Author's Note: A birthday-gift-fic for the amazing and so darn talented Nel.
Disclaimer: I own neither the show nor the characters. I don't earn any money with this piece. I just do it for fun.
Her eyes close and she dips her head as the hot water hits her skin, cascades over bruised flesh and tired muscles, removing more than just the visible signs of having spent weeks in the desert and jungle. Alicia has never been one for poetry or flowery images, as a soldier there had never really been the time for such things, but in this moment, it's almost as if her battered soul is slowly washed clean.
The memories of the last few gruesome weeks rise from the abyss of her mind but she pushes them aside with a heavy sigh. At one point she will have to confront her inner demons, right now though, she simply wants to enjoy her first real shower in god knows how long - quite the luxury after the dry cleaning in the Badlands and the quick jumps under a waterfall she had to get used to during her time with the Phoenix Group and Sixers.
Elisabeth had warned her to be careful but Alicia knows her limits and despite the still tender areas around her eyes and upper chest, she is going to take advantage of the shower as long as her body allows it. The only smidge of disappointment is the fact that she has to settle for the barracks' showers, can't use her own but her house has been destroyed in the shelling of the colony and she knows there are other, more important units that have to be fixed first. When she'd said as much to Shannon, he'd given her a rather puzzled look and his eyes had flicked to the man leaning against the wall at the far end of the room.
Anger wells up inside her, momentarily overshadowing the sting in her chest that has got nothing to do with her injuries, as she remembers the Commander's uncharacteristically silent demeanor. His face had been unreadable, set in stone, and when Elisabeth had wanted to run for a few more tests, Taylor had only nodded once before leaving the room (leaving her).
"It's good to have you back, Lieutenant." had been his parting words to her, as if she'd been OTG for a few days rather than a POW for nearly two months. Alicia doesn't know what to make of it, this impersonal dismissal, like a pat on the head for being such a good and loyal soldier. They're more than that, always have been more than just a commander and his faithful second, from the moment they met all those years ago in the trenches on a battlefield in Thailand where she saved his life for the first but not the last time. In the beginning, they tried to ignore it but over the years, and especially after Somalia and their arrival here in Terra Nova, it became difficult to stay inside the borders of the command structure and their friendship started to change, shifting into territory they'd avoided for so long. Although they never crossed the line, it were her lingering touches and the looks in his eyes that conveyed their feelings, feelings that run deeper than they were allowed to.
Exhaustion hits her all of the sudden. She's worn out and tired, the hot water no longer offering any relief, and she quickly shuts off the shower before wrapping a towel around her body. After Elisabeth had been satisfied with the results of her examination, she'd made Alicia promise to come back to the hospital right after her shower, wanting her to stay for the night, just in case, and maybe that's exactly what she needs, a place where she can sleep and forget, if only for a short while. With her decision made, Alicia wastes no time getting dressed and once she's has packed her belongings into her bag, she leaves the building, heading for the hospital.
Half-way across the deserted training ground she catches a glimpse of something that makes her stop dead in her tracks and she slowly turns around. It's the silhouette of a house, nothing unusual about that except...except it is hers and should be in ruins, burned to the ground, but it isn't, it's almost completely rebuilt, walls, door, windows, everything and her original destination is lost in the night as Alicia warily makes her way towards the house, heart beating fast and head spinning.
Who would go through all the trouble to-? The odd exchange between Shannon and Taylor earlier in the hospital flashes through her mind and suddenly, she finds it hard to breath, stumbles the last few steps, her bag dropping on the porch, and then she's pushing the front door open.
Taylor's nothing more than a dark shape among shadows and the moonlight shining through half-opened shutters, sitting on the ground with his back against a wall, forearms resting on his knees, eyes focused on his folded hands. "It didn't matter what the others said, you know. As long as there was no body, I refused to believe." His voice is low and rough. "I never gave up hope, Wash. Never." He raises his head then and the raw pain in his eyes hits her like a sledgehammer. How could she have ever doubted him? She should have known better, should have known him better than that.
Alicia acts before she can think about, kneels next to him and tentatively closes her fingers around his hands. He tenses at the contact (one month, three weeks and five days since the last time they touched – the day he left Terra Nova and she stayed behind) but then a shudder runs through him and he relaxes, his hands falling open, and her gaze is drawn to them, her eyes widening as she recognizes what he's holding. Her tags, given back to her by him on the day she returned to active duty after months of dealing with Somalia's aftermath. The same tags that had been taken from her the day Lucas and the Phoenix Group had invaded the colony and which she thought were lost forever.
