BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE

SOMEDEEPMYSTERY

Sweeter Things
Monday, September 18, 2006

On their special day, Wash and Zoe can't seem to find that special time they need.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1270    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Written for Wifesoup

Sweeter Things

In the calm, soothing quiet of the morning, Wash watched his wife sleeping. Her dark lashes rested gently against her cheeks, and her full lips were parted ever so slightly in slumber. As she breathed in and breathed out, he could feel her breath stir against his chest. Even after he heard the stirrings of a few of their crewmates overhead he continued in his vigil with an uncharacteristic patience. He always felt like more than himself when it came to Zoë.

He was always mesmerized by the sight of Zoë sleeping, because in that relaxed and peaceful state, she looked remarkably like a girl. Now, Wash was fully aware, more then most, that Zoë was all woman, but even he still felt slightly giddy and somewhat off kilter at the thought of her being a girl. He smiled widely as her eyes slowly opened, and she looked up at him sleepily. He had been waiting for this very moment.

Her sleepy look was fleeting and soon she was frowning at him quizzically. ”Husband, may I ask why is it you’re staring at me like a man who’s got somthin’ to hide?” Zoë demanded almost immediately, her voice still husky with sleep.

”Can’t a man just enjoy the sight of his beautiful wife without being verbally assaulted?” Wash asked, unable to tuck away his grin. “Why would you automatically assume I have anything to hide?”

”No reason at all,” Zoë said, rolling away from him quickly, as if to climb out of bed, only to roll right back before disappointment had finished registering on her husband’s face. “After all, today is just an ordinary day.” She smiled widely as she handed him a medium sized package that was wrapped in festive paper and tied with a shiny green bow. He looked down at it and his eyes widened.

”No! No fair, Zoë, I was awake first, and I’ve been sitting here waiting. I was supposed to beat you this time,” he demanded petulantly as he pulled a small, handsomely wrapped gift from beneath the covers at his waist where he’d been hiding it. Zoë laughed.

”Don’t be theatrical, Dear. Now, open.” Wash sighed and took the gift from her, but when she reached for hers he held it back, clucking at her with his tongue. She looked a little petulant herself at that, and he grinned as he pulled the end of the green ribbon. Inside there was a small multi tool that fit perfectly in the palm of his hand as well as it would his pocket which he fawned over before moving on, and yet another book about Prehistoric Earth-that-Was. He smiled, kissed her swiftly, and then handed her his gift.

She smiled sweetly as she looked it over, the pretty red paper covered with gold foil cabbage roses. She reached for the end of the ribbon and started to pull it loose.

”Zoë!” shouted Mal’s voice from above, followed by a loud pounding that made Wash jump with a start. “What are you at woman, I been up for an hour and already I’m up to my eyeballs in troubles. And Wash? Don’t we have a planet we need to be landing on sometime today?”

Wash opened his mouth to fire off a sharp retort, but Zoë shushed him with a hand against his lips. “We’ll be out in a minute, Captain,” she called back. Mal made some comment to the affect of, “well you’d better be” but the couple didn’t really hear. Wash was looking at his wife like she’d just broken his favorite dinosaur figure.

”Zoë, you’re not serious. Today.”

”How long can it take?” she asked softly, interrupting him. She ran her hand gently over his shoulder and looked at him convincingly, kissing him when he looked like he was leaning toward agreement. He kissed her back, quickly pulling her to him, and indulging in the sweet taste of her mouth.

The moment was disrupted by a repeat performance from Mal as he pounded on the door again and shouted. “C’mon you two, I ain’t paying ya to laze around all day!”

Wash looked up angrily, but Zoë just looked resigned. It always irritated him to see her acquiesce so easily, but today his irritation was multiplied. Then again, today of all days he was determined not to argue. It was simply how she was. His own issues with Mal’s lord and master routine were far from being resolved, but he’d made his choice. He’d had his chance to leave. He’d married Zoë instead.

If he hadn’t, they’d have nothing to celebrate today in the first place.

Zoë looked back at her husband, still lounging in bed as she yanked her pants up over her hips and fastened the closure. He was looking disappointed and altogether too adorably tempting, lying there naked and watching her put on her clothes like a child watching his Christmas being packed away in boxes. “You thinkin’ about getting outta that bed anytime soon? I think the captain wants you on the bridge.” The quick flash in his blue eyes told her that wasn’t the best subject to approach, but she didn’t take it back, or back off. She leaned over him with her shirt still unbuttoned, and kissed him. “I’ll head down to the cargo bay, sort out what needs sorting and then I’ll meet you there,” she said, with as much insinuation as she could manage. She grinned and was finally rewarded with one in return. “How’s that sound?”

”Better then not,” Wash replied and tossed off the covers that were clinging to his ankles and climbed out from the warmth of their bed. Zoë took a moment just to watch her husband before she climbed the ladder out and went in search of her captain.

She found him, head in his hands, standing on a catwalk above the cargo bay floor. She looked past him to the floor below and the chaos that had erupted there. At the center of the mayhem was none other then River Tam. Her usually reserved doctor of a brother was all but begging on hand and knee for her to come down from where she was twirling and swinging in a mass of gauze like veil that was hanging from the center of the cargo bay ceiling. Jayne was raging and cursing at her, grabbing at her to pull her down, but each time she eluded his grasp and giggled with child like glee as she taunted him with a little wave. Kaylee was giggling behind her hand as she stood back out of the way. River’s lithe, graceful body spun, turned and twisted in a strange and intricate dance that reminded Zoë of a circus performance she had seen once as a small child. Jayne made another grab at the crazy girl, and River managed to tickle his chin with her slender fingers and still avoid capture as she spun past him. Zoë suppressed a smile as she said to her captain, “Didn’t we just finish setting that tent up last night?”

