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When she wakes me, she takes me back home
By winged_mammal

 

1

The last thing that Root can remember actively paying attention to in middle school science class was a lesson on how every animal has a vital place in the ecosystem. Every creature has its niche, said Mrs. Harper, and without it being there, the whole system would collapse. Forests wouldn't thrive without insects that feed on decaying wood, humans need bacteria in their gut to help digest food, and even deer populations depend on wolves to keep their numbers in check. It was a delicate balance, she said, and it was the responsibility of all of them to help maintain it.

Twelve years old, increasingly uncertain of her own sexuality, and nursing a burgeoning misanthropic streak that was about to come into full bloom, all Root had known for sure was that whatever niche she was meant to fill, she wouldn't find it in Bishop, Texas.

Hanna had sat beside her during that lesson. She was older than Root, but the school was small, and their grades shared several classes. They had shared some joke or another on their way out the door, exchanged a smile and a wave, and agreed to meet at the library after school.

The next morning, Hanna was gone. In the days that followed, Root was left to wonder what kind of system she was trapped in that found it necessary to have so many roles filled by murderers and their enablers, so many vital functions in society taken over by such useless humans that found it impossible to even find a particular license plate in a town of three thousand people. The kind of system that found it necessary to let Trent Russell abduct and rape and kill a fourteen year old girl and provide him cover in the form of a librarian with a crush was one that Root knew was fundamentally unstable, and yet everywhere she looked, everywhere she dug, all she found was more and more evidence of its reach.

Using the library computers to finalize the bank transfers that ensured Trent Russell's eventual death, eyeing the newly-married Barbara Russell from over her monitor as she hit 'enter,' felt like justice. Justice, and something more.

Something that fit.

After a few years of going to class just enough to keep the truant officers from calling and making everything even worse, the local government went fully digital. Root gave herself a diploma, several new names, and a new job. Money was easier to come by, her mother more easily taken care of - and she never really seemed to take notice of the fact that her sixteen year old daughter was home all day instead of in school, working on a computer that they shouldn't have been able to afford, and disappearing in the middle of the night more often than not. She had no set schedule, although once Corpus Christi finally got a Fox affiliate that her mother's old television could receive, Root did make a point of staying in during airings of The X-Files.

She lived on the internet, she could get on the VHS mailing lists. But her address was never predictable, and she knew better than to put her mother's address on a forum somewhere.

By the time her mother died a few years later, Root had amassed a small fortune and a large body count, and the casket had scarcely been buried before Root left town. She had a job in Vermont, a stockbroker whose insider tips had cost someone millions. She marveled sometimes, at the underlying contempt with which most people held others. It never seemed to take much to drive her clients to call her - she had a vast list of traitors, adulterers, jealous business partners, lobbyists, politicians, and diplomats in her past, all people who wanted someone gone, something stolen, and were willing to pay someone else to get it done. Root figured maybe those kinds of people and her kind of people served in their own little ecosystem, meant only for each other to feed on and destroy.

She wondered what Mrs. Harper would have to say about the niche she had found.


Root wakes up to the Machine chattering in her ear, consciousness rapidly chasing away the last vestiges of her dream. She had been some tentacled creature conducting a siege on a seaside city, taking over the water and sewage pipe network to infiltrate all the buildings. She blinks against the light filtering in through the gap in the curtains and rolls to her side, finding the other half of the bed empty but sounds reassuringly begin to filter into her good ear from the kitchen.

The last image of her dream tentacles popping out of an air duct fades away and she makes a face at herself, sitting up and listening to the Machine repeat the message.

"When's my flight?"

Two hours, comes the reply in her ear, and the Machine fills her in on all the necessary details as she showers, dresses, and packs a few clothes into a duffel bag. A semi-relevant number in Colombia has surfaced, with potential links to the last vestiges of Samaritan. It shouldn't take more than a few days to neutralize the threat, but there is a critical time factor.

She stuffs her favorite socks into the bag alongside a few choice weapons, and finally emerges from the bedroom where she's greeted by the smell of something she can't identify. She's never been great at placing smells, and she's over a decade behind on learning the smells of breakfast. Chemicals, she can handle. Strawberry pancakes versus blueberry muffins, not so much.

