Collisions~ Finale
Thursday, September 15, 2005

No problem...


The next morning, as Zoë strode up the ramp into the cargo bay, returning from her trip to town with the Captain; her nose was met with a most delicious smell. She turned her head up toward the galley and frowned slightly in thought. Who was cooking?

“Hello, I do smell food?” Mal said behind her. “And it ain’t burnin’.”

“It would seem so, Sir,” Zoë replied as she repositioned the sack she was carrying on her shoulder.

“That’s right mysterious.”

“Yes it is.”

“Shall we investigate?”

“Seems wrong not to, Sir,” she answered with a smile, and she received one in return.

They entered the galley to find Wash, of all people, behind the counter bustling about it in one of his loud shirts, russet jumpsuit tied around his waist. She saw Mal’s eyes widen, and moved to sit as he plopped into a chair at the end of the table.

“Well, isn’t this down right domesticated of you, Wash, and here I thought I’d just hired a hell of a pilot. Didn’t realize I’d gotten myself a cook in the process.”

Wash laughed, and Zoë chastised herself for enjoying the sound. “Well, you would be disappointed if you started getting used to the idea. This here’s about the only thing I can make worth eatin’, and I’m sure you’d tire of pancakes real quick like.”

“Don’t smell like pancakes,” Zoë said watching him flip one over deftly.

“Ain’t your average fair. These here are my gran’s speciality. Banana pancakes,” he said with a smirk. “Only got them on real serious occasions, on account of bananas and such being at a premium. After yesterday, I was feeling in need of some comfort food.” Zoë thought he’d glanced at her briefly as he’d said the last part, and she wondered which part of yesterday he was referring to exactly.

“Well, it’s right nice of you to share, Wash,” Mal said standing again, his voice sincere.

“Mff mm nzz,” Bester mumbled through a full mouth. He was obviously helping himself to Wash’s generosity. The thought irritated Zoë immensely.

“By the way, how’d it go in town, Captain? Did you sort out the heat shielding issue?” Wash asked looking up from his pancakes.

“Yeah, I did. Had to sell his own gou shi back to him at a discount, but better off then if we’da kept it.” Mal tried to sound ok with the deal, but Wash thought he could hear the latent frustration hidden there.

“Hmm, I didn’t think of that,” Wash said frowning and looking down to flip another fluffy looking flapjack. Zoë stood up and moved to take her purchases to her bunk so she could have a taste of this treat.

“Well, that’s alright. Recon I got a better deal then you would’a, what with my friend here beside me and all.”

“Would that friend be your gun, or Zoë, Captain?” Wash asked his voice a mock serious. Zoë stopped at the portal.

Mal stopped for a moment and smiled, “I reckon a bit of both actually. Zoë can be down right intimidatin’ when she wants to be.”

“Don’t I know it,” Wash said, and she looked over her shoulder to see him smiling down into the pancake batter.

She returned from her bunk moments later to find the three men gathered around the table, their mouths stuffed full, and a stack of the sweet smelling cakes waiting for her at her usual place. The top one had a smiley face cooked right into it. She looked down at it with a slight frown, and then quickly proceeded to cover it with the condiments on the table. She caught Mal smirking at her from the corner of her eye, and narrowed her eyes at him slightly.

“Our pilot botherin’ you, Zoë?” he aside-ed with a quiet tone.

“Not at all, Sir,” she said formally. If he only knew, she thought to herself. He found the flirting hilarious, as long as she was disdainful, but if he knew what’d happened yesterday he’d be furious. Fraternization between the crew would be extremely frowned upon by Mal. She looked down at the butter Wash had just pushed her way.

“Did you spend your entire cut on this breakfast, Pilot?” she asked in surprise. There was an edge to her voice she hadn’t intended. It was such a waste of money for niceties like butter and syrup, even if the syrup was only the artificial type.

“No, not completely,” he said looking away from her as he rose from the table, taking his plate with him to the sink. “Besides, what else am I gonna spend it on.” The last bit was said under his breath, as she watched him leave the mess and head toward the bridge. She frowned down into her plate again.

After breakfast, they were all back outside in the bright sunshine. Zoë strode purposefully down the ramp, and made her way to a small knoll that would give her a better view of the surrounding area. They were a fair bit out from town, but by now, more then enough people to knew about their little predicament, and more then a few people in the ‘verse would happily take advantage of the situation. While Wash and Bester fixed the heat shielding, they would be at their most vulnerable, so she and Mal, armed to the teeth, took positions nearby to keep look out.

The flare of the cutting torch caught her eye for a moment and she turned as Wash, with the welding helmet over his face moved in to remove the damaged parts of Serenity’s most outer hull. Bester stood next to him, also helmeted and held the shielding as Wash cut it, preventing its weight from damaging any other sections as it came loose from the hull. She turned back to peruse the horizon. She had been watching for sometime, when she caught sight of a bit of movement in the distance and narrowed her eyes, focusing on that place, absolutely still. Again, and this time she made out a man, his rough spun clothing almost blending into the background, but the glint off his gun barrel didn’t. She lifted her rifle to her shoulder.

