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Well, I’m no hero, that’s understood

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1. Roy Orbison is singing for the lonely

After Joss Carter finds Hanna’s body, Root calls Reese and thanks him for his help. She doesn’t call Carter. Instead, Root has takeout sent from each of Carter’s favorite restaurants until she exhausts their menus and Joss’s known preferences. Then Root writes an algorithm to predict what works, automates the process, and branches out. Sometimes Root repeats an order if she thinks Joss really likes it. At first Joss brings the takeout to the lab to have it analyzed, but when the deliveries keep coming back clean, she decides not to tell anyone about her suspicions and just eats the food.

When she starts sharing the meals with Taylor, the takeout orders magically become large enough for Joss and a teenager.

From that point on until her death, Joss can look forward to hot, delicious takeout once a week with her son. If Taylor had ever shown signs of wondering who could have ordered the food besides his mom, Joss would have told him it was his fairy godmother, smiling wryly to herself. He doesn’t, though; the takeout arrives on nights when they’re both tired and glad to savor their meal in relative silence.

Somewhere else, Root doesn’t need to look at a clock to know when Joss is having her delicious takeout dinner. Wherever Root may be on those nights, she always raises a silent toast to Joss Carter.


2. With a chance to make it good somehow

If Joss had survived walking out of the police station with John after she brought down HR, she would have met Root for the first time soon afterward.


i. Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night

If Joss had ended up having to recuperate in the hospital after getting shot, Root would have walked in carrying takeout soup, its enticing smell wafting through the room and cutting through the odors of medication and disinfectant. Root would have sat down in the chair next to Carter’s bed, extended her other hand for a handshake, and whispered, “I know it’s not your absolute favorite, but you can’t have anything that spicy yet. Machine’s orders!”

Joss would have taken in Root’s sudden (but inevitable?) appearance and her wink and surprised herself with a real laugh, a belly laugh that would hurt at her slowly healing wounds, but she wouldn’t be able to stop herself. Root would have smiled slyly at her and said, “It’s an honor to finally meet you, Detective Carter. We should do lunch sometime.”


ii. Hey, what else can we do now?

If Carter had met Root for the first time while Root was still in Finch’s book cage, Root would have smiled slyly at her and said, “It’s an honor to finally meet you, Detective Carter. Let’s do lunch sometime.”

Joss leaves and walks around the neighborhood for fifteen minutes. When she comes back, it’s with a smoothie in either hand. “I couldn’t figure out if it’s you or the Machine who really likes papaya, but I got a mango one too, just in case.”

“Oh, she doesn’t have a preference, but I’m up for either if you are.” Root winks at her; Joss sighs out a laugh and sticks a straw in the mango cup.

“Try to finish this before the other one melts all the way, okay?”

“Why, Detective Carter, you’re spoiling me.”

Joss smiles despite herself but says, “What, Root—Finch doesn’t get you your daily multivitamin?” She has already asked Finch and John about Root’s weird, unlawful-and-involuntary, now-voluntary imprisonment and her previous unlawful-and-involuntary confinement by Finch to a hospital. Their answers were brief and not a little alarming.

“Oh yes, Harry gives me three square meals a day. And the food’s better than hospital grub, though that’s not hard to beat. But…” Root insinuates herself against the bars and drawls, “I’m a little short on congenial company.”

Joss snorts. “What about the Machine? Or Bear?”

“Congenial human company, then. Won’t you join me?” Root gestures at the papaya smoothie that Joss is still holding. She makes it sound like she’s welcoming Joss to a banquet. Or into her bed—which is currently a cot folded up against the wall.

Joss quirks an eyebrow, but puts another straw in the mango cup and holds the smoothie up so one straw goes through the bars at mouth level. “After you.”


3. We’re riding out tonight to case the promised land

Root heard Margo Timmins cover “Thunder Road” sometime after Root met Shaw for the fourth time. After Shaw puts on her helmet and Root guns the motorcycle engine, leaving Reese on the sidewalk, Shaw leans in the direction of Root’s hearing ear and yells, “No, really, Root, where are we going?”

It’s not even close to dark yet, but Root can’t resist. “Well, the night’s bustin’ open and these two lanes will take us anywhere!”

Shaw barks out a surprised laugh. “Didn’t know you were a fan of the Boss.”

Root smiles to herself and says, “Even with all your research—which I’m very flattered by, don’t get me wrong—there’s a lot you don’t know about me, Sameen. Isn’t it just great we have this trip to get to know each other better?”

“Yeah, tell your boss the next thing I wanna get to know is a steak.”


4. Waste your songs, praying in vain

Root was in love with Hanna even before she became Root. This is why she’s always gone back to brunette waves, even though it might be easier to stay off the radar if Root changed her look more. Sometimes she thinks about the one photo that still exists of her and Hanna—Sam Groves looking at Hanna Frey, while Hanna smiles sideways at the camera—and tries to remember what it was like to be a child in love. Mostly, she remembers how it feels to have lost the girl she loves and keep losing, seemingly getting farther and farther away no matter how hard she tries. That’s something Root can’t forget.


5. We got one last chance to make it real

Months and months later, they’re waiting to go out and meet whatever future awaits them all. Root suddenly says, “Oh!”

Shaw instinctively grips Root’s hand tighter for a millisecond, then tries to pull away to look around, but Root grabs her hand again. “No, no, I just… I want to try something.”

Sameen looks down at their hands, looks back up at Root’s face and cracks a smile. “Okay, Root, I’ll bite. What?”

Root smiles archly, but only says, “Don’t worry, Sameen. I won’t start anything we can’t finish.” She pulls Shaw up so they stand facing each other and sings, “There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away…” Shaw stares at her, mouth slightly open, then takes Root’s other hand and puts it on her waist, leaning into Root as she finishes the song.

“So, Mary, climb in—”

Sameen joins in: “It’s a town full of losers and I’m pulling out of here to win.”