Disclaimer: Sadly I do not own Terra Nova. If I did a certain character would still be very much alive.
Author's Note: This fic is inspired by the look in Wash's eyes during her last few scenes. I feel like there was so much going through her head that needed to be said. I also created a backstory for her because I think a character as important as she is deserves to have one. This piece if very bittersweet, but I hope you guys enjoy it. Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone! :D
Worth Dying For
Jim has been gone less than fifteen minutes when Skye comes running back with the news of his arrest. Wash takes charge immediately, a plan already forming in her mind. Their group has been slowly gathering explosives that they originally intended to use for a mass breakout. Now they will instead be using the few they have to buy time for the Shannons to escape. By the time they work out all the logistics and radio Taylor's camp Skye is already busy securing Josh's release and Elizabeth has a plan set to get Jim out. After asking her to wait thirty minutes so the others can place the explosives, Wash heads for the bar.
Getting the mercenaries drunk is easy. Boylan has always been a bit of a wild card with no one ever really sure what side he's actually on, but underneath it all he really does care about Terra Nova. In particular he cares about Josh Shannon. And considering that he just watched a group of Phoenix guards beat the crap out of the young man who has become something of a nephew to him, the bar owner is more than willing to help Wash. Several rounds of free drinks in honor of somebody's obscure accomplishment is enough to distract them all. And for somebody with Wash's skills, stealing an access card and controller off a drunk mercenary really is like taking candy from a baby.
A small distraction from Durwin's seemingly broken chair (that man really is an impeccable actor) buys Wash the time she needs to slip into a technical station and shut down the chosen section of the perimeter grid. By the time she gets back outside alarms have already begun to sound. They've realized Jim is missing. Time is up.
Wash sneaks through the maze of mercenaries and searchlights, the controller safe in her pocket. The path to the chosen exit point is a short one. She ducks behind a container and sees the Shannon family huddled together in the shadows. Maddy lets out a barely-audible sigh of relief when they realize it's her. She crouches down beside them, trying to slow her slamming heart.
"Wash." Elizabeth's voice is relieved. "You made it."
"Okay," Wash says, looking over her shoulder and taking a second to catch her breath. She pulls the controller out of her pocket. "Durham was right about the new perimeter grid. I disabled it with this controller. We got five minutes until they realize that this section is down."
"Where'd you get your hands on that?" Jim asks, interrupting her military-style briefing.
"Swiped it off a very drunk guard at Boylan's," Wash admits. She tries to say it and move on, but she knows Jim will see the danger in what she's just done.
"He's not gonna stay drunk forever," the former cop points out. "Once they trace that back to you, they'll know you helped us escape. You gotta come with us."
Wash is already looking over his shoulder and around the container's edge at the fence. She's run the scenario through her head a hundred times already, but she runs it again anyway. The result is still exactly the same. They'll never make it. Not with the guard towers still operational. Not unless someone distracts them.
"It's a hundred yards," she says. She looks over at the rest of his family and the worry and fear on Maddy and Zoe's faces gives her the strength she needs. "You'll never make it to the tree line unless someone distracts those guards."
"Wash," Jim says, his voice hard, "the plan was for you to come with us." Wash shakes her head.
"There's no other way," she says. They both know it's true. Without a distraction the guards will see and they'll all get caught. True, she could always let someone else trigger the explosives. But Taylor has taught her that a true leader is one who enters the line of fire first, who puts the lives of his men above his own. Besides, Wash has nothing left to lose. These men have taken her position, her pride, and her home. Her life is all she has left. But Jim has a family. Her eyes silently beg him to think of them and the lives they deserve to have.
She can feel all three children holding their breath. Elizabeth says nothing, and Wash knows she understands. After Terra Nova fell Elizabeth Shannon became the backbone of the resistance. She was their fire, the one who gave them the strength to keep going. But she's also a mother, and that means her family comes first. Jim, on the other hand, is torn between protecting his family and defending the colony. Wash knows him, knows that if he was in peak condition he would send his family on ahead and stay here to help her buy time. But she also knows what it's like to lose a father to war, and she is not about to let his children pay that price.
"You go," she tells him, her voice firm, "and you save your family."
Jim closes his eyes and Wash knows she's won. She looks back over her shoulder at the patrolling guards. By now they will have discovered that the Shannon house is empty. They don't have much time left.
