Title: On The Corner Of First And Amistad
Disclaimer: I own nothing. The title is borrowed from the song "You Found Me" by The Fray
Fandom: Terra Nova
Characters / Pairing: Ensemble cast
Spoilers: Spoilers for Season 1, particularly the episodes "Occupation" and "Resistance"
Summary: In the end, they all find something, the ones who knew they were searching and the ones that didn't; in the end, they're all found, too. Ten ways nine people remember one incredible woman.
Word Count: 3,658
Author's Note: I started this right after the finale and it's taken me much longer to complete than I'd intended. I wanted to focus on the ways in which the characters, some you might immediately think of and some you might not, remember Wash after she's gone. Also, while Taylor is one of the characters in this story and does have a separate "section" for himself, I didn't want to focus on him too much. I'm certain many others will flesh out the relationship between Wash and Taylor much better and in ways that I can't, and I wanted to stay true to the idea I had of focusing on other characters that people may not immediately consider with regards to the impact of Wash's death.
On another note, the way I formatted the overall work was based on the song from which the title come:, "You Found Me". I wanted to have each character find something or someone, and make a connection that again may not have been the one you would think they'd make. At the end of each "section", each character interacts with another, and then the story moves into that characters "section".
On The Corner Of First And Amistad
The silence that follows the sound that shatters his carefully composed world is impossibly, painfully, utterly deafening.
It's shock that steals the breath from his lungs. It's shock that weighs his arms down, makes them grow heavy and fall from his eyes. It's shock that slackens his fingers, loosens and unwinds their grip around the night vision binoculars that slip to the ground with a dull, lifeless thunk. It's shock that weakens his knees, propels him forward until the metal of the hood before him groans with the force of holding him upright. And it's shock that keeps him there, frozen and feeble, for a moment longer than it should.
It's shock, he thinks, barely able to think at all, because there is no time for grief.
"Taylor!" he hears at last, the third or fourth time it's been called. The urgency of it knocks him out of his reverie, out of his shock, and he looks to the man standing at his side, a place where a slightly shorter woman should have stood, and will never stand again.
Jim's hand finds its purchase on his shoulder, squeezes, stays a moment too long; and then they're moving, climbing into the Rhino with the rest of the Shannons and barreling toward the direction of their makeshift camp, off to finish the job she'd started.
In his former life, in his previous occupation, he'd been no stranger to loss, to seeing good, brave men in the line of duty, taken away suddenly, unfairly, without rhyme or reason or reconciliation. They'd told him there was nothing he could have done, that it wasn't his fault, again and again; they tell him the same now, again and again.
He never wants to hear it; never wants to hear it again.
Something about this time, this loss, he knows, is inescapably, relentlessly different. Maybe it's because he knows, if he'd tried, if he'd had more time, that he could have found another way where she'd said there'd been none. Maybe it's because he let her walk away, didn't reach out and into the space between them to stop her. He has no answers, and so Jim retraces his steps, views and reviews, and tries to figure out where it all went wrong.
He visits the place where she'd told him to go, to save his family, one hundred yards between life and death, and combs his fingers through the dirt where she'd sat in the dark; he echoes a sigh, the sound of her name, a thousand unspoken words in between, and all of them and none of them sound like goodbye.
He stands at the table where they'd planned a plan that wasn't the plan – and the plan, his plan, was for her to come with them, always – sees her face among the charts and facts and figures that he sends spinning and spiraling to the floor in a flurry of paper and glass. The sound he hears when it all comes crashing down is nothing, he thinks, next to the sound he'd heard when it'd all come crashing down.
He walks, waxes weary and wanes worn, until his feet lead him to the bar. There are no answers here, only ghosts, grief, and guilt.
He sits down at last in the spot where he'd told her she'd looked like someone that was punishing herself for doing what she had to do to save innocent lives, and knows, right now, that he looks about the same.
He's still sitting here when Boylan finds him. They aren't friends, not even close - there are no pep talks, no platitudes, no condolences; he doesn't say anything, but the glass he holds in his outstretched hand says enough, and the amber liquid burns, all the way down.
His bar, Boylan thinks, has never been more somber, full of friends and family drowning the pain of loved ones lost in the bottoms of empty glasses. More than the way it's full, he can't help but notice, is the way it's glaringly, achingly not.
He knows he's not the only one that's seeing vacant chairs, and for this, rounds are on the house tonight.
He's heading back from getting a solitary lieutenant a refill when he passes a table of four or five soldiers. They're young men, probably privates; back in 2149 he'd have wondered if they were old enough to be in a bar, but he's not one to deprive a man in uniform of a good, cold beer. They're slumped in their seats, huddled around the round surface between them when he hears the solemn toast, the soft clinks that follow.
