A/N: Apologies for the delay. This is for anyone who still has interest in seeing this tale completed. It probably has maybe 2-3 chapters left. It will be completed sooner as opposed to later. Thanks for all the kind words in advance.
For what it's worth, I admit some fear over the Ayani/Taylor/Wash scene, but at the same time, I kind of enjoyed it. I hope you do as well.
This isn't the first time that thirty-six year old Lieutenant Alicia Washington has woken up after an injury that should have killed her but somehow, rather inexplicably, did not.
Many long years earlier, she'd been terribly surprised to wake up after her first brush with death thanks to her near fatal wounding in Somalia. This time, she should probably be even more shocked, and she likely would be if she could manage to string together more than three thoughts at a time.
Instead, the dark haired lieutenant stares up at the beautiful doctor standing above her, thinking that she knows this woman, but unable to come up with a name. Her memories – the scant few that she can pull up anyway - are foggy at best, as if presented to her through a thick pane of opaque glass.
"Lieutenant," the doctor says, a small smile on her lips. "Welcome back." Her voice is warm, inviting, calming.
Wash tries to reply, even opens her mouth to speak, but quickly realizes that the words are refusing to come out. She tries again, but ends up settling for grunting in frustration instead. For some reason or another, that makes the doctor smile.
"Easy, Alicia," Elisabeth Shannon soothes. "You've been through a terrible trauma. It's going to take some time for you to heal."
That's not good enough for the lieutenant. She has no idea what's wrong with her (she tries for a moment to localize the pain she feels, but quickly realizes that it's coming at her from well – everywhere), but what she does knows is that clearly, something terrible has happened to her, something that has landed her on her back in a bed. With a doctor above her wearing The Face.
Even with her memories in the cracked state that they're currently in, Alicia Washington knows The Face quite well. Knows that she's even given it a time or two. She just doesn't know when, where or why.
She makes a lazy motion with her left hand, noticing as she does so that one of her fingers has been splinted. She sees the doctor – Elisabeth, she thinks to herself finally – tilt her head, like she's unsure what the lieutenant is asking for. So she does it again, tries to gesture for a…pen, that's it, that's the word. Pen.
"I think she wants something to write with," a voice from behind the doctor says. She tries to lift herself to see who's speaking, but even the effort is too much, and just about pitches her back into the darkness. Only a desperate grab at the end keeps her from slipping back beneath the murky surface of unconsciousness.
"Oh! Of course! Hold on a moment. Here we go. Try this, Alicia," Elisabeth says as she pushes a Plex into Wash's hands. She presses a key on the touch screen to put it into sandbox mode. Typically, this mode is used for taking notes during a meeting or for kids to doodle. Right now, hopefully it's a doorway into Wash's fractured and wounded psyche.
Almost hesitantly, Wash presses her pointer finger against the screen, for a moment marveling much as a small child would at the dark mark that the impact makes. She lengthens it, watching as a black line forms and extends. It takes her a moment to remember that what she's doing is called drawing.
Something that she used to be good at. A hidden skill, she thinks. Something she'd kept to herself. This knowledge hits her with a kind of thundering certainty, and she doesn't try to brush it away. She knows that even if she can't seem to attach any memories to the knowledge, it's nonetheless, the truth.
"Take a breath, Wash," she hears. She looks up again, and this time she sees the speaker. His name comes to her immediately – Shannon. Jim Shannon. And with his name comes a surge of odd emotion. Joy, relief, annoyance.
It's while she's staring at him that she notices the second man in the room. His name also comes to her quickly – Nathaniel. And with that name comes another surge of emotion, this one far different than the one that had been attached to Shannon. There's something heavy in what she feels for this man named Nathaniel. Something intense, though she can't quite figure out exactly what to call it. She opens her mouth to say something, finds that she desperately needs to speak to him, but once again finds that the words refuse to come.
She turns her attention back to the screen, and with significant effort (her hands feel like pieces of weighted down lead, and her brain seems unwilling to provide her the words she needs to ask the many questions she has), she writes on the screen, a sentence that roughly resembles: "Can't speak. What's wrong?"
