at the unexpected contact, but her hips rose up to meet Shaw’s rhythm as she curled and unfurled inside her. She buried her face in Shaw’s shoulder, eliciting a grunt as her nails dug into Shaw’s back. Those were going to leave marks. Shaw gave a few more long, slow strokes before she stopped.

Root whimpered and raised her head from the pillow to gaze mournfully at Shaw. Her eyes were dark and wild with longing, and Shaw couldn’t deny the thrill of having so much power over her. There was no trace of the cocky, smooth-talking hacker here. There was just Root, doe-eyed and desperate, quite literally coming undone at her fingertips.

“You make a sound and we’re done, understand?” Shaw said, her voice husky.

Root stared at her for a moment, processing her own challenge being thrown back at her.

“Understand?” Shaw asked again, her thumb brushing ever so faintly over Root’s clit. Root sucked in a breath and nodded vigorously.

“Good,” Shaw cooed. She twitched her fingers again, still inside of Root, and was satisfied to feel the buck of her hips beneath her. Maybe this was why Root liked topping so much. It was exhilarating.

She continued working her fingers inside her steadily, in the meantime bringing her mouth to the pulse point just below Root’s jaw. She began sucking at the skin, alternating between soft flicks of her tongue and less gentle suckling. It took Root awhile to realize what was happening, and once she did she had to bite down on Shaw’s shoulder to stifle the moan that rose in her throat. The bruise was already forming, a stark marker against the pale skin of Root’s neck.

Shaw made her way down the lithe body beneath her, leaving another on her throat, two more on her chest, one just over her hipbone. Root’s nails left angry red trails down Shaw’s back as she fought to resist the sounds threatening to tear from her throat. She thrashed below Shaw, fingers winding themselves fervidly into her hair.

Shaw finally lowered her face to lap at Root’s clit, and within three strokes Root was clenching around her fingers, gasping her name in a hoarse whisper.

Sameen, Sameen, Sameen.

Shaw didn’t know if she’d ever heard anything more beautiful.


 

They lay tangled up in the sheets together, lounging in comfortable silence; Root on her stomach with her chin resting on folded arms, Shaw on her back, watching moonbeams from the open window dance across the ceiling.

“You were the first, you know,” Root said softly, after some time.

Shaw propped herself up on one elbow to look down at her.

“You’re kidding,” she said incredulously. “No fucking way were you a virgin when we—”

Root’s laugh was clear and bright and it struck something in Shaw. There was something so good about seeing Root this way, sprawled naked beside her, soft and vulnerable and happy.

Shaw doubted she’d ever made anyone happy in her life before Root. She’d disappointed a lot of people, hurt a lot more, even saved a few lives here and there. But this thing with Root…this was new. Making someone happy was new.

“No, decidedly not,” Root smiled as she reached up to push an errant strand of hair behind Shaw’s ear. She paused, those impossibly deep, bronze eyes searching Shaw’s. For what, she couldn’t tell.

For a moment she thought Root might not finish the thought.

“You were the first that mattered,” she said gently.

Shaw could only stare back, the confession hanging in the air between them. With a soft smile Root rolled over to the edge of the bed and stood, moonlight cascading over her gently. Shaw’s gaze traveled down the curve of her back, over the smooth skin still beaded with sweat. That was classic Root, to reveal such a large part of herself and then walk away as if nothing had happened. And to look so goddamn beautiful doing it.

Shaw struggled for words, to string together what she wanted to say, but they wouldn’t come. Not tonight. Root padded to the door separating their rooms.

“Uh, Root?”

It came out like a question, and Shaw loathed the uncertainty in her own voice. Say it, just fucking say it.

Root looked over her shoulder, hand resting on the doorknob. Shaw swallowed.

She couldn’t. She couldn’t do it, the words wouldn’t form. It should be so fucking easy to just ask her to stay. One word, Shaw. One fucking word. Root would stay, she knew she would. All she had to do was ask.

“Night.”

She couldn’t.

Root returned a sleepy smile.

“G’night, Sameen.”

With that she slipped into her own room, shutting the door softly behind her. Shaw slumped back against the pillows, face in her hands.

