Collisions~ Chapter One
Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Wash and Zoe prequel type fic.



by somedeepmystery

Catagory: Romance Rating: NC-17 Pairing: Wash/Zoe

A/N: Reposted upon request. Sorry about that confusion.

Zoë stood in Serenity’s galley watching the shadows on the walls shift as the space vessel maneuvered in for approach to the next planet. The galley was a fair sized room, Zoë decided, for a midsized ship like this. It met their needs, such as they were, for feeding and sustaining a small crew, even hosting the occasional meetin’ as it were. So, as much as she’d been leery of the idea the day Mal, her sergeant in the war turned captain, had shown it to her, she now had to admit that, after nigh on to a year of sailing on the boat, Serenity was actually growin’ on her.

There was another ghostly move of the shadows as a bright stream of sunlight shot through the row of narrow windows above her. The ship shuddered a little abnormally, and she frowned a bit, then returned to her task. She distracted herself from her mundane chore by setting her mind to the job ahead. Their next order of business was to drop their cargo off on this subsequent world, Beryl, an odd tropical moon, where their client awaited anxiously for his shipment. It was actually legal cargo for once, which did have its upside. Bit less stress.

Of course there was that whole, taxes and dues to the Alliance that came with the legal bit, which sort of ruined the silver lining part for Zoë. She hadn’t fought for years against them in the war for nothing after all.

She pulled open one of the many, steel drawers that lined the small kitchen area, and tossed an assortment of mismatched spoons, forks and chopsticks into it, her long fingers deftly stacking each piece into its appropriate slot with the ease of familiarity. Her coffee toned skin glowed in a shaft of sunlight, pure white as it streamed through the emptiness of space without interruption, and into those unadorned windows that graced the galley ceiling. Once the utensils had been stored safely away, she turned her gaze balefully to the only other thing remaining on the short counter.

It was a small white box, simple and unassuming. The card it came with, still attached, bore her name in familiar handwriting. Not that she’d admit to any but herself that she recognized that annoying little gadfly’s handwriting. Bu ke jiu yao de sha zi of a man. How had he found out about this particular yen of hers? The man seemed harmless enough at first, in a completely off putting, goofballish sort of way, but he could be irritatingly observant at times. She had only stopped for a moment to look at the small offering of fruit that had graced the tiny, unsanctioned farmer’s market on the last border world they’d visited. But she had stopped, and wished for a moment that she hadn’t needed to spend all her coin on more important things. Like ammo and gun oil and new boots. As much as she prided herself on the care she gave her weapons, there was still a part of her that cried out every once in awhile, demanding that it wanted to be just a little frivolous.

She supposed she was glad of it really. That it hadn’t been burned clean out of her in the war. That beneath the hardened soldier, there was at least still part of a woman. Flesh and blood. So many people had lost all hope and humanity in the long drawn out battles waged on planet after planet, the odds against them in their fight for freedom. Even those that didn’t lose their lives often lived as though they had. She didn’t want to be one of them. Wanted something left the Alliance hadn’t taken. There was another odd shift of the ship beneath her, a trembling that was all kinds of unusual, and she grabbed the counter for balance, tossing a look in the direction of the bridge. Ah, maybe he was slipping? Didn’t usually feel nothin’ when he took them into the world, would make a nice change, knocking the cocky off of him just a bit. As she thought this, her hand moved instinctively towards the nettlesome little box, pulled it to her and, flipping open the lid with one long finger, she peered inside.

Twelve plump, blushing red cherries sat neatly within, set in perfect little rows along the bottom of the box, their long green stems pointing toward the galley’s yellow, paint chipped ceiling. Each one was rich in color and rosy, unblemished and shiny, as if someone had picked out each one carefully and polished them by hand. They looked ripe and tangy, and near to bursting with sweetness. She touched one with a gentle finger tip. She looked cautiously in the direction of the bridge, as if the pilot would appear any second and catch her with them. Another small shudder of the ship reminded her that he was busy taking them into the world. She plucked one piece of the fruit out by its long stem, dangling it in front of her as she looked it over, noting its perfection and thinking it looked too good to eat. Almost. She smiled as she slipped it between her full, un-rouged lips, biting into the delicate flesh and feeling the burst of succulent flavor burst into her mouth, tingling over her taste buds, and she sighed in pure carnal pleasure.