She sees the concerned looks that go between the threesome standing over her. Both of the men look alarmed, maybe even scared. To her credit, the doctor hides whatever she's feeling much more successfully.
"You suffered a severe head injury, Alicia," Elisabeth tells her, her voice so very calm and measured. "It might take some time for all of your motor functions to start working again as they should."
"Speaking isn't a motor function," Nathaniel protests as he steps closer to his lover. Now that he's just a few feet away from her, Wash allows her eyes to slide over him, practically (though somewhat inexplicably, she thinks to herself) drinking him in. He's strong and muscular, older and grizzled. His appearance – even with the visible fatigue and worry that she sees etched into the deep lines on his handsome face – comforts her.
"Her brain is still sorting everything out, Commander." Elisabeth tells him, adopting a gentle understanding tone. "We need to be patient as the lieutenant adapts to whatever limitations – temporary or permanent – she might have."
Just as she finishes speaking, Shannon laughs, causing both the doctor and Nathaniel to turn towards him, both wearing expressions of annoyance. Neither can possibly imagine what could be so funny about this horrible situation. That is until Jim points at the Plex, and they see the finger drawn words written there.
Nathaniel reads them allowed, smiling widely as he does so, "The lieutenant is right here and the lieutenant doesn't have any limitations."
"There you are, Wash," Shannon grins, relief settling over him. He turns to glance at his wife, and is surprised to see the slight scowl she's wearing. Apparently, she's not nearly as reassured by the lieutenant's show of stubbornness as the men are. "Liz? Am I missing something here?"
"We'll talk about it later, Jim," she replies tersely. Then, her tone softening, she turns back to Wash and says, "Alicia, we need to run a few tests. See what might be working and what might be…lagging a bit behind. Is that all right?"
It takes her a moment, but finally, Wash nods her head, wincing a bit as she does so. She'd like to be indignant about Elisabeth's words, but right now, she lacks the energy to even try to be. She feels pain radiating through her, even through a fog of what she imagines are painkillers. That tells her that what she's been through is fairly serious. That tells her that once again, she should be dead.
"Very good. Then gentlemen, if you'll leave us?"
Neither man looks all that eager to go. In fact, they seem rather irritated that she's even asking them to leave.
"Jim, Commander," Elisabeth scolds. "Go."
"I want a call the moment she's done," Taylor insists.
"Fine, but she's probably going to be exhausted afterwards, and just want to sleep," the doctor tells him, her eyes going back and forth between the men. From the bed, Wash watches this interaction curiously, her own emotions torn between amusement and irritation – neither which she can quite understand.
This situation, it feels so familiar to her, but she can't exactly lock down why. Instinct tells her that she's been here before, that this isn't the first time she's dealt with worry from these men. And it's likely not the first time that Elisabeth Shannon has kept them – or rather tried to keep them - from seeing her.
She waits until the men have reluctantly exited to ask Elisabeth about these feelings. She writes on the pad, "I've been here before, haven't I? On this bed with the two of them hovering over me?" Her words are slightly misspelled, and it takes her several long seconds to get them out, but they make enough sense for the doctor to understand what she's being asked.
And then with a smile, Elisabeth nods. "Oh, yes, Alicia, you most certainly have."
Terra Nova. Three Months Earlier.
"Reynolds!" Taylor barks as he barges through the Infirmary, frightening nurses into jumping out of his way. The boy appears immediately, his pale face streaked with dirt and blood. He looks exhausted, but otherwise all right. Well except for the fact that his left arm is clearly broken, held uselessly across his chest.
"Sir," the young soldier answers, stepping forward to greet his commanding officer, and deliver the report that Taylor is sure to ask for.
And he does, "What the hell happened out there?"
"We were attacked by some kind of…honestly, Sir, I don't know what it was. I don't think Wash did either. It charged us, and the lieutenant, she pushed me out of the way." He shakes his head when he says this, grimacing. "I'm sorry, Sir, I should have protected her better."'
