BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE

BIGGRSTAFFBUNCH

Moving in a Non-Linear Fashion (or, Five Conversations Kaylee Frye Never Had About Simon Tam): |Chapter Four-Zoe Washbourne|
Thursday, March 15, 2007

Kaylee's never been one to get complicated 'bout her feelings. Now that she is, though, it sure is a good thing the crew of Serenity is around to help. [post BDM angst/genfic/romance/who knows]


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2159    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

IV. Take to the Sky: Zoe Washbourne

Once Kaylee is done giggling with Inara, the Companion prods her gently to go find Simon. Kaylee nods, giving Inara one last hug before getting up and heading back towards the infirmary. She traces her hands across the ship's surface as she walks, feeling the heat against her skin. These are nights she lives for, she decides, bein' alone for moments at a time with her family, communin' with Serenity. There ain't much else she could ask for.

Much else, but there're still things she wants. Things she could have if she could just reach out and grab 'em.

When she gets to the infirmary door, she takes a deep breath before preparing to step through. A voice behind her stops her.

"He ain't in there."

Kaylee turns, her eyes wide. Now who? she thinks desperately. Just when she's gettin' up the courage...

It's Zoe, and Kaylee's heart stops for a moment, pure, involuntary grief enveloping her at the sight of the ship's first mate. There are circles around Zoe's eyes and her shoulders are stooped farther than they usually are, but Zoe attempts to smile at Kaylee, and the weak effort makes Kaylee's heart break a little.

"Simon," Zoe elaborates. "The doc? He ain't in there." She furrows her brow. "Kaylee? That who you're looking for?"

Kaylee guesses Zoe wouldn't take it so well if she just up and gave her a big ol' hug, so she don't. But it's a near, near thing.

"Yeah," Kaylee nods slowly. "I, uh, how d'ya know he ain't in there?"

Zoe smiles again, that half-lift of her lips and the drowsy, sad tilt of her head. "Couldn't sleep. Came down here to see if the doc had anything to help, but it's all dark in there. Think the Cap'n's restin' after his fall today."

Kaylee sighs. Now why hadn't she thought about that? She shoulda looked in the window right off, but she'd been so preoccupied with the darn door--Kaylee sighs again. She had been so close.

"Why?" Zoe's smile is a little brighter than it was before. Still plenty dim, but there's a shine to it. "You got special business with the doc?"

Kaylee shrugs carefully, mindful of the fact that discussin' a relationship with Zoe right now may not be the most sensitive thing. "Just this an' that," she hedges. "I ain't sure if the doc and I are at the particular stage where we're sharin' anything much more special than words, anyhow." Her voice is dry, and Zoe arches a brow in response.

She looks at Kaylee for a long moment before giving that sad smile again. "Kaylee," she begins. "Would you join me on the bridge for a bit?"

Kaylee's eyes widen. Time alone with Zoe, on the bridge? The very spot that Wash...where Wash...where...Kaylee's throat tightens. Oh no, sir, she can't do that. It's hard enough to see Zoe now and not sob all over herself, sayin' all manner of condolences and pretty words that won't help Zoe none. But to be on the bridge, where memories of Wash are probably even more vivid than Zoe's own bunk?

She begins to protest, but the look in Zoe's eyes stops her. "Okay," Kaylee says hesitantly. "I suppose I could. For a little while."

Zoe nods. "A little while is all I need," she says.

The bridge is empty and dark when they get up to it, lights from the nav system blinking sporadically. Zoe takes the pilot's seat so Kaylee props her hip against the controls and stands, looking out into the black.

"Big universe out there," Zoe says quietly. "Lots of things happen when you ain't lookin' for them to happen." Kaylee nods, throat tight. Thinks of the way it had felt to hear Zoe say in her curt, flat voice, "He ain't comin'."

She looks up at Kaylee. "You know, I hated Wash when I first met him."

Kaylee's heart seizes at the mention of Wash's name, but she senses that Zoe is needin' to say her piece. She remembers how Zoe and Wash used to be up late at night when Kaylee couldn't sleep, and she'd slip from her bunk right up here to the bridge. They'd all sit for hours just talkin' about the past and stories and the like. Her chest aches at the emptiness where Wash should be right now.

"Way he told it, you were in love with him the minute you set eyes on him," Kaylee says softly, trying for teasing. Not sure if it's too soon, but thinkin' Wash would've liked her to say it.

Zoe smiles, though it's obvious it takes effort. She runs her hand over the control systems panel. "Sometimes, I'd wager he was right." She chuckles slightly. "Don't get me wrong," she begins, "He bothered me. Bothered me something fierce. Had this awful moustache and a smart mouth. And he never knew what was good for him, starin' me up and down like I was a piece of steak." Zoe smiles again, more wistfully. "But he was always around those first few weeks, workin' at me and workin' at me till I wasn't quite sure why I didn't like him in the first place."

Kaylee touches Zoe's shoulder and Zoe smiles, patting Kaylee's hand.

"Never thought it would happen to me, someone like Wash comin' into my life the way he did." She drums her fingers against the panel, looking into the distance. "He snuck up on me and ruined all my plans, Kaylee. Made me rethink everything I thought I knew about myself. Made everyone else rethink what they knew about me, too." A grin, somewhat broader than the rest.

