DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To ralst31[at]yahoo.co.uk
SPOILERS: Season 5.

Superhero Move
By ralst


"Do you ever watch any of those silly superhero shows?" The voice asks and you try to remember it's the Machine speaking and not Root because this is the kind of nonsense she'd spout at 3 am when you're bone weary and dead on your feet. "The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Superman, Supergirl, Superpuppy or whoever?" If the newest number is at Comic-Con you're calling in sick.

"I don't exactly have much time to watch television," you say, because the new Machine has kept you pretty busy these last few weeks and before that there was the Cyber Apocalypse and before that you had your own personal network curtesy of Samaritan.

"They all end up travelling through time," the voice continues and you ask yourself for the hundredth time why you don't just remove your earpiece at the end of the day. You know why, of course, it's the lure of her voice, even if it isn't real, but you're not about to admit that even to yourself. "It's all highly unscientific but that doesn't seem to bother the people who watch."

Your own brand of escapism revolves around whiskey, food and sex, which you think far superior to actors in tights, but you don't care enough about other people's preferences to pass comment. "So?"

"So, sweetie, what would you change if you could go back?" The words are innocent enough, if a little irritating in their banality, but they bring back a memory of the real owner of that voice in such a sharp and unexpected way that you almost severe the connection. "Sameen?"

"Nothing. I'd change nothing." You remember the feel of her hand in yours and the urge to hold on for even a second longer is almost overpowering. "I'm no superhero."

The voice goes silent and you wonder how many calculations it's running and to what aim. "If I could go back," says the Machine, "I would save them all."

"Then do it!" The calm is gone and all you want is her voice out of your head. "Bring her back! Bring them all back!" You take out your earpiece and throw it against the wall. You will replace it in the morning but for now you need an escape and the half-empty whiskey bottle on your bedside is your only recourse.

Your phone rings. You ignore it. The volume increases. You ignore it still. The ringtone changes to something obnoxious and shrill. You take out the battery and put the pieces in a drawer. Ten minutes later someone knocks on your door.

You think about shooting them from where you lay sprawled against the mattress but there is just the slim chance that the Machine has sent you food by way of an apology. You open the door, your gun at the ready, but nothing could have prepared you for the person on the other side.

"Hey, Sweetie." For a moment, you think the impossible, that the Machine has taken human form, then your mind rushes further into the absurd and you think you're going mad. "Did you miss me?"

"Root?" It's not Root. It can't be, you know that. Unless... "It was all a lie?" You feel sick. Anger and joy war within you and you cannot make sense of anything.

"No." She's there, in your arms, holding you steady, and as much as you want to push her away, you're pulling her closer. "Not a lie." She is holding you so tight you can barely take a breath but you just hold on tighter. "A miracle."

You don't believe in miracles. "What did she do?"

Tears are streaming down her face but Root has never looked more beautiful. "I don't know." She kisses you then, the barest touch of her lips causing traitorous tears to gather in your eyes. "One moment I was surrounded by darkness and then I was here." She kisses you once more and your questions don't seem so urgent.

"Root?" She pushes you towards the bed and you don't even think of resisting. Nothing makes sense but you're almost ready to welcome the insanity. "Is this a simulation?"

"No, Sameen, this is a -" she cocked her head to one side, listening to the voice of her God, "a superhero move?" She looks baffled by the term and her bewilderment leaves you oddly reassured. "She says that you should answer your phone."

Root is alive and well and has enough lust reflected in her eyes to power a small country for a year, so you're not inclined to simply follow the Machine's orders, but then you remember that she just brought back the dead and quickly reassemble your phone. "Yes?"

"Shaw?" Fusco sounds, well, you're not quite sure how he sounds, but happily-terrified springs to mind. "You know anything about zombies?" You wonder if he's been drinking but don't get the chance to ask. "'cause I think I'm staring at the walking dead."

"Funny, Lionel," you hear John say, and suddenly your night just got a whole lot weirder, and it was pretty damn weird to start with.

"John's alive," you tell Root, but she fails to react and you realise she hadn't even known he was dead.

"Who you talkin' to? Is that Glasses?"

"No." You really don't want to freak him out any more than he already is but there's no other way of putting it. "Root. She's alive."

"Cocoa-Puffs?" There is a moment during which you imagine Fusco rearranging his entire world view before he chuckles, "I knew she was too slippery to stay dead." He relayed the news to John. "Any idea what's going on?"

"Time travel, I think." Root looks as if she's going to object but a few whispered words from her god erase the doubt from her eyes. "Don't ask."

He doesn't.

You make plans to meet at the last remaining safe-house and hang up before any more questions can be raised. You don't know how it happened. You've never watched any of those superhero shows, but if they end with the girl in your bed and your friend alive and kicking you just might have to start.

The End

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