"Nonsense," Taylor answers. "She's your CO. It's her job to protect you. And judging by the fact that you're standing up talking to me, that's what she did."
"Yes, Sir," Reynolds answers, though it's quite clear that he's not buying into what Taylor's saying. Just the same, he gestures across the room. "She's in with the doctors now. She's pretty torn up. I'm not sure how bad…"
Just the fact that Reynolds seems to be coming apart at the seams is enough to calm Taylor down. He knows damn well how hard soldiers take the feeling – warranted or otherwise - of letting down their superior officer. It can be gutting.
"Don't worry, son. She'll be just fine," Taylor insists, lowering his voice a bit. "That woman is the too tough to die. Trust me on that."
"Good. Now that we've established that fact, I'm going to take a page out of her book and threaten to kick your ass if you don't go and get your arm checked out."
At that, Reynolds chuckles. When Taylor tilts his head curiously, Reynolds says to him, "Sorry, sir, it's just…that actually does sound like Wash."
"Oh believe me, I know. Go on. Over to one of the nurses. Now."
Almost reluctantly, Reynolds nods, and then steps away, headed towards a nurse on the other side of the Infirmary. As he's making his way there, he smiles when he sees Maddy enter, her father right beside her.
"I'm fine," Reynolds says immediately. It doesn't matter, though, because a second later, he's got an arm full of Maddy Shannon. He offers a small sheepish smile to her none too thrilled father. "Mr. Shannon, sir."
"You all right, Reynolds?" Jim asks gruffly, acting like he doesn't care. It's a lie, of course, but one that's easier to pull of simply because the boy is currently holding his daughter in his arms.
Reynolds nods, "Fine, Sir."
"Good. And Wash?"
"With the doctors."
"Okay. You two…try to step away from each other? Okay?" Then, before they can reply (surely in a way he'd prefer they didn't) he turns away and makes his way over to Taylor, who is pacing back and forth, trying to see what's going on with his lieutenant. "Anything, Commander?"
"Nothing. Damn it." He starts to move towards the other side of the room, but before he can make it even ten steps, Elisabeth turns out to face him.
"Commander," she says softly. "Where do you think you're going?"
"Nowhere as long as you tell me what I need to know. How is she?"
"She's going to be fine. Most of the wounds were more superficial than they looked when Mark brought her in. She has a few deep gashes, but we were able to stitch her up and replace all of the lost fluids. She'll be back up and on her feet within a week. Probably sooner knowing her."
Both men let out a breath of relief.
"I know you both would like to see her, but she can have visitors in the morning. The lieutenant is resting now. Understood?"
Taylor actually considers this for a moment, and then shakes his head. "Not acceptable," he replies, then before a stunned Elisabeth can stop him, he pushes past her, on his way towards Wash. A moment later, Jim follows after him.
"Sorry, Liz," he says with a grin and a shrug. He hears her curse under her breath, which just makes his smile increase. She's right behind them as they push over to the bed that Wash is lying on. She, like Reynolds, is covered in dirt and blood. There are dozens of cuts across her body, the largest a massive now stitched up gash running the length of her side.
"You're sure she's fine?" Taylor asks as Elisabeth moves between he and Wash. She's wearing a like of annoyance – one that usually tells Jim that he's gone maybe a step or two too far.
"Yes. And she's sleeping. Now, please, go home."
"I think I'll stay," Taylor replies.
"I promise I'll stay out of the way."
"Fine," Elisabeth grunts. "Just one of you, though."
"Go on, Commander," Jim says. "I have a feeling my wife wants to have a word or two with me."
"Oh, yes," Elisabeth answers. "Perhaps even more than just one or two."
"Be gentle with him, Doc," Taylor chuckles.
She shoots him a glare, then turns and walks away, one hand tight around Jim's forearm. The moment they're gone, Taylor sits down in a chair, and scoots it slightly closer to Wash's bed. He considers reaching for her hand, but decides against it. No one knows. And being that she's going to be just fine, she'd lose her damned mind if their secret got outted over something so…small.