She pulled out the stem with the pit still attached, a trick she’d learned as a young girl and tossed them into the trash receptacle. Then she closed the lid and placed the box carefully into the larder, making sure it was toward the back, and secured, so its precious contents wouldn’t be tossed about. She pulled off the note and stuck it carefully into her bra, out of the way for the moment, until she could throw it away in a safe place where Mal wouldn’t be likely to see it. No need to get him riled about the pilot’s newest angle in pursuit of her. Not that he would necessarily, but he liked to run a smooth operation. Fraternization between crew members didn’t make things smooth. Tended to make them unsmooth, as a matter of fact. There was also the fact he’d likely make a joke of it all. She didn’t want that either. It was while she was thinking these thoughts that Serenity lurched startlingly, vibrating viciously, so that the mismatched array of chairs around the long galley table bounced across the floor. Another lurch sent her stumbling a few steps backward. It wasn’t usually anything really disconcerting to be tossed about somewhat on entering the atmosphere, just unusual since the day their pilot had signed on, so it wasn’t until she heard the string of curses flying down the passageway from his direction that she started to get a bit concerned.

“Wash? What the gui is going on?” she called as she ran up the steps out of the galley and along the short corridor, stumbling forward into the companionway to the bridge, as Serenity pitched again. She climbed up, through the portal onto the bridge, and looked over at the pilot. His ginger gold hair was sticking up every where as usual, his broad shoulders were outlined by the bright sunlight that streamed in through the front visor panes, and his hands were working frantically over the lighted panels in front of him. Her eyes errantly drifted over his arms, as they seemed to do far too often lately. He was wearing a white a-shirt under a black utility vest and a drab green flight suit with the arms tied at the waist. The lack of sleeves afforded her and uninterrupted view, from the bulge of his deltoid to the complexities of the muscles working in his forearm and wrist, every nuance, and her eyes took full advantage.

Qu you ci li, she chastised herself. They’re just arms! She’d seen more then a few arms in her lifetime. Far more muscular arms to be true. Many times. Tall Jim had a bicep she couldn’t encircle with both hands. Of course, Tall Jim was long dead on the battle ground of some world far from this place. His biceps didn’t stop him from taking a bullet in the brain pan. “Zao gao! Wash, what’s going on up there?” came Mal’s tinny sounding, but clearly pissed off, voice through the com, snapping her back to reality. Zoë noticed Wash didn’t bother to answer the Captain; he was too busy cursing under his breath in a steady stream of Chinese, his hands still flying over the instrument panels, flipping switches and turning knobs, but he spared the com a quick and dirty glare.

“Don’t you think you ought to be steering this boat, Pilot?” she demanded seeing the yoke was loose and moving with the whim of the ship.

He turned for a second, surprised at the sound of her voice then, as he turned back to his task, said with a mock calm that grated severely on her nerves. “Oh, gee, you think? Of course it would help…” he reached up mid-sentence and grabbed the com receiver. “If I had any damn engines!” he shouted the last bit into the small black handset, “Bester, would you mind telling me what the hell’s going on back there!?” Wash demanded, his voice denoting a trace of panic for the first time.

“You mean the engine’s not runnin’?” Zoë said stunned, even though, now that her mind focused on the ship, she realized the whole sound of her, the feel of her beneath the feet, was off, she couldn’t hear the atmo engines like she should, nor feel their vibrations.

Wash didn’t answer in any case; he was back to flipping switches.

“Uuuhhh…mmm… Yeah, I’ll have to get back to you on that,” the mechanic said falteringly through the com.

“Bu zhong yong de huai dan!” Wash growled under his breath, “You better sit down and buckle in, not that it’ll make any difference,” he said to her, grimacing slightly as he reached under the console, his head disappearing for a moment. Mal’s voice was still hollering over the coms - “I want to know what the hell is going on with my damned ship!”- and Zoë thought he must be stuck somewhere if he hadn’t already reached the bridge or the engine room by now, thought maybe she should go find him before he blew a coil, but Serenity pitched forward again, her nose pointing steeply toward the upward rushing planet and Zoë had to brace her palms on the console in front of her to keep from falling out of the co-pilot’s chair. Still Wash’s head was under the console, and his left hand was caressing it gently, in a manner she found both odd and strangely interesting.

“I’m sorry, bao bei, this is gonna sting a little,” Zoë’s eyes grew wide at his use of the endearment, until he yanked out a bundle of wire and reappeared. She realized that he was talking to the ship, and rolled her eyes. She looked out the front and had to turn away again at the queasy feeling that came over her.

“What can I do?” she asked, looking back to Wash, her voice shaking with the ship as Serenity began to shudder and tremble more violently around them.

“Best bet would be to stay where you are,” he answered evenly, as his skilled fingers sorted through the mass of wires and pulled the ones he wanted.