She was a good soldier, better than good, they'll get no argument from him there, no sir. He was a military man, many, many moons ago, knew the job, the sacrifice, the handwritten letters, the long days and the cold nights, and the overwhelming sense of purpose, in and out, forwards and backwards. Some days, days when she poked and prodded at his business and in his bar, he may not have liked her, but, every day, she damn well had his respect.
Even if she didn't know it.
She has even more of it now, if he's honest with himself, the way she went out, saving lives. He fixes himself a drink, something stronger than it should be, and walks back to the group.
"Gents," he addresses the table, and the whole place dims and quiets in the wake of his booming voice, echoing in more than one empty space. He raises a half drained bottle a fraction above his head, holds it there, pauses, lets the moment and the weight of it linger. "To a hell of a woman."
His eyes find Mark Reynolds then, sitting in the back of his bar, and he watches as he lifts his glass in the air and then to his lips, smiles a sad, soft smile for a woman who was more than just a woman, and drinks.
They don't touch her house; they won't touch it for weeks, months maybe, but for now her locker needs to be cleared, the personal items within sorted through and stored. No one's asking the Commander, and so the task falls to Mark.
There isn't much there – a few pictures, some of her hugging a man and a woman, one with whom she has the same eyes, the other the same nose; more of her and her unit in uniform. There's a particularly worn black and white snapshot of her and Taylor that he takes great care to unfold and smooth over the creases until it lays flat. There's a deck of cards and a pair of sunglasses next to the modest stack of prayer cards she'd brought from the future, most bearing the names of fallen comrades. A rare bar of chocolate, an extra t-shirt and a Swiss army knife round up the objects he carefully places into a box, her name printed on the front in thick black ink.
He sets aside a picture of her parents before he twists the flaps of cardboard shut; later he'll slip it beneath her fingers before they seal another, much bigger box, and thinks, knows, that she'd have done the same for him.
He's tired, drained, limbs and heart heavy when he sees something, something reflecting the light back at him from where it hangs. He grabs the thin chain, pulls it out, and almost lets it fall from his hands when he realizes the dog tags for what they are.
They aren't hers, he thinks, knows that she would have been wearing them when – he stops – knows she would have been wearing them, knows that one will stay with her while the other goes to Taylor. They are hers and they aren't, he sees, as his fingers trace the "A", the "L", the "I", the "C", and the "A", and he glances down at the rank.
Corporal. Like him.
With fingers that tremble more than they should, he lifts them over his head, places them around his neck, under his shirt and close to his heart, and when they clink against his own, a warm, tinkling sound, he thinks it sounds something like the way she used to laugh.
He thinks she would have wanted him to have this small piece of her.
It's the last place he looks, but Josh eventually finds him in the barracks, one hand easing the door of her locker shut for the final time, the other clutched around double strands of metal chains, and asks him for a favor.
He doesn't know why he expects it to rain the day they bury her, but it doesn't; instead, a brilliant blue paints itself across the sky, the sun blazes from where it hangs, like a harsh truth, above his head, and his eyes burn in more ways than one against the bright light.
Somehow, Josh thinks, she wouldn't have settled for anything less.
By the time he steps into the makeshift morgue playing house in the infirmary, they've already finished prepping – and he can't, can't bring himself to think those two words, so he doesn't, replaces them with a "her" in his head – and the cargo container that serves as a casket's been sealed. It's better this way, he thinks, that he doesn't see her now, that his last memory of her should be her brave, defiant face as she'd faced her own fate.
His thoughts don't have long to wander beyond that. It's time.
The nod he gives Mark as he circles around to the other side of the casket is small, a barely there tilt of the chin that speaks volumes of gratitude, and together the six of them, five soldiers and a boy that owes his everything to this woman, carry the box in which she'll lie forever on their shoulders. It's a heavy weight, but it doesn't compare to another, more serious weight that he also refuses to think about.
He steps each step of the hundred yards they walk to the town square, and at this he has to remind himself that it's a different hundred yards, with both sorrow and pride, his head held high. It's a beautiful ceremony, full of kind words and fond memories, and then they carry her to the field that's been serving as a cemetery and lower the casket into the ground.
He stands the whole time.
And that's where he stays until the sun dips low in the sky, standing at her side – he stands for the soldier that never took the easy way out, that fought for those who couldn't fight for themselves, that refused to die on her knees, and who'd stood, hauled herself up to her feet, as she'd looked death in his dark eyes, so much like his father's, so that he and his family could live.