”Hey, this ain’t no laughing matter! She tears a whole in that, there’s hell to pay.”

”Mayhap we should extricate her and set it back to rights, seein’ as how you rousted my husband from our nice warm bed on account of our supposedly impending arrival?”

This statement brought an odd look from Mal. He answered with a whip of “Ya think?” but continued to study her as she made her way to the descending stairs. Complaints from his first mate were a rarity at best, especially such a trivial one made in defense of her husband.

Wash punched insolently at the buttons on his console, taking control of the yoke even though it was unnecessary. If Mal was going to insist on his sitting here despite their being more then an hour from atmo, he might as well do something. Although this was certainly not what he wanted to be doing, nor was it what he had figured he be spending most of his time doing this particular day.

He let out a long sigh, and leaned back in his chair, taking a comfortable position. The feel of Serenity at his finger tips helped him to relax and let go of much of his irritation. He was just feeling ready to plug her back into auto pilot, when he heard the door to the bridge slide shut, and the latch click into place. He looked up sharply and smiled at the sight of his wife walking slowly toward him. Her fingers worked a few buttons of her shirt giving him a nice glimpse of the chocolaty curve of one breast.

”Hey you,” he said softly, wrapping an arm around her and pulling her into his lap. He turned them just enough to reset the auto pilot, locking the yoke back into place, and then wrapped both arms around her.

”Hey yourself,” Zoë responded pressing her palm to his cheek. “Missed you.”

The thought of saying “it’s your own damn fault” did cross his mind for a split second, but with her warmth so close he pushed it aside and pressed his face into her neck, kissing the smooth skin there. “I missed you too,” he answered instead.

His voice rumbled over her skin, and Zoë’s hands slid over his shoulders, coming to rest on his chest. She toyed for a moment with the pull of his flight suit zipper, before giving it a tug. “You know, we’re all alone right now.”

Wash looked up at her with shock in his blue eyes. “Zoë, it isn’t nice to tease your husband. Especially when he’s already had one big disappointment for the day.”

Zoë grinned and ran a hand playfully through his hair. “Everyone’s busy doin’ chores, getting ready for the pick up.”

”Captain’s on a rampage, likely to come in here and blow a—“ he had to pause while she commandeered his lips for a long kiss, and he was a bit breathless when he continued, “A gasket.”

”That’s why I locked the door,” she whispered provocatively in his ear, stretching out each word to emphasize her meaning. Wash groaned and gave in, kissing her fully on the mouth and wrapping his arms more tightly around her, sliding one hand down to cup her bottom. Zoë pulled his zipper down to his waist, and pushed her hands inside to feel the warmth of him.

Wash gently pulled her shirt from her waistband so he could return the favor. His first instinct was to maneuver her onto the floor and take full advantage of the opportunity, but this was their day. It was a day to celebrate, and he wanted more then a quickie squeezed in between the morning dishes and this weeks laundry. Zoë shifted in his lap as she further unzipped his suit.

Still, that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy a few intimate moments with his wife.

Zoë sighed into his hair as his hand slipped between her thighs, his knuckle rubbing intimately against her, then she grinned a she pulled his earlobe between her teeth, and slipped her hand inside his boxers. Their position was awkward, and they bumped heads as he moved to kiss her, and they laughed together for a moment before taking each other’s lips with out restraint.

The harsh sound of the cockpit hatch sliding open shattered the moment.

”Oh, I’m… sorry. I’ll just go and come back later.” It was Inara’s voice, as well as her figure standing in the hatch way. Zoë withdrew her hand from her husband’s pants and pulled back slightly from his body, as he quickly moved his hand to a more innocuous position on her outer thigh and blushed a shade of pink that clashed violently with his ginger colored hair.

”Can we help you with something?” Zoë asked calmly and without umbrage. Inara stopped mid-turn and looked back at the couple with an understanding smile.

”I was just in the galley having some tea, and I thought I would pop up here and ask Wash for a closer estimation of our arrival than Mal offered. The Captain seems to be in somewhat of a “mood” this morning.”

”He’s had a rough morning,” Zoë defended as she stood to re-tuck her shirt. Wash snorted resentfully, and turned to check their timetable, relieved for the chance to compose himself before he needed to speak.

“Again,” Inara said while she waited, “I’m very sorry. The door wasn’t locked, but I suppose a closed door should’ve been enough. Zoë raised an eyebrow and turned at Wash’s sharp questioning look. His embarrassment brought a smile unbidden to her lips, which just made him glare harder.

”Must be broken,” she said simply.

”We’ve got just under half an hour before we hit atmo, Inara.” Wash said, not taking his eyes off his wife.

”Thank you, Wash, and again I’m very sorry. I know it must be hard for you two to find a moment alone on board this ship sometimes,” Inara said before slipping from the room.

Zoë chuckled at the look her husband was giving her, and he was a bit indignant as he said, “It’s not funny Zoë. What if it had been Mal, or the shepherd… or Jayne?”

”Well,” she said with a smile as she sidled back onto his lap. “Ain’t nothing sinful in what we’re doin’, seeing as how we’re married an all.” She wrapped her arms around him. “And Jayne could probably benefit from seeing a real man at work.”

”Ha!” Wash responded, begrudgingly smiling as he did so. “I’d take that if I thought you actually meant it.” But he wrapped his arms around her waist just the same, and moved in to kiss her. “Besides, it wasn’t so much myself that I was worried about. It was you with all your goodies hanging out.” Zoë opened her mouth to respond but Mal chose that moment to stomp onto the bridge.