Small to her anyway.
Over the years, he's seen Wash hurt at less fifty times. Unconscious? Probably a dozen times. It never gets easier. Even if he believes in her, trusts her strength, it always rips at him to see her injured. Right now is no different.
And so he does what he always does, the only thing he can do. He sits by her side, and waits.
Waits for her to come back to him.
Waits for her to come home.
"So?" Taylor demands as he steps into Elisabeth Shannon's office, his military boots scuffing loudly against the floor. She's at her desk, plex in front of her, a massive cup of coffee in hand. She looks up at him and smiles slightly, tiredly, not looking the least bit surprised to see him.
"Good morning, Commander." It's just after oh-seven-hundred, and on a normal day, she'd have at least a few minutes of peace and quiet. Time to herself. Time to get ready for the inevitable craziness of the day ahead.
To assume that she'd get such time this morning had been pure folly, and she'd known it from the moment Jim had woken her up with a smile, a kiss and a quick (though not at all subtle), "Any news come in on Wash overnight?"
She's not one bit surprised by how geeked up the men are. For several weeks before the lieutenant's miraculous reappearance at Taylor's birthday party, Jim and Taylor had been suffering through her supposed death. Elisabeth, too, had felt the guilt and loss of Wash's presumed loss, but certainly not to the degree that her husband and the commander had.
Wash being alive feels like a death row reprieve, a second chance, an opportunity for a redemption that neither is completely sure they deserve.
That no one is quite sure what they've gotten back, well that's another matter entirely, and one that neither man seems all that interested in addressing.
But address it, they must.
What Lucas had done to Wash had been savage and cruel. He'd injected her with drugs that had damaged her body and mind, and turned her essentially into a soulless killer. And kill she had.
Taylor will forgive her (if he hasn't already) simply because deep down, Elisabeth suspects that even the Commander knew how his sons' life would have to end.
Exactly as it had, with bullets, screaming and blood.
It's no great stretch to assume that Wash won't be so generous with herself.
Even previously lacking the knowledge of the lieutenants' intimate relationship with the commander, Elisabeth has always known that Wash has always valued Taylor needs and desires above her own. In this case, she's certain to put the loss of his only son above the justification for it. In short, she'll take all of the guilt, responsibility and blame onto herself.
That is assuming she ever really remembers what had occurred.
Elisabeth finds herself hoping that Wash never does.
Not that that matters; the truth always comes out eventually. Always.
"How was her night?" Taylor asks, arms crossing over his chest.
"Uneventful. She slept most of it."
"Most of it?"
"She woke up around three in the morning with a cramp in her injured leg and a rather severe headache. Both were treated, and she's resting peacefully now."
"I see. What of the tests from yesterday? Are the results back yet?" He'd come back the previous evening with the same question, but Elisabeth had pushed him off, claiming that more time would be needed before answers could be supplied.
She can tell by his determined look that further delays will not be accepted.
She sighs. "Yes."
"There was brain damage." There's a cautious edge to her tone, like she's trying to not alarm Taylor with the new knowledge.
"Hard to say. The brain is tricky."
"Best and worst case scenarios, Doc."
"Best case, she has to relearn to do a few things, but with some physical therapy and time, makes a full recovery. Worst case, her memories never return to her, and she is unable to speak or walk."
He frowns at that. That's not just the worst-case scenario, it's unthinkable. To imagine Wash crippled and untethered to her past? Well, he simply can't. And perhaps that's selfish (there's no perhaps, he knows for a fact that it's selfish – he's lost so much in his life, he can't lose her, too), but his mind simply refuses to allow for the possibility of the worst-case scenario being Wash's future.
"I wish I could give you more definite answers, Commander, but we're just going to have to wait," Elisabeth says gently, standing up to come around to the front of the desk. She moves to stand right in front of him.