Just before the sun sets, he feels a warmth at his side and a gentle tug on his arm; Skye's right hand finds his left, laces their fingers together and tenderly squeezes, and together they stand for a woman that stood for so much more than he could ever say.
The insistent, insufferable, intolerable weight of wasted opportunities and words unsaid drives her heavy steps until she's standing in a command center hopelessly devoid of its Commander. She's looked elsewhere, everywhere – the barracks, his house, the gates, her house, the cemetery, the market, the bar – with nothing in the way of solid results.
Skye knows she won't find a man that doesn't want to be found.
It kills her, this knowledge, knowing she can't help him, thinking, more painful still, that he doesn't want her help. They've all been charged with a burden – the Commander, learning how to live without a woman he shouldn't have ever had to live without; the soldiers, finding ways to cope with the loss of a fallen comrade; the Shannons, reconciling a debt they'll never have the chance to repay. And her burden, she thinks, is having only to bear witness to it all.
She's about to leave the room and head to the infirmary to continue her search when the chess set laid out on his desk freezes her feet where she steps. It seems a lifetime ago, the last time she'd played with him, and ruefully thinks that perhaps it might've been the last time they'll ever face each other.
She traces the lines of pawns on the board with trembling fingers; she didn't see that one coming, either.
She remembers the third or fourth time she'd taken on the white pieces, and he the black, right after her parents, both of them, or so he'd thought, had succumbed to their illnesses. Halfway through the game he'd been called away to deal with a minor situation involving a brachiosaurus and a fallen tree, and ever the father figure, he hadn't wanted to leave her alone. He'd summoned his second in command to fill in for him.
She guesses she isn't the only one that couldn't deny the Commander anything.
They'd played three games. Holding the craftily carved pieces in her hands, she thinks of the woman who'd let her win all three times.
She isn't sure if it's with a bone deep weariness or the hope that Taylor will suddenly walk through the door that she takes a seat in his chair, but it's where she stays until Maddy Shannon finds her instead of Mark; she looks as if she's about to turn around and continue her own search until she stops, considers for a long moment, and quietly strides over to the black side of the board, arranges the pieces into straight lines, and makes the first move. They play three games, and she too lets her win all three times.
When she'd first learned that her quasi-mentor had shared her unspoken, quasi-secret love of astronomy, a mutual fascination with the stars and planets and comets and meteoroids, of this world and the possibility of others, she'd been more than a little surprised. When Malcom had asked for her help with the project he'd been working on in his spare time, she'd been more than a little eager. Star charts, he'd explained – mapping the sky as it appeared now as compared to the celestial alignments of the quite distant future.
When Maddy looks up at the clear sky she'd rarely ever seen 85 million years from now, she somehow knows they're not the same.
Some stars don't, or more accurately, she thinks, given the possible creation of a new timeline in accordance with various time displacement theories, won't, exist in 2149. The responsible party: novae – nuclear explosions that ultimately cause a star to burn intensely as it gradually, eventually, disappears from the sky. Blinkers, she'd called them when she was younger; here one decade, gone the next. One day, just old light.
And so she spends her nights sitting under starry skies, measuring, plotting and calculating, and together they find more than a few twinkling lights that hadn't graced the inky black canvas above their heads in the lifetime they'd left behind. They sift through memory and dusty tomes and find names for all but one, a brighter than bright thing in the vicinity of the North Star.
Malcom is kind enough to let her choose its title, and she knows, knows the moment he asks, possibly even before he'd voiced the words; she thinks it in her head, feels it in her heart, and knows with both that it's the right choice.
She doesn't take long to settle on something special. He agrees, smiles at her with something like pride, and maybe whimsy, and adds it to the registry they've carefully composed.
It's well past dusk, dark settling over the city, when Zoe finds her perched on a bench, paper scattered at her feet, head titled upward, and asks how to find "Alicia" in the sky; she grins, takes her sister's hand in hers and closes their fingers against their palms until their pointer fingers lead their eyes upward, and together they bask in the bright, white light of a woman that will forever watch over them from her place among the stars.
She may be young, but Zoe Shannon knows things.
She knows that sometimes, late at night when her parents and her brother are sleeping, Maddy sneaks out to see Mark. She knows that Skye likes Josh, but Josh liked Kara, and Kara liked Josh too. She also knows that Josh likes Skye too, even if he doesn't know it yet. She knows that Taylor looks sad when he thinks nobody's looking, knows that he needs more hugs than he'll ever ask for. She knows where Daddy hides his gun and knows to never, ever, ever touch it.