Whatever it is, it smells delicious, and she drops the duffel bag by the couch and rounds the corner to the kitchen, where Shaw is sitting at the island in the middle of the room.

Shaw looks up at her from her plate, mouth half full of what turns out to be pancakes with little dark chunks in them. "The hell are you doing up this early?"

Root steps closer and her suspicion is confirmed - the dark chunks are chocolate chips. "She needs me in Bogatá," she says, smiling at both Shaw and her plate. It's hard to remember the last time anyone knew her well enough to know what passes for her usual schedule, let alone note any deviation from that for her sporadic days off - her mother was never awake when she went to school, and never commented on her activities. Hanna might have, ages ago, but… well. It's been a while.

"Need a hand?" Shaw's eyes flick over to the stove, where a lone covered plate is sitting, the steam on the underside of the cover obscuring the food underneath. Root moves to it and discovers two nearly perfectly circular pancakes stacked atop one another.

Warmth escapes from the cover and fills her lungs. "You know I'd love a hand from you, sweetie," she says, catching the tail end of Shaw's eyeroll as she turns around, plate in hand. "But you're going to be working with the boys this week."

Shaw looks between Root and the plate in her hand, squinting a little. Root just quirks an eyebrow at her in response as she settles on the bar stool across from her and grabs a fork - Shaw has long since stopped bothering to protest that these plates are meant for leftovers for herself, and they both know it.

There's a language to be found in food with Shaw, one that Root is getting better at deciphering. For the better part of two decades, dinner was takeout or something from the freezer if she spent long enough in one place to warrant going shopping. Breakfast was coffee, maybe an apple, maybe something resembling an actual meal if she was lucky and had an early start at a shop near her target. Now, though, it's pancakes and waffles and eggs and sausage and toast with jam that they make together from time to time - Shaw's mother used to, on occasion, and when a woman at a farmer's market foisted a bunch of peaches off on Shaw as a thank you, she showed Root her maman's old method like it wasn't a big deal. But when she spread some on a slice of toast and handed it to Root, watching out of the corner of her eye as she took a bite, Root understood the gesture for what it was: meeting Shaw's family, and being welcome in it.

"When do you leave?" Shaw has finished off her pancakes in the time it's taken Root to get through half of one, and she pushes the syrup closer to Root as she moves to put her plate in the dishwasher and clean up the batter-covered dishes in the sink.

"As soon as I'm done with this," Root says around a mouthful of pancake. She watches the muscles of Shaw's back dance through her tank top as she scrubs at the mixing bowl for a few moments, then turns her attention back to her food. It really is delicious, which isn't much of a surprise anymore. "You'll be getting a call from Harry soon. You get to tail an astronomer today."

The last of the dishes drops into the drying rack and Shaw turns to face Root, leaning against the counter and drying her hands with a towel. "I should go shower then. You gonna be gone by the time I'm done?"

"Probably."

Shaw hums in acknowledgment, tossing the hand towel aside. She draws closer to Root and tugs at her arm just as Root takes another bite of pancake, and when Root turns her lips are met with Shaw's. The kiss lingers for a long moment even despite the mouthful of food keeping them from deepening it, warmth settling comfortably throughout Root's limbs. Shaw's tongue darts out to catch a stray bead of syrup on Root's lip as she pulls away, and it's with a small, crooked smile that Shaw tips her head back, indicating the corner of the room. "There's fresh grenades in the fridge if you want any."

At Root's nod, Shaw heads around the other side of the island, moving through to the rest of the apartment. Root finishes chewing and swallows, clearing her throat. "Can I borrow your nano?"

Shaw stops in her tracks and turns around, narrowing her eyes at Root, who merely cuts off another slice of her last pancake and guides it delicately into her mouth. "Fine," she says after a long moment, looking stern with her arms crossed over her chest. "But I want it back in one piece this time. None of that 'a goon took it apart because I let him think he had the upper hand' shit again, got it?"

"Scout's honor," Root says, holding her hand up in an obscene version of the scouting salute. Shaw shakes her head but Root can see the ghost of a smile as she turns away and enters the master bedroom, shutting the bathroom door behind her.