”You think you two could manage a little actual work around here today? Wash?”

“Twenty-five minutes,” the pilot responded without bothering to look at the captain.

”Zoë, I could use you in the mess locking things down, seems everyone else has gotten themselves tied up in that cargo bay.” Mal turned without waiting for a response and left the bridge without another look at the couple whom he’d had about enough of today. Of course he had no justification for resenting them, but the fact that the voice telling him he was over reacting sounded a bit like a certain guild certified companion he had on board only served to further irritate him. Then out of the blue, there she was in front of him.

”Speak of the devil,” he said at the sight of her, automatically crossing his arms, exhaling through his nose and preparing for battle.

”Excuse me?” she said.

”Hmm?”

Inara sighed, “All I wanted to say, was that you should try not to be so hard on them. They are your loyal crew Mal, but they can’t be expected to be on duty 24 hours a day 365 days a year.”

”I’m sorry, are you trying to tell me how to run my ship? Again?” he asked holding up two fingers for emphasis.

“Mal, please.” Inara started, but ended up just looking back at him in his death stare, matching him brown eyes to blue.

”Fine then, you go deal with your business and I’ll deal with mine.” And with that he strode off again. Back to the cargo bay to make sure thing were getting done.

~

”No, you sha gua! You gotta fasten it down even like. Ta ma da, you’d think a guy who could sew folk up could put up a tent fer some bugs.” Jayne was shouting, as Simon tried to fasten down the starboard side and failed miserably.

”Jayne! Yellin’ at ‘im won’t help ‘im none.” Kaylee said defensively as she tried to help Simon and do her own side at the same time.

”No sewing, just tearing.” River said randomly glaring at Jayne menacingly. He looked back with and equal amount of animosity, but took a couple of steps away from the crazy girl and her brother.

“She is probably right, Son,” Book called from the other side of Jayne. “I seem to find a calm tone does more to help someone learn a new task.” “Yeah, well,” Jayne said having no desire to disrespect the preacher but and equal lack of desire to give any to Simon. “I tend t’ prefer action to fancy words.”

”Don’t leave any cracks, we don’t want our cargo escaping and loose on the ship, trust me on this.” Mal called down from above them.

”We got it all under control Cap, don’t you worry, just go have a cup of coffee or somethin’,” she called out and then added softly in hope he wouldn’t hear “Been on a tear all mornin’. Sure got his panties in a twist over something that’s fer sure.” Jayne responded with a snort then turned sharply away from Mal to hide his snickering.

Mal heard none the less, due to the exquisite acoustics of his cargo bay. He chose not to comment, but instead took a deep breath and headed back to the mess for that coffee. He stepped inside only to be met with the sight of his pilot groping his first mate over the sink as she scrubbed up a few forgotten dishes hiding there. Wash was whispering against her neck and Zoë…Zoë was giggling, which was always a bit of a disconcerting sight for Mal, especially when he knew that drinking wasn’t involved. He cleared his throat and they broke apart.

” Fifteen minutes, Captain!” Wash said running a hand peevishly through his hair, and heading back to the bridge. Zoë just looked up at Mal somewhat coldly as he sat down at the table. He had to do a double take on that, but her focus was on the dishes when he looked back.

”Nervous about the job?” she asked calmly as she lifted a few forks from the water and dried them off.

”No, why ya askin’?”

”Seem a bit tense.”

”You seem a bit distracted,” Mal said.

”Might be,” Zoë said, with another one of those indecipherable looks that hehated so much.

Mal sat for a moment and then shook his head and stood up. His whole crew was gone crazy this morning and he wasn’t sure how much more he could take.

~

Their landing was about as smooth a thing as Mal had a right to expect from a pilot. In fact it was so smooth that he was surprised when the hatch began to descend. He hadn’t felt even a bump of landing. Zoë came down the stairs ready to go with him to meet their client, and Wash was right on her heels and his hand on her back.

”Jayne, you ready to head out?” Mal called.

“All decked out in my finest,” he answered, coming to stand beside him with Vera strapped to his chest.

”Think that might be overkill? We ain’t had any problems on this moon yet.”

”Can’t never be too careful. ‘Sides what kinda fella’d I be I didn’t take my best girl out on a regular basis?”

”Okay then,” Mal said and stepped out on to the ramp, Jayne followed close behind, then Zoë after a somewhat lingering kiss with her husband.

”Mal promised a bit of a furlough,” Wash said.

”Yeah, the client didn’t expect to deliver till this afternoon.”

”Keep your eye out for a nice place,” Wash said, eyebrows raised. “Or just an okay place. Or a not bad place. Maybe we can go out.” Her response was a smile and another quick kiss.

~

Wash was still waiting in the cargo bay when they returned an hour later. He couldn’t help but be cheered by the look on the captain’s face as he strode confidently up the ramp, looking in much better spirits then he had that morning. The pilot rocked enthusiastically on the balls of his feet, unable to hide his hopeful countenance as the captain approached.

”Hey Cap, I was wondering about that possible shore leave you just happened to mention earlier.”

Mal smiled and gave Wash’s shoulder a pat. “Sorry Wash, turns out that’s a no go. Client will have the goods here in about 20 minutes.” He failed to notice the other man’s face fall completely. “But if we play our cards right we could be paid by the end of the day.” He said this last part with a grin as he strode away. Jayne passed by a few moments later with a nod. Wash waited for his wife who was atypically lagging behind.

”Hey baby,” she said sidling up to him, a hand caressing over his shoulder. ”There wasn’t any place worth payin’ a visit to anyhow,” she said softly. Wash sighed and put an arm around her.