"Hurry up and wait," he mutters. "They tell you that in the military. All due respect, it was bullshit then, Doc, and it's bullshit now."
She just smiles at that.
"I want to see her."
"Of course," she nods.
He starts towards the private room where Wash is, his heartbeat increasing in tempo with every step.
"One of the tests I did was a…well in simple terms, a recognition one. I showed her pictures of people she should know or asked her if certain names meant anything to her. Things like that. Some were complete blanks to her, but I will say this, she reacted quite strongly to your name. Her heartbeat decreased. In my opinion, your name calmed her down immensely. She knows who you are, Commander. She may not have all of the memories attached to that knowledge, but she knows who you are. Of that, I am certain."
He steps past her and enters the room where Wash is soundly sleeping. Even bruised and beaten, she's beautiful to him.
That said, he's starting to get real sick of seeing her lying wounded in a bed.
Too damned many times over the years.
Though, he remembers with a small smile, not all of those times had been tragic or terrifying (certainly not like this time). One or two of them had actually even been fairly amusing once the immediate danger and worry had passed.
Ayani Taylor is absolutely furious with her (and him, too, he realizes with a degree of chagrin). Actually, that might be an understatement. The small woman with the large scowl covering her normally lovely features is somewhere beyond furious. Only thing is, the soldier lying on the bed – one Corporal Alicia Washington - has no idea of this because she's half unconscious, stripped to the waist, sweating up a storm, and bleeding from a small hole on her hip.
A goddamned bullet hole.
The corporal is here on leave, with Nathaniel. Apparently after a fairly nasty skirmish during a rescue op, a three-day holiday had been granted to the entire unit. Nathaniel had convinced Wash to come home with him – after all, better great cooking and a soft bed than a nasty hotel room and too much whiskey.
He hadn't bothered to mention the rather unsavory – in his opinion - men that she tends to take up with during these kinds of leaves. They're the kind of empty faces meant to help make the pain and loneliness of war and loss disappear in a flurry of touches and a tangle of sheets. He can't say as he's been there (he's been married since before the war) but he understands the desperation just the same, and knows that he wants better for his medic.
His dear friend.
He wants so much better for her.
He should have known something was not quite right when his normally hotheaded medic had agreed to his request to come home with him without a fight. Yes, she's quite fond of Ayani – the two women get along wonderfully, his wife taking on the role of almost protective older sister to the younger woman – but Wash is incredibly sensitive to the idea of intruding on the personal time of the married couple. She doesn't want to get between them or be a burden.
So when she'd simply said, "Sure," he'd been relieved and thankful to avoid the usual fight, but he shouldn't have been. Because his Wash is a stubborn woman, and she never gives in unless he makes it an order or wears her down (both of which he has done countless times, much to her annoyance).
Yeah, it'd simply been too easy, and he should have realized it. But he'd been tired, and sore, and assumed his oddly pale medic for the same. She'd been working for almost thirty-six hours straight on wounded soldiers in the field. He'd figured her for just worn to the bone.
He hadn't figured her for bloody well shot.
But shot she'd been.
Now, standing above her, he studies the wound. It's on her left side, just beneath one of her ribs. Wash would certainly call it just a scratch knowing her, but the truth is that the bullet had taken one hell of a chunk of her meat with it on its way past her. She'd either not noticed (having not even done so much as showered before getting into an air-taxi with Nathaniel – both of them preferring the hot water of an actual shower over the sonic beams of a dry one) or had assumed it to be of little consequence. Either way, she'd been wrong about the severity of it, and in short order, it'd become infected. By the time they'd reached Nathaniel's house, she'd been running a fever well over one hundred.
Which is why Ayani is now racing around the room, gathering medical supplies, and frantically – and quite angrily – tending to the Corporal.
"How did you not notice?" she demands of her husband as she kneels at Wash's side, and presses a cold wet cloth against the wound. The corporal – barely conscious or cognizant of her surroundings – moans in pain and tries to flinch away. Ayani gives her a gentle push back towards the bed to hold her down.