Root's eyes linger on the closed door, smiling as she finishes off the last of her breakfast. The bar stool scrapes against the floor when she pushes herself away from the island and drops her plate and fork into the sink. She's in the middle of picking out a few grenades from the fridge when she hears the bathroom door yank open.

"And put your shit in the dishwasher for once," Shaw calls out to her from across the apartment, voice raised over the noise of the shower. "It's right there, act like a civilized human being and take the two seconds to do it."

The door closes again and Root's eyes dart between the fridge in front of her and the sink to her left, the dishwasher sitting innocuously between them. She squints at the plate in the sink and wonders if Shaw and the Machine have some sort of tattle-telling pact about her kitchen habits. It would serve her right, she supposes, for having the Machine tell her when Shaw moves her stray computer parts.

Root grabs an armful of grenades and drops them on the counter, closing the fridge with a nudge of her hip. She hums to herself as she moves the offending plate and marvels at what her life has become: homemade breakfasts, saving lives at the behest of an artificial superintelligence, nagging about the right way to handle dirty dishes. This is her niche now, it seems.

All things considered, she thinks she likes this one better.

 

2

It's eight days later when Root stumbles back through the front door of the apartment, bleary-eyed and exhausted, and she'd be jet lagged if she had had any sleep at all in the past thirty-six hours. The network in Bogatá had turned out to be more well-connected than even the Machine had anticipated, and she'd had to make unexpected trips to half of South America and Europe before they were satisfied what remained of Samaritan there had been thoroughly neutralized.

The Machine informs her that Shaw is sleeping soundly in the bedroom and guides Root around the abandoned rifle cases dotting the living room as her eyes adjust to the dark. There are only so many cameras in the apartment, and She can't see much better than Root, but She knows where Shaw had left things before retiring for the night and has saved Root from a stubbed toe on more than one occasion in times such as these.

Root had gotten used to late-night arrivals long ago, but this still feels new. For more than a decade she was out on her own and had property in nearly every state and just as many countries, safehouses that she bought and sold in the span of days or weeks under any number of aliases. Places that she never had any particular attachment to and may as well have all been the same. Not in layout or decoration, but in their coldness, their lack of any real meaning to anyone, and for all that she can remember of them they've all coalesced in her mind into some bland generic room - although they did all have excellent cell reception, that much she does remember.

This place, though, where she's fighting off sleep as she toes off her shoes and leaves her duffel bag outside the bedroom door before daring to open it - this place has changed locations a few times now, changed decorations a handful more as she and Shaw settled into their shared aesthetic, but one thing that has never changed is how it feels. Like it's theirs.

Like she belongs.

The Machine loses Her camera access as Root steps inside the bedroom and in her exhaustion she forgets that Shaw tends to keep her boots near the foot of the bed. Her foot catches on one and she stumbles, grabbing onto the bed frame to steady herself before she falls and a twinge shoots up her side as she pulls at the fresh stitches near her left shoulder blade. She holds her breath for a beat and waits for a sign of movement from Shaw. It's nearly pitch black in the room, Shaw having insisted on blackout curtains to block any light from the street outside filtering in, but Root's fairly certain she can make out a Shaw-sized lump under the sheet, sleeping away.

She lets out a sigh of relief and moves toward the closet. The zipper of her jeans echoes throughout the silent room and she cringes, drawing it down tooth by tooth while keeping an eye on the bed. Shaw is only ever on the grumpy side of angry when her sleep is unnecessarily disturbed, and Root does enjoy the gravel in her voice when she wakes, but she knows she's had a draining week and Root wants to let her enjoy the night off. Finally she's able to shimmy out of her jeans and lets them fall to the floor, then shrugs out of her jacket and reaches out to run her fingers along the hangers in the closet to find an empty one.

As she lifts a hanger off the rack in the closet, it snags on its neighbor, causing it to fall to the floor in a loud plastic clatter while knocking against several other hangers in the process.

"Root," comes a muffled voice, and Root claps her hands around the hangers to stop them from swaying. "Stop trying to be quiet and just get in bed already."

