"Dammit Root," Shaw said. Root knew then that she wouldn't do it. Shaw lowered her gun from her head. "Lower yours...put it down...I….can't." Her voice was laced with fear and that one fact made Root's stomach flip. Root lowered her gun as well and took a step forward.

"The moment I hear you killed yourself or you just disappear, I'll do it too. Trust me Sameen," Root explained. Her heart was racing and she couldn't believe that Shaw killed herself over and over in those evil simulations. She knew it would be easy for her to do it again. Faced with even the prospect of hurting her…...she was willing to do it for real. She could tell by the look in her eyes that she wasn't sure if it was a simulation still and half thought they would just reset.

"I get it Root...I off myself you kill yourself. Not killing you….it was all the control I could have. They took away my reality but...I wasn't going to let them take you away too. So...no...I'll not kill myself...just put it away," Shaw explained while looking at the gun in Root's hand. "This has to be real because you….you never did that." She swallowed hard and rubbed her neck under her ear.

"Come with me...I"ll call the team and we can meet in a secure place away from Her. They deserve to see you alive as well. Come with me….please?" Root pleaded.

Shaw started to protest but it seemed to die on her lips. She could tell that Shaw wanted to be with her friends but cared too much to put them at risk. "Okay Root. but let's walk through the park and out by the maintenance gate over by the pond," she said. Root knew there were less cameras there as it was an area on the shadow map She gave them months ago. "It will take awhile. We will get there as the sun comes up." Shaw turned to walk deeper into the trees and Root reached out to take her arm.

"Is there anyway we can walk for just a little while holding hands?" She felt like a schoolgirl asking and actually blushed. She was trying to think of some snide remark to make before Shaw did. What she was going to say died in her throat as Shaw took her hand and continued walking into the trees away from the path.

HOURS LATER

Root could tell that John and Harold were wary of Shaw. She told them flat out that she didn't trust herself and wouldn't be returning to 'headquarters". It made Root's heart skip when she realized that Sameen didn't trust herself enough to even say "the subway". She didn't tell them about the simulations, just that Samaritan fucked with her head and she was working on it.

"Whether you trust yourself or not….I am so very glad to see you alive Ms. Shaw," Harold said to her with such sincerity that Root had to smile. Shaw nodded at him and then turned her head to the side as if she was contemplating something.

"I just found out what really….well all of it. It sucks what happened to you and ...um ...well let me know if there is anything I can do for you. I owe you...I will always owe you," Fusco stammered out. Root could tell that Sameen was surprised that he knew.

"I kept you out of it...all of it," she whispered to him. He was confused for a moment but nodded. Root watched her reach behind her ear again and then look over a John. She had a hard time meeting his eyes.

"Seven Thousand simulations - I killed a lot of people...but the one person I couldn't kill was you."

Root winced recalling her words. She had felt this...sense of elation that Shaw couldn't hurt her, even in a simulation. It was as close as she was ever going to get to Shaw admitting that she loved her. Yet in the reality of it now, she could see that Sameen had been forced to kill her friends over and over. The fact she kept Fusco out of it meant that Samaritan didn't know about him and he was still safe. She'd explain that to him later.

"Things are going to escalate now. We know more about Samaritan's way of communicating with its agents. I think they were making sure it was still functional after Root discovered it at the radio station. You shot the operatives?" He inquired of her. She could hear his disapproval. Before she could defend herself however, Shaw answered.

"No I did. I followed two of them from a safe house where they kept me before moving me to South Africa," she explained.

"South Africa?" John inquired. It was the first time he had spoken since seeing Shaw. Root knew he had kept his eyes on the surrounding area to make sure she didn't bring a Samaritan hit squad with her. Silly John, she was a hit squad all on her own. He didn't know that Sameen had made her take all of her guns before they arrived. She didn't want to see her teammates while armed.

"Yeah, I was moved to a prison there. I escaped after I got Root's message...about a week ago now," Shaw said.

"You got it?" Root couldn't help but smile and be relieved. She wasn't sure Shaw would get the message. She had just tried to believe in the Machine.

"Yeah Root, I got it. It...was just what I needed...thank you," she replied. Her tone told Root that she was in a bad place when the message came through. "It was brilliant...I needed only to get the four and alarm- then I knew it was you and only you." Her expression told Root that she wondered if it was real or not. They all agreed to go get some sleep and the machine seemed to agree as She didn't send Root out immediately to do something else. Harold mentioned going to get something to drink and the boys had to return to the scene of the shoot out. The Big Lug had explained how the Voice infiltrated the precinct and there was paperwork to begin. She was glad she didn't have to maintain only one cover, it would bore her senseless. Shaw told them that she'd give Root a way to keep in contact with her and that she'd be there if they needed a gun. She turned before more could be said and headed back towards the gate they entered. Root followed and walked beside her. She was trying to figure out how to ask her when Shaw brought it up.