”Well pretty lady, wanna help me warm up our girl?”

”I probably best stay and help the captain take the cargo on,” she said, playing with his collar. “Hopefully keep him in this sudden good mood.”

”Yeah,” Wash said looking down, rubbing her arms gently. “Good idea. I guess I’ll see ya later,” and Zoë nodded as he pulled away.

Zoë watched him make his way up the stairs until he was out of sight, then crossed her arms over her chest and looked out at the landscape of the small town of Portico Nuevo.

”Hey Zoë, you okay?” It was Kaylee, coming up to stand next to her, a large grease covered tool in her hands, a matching accessory for the grease on her cheek.

”I’m fine Kaylee, just waitin’ for the client.”

”Oh, you just looked a little down, that’s all.” The mechanic said softly. Zoë put a warm hand on her shoulder and gave it a squeeze along with a half a smile.

Serenity’s engines roared to life around them, just as an ATV pulled up outside towing a trailer full of large white crates. Several men in special suits were gathered around it, spraying them down with some kind of smoke. The ATV turned and drove in to the cargo bay, directed by Zoë, as Jayne held aside the veil they had worked all morning to set up just right. They dropped the trailer and then drove the ATV back out into the sun.

The driver hopped off and pulled off his helmet. He grabbed two suits off the back and handed them off to Mal as they shook hands. “There you go, Captain Reynolds, one community of high producin’ honey bees. Here’s my associate now with the flowers. You tell the buyer that if he keeps himself a field full of these as well as some others he’ll get him self a fine crop.”

”Thank you Mr. Philips. We’ll be back with your payment most likely by the end of this day.” They shook hands again and Mal climbed back up into the cargo bay. He met head on with Jayne.

”Captain, exactly what kinda bugs are these we’re haulin’?”

”Jayne you were right there in the room, weren’t you paying attention at all?”

Jayne squinted, thinking back, but all he could seem to remember was the pretty little thing sittin on the client’s desk corner with her skirt hiked up while she fixed her stockin’. He remembered every guard in the room, every gun, he remembered a decent sum of money being mentioned, but for the life a him, he couldn’t remember the cargo.

”Umm,” he started.

”Bees, Jayne, it’s bees, you know, for making honey?” With that Mal walked off toward the stairs to the bridge.

”Wait bees?” Jayne said hurrying after him. “You really think that’s a good idea Captain? Aren’t lots of people allergic to bees?”

”I ain’t,” Mal said calmly with a shrug.

”Well, uh.” Jayne started leaning in close and lowering his voice. “I sorta am.”

”What? Well then, you’d best go tell Simon, make sure he’s got what you need if ya get stung.”

”Well, I—“ Jayne started, but Mal was heading off in another direction. He didn’t get another chance to speak, because soon the captain was waylaid by someone else entirely. Inara, in full fury, hands on her hips at the top of the stairs.

”Inara, I’m sorry, but you did mention that you didn’t have any actual clients set up yet.”

”You didn’t exactly give me a chance to, did you?” she said. “Mal, I have duties, and this is becoming ridiculous!”

“I got business of my own, now we need to drop off this cargo, then we get paid, and we come back. You’re welcome to stay here to see if any clients show up for you.” He said all of this with a smirk and then he walked off headed toward the bridge, while Inara threw up her hands in frustration.

There he found Zoë wrapped around Wash from behind as he finished the sequencing for take off. “We’re all set for take off, Wash, so go ahead and take us out of here.”

”You got it.” Wash said, though without his usual enthusiasm. Zoë pulled away and took a lean against the console, holding on over head as they lifted off. Once they’d broke atmo, he turned toward Mal, hoping to get the captain to take over for just a moment, just the three hours back to Isolde, but Mal just smiled at him briefly and headed off for who knows where. Wash sighed and turned back to the console.

”Switch on the auto pilot Husband,” Zoë said from behind him as her hand slid over his shoulder. ”Yeah?” he asked turning slightly to kiss her hand, taking it in his.

”We’ve got about three hours, ain’t that right?” Wash nodded. “Then, yeah.”

”Okay then!” Wash said flipping all the right switches and double checking their course. He got up out of his chair and trailed after his wife still holding her hand. They hadn’t even made it to their bunk before they were kissing, leaning up against the bulkhead, their lips colliding as each of their hands sought to bring the other closer.

“Zoë!” Mal’s voice came sharply from the direction of the galley, and she jerked away from her husband with a start but didn’t let him go fully. It was another moment, which included a meaningful look from Wash tossed her way, before Mal stepped into their line of sight. “Simon’s up to his eyebrows with River, who seems to see our hauling honey bees to be on the same level as slave trading all of a sudden, and Kaylee is having a bit of trouble in the engine room although she’s being cagey as to what exactly, which makes me nervous, Wash I think you should probably go see if she needs a hand,” Wash opened his mouth to respond but Mal didn’t even slow down. ”And since I can’t find Jayne, Zoë I need you on laundry duty.”

”Captain, don’t you think this stuff could wait—“

”Wash—“

”Just a little while?” Wash finished, gesturing with his fingers what he thought a little while might look like.

”No, I don’t,” Mal said. “Engine ain’t nothin’ to be takin’ chances of and the laundry needs doin’. Now, let’s get to work around here.” And once again Mal walked away leaving Wash with his mouth open. Since the captain had disappeared, he turned to his wife instead.

”Zoë, seriously, the laundry?”

”Wash, we’re the crew, it’s our job.”

”The days half gone already, Zoë, our day.”

”What do you want me to do about it Wash?”

