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14 February 2006 @ 10:16 pm
for shellies  
Title: Feels Too Damn Much Like Home
Author: damn_hero_zoe
Rating: R
Characters: Mal, Zoë, Wash, Kaylee, Jayne, Inara with a brief
appearance by Bester
Pairings: Zoë/Wash
Love Story: Roger/Mimi from Rent
Word count:  6,869
Warnings: Pre-series so nothing to spoil
Summary: Zoë isn't ready for someone to come into her life, until she realizes she let him in anyway.
Notes: This is for shinyhearts Valentine's Day Challenge.  I hope you enjoy.  Also thanks to my Wash for putting up with all my edits and assisting me. <3



Chapter 1

Zoë looked up at Mal as he came off the bridge.  They had gotten the cortex working a few days ago and Mal had been on it ever since, trying to find them a pilot.  They had gotten a pretty decent mechanic, one of the best on Boros, or so Mal told her.  She just had to trust him.  But Mal looked pretty pleased with himself so she figured he must have had some luck.

"Zoë, I think I found us a pilot.  He'll be here in a couple of hours."  He was grinning from ear to ear.  "Bester says the engine's ready for flight, just needing a pilot."  Zoë did her best to smile and headed down to her bunk.  She wanted to get off this rock and back into the black.  It was where she felt at home.

And here on Boros there wasn't really anything for her to do.  So she straightened up her bunk again.  She kept everything neat and orderly.  It was her way.

*

By the time Mal's voice cane over the intercom, Zoë had re-made her bed, dusted off all her books and belongings and swept the room up.  She climbed out of her bunk and headed down to the cargo bay.  Mal looked up at her as she came down the stairs, grinning from ear to ear.  He looked pretty damn proud of himself.  She stood beside him and watched a man with a moustache and a loud Hawaiian shirt walk towards them.

Zoë looked at her captain.  "This is him?"  He couldn't possibly be serious.  There was just no way.  This man looked like a used spaceship salesman, shifty.  He took one look at Zoë and smiled broadly.

"Well, hello ther---" He didn't get to finish his thought because Zoë instinctively slammed him against the nearest crate and frisked him, looking for any weapons.  Satisfied that she had found none, she let him go and moved to stand to Mal's right as if to say 'Don't mess with me.  I rank higher than you.'

Mal smiled as though this was normal.  "Hoban Washburne, this is my second-in-command, Zoë Alleyne."  Hoban reached out his hand, eyes appraising her still.  Maybe frisking him hadn't been such a good idea.

Zoë stood there and refused to shake his hand.  There was a pause before Mal said, "Well, let's head up to the bridge so you can get the look of things."  He motioned towards the staircase.  Zoë stood at the bottom and waited for both men to pass her.  She wasn't going to let this Hoban fellow get a look at her backside as well.

Chapter 2

Dinner was quiet for Zoë.  Mal hired Hoban, who apparently preferred to be called Wash.  Zoë was a firm believer that one had to earn a nickname so she called him Hoban.  He didn't seem to mind too much. She had to control the urge to roll her eyes every time he looked at her.  So Zoë remained silent as the three men joked and got to know each other.  When she was finished, Zoë cleaned up and went down to her bunk.

She sat at her desk and began to write in her journal.  It was a habit that she had learned from her mother.  Zoë found that it helped her to think objectively.  Hoban had gotten under her skin.  That didn't happen often.  There was just something about him, something she couldn't place.  Something she hadn't experienced in a long time.  He made her feel – She didn't allow herself to finish that thought.

The last time she felt like this was before the war.  She had fallen in love with a man who became a solider like her.  They had been happy before the war, but he had been killed in Serenity Valley, right in front of her.  She swore to herself that she wouldn't allow herself to go through that again.  It had nearly destroyed her.

There was a knock at her bunk door.  She figured it was Mal so she pushed the button to unlock it.  Boots came down but they weren't Mal's.  Hoban leaned against the ladder.

Zoë glared at him.  Truthfully, she was surprised to see him, but she didn't let him know that.  "What do you want?"

He smiled at her.  It was a smile that lit up his face like a little boy being told he could go on another ride at the fair.  "To talk."

Zoë rolled her eyes and sat back down at her desk, turning away from him.  "I'm busy."  She went back to writing, though on a note pad, having hidden her journal when she opened the door.  She was making a list to keep busy.