“Goddammit,” she breathed to the quiet room. Her own words echoed in her head.

I don’t do relationships. No overnights.

Root had always been so goddamn respectful. She’d never pushed her boundaries—not in that sense, at least—never tried to bend the rules or persuade Shaw otherwise. She understood. She'd always understood, and Shaw hated her for it.

Fear, that she could handle. The better part of her life had been spent on the receiving end of averted glances and whispered rumors. She’d been hated too, and that was equally familiar. But this, this unconditional acceptance—what was she supposed to do with that? Root had given her everything, and Shaw had nothing to give in return.

She entertained the thought, briefly, of just sneaking into Root’s room. Just climbing into bed, wordlessly. Letting Root scoot as close as she wanted, watching the sleepy grin spread across her face.

But she couldn’t. She wasn’t used to wanting.

She rolled onto her side, facing the glass door that led onto the balcony. The sea was gentler now and dappled with moonlight. Shaw closed her eyes, letting her breathing synchronize to the sway of the ship as the waves lapped at the hull. She hoped, foolishly, that perhaps she’d wake up tomorrow and feel empty again. She was good at letting herself feel nothing, at having the volume turned down low.

Even so, Root’s words thrummed through her veins, radiated through every fiber of her body as she sank into sleep.

You were the first who mattered.

Chapter Text

She was cute, all freckles and blue eyes and wide smiles and flirty forearm touches that lingered just a little too long. Root had already forgotten her name—she rarely paid attention to those unless she had reason to—but they were already three drinks in and based on the direction the conversation was headed, Root had a sneaking suspicion her company wasn’t overly interested in names either.

“If you haven’t already been swept off your feet by a comely stranger,” Freckles drawled, running a slender finger around the rim of her glass suggestively “I’d love to show you—”

“This seat taken?” a gruff voice to her left asked. Root turned to see a particularly miffed-looking Shaw leaning against the bar.

“Were your ears burning, sweetie?” Root asked, offering her nearly-empty margarita glass with a coy smile. Freckles cleared her throat uncomfortably as Shaw downed it in one go. Root turned back to her companion. “Excuse me, where are my manners! This is Ar—”

“Sameen,” Shaw interrupted, her hand curling around Root’s wrist. “I need to borrow your friend for a second.” She flashed a forced smile and then hauled Root away from the bar and across the room, weaving their way through dancing couples in the process. As soon as they were alone in a secluded corner she rounded on Root.

“Are you out of your mind?” Shaw hissed. There was annoyance written all over her face, which was nothing new to their interactions, but there was something else too. Concern? Anger? “

You’re going to have to be more specific, Sam,” Root replied, pulling her hand free of Shaw’s grip and meeting her eyes evenly.

“Getting drunk with some stranger while Samaritan’s up our asses? She could be Decima, Root,” Shaw growled.

A smile spread slowly across Root’s face, quickly giving way to a sly grin. She leaned in close, her nose nearly brushing Shaw’s.

“If I didn’t know better, Sameen, I’d say you were jealous.” The last word rolled off her tongue, her glee nearly palpable. Shaw scrunched her nose as Root’s breath hit her, heavy with alcohol.

“Good thing you know better,” she retorted, pushing her away. “We’re not on vacation here, we’re biding our time between missions. You need to say focused before you get us both killed.”

“While I appreciate your dedication to the mission—” Shaw rolled her eyes, ignoring Root’s knowing gaze “I think I can handle one night on the town.”

Shaw stared her down for a moment before relenting with a snort and shake of her head. She looked past Root and back towards the bar.

“Whatever. Just stay on your toes.” She nodded in the direction of Root’s drinking companion, who quickly turned her head to conceal the fact that she’d been watching them. “Looks like your date is eager to get back to some alone time.”

Root cocked her head to the side.

“Dance with me.”

Shaw’s head snapped around so fast Root thought she must’ve caught whiplash.

“Come again?” Root didn’t think she’d ever seen Shaw so taken aback. If she’d known it was that easy to leave the tiny assassin dumbfounded, she would’ve suggested dancing years ago.