"Sorry, sweetie," Root whispers, but is, admittedly, a little relieved. She had no idea how she could have possibly maintained silence in the bathroom, and she really, really has to pee. The hangers rattle one more time when she hangs up her jacket, and Root sheds the rest of her clothing before making her way to the bathroom, quickly finishes her business, and finally falls face down into bed with a deep, relaxed sigh. Her limbs already feel boneless and it's all she can do to pull the sheet out from under her legs and resettle it over herself, and in the process she can feel Shaw roll over to face her.

"Any new scars?" Shaw's voice has that half-asleep rasp to it that Root finds so alluring. She would smile at the sound, but there seems to be a distinct lack of energy in her muscles to pull it off.

"Don't know yet," Root says, and somehow she must have actually gotten the words out because Shaw makes a humming sound and scoots closer, reaching a hand out toward her. Shaw's fingers are comfortingly warm against her skin as they seek out her wounds, a delicate dance among familiar scars and bruised muscle that has Root melting even further into the mattress.

Shaw's fingers find the stitches on the shoulder furthest from her and trace along their outer edges, counting out the five of them to herself. Her hand falls to rest on Root's hip and as her thumb trails back and forth along an old scar there, Root hears her ask how long she's been awake.

Root is asleep before she can think of the answer.


She wakes to a slight chill on her back where the sheet has fallen away, tempered by warm fingertips tracing paths between the more superficial of the fresh marks her trip had left behind on her skin. The rest of her body is snug against something warm, and she burrows her face against it before she blinks her eyes open and finds herself pillowed on her side against Shaw, who is lying on her back with an arm around Root's shoulder.

The light of a late morning sun streams in through the window - Shaw must have gotten up at some point and pulled one of the curtains aside before rejoining her in bed. Root has no idea what time it is, and the Machine won't disturb her when they're in bed together unless Root asks her to or there's an emergency. She doesn't mind, though; Shaw's skin is soft and the regular pattern of her breathing is relaxing, and Root can feel herself beginning to drift off again.

"Got any more of these?" Shaw's voice brings her a little closer to alertness, but it takes a long moment for Root to realize what she means.

Root rolls her shoulder a little, tugging at the stitches and the tight muscle, and shakes her head against Shaw's chest. "Just those," she says, and feels herself being lowered gently onto the bed as Shaw slides out from beneath her and sits up. Shaw pushes the sheet away from Root's torso and immediately scoffs at what she sees.

"Christ," Shaw says, "did you ask the idiot who did these to give you a shiny new scar?"

The fingers poking at her back are somehow both distracting and mildly relaxing, and Root sucks in a breath as they find a particularly tender spot. "I did ask to look twenty percent more badass." She finally stretches out her arms, reaching up to the top of the mattress and letting out a large yawn, feeling awake enough for coherent thought once more. Her head rests on her forearms, folded on top of her pillow, and her lips curve into a lazy smile when she sees the frown on Shaw's face as she considers the wound.

"I've had worse on my ass," Shaw finally declares, "but I'm fixing those anyway."

Shaw rolls out of bed and Root's eyes follow her as she walks through the room, utterly naked. "You might want to register a complaint with whoever took care of your ass, Sameen." Root stifles a grin at the mildly offended look on Shaw's face and points between her cheeks. "I can still see a pretty big crack they forgot to sew up."

There's a beat of silence, then Shaw shakes her head and disappears into the bathroom, muttering just loud enough for Root to hear. "You are fucking ridiculous in the morning, you know that?"

"Who's more ridiculous: the ridiculous person, or the person who willingly puts up with the ridiculous person?"

Shaw emerges from the bathroom with a glass of water, a first aid kit, and a carefully schooled scowl. "I'm thinking the person who keeps antagonizing the person who's holding a suture kit and hasn't decided on whether to give out painkillers first."

"You know I'll take anything you want to give me, Sameen," Root says, and props herself up on her good arm, taking the pills that Shaw offers with an eyeroll.

"I think that's supposed to be my line," Shaw mutters and turns back to her kit. Root's eyes dance with delight as she washes down the pills with a few gulps of water. She holds the glass out to Shaw, who absently reaches out for it while sorting through her materials, and Root resettles on her stomach, wiggling a bit to get back into her comfortable spot. The snap of a nitrile glove fills the room, quickly followed by another, causing a hitch in Root's breath; that sound in the bedroom usually means something exciting is about to happen, and while the gloves are usually on Root's own hands, it's still a nearly automatic response at this point for her pulse to quicken and her skin to tingle.