She heard him sit on her bed.  She turned and glared at him again.  "What part of 'I'm busy.' did you miss?"  He looked at her, and for a moment, she was captured by his eyes, so incredibly blue.  They weren't shifty like she had thought before.  They were open, telling her that he was sad she didn't like him.  But she pulled herself back to reality quickly.  She crossed her arms in front of her.

"I can wait."  He smiled at her, trying to soften her up.

"Not here you can't.  I have work to do, Hoban."

He winced.  "Can you call me Wash?"

Zoë shook her head.  "Nope."  She looked at him fiercely.  "Maybe I'll consider it if you leave."

Hoban sighed.  "Okay, I can take a hint."  He climbed up the ladder and Zoë turned back to her desk and placed her head in her hands, elbows propped up on the table.  But she heard someone on the ladder again.  She whipped around to see Hoban on all fours, looking for something.

"What'd you forget?"

"I think I dropped something."

Zoë sighed loudly.  "What?"

He looked at her sheepishly.  "My triceratops."

Her brow furrowed.  "Your what?"

He smiled at her that little boy smile again.  "My dinosaur figurine.  He was in my pocket and now he's not."

Zoë couldn't believe it.  "You play with toys?!"  She felt like a foolish girl.

Hoban looked defensive.  "They're not toys.  They are figurines from Earth-That-Was.  They're priceless."

Zoë bit back both a snappy remark and a laugh.  She rolled her eyes and got down on her hands and knees, looking for this toy.  Together, they searched the room.  They crawled towards the bed and bumped heads.

Zoë sat back on her heels, rubbing her head.  "Oww.  You have a really hard head, you know that?"

Hoban laughed and Zoë couldn't help but smile.  She looked around the room as he stood up, rubbing his own head, mussing up his hair.  "Guess I didn't leave it here."  He looked up at her sheepishly again, causing Zoë to realize that his second trip to her bunk had not been to try to win her over.  "Sorry to have bothered you."  He extended his hand to help her up.

Zoë noticed a lump on her previously perfectly made bed.  She brushed his hand away and reached past him, pulling a three-horned dinosaur from underneath the fold of the blanket.  She held it up while getting to her feet.  His eyes widened.   "This it?" she asked.

"Yes! Thanks."  When he reached out to take the toy out of her hand, his fingers brushed hers, causing a shock from static electricity to spark between them.  Or at least that's what Zoë wanted to believe it was.

Hoban turned quickly and headed for the ladder.  He stopped about halfway up and looked at her.  "They call me Wash.  It would be really nice if you would too."

Chapter 3

In the following weeks, Zoë and Hoban danced around each other.  Zoë would yell at him for the littlest things and he would yell right back at her.  This usually resulted in Zoë stalking off the bridge and both Bester and Mal staying out of her way.  Hoban had even shaved off his moustache in an attempt to get her to like him.  She noticed but didn't say anything about it.

Bester had proven himself to be utterly useless and had been replaced by a cheerful young woman named Kaylee.  She was always smiling and happy, which bothered Zoë at first.  But as Zoë got to know the new mechanic, she realized this was her way for dealing with the 'verse.

One night, while Serenity was parked on Santo, Hoban came into the galley humming.  Zoë looked up from cleaning her weapons.  He stalked towards her, a strange look on his face, his eyes captivating hers.

"Let's go out tonight."  He had a mischievous smile on his face.  He pulled her to her feet.  "Come on.  We're planet side for the first time in weeks.  Let's go out."

She turned away and back to the table.   "No."  She sat back down and picked up her sawed off, and started to polish it again.

He took her hand.  "Come on.  Let's go find a bar and relax.  You never relax.  We'll get Kaylee and Mal and make a night of it."  He leaned down to speak near her ear.  "Come on, Zoë.  Let's go out tonight."

His breath on her ear sent shivers down her spine.  Part of her wanted to turn and kiss him.  But she pushed him away and pointed her sawed off at him, standing up.

"Who do you think you are?"  He held up his hands and backed away from her.  "Barging in on me like that?"  She motioned to the door behind him.  "The door is that way.  Take your dinosaurs and your sweet whispers and get out of here."  If he didn't leave soon, Zoë was sure she was going to cry.

Hoban paused at the bottom of the stairs.  "Look, I know that you've been through a lot.  But you can't just freeze your heart."  He took a breath.  "I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring and I can't change the past, but I do know that there is no day but today."