"Give Taylor a message for me, would you?" she asks, turning back. There are so many things she wants to tell the man who has become her mentor, her closest friend, her surrogate father. She wants to tell him how grateful she is that he picked her out of all the other fresh soldiers all those years ago. She wants to tell him that no matter what they've been through there hasn't been a single day she's regretted it. She wants to be sure he knows that she's going down fighting just like he taught her. She wants to look in his eyes one more time and know that she made him proud, to see the heartfelt affection that he reserves only for her. But there isn't time for any of that. So instead she pushes down her own emotions and gives him the words that could save the colony.
"Remind him about Chewlacham," she says.
"Chewlacham?" Jim is fighting back his own emotion, trying to stay strong for his family. "I don't... I don't know what that is."
"He'll understand," she assures him. And he will. Not just about the portal either. He'll understand all of the things she doesn't have the time or the words to say. He'll understand that she gave her last breath to defend the place that has become his life, to save a family who can help save him. He'll understand. And he'll be proud. That thought gives her the strength to stand her ground even though everything in her is screaming to go with them. She has to stay here. She has to make this right. Jim may think it isn't her fault that Terra Nova fell, but whether it was or it wasn't Taylor left the colony in her care and she let him down. This is her chance to make it right, to make him proud one last time.
Jim doesn't say anything, but the look in his eyes says it all. They both know this is the last time they'll see each other. They've been through a lot together, the two of them. Sixer attacks, spy hunts, being trapped OTG. The time a pack of slashers flipped their rover and trapped them both inside. Somehow they always made it out alive. They have a lot of respect for each other, she and Jim. They share a unique bond that only forms between people who have taken up arms together for the same cause. If they had more time now they would probably shake hands. He would tell her to be careful and she would tell him to take care of Taylor. But his children are there and time is running out, so their eyes have to say what their mouths don't have time to.
Wash takes a deep breath, getting herself together.
"Now," she says, turning back to the Shannon family. In particular her eyes fall on the children, silently urging them to be strong. "You get ready to run like hell."
"How will we know when?" Elizabeth asks.
"You'll know," Wash says. Casey Durwin and the others have spent days stealing and jury rigging the explosives that should be in place by now. All Wash has to do is pull the trigger in her pocket. She only hopes the explosion is big enough.
Elizabeth's hand finds her arm and gives it a squeeze.
"Thank-you," she says. There is so much meaning hidden in those two words, but chief among them is Thank-you for what you're about to give for my family. Wash has to take a deep breath to clear the lump that has suddenly risen in her throat. She and Elizabeth could have been good friends under different circumstances. Now she wishes they'd had the time to be.
"Wash," Jim says, his voice pleading. His eyes say he knows he can't dissuade her, but he has to try anyway simply because that's who he is. Wash almost caves at the pain in his eyes. She tightens her hands into fists, her nails digging into her hands. She has to stay. She has to do this. She has to make it right. She has to make sure his children don't grow up fatherless, that they get to have the childhood she never had growing up an orphan on the inner-city streets. She has to make sure that they learn to shoot with their father's gun as his hands steady theirs instead of using a stolen weapon to fight off a gang trying to steal the only piece of food she's gotten all day. She has to make sure they have the family that was taken from her. This is the only way to make that happen.
She gives Jim a small sad smile, the only good-bye she can allow herself for fear that anything else will lead to her going with them. Then she's on her feet. She darts in between the containers, dodging searchlights as she goes. It takes her less than a minute to make it to the shadow of the nearest house and run around its edge. Crouching in the bushes just out of sight of the guards she pulls the trigger out of her pocket. She takes a deep breath to steady her hand that has suddenly begun to shake. She's never really believed in God, but as is always the case when she's in a desperate situation she finds herself praying. Please, let this work. Please just let them make it.
She pulls the trigger and the command center goes up in flames.
A fiery inferno rockets toward the sky. Suddenly all the searchlights are turned toward the smoldering remains of the building. Guards are shouting orders and running in all directions. Wash counts to ten and then she bolts from the bush, running for all she's worth.