"I've been sleeping on the street. Do you have a place?" Root handed her back her guns before answering. Shaw tucked them away expertly. The familiarity of the movement warmed Root all over.

"No, I mean I have a safe house we can go to...someone I know is out of the country but not on Samaritan's radar. I"ve slept there three nights. I lost my place about five identities ago….I've been staying with Harold, in a small stall- while we worked to get her back up and running. I..um have some of your things there and some at the safe house. It has great water pressure and we can pick up some take out," she suggested. As if on cue, her love's belly started to growl.

"I could do take out- just not that sandwich place in China town..or anywhere I've been before. Greer would...I mean in the simulations…" her voice trailed off and she got a vacant look in her eyes.

The Machine chimed in them," New Taco restaurant- Taco Haven- five blocks from safe house. 452 West Jane Street," she chimed in her disjointed voice of recordings. Root heard her like a whisper in her ear. She remembered all too well the agony that her Goddess could bring with the feedback in her implant.

Shaw stopped and looked at her. She had this strange smile on her face "Where did she suggest?" Root grinned. She was happy that Shaw could still tell from her expression when the Machine was talking to her.

"Taco Haven? It's new so neither of us have been there. I know you like hard shells fully loaded, I'll park the bike in the alley near the address, camera free and get it. Um...is five hard tacos fully loaded enough for you?" They reached the bike and Shaw reached for her helmet.

"Better make it an even six...tell her to add hot sauce, lots of it," she murmured. "She is speaking directly to you more now?" Root shrugged because it was a hit and miss when she did that. Usually it was disjointed words and always through another intermediary. Shaw waited for her to get on the bike and then climbed on as well. Her legs were much shorter and the bike was too big for her. Root loved it. She loved how Sameen leaned in close to her and wrapped her arms around her body. It was the best thing about riding that bike. She couldn't believe she was there. Root couldn't stop smiling.

She got to the little restaurant their order was ready and paid for...she wasn't going to ask how She did it. "You should probably add a few more hot sauce packets to it," Root said with a chagrin expression. The owner didn't even blink, he just reached down and added five more packets. Usually, Root paid in cash but she was guessing that perhaps She was trying to make things easy and fast for them. Root didn't like leaving Sameen on the bike. She had placed her helmet on it and then realized she had devised a way to get food that split them up.

She was trying to come up with a reason to just call in for pizza delivery when Shaw spoke, "I promise I'll be here when you get back. Just go get my food, I'm hungry." Root frowned. When did she get so good at reading her expressions? Root had shrugged it off and left. However, even now she found herself walking faster towards the blind alley. Shaw was so good at disappearing that she could just do that. Root was hoping her threat to kill herself would be enough to keep her in check. She rounded the corner and exhaled with relief when she saw Sameen leaning against the wall. She had circles under her eyes and she was too thin...but damn she was so beautiful that Root actually missed a step when she looked her way. She had lost her cool since Shaw was taken from her. Fusco would say her "mojo" was out of whack.

"That smells amazing, I'll hold it while you drive," she said with glee in her eyes. Root smiled and reached in to hand her one of the tacos.

"Just one then you can finish off the rest when we get inside. I stash the bike in a garage three blocks from here. We'll have to circle and surveil the building so they'll be cold when we finally get there," she said with some disappointment. She knew that Shaw didn't care, she was already eating the taco. Her eyes rolled back some and Root actually laughed. Shaw looked at her with the taco half way back to her mouth. She was frozen in place.

"What? Are you okay Sameen?" she moved closer to her as she spoke and reached for her, but stopped mid air just in case her touch made it worse. It was hard at times to navigate intimacy with Sameen.

"I'm fine...you laughed is all. I…" she closed her eyes for a moment and dropped her hand to her side, still clutching her broken taco. Her other hand reached up to behind her ear again.

"Did I do that in a scary way or something in the simulations?"

"No...no, you didn't laugh much. I mean you were funny...you're always funny...but there wasn't much time to laugh or...you know, I was busy killing our friends and kidnapping Greer. We had this one night though...you softly laughed once I think," she seemed agitated and Root noticed her appetite seemed to abandon her. Shaw never stopped eating once she started unless someone was shooting at her...well even then she'd probably finish while firing back.