Zoë lowered her gun, placing it on the table.  "That sounds very adult coming from someone who plays with dinosaurs."  She crossed her arms.  "You don't know a damn thing about me."  She couldn't handle this.  He didn't understand how his voice effected her, how his eyes made her melt on the inside.  God, if this was any other place, any other time, she'd be in his arms.  But she couldn't.

But he wasn't ready to give up.  He took a step towards her, a brave move on his part since her gun was still in reach.  "We must let go to know what's right.  Let go of the past and stop worrying about the future.  I can't control the future, neither can you.  But I trust my soul and what it's telling me to feel.  I just want to be.  You have to give in to love or live in fear.  "

Zoë looked at him like he was crazy, though part of her knew he was right.  "Why can't you hear the words I'm telling you?"  She threw her hands in the air and turned away from him.  "You don't know anything about me, so don't just come in here like you do."  She whipped around, eyes fierce.  But the look on his face, so honest, made her lose the harsh words she had for him.  Instead, she said quietly.  "Another day."  She picked up her gun and holstered it, walking past him to her bunk and locking it behind her.

*

Zoë sat on her bed and buried her face in her hands.  What was wrong with her?  Why couldn't she just accept that he was a good man and she wanted to be with him?  She had been hurt, it's true.  But he wanted her anyway.

"Will I lose my dignity?  Will someone care? Will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare?"  She asked these questions aloud, not having an answer to a single one.

Chapter 4

The next day, Zoë avoided Hoban.  Kaylee found her in the cargo bay, doing nothing.  Zoë never did nothing.  "Something wrong?"

Zoë looked up at her.  "No."  She held her gaze for a moment and then looked around the cargo bay, eyes trailing over the crates stacked about.  She turned back to Kaylee.  "Why do you ask?"

Kaylee sat herself on a crate.  "Well, for one thing, you're down here in the cargo bay, by yourself, doing a whole manner of nothing."

"Just have a lot on my mind is all."

"Clearly."  She looked at Zoë.  "Maybe you should do something about it."  She smiled.

"Kaylee, I ---" Zoë was cut off by Kaylee's hand on her arm.

"Listen, I'm going to this little bar tonight.  Gonna get a decent meal made outta something other than processed protein.  Maybe you'd like to ask Wash to come along."  With that, Kaylee hopped off the crate and headed back to the engine room, smile on her face and a slight skip in her step.

*

Zoë made her way slowly to the bridge.  She paused at the doorway.  Hoban was under the console, fiddling with something.  Zoë cleared her throat as she stepped into the room.  She heard him hit his head and winced.  He pulled himself out and turned around, anger dying at the fact that she was standing there.

Zoë offered him a soft smile.  "Kaylee and I are going planetside for dinner tonight.  Would you like to come with us?"

Hoban stood there for a minute, quite shocked.  He recovered quickly.  "Sure.  Love to."

Zoë smiled more.  "Good.  Meet us in the cargo bay in an hour."  She turned and left the bridge, heading for her bunk and leaving him with his mouth hanging open a little.

*

Zoë headed back to the cargo bay a short time later, hair loose for a change.  Hoban and Kaylee were waiting for her.  Mal decided to stay with Serenity.  The three crewmates made their way into the town, Kaylee leading them to a little hole-in-the-wall place.  Inside, it was warm and inviting.  The townspeople didn't seem to mind the strangers.

They sat at a table on the side opposite the bar.  They ordered dinner and drinks and chatted about their last job.  Zoë and Kaylee were talking about what the mechanic had done to the engine to improve it.  They also talked about what she had done to the galley.  The younger woman had painted cheerful flowers all over, making it seem more like a home.  Hoban interjected here and there but mostly sat quietly.  Every now and then a local would call for a toast to their way of life.  Zoë and Kaylee would raise their glasses because theses people were Independents too.

Zoë got up to go to the bar for another drink.  Hoban followed her.  "Did I do something wrong?"  Zoë looked at him, clearly confused.  "You invite me to come and then ignore me all night."

Zoë looked down at her glass.  "Look, I'm trying."  She took a deep breath.  "I've got baggage, okay?" she admitted softly.  The war had changed her and he needed to know that it wasn't easy for her.  "I'm not perfect."

Hoban sighed.  "I'm not saying that I am.  Life is too short, Zoë.  Everyone has baggage."  He offered her that boyish grin of his.  "I'm looking for baggage that goes with mine."