“Don’t tell me you never learned to dance,” she teased. “Little Sameen in cotillion—”

“I know how to dance,” Shaw said defensively. Root grinned back.

“Good. So teach me.” Shaw studied her for a moment, eyes narrowed at the challenge. Before Root could form another taunt, Shaw grabbed her hand and pulled her into the crowd.

Root couldn’t place the song, but she was unsure whether that had more to do with her partial deafness or with the way that every cell in her body seemed to pound in her head as Shaw pulled her flush against her body and settled her hands lightly on Root’s waist. Root stared at her dumbly. Shaw just rolled her eyes.

“Put your hands on my shoulders.”

Root complied, snaking her arms around Shaw’s neck. Shaw led, guiding Root gently by the hips as they moved together.

After a third misstep that nearly resulted in Root sending them both tumbling to the floor, Shaw brought her hands up to rest on Root’s forearms. “

God, your rhythm is terrible,” she laughed, looking up at Root fondly. “If we ever need you undercover as a dancer, we’re all fucked.”

“We can’t all have the privileges of alluring, multi-talented government operatives, now can we?” Root teased back. She was giddy; from the alcohol, from Shaw relaxing into her, from Shaw being so close and comfortable and here. She had to catch herself. To fight the urge to pull Shaw close, to kiss her in the middle of this ridiculous upscale bar, to bring her that much closer and make her understand how much Root needed her. Needed her here, needed her close by, needed their lives tied together by more than the mission.

But she caught herself.

That wasn’t Shaw. Shaw was rough sex behind closed doors, and hard liquor and snarky rebuttals to ceaseless flirting. Shaw was enjoying the game for a few hours and then shutting it off. And that was okay with Root. She’d take whatever space Shaw gave her, however long it lasted.

She caught herself.

The song must have ended, because Shaw disentangled herself from their embrace.

“Let’s get outta here,” she whispered, taking Root’s hand. “This party sucks.”


 

“And then—” Root cut herself off with an abrupt hiccup, sending Shaw into a fit of giggles. “she looks down—hic!—and there’s her husband—hic!—with the baby monitor shoved—” another bout of hiccups devolved into uncontrollable laughter, and it was several minutes before Root was composed enough to finish the sentence. “With the baby monitor shoved halfway up his ass.”

The front of Shaw’s shirt was soaked with whiskey she’d lost to a spit-take, courtesy of Root’s plight.

“I can’t believe what a lightweight you are,” she gasped, doubling over in laughter as Root was plagued by another series of hiccups.

Root reached for a glass of water on the nightstand as Shaw peeled off her shirt and headed into the bathroom, throwing an “I’m using your tub,” over her shoulder.

“Mmm,” Root hummed in the way of acknowledgment before she flopped diagonally across the bed. She pulled a pillow towards her and buried her face in it in a futile attempt to muffle the hiccups. She’d have hiccups for the rest of her life. This would be her eternal affliction, she could feel it. The pillow was nice, though, and soft, and smelled like Shaw.

She heard Shaw moving around the bathroom, heard water running and drawers opening and closing. She struggled to come up with a sly innuendo, a way to weasel her way into the bathroom as well, but boy oh boy was she drunk. Her head was far too fuzzy and warm for that kind of thinking. Instead she closed her eyes, content with the sound of Shaw moving about in her space. Not only coexisting beside her, but sharing her space. Allowing their lives to overlap, to tangle up in each other for awhile, however short-lived it might be.

“You coming or what?” Root raised her head from the pillow at the sound of Shaw’s voice. She craned her neck to see Sameen’s head peeking around the frame of the door. She was watching Root expectantly.

Root was sure she’d imagined it.

She blinked hard—once, twice—and stared back, jaw slightly agape. Shaw rolled her eyes.

“Don’t be weird about it, get in here.” She retreated back into the bathroom, and after a few seconds of processing Root padded in after her.

Shaw was lowering herself into the bath when Root entered. Her eyes lingered over the toned abs, the whitish scars she’d run her fingers and lips over so many times. Shaw caught her gazing and smirked.