"They were all I had left of you." The words are barely more than a whisper but they cut deep, through skin and bone down to her soul, and Alicia's eyes fly up to his. What she finds there steals the air from her lungs and her throat closes up with emotion as he holds out his left hand, offering her the tags on his open palm. Blinking back tears, she picks them up with trembling fingers and lowers her head to slip them around her neck, their weight somewhat comforting, as if a missing piece of her has been returned.
His fingers catching her chin to tilt her face to the moonlight take her by surprise and startled, she looks up to find him staring at her. Taylor brushes a finger across the still slightly discolored skin of her temple, then traces his thumb down her cheek to her collarbone until his fingers finally come to a rest on the scar there - her punishment for refusing to patch Lucas up after his last meeting with his father.
He lightly runs his fingertips along the raised flesh and Alicia shivers from the tingling sensation. His gaze lingers for a moment on the scar before falling away, his fingers curling into a fist as his expression fills with disgust and self-loathing, and he pulls away sharply.
"I'm sorry, Wash, so dam-," he says hoarsely, starting to apologize.
"Don't," she interrupts him, catching his retreating hand in a gentle but firm grip. "Don't ever think this is your fault." She reaches up and puts her hand against his face, feeling the soft-rough texture of his beard under her fingers. "We both know who is to blame. You have nothing to apologize for."
Taylor searches her face, eyes locked with hers, and Alicia prays he can read the truth there, can see she means and believes what she's said. When he sighs, the tension leaving his body in a rush, she knows, he has found it, and relief breaks over her like a wave. She gives him a small smile and starts to move back but he's faster, turns his hand in hers until they're palm to palm and laces their fingers, his other hand coming up to cup the back of her head, his fingers twining in her hair. The warmth of his skin seeps into hers, edging all the way down her spine, leaving her breathless, and she clutches at his arm, fisting the short sleeve of his t-shirt.
His eyes darken at her reaction, his hold on her tightening, and then he's leaning in, his mouth coming down on hers. With a gasp Alicia opens up beneath his lips, her hand curving over his shoulder, holding him to her, and heat surges through her as he deepens the kiss. Taylor lets go of her hand to grip her hip and before she knows it, she's falling backwards, guided by his hand on her lower back as he lays her down, bracing his weight above her.
He lifts his mouth from hers, trails his lips down her throat to her chest, pressing them against the scar there, and she moans, arching into him as a bolt of pleasure shoots through her. Alicia wraps her arms around him and slides her hands up under his shirt, her fingers digging into the bare skin she finds, and with a ragged groan, he covers her mouth with his again, kissing her roughly. His hand rakes up her side and when he shapes her breast his broad palm, she throws her head back, biting down on her bottom lip as her hips instinctively rock up.
Warm air tickles her skin as he laughs, a dark and husky sound against her throat, and he slowly pulls her closer, pushing one of his knees between hers. She drags him back to her, kisses him hard, silencing him with her lips, teeth and tongue until his breath comes in short bursts against her mouth, and now it's her turn to grin against his mouth.
A sudden, insisting beeping echoes in the room, tearing through the haze of desire, and they freeze, his mouth hovering over hers, their lips just barely touching.
For a moment, they simply stare at each other but then laughter bubbles up inside her and she can feel the vibrations of his answering chuckle. She buries her face in the crook of his neck, trying to muffle the sound, as Taylor activates his comm.
"Elisabeth says, Wash hasn't check in yet and she can't find her. Have you seen her?"
Before Taylor has a chance to answer, Alicia leans back and takes the comm from him. "I'm here, Shannon."
There's stunned silence on the other end for several seconds, then a rather squeaky "Wash!?" followed by a stuttered "Y-you and- a-are you- is everything...okay?"
Alicia tilts her head and meets Taylor's gaze, warm and intense, and she reaches up, placing her fingertips against his lips. "It is, Shannon. Please tell Elisabeth that I won't come back to the hospital tonight."
Whatever Shannon says in response, is lost as Alicia drops the comm to the floor, her focus completely on the man above her, her breath catching somewhere in her throat as he closes his fingers around her wrist. He brushes his lips against her fingertips in a light kiss before rolling off her and standing up, pulling her with him. There are no words, they don't need them as he leads her through the house, fingers linked with hers.
Later, much later, when they're lying next to each other, wrapped up in tangled sheets and skin slick with sweat, her head resting on his bare shoulder, his fingers playing with the ends of her hair, weaving through them, Alicia feels her battered soul slowly starting to heal.
The road ahead of them won't be easy but as long as she has Nathaniel, as long as they have each other, they will make it. She has no doubt about it.
- END -