Zoë turned and opened her mouth to speak but was bumped by a rowdy local right into Hoban's arms.  They looked at each other for a few moments, ones that seemed to stretch on forever, blocking everything around them.  Zoë gave in and leaned in to kiss him softly on the mouth.  She pulled back and looked into his eyes.  They were wide with surprise.

She glanced over at Kaylee and saw her smiling.  Zoë pulled Wash through the back of the bar to the alleyway.  It was colder out her and she wrapped her arms around herself.  Wash stepped up behind her and rubbed her arms.  She turned to him and looked into his eyes.  "Wash, I really don't have any idea how to do this."

He smiled and rubbed her arms again.  "I hate this part anyway.  Let's just make it go faster."  His smiled turned sheepish.  "I should tell you I put the dinosaur under your blanket to have a reason to come back down."

Zoë laughed softly.  "I think I'd forgotten how to smile until you told me about your dinosaurs."  She took a step closer to him and his hands stilled on her arms and they looked into each other's eyes.  "I don't know where this is going," she said softly.

"I don't know either."  He offered her that little boy smile again.  "But I'm willing to find out.  Are you?"

Zoë answered him by closing the distance between them with a kiss.  She wrapped her arms around him and drank him in.  His hands moved to her back and waist, holding her to him.  They kissed like they had been doing it forever.

Wash broke the kiss first.  He searched her eyes.  "You sure about this?"

Zoë cupped his face him her hand.  "Yes."  She smiled at him.  "But we shouldn't leave Kaylee alone in there.  And Mal will be expecting us back soon."

Wash's face fell.  He let her go and stepped back, causing her hand to fall from his cheek.  She closed that distance in an instant and put his hands back on her hips.  "Doesn't mean we can't discuss this further when we're back on Serenity."  Her eyes danced.

He captured her mouth with his, catching her slightly off-guard.  He pulled back after a minute.  "Here goes."  He kept his hand on her hip and led her back inside.

Chapter 5

When they got back to Serenity, Mal was waiting for them.  "Wash, get us off this rock."

He hand left Zoë's hip and he nodded, flashing her a smile and running up the steps to the bridge.  Within moments they were fired up and breaking atmo.

Zoë and Mal followed him to the bridge.  Mal had noticed that Wash and Zoë were looking rather close, but he figured it was whatever they had been drinking.  He didn't say anything.  The three of them stood on the bridge as they broke atmo in silence.  Mal looked at Wash.  "Plot a course for Persephone."  With that he nodded at Zoë and left the two of them alone on the bridge.

Wash did as he was told and looked back at Mal, smirking.  He looked at Zoë and giggled into his hand.  His head was still spinning from the drinks, but he was a little more focused.

Zoë laughed in spite of herself.  She leaned in and kissed him deeply, pulling back after a few moments.  She smirked at him and leaned against the console.

He was smiling from ear to ear and leaned back in his chair.  "That was...hot."  He bit his top lip and looked at his lap.  She was resting in her favorite spot on the bridge, and he couldn't but look her up and down from the corner of her eyes.  So much smaller then him, slender.  He cleared his throat and chuckled again.

Zoë smirked again.  "You planning on looking at me like that all night?"  She reached over and put Serenity on autopilot and grabbed his hand, pulling him to his feet.  "Or are you going to do something?"

He got to his feet, swallowing the dryness in his throat.  "Don't think...really?"

She nodded at him.  She ran her hands up to his biceps, noting the muscles beneath his shirt.  She looked into his eyes, desire in hers.

He leaned in slowly, finally locking lips with hers, hand running up the back of her shirt.  His other arm looped around her back, pulling her as close to him as possible.

Zoë's hands slid the rest of the way up his arms and wrapped around him, deepening their kiss slipping her tongue in his mouth.

He moaned into her mouth, sucking on her tongue.  He pulled back and looked around the bridge.  He leaned back in and kissed her hungrily.  "Not here..." he whispered against her lips.  "Not the first time..."

She smiled into his lips.  "My bunk then."  She kissed him and pulled him towards her bunk.

He nodded and followed her like a lost little puppy, stopping her every few steps to kiss her sweetly.  He was smiling and keeping a look out for the others at the same time.

She stopped in front of her bunk and turned to kiss him deeply again.  She wrapped her arms tightly around him, pressing into his body with hers.

"In your bunk or in front of..."  He kissed her again, smiling.  "I don't mind people peakin', but is kinda embarrassing..."

She smirked at him and opened the door and climbed down the ladder.