Shaw swings a leg over Root's and settles down over her hips, the heat of her skin against Root's serving as a barrier to the slight chill in the room. "Just try not to move," Shaw says. Her fingers probe one last time at the stitches at Root's shoulder, and Root lets her forehead fall back onto her arms on top of the pillow, her hands each grasping an elbow, and her eyes falling closed.

The first stitch that Shaw cuts open and pulls away feels like little more than a sting, but the second must have been in a more damaged piece of tissue and Root's torso twitches with a hiss. Shaw lets out a vaguely apologetic sounding hum and rubs at Root's other shoulder for a moment before proceeding to the next stitch.

Root lets herself drift off, trusting Shaw's capable hands to do their work. She feels Shaw periodically lean back and forth toward the bedside table where her materials are sitting; she could have had Root move to a more convenient spot for this rather than the middle of the bed, but Root's not going to complain. The weight settled over her is a pleasant reminder of Shaw's presence, and gives her something to focus on other than the pain. She's an anchor, tethering Root to this moment and this place and Root is still somewhat at a loss to explain how she came to be.

When Root's mother had died, her last tether to anything else in the world had broken. For years she never had another, until one day, sitting in her work space in the subway hideout listening to the others discuss a number, she realized that she simply couldn't count them all anymore. The Machine, Harold, Bear - even John and Lionel have somehow managed to inextricably tie themselves to Root's life. And the tendrils that emanate from Shaw and draw Root to her seem to grow in number with each passing day. Shaw's voice in her ear telling her to eat something when she's been staring at a screen for too long, and the fact that it's always Root's good ear that she speaks into. Shaw's hands guiding her to bed when she's fallen asleep next to her keyboard. Shaw's eyes smiling at her from across the room even as the rest of her face remains impassive. Shaw's feet kicking at her under the covers when Root's frozen toes touch her calves, but sticking to Root's side of the bed to share her warmth anyway.

Shaw's warm breath ghosting over her skin as she leans in close to focus on stitching up her wounds, and none of them have ever left a mark but Root still knows where each and every one has ever been.

Root feels Shaw gently tap a sterile dressing into place and tape it down, and she smiles to herself at the memory of Shaw's indignation at the mess of oxidized blood that had gotten all over the sheets a few months ago when Root failed to patch herself up properly. Shaw snaps her gloves off and tosses them aside and Root expects to feel her shift off the bed but instead she feels hands gliding over the uninjured skin of her back.

And oh, she doesn't know what she did to deserve this. Root lets out a happy sigh as Shaw presses the heels of her hands into her sore muscles and slowly begins to work them into relaxation. She starts at the base of Root's spine, shifting her own weight slightly to make room for her hands, kneading up the length of her back more slowly than usual from the lack of any massage oil. Tendrils of pleasure curl along Root's chest emanating out from Shaw's touch. The fresh sutures at her shoulder blade are deftly avoided but Shaw works a little more forcefully at the curve along her neck to her arm to make up for it.

The way Shaw is leaning into her, both of her hands splayed along Root's back, putting most of her weight into the pressure along the muscles as she repeatedly traces the length of Root's spine, drives Shaw's hips in rhythmic circles against Root's ass, and she swears she can feel more liquid heat there than would be accounted for by sweat alone. Shaw leans forward again as her path takes her back up to the base of Root's neck. Her breath is a carefully controlled expulsion of warm air right above Root's ear, and Root can't help the whimper that escapes her.

Root's hips shift under Shaw's, her right arm reaching back to try to pull her head back down for a kiss. Shaw just lets out a self-satisfied chuckle and pulls away out of reach. "I was wondering how long it'd take before you tried something," she says, her thumbs rubbing circles against the back of Root's neck, her fingers curled around toward her throat.

"If you wanted me to jump your bones," Root says, twitching her hips again just to see how Shaw reacts, "all you had to do was ask."

"I never have to ask." Shaw's answer is apparently to sit more firmly against Root's hips and grind shallow circles against her under the pretense of focusing her hands on the small of Root's back. "Every time you go on one of your missions for the Machine, you always come home needing sleep, stitches, and a good fuck." She punctuates this last point with a particularly hard press of her hips, digging her nails into the flesh at Root's waist.

