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By mel


"Sameen, if you even think I'm going to…"

Shaw grits her teeth and bites back the words that are perched on the tip of her tongue, ready to be hurled with such accuracy that their effect would be crippling. Words that are so raw and brutal and honest that they would destroy Root. So she holds them back. Holds them back because despite her inability to register her own emotions, she knows how to read people well enough to understand some of what they must be feeling.

And Root is no exception. If anything, she understands Root better than she has ever understood anyone before in her life. Root is like her in many ways—brilliant, methodical, a skilled killer—but Root is also different. Because where she is incapable of feeling love, Root loves with everything that she has. It is her weakness.

Her strength.

And she is not blind to the fact that things between them have developed to a point where Root's eyes light up whenever they are together, and that the flirting that had been one-sided for so long has become reciprocal. She likes watching Root get flustered. She likes the way Root looks away for a moment before looking back at her with a smile that is so knowing and accepting and understanding that she knows she should feel something because of it.

Yes. She understands Root, and by the same measure, Root understands her. Root knows that she is damaged. And Root does not care that the most she could do is care, in her own failed way, about her safety.

She does not do feelings, but she can manage anger well enough, and it burns hot in her veins as she keeps her back to Root and the team as she runs through their options.

And she's fucking pissed that she can only see one way out. One way to save the team.

One way to save Root.

She turns to tell Root that this is the way it has to be, and the rage boiling in her blood dies the moment their eyes lock. There is no playful mirth staring back at her. No twinkling laughter. There is just desperation and fear.

Root knows that this is the only way. She knows it, but she is rebelling against it in the blind hope that there has to be another way.

She might not do feelings, but she understands what is driving Root to fight her so hard on this. It is her feelings.

Her weakness.

Her strength.

Root's eyes are screaming at her, shouting at her to find another way!

But there is no other way. She wishes there was, because she knows this is going to break Root, but someone needs to make the sacrifice. If Reese weren't hurt, he would be the one to do it, but he is and he can't and and there is no way in hell she's going to let any of the others do it.

Please! No! No! NO! NOOOOOO!

The volume of the pleas in Root's gaze becomes deafening.

"Oh, for God's sakes," she mutters as she grabs Root's coat and pulls her close. She crushes their lips together, kissing her hard, letting the anger that is roiling inside her pour into the kiss. Because she doesn't want it to be like this. She doesn't want things to end like this.

But she is determined to protect Root, no matter the cost.

And then she feels Root relax. It's not much, just the slightest softening of her lips, her body's way of saying, Yes. This. Please.

And something inside her stirs, but she ignores it because there is no other way. This is it. Now is the time.

Had she been capable of real feelings, she would have felt bad for the way she broke the kiss the moment she registered Root's submission and shoved her backwards into the lift, knowing that Fusco would catch her. Knowing that Finch would step in and help as much as he could to keep Root from coming after her.

But she doesn't.

She stares at her as she slams the grate closed, and she tells herself that she is glad that she does not feel when she sees the hurt and the disbelief and the absolute panic in Root's face.

But it still makes her stomach clench.

She hears footsteps pounding toward their location and knows that what little time they had left together was gone.

She does not feel fear as she turns and bolts for the red override button. She does not feel fear when she squares up to face their pursuers. She does not feel anything but the flash of pain that makes her feel so fucking alive when bullets impact her body. She does not feel the hardness of the floor when she falls. The only thing she feels is relief, because the elevator begins to move.

Root is safe.

The agony in Root's screams, the sight of her clawing desperately at the steel grate in an attempt to get to where she lay, and the anguish in her expression is enough to make Shaw admit to herself that she does feel something more than simple caring, and she wonders if it would have been enough. If these feelings she's finally registering would have been enough to make Root happy.

Martine's footsteps slow to a walk before they stop beside her head, and she ignores the woman who would deliver her into the arms of Death as she continues to stare at Root. And she smiles. Because she did it. She was the sacrifice that Samaritan could not account for. The rogue piece of the puzzle that had the power to change the outcome. She might not have delivered the knockout blow and won the game for her team, but they are now safe to recover and live to fight another day.

She does not feel fear when she finally looks away from the now empty elevator shaft to stare into the eyes of her killer. She does not feel fear as her gaze locks on the dark circular void at the end of a muzzle that would take her from Root for good. She feels at peace.

Because Root will live.

The End

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