Title: Passion Fruit
Characters: Wash, Taylor, Reynolds, Dr. Shannon, others
Summary/Note: A heat wave strikes Terra Nova. How do they beat the heat? I apologize for mama bear/Mad Eye Moody!Wash, but it was a lot of fun to write. Started out as plot-less fluff but refused to stay that way.
A heatwave had risen in the night, causing some of the colony's longer term residents to start complaining by the height of the afternoon. They had almost forgotten what living in the 22nd century was like. Some of the more recent arrivals were beginning to wilt as well, unused to spending so much time outside in such an environment. A crowd of soldiers stood around Lieutenant Washington, attempting to give her their full professional attention.
As Wash surveyed the group she felt a slighttwinge of pity. Their life in Terra Nova had certainly had its share of dangers and stresses, but most of them hadn't been hardened by battle to the point where they could block out minor inconveniences like matters of personal comfort. Some of them never would get used to it. She couldn't decide whether she was grateful that she had become inured to some things, or jealous of their innocence. She shook herself free from that thought, conscious of showing the slightest weakness to her subordinates. They could be worse than sharks sometimes, smelling blood in any reason to not take her seriously. "Alright," she said, drawing their attention together as much as her own. "I'm not going to baby you and tell you this is just going to be some jaunt in the country. Frankly, today's going to be a bitch."
To their credit not a single one of them twitched or so much as thought of letting out a chuckle at the vulgarity she uttered. It was her own personal policy to be straightforward and honest with the troops (to "cut out the bullshit" as Taylor had told her a time or two), but she didn't often swear in front of them. Not including that one time when she had stubbed her toe on a table in the barracks and had proceeded to question that piece of furniture's parentage in very creative ways before realizing there were others in the room.
"Make sure you all keep your canteens full as much as possible. And I hope you've been staying hydrated so far today because you're going to need it. If I have to carry even one of you back to the rendezvous point because you thought you were strong enough to not need to keep drinking water on a day like today...let's just say it won't be pretty. We'll be driving out as far as we can, but the rest of the way is on foot. Intel wasn't specific on exactly where the cache is buried so we'll spread out in a spiral search pattern once we get to the general area. You find it, quietly relay it back down the line. Sixers might be watching the area, we're not sure." She looked around once more, letting her words sink in. "Any questions?"
"Uh, yeah," a voice called from her left.
She turned to look at him. "Recruit Hernandez?" He was part of a small group that had come through on the latest pilgrimage specifically to become soldiers if they lasted through the adjustment and evaluation period. Some of the more veteran soldiers called this process the "Meat Grinder" given the propensity for raw recruits to make a mistake and end up as slasher meat.
"Yeah," he replied, taking that as his cue to speak. "What's so important about this Sixer stuff anyways?"
"Commander Taylor didn't tell me and I didn't think it necessary to ask." Wash's tone made it clear that she didn't think it necessary for him to ask either. Some of the soldiers around him tried to subtly shift away lest her ire fall on them by a simple matter of geographical association.
"Yes sir," he replied cockily.
Wash resisted the urge to roll her eyes at his behavior. He wasn't the first male soldier under her command to think he was better than her (or anyone else without literal balls) and unfortunately would probably not be the last. That kind of attitude didn't last long around here though, one way or another. "Regardless of why we are going," she emphasized, once more speaking to the entire group, "This will be a good example for some of you, and a good reminder for others, of what life outside the gate is like. Just because the jungle seems peaceful doesn't mean you can relax. Whether the threat is man or beast, it can and will sneak up on you if you're not paying attention. No matter how good you are there is something or someone out there bigger and better than you." She whipped her arm out and caught the nearest soldier by the scruff of his neck. Mark Reynolds let out a yelp of surprise, but otherwise didn't flinch. Her expression softened and she added, "Stay on your guard and I'm sure you'll do fine. Dismissed." She dropped her hold on Reynolds's neck but kept a hand on his shoulder to hold him back for a moment as the others dispersed. "Sorry about that, Mark." Her informal tone showed her genuine fondness for someone whom Jim Shannon had jokingly referred to once as her "hero worshiping little brother." She had not been amused by the comment, but it did have a grain of truth in it.
"It's cool," he told her with a shrug. "I trust you. Just glad the Commander wasn't around to see that."
"I don't think he would have had a problem with it," she stated slowly.