The noise that Root makes is wanton to a pathetic degree, even she can admit that. "Sameen…"

"By my count," Shaw interrupts, "you've had two of those already." Her hands loosen their grip and Root feels her shift further down the bed to kneel between Root's knees, her fingertips trailing along the newly-exposed curves of her ass. "I'm supposed to be the one who gets off on pain, but here you are, after I've put five stitches in your back, so wet I can probably just-"

Two fingertips slip between Root's legs and play along her slick flesh before abruptly pressing deep inside, and Root's moan echoes throughout the room.

Shaw's fingers move achingly slowly but are all the more effective for it; each gentle thrust back inside has her curling her fingers against Root's g-spot, and the nearly constant stimulation has Root gripping the edge of the mattress over her head, straining against the rush of pleasure. Shaw's free hand holds her hips down to prevent them from grinding down against the bed as much as she wants to, and the desperation races along Root's spine in an electric hum that makes her back arch and her head press into the mattress, using her forearms as leverage to try to drive herself back into Shaw's touch.

She wants to flip over, to land on her back and pull Shaw up into her and press their bodies together in an uncoordinated writhing mass of limbs gripping and pulling at each other, but that would mean tearing Shaw's hand from where it currently is and the thought of not feeling Shaw inside her for even a fraction of a second is unacceptable. Her muscles clench around Shaw's fingers and she hears her breathe out a curse against her skin just before she feels teeth sink into the flesh of her ass and a thumb press against her clit. Shaw's fingers pick up their pace and Root's orgasm strikes just as quickly as this had started, her arms straining at her grip on the mattress as she shouts into the pillow, grinds back against Shaw, and feels the rest of the world melt away in the wake of the fire that races along her skin.

The movements inside her are unrelenting and Root trembles in their wake, scarcely having time to collapse against the bed before Shaw growls and flips her over, pushing at her injured shoulder so her weight will fall on her good one. Root is still gasping for breath as Shaw surges up and captures her lips in a sloppy, haphazard mess that nonetheless makes Root's chest feel full. It's the first time in eight days that she's gotten to kiss Shaw, and her arms wrap around her with a hand at the back of her head to keep her in place while she gets her fill.

Root hums in pleasure against Shaw's lips after long moments, and Shaw pulls away and smirks at her. "See? Sleep, stitches, and sex."

"I think the exact words you used were 'a good fuck,'" Root says, quirking an eyebrow. Shaw's eyes go dark and ask an unspoken question, to which Root's only response is to nod eagerly. A fierce kiss is pressed to her lips and she feels Shaw reach out to the side, blindly fumbling for the drawer in the nightstand. To get the feeldoe, she imagines, but Root is nearly certain that she would combust with that level of stimulation right now.

She reaches a hand out to Shaw's arm and wraps her fingers around her wrist, stalling her movements. "Just you," she says, and Shaw glances at her but pulls her hand away.

"Fine." She props herself up on her hands beside Root's shoulders and stares down at her with a hunger in her eyes. "But I shot fourteen guys and evaded police and security goons six times while you were gone, so as soon as I get back from my stakeout tonight…" Her head jerks toward the nightstand, and Root smiles up at her pent-up energy. She's always happy to give Shaw a helping hand when she gets worked up after a good fight.

"I'll be sure to give you all the orgasms you deserve, Sameen."

"Damn right," Shaw nods, and promptly buries her face between Root's legs.

Root's startled gasp quickly turns into a laugh of delirious pleasure, her hands pushing against the headboard to keep herself from pulling Shaw's head closer and suffocating her. Shaw uses her entire mouth to spectacular effect; the way her lips trace along Root's slick flesh and the flat of her tongue draws long, firm patterns against her clit never fail to have Root writhing in her grasp.

Shaw draws in even closer and Root's thighs fall open in supplication, which Shaw takes as an opportunity to slip her fingers back inside. She favors short, quick strokes this time, her mouth working more furiously against Root's clit as she fucks her. Root can feel her gasp for breath every few seconds, her face pressed in so close she can't breathe through her nose but enjoying herself too much to change her position.