”What do I want?” he asked frowning. “Zoë, I want you to tell Mal that we are taking the day. Tell him it’s our anniversary, and we’re taking it.”

”It’s just one day, Wash, maybe,” she saw immediately she had made a bad move by the look on his face. “We could take tomorrow, with some extra money in our pockets.”

”Tomorrow’s not our anniversary!” he demanded. “I don’t see why you can’t just tell Mal.”

”I’m not going to start an argument with the captain about this.”

“You’re not going to start an argument with the Captain? Yeah, I understand that perfectly. Wouldn’t want to get the Captain upset with you on our anniversary, oh wait…”

”It’s just a day, Wash.”

”What?” he squawked, looking at her as if she just killed a litter of kittens, or broken his heart completely.

”Wash, that isn’t what I meant...” Zoë was standing back from him with her arms crossed now, in full fighting form. Wash wasn’t feeling intimidated, he was too angry.

”You’re right, Zoë it’s just a day. Like any other day. Tomorrow will be just the same. You should go celebrate it with him instead!” He stormed off toward the engine room. “Have fun with the damn laundry!” he called back, before stumbling slightly over a chair. He didn’t turn around as he righted himself and Zoë just watched him go. She moved through the galley and into the small nook behind it where the laundering machines were tucked away. She started in immediately checking them to be sure they were empty, checking chemical levels. Then she stopped abruptly and leaned back against the wall letting fall back as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

Of course Wash didn’t understand. He couldn’t, but she was tired of his attitude about Mal. Naturally she didn’t think today was just a day. She was proud as hell to be married to the same man for four years. She believed it was a happy accomplishment, even if she didn’t particularly like the man at the moment. But she didn’t see what harm it could do to wait a day. Just to preserve the peace. Mal was in a mood, and it was never wise to challenge his ideas of crew and authority when he was in a mood.

And then there was Mal. What they had been through together no two people go through without coming out the other side changed. They were connected and there weren’t no changing that. She knew Wash couldn’t quite grasp it, which was why she usually took his minor jealousies in stride. But today was different. Today she was angry with Mal, likely more so then with her husband for his petty immaturity.

How could he think of her so little after all this time so as to forget it was her anniversary today?

Of course realizing she felt this way made her think that maybe her husband wasn’t 100% wrong in the jealous department this time.

~

Kaylee took a long sideways look at Wash as he burned himself on the intake for the third time and swore vehemently. Wash wasn’t overly prone to angry outbursts or swearing, nor was he usually clumsy when it came to working with the ship. So far aside from the burns he’d hit his head, whacked his shin and pinched himself on or with various parts in the engine room with a steady constancy since his arrival there. Finally she just had to speak up.

”Wash?” She asked, letting the tool she was using come to rest on her chest for a moment. They were both lying under the engine with their feet sticking out as they worked. “You feelin’ alright?”

”Fine,” he said curtly without looking from his task. “Why do ya ask?”

”Well, ya don’t really seem fine’s all. Fact, ya seem kinda upset.”

”Upset, oh no. What reason could I possibly have to be upset?” Bingo, Kaylee thought.

”Well, I dunno, but I’m a real good listener, you could talk t’ me if ya wanted,” she said softly, trying to catch his eye. He sighed, but still resolutely avoided eye contact.

”I’m fine Kaylee, let’s just get this done so you can go off and spend time with Simon or whatever.”

Kaylee recoiled slightly at that and turned back to work. Wash felt that recoil like a punch in the stomach. He sighed again and turned toward her.

”Sorry Kaylee, I guess you’re right. I am irritated. I lied.” He shrugged and tried for a grin and Kaylee rolled her eyes.

”I never suspected,” she said and then smiled.

”I’m just mad because today of all days this is the last place I want to be. Holed up under an engine angry and frustrated, and—tzao gao.” He scooted out and stood up quickly brushing himself off. Kaylee followed, too curious not to, but all he did was give her a wave and head for the door.

”What about the intake?”

”If Mal comes by, tell him I’m taking a leak.”

”But where are you going?”

”To get my ass kicked by my wife,” he said with a smirk.

Kaylee watched him leave, hurry in his steps. She sat there for a moment mulling over what he had said, unable to leave it alone. Being Kaylee, she hated it when anyone was upset, and she couldn’t let go of wondering what had gotten under Wash’s skin so thoroughly. She got to her feet and wiped her greasy hands on her backside and made her way over to her hammock.

Tucked away in a little shelf behind it was a small calendar covered with badly painted Oriental designs. She opened it up, thinking in her mind, ”today of all days” and flipped to the current date. Her eyes widened when she read what she herself had written in her own hand.

”Oh crap!”

~

Wash folded his arms and leaned against the door to the laundry area, watching his wife methodically move clothing through its paces. It was a long moment before she spoke, and when she did she didn’t look up.

”You’ve got nerve showing your face in here.”

”I know it,” he said. “I’m sorry. I was an ass, a pig headed ass. I don’t want to fight, especially not today, and especially not about Mal.”

Zoë sighed and stopped in her work. She leaned forward, resting her weight on one straitened arm braced against on one of the rusted utilitarian looking machines.

”And now, I’m here to grovel, plead and otherwise prostrate myself before you in order to have this not be a thing.”

Zoë pushed back from the washer and looked at him. “Well, before you start with the groveling, I should probably have my own say.”

”Right,” Wash said coming to stand before her with his arms spread out at his sides. His yellow batik shirt hung unbuttoned from his torso and his green flight suit was secured around his waist with his the sleeves. He had a smear of grease on his left cheek. “Right, first you get to have your say. I’ll take it like a man, so I can feel free to cry later. With the pain and the scary.”

