A/N: I have, unfortunately and completely against my will (*cough*) committed 'sex pollen' fic. Not a fan of overused fic tropes? Then this isn't for you.
I must also add that I am a physicist, not a biologist. Any inconsistencies are therefore my own and I apologise to anyone irritated by my lame attempts at biological science.
Alicia Washington arrived at the command building a few minutes earlier than Taylor had requested her presence, but the door to his office was propped open and she knew from experience to take that as an invitation to enter.
She found him sitting at the conference table with Guzman and smiled at both men. "You wanted to see me sir?"
He nodded, gesturing to his desk. "Have a seat, I'll be right with you."
Alicia wandered over to the other side of the room, choosing to remain standing - whenever she sat down in Nathaniel Taylor's office, bad things seemed to happen outside. More often than not she'd knock her seat over in her rush to get out the door, and have to come back later to tidy up after herself. Eventually it didn't really seem worth the hassle.
Her attention was drawn to a brightly coloured plant on the corner of his desk, quite unlike anything she'd seen before, despite all her years in the colony. It was sitting in a sample box, clearly something brought back by one of the science recon teams, meaning that it would eventually be on its way to Malcolm's capable hands and she would likely never see it again.
Using this as a justification to snoop, she walked over and bent at the waist to get a closer look at the plant's spectacular flower. She frowned as it looked to move… she had to be imagining things. It was only when she was about to stand up that the plant moved again, more clearly this time and before she could fully straighten it spat out a cloud of golden pollen.
She coughed as she stumbled backwards, wiping at the fine layer of dust that coated her face.
"Wash! Are you okay? What happened?" Taylor called from the other side of the room.
"Just got a bit too friendly with one of these plants, I'm fine." She replied, chuckling at her own stupidity.
Taylor dismissed Guzman and walked to join her. "Are you sure? You look pale."
Wash opened her mouth to reply but the words stuck in her throat as her head started to pound. "Oh, that's not good." She muttered, as her vision went grey around the edges.
"What's not good? Wash? Wash!"
She could barely make out Taylor's concerned shouting of her name as the pounding in her head grew to unmanageable levels. She felt herself start to lose consciousness, could sense her body falling to the ground. The last thing she felt before she blacked out was a pair of strong arms winding around her waist.
"I have good news and bad news." Elisabeth said as she approached Wash's bed, head ducked to review the datapad in her hands. "Which do you want first?"
"Bad news." Taylor and Wash said in unison.
Elisabeth couldn't hold back a laugh. "That's a bit fatalistic."
"I prefer realistic, Doc." Taylor said. "You were saying?"
"Oh! Yes. Well, the bad news is you've been infected."
"Infected?" Wash echoed, her face falling. "By that plant?"
"I spoke to Malcolm - he requested the plant be recovered as it appeared to be a previously undiscovered genus that has a curious pollination process. He theorises that when it sensed your presence it assumed you were a visiting insect and it kick-started that process and emitted the pollen."
"What's the good news?" Taylor asked quietly.
"It's not life threatening." Elisabeth said. "We've confirmed the pollen is free of all toxins."
Wash let out a little breath of relief.
"Why do I get the impression that's not the whole story?" Taylor said.
Elizabeth sighed, moving closer to the pair. "The pollination process is unique in that the pollen reacts to the physiology of the insect and, essentially, mates it to that one plant. It will instinctively pollinate the plant and its offspring, year after year, ensuring the survival of the species."
"Please tell me I'm not mated to that plant." Wash groaned, rubbing the back of her neck fretfully.
"No, not exactly. Your biological makeup is too different to allow that to happen. If anything happens to you it will likely be quite different." Elisabeth said. "And, not just happen to you." She said, looking at Taylor.
He laughed. "Me? I didn't inhale any of it."
"Not immediately. But in carrying the lieutenant here, you must have picked up some off of her skin or hair. We're lucky it has such a short life cycle outside a host body or the entire colony could be at risk." Elisabeth explained. "I also tested the blood we took from you when you got here, and it too shows signs of infection."
Wash looked at Taylor curiously at the mention of him carrying her, before shaking her head and turning back to the other woman. "So, what's the prognosis?"
"I'm… not sure." Elisabeth said, wincing as they glared at her. "We're still running tests on your blood but from what we can see so far, your bodies are still metabolising the chemicals and, therefore, we won't know the side effects until either the test results come back or you start displaying symptoms. The only thing I can say is that the pollen appears to be metabolising in different ways in each of your blood samples. It may well be that one or both of you will be completely unaffected due to incompatible physiology. Or... we could be looking at something more serious."
"Are we infectious?" Wash asked.
Elisabeth shook her head. "Not as far as I can tell."
"Well good. I have a colony to run." Taylor said. "Can I go?"
"I suppose." Elisabeth said reluctantly. "It would be against my recommendation, but I doubt that worries you. Just make sure you're not alone in case something happens suddenly. I would also like to suggest the lieutenant takes the rest of the day off." When the other woman protested, Elisabeth silenced her with a raised hand. "Just as a precaution. You were unconscious for an hour, Alicia."
"I'll walk you home Wash, come on. We'll grab Reynolds on the way, he can stay with you while you rest."
Wash looked to Elisabeth like reluctance personified at his concern, but quickly accepted there wasn't another choice.
"Yes sir." She said, hopping down off of the bed and swaying just a little. She smiled gratefully as Taylor steadied her with a supportive hand to her back.
Elisabeth watched the pair leave the hospital with a concerned expression. She hated not having an instant answer for them, despite her love of the hunt for one. With that thought in mind she returned to the lab to assist in the analysis.
Later that morning Taylor was just about done with his earlier postponed meeting with Guzman when his comm unit beeped to indicate an incoming call. The other man laughed, joking that at this rate they were never going to finish.
"This is Taylor." He said, nodding at his chief of security as the man excused himself.
"Commander, this is Mark Reynolds."
At the sound of his soldier's voice - more particularly, the toneof his words, Taylor's heart skipped a beat. "What is it?" He asked, battling a million inner demons as they started to rear their ugly heads.
"It's Lieutenant Washington sir… I think you should get back here. Something's not right."