They'd spent the night in the woods, a ridiculous game of chicken as Shaw played out her options, tried to ground herself in reality. Of all the times Shaw had shot herself in the head, of all the time Root had seen her do it, she'd never offered a counter offer. Never threatened her life when Shaw threatened her own.

At dawn they met the others by the river, and the conversation turned to plans.

"You need rest, Shaw," Reese said.

"Come home with me. Take the day off, let Reese and Fusco follow your leads," Root said. Shaw nodded, clearly exhausted.

Root's apartment was in a different building than usual, on a different floor. For the first time, Root's apartment was different. It added plausibility, along with the Morse she'd heard, that she was in reality. When Root unlocked the door, her apartment was unfamiliar. Similar; single room studio, purple sheets on the bed.

Maybe it was a trick. Maybe it was another simulation.

But when Root shut the door behind them, Shaw stepped into Root, wrapped her arms around her from behind. Root turned slowly in Shaw's arms, careful not to jostle or startle her. Root brought her arms up around Shaw, hands gentle as she grasped the shorter woman through her thick coat. Shaw's forehead rested on Root's collarbone, breath filtering in through Root's shirt. Root waited for Shaw to let go, but she didn't. Just held tightly to Root like she was her anchor to reality.

Shaw pulled away a little, finally. Root pulled off her coat and jacket, carefully peeled Shaw out of hers too, dropped them on the floor and stepped back into Shaw, ignoring when moisture met her chest from Shaw's eyes. Shaw grasped Root again, didn't seem like she was going anywhere. Content just to hold the taller woman tight against her, to let Root hold her like she'd longed to hold her for years.

"We can do this all day, but you need a shower, so do I, and we should probably eat. We can come back to this."

Shaw pulled away, swiped at her face.

"Yeah," she said, not really agreeing to anything. Just trying to gather her wits after Root's proximity.

"Breakfast or dinner?" Root asked, heading to the bathroom.

"Either," Shaw said, collapsing onto the couch, exhausted from the mental gymnastics, from being on the run, from her escape. Root was right, she could use a shower, a meal, a long sleep. Some respite from Samaritan and The Machine.

Root came out, rifled through a drawer, held out some clothes to Shaw.

"Go shower. Food will be ready when you are." Shaw made no move to take the clothes, so Root put them in her lap, restrained herself from touching Shaw's shoulder. Apart from the limpet act at the door, Shaw had been evasive, trying to keep herself away from Root, possibly to protect her still.


Short hiatus on 4 alarm due to travelling. This was in my google docs with 5k words so... not update-update?
Let me know if you enjoyed it, will be updating when I can. Or let me know if I'm putting too much stock in this and can take a break for a few more weeks.
I displaced some ribs yelling 'nuit danger' at moose on the road. So Canada is fun.