”You were right, and I’m sorry,” Zoë said calmly.

”Exactly, I was—What?” he started, his hands dropping to his sides. He looked back at her with a frown.

Zoë folded her arms across her body and leaned a hip against the laundry machine. She looked directly at him this time, her eyes showing the sadness that was there. Hiding emotions was work for Wash, but showing them when they were needed was Zoë’s bane. “You were right, in what you said, I was putting Mal first, and I was wrong. I’m sorry baby.”

”Zoë,” Wash’s bravado deflated and he closed the distance between them in short strides, pulling her to him. “What I said was terrible, Baby, you should shoot me… even if I was right.” She laughed against his neck.

”Bit sure of yourself now are you?” she said pulling back and giving him a look.

”Only sure that I love you.” He said it with all the seriousness he possessed.

”I love you too,” Zoë said softly and kissed him.

Wash smiled and pulled back, but didn’t release her, keeping his arm around her waist. Zoë in turn leaned on his shoulder as she turned toward the machines she’d been working with. “So, laundry,” Wash said. “You know, it occurs to me that there are some jobs that go faster when two people work together.”

Zoë raised on eyebrow, the corner of her full lips quirking up ever so slightly to go with it. “That so?”

”Yes, bao bei, it is. So where shall we start?”

”I think we should start right here,” Zoë answered and pulled him in by his collar. She grinned widely just before she kissed him, and Wash joined in the play, leaning into her and pressing her against the machines as they hummed and oscillated with their task. The result of their pressed bodies and the vibrating washer, only worked to spur them on a bit more. Wash grinned against her mouth, muttering about “interesting sensation there” Zoë simply said bi zui, hoisted herself up on top and wrapped her legs around his hips to pull him in close.

”Bai zhé bù náo,” Wash said with a grin, and Zoë laughed and kissed him hard. Wash didn’t waste a lot of time gaining access to as much of her skin as possible, and Zoë seemed to have the same goal. It wasn’t a bad plan, they should’ve thought of it before. No one came to the laundry room. You didn’t go in unless you had to, because if you were seen, you ended up with everybody’s unmentionables tossed your way.

Wash peeled Zoë shirt away methodically, kissing first the hollow of her throat, then her collar bone, moving down her chest as his fingers loosed the buttons of her shirt. He ran his tongue across the curve of her breast, rejoicing in the last button, and then he was pushed away so Zoë could get his shirts out of her way. She tossed them into a pile in the corner and shimmied her arms out of her shirt and sent it along with his. Her bra followed almost immediately, and Wash was far to distracted by that access to move further for several minutes. Zoë fingers grasped his shoulders for balance as her body responded to his ministrations. When he had her laying back against the wall panting and desperate, he moved down her smooth belly to the fastening of her pants. He drew the zipper down and kissed her lower abdomen, sneaking a finger tip under the band of her red panties.

A sudden motion to the left of them brought Zoë to instant attention. She sat up swiftly and Wash jerked back from her in surprise, slipping on a shirt button and falling backwards, his arms flailing for a moment before he hit the floor hard.

”Bees in your bonnet,” River said with an odd look of fascination as she hung upside down from the ceiling. Her feet were braced against the wall and a pipe like she was doing the splits on the ceiling.

”River!” Wash shouted from the floor. “Suoyou de dou shidang! What are you doing, you’re lucky Zoë didn’t kill you!”

River giggled. Reaching up with one hand, she swung herself down with a graceful flip that looked almost surreal in it’s execution and landed lightly on her naked feet. “Time to buzz off now. Beee good,” she said and Wash scrunched up his face in a curious expression as he watched her leave. Zoë knelt down next to him and grabbed up her shirt.

”Who ever comes back here?” he said incredulously. Zoë just smiled and offered him a hand up.

~

Mal paced outside Inara’s shuttle in a cloud of irritation. When he finally felt that he had a handle on exactly what he was going to say he stepped up to the door and strode on in. There was a strange squeak and an odd thump following a blur of movement when he stepped into the room, and he looked around confused for a moment before locating Inara who was striding toward him purposefully. She said, “Mal,” at the same time as he said, “Listen,” and they both stopped for a moment as she came to stand in front of him. They continued to speak at opposing points until Inara stepped closer and pressed her fingers against his mouth.

”Would you shush!” she said with exasperation. Mal just stood there for a moment, his eyes wide with surprise. Inara suddenly became very aware of the feel of his lips under her fingers, and felt the warmth of his breath against her skin. She jerked her hand back and pressed it against her skirt. “I don’t care about any of that right now, later I’ll be mad, but right now I need to talk to you about Wash and Zoë.”

Mal opened his mouth to speak, pointing his finger with an air of authority then he stopped looking confused. “Wait, what?” Then he did a double take as Kaylee popped up from the other side of Inara’s bed.

”We need to talk to you about Wash and Zoë,” she said, her eyes filled with acres of sincere emotion, her hands clasped together in front of her chest looking worried and anxious and passionate. Mal just looked from one woman to the other at an utter loss before Inara said dully, “Perhaps you should just sit down.”

~

A little while later Mal strode onto the bridge, where his pilot and his first mate were sitting, respectfully spaced, but looking about as cranky as he’d ever seen the two of them together and not fighting. “Wash, we need a quick detour.”

”What? Why?”

”Is there a problem?” Zoë asked, standing up. Mal waved her off.

”Nothing that we ain’t used to. Kaylee says we can’t break atmo, on account of some part we’re needin’. So there goes our plan for a quick job. I need Zoë to take a shuttle down to Lin’s on Ita. We’ll sit here and wait for ya.”