She knows other, more important things too. She knows that the woman who'd saved their lives was a nice lady, knows enough to think "was" instead of "is". She knows that she was very strong and very brave; she knows that she was a hero, that she saved more than just their one family. She knows a secret too, that her favorite color was purple, and that sometimes she liked to wear pink.
She also knows that she's never, ever coming back.
But the most important thing she knows is that she wouldn't want her to be sad, even though she wants to be. So she doesn't cry; instead, she sits in her garden, surrounds herself with her friends, the flowers, and clears a space for a new plant. Halfway down the hole she makes, she upturns her shovel and finds the soil moving, crawling with what she thinks are little brown worms. When she bends down, looks closer, that isn't what they are at all.
They're beetle grub. She knows this too, she's seen them once before. She reaches out to touch one, drags her fingers across its skin, and it's so slimy that she pulls her hand back, wipes it on her skirt three or four times, wrinkles her nose and mutters a soft but insistent "ew". She still thinks they're gross, but they make her grin and laugh and think of the woman who, in addition to everything else she'd done, was brave enough to eat bugs.
Elisabeth finds her there, just before dinner, dirt under her fingernails and smudged across her nose, lying on the ground with her chin in the palm of her hand, smiling a toothy smile at something she sees in the grass; she doesn't understand what fascinates her so, but, when she thinks about it, she doesn't really have to.
When she walks through the door, well after dark, a long day of dealing with crisis after crisis in the infirmary not far enough behind her, she's surprised and more than a bit amused at the sight that greets her: her children, all three of them, huddled together and fast asleep on the couch.
The appropriate tem, Elisabeth decides, a tad mischievously, is cuddling.
Her Josh, her eldest, so like his father – same eyes, same lips; so stubborn, so soulful and so strong – sleeps where he sits, head titled back, mouth open slightly and snoring a terribly unharmonious melody. Every so often his eyelashes flutter against his cheeks and his arm tightens where it rest around his sister's waist, holding her close.
Her Maddy, so like her mother – same nose, same dark hair; so smart, so courageous and so eager to learn – is slumped over, head resting on her brother's shoulder, a small wet spot appearing on the arm of his t-shirt from where she's embarrassedly started to drool. Her hand rests atop her sister's head, as if she'd fallen asleep while threading her fingers through the younger girl's hair.
Her Zoe, like both her mother and her father – so adventurous, so ready to explore the world with her wide, excited eyes – is curled up on her side, head resting in her sister's lap, arms wrapped around a stuffed purple dinosaur and smiling a sleepy smile, dreaming pleasant dreams.
What she wouldn't give, she muses, for a camera, to capture this moment and make it a memory that she can hold in her hands.
Instead, she thinks of another memory, and her smile falters for a fleeing minute, of a woman who made all the memories they've had in this terrifying, wonderful world, and all the memories they ever will have, here in their new home, more than just a possibility. She's still standing there, grinning fondly, gratefully, for the woman who'd granted them even one more moment like this one, when a nurse knocks on the door and informs her of a medical emergency that requires her immediate attention.
When she gets to the infirmary, she finds Commander Taylor, holding a bandage to a gash on his forearm, sitting atop a table and surrounded by guards as if he'd been forcibly marched into the room; it's the first time she's treated him with needle and thread, though not the last, and neither of them have the heart to mention the woman who, not long ago, was the one who stitched him up.
In the end, they all find something, the ones who knew they were searching and the ones that didn't; in the end, they're all found, too.
He's not ready to remember her. He's not ready to remember her because, if he's honest with himself, he's not ready to live without her. He doesn't know how.
And so, for now, he stands straight and tall, watching as the morning sun wakes his city, their city, and says, to the land and to the light:
"New day, Wash. New day."
He thinks, maybe, if he listens closely, her voice finds its way to his ears when she whispers with the wind.
Author's Note: I've taken some liberties with various parts of the story – for example, dog tags don't always, if ever, include rank and my knowledge of astronomy isn't anything to be impressed by – but I felt they were needed for the story to work. I also tried to avoid using Wash's name until the end because I wanted to have Taylor to have that special moment, and so I hope my previous references to her weren't too confusing.
This was a real challenge for me; I tried to write from the perspectives of characters who I wouldn't normally write (for example: Jim, Boylan, Zoe; for some reason it's not as easy for me to get into their heads as it is for other characters like Maddy and Skye). I hope that with each little glimpse into their lives that I've stayed true to what we've seen from them on the show.
Thanks for reading!