“You take a picture, it’ll last longer.”

“Just admiring the view,” Root quipped with a smile. She quickly shed her own clothes, ditching them in an unkempt pile on the floor beside Shaw’s neatly-stacked garments, and sank into the tub opposite Shaw.

It took a bit of adjusting for them to get comfortable; Root was all legs and Shaw made sure to grumble about it, but they eventually positioned themselves with Root’s legs resting on either side of Shaw’s bent knees. Shaw let her head fall back against the rim of the tub. Root watched her, saw her gradually relax as she sank into the warmth of the tub. She watched the steady rise and fall of her chest, and wondered if anyone else had ever been lucky enough to see Sameen this way. She wondered when she’d last allowed herself to relax this way at all.

The warmth started to get to Root too, after awhile. The water soothed tense muscles, spread a pleasant heat throughout her body. Her eyelids felt so heavy, suddenly, and she rested her head against the edge of the tub as they drooped shut.


 

“Root?”

“Mmh?” Her eyes fluttered open at the sound of Shaw’s voice. The water in the tub wasn’t warm anymore, and Root wondered how long she’d been dozing. She arched her back, attempting to stretch out the stiffness that had accumulated there.

“How long was I out?” she asked sleepily. Shaw shrugged.

“Twenty, thirty minutes tops.”

Shaw was studying her, searching for something in her face, and Root’s spine tingled with unease.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Shaw said quickly. Too quickly. They both heard it and Shaw winced. “It’s nothing,” she repeated. “You just—you looked peaceful, asleep.”

She hesitated, looking as if she wanted to say something. Then leaned forward and kissed her.

It was different than their usual kisses. Those were hungry, desperate; swollen lips and wanting tongues; a flashing neon sign declaring Time To Fuck. This one was different. It was gentle, uncertain. A question, almost.

It was over before Root could fully process. Shaw pulled back, resting their foreheads against each other. Root waited for her to speak.

She didn’t.

They sat in silence that way for several minutes. Then Shaw rose, merely offering a quiet “Goodnight,” before wrapping herself in a towel, collecting her clothes, and leaving for her own room. Leaving Root in the tub, alone.

The water suddenly felt much colder.

Chapter Text

hey y'all,

it's me, the fool who stopped writing entirely for over a year, back at it again! stay tuned for an update by the end of this week xx

sincerely,

i'm ashamed

Chapter Text

Root was surprised by the knock at her door not two hours later.

“Coming!” she called, reaching for a t-shirt crumpled at the foot of the bed. She hadn’t felt the need to get dressed after their bath—she was alone in her cabin, in for the night—and with John and Finch back on land, and Shaw presumably asleep next door, Root hadn’t expected any visitors.

She pulled the oversized t-shirt over her head, decided it was long enough to justify not putting on pants, and padded to the door. When she opened it, she was surprised to find Shaw on her doorstep.

“I’m bad at words,” Shaw said bluntly, before Root could so much as greet her. “Better at doing.”

She reached up to cup the back of Root’s neck, and pulled her in for a kiss. In the middle of the hallway, in plain view of anyone who might pass by, Sameen Shaw kissed her like she was the sweetest thing Shaw had ever tasted.

Root’s knees were weak. Shaw’s kisses were usually bruising, hungry, desperate. But this: Shaw kissing her long and slow, sucking gently at her lip…this was new, and Root needed much, much more of it.

She led Shaw back into her cabin. Shaw’s hands cupped her face, and her tongue slipped into Root’s mouth so elegantly that it elicited a gasp. Shaw repeated the motion again—again Root gasped—and the subtlest of smiled played at her lips.

The next thing Root knew, Shaw’s mouth was at her neck and there was no way Root was going to be able to remain standing.

“Bed,” she whispered. Shaw nodded, and Root led them backwards to it.

Shaw straddled her, placing soft, wet kisses over every inch of Root’s neck. Her movements were slow, deliberate; a complete contrast to all of their other sexual encounters. She ran her tongue along Root’s jaw, chin to ear, and sucked lightly at the pressure point behind the lobe. Root let out a sigh of pleasure, and Shaw responded by running her hands beneath Root’s shirt, up the sides of her torso.

