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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
"Ever since he could form his first thought Hoban Washburne had always wanted to fly."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1666 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
TITLE: "IN HIS BLOOD"
AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL
PAIRING: A Wash fic.
RATING: G. Pre-Firefly and Post-Serenity.
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
SUMMARY: "Ever since he could form his first thought
Hoban Washburne had always wanted to fly."
The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly'
are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
No infringement of copyright is intended.
"IN HIS BLOOD"
Written by Alison M. DOBELL
* * * * *
It wasn't that Wash was thick or stupid or anything like that it was just that he had grown up always knowing his strengths and weaknesses. A pale skinned lanky boy with a riot of light curly hair and exactly no gift for fighting was easy meat to the bully boys at school. Not being able to fight Wash was smart enough to find other ways to avoid the many beatings that kept coming his way. His natural talent for mimicry and clowning around quickly sharpened into a rapier quick wit. When he found he could make the bullies laugh they tended to not want to beat on him so much. In fact, the better he got at it the friendlier they became. Not that he wanted them as friends but it was a huge step up from being a red smear on the playground floor. The one everybody else wiped their feet on.
His dad was a salesman, pretty successful in a small town kind of way with the gift of the gab that had naturally passed from father to son. Only Wash didn't want to be like his father. His horizon was not on solid ground. His mama told him that having his head in the Black would only lead to trouble but he didn't care. From the first moment he looked up into the sky he knew what he wanted. And since then nothing planet-bound could tempt him.
Flight School was like a programme created just for him. Excitement over rode every ounce of ridicule aimed his way. It was simply water off a duck's back. Remy Martine kept cutting a glance across at Wash as he stared out of the school room window, watching the birds flying on the thermals and in thrall with their grace. The instructor was talking about Taunton 8s, his voice droning on and on like the old engines themselves. Realising one of his pupils was not paying attention he broke off and walked over to Wash's desk then slapped a broad flat palm on the desk making Wash jump. His eyes flicked guiltily up to the instructor's face.
"I am sorry you find our lessons so boring, Washburne. I was under the misapprehension that you wanted to learn to fly."
Wash ignored the snickers of the other students, all his attention on Gordon Flood. "*Duibuqi, shifu*, I was listenin' it's just the birds caught my eye..."
"Wrong kind of birds." Whispered Scott Piper.
"If you were listening," Said Mr Flood in a cool clear voice. "What was I saying?"
"You were discussing the old Taunton 8s and how the drive was inferior to the two nineties but better than the standard Richardson Pike. More reliable but with no flash."
Mr Flood raised an eyebrow. "That's quite a neat trick, Washburne."
"Listening with your attention elsewhere. Now. If you want to pass to the next grade you need to apply ALL your attention, do you hear me?"
"Because if you drift off in another class of mine you're out!"
A look of horror and distress came over Wash's face. There was no snickering now. All the kids in class were desperate to fly. No worse punishment could be levied that the threat of expulsion. "I won't sir, I promise, I just HAVE to fly!"
Mr Flood leaned on the desk and brought himself eye to eye with Wash. "And I just HAVE to teach, *dong ma*? What I don't have to do is waste my time on young men who refuse to pay attention."
"But I was listenin', sir."
"The ability to recite my words like a parrot does not mean anything penetrated that thick skull of yours, Washburne. If you are this bad in an aircraft you won't even be able to take off, which on consideration might be a blessing on us all."
The snickering was back but Wash ignored it all, his face reddening. He knew he should keep his mouth shut but he couldn't help it. "I can fly sir an' I will be the best."
"To be the best Mr I-don't-need-to-pay-attention Washburne, you need to pass this class, do I make myself clear?"
Wash went pale. "Yes, sir."
That was when Wash determined to be the perfect student. The trouble was it was not in his nature to sit quietly or to with hold his opinion when he saw something wrong. Plus, the practical jokes were beginning to become legendary.