Kaylee thinks about how she fantasizes now about little brown-haired young'uns with bright blue eyes and shy smiles. Thinks about her former plan to keep on repairin' engines till her fingers wouldn't work no more. Thinks about how she's already mapping the shortest route from her bunk to Simon's, how sometimes she catches herself doodling Tam after her own name.

And she sorta knows how Zoe feels.

"I wouldn't have had it any other way, though." Zoe's voice cuts through Kaylee's thoughts. "I need people to understand that. Even knowing the way things would've gone, I'd have done it all the same." Her eyes are serious. "You get that, don't you?"

Kaylee takes a breath and nods. "I'm so sorry, Zoe," she says slowly, her voice very, very quiet.

Zoe nods, looking away. "It ain't your fault," she says simply. "It's no one's fault, and maybe that's the hardest thing. Just the way life works." Zoe looks up at Kaylee again, her eyes bright in a way Kaylee ain't never seen. "But the things that came before. The things I could've changed." She takes a breath, steadies herself and fastens her eyes on the control panel.

"You see a lot of things in war. You get to realizing that there ain't much that's for sure." She shakes her head, shoulders slumping, words coming with difficulty. "I think about all the little things we should've had, and I get angry. A swim in a lake when we were planetside. A day off when the work wasn't needin' to be done. I should've given that to him, Kaylee, and I didn't because I thought we had all the time in the world."

Kaylee's hand touches Zoe's shoulder gently. "You didn't think that this would happen, Zoe."

"No," Zoe says. "And that makes me a fool." Her eyes are hard. "There are a thousand things I would've done different. A million. But I don't get that chance. No way I can make it different. And maybe that's even worse than just knowing he's gone." She closes her eyes. "I'm telling you this because you oughta try and not make the same mistake, sweetheart."

Kaylee's eyes widen as much at the endearment as to what Zoe just said. She ain't never been as close to Zoe as she has been to Inara, or even River, but that's mostly because Wash an' Zoe were always sorta a package deal for Kaylee--like an auntie an' uncle. Zoe's always watched out real good for Kaylee, and sometimes, before Inara came aboard, Zoe braided Kaylee's hair. But Zoe ain't never called her sweetheart before. Never been so soft.

Must be that she's real sincere with what she's sayin'.

"I see you and Simon dancin' around each other the past few weeks," Zoe says, clearing her throat. "And maybe I'm wrong, but I suspect it's a fair bit of avoidin' on both your parts."

Kaylee ducks her head. "I just ain't sure that--"

"Do you love him, Kaylee?" Zoe's voice is very quiet. Off Kaylee's startled look, she smiles. "Didn't think we all could tell?" She touches Kaylee's arm. "If you're up at this hour, searching for someone like you are, it ain't about anything else but love." She gives a stern glance. "No matter what you're tellin' yourself."

"But I don't even know if he feels the same way, Zoe!" Kaylee wrings her hands. "Here I am, all twisted up inside, and what if he don't feel the way I feel about this all?" Her eyes close.

Zoe chuckles. "You know how many times I turned down Wash in the beginning?" she says. "Seven. And you know what? He wasn't ever sure that I felt the same thing he did--in fact, he was figurin' I felt the exact opposite of what he felt." She gets up, leans in close and gives Kaylee's forehead a little kiss. "He kept trying anyway, 'cause baby, we were something worth fightin' for. And he knew it."

Kaylee slumps a little. "I..." she trails off, unable to say anything.

Zoe just gives Kaylee a sympathetic squeeze. "Let yourself take that chance, Kaylee. No matter how many reasons you got saying you shouldn't. Take advantage of the time you've been given. Don't hug the ground any more than you oughta." Her voice is nothing but a whisper. "Take to the sky, little one. Take a chance." Her eyes are gentle, searching, eternally sorrowful. "Otherwise there's so many things...so many things you could be missin' without even knowing it."

Kaylee watches as Zoe takes one last look around the bridge, before saying a gentle goodnight and walking back to her bunk.

The dinosaurs still scattered on the control panels seem to smile at Kaylee, and she feels a small measure of comfort that Zoe ain't so broke as to not bein' able to help those around her. Maybe that's cause Zoe ain't as alone as everyone thinks.

And neither, Kaylee thinks, smiling slightly and walking from the bridge, is she.

- - -

Next: Chapter Five-Mal Reynolds

COMMENTS

Thursday, March 15, 2007 6:49 PM

YINYANG


Aw... you made me go all teary-eyed a little. You write Zoe well, too.

Thursday, March 15, 2007 11:38 PM

CHAZZER


Zoe is so hard to write... and you nailed it. Well done. This chapter was perfect. :)

xxxx

Friday, March 16, 2007 2:03 AM

PHOENIXROSE


I cried so very, very hard at this...

Friday, March 16, 2007 4:55 AM

LEIASKY


Oh, nicely done with Zoe. You write her very well and she's not someone who is easy to write.

So - Kaylee's next convo is with the Captain, huh? The man against shipboard relationships. . . oh that will be fun!

Friday, March 16, 2007 12:20 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Leaving the really fun conversation till last, eh biggrstaffbunch? Definitely can't wait to see what Mal and Kaylee talk about concerning relationships;D

Really gotta give you props for what you wrote here because like it's been said, Zoe's a tough nut to crack. Finding the right balance of solid and squishy is a difficult thing, especially in a post-BDM setting. I am glad thought that Zoe is promoting relationships and encouraging Kaylee to try something with Simon...even if it might hurt to see others get a chance at stuff that she and Wash never will:(

BEB


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