”Excuse me?” Zoë said, and he would forever swear she gave him the evil eye.

”Mal, don’t you think it would better if we all went?” If Wash was capable of an evil eye, Mal was pretty sure he was on the receiving end of it.

”No, I don’t,” Mal said grinning. “So bring her to a rest Wash, make sure she ain’t gonna drift too far, and then I want you to fly your wife down to Lin and see if you can charm him out of a part.”

”What?” Wash said stopping mid switch flip. He frowned, “You want me to fly Zoë in the shuttle?”

”That’s pretty much what I just said, ain’t it?”

”Not that I’m complaining,” Wash said very slowly, enunciating each word. ”But Zoë’s pretty good with the shuttle, and you—“

Mal cut him off. “It’s an order, now get to it.” He jerked his thumb toward the exit and Wash tossed up his hands and walked out. Zoë followed, stepping around Mal, but watching him with one of her studious looks as she did so. He tried to smile innocently, but he’d never been much of an innocent truth be told, and he doubted he pulled it off, but she left the room with just one final look back and he waved to her as he took the pilot’s seat. “And make it quick, I don’t want any dawdling.”

Wash bumped into Simon on the catwalk, and the Doctor looked away nervously for a moment before he turned to him and smiled. “Listen, Wash, I was wondering,” he paused and looked back over his shoulder then back again. “If while you are down there if maybe to you pick up some... um... hair ribbons… for River, yes, her hair is always everywhere and she likes bright colors so.(...) I thought.” Behind him Kaylee came clanking loudly out of shuttle two with her huge tool box clutched in her tiny hands. Simon looked extremely relieved when she arrived next to him, and he looked back at Wash and Zoë, who had joined him, with off kilter smile. “You know, never mind about that, the Captain would probably see ribbons as some sort of weapon. Either that or I’d probably wake up with all of them in my hair.” He laughed uncomfortably and strode away, and Wash found himself confusedly staring after a Tam sibling for the second time that day.

”Thanks for helpin’ me out Simon,” Kaylee called after him with a big smile. She looked back at the couple and her face fell for a second. “You know, with the shuttle enviromentals.”

”Wait, what’s wrong with the enviromentals?” Zoë demanded, “Captain told us to take the shuttle.”

”Oh, don’t worry, it’s shiny. ‘Nara said you could use hers, seein’ as how she got stiffed out of her last client.” Zoë frowned, looking questioningly at Kaylee.

Wash frowned as well and said, “Wait, Mal messed up her last job, and so now she’s helping him?”

”Aww, don’t make everything so complicated.” Kaylee demanded. “Maybe she was just being nice.”

Wash put his hands up in surrender, and followed Zoë across the catwalk to shuttle one, where Inara met them. She stepped out in a huff, but smiled in bravado when she saw them.

”Inara, you really don’t need to give up the shuttle.” Zoë said with an odd tone of concern in her voice. “Mal’s demands today have been more then a bit unreasonable.”

Inara waved her off. “He’s being a tyrant and making everyone miserable. When I volunteered it, I had hoped he would be the one leaving!” She said with a laugh. “That man could drive a shepherd to commit murder.” At her words Book appeared on the steps behind her, he looked up in surprise at the sight of Wash and Zoë.

”Oh Hello, I was just… I needed to—“

”He was just helping me secure some of my things so they wouldn’t be in your way.” She took the shepherd’s arm and pulled him down the cat walk with her.

Zoë turned to Wash with that suspicious look in her eye. “Does any of this seem strange to you?” Zoë asked, taking his arm before he could take the first steps into the shuttle.

”Yeah, but who cares, we’re getting off this ship, just you and me finally.” Wash said grinning. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, hun.” ”Captain said this is a quick job.” Zoë said sternly.

”So, we’ll fly naked.” At her look he said, “Or at least we can hold hands without someone jumping out at us. We can hold hands right?” She laughed soflty and took his outstretched hand, following him into Inara’s shuttle. There was something a little different about it, but Zoë figured it was just the fact that Inara had tucked her private things out of the way to protect them from any cargo. She followed Wash behind the curtain to the controls and took a seat in the copilot’s chair.

”You know,” Wash said as he initiated the start up sequence. “It’s been a long time since you and I flew anywhere together. Hell, it’s been awhile now since we were on a job together.”

Zoë leaned back in the chair and decided to relax. Whatever Mal was up to she doubted it was anything malignant, and she was with Wash. Still, she felt badly about their taking Inara’s shuttle away from her. To her husband she simply said, “Yes it has.”

On Serenity’s catwalk Kaylee watched through the porthole at the shuttle detached from Serenity and flew off into the black with its blue tail shining. “You think they suspected anythin’?” She asked Simon who was behind her leaning against the railing.

”Zoë did,” he said in his usual, modulated tones. “But I don’t think Wash is the suspicious type.”

”It’s kinda romantic doncha think?” She asked moving to where he was and sidling up beside him until their hips were just barely touching.

He didn’t move away, but had to clear his throat a little before he could respond. “I think they’ll enjoy it.”

”Would be nice to have some alone time with someone you care about.” She said, “’Course you don’t always need to get locked in a shuttle to get it, there are other ways.”

Simon turned and looked down into Kaylee’s big green eyes, and pulled at his collar. “I...”

”I hear the laundry room is popular for heated trysts of denied lovers.” River said without looking at either of them, but instead at something hidden in the palm of her hand, and she disappeared as suddenly as she’d appeared.

Simon turned away from Kaylee and looked after his sister. “I’d better go check on her. Captain still doesn’t like her wandering around without supervision.”