He watched her go down and climbed after, looking around.  He knew what he wanted to do, but he didn't want to cross any lines.  He walked to her slowly, hands slinking around her waist, head resting against hers.

Her hands found their way to the front of his shirt, unbuttoning it slowly.  She looked into his eyes as she did so, making sure this was alright.  She kissed him softly.  All the passion and desire was there, but there was also caution.  This was a fragile moment.

He watched her unbutton his shirt and then looked back up at her.  He took her hands when she'd finished.  "..me?"  He didn't want her to make a mistake.  He was still convinced he was nothing special, not nearly good enough for her.  He swallowed the knot in his throat waiting for her reply.

"You."  She smiled at him and leaned in for another kiss.

He kissed her back, all bets off now.  He wouldn't let her down.  She'd made her choice; he'd make it the right one.  His hands pulled at her shirt, pulling it off her.  A steady hand, unsnapped her bra, it too drifting to the floor.

Zoë smiled at him.  She moved to suck at his neck, her hair falling over his shoulder.  She sucked at the vein in his neck, licking it with her tongue and nipping at it.

His hands moved up her sides slowly, taking in the feel of her.  They stopped at her chest and moved his head to kiss her again deeply.

She moaned into his mouth and pulled his lower lip between her teeth.  His hands on her skin sent shivers of pleasure down her spine.   She kissed with a hunger.

He couldn't control himself anymore.  His hands ran back down finding the button to her pants and started to undo it.  He caught her gaze, ready to stop if she said so.  And he really hoped she didn't.

She smirked at him and slid her hands to undo his as well.  She kissed his chest and up his neck, back to his lips.

He smiled against her lips, her pants sliding to the floor.  Once his had done the same, he pulled her close, bodies their closest as they'd ever been.

His body felt so right next to hers.  She clung to him, arms wrapped around him as she kissed him deeply, sucking on his tongue.

He could wrap around them both if he tried, there was nothing to her.  Afraid he would break her, but he never would.  Not on purpose.  He kissed her, both falling back on the floor next to the bed.  He picked himself up off her, scared he may have crushed her.

Zoë laughed and pulled him down on top of her.  "Missed the bed."  She kissed him again.

"Still tipsy..."  He smiled and leaned down kissing her then moving to suck on her neck and chest.  He was wondering if the rest of her tasted as good as her lips, and it did.

She closed her eyes and ran her fingers through his soft hair.  She moaned softly in his ear.  His lips were amazing and sending electric shocks through her body.

He made butterfly kisses on her skin, from time to time, stopping and leaving a small mark.  His mind raced, not sure where to go or what to do next.

Zoë kissed the sensitive skin just below his ear.  She tortured it slowly, kissing it, sucking on it, licking it teasingly.  She kept her fingers in his hair, tightening her grip on him as he kissed her skin, melting to his touch.

"Zo'..." he whispered her name, lips brushing against her skin.  He sat up, pulling a blanket off the bed and rolling it to set behind her head.  He kissed her gently as he lowered her head onto it.

She smiled at him as he lowered her head back down. He was so gentle with her.  Her hand stayed at the base of his neck as he kissed her, other arm slinking around his back and bringing him back down to her.

Both hands were on either side of his head.  He didn't say anything to her, just looked into her eyes, asking her.

Zoë smirked up at him as she arched her back into his body.  She wanted him, and wanted him badly.

He leaned down and kissed her chest sweetly, before slowly pressing into her, groaning low as he did so.  His arms flexed, holding himself up, stomach tightening.  Her hands slid down his back as he pressed in, and she moaned low in her throat.  She moved her body in time with his slowly.  Soon they were moving as one as she leaned in to capture his mouth with hers.

He kissed her back passionately, delving deeper into her with each thrust.  They were in their own world, Wash still unable to believe this was happening to them.

Her moans became louder as he moved with her.  Her hands moved back up his back to grab his shoulders, bringing herself closer to him.  She needed him to touch her, be in her and she was getting what she wanted.

One of his arms came around her back, supporting her as he continued to move with her, kissing her neck, taking in the smell of her.  The room had become very hot and the sweat was dripping off him.

She leaned her head back, letting him kiss her throat.  Her curls were damp with sweat.  Their bodies glistened in the low light.  She was panting as she moved her head to kiss him below his ear again.  She needed to make him feel the way he was making her feel.

He kissed her shoulder, the soft sound of purring escaping his throat.  He was close, but pressed on, all intentions of holding out as long as possible.

