Hey guys, usual thing, forgive mistakes with spelling, continuity, etc. I'm trying to chapters coming. Hope you enjoy, and please leave a review :)

Root reeled back, falling into a nearly table. Her head swam with the force of the blow. She leaned heavily against the table, not noticing the pool of blood that was seeping under her boots from the bodies lying nearby. Her hand went up to her cheek, testing the red, tender flesh. Shooting a scandalised look to Shaw, she let her temper slip momentarily.

"What was that for?" she snapped, still clutching her support as she fought back tears of pain and relief. Relief that she could still trust the Machine, that Shaw still had her back, despite throwing her out of the car.

"Oh I don't know," replied Shaw angrily. "Tasing me yet again? Leaving me on the side of the road? Storming in here alone like an idiot? Take your pick." Shaw shrugged, stooping over the dead bodies and relieving them of their ammo. "You're lucky that's all you're getting."

Root could taste blood in her mouth, but her teeth were thankfully intact. For once, she didn't reply with a flirtatious grin and a suggestive retort. Instead, she retrieved her fallen pistol and picked up one of the rifles from the guards. She remained silent, checking the gun was loaded. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Shaw looking confused.

"What? That's it?" she asked. "No witty retort?"

"Yes, that's it," nodded Root solemnly, heading towards the door and peeking out.

Shaw followed, her eyebrow twitching upwards slightly. "What's up with you?"

Root spun, pressing her finger to her lips and grabbing Shaw's arm, dragging her out into the corridor. Silently, they slipped around the corner as a team of guards poured over the bodies. After a few seconds, Root motioned for Shaw to continue down the safe corridor and take the next left. The sounds of the guards faded away as they continued through the facility. Root remained silent, focusing on the quiet voice in her ear.

"Where are we going?" hissed Shaw from behind her, cradling the rifle in her arms.

Root came to a door and shot the lock, kicking it open. She then swung around and pointed through the door towards the hills. "You have to leave," she said, ignoring the voice in her head telling her to stop, to follow the plan.

"What?" asked Shaw with a short, disbelieving laugh. "Root, I stole a car to get here! I've saved your ass at least twice already in the last half hour!" Her voice grew louder with each sentence. "I'm not leaving –"

"Yes, you are!" argued Root, taking a step closer to Shaw, who refused to back away. "You have to leave!" She looked away for a brief moment. "For me, please."

Shaw inched forwards, brimming with rage as she glared defiantly into Root's eyes, zeroing in on her slightly dilated pupils. "WHY?"

Root was equally angry, the words tumbling from her lips before she could even register them. "BECAUSE, I –" She caught herself, chuckling as she turned away, massaging her forehead. "I know I don't have time for this," she muttered quietly. "No. No, I won't let her –"

"Root?" said Shaw, but Root ignored her, still talking to herself, her hand moving to her ear even though she had the implant. It seemed to be a habitual tick now.

"Not you," Root shot over her shoulder before returning to her other conversation. "You can't – I won't do it!"

Shaw had had enough. She stepped forwards and seized Root's arms, dragging her hand away from her ear. "Root!"

The taller woman snapped back to the present, her eyes settling on Shaw's. Her expression was, for once, devoid of masks. All those identities she assumed and discarded so well, her candid flirtations that he hid behind; it was all gone. Only Root remained. Vulnerable, terrified Root, stripped back to her core, scared of losing one of the only things that meant anything to her.

"I need you to go back," she said softly, her breath whispering over Shaw's nose.

Shaw immediately shook her head. "That's not happening –"

"I need you," Root repeated. Shaw could swear she could see tears glistening in her eyes. "Please."

"What makes this mission any different to the others? You're used to going kamikaze in these places," replied Shaw, still having not removed her hands from Root's biceps.