Kaylee’s face fell, and he felt a little piece of himself fall with it. ”Yeah, okay.”

He started to leave and then turned back. “It was really nice, what you did for them,” he said, then with a squeeze of her shoulder, he disappeared into the stairwell.

”Damn it!” Kaylee said under her breath, and then headed off to the engine room to finish her tune up.

~

”That was very kind of you.” Inara stepped onto the bridge in a swish of skirts.

Mal didn’t turn, but he couldn’t hide a smile at the sound of her voice. She must’ve forgiven him. “Nah, weren’t no kindness, ‘cept maybe to myself. I was tired of walking in on them all over the gorram ship.”

Inara smiled as she came to stand near him, a hand coming to rest on the rail of the ladder that led to lower decks. “Still, you were on track for a quick and profitable job.”

”Still be pretty quick, still profitable.”

”And how much of that profit are you giving up for this?”

”Well,” Mal said giving her a crooked grin. “Never did get Zoë a wedding present. I just might owe her a little something. Besides, I ain’t the one that gave up my room.” Inara smiled in return, but didn’t say anything else and the two of them went back to looking at the stars in comfortable silence. Until it was disrupted by the sound of a grown man screaming.

Jayne had managed to stay hidden despite his size, due to some pretty talented stealth capabilities. He didn’t often feel the need to employ them, preferring to use muscle and size to over power his opponent instead of a lot of sneaking around. But this opponent was different, and he figured the best way to keep outta trouble, was to stay out of the way. It was working pretty good too, till the ju tou had decided to seek him out. She appeared almost outta nowhere and crouched down beside him, smiling a crazy girl smile that looked like she was about to share a secret between friends, only they wasn’t friends and he’d rather not have her anywhere near him if he could manage it. “Scram, I’m lookin’ fer some quiet.” “Be friends,” she whispered softly. “I don’t want to be friends with you girl…” “Not me silly,” River said and held out her hand, slowly uncurling her fingers. When he saw what she was holding he hollered and scrambled away as fast as he possibly could.

~

Zoë pulled open the shuttle door, only to be greeted by three serving girls dressed in silk kimonos of varying colors. Each one was carrying a basket loaded to the brim with different items and foodstuffs. She stepped back to let them enter when she saw their contact, Lin, behind them smiling like a devil.

”What’s going on?” Wash asked peeking out himself only to be shouldered out of the way by one of the servants.

Zoë looked to Lin, “We’re here to pick up the part Captain Reynolds waved ahead for.” Zoë said sternly, her attention caught between him, and the servants loose in Inara’s shuttle.

”No, m’dear,” Lin said, in his usual way, which was condescending at it’s most friendly. Still he was a reliable contact and so Zoë put aside her irritation whenever she needed to deal with him. “I’m afraid you’ve been had. Your Captain told me you were here to take a mini vacation with your husband. You’re to stay here with the shuttle, and he’ll be back to retrieve you tomorrow.”

”What?” Zoë and Wash demanded together.

”Mal’s flying the ship?” Wash said.

”There’s no part,” was Zoë’s flat response. She’d known something was not quite right. She folded her arms over her chest and looked sternly at Lin. “I don’t like being deceived.”

”It was a harmless surprise.”

”She’s not a big fan of those either,” Wash said matter of factly. “Unless they are small, and don’t trigger her warrior woman defenses.”

The servant girls filed out, and Lin bowed as he stepped down from the entrance. “I hope you will, enjoy your stay, despite how you came to arrive.”

Zoë shut the door and turned to the adorned shuttle. She noticed for the first time that Inara had changed her bedding. Instead of the usual rich fabrics the companion preferred, the bed was made up instead with her own bedding, the nicest ones she and Wash owned.

”Honey,” Wash said, “I think we’ve been set up.” He moseyed toward her, his hands behind his back. “And just look what happened to be on the bed, which by the way is now loaded with all sorts of goodies. I think I saw some cherries.”

”Cherries?” she asked, her eyes softening.

”Mmm, hmm, and this,” he pulled a package from behind his back and handed it to her. It was the same one he had given her that morning.

She looked it over and then looked sharply at him, “Did you have anything…?”

”No, Zoë. My hand to God, I had nothing to do with this, I’m as surprised as you are.”

”I’m finding it hard to believe that they did all this.”

”Open it. It’s not anything big. Compared to this set up it feels rather small actually. Damn, I wish I had thought of this.” Zoë grinned and tore the paper from her gift and opened the box it had been hiding. Inside was a silver hair fastener in the shape of a dragonfly. It was both ornate and simple.

”Thank you,” she said softly, and reached back to clip it into her curls. Wash stepped closer, wrapping an arm around her waist, pulling her close.

”Now,” he said, his voice low, his head tipped in toward hers. “We started something earlier that I would really like to finish.”

”Mmm,” Zoë slipped a hand into his hair, enjoying the softness of it against her palm. “I like the sound of that.” Her husband pulled her in close, kissing her slowly, deeply, and with a thoroughness that went strait to her toes. And she returned the favor.

It was a long time later before they managed to get around to those cherries.

~The End~

COMMENTS

Monday, September 18, 2006 5:59 PM

DESERTGIRL


This was really funny. I felt so bad for Zoe and Wash. I am so glad it worked out in the end.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 6:35 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Gotta say...I am glad Kaylee and Inara managed to remind Mal about Zoe and Wash's anniversary. Man might act like an ass sometimes...but I doubt he would allow his pilot and XO to miss out on some deserved R&R time on their special day;)

Great job here, somedeepmystery! Wifesoup's real lucky;D

BEB


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