Satisfied with her work at Root’s neck, Shaw pushed up the fabric of Root’s shirt to expose her chest. She lowered her mouth to the skin just below the nipple, sending a wave of goosebumps rippling across Root’s skin. Root tangled one of her hands in Shaw’s hair, the other grasping a handful of bedsheet as Shaw took her in her mouth.

Shaw was warm and slow, lashing at the sensitive skin with her tongue. Root moaned beneath her at the contact; Shaw was (as always) doing marvelous things with that mouth, and if she wasn’t careful, Root might come from this alone.

Shaw took her sweet time before moving to the other nipple and giving it the same attention. Root pulled the t-shirt the rest of the way over her head to give Shaw better access. She whimpered with every stroke of Shaw’s hot, wet tongue, with every brush of Shaw’s thumb over her hip bones.

Shaw was on top of her, fully clothed; Root, beneath her, was completely naked. They’d never had sex like this before, so worshipping and erotic. Shaw raised her head to capture Root’s mouth in another sensual kiss, and Root whined into it. When Shaw broke away to begin her agonizingly slow trail of kisses down Root’s body, Root finally realized what was happening.

I’m bad at words. Better at doing.

Root remembered Shaw’s reaction to her flirting with someone else at the bar. Shaw’s kiss earlier in the bathtub, Shaw’s words at the door.

She and Shaw had fucked countless times before, but this was something else. Something different: this was making love.

Shaw nipped at the skin of Root’s hips, eliciting a whimper. She ran her thumbs just outside where Root wanted her, stimulating the skin beside Root’s folds. She brought her mouth to Root’s mound and teased the skin just above the clit; and when Root began to writhe under her, she took Root inside her mouth.

Root had never felt anything so good in her life.

Shaw ate her out slowly, savoring the taste of Root slick on her tongue. She kneaded the flesh of Root’s thighs with her hands, reveling in the moans that reached her ears, soaking in every twitch of Root’s body under her tongue.

She raised her eyes to meet Root’s; Root was gazing at her adoringly, mouth agape.

“Sameen,” she gasped. Shaw brushed a thumb over her slit and Root’s head fell back onto the pillow. Shaw could just make out the strained, “Fuck,” she whispered next.

Root took Shaw’s head in her hands and pulled her up, indicating she wanted Shaw to stop. Concern flashed across Shaw’s face for the briefest moment until their eyes met and Root tugged at the band of Shaw’s sweatpants.

“I want to feel you,” she said. Her voice was raspy, heavy with a note of desperation. She helped Shaw out of her clothes and brought her to a kneeling position over her face. Hands on Shaw’s waist, Root guided Shaw to her mouth and dipped her tongue inside of her.

Shaw tasted incredible; the only thing better than the sensation of Shaw’s mouth on her body was the taste of Shaw herself. Root worshipped her with her tongue until Shaw was riding the rhythm with her, Shaw’s breathing becoming haggard.

She could tell Shaw was close—another thirty seconds or so and Shaw would be coming beautifully under her tongue—but Shaw climbed off of her. She kissed Root so deeply and passionately Root started to see stars, and then she pressed herself against her, core to core.

The sound that tore from Root’s throat was unholy. Shaw was pressed against her, their wetness mixing together, and Shaw’s mouth was on hers and Root’s tongue was in her mouth and they were connected, their bodies pressed together as closely as was physically possible.

They came together, and when the waves subsided Shaw collapsed on top of her, neck buried in the crook of Root’s neck. They lay like that for awhile, Root tracing the swell of Shaw’s shoulder blade under her fingers.

“You can stay tonight, you know,” Root said softly. Shaw nuzzled further into her neck.

“Mmhm,” was her muffled response. A slow smile spread across Root’s face. Shaw didn’t have to be good at words—this was enough. More than enough. They’d crossed a threshold here, crossed the line from Fuck Buddies into something real. She didn’t need to press Shaw for labels or commitments; she knew.

She pressed a kiss to Shaw’s temple.

Long live the singles’ cruise.