"It's been a long couple of days," Nathaniel admits as he steps closer. "But I should have. This is on me."
His soft words, and acceptance of responsibility is enough to calm her anger. At least in regards to him. He knows for certain that there will be hell to pay later for Wash once she's awake and in better health.
Yeah, he's pretty damn sure that Ayani is going to read Wash the riot act for this one. The well deserved riot act, in his opinion.
So stubborn, so unwilling to ever take care of herself.
The couple falls silent for the next ten minutes as Ayani cleans the wound, and then covers it. Finally, to her husband she says, "I need a new shirt. Hers is filthy. And covered in blood. I'm assuming not all of it hers."
"Probably not even most of it," he says sadly.
She turns to face her husband then. "How many?"
She moves away from Wash, steps into Nathaniel's' arms and pulls him close. He won't cry, that's not his way. But he will let her hold him. He's not too proud for that. Even he knows when he needs human contact, a simple gentle touch.
He knows when he needs his wife.
They stay like this for a few minutes before she pushes him back. "Shirt."
"Shouldn't we…shouldn't she…"
"Shower?" Ayani teases. It amuses her how squeamish her big strong husband can be at times – especially considering the very basic fact that he's likely seen the woman in the bed naked more than a few times. In co-ed warzones like the one Nathaniel and Wash are in, there's rarely much use for modesty between the sexes. Nudity is just a fact of life, and only the most immature of men or woman spare even a thought to it on a cold morning in the middle of the forest.
"Yes," he replies with a smile.
"Yes," she confirms. "That's why I want the clean clothes. Grab a pair of my sweats as well. And then help me get her up and under the water."
He gathers the clothes quickly, deposits them on the counter in the bathroom, and then moves to Ayani's side. Slowly, the two of them lift Wash and carry her into the bathroom, and then into the shower. Ayani strips the rest of Wash's mud and blood soaked clothes away, and then holds the half-conscious woman against her as the water sprays down against them.
In a different world, in a different life, this could be sensual or something oddly erotic even with – or maybe especially because of – her husband standing by to offer a hand as needed. Right now, though, this is all about helping a woman that she has come to love like family.
Ayani isn't a silly or naïve woman. She's aware that Wash has feelings for her husband that aren't quite platonic. She's also aware that there is a deep morality within Wash that most people could only dream of. The corporal is loyal to a fault, and would never cross any lines or do anything to hurt her or Nathaniel.
This Ayani knows and believes beyond question.
It's a strange thing really. Most women wouldn't want someone around who harbored feelings for their husband. Ayani isn't most women, and she doesn't believe that Alicia Washington is one either. Instead of threatened, Ayani finds herself touched by the loyalty the younger woman shows both she and her husband. Many people will say things like "I would die for you" – Ayani has no doubt in her mind that Wash would do exactly that for Nathaniel and everyone in his family. In a heartbeat, without hesitation, Wash would lay her life down.
It's terrifying to consider, but it oddly makes Ayani feels as loyal to Wash as the corporal feels to her. There's a bond between them, an unspoken understanding.
A deep friendship and respect.
Right now, there's also ice cold water.
And Wash is conscious again. Conscious and sputtering.
"What the hell?" she gasps. She thrashes an arm out, tries to push the couple away from her, but finds herself far too weak to even be slightly successful at it.
"You were injured," Ayani says simply. "We cleaned you up."
"Did you know, Lieutenant?" Nathaniel asks. He's backed off, is leaning against the door. When Wash looks to him, he meets her eyes, doesn't let his own travel.
"That you got shot?"
She frowns at that.
"I'll take that as a yes. Dammit, Corporal. What the hell were you thinking?"
"I was trying to take care of our men, Sir," she shoots back. Her tone is annoyed, but still somehow respectful. It's something only Wash can pull off.
"And yourself? What if you had just dropped dead? Would that have been a help to our men, Wash?"
"I was never that injured," she answers, still defiant. "I looked at it, it seemed like just a small scratch, I poured water over it and moved on."
