Disclaimer: I own nothing but the dialogue, the OC's, and Harrison's right hook.
Author's Note: So I realize that it's been almost a year since I last updated this fic. The sad truth is that I have no good excuse other than being at the mercy of my muse. Where it goes, my writing follows. And for the past ten months that has been everywhere but Terra Nova. But at long last it has returned and there are now several more chapters in my sights. I do apologize for the unintentional and rather unacceptable hiatus. I shall try to get the next few chapters up as quickly as possible to try and make it up to you. Please know that I do have every intention of finishing this story, although there may be other long breaks before I get there. But for now I'm back. To all the newcomers to this fic, welcome aboard. And to everyone who has spent the last year waiting, thank-you for your patience and your commitment to this story. I hope you enjoy this chapter and the ones to come. :)
Blame It on the Alcohol
She's just turned twenty-three the first time he sees her drunk. Well, technically she isn't drunk. But that's what they tell everyone afterwards. It makes the ensuing events a little more acceptable.
The whole team has gone out to a bar to celebrate her birthday as well as the fact that she'll be rejoining them in the field when they ship out next week. She passed her final psych eval and now she's back on active duty. It's definitely cause for celebration.
They've been there about two hours when everybody starts slowing down. Wash is usually pretty good with her alcohol, but tonight she just keeps going. Taylor isn't sure if he's the only one seeing it or if everyone else is just choosing not to comment because of everything she's been through. But by the end of hour three he's pretty sure she's well on her way to drunk. It's a bit interesting, really. Taylor's been with these people long enough to see each of them get a little tipsy. Collins gets in a really good mood and starts laughing at things that aren't funny. Hammond gets so jittery he can't sit still. Beckman just gets dizzy and eventually passes out. Jenkins hasn't hit his limit in years, but Taylor can still remember when they were young soldiers and he got so drunk he stood on a table and started singing. Now Reese is the singer. Although after his first embarrassing concert a few years back he's been pretty careful about how much he drinks. Wash, on the other hand, is just quiet and tense. So much so that Taylor begins to think that she might eventually explode.
He's about to suggest they head home when some drunk idiot comes stumbling over to their table. The dimwit's eyes land on Wash and he lets out a whistle. Taylor's hand tightens around his beer. This is not going to end well.
"Look a' choo," the man slurs. He leans against the table, the smell of alcohol coming off of him in waves. "You come here offen?"
Wash is making a clear point of looking into her beer instead of at him, but Taylor can see her jaw clench. Harrison is the closest to her and he immediately bristles.
"Leave her alone," he says threateningly. Somewhere along the way, the former rich boy has appointed himself Wash's unofficial older brother. And that means that, while he may tease her to no end, he'll also knock the lights out of anyone else who so much as looks at her funny. Taylor almost feels sorry for the poor idiot in front of him. He has absolutely no idea who he's messing with.
"I wazzun talkin ta yoo," the drunk says. He turns so his back is to Harrison so he can focus on Wash. He points his finger in her general direction, but the alcohol is making him unsteady. "Now you... You're preddy."
"He said, leave her alone," Reese says. His voice is cold as ice. The entire unit is tense now, ready for a fight.
"I suggest you get out of here," Jenkins adds calmly. Anyone who knows him at all knows that a voice that calm is deadly. The drunk, however, has no idea.
"Eezy," the drunk slurs. "I jus wanna have sum fun. Right, sweetheart?"
He leans forward like he's going to kiss Wash. Harrison moves to grab him, probably intending to beat him to a pulp, but before he gets there the drunk's hand lands on Wash's shoulder. That's all it takes for something inside of her to finally snap. She's out of her chair before any of them can react, a swift kick throwing the man off balance. In the time it takes to blink Wash is behind him with her left arm wrapping under his and coming back up to grab him by the hair. Her right hand has a knife pressed against his throat.
"Wash!" Taylor calls. The entire unit is on their feet, but they're all frozen now. Wash meets Taylor's eyes and for a moment he sees a flicker of confusion. Then he understands. She wasn't trying to hurt the man. She was just reacting against what her tortured subconscious perceived as a threat.