He purred against her and she purred right back into his ear.  He was driving her wild.  Her fingers found their way into his hair again.  She held on to him, coming closer.

He couldn't hold on anymore, he cried out with every intention of withdrawing, but there was no time.  He came inside her, hard, holding her to him in a sitting position.

She wrapped her legs around him, her orgasm coming with his.  She clung to him, her breath still coming in pants.  She kissed his neck sweetly, hugging him close to her.

"I'm...I'm sorry...I...are you all right..."  He was panting heavily, eyes closed and arms around her.

She nuzzled his neck.  "Yes."  She pulled back enough to look into his eyes.  "What do you have to be sorry about?"  She brushed the hair from his face and kissed him sweetly.

"Well I just sorta...um...inside you and..."  He looked down, still catching his breath.  He pulled the blanket over she had been using as a pillow and wrapped it around them.

She smiled at him, telling him that there was nothing to apologize for with her eyes.  She leaned in to kiss him again.  She didn't care.  As he wrapped the blanket around them, she hugged him close again.

He shifted and leaned against the bed, holding her to him and looking around the room.  That was, beyond words and everything he'd imagined.

She snuggled against him.  She didn't have any words for that moment.  She kissed his neck sweetly and pulled back to look into his eyes again.

He looked at her and smiled.  "Wow...huh?"

Zoë smiled right back.  "Doesn't even begin to cover it."

"So...dun good?"  He nuzzled his nose against hers and kissed it leaning against the bed more and closing his eyes.

She kissed him sweetly on the mouth.  "You okay here?"  She meant sleeping against her bed.

"Hmm?"  He opened his eyes again.  "I'm...stayin'?"  She was going to let him stay in her room too?  He started rambling, looking around, running his hand through his hair.  The same man that had just made love to her was back to the nervous mess he could be at times.

She smiled at him.  "If you want to.  Though the bed might be a little more comfortable."  She closed her eyes and leaned into his hand in her hair.

He shifted, getting up, helping her onto the bed and laying beside her.  He pulled the blanket around her more.  This was comfortable, something he could get used to.

She snuggled up against him and wrapped her arms around him.  This felt so right.  She smiled at him as he pulled the blanket around her again.  He was so gentle.

He shivered, wrapping his arms around her.  Bit drafty in her room.  He nuzzled her face and rested his head on the pillows.

She kissed his nose and moved closer to him, closing her eyes and sighing softly.  She opened her eyes again and trailed her fingers down his cheek.

He was lying on his side, arm under the pillow, his other on her side.  His was breathing steadily, eyes closed.  A snore escaped him.  He'd fallen asleep.  The alcohol, plus all the action, had finally hit him.

She smiled and laid her head next to his.  She closed her eyes and nuzzled his nose before falling asleep herself.

Chapter 6

As the weeks progressed into months, Zoë fell in love with Wash.  It was hard not to feel happy around him.  He made her laugh.  Wash couldn't believe he had gotten so lucky and he told her so often.  She smiled at him and told him that she was the lucky one.  Kaylee was thrilled that they had final admitted their feelings for one another.  Mal didn't seem to be as happy but he also didn't' comment on it.

They did their jobs and did them well.  And at night they would go to his bunk or hers and in the morning, Zoë would wake up in his arms, smiling.  It was bliss for her.  Nothing could ruin it.

They gained a new crew member.  Jayne Cobb was an interesting man.  He was gruff and opened his mouth when he shouldn't.  He had Mal and Zoë at gun point and Mal talked him into switching sides.  At dinner, Wash was surprised to learn that Mal hired someone who had tried to kill them.  He also wasn't happy that Zoë was in danger all the time.

That night, as they lay in her bunk, Zoë could tell that something was bothering Wash.  He lay behind her, as usual, but he seemed distant.  "What's wrong?" she asked, rolling over to face him.

"Nothing."

"You're lying to me, bao bei."

He looked into her eyes.  "You could have died today."

Zoë sighed softly.  She reached out to touch his face.  "But I didn't.  I'm right here, honey."  She offered him a smile.

Wash shook his head.  "That's not the point."  He sat up in bed, pulling the sheet around his lap.  "These men could have killed you and Mal.  And he goes and hires one of them."

Zoë sat up to face him.  She wrapped herself in the blanket to ward herself from the chill she felt when she wasn't in his arms.  "What is it you told me?  That we can't control the future and we can't change the past?"  Something else was bothering him.  They hadn't had this argument before.  He knew the dangers of her job.