Wash has never really believed in all this second chance bull the citizens of Terra Nova tend to carry on about. Life is what it is. You can either play the hand you've been dealt or you can fold. Alicia Washington was one of the many to whom fate had dealt a particularly harsh hand. She was five years old the last time she saw her father. It was nine months later, just after Christmas, that they learned he was dead. His dog tags are the only thing she has left of him, and they still hang around her neck to this day. Her mother caught a deadly disease and died less than a year later leaving a six-year-old Wash to fend for herself. She fell in with a gang at first. They used her to beg because the younger the child the more people gave. She broke from them when she was nine and struck out on her own. She learned quickly and could already more than hold her own thanks to an older boy in the gang, and those two things kept her alive. Life was rough, but she managed. She was eleven years old when the recruiters took her to the Academy after she broke a cop's arm and evaded another for fifteen minutes flat.
The Academy was strict and brutal. Only the strongest survived. Thankfully Wash was among them. She started receiving extra medical training at the age of fifteen after an officer noticed her resourcefulness, and at eighteen years of age she graduated the Academy at the top of her class. One month later Nathaniel Taylor chose her out of three entire classes to join his recon team as a field medic. She never did understand what he saw in her that day, but she never stopped being grateful that he did. It was with Taylor's team that Wash finally found a family. The original group dissolved through the years as various members got promoted or reassigned or quit or, as was usually the case, died. But through it all Taylor made a point of holding on to Wash. Over the years they developed something that might have been described as friendship. Taylor became to Wash the father that had been taken from her, the role model the streets had never given her, and the mentor she had never quite been able to find at the Academy. He helped her to find herself again, to regain her faith in the human race. He had trusted her unreservedly, and she in turn had given him her complete and utter loyalty.
It was Taylor who had shown her that being in the army was more than just a job, that some things really are worth fighting for. He had shown her what it meant to really truly believe in something. She never forgot the day they sat together in a helicopter being medevaced to safety after Taylor got his side blown open rushing into the thick of a firefight to buy his men time to retreat. As she stitched his side closed Wash had angrily demanded to know what the hell he had been thinking.
"Any fool can fight for a thing, Wash," he had said seriously. "It's the man who dies for something that truly believes in it."
Those words stuck with her in the years that followed. Wash had never believed in anything growing up. Survival was all that mattered. But Taylor had showed her another way. Through the years she has come to believe in Nathaniel Taylor with all her heart, and he believes in Terra Nova with all of his. And she'll be damned if she lets it fall on her watch.
So Wash runs. She runs for the Shannon family and the way they hold this place together. She runs for Mark, the little brother she never got to have. She runs for Leah Marcos, who was forced to grow up far too fast and deserves to have a second chance at childhood. She runs for Skye, who loves this place enough to save it even as she was forced to betray it. That girl will make a damned good leader someday. She runs for Casey Durwin, who, despite his seemingly rough exterior, would be the first to take up arms in defense of Terra Nova. She runs for Reilly, who is capable of so much more than she knows. She runs for Malcolm, the arrogant scientist who really does have a backbone after all. She runs for little baby Alexander Duncan and the hope that maybe he can live his entire life without ever having to wear a rebreather, that he'll never know what it's like to look up at a night sky so full of smog that he can't see the stars. She runs for the family that she has found here, for the hope that they have given her. But most of all she runs for Taylor, the man who has saved her in every way imaginable. She runs for his dream. She runs for Terra Nova.
She doesn't make it far. Guards are everywhere and it's only a matter of time before one of them catches her. He crashes into her from behind and she hits the ground, crying out as he twists her arm. She jerks it out of his grasp and sends her elbow into his face. She leaps to her feet as he hits thr ground, but another one is on her before she can even straighten her legs.
"I've got her!" he yells.
Wash brings her knees up hard between his legs and he stumbles, but another mercenary has already caught her from behind. Together they get her arms in a grip she can't break no matter how she struggles.
It doesn't matter how much she fights. They're too strong. But she struggles anyway because this is her home, damn it, and she is not going down without a fight. She has to buy Jim enough time to get his family out. She has to be sure Taylor gets her message.
They cuff her hands and drag her to the plaza where Lucas Taylor is calmly waiting.
"Let's go," the guard says, jerking her roughly. "Move!"
Lucas motions to a place on the ground and they shove her to their knees. She shakes her hair out of her face and keeps her back straight as she looks defiantly up at Lucas. That's another thing Taylor taught her. People can do whatever they want to her body, but they can never beat her so long as she refuses to let them break her spirit.
"You helped the Shannons escape," Lucas says calmly. "Where are they?" Wash looks away, determination written across her face. Lucas tries again. "Tell me which way they went, and I might let you live."
