Shaw happily demolished 3 of the greasiest burgers crammed with more jalapenos than Root had ever seen, then settled in with the fries. Root watched Shaw was bewildered fascination as she ate her own much less greasy grilled cheese. Feet on the coffee table, beer in one hand to wash down the grease. Then again, Shaw had been imprisoned and strapped to a machine for months. Who was Root to deny her some simple pleasures, ones she could easily accommodate? Which bought her back to earlier, when Shaw had taken her against the wall like some sort of incredibly precise feral animal.

"I didn't know about the other simulations when I was in them," Shaw said, by means of conversation, around a mouthful of fries. "This might still be a trick. You aren't usually picky about..." Shaw tapped at her ear.

"Only hearing in the left one? You've been running, what? Turing tests on me?" Root asked indignantly.

"I guess, but not on you. On Samaritan," Shaw quantified.

"And if I'm not a Samaritan facsimile of myself?"

Shaw sighed. "If you're not I'm sorry, but if you're not then I know you'll understand." Shaw picked at her fries before looking back up at Root. "I don't know how much I have to care about your feelings," Shaw said. "I don't know if you're even alive, out there."

Hundreds of Turing tests Root hadn't noticed at the time. Shaw's eyes flickered down to Root's hand. The black nail polish that hadn't been present in any of the simulations.

"Besides, everything's not... in the same place," Shaw said, looking down at Root's lap. Root looked down too.

"Oh."

"It's always been the same. I used to know my way around you like an AK-47."

"Well you certainly seemed to know your way around," Root said, thinking back to those moments between hard brick and the softness of Shaw's warm, safe body.

"Call it military precision. I could have done what you used to like... but I did what I liked instead. Because I know that works. The 2 minutes was more hope than a prediction."

Root didn't know how to feel. Shaw had... taken on board her suggestion to fool around, but it had felt mechanical, precise and feelingless. Like she was going through the motions robotically, just one more task on a strange quest.

"... Do you... do you want to find out what I do like?" Root asked quietly. Shaw looked away and swallowed.

"I'd like that very much," Shaw said formally. "I made you a promise and I very much intend to keep it. I've failed at so many things. Kicked out of med school, retired from the marines - if you can call that retirement... I won't fail you."

Root stood, gathering the rubbish from dinner. Shaw stood and washed her hands in the kitchen sink, rinsing out her beer for the recycling. Root leaned against the counter to watch her.

"Of all the things I don't feel, I feel them about you the most," Shaw said quietly as she leaned in to kiss Root, then took her hand to lead her to the bed.


Notes:

If you'd like more information about Alan Turing and the imitation game, wiki/Turing_test is a good place to start. There is also the recent movie based on Alan Turing.

A Turing test is a questionnaire that a machine cannot pass. There is a game with the same name and it is pretty great; I know I have spoken of it and Tacoma in previous chapters but they are great examples of AI. In this instance, Samaritan is unaware of small details, like that Root can't hear out of her right ear (or, if it does know about it, does not know what to do with that information, as Root can clearly hear) and that Shaw always tries to accommodate Root's hearing by talking to her on her left side (I have a friend with a similar issue, and it is a habit I formed only with him which I do not think many people bothered to do). And the nails. Oh the nails. I'll spill the tea on that later.

I'm not super into the sex scenes but I could possibly be persuaded? Not sure, the next chapter has skipped it at this point and if there is one it won't be graphic.

The electricity here keeps failing; it is hard to work/write without power. In addition, I have had a fall and some heart issues and other various other stupid things happening.

Anyway. Burgers. I miss burgers.