"That isn't the point, Zoë!"  He was angry and it caused Zoë's brow to furrow in confusion.

"Then what is the point, Wash, because, clearly, I'm not getting it."  Her voice wasn't angry.  It was confused.  She didn't understand where his anger was coming from.

"What are you doing with me, Zoë?"  So that was what was bothering him.  Zoë briefly recalled that Jayne had wondered the same thing at dinner.

Zoë paused for a moment, trying to find words to express how she felt.  "Wash, I –"  He cut her off.  He turned and got out of bed and pulled on his pants.  He turned to face her.

"Maybe Jayne was right.  Maybe you are a fool for being with me."  Zoë opened her mouth to protest, but Wash cut her off again.  "It's over."  He grabbed his shirt and shoes and climbed out of the bunk, leaving a confused Zoë behind.

Chapter 7

After that, Zoë and Wash refused to be in the same room.  Wash stayed mostly on the bridge.  Zoë avoided going up there.  She was confused by the whole thing, but too stubborn to say anything about it.  She found that life didn't make sense without Wash in it.  Everything else went on like it was fine, but she was in pain.  Her heart felt like it was burning and her mind tried to figure out what went wrong.  She had cried herself to sleep.

Kaylee found her in the galley one morning, absent-mindedly stirring a cup of tea.  Zoë was lost in thought.  She had opened her heart to him and it was shattered.

"Zoë?"

She looked up at Kaylee, startled from her thoughts.  "Hello, Kaylee."  Zoë watched the younger woman sit across from her at the table.

"Why is the warrior woman scared?"  Zoë was surprised by Kaylee's question.  "Why are you afraid to let Wash into your heart?  You have to let go of the past to move on to the future."

"I know that, Kaylee, and I did open my heart to him.  Things just got in the way."  She looked back down at her cup.  "You don't understand.  It's not that easy."

Kaylee shook her head.  "We live in times where no one knows what tomorrow is going to bring.  So why waste time thinking about the past and the future.  Focus on the right now."  Kaylee stretched her hand across the table and placed it on Zoë's.  "You're not alone."

*

Weeks past and they still avoided each other.  Zoë tried to find a way to talk to Wash, but she couldn't.  Mal rented one of the shuttles to a registered Companion, Inara Serra.  She was beauty and grace and Zoë slowly found herself respecting her greatly.  Inara wasn't blind.  She could see that Wash and Zoë cared for one another.  One evening, while Mal, Wash and Jayne had gone off to town to get supplies, she found the warrior woman on the cat walk, leaning against the railing.

"You love him."  Zoë turned to look at her.  "Don't you?"  Zoë looked down into the empty cargo bay.  "Then why are you fighting?"

Zoë was quiet as Inara leaned on the railing next to her.  "I don't even really know."  Zoë head elected to stay behind, hoping to think things through.  And here was Inara vocalizing the one question to which she had no real answer.

Inara put her hand on Zoë's and turned to face her.  "He loves you, too, you know.  You two should talk about it."

Zoë turned.  "I know.  I've tried to find a way, I just--" She was interrupted by shouts and looked back down into the cargo bay to see Jayne and Mal carrying Wash.  They lay him on the floor and Mal hit the button to close the doors.

Zoë flew down the stairs, Inara following her.  "What happened?"

Jayne looked up at her.  "Don't rightly know.  Found him lying outside on the ground.  Looks like he got stabbed."  He and Mal picked him up and carried him to the infirmary.  Mal cleaned the wound and stitched it up as best he could.  Didn't look too deep, but he could have lost a lot of blood.  Zoë held Wash's hand the whole time, tears in her eyes.

Mal looked at her as he finished bandaging Wash's side.  "I've done everything I can."  His voice was matter-of-fact.

Wash stirred and looked into her eyes.  "I should tell you --"

"Shh."  She gently squeezed his hand as Mal, Jayne, Kaylee and Inara hovered in the doorway.

"I should tell you I love you."  He closed his eyes and his hand went slack in hers.

Zoë sat on the stool by his bedside.  "Who do you think you are, leaving me alone here?"  Tears rolled quietly down her face.  Suddenly, something that had been playing at the back of her mind since he had come down to her bunk that night came to the front of her mind.  She inched closer to him, clutching his hand tightly.  Zoë began to sing softly, a song from Earth-That-Was.