Part of her wants to fight back, to grab his gun and try to blast her way out of here. She wants to spit at his feet and tell him to go to hell. But she also knows that's what he wants, so instead she pushes herself to her feet, defying him in the only way she has left. She meets his eyes and firmly shuts her mouth. She won't tell him anything. Once in Somalia she was taken hostage and tortured by guerilla fighters who were masters at the art of extracting information. She screamed and cursed and even cried, and it took her three months in recovery before she was even physically capable of returning to the battlefield, but she never told them anything. And if they couldn't break her, Lucas Taylor doesn't stand a chance.
The problem is that Lucas seems to know that. He sighs in exasperation and turns around. Wash holds her breath, still praying to a god she doesn't really believe in. Please just let them make it. Then Lucas turns back around, draws his gun, and points it at her head.
"You have three seconds before I shoot," he says, completely serious.
Wash has faced death more times than she can count, but this time it's different. This time there is no rush of adrenaline preparing her body to fight. There is no chilling clarity as her mind rushes through a multitude of calculations and strategies while it creates a plan of escape. There is only the sudden certainty that this time she really is going to die here.
Somehow that thought gives her peace. If this is the end, then so be it. She raises her chin defiantly and keeps her eyes on Lucas Taylor's face. If he's going to shoot her, he's going to have to look her in the eyes as he does it. She's not afraid to die. She never has been. What's always scared her is that her life will be a waste, that she'll live and die and no one will even notice. But she knows now that isn't going to happen. Her death will buy the Shannons the time they need to escape. Jim will give Taylor her message, and he in turn will blow the portal. It'll take time and blood, but eventually the colony will be safe. Wash may not believe in all this starting over crap, but she does believe in the people of Terra Nova. And a person who truly believes in something is more than willing to die for it.
"One," Lucas says slowly.
He really expects her to give in, to tell him what he wants to hear in an effort to save her own life. He doesn't seem to realize that she's not the coward he is. She won't betray others to save herself. His father taught her that. Strange that his own son completely missed it.
Wash swallows, her eyes on the gun. She can feel them burning as she suddenly thinks of all the things she'll never get to see. She won't be there to see Mark and Maddy get married. She won't see Skye become a doctor. She won't be there watching Casey learn to walk after Malcolm finally finds a way to make him a pair of working prosthetic legs. She won't be there to listen as Alexander's mother tells them all about his first word. She won't see the proud look on Leah Marcos' face ten years from now as she's sworn in to the Terra Nova military. But somehow she knows in her heart that they'll all remember her for as long as they live. And in the end that's really all she ever wanted. To know that someone out there cares enough to remember her.
And then suddenly all she can think of is little Zoe Shannon with her bright eyes that find magic in everything and her big smile that can light up a room. She remembers Zoe playing Commander Taylor in Maddy's play and the proud look on her face when she lit her first fire in survival training. Zoe is the same age Wash was when she lost her parents, and that thought makes Wash stand straighter even as tears fill her eyes. There's an innocence to Zoe that Wash was never allowed to have growing up, and if she can buy Zoe just a little more time with it, if she can keep the wonder in those eyes for just a little longer, if she can give her a chance at the life she was denied, then to Wash it will all be more than worth it.
Lucas is still waiting for her to cave. Or maybe he's stalling, waiting for his father to come running in and try to save her. But Wash knows he won't. Jim won't let him. As much as he needs her, the colony needs him more. She knows in her heart that he'll choose them over her, just as he chose Lucas over Ayani. She doesn't blame him for it. It's the right choice, and they both know it. A thousand lives are much more valuable than one, and Nathaniel Taylor is the only person capable of saving all of them.
As Wash waits for Lucas to pull the trigger she sees something that causes a lump to form in her throat. Everyone always says that Lucas looks like Ayani, and they're right. He has always been his mother's son in every way. He even had her heart up until the Somalians killed her right in front of him. But no one ever mentions his eyes. As Wash looks at him, really looks, she realizes that she recognizes those eyes. They belong to Nathaniel Taylor.
That thought gives her the strength to make it through what she knows is her last moment on this earth. And for the first time in her entire life, Alicia Washington is at peace.
"You know, you have your father's eyes," she says softly.
She never feels the blast. She hears the gun click and then everything goes dark. Her last thought before the blackness closes in is that she's glad she got to see those eyes one last time.
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