Root adores that about her.

Something shifts in the way Shaw's fingers are moving and Root lets out a high pitched whine at the sudden spike in sensation, her eyes wrenching shut and her hands grasping uselessly at the sheet beneath her. Orgasm builds and builds within her, arcing along her nerves and seizing her lungs, and still Shaw holds her at the edge. She wants more, she needs more, but she doesn't know that it would be possible for her brain to process what 'more' even is.

She's going to implode. She's going to implode and they're going to create a singularity of lust centered on this sweat-soaked, creaking bed, and it's going to destroy the whole of Manhattan and there's no way around it. Root's fairly certain the Machine created contingencies for exactly that scenario long ago. Analog Interface, probability of peacetime death by intercourse: 63.492%. Mass casualty event. Intervention not advised.

Shaw groans in pleasure against her flesh. Root's legs wrap around Shaw's torso and she shudders so hard in the waves of her oncoming climax that she falls to her side, Shaw following right along with her, never losing contact. Shaw's tongue flicks against her clit just right, and Root's body curls in on itself as her orgasm finally overwhelms her and she can't breathe, she can't even let out a sound to convey her pleasure to Shaw - it's all she can do to tangle her fingers in Shaw's hair and hold her in place, her calves tightening their hold on Shaw's torso.

Some part of her brain that's miraculously still lucid reminds her that this isn't even the hardest she's ever come at Shaw's hand - or at her tongue - and as the haze of ecstasy coils through her limbs and settles in her bones, making her fall limp against the bed, Root blinks up at the ceiling in sheer wonder at the woman between her legs.

Shaw, for her part, takes advantage of her freedom and crawls up Root's body, snaking a hand between them as she captures Root's lips in a desperate kiss. Root feels Shaw thrusting into her own wetness, and she spares a thought for the dildo in the drawer beside them before resigning herself to the fact that she's too much of a boneless noodle to be of any use to Shaw at all. Which Shaw seemed to anticipate, judging by the way she's already shuddering out her orgasm by her own hand, gasping out against Root's lips as her fingers slow their ministrations.

They exchange a few more lingering kisses before Shaw rolls off to the side, facing Root's good ear and lifting her shoulder a little to check on her wound. Satisfied with what she sees, Shaw settles beside her, close enough to probably qualify as a cuddle if either of them wanted to make a thing out of it, but far enough to allow cool air to circulate over both of their overheated bodies.

Comfortable silence fills the room as they catch their breath, until finally Root turns her head a little to look at Shaw. "Did you say you have a stakeout later?"

Shaw nods against her pillow. "John and I have been tailing a couple mob guys to see which of them is after our number. One of 'em is supposed to be at an off-track betting parlor in Brooklyn today."

"When?"

"I told John I'd meet him at one." Shaw lifts her head to check the clock on the table behind Root. "So, forty minutes from now."

Root reaches out a hand to flick a sweaty strand of hair away from Shaw's neck. "The big lug can handle himself if you're a couple minutes late."

"Probably, but then I'd have to put up with six hours of him milking it for all it was worth," Shaw says. Root furrows her brow in question. "He called while you were asleep, he knows you're back."

"So he'd know why you'd be late."

"I've heard enough of his shit about our 'homecoming dances' for one lifetime." Shaw glances at Root's quirked lips. "His words."

Root smiles. Shaw's casual sibling bickering with John is absurdly endearing, and she feels a warmth settle in her at this latest example of it. "Can't fault him for inaccuracy, though."

"That's beside the point." Shaw stretches her legs and sits up, scooting up to rest against the headboard. "You should get some more sleep. Finch has been working on something with the Machine for the past couple days, She's probably gonna call you when you get up for good."

Root can already feel herself succumbing to her exhaustion again, and she hums at Shaw, her eyes fallen closed. She feels Shaw swing her legs to the edge of the bed and stand, taking a deep breath as she stretches. Root reaches a hand out toward her and misses entirely, but Shaw still gets her point and kneels back on the bed, pressing a kiss to her lips. "Go to sleep," she says again. "There'll probably be waffles out there when you wake up."

Shaw pads off to the bathroom and turns on the shower, and Root drifts asleep to the sounds of home.

The End

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