“I don’t like feeling useless,” she said, her voice a controlled calm that belied the rolling of her stomach. Panic was not an option for Zoë, hadn’t been since the early days. Never did anyone one much good in any case, as far as she could see, so there was no point in being panicky. Still, she felt her fingers grip the console a little tighter.

“Well,” he said, his voice so placid now that she would’ve thought they were sittin’ down for tea and not falling from the sky in a quaking death trap. His calm was actually a bit worrisome. This was Wash after all. He was never this serious, unless the situation was. That much she had learned early on in his time with them. “If it’s any consolation to ya, you won’t have to feel that way for long. We’re just moments away from being a fiery smoodge on the landscape below.”

“What!?” She watched as he pulled apart several various colored wires, plucking them from their moorings, and then rewired them differently. She wondered what the hell he was doing.

“You have any idea how pliable the hull of this ship is gonna be by the time we hit dirt if we keep falling at this speed?” and Zoë had to admit that she already felt a drastic increase in temperature, though whether that was from the ship or her own inner battle she couldn’t say. Wash plugged in the last wire and then shoved the entire mass off his lap and out of the way. His hands were on the yoke again, gripping it forcefully, the muscles in his arms bunched tightly as he pulled back, and she heard the hiss of the attitude thrusters firing, “Come on, you pretty thing you, bring up you’re nose, baby, I know you can do it,” Wash said in a strongly soothing voice.

“Wash, gorram it, are you dead or what?”

“We are gonna make it through this somehow, just bring that nose up.”

“Zoë, where the hell are you?”

Zoë snapped out of the trance she seemed to have fallen into as she watched the pilot wrestle, coax and seduce the ship into doing his bidding. She reached up and hit the open vox button. “I’m here, Captain. I’m on the bridge. Wash is… fine, just… busy.”

“Just a little bit more, that’s it, baby,” Wash was still cajoling, absorbed in his task, his face a study in concentration.

“The engines aren’t firing, I have no idea… Where are you?” her eyes were still focused on Wash, the muscles underneath his pale skin rippling with each turn of his arm, as he applied his skills to the task at hand.

“I’m in the cargo bay, squashed between a crate and a bulkhead. Wash, can’t you glide her in?”

Without breaking concentration, or turning from the visor panes in front of him Wash responded, “Beautiful as she is Cap, Serenity ain’t exactly what you’d call the most aerodynamic. For all intents and purposes, this is gliding.”

After that comment, there wasn’t any talking. Then Mal’s voice was heard over the coms again. “Bester, gorramit, get that engine turning!”

Zoë noticed the nose seemed to have actually come up quite a bit. Not that it mattered much. The ground was starting to take on distinctively recognizable topography.

“Lao tien ye,” Wash said, his eyebrows rising into his hair line.

Suddenly, there was a burst of sound and Serenity shifted to port slightly before Wash corrected.

“The engines!?” Zoë shouted, but Wash just laughed maniacally as he yanked back hard on the stick and flipped several switches. “Wash?”

“Everybody strap on to something, this is where things get exciting!”

Zoë watched out the front panes trying, unsuccessfully, to gauge speed and distance as the ground rushed toward them and sky rushed past them. The planet was so close now she could make out little trees and fields beyond. “Wa-ash?” she repeated, this time with a little fear in her voice despite her not wanting it to be there. “Trees!”

“Come on, baby, give me just a bit more and I promise to buy you something shiny first chance I get,” he said, sweet talking the ship once more. Zoë watched as he bit his lip in concentration. He started banking hard port then starboard and she found herself once again watching his arms, the bunch and stretch of muscle, the limned hair on his forearm, undulating with every roll of the muscle and sinew beneath. She told herself it was just because she couldn’t stand to look at the ground rushing up at them.

It seemed a lifetime, and yet no time at all, until the trees were smacking hard against Serenity’s hull the tops occasionally smacking into the glass in front of them. Zoë hoped Bester had gone to help the Captain, felt guilty she hadn’t gone, thought about getting up and going to check now, just to have something to do, when she heard Wash say something.

“Hel-lo,” he said slowly, his voice smooth, a little rumbly, and seemingly unconcerned.

“What?” her voice held the tone of a commanding officer questioning insubordination.



“Mmm hmm.”

“Aiya, you’re joking!”

Wash didn’t say anything in response to her exclamation, just grimaced, and turned his face away slightly, with his eyes still on the view in front of them, leaning back into his chair. Zoë gasped, and braced herself as Serenity plowed into the dark water, bouncing and vibrating violently. They skipped over the surface of the water like a stone thrown by some giant child, then hit the shore hard. Zoë felt herself tossed forward as Serenity plowed through the dirt, turned suddenly and jerked violently portside before finally coming to a grinding, jarring halt.



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