So she took Shaw's left hand with the Taco in it, brought it to her mouth and took a big bite while looking her in the eye. It was molten hot but she tried to ignore the hot sauce and ate it daintily while Shaw watched. "Good, I think the restaurant may make it there." She tried not to show how hot it was but her eyes were actually watering.

Then a miracle happened. Shaw laughed at her expression. "You got any water on that bike?" Root continued to chew the lava in her mouth and swallowed it with great difficulty...then she shook her head. This made Shaw laugh even more and that made it all worth it.

"Serves you right, Root. Don't eat my food," she said and then she woofed down the rest of the Taco in one bite. "Keep your mouth open as we ride, maybe the cool air will help." Sameen snickered. Root squinted at her and harrumphed.

"I've had hotter," she said after she was sure her tongue could function and wasn't actually blistered. Shaw snorted and slid on the bike behind her, she placed one arm around her and the other held on to their dinner.

"That's what she said," Sameen retorted. Root laughed again and she felt Shaw shiver all over. She missed their banter. Twenty minutes later they were in the small apartment. It was on the second floor, there were two ways out and it only had one big bed. Shaw insisted on going in first and checking it out. Root let her do it and stood in the hallway with the tacos until she got the all clear. Once inside she immediately told her where all the firearms were stashed and pointed out the two exits. Once that was done, Shaw was ready for the rest of her meal. Root went to get herself a plate and them some beers. She had bought a six pack two days ago and hadn't been back since. It was one of Shaw's favorite micro brews from Brooklyn. She wasn't really picky about things but Shaw had bought that beer twice when they ate pizza at the subway while Root worked on the computer. She noted these things because it made her feel connected to her. By the time she returned, Shaw had emptied the extra sauce packets on her remaining Tacos and was attacking her third one.

"Here," she said holding out a beer to her. Shaw took it without looking but after a sip, she looked at the label and smiled a little. It was another triumph. She murmured thanks and kept on eating. Root ate her salad and it was good. The meat wasn't too greasy and the vegetables were fresh. She didn't finish it and moved it to the side.

"Why aren't you eating?"

Root looked over at Shaw. She was sitting back sipping her beer and staring at Root. When Root wasn't looking at her directly, she could see how Shaw looked at her. It was intense, wonderful and awful all at the same time. She could sometimes see Shaw warring with herself over whether or not she was real.

"I'm ...a bit over whelmed. I know you see food as fuel and I eat enough fuel to keep going," she explained. She talked then...she filled Shaw in on details that she needed to know. She was reluctant to hear some things, she was afraid that Samaritan would know. "In your simulations, I bet you never really learned any details about what was going on with us. How could you? They haven't found us. One way you can tell the if this is real or not is through details." This thought seemed to calm her so Root went one to explain about the simulation and how Harold was considering closing the machine after what happened at the Radio station.

"He's right. I've seen Samaritan up close...it has been in my head as much as the Machine has been in yours. There is nothing worse than an AI in God Mode with no morality to guide it," Shaw whispered. The mention of how the Machine talks to her made Root remember how Greer wanted to cut her brain open to take out the implant. It made her remembered how they said Shaw told them. She shook it off and continued to tell her about what happened since she was taken. She told her about how they rampaged...about taking people and threatening them. She told her about how John made her leave Martine before she could kill her.

"That sucks but he probably did it to save you," Shaw joined in.

"Nah he admitted he should have let me kill her," Root said and went on to tell her about the other discoveries she made. When she got to the part about how shes forced the Machine to help her, she first got Shaw another beer. She told her rather clinically about it. Making a joke about how scared Harold was as she faced her God and made Her do what she wanted.

Shaw shot up and walked pacing back and forth across the small living room. She didn't like the story. Root knew she didn't like how ready she was to die for her. Shaw did the rescuing. "It led no where really and the Machine pushed me to give up. So I left the team for awhile." Root continued. "I figured they had to have taken you close by due to the severity of your wounds." Sameen stopped and looked over at her.

"I was moved once I healed...they had already started the program...not simulations, just flashes images and drugs," her voice was soft. She had confided in Root about the simulations. She shared the horror but not many details. She walked as she spoke and moved to the plush bed that occupied the wall of the studio apartment. She sat down on it and looked at Root...she waited for her to continue.