Root shook her head. "Not like this." She seemed to slacken, like a cord finally pulled to breaking point and snapping. She leaned close to Shaw, clasping her shoulders and resting her forehead against the shorter woman's. "We can't keep surviving. We've taken so many risks already and barely made it out. It's only a matter of time before…"

Shaw backed away a little. This was unfamiliar territory for her. Emotions weren't her strong suit. Dealing with other people's feelings was as treacherous as stepping through a minefield. Usually she just ran right through, to hell with the fallout. But that wouldn't work here. "Hey," she said quietly, awkwardly stroking Root's arms as Root had done with her a few times. "This is what we do. We survive. And we're pretty good at it."

Root laughed, a humourless sound, dark compared to her usual saccharine chuckles. "I don't know, Sameen," she all but whispered. "Samaritan… We've never faced something that… that…"

Shaking her head, Shaw's hands moved up Root's slightly dusty jacket sleeves, moving up over her exposed collarbones just over the neck of her mud-stained shirt. Root had gone quiet, her eyes glinting in the half-light from the corridor. A few errant strands of hair caught in the breeze from the still open door just to their right. Shaw's fingers brushed cool skin, tracing up Root's neck before settling on her cheeks. Glancing up, Shaw found she couldn't handle Root's utter defencelessness, the helplessness on her face. Before she could stop herself, she leaned up, her eyes closing as her lips crashed against Root's, burying her hands in long, brown tresses.

Taken completely by surprise, Root stiffened at the contact at first, but soon relaxed into Shaw. Hot lips moved against her own as she wrapped her arms around Shaw's shoulders, the gravity of the situation forgotten in the moment. She revelled in the feeling of Shaw, hot flesh burning against her as a tongue flicked over her lips. Her fingers slid over the back of Shaw's neck to the front, her thumbs drifting over Shaw's collarbones gently, before moving down to grip the shorter woman's shirt.

Sooner than either would have liked, Root lowered her head, parting their lips but keeping their foreheads together. "She says we have to move," she whispered over the faint noise of the alarm outside.

Shaw pulled away, a little more forcefully than expected, brushing Root's hand off of her jacket and turning away, running a hand over the back of her neck. "Right," she said neutrally, clearing her throat. "Of course. Let's go."

Root rolled her eyes, a tiny smile playing on her face as she realised she was witnessing a slightly flustered Shaw. Reaching out, she tugged on Shaw's sleeve gently. "You okay?"

Shaw shrugged her off, not quite as violently as Root had become accustomed to. "Fine. Let's… I mean, we have to go."

Though Root was tempted to toy with her some more, partly for the fun of it, and also to re-establish the old order of things. The routine would maybe help Shaw feel more at ease. But something held her back. Perhaps if she did that, then everything would go back to the way it was, and this would just be a bittersweet memory she'd look back on and wonder if they could've been more. So she turned and strode down the corridor, listening to Shaw's footsteps as she caught up. They walked in silence through the maze, only pausing to allow a few patrols to run past without them being seen.

Finally, they came to a large metal door set into the wall. It looked heavy, unbreakable. Root tilted her head to the side for a few moments before she typed a long code into the panel on the wall. Before she pressed the enter button, she turned to Shaw.

"This room is full of servers," she said, still unsure about having Shaw here. "There's a bunch of guards in there, but that's not the problem. There's no time to do anything clever. We have to find some way to blow it up, since I used my grenades outside –"

Shaw gave Root a look that she understood to mean, 'Really?' as Shaw drew a pair of grenades out of her pocket. "Aren't you glad I'm still here?"

A grin blossomed on Root's face as she took one. "Very," she purred, unable to help herself. This time, the edges of Shaw's lips twitched upwards, only ever so slightly, but Root saw it. "Ready for this?" she asked, her finger hovering over the enter button.

"Born ready," Shaw replied, hefting her gun. Root nodded, allowing herself one last touch, her fingers drifting over Shaw's cheek momentarily, before she pressed the button and the door swung open, revealing the chaos within.