"Your eyes
As we said our goodbyes
Can't get them out of my mind
And I find I can't hide
From your eyes
The ones that took me by surprise
The night you came into my life
Where there's moonlight I see your eyes
How'd I let you slip away
When I'm longing so to hold you
Now I'd die for one more day
'Cause there's something
I should have told you
Yes there's something
I should have told you
When I looked into your eyes
Why does distance make us wise?
You were the song all along
And before this song dies
I should tell you I should tell you
I have always loved you
You can see it in my eyes"

"Wash."  She felt him hold her hand, though he was still unconscious.  Zoë squeezed it gently.  He turned his head to face her, his eyes half-open.  Tears formed again but did not fall.  There were not sad tears, but grateful tears, grateful that she didn't lose him.

"I'm sorry."  He looked at her sadly.  She reached out with her other hand to brush his hair off his forehead then gently trail her fingers down his cheek.

"So am I, bao bei.  So am I."  She leaned in and kissed his forehead.  Kaylee smiled at them, but they didn't notice.  "Thank God you're alright."  Her eyes were filled with love for this man.  He was the only one who had ever gotten her to show her emotions.

He slowly pulled her hand to his mouth and kissed it.  She smiled and looked down and Mal was struck by the power of their love for each other.  Didn't mean he had to like it on his boat, but he glanced at Inara for a moment.  Their eyes met and he looked away.  Maybe he could like with shipboard romances.

*

A few days later, Wash and Zoë were married in a simple ceremony on Persephone.  Wash took them out of the atmosphere, Zoë standing behind him, hand on his shoulder.  As he set a course for their next job, he looked up at her.  She smiled at him.

"How are you feeling today husband?"

His smile widened a little at the title.  "Much better, wife."  He reached his arm around her waist, pulling her to lean against him.

Zoë reached past him and set Serenity on autopilot.  She stood up and grabbed his hand, smirking at him.  She pulled him out of the chair, indicating that she wanted some alone time with her husband.  He responded by slapping her behind.

They ran past Mal, who was on his way to the bridge with Jayne.  No power in the 'verse could have stopped their honeymoon so the two men just looked the other way and headed up to the bridge.  Wash pushed her against the bulkhead outside her bunk, now their bunk.  "Welcome home, wife."  He leaned in and kissed her deeply.

Her hands found their way around his back holding him to her for a moment.  "Welcome home, husband."  Her hands had now found their way down to his backside and she gave it a good pinch.  She smirked and slipped from his arms and down to their bunk, laughing as he slide down behind her.  The last thing any of the crew could hear before the bunk door closed was Wash growling like a dinosaur and Zoë laughing.  Love, they had found, healed all wounds.
 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
damn_hero_zoe on February 20th, 2006 03:44 am (UTC)
I love Rent too. This was so much fun to write. And I am really glad you liked it. I noticed that a lot of Browncoats were also Rentheads so it made sense to me. Thanks for saying all those nice things. I was worried about the parallels and staying canon so I'm really glad you liked it.

*much love for you*
van on February 16th, 2006 09:10 am (UTC)
This is really so sweet. It's funny, too -- I'd considered RENT for these two, myself. But when I thought about it, I'd casted them as Angel and Collins (Wash as Angel, Zoe as Collins). The idea that you did Mimi-Wash, Roger-Zoe is just so neat and intriguing! I really love the idea of it, and you worked it really well. Wash dropping his dinosaur? That's too adorable. And him getting stabbed at the end makes a lot of sense, too, although is sad.

Great job. :) You didn't write this for me, but I enjoyed it like you could have. RENT + Firefly. What's not to love?
damn_hero_zoe on February 20th, 2006 03:42 am (UTC)
OMG!!!!!!!! I have been squeeing all week because you liked my story. It honestly made my week. And then I find out you wrote the one for me!!! WOW!!!! Thanks so much for you review and I thought about the Angel/Collins pairing at first but I like writing how Wash and Zoe got together and I could imagine them being like Roger and Mimi. So thank you for your review and the fabulous story you wrote me. :D
van on February 20th, 2006 05:58 am (UTC)
Awww! I'm so glad that I made your week by reading and enjoying your fic. It really was a lot of fun though! Rent and Firefly! You gotta love it. :D I really do think that Roger and Mimi as Zoe and Wash is really clever and original, so major props to you! And, of course, you're very welcome for the story I wrote you. :) Now we must go archive our stories on www.flower-and-leaf.com :D

:D