"You poured water over it?" Ayani challenges, disbelief sparking in her beautiful eyes. She's much shorter than Wash, but the corporal has no doubt that the commanders' wife could take her down if she chose to. "You? One of the best medics in this damned military? You did something so unbelievably stupid?"
"I think that's a yes, dear," Nathaniel says with a slight hint of amusement in his deep voice. There's a sparkle to his eyes. He's no longer worried about his young medic. Now, he's just playing with his food.
Wash grimaces. She hates when these two gang up on her. It's a bit weird this strange relationship she's been brought into. A little awkward and odd.
Because Ayani knows.
She knows, and still wants Wash around.
"Yes," Wash grits out.
"Stupid, Corporal," Nathaniel admonishes. "Really dumb. I expect better of you."
"Yes, sir." She meets his eyes, refuses to flinch away. It makes the bastard grin.
"All right, that's enough, you two," Ayani says. "No more power plays. Alicia is getting back into bed."
Before Nathaniel can make it an order, his wife does. "I don't think I was asking you, Corporal."
"I like the sound of that." Ayani says. Funny thing is, she normally doesn't. Typically, she can't stand when Wash calls her ma'am. But right now, it it means the corporal gets so much needed rest, she'll accept it. "Now get dressed and into bed. Now."
Wash reluctantly nods. She pulls on the offered clothes, and then, stubbornly refusing the hand offered, she makes her way towards the bed.
And then stops.
"Guest room is made up?"
"It is. And Nathaniel and I will be there."
Wash can't help but let out a small growl at that. It's the last of her protests, though. She knows when she's beat. She hates to admit it, but as tired and sore as she is, she hasn't the strength to take on both of the Taylors.
And so, she simply waves the white flag.
She crawls into the bed, wincing slightly as she does. A moment later, the lights go off and she's alone.
At least she thinks she is.
She doesn't know that both Nathaniel and Ayani take turns checking on her throughout the night.
He's sitting next to her bed when her dark eyes open. For a moment, she's confused and disorientated – and perhaps even a bit frightened. She sits up in the bed, eyes wide, like she can't figure out where the hell she is.
Or how she got here.
"Wash," she hears. The deep voice, rumbling and calming.
Her heartbeat slows.
She turns and sees the man from the day before – Nathaniel – watching her. His blue eyes are full of concern and somehow she knows that she hates that.
She opens her mouth to speak, but the words still won't come.
She tries again and then shakes her head in frustration.
"Easy, Wash," he says to her. "It's going to take some time."
She snaps her fingers (the unbroken ones) and motions for the plex. He hands it to her and watches as she writes, "Don't humor me."
"Wouldn't dream of it," he tells her, his mouth lifting up into what appears to be the beginning of a smile. "But the doc is right, you were hurt. You need to heal."
"What happened to me?" she writes on the plex.
"It's a long story, Wash, and not one for today."
She shakes her head at that.
It takes him a moment to realize that she hadn't written the words, but rather said them allowed. Her voice is throaty and cracked, and her words are more stuttered than said, but they'd come from her mouth just the same.
"Well look at that, turns out all I have to do is piss you off to get you talking again," he chuckles.
By the icy glare she sends his way, it's clear that she's not nearly as amused as he is. Well, too bad, because his amusement is at least somewhat based on the fact that this woman – the one rock left in his left – refuses to go out.
She refuses to die.
Selfishly, desperately, he likes to think that she refuses to leave him.
"Tell me," she says again.
He leans in towards her, "Not yet, Wash. But soon, I promise. You get yourself up and out of that bed, and you come back to me, and I promise you, I will tell you everything you want to know. I promise."
"I….I'm….holding….holding you to that," she finally manages, seeming even more frustrated by how long it takes her to get the words out.
"I damn well expect you to."
And he does. Come hell or high-water, he's going to make this right with her. He's going to start over with her, let her know how much she means to him.
But it all starts with her.
They can't start anew until she remembers where they've been and what they've been through. They can't start over until she forgives him.