It was Elijah Fox's group. The one with first pick of flight students to take to the air. The one Wash would bleed every ounce of blood out of his veins to be part of. "Mr Washburne, explain to me why the fire extinquisher in your dorm ended up three flights down in Reginald Parker's gymnasium?"
"Um uh sir, it was an accident."
"An accident Washburn is not something perpetuated by students at this Flight School, *dong ma*? Why did you do it? *Naozhe wan*?"
A red flush caught up with his ears but Wash tried to explain as best he could, pathetic stunt that it had been. "No sir, I was explainin' the laws of aerodynamics an'..."
It was the wrong thing to say. As if a light bulb had gone on in Fox's head, the man's aspect changed as if sensing the perfect way to both chastise and humiliate his errant student. "In that case, Mr Washburne, you will give the first demonstration but I must warn you."
Wash's hopeful expression froze.
"If you fail this will not be a simple reprimand, it will be the end of any hopes you may harbour of passing through Flight School and getting a pilot's licence."
That was six months ago. Fortunately Wash had been a natural, the clumsy clunky ship responding to his coaxing like a reluctant lover but once in the air all the little hiccoughs disappeared. Wash had never felt anything so wonderful in his life. It was as if he had been born to fly. On the ground Mr Flood and Mr Fox shook their heads in frustrated awe.
"You know," Said Gordon Flood. "If that man wasn't such a natural I'd use him as gorram target practice."
"If he wasn't such a natural," Quipped a dry humoured Elijah Fox, "The students on the range might even have a chance of hitting him."
The two men continued to watch Wash in flight for a few more delicious minutes, each enjoying the sheer poetry he brought to flying. Gorramit if the man didn't raise flying to an art form. Mr Flood sighed. "I guess that means we have to pass him?"
"Look on the bright side, Gordon. Once he's out of our hair we can stop patching up the school."
Mr Flood smirked at his friend. "Ah, but where would be the fun in that?"
Years came and went. Wash went from job to job, each employer wanting to keep him once his tenure was up but he was a man with a plan. Wash didn't just want to fly, he wanted to fly EVERYTHING. So staying in one place with the same employer was only ever a stepping stone in a wider journey. He picked firms with different ships, experimental craft, you name it he flew it. It was at the very beginning of the War when he had his first brush with Hiro Tanaka. Tanaka, a man famed for his courage as much as his stunts. But he was not a man who took chances despite his reputation and he had long been hearing about the gifted flying skills of one Hoban Washburne but this was the first time he had the opportunity to meet him.
"Buy you a drink?"
Wash pulled off his leather gloves, his curly hair an unruly mess. Weariness flattening out into just plain tired. It was the end of a long run, one where each flight was quickly turned around to make the most of every hour of flight time and he was so weary he reckoned he could sleep standing up. The boss had given him three days off. Three big fat beautiful days - and nights, don't forget the nights - that he intended to spend crashed out of his skull until they woke him on the fourth day. "Add food to that an' you've got yourself a deal."
Tanaka grinned and clapped him on the shoulder sending a puff of dust into the air. "Eat an' drink whatever you want. When I've finished with you Hoban, you're gonna be a very rich man."
That alerted Wash right away. He knew a scam when he heard it and the conman's wiles didn't get much smoother than this but he was tired, thirsty and gorram hungry. Wouldn't hurt to drink the man's beer and eat his food while his weary ears listened. After all, flight school had taught him he could do more than one thing at a time. By the time Tanaka had finished it sounded too good to be true.
"Um, don't think I'm not grateful Tanaka..."
"*Qing*, call me Hiro."
"O-kay, Hiro. It's just I'm still under contract to Mogan an' Styles..."
Tanaka waved aside Wash's comment. "*Fang xin*, I'll buy out your contract."
That sobered Wash up quicker than a cold shower. Tanaka now had all his attention. "Why would you do that?"
"Because I need ace pilots like you. I won't lie to you, Hoban..."
"I won't lie to you, Wash, there's danger involved but also the rewards are high. A man with the right skills can turn this war around."
