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SPOILERS: Season 5.
Scenario # 10
Harold had insisted that the team take a break before watching the next simulation and by silent agreement all the men had decided not to comment on the speed at which Shaw had dragged a more than will Root in the direction of her makeshift bedroom. An hour later a rumpled but beaming Root had reappeared fleetingly before vanishing in the direction of the subway entrance, leaving behind a loose-limbed and thoroughly relaxed Sameen Shaw.
John and Lionel exchanged a look, which somehow ended with the latter being nominated as spokesperson for the pair. "Where'd your girlfriend rush off to?" he asked, silently cursing himself for using the 'g' word instead of one of his usual pet names the second it passed his lips.
"Food run." No equivocation, no scowl, not even a roll of the eyes; if the guys hadn't already guessed, that was proof positive that Shaw was in love, or at least in her version of love. "Have you finished sweet talking your Machine yet, Harold?"
"Almost, Ms Shaw." For the first time in a long while, Harold smiled, and it was both reassuring and a little creepy. "Perhaps once Ms Groves returns we should take a few moments to eat before diving straight into another simulation?" When no one disagreed Harold went back to his hushed conversation with the Machine.
It was another hour before all the food had been consumed and the team gathered around the main monitor to watch the Machine's latest simulation. It didn't take long for bullets to start flying and the simulated characters to put their lives on the line.
"Nice shot," said John, who had decided to take the opportunity to assess his team's strengths and weaknesses on the battlefield. "Behind yo-"
"I know." Shaw cut him off just as her sim swivelled and shot out the knees of the man sneaking up behind her. "Two to your right."
On-screen John took out the two assailants while the real John nodded his approval. "Nice."
"Will you two quit it? I'm tryin' to watch the movie," grumbled Fusco, more than a little put out that no one had mentioned his take down of the fake UPS guy.
"This is not a movie, Detective," chastised Harold, just as the screen panned to a new location and what he could only assumed was a commercial for some new miracle hair product. "I don't under -"
Shaw sighed, "It's Root," she said, more than aware of the Machine's obsession with its analogue interface's glorious mane. "And you, Harold."
The two were careening through the streets in a stolen car being chased by one of the seemingly endless supply of Samaritan SUVs. The only distinguishing feature of that particular vehicle being the man whose upper body was sticking out of the sunroof and the very big gun he was using to try and blow them to smithereens.
"I'm getting a bad feeling of deja vu," said Root, her usual smile dimmed by the realisation of what was to follow.
The scene changed once more to show the weasel-faced redhead climbing into position and setting his sights on the road just below. It was a different location than on the first few simulations but his movements and the car's trajectory were eerily similar.
"Do we have to watch this again?" Sameen demanded.
"Patience, Ms Shaw," said Harold.
The simulation continued with Root executing a drive and shoot manoeuvre that should have prompted a comment or two from John but he was too aware of what was to come to offer any form of praise. Shying away from the screen, Fusco suddenly found himself transfixed by a mark on the floor, his heart heavy as he tried to shut out the sounds he'd heard far too many times that day.
Shaw stood, fists at her side, the Machine and its maker in her line of fire. "Harold, if you don't -"
"One more..." Unaware of the danger hovering at his elbow, Harold continued to stare avidly at the screen, anticipation lighting his eyes in a way that almost guaranteed him a beating, "...second, Ms Shaw."
Root jumped up from her seat, barely managing to intercept Shaw's arm before she could land a punch on the still oblivious Finch. Shaw turned her murderous glare on the other woman but as a shot rang out on screen the fire in her eyes was quickly extinguished as she prepared to witness Root's fate.
"Yes!" Harold stood abruptly, his jerky movements almost looking like a jig as he pointed over-enthusiastically at the screen on which Root took her final breath... Only, she didn't. "It worked!" He looked to John and then Fusco, but they were both equally bewildered. "Don't you see?" His gaze then turned to Root, whose shoulder he would have squeezed, if only she weren't barricaded behind a compact but exceedingly murderous looking Sameen Shaw. "I calculated the variables," he began, his words directed at Shaw, "to take account of the velocity and calibre of the projectile -"
"She's alive," said Shaw, the tension draining from her body as she finally registered the overt flirting issuing forth from the monitor and her own doppleganger shaking her head in faux annoyance at Root's continuation of their previous discussion. "The sniper missed?"
"No," said Root, her smile growing as she realised what Harold and the Machine had done, "it was the vest."
"But we tried that already," said Fusco. "Two, three times?"
"We tried using pre-existing designs," Harold qualified, "none of which proved effective."
"You built a better vest?"
Harold was eager to explain the variables that had led to the creation of the vest in question but one look at his team and he knew that answering John's question in as few words as possible would be advantageous to his health. "Exactly." He would share the details with Root later once the others had gone to bed. "Thornhill Industries have re-purposed one of their plants and are currently manufacturing a range of -- omph!"
Harold's words were cut off as he was engulfed in a crushing embrace, his ribs protesting vigorously to Shaw's sudden but thankfully fleeting show of affection. "Good job, Harold," she mumbled, a quick three foot distance opening up between Shaw and every other member of the team the second she realised what she'd done.
"Yes, quite." He straightened his glasses but was far too pleased with himself to censure his friend for the temporary damage she had caused his internal organs.
Root grinned, but whether at the prospect of a longer life or the sight of Sameen Shaw hugging a terrified looking Finch, was unclear. "Thanks, Harry."
"You're welcome, Ms Groves."
"So does this mean we're done with these stupid simulations?" asked Lionel.
"Not quite yet, Detective, now that we've found a way to keep Ms Groves in the equation the Machine will need to fully re-evaluate everything that happens thereafter."
Lionel sighed. "Great." He was happy the fruitcake wasn't dead but Harold's machine was no Martin Scorsese. "Any chance I can get the girl this time?"
"Why, Lionel, I didn't know you cared," purred Root, her joy at the prospect of outliving the apocalypse finding expression in the opportunity to embarrass her usually gruff friend.
"What? No way." He looked straight at Shaw. "I would never... I mean no way, nuh huh... Not on your life." He turned to John for backup but his partner was too busy smirking to offer assistance. "She's so not my type." Beads of sweat started to appear on his forehead. "Yo, Glasses, isn't it time you run the next simulation? Some of us are dying over here."
"And some of us aren't," said Root, her smile positively radiant.
Scenario # 10 terminated
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