"Oh no, I don't mean that. Hernandez. I don't think the Commander would have taken too kindly to him...well...sassing you."
"This colony runs because of his insistence on order." Wash couldn't understand what exactly he was talking about, but felt obligated both as a soldier and a friend to defend the Commander.
"I meant that he was sassing you," he emphasized.
"I don't know what you think you're getting at," she said, bristling at the implication.
He winked at her. "Forget I said anything." He drifted off to join the convoy, his eyes still alight with good-natured teasing.
Wash shrugged. Whatever that was about, it bore no foreseeable relevance on the mission's success. Something to mentally file under "random shit" and mostly forget about.
Wash and Reynolds lugged a heavy plastic drum into Taylor's office. It slipped a little in Reynolds's grasp, causing it to crash to the floor, taking a unsuspecting Wash along with it. Gingerly and with as much dignity as she could muster she got back up and brushed herself off. "A little warning next time would be nice," she grumbled.
He blushed. "Sorry ma'am."
"Make sure you check in with Dr. Shannon, but you're dismissed."
He nodded deferentially and left.
Wash turned her attention to Taylor, who was sitting at his desk with a look of smug amusement on his face. Her eyes narrowed seeing his smirk.
"I didn't say anything," he told her, holding his hands up in a gesture of innocence.
Her sense of decorum and adherence to military discipline were the only things that prevent her from sticking her tongue out at him, but the idea was tempting. She gathered herself, firmly planting her feet in a relaxed but attentive military stance. "My report sir."
"Carry on lieutenant."
"We successfully found and obtained the stated cache." She looked down at the drum with irritation. "It seems to be mostly full of weapons and medical supplies."
"Seems to be?"
"I wouldn't dare assume anything at first glance without a thorough examination of the contents. We only opened the lid to ensure that there was in fact something in there to bring back. While I can't say I would have minded making a few of the recruits lug back an empty container I'm not that sadistic sir."
Wash stayed silent but the slight smile on her face gave her response away. Somehow he always knew.
"Understandable. Seems our intel was good then. Any injuries to speak of?"
"Two recruits suffering from heat exhaustion sir. Sent them to get checked out, but they should be fine with rest and fluids. The only weapon even fired was when one of them freaked at the sound of a small mammal in the brush. They'll learn soon enough though."
"Well lieutenant, sounds like an all-around success."
"Get yourself something to eat and then we can take a look at what you've found. And that's an order Wash. Can't have you running yourself ragged."
"Yes sir." Wash knew it was useless to protest and she really could use something. "Back in 20."
Wash knocked on the door frame and entered. Taylor was seated on the floor, weapons and vials carefully laid out around him. He had one rather large gun in his hands and was carefully polishing it with a black cloth. The scene bordered on a kind of intimacy based on affection and camaraderie to the point that she felt almost voyeuristic watching it. Well she had to break the silence one way or another. He probably knew she was standing there anyhow.
As if sensing her thoughts he placed the gun down. "Ran out of paperwork to do so I started without you."
Wash looked at his desk, still awash in the minutiae of running the colony and smirked. Boys and their toys. "Of course sir."
He got up and turned around, heading for that same desk. "Most of the weapons I've pulled out so—" He stopped and squinted at her. "What's that?"
Wash gestured to what she was holding in her right hand. "A popsicle apparently. Dr. Shannon thought it would be a good way to keep people cool and hydrated during this—" Wash's tongue darted out to catch a drip that had swiftly made its way down to her wrist. "Sorry sir, it's a bit messy. Not really my kind of thing but the youngest Shannon insisted. Apparently the school took some of the kids berry picking in the orchard today."
Taylor chuckled. "The indomitable Lieutenant Washington, felled by a five year old girl."
Wash glared at him and sullenly took another swipe at the popsicle She looked at him quizzically as he cleared his throat and shifted in his chair. "Coveting my popsicle sir? Perhaps I should have brought you one."
"Not your popsicle," she thought she heart him mutter. Maybe the heat was affecting her more than she thought.
"No no, it's quite alright lieutenant," he said loudly.
Wash shrugged. Maybe the heat was getting to him too, or the stress of the latest Sixer raid and the upcoming pilgrimage. "So about this cache sir?"
"Right. Most of the weapons I've pulled out so far have seen better days. Could use your help identifying some of the meds, but they look to be of a more generalized nature. Sixers probably stashed the stuff in case they were on the run and needed backup supplies."