"Oh no, no, no, NO! I'm not a fighter. Pilot, *jide*?"
"It's okay, trust me. I want you to fly, that's all."
"But let me guess, through a war zone?"
"Wash, in case you haven't noticed everywhere's become a gorram war zone."
It was true and so it had. After a moment of reflection, Wash tilted his head and gave Tanaka a thoughtful look. "So what's the deal?"
It sounded sweet. It sounded easy. A gift for someone with his skills. The trouble was it was not terribly legal and after three weeks of leading a charmed life Wash got shot down behind Alliance lines. Spent the rest of the gorram war in an Alliance *jianyu*. He was not released until six months after the Independents had surrendered. It was not one of his most favourite memories. Tanaka had raved about him ever since. So it was that Malcolm Reynolds got to hear about this hot shot pilot everybody was trying to hire. A man almost a legend in his own rutting lifetime but as hard to pin down as a reflection in a pane of glass.
Wash knew exactly what Malcolm Reynolds was the moment he saw him. Not that the gorram browncoat didn't give it away, it was the man's whole demeanour. But Wash was not so much looking at the Captain as the ship. It was a Firefly mid-bulk transport. Wash really didn't want to be fighting the Independent cause any more than the Alliance one but the war was over and he could tell that this fellow was more than a little in love with his rusty old ship. That did more to endear Wash to Malcolm Reynolds than anything the man could have said. Tanaka had tried time and again to hire him after the whole war fiasco but Wash had not taken him up on any of the lucrative lures set before him. Tanaka made him wary. There was cutting corners and there was cutting corners with the Alliance. After a taste of their idea of 'justice' Wash was not keen to repeat the experience. But gorramit, he did had a soft spot for Fireflies.
"So, you'll take the job?"
He tried to play it cool, laid back. Smiling through the thick bushy moustache he had grown in prison. "Could do, could do..."
The Captain waved his hand at the console and told him to go and have a tinker then left him to it, a beautiful amazon warrior woman following the man off the bridge. Wash raised his eyebrows and suddenly it wasn't just the ship that caught his interest.
"I don't like him, sir."
"What? What's not to like? He's got recommendations as long as my leg. Tanaka raves about him..."
Then Wash shaved his moustache off and his life really began to look up. Now here they were trying to evade gorram Reavers and Wash found himself fighting childhood insecurities that he thought he had long out grown, the ship bucking beneath his hands as he fought to keep the ship under control. "I'm a leaf on the wind... watch how I soar!"
Never should have got cocky. Hardly felt the gorram spike go through his chest, so rutting quick. The pain so sudden and all encompassing, his body shutting down without him having any say so. Was getting all kinds of light headed as the blood leaked out of him and then he was soaring, as light as a feather, carefree and without pain.
Everybody mourned even Jayne. Zoe was inconsolable. Kaylee found comfort in Simon. Inara was back though no one knew how long that would last. River was the only one after the funeral for Wash, Book and Mr Universe who hung behind and looked up to the sky. "A leaf on the wind." She whispered. "In his blood."
No one spoke, the loss too painful and the crew still struggling to recover their own selves. River watched them all, memories of Wash still dancing inside her brain alongside Book's grave humour and Mr Universe's whacky lifestyle. As the little rocket Zoe had lit spiralled out of sight, River knew it was time to let him go. "See how I soar."
Hiro Tanaka contacted Mal three months later trying to buy up Wash's contract. The Captain didn't have the heart to go into any details, just gave him the grim facts. Tanaka sounded almost heart broken his own self. Wash was the most gifted pilot he had ever known but to the crew of Serenity he was much more than that. He was their friend.
CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)
*duibuqi* = sorry *shifu* = sir *dong ma* = understand? *naozhe wan* = for fun
*qing* = please *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *jide* = remember
*jianyu* = prison
Wednesday, July 12, 2006 8:56 AM
Wednesday, July 12, 2006 9:18 AM
Wednesday, July 12, 2006 9:48 AM
Thursday, July 13, 2006 8:43 PM
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