"Whoa," the drunk stammers. His eyes are wide as his clouded brain finally registers the situation he has landed himself in. "Eezy. It wuz jus a joke."
"Let him go," Taylor says firmly. Wash's eyes flicker from him to the man she's holding and then back. For a fraction of a second he isn't sure she'll listen. But then she steps away, her hands held up in the air to show him she means no harm. The drunk staggers and clutches at his throat.
"You coulda killed meh," he slurs. There's something resembling fear in his eyes. Wash looks at Taylor for a moment, an entire silent conversation passing between them. Then she turns and walks rapidly out of the bar.
"She's crayzee," the drunk man says. Without a word, Harrison curls his hand into a fist and slams it right into the man's face. He falls backward, straight as a board. He's unconscious before he even hits the floor.
"Sorry about that, Colonel," Harrison says as he turns back around. "I just couldn't help myself." It's obvious he doesn't regret it one bit.
"I didn't see a thing," Taylor says calmly. Harrison grins in site of himself.
"I'll get the tab," Jenkins tells Taylor. "You go ahead."
"Thanks," Taylor says. He pushes back his chair and gets to his feet.
"Colonel?" Beckman says. "Go easy on her. He deserved it."
"I'd say he deserved a lot more," Reese mutters. The others all nod in agreement. It makes Taylor's heart swell with pride that his people are so protective of each other. That bond had kept them alive on more than one occasion. But Wash has caused a breach of discipline, so he forces himself to keep his commanding officer face on.
"I'll keep that in mind," he says. He turns to go, but then he turns back, unable to resist. "Harrison? If that piece of trash wakes up before you leave, you hit him again for me."
Harrison grins and gives him a smart salute.
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
Wash is in the kitchen when he gets back to the apartment. Her hair is wet and she's drying her face with a towel. She probably stuck her head in the sink and ran ice-cold water on herself in any effort to shake off any aftereffects of the alcohol. She swallows hard when she sees Taylor. Thankfully the rest of the apartment is empty. Ayani has taken Lucas to a science exhibit in town and they aren't back yet. Taylor has a feeling Wash won't want them to know about the incident at the bar.
"Sir," she says awkwardly.
"Wash," he says. He crosses his arms and just stands there, waiting. For a moment there is complete silence in the kitchen. Then Wash straightens and takes a deep breath.
"I apologize, sir," she says. She's in full military mode now. "My behavior was unacceptable and I am prepared to accept the consequences of my actions."
"I'll make you a deal," Taylor says. "You promise me you won't try to kill the next person who touches you and I'll agree to just blame tonight's incident on the alcohol."
Wash is silent a moment, turning over his words in her head to be sure he means them. Which he does. They both know it was an unacceptable display, but he knows Wash enough to know that she's beating herself up internally far more than he ever could. Besides, she's admitted to Ayani that she's nervous about going back into the field again. He's been expecting the combination of nerves and fading PTSD to cause an explosion at some point. In all honesty, he's surprised it wasn't bigger.
"Thank-you, sir," Wash says finally. Taylor just nods.
"I wouldn't worry too much about the drunk," he adds. "I doubt he'll remember any of it in the morning anyway. In, fact he may not even remember his own name."
"Sir?" Wash asks, obviously confused.
"Let's just say Harrison has a mean right hook," Taylor says simply. For a moment Wash just stares at him. Then a twinkle enters her eyes.
"Good hit?" she asks.
"Square in the face," Taylor says. "He dropped like a rock. Out before he even hit the floor." The corner of Wash's mouth tugs up. Taylor knows he's supposed to be getting on to her, but that almost-grin warms his heart and suddenly all he wants to do is keep it there.
"Besides," he says. "As far as drunken displays go, I've seen far worse."
"Really?" Wash asks curiously. She crosses her arms across her chest and leans back against the counter. Taylor does the same.
"Yup," he says, getting comfortable. His comrades are going to hate him for this, but the look on Wash's face makes it all worth it. "Have you ever heard Jenkins sing?"
This time Wash's grin is a full one.
I'm already working hard on the next few chapters, so hopefully they won't be long in coming. How about you pass the time by leaving me a review? Rants on my unaccaptable leave of absence are also accepted. As my prof says: "Questions? Comments? Snide remarks?"