"I told you we had a clue. It was a phone call...your voice asking me to help you," Root didn't look a Shaw when she said it. "The Machine led us to you...we went in rather foolishly without back up," Root admitted. She'd lived that night over in her mind many times. It was a race afterwards to save Her. She explained how Harold had helped her get inside, it was too easy really and how it was a trap.

Shaw shifted on the bed. Root just looked out the window to the Brick building. There wasn't much of a view but that privacy was attractive. "What happened?" She seemed tense and Root took a breath. She'd promised herself she'd do this...it is just harder now knowing some of what they did to her. "Greer and Martine were waiting. I came in...found your jacket..when to the window to see you leave...then they had Harold." She shrugged some. "They wanted to find the machine and figured my implant would be the best way."

She looked over to see Shaw intensely watching her, clutching something in her hand that Root recognized as Shaw's Jacket from that night. Sameen must have found it under her pillow. "I needed to tell you sometime. I promised myself I would when we talked about this...now I think they found out in a simulation...perhaps you mentioned it or something and they heard. Either way, they were going to cut it out of me. I killed Martine and was going to just surrender and let them...when She chimed in and told Samaritan how to find her..as long as we were let go." Root lifted her hand and absently ran it over her area behind her ear. " So I...just want to say...I understand why you did it. I forgive you for telling them about my implant and most of all, I love you Sameen Shaw."

Root felt her hand on her arm. Sameen had crossed the floor so quickly and quietly. "What did you say? What did I do?" Root reached up and took her face in her hands. Shaw stiffened but Root used her strength to hold her there.

"I said I love you but don't worry I'm not expecting a reply. The rest...well it's simple really...Martine lied. Samaritan used your voice to make the call and Samaritan figured out that She speaks to me when we met. They just wanted to ...fuck with me. She enjoyed baiting me...telling me you resisted but broke as we fought. I loved...loved snapping her neck...for shooting you before my eyes. NO mission, nothing but satisfaction," Root spoke clearly making her look at her for a moment. Shaw jerked her head back but held on to her hands.

She shook her head and swallowed, " They didn't...I mean...they didn't.." she started to shake some and then she reached up behind her ear to stroke the light scar of her implant. Her hand went up to her own ear. "Maybe that is why...I thought maybe it was the sensor...but perhaps I wanted to live through what I sentenced you to suffer." She was shaking and Root pressed closer to her, reaching up to run her hand in her hair and press her forehead to Shaw's in a desperate attempt to connect.

"You didn't and if you did I don't fucking care. It didn't work. We survived," Root insisted. Shaw seemed to calm herself and her shivers stopped. Root thought maybe she was cold but she didn't want to assume...still something told her to slide off her jacket and put it over Shaw's shoulders. Shaw tensed again and Root froze.

"You did that in the simulations...but I wanted you to do it," Shaw whispered. "Gen said...I still feel things but the volume is turned down." She looked at Root, pulling her head back to meet her eyes. She knew about the girl but she didn't know that Sameen still thought about her. "YOu turn the volume up Root. Idon't understand the feelings but I know I have them. You always come in so loud and clear. Plus you look sexy in this black leather jacket."

She had a hard time breathing for a moment. She wanted to shout at the top of her lungs that she could make her feel something. Root smiled. "I kept yours, I'd sleep with it..it stopped smelling like you though." Shaw turned her head to the side and inhale Root's scent from the leather. She moved closer to Root and it was the first time ever. Her throat tightened. Root just opened herself and let Shaw get the touch she desired. Touch wasn't easy for Shaw but she had gradually increased the time they touched until she could handle it. This was joyous and amazing. It made Root think that perhaps Shaw thought she was in her simulation.

"What else did I do in the Simulations that you wanted me to do?" Her tone was thick with mirth and pure flirt. Shaw chuckled softly as she turned her head and face up to speak softly into Root's ear.

"You bite me perfect and hard enough to make me cum. It was the only good thing about it all," She said quietly.

"Well, I'll not bite you now, so you know...but I want you Sameen," she said, turning her head to kiss her neck. Shaw didn't tense this time actually she seemed to melt into her more.

"Okay, but I'm going to wear the jacket the entire time...just the jacket," she said pulling Root over to the bed. "This is probably all a simulation but I'm still going to put my hand as deep inside of you as you can take." Root felt her knees nearly buckle. She thought of five snarky things to say in reply but she pushed them all down and watched Shaw start to strip off her pants and shirt...all the while keeping her jacket on her lithe body.

***I hope you enjoy the story. I stopped at the good part because I will do a second one if you ask. Peace Fae***