Wash bent down to pick up a sack medicine that he hadn't gone through yet. Placing the popsicle entirely in her mouth to free her hands she carefully opened the bag and let the paraphernalia tumble out onto the desk. She withdrew it to talk, sucking off some of the moisture so it wouldn't melt all over her hand. Her right hand drifted over each item, turning them in order to read any labels. "Low-grade painkillers, basic antibiotics, some coags. Nothing with real street value unless you're really down on your luck. Not that there's a market for that now anyways."
"Good to know."
Wash could tell he wasn't 100% with it. "Sir, I don't mean to pry or coddle you, but are you sure you're alright?" Alarm bells were going off in her head. Not that it was ever a good time for anyone to be sick, least of all the Commander, it would be particularly inconvenient for the life of the colony for him to be out of commission now. She upended her popsicle in a glass and came around the desk. "You look flushed." She reached out to feel his forehead but his arm whipped out to stop her.
As he turned to the right to face her the force of the opposing movements brought her tumbling down into his lap. "I'm fine," he snarled.
She tried to get up without extending the awkwardness of the situation. "That's the second time to—" Wash stopped as she felt something that was definitely not muscle tone. "Oh."
Taylor stared at her for a moment, making no move to help her up. "Oh to hell with this," he growled. He put his arms on her waist and in one swift movement stood up, pinning her against the desk. He searched her face briefly for any hint of opposition and plundered her mouth with his tongue. In the scramble for some purchase on the slick surface he knocked over a few of the vials, one shattering on the floor to deaf ears.
Wash gave as good as she got, tongue wrestling for dominance in cresting waves of pleasure. Her normally rational mind was kindly told to fuck off by the part of her thoroughly enjoying this change of scenery. She wound her fingers through the slight curls the humidity had generated in his hair, trusting his arms and her own torso muscles to prevent her from crashing down onto the desk.
Taylor ground into her with a groan, taking a deep breath as their lips broke apart, bodies still melded together. "Fuck Wash."
"Not quite there yet sir," she quipped.
Taylor guffawed. "Just when I think I know your sense of humor pretty well..." He tapped her on the lips. "You know, that thing's turned your tongue purple."
Wash relaxed back on the desk. No awkward discussions of feelings or what "this" was, no vacillating back and forth on if there was an "us" or not, just acceptance, just understanding. It was as if this was an inevitable conclusion, not anything so trite as being written in the stars, but an inescapable turn of events at some point as the paths of their lives twisted along. Oh they'd talk about it eventually in their own way, but neither of them were the type to fill the air with empty words in an attempt to assuage some perceived level of guilt at being human. "Well. Not as I thought it would go."
He looked at her questioningly. "You've...thought about this before?"
Wash laughed at the puzzled but curious look on his face. "I meant this meeting about the cache, but that works too. I'm not some lovesick teenager. Women are entitled to fantasies too you know. Not as if I've had much opportunity here."
Taylor's eyebrows raised, his interest clearly piqued. "Fantasies? Such as..."
Wash hopped off the desk. Much as she'd love to continue, the risk of someone walking in was too great. God forbid Jim Shannon show up at just the wrong moment. She tapped one finger on Taylor's chest as she passed. "Between you, me, and the bedpost, that's for you to find out." She plucked the now half-melted popsicle out of the glass, licking it with intentional lewdness but projecting an absolute innocence that didn't really suit her face. "Perhaps not the desk next time though. It might not survive. I should go thank Dr. Shannon." She took one last look at him there, frozen in place with goodness knows what kind of thoughts running through his head, and breezed out of the building, a spring in her step the heat could not evaporate.
****bonus ending scene****
Several minutes later, as Wash was socializing in the market with Dr. Shannon and a couple of soldiers, Taylor descended from his office to join the crowd.
"Dr. Shannon," he said with a nod of greeting. "I hear we have you to thank for helping combat this heat wave."
His piercing gaze shifted to Wash, who managed to keep her poker face in place.
"Well I can't claim full responsibility," Dr. Shannon replied honestly, unaware of the currents of subtext. "But...you do know your tongue is purple right?"
Taylor looked around at the handful of questioning looks he was receiving from others in the crowd, some more successful at masking their curiosity at seeing him in an unusual state. "What? Just because I'm the commander doesn't mean I don't enjoy a good popsicle every now and then."
"Of course not," Dr. Shannon acknowledged.
"It was delicious," Wash confirmed.