“Captain, vultures, ten o’clock,” she said into the small com that filled her left ear, the mouth piece nestled against her cheek. There was a long pause, and she knew Mal was finding the target himself.

“Yep, looks like. Can you get a shot?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Wait for my signal, and” he said his voice choppy like he was on the move, “Make it count.”

“Always do, Sir,” she said taking careful aim.

Wash pushed back his face shield and swiped at his sweaty brow with his forearm. The last piece of damaged shielding lay at his feet mangled, and imbedded with some rocks that had been pressed in while it was heated and were now trapped within. “Well, that’s step one. Might be we actually get this finished today.”

“Might be,” Bester said tossing his helmet off to the side. “I wanna get off this rock. Hot as hell here.”

“Hot it is,” Wash said, “But somehow I imagine Hell’s not quite so humid.”

Bester laughed and moved toward the new shielding. They donned thick gloves, and set to work. Each piece had to be bolted then sealed with heat resin. Once they were started they couldn’t stop, or make mistakes, or they’d be back to square one. Wash found himself wishing he had a more reliable partner then Bester. For one, he should be the one heading this project, as the mechanic, this pretty much fell into his area or supposed expertise. Instead, it was lucky for Wash he had done this kind of work before. Bester seemed to be following his lead. For another, though Bester was the one who got Serenity flying again, he didn’t seem too adept at keeping her there. The man was an oddity for certain.

The sudden, sharp report of rifle fire nearby made Wash jump. He turned his head only for a moment in the direction he remembered Zoë heading, sure it had been her rifle firing, and then turned back immediately. He had to focus.

“Ai ya!” Bester said ducking.

“Don’t drop it!” Wash yelled as Bester’s grip loosened, and the mechanic regained his hold just in time. Both men increased the pace of their work and another shot fired, this one from a distance.

Zoë’s guns fired many more times, accompanied by other guns in the distance, but as the sun started to set, the firefight ceased. Wash could only hope their side had won. He wasn’t in any position to investigate, or to scoop them up in the ship and fly them off if they were in trouble as he usually did. They were all of them stuck until this was done. So, he just kept working.

Zoë peered through the darkness looking for Mal. He hadn’t answered her on the com for sometime, but she had seen him firing when there had still been light enough to see. Now she was just waiting. She was fairly certain she had shot the last of them just before she’d lost the light, so Mal should be on his way back. If he didn’t show, she’d have to wait until Serenity was repaired before she could give up watch to go find him. That thought gave her an uneasy feeling. She turned back toward the ship and saw the two men still at work, her gaze resting longest on the broad expanse of Wash’s shoulders.

Mal would just have to be alright. Any other choice would be unthinkable, so she refused to allow them.

“You starin’ back at our crew like that for a reason?” came a voice out of the darkness, Zoë didn’t startle, just turned, as Mal stepped close enough for her eyes to see him in the dusk light. His hair was mussed and he had a small cut on his cheek, aside from that he looked to be in one piece, and that uneasy feeling smoothed away.

“Just wonderin’ if I’d become their captain,” she answered flatly.

“A job you’re wantin?”

“No, Sir,” she replied and her voice told him she was a bit het up that he’d even ask.

“Well then, it’s a right good thing I didn’t get myself shuffled off.” He smiled at her. “Their gone, or what’s left of ‘em any way, I just wanted to find that com. Things are damn expensive.”

“Any luck with that.”

“Hell no. It’s dark out there!”

She smiled a little, “I noticed.”

“Our boys done fixin us up yet?”

“Not quite.”

“I’ll stay here and keep look out till they are, you best go tell’em were still alive an all, so they don’t worry. Might hinder their work.”

“Yes, Sir,” she said in a knowing tone, and handed him her rifle, her mare’s leg, and pistol still tucked into their custom holsters. She walked away down the hill, her footsteps quiet even in the hush of the evening. She called out as the two men stepped back from their work, looking it over critically.

“’Bout done here?”

Wash spun around at the sound of her voice, his eyes doing a quick inspection of her person and she knew he was looking for injuries. She could see in his expression darken when his gaze touched on one. He was an open book that man. His eyes were still lingering on the blood on her arm when she spoke again.

“Had a group of scavengers looking to move in. We took care of it, but it’d be best we weren’t here too much longer.”

“You got shot,” Wash said distractedly.

“Just a graze,” she replied. “You two got a timetable?”

“Um,” Wash seemed to forcibly bring his gaze back to her face. “Yeah, we’re done here. It’ll need to cure though, about a day at least.” He turned back and looked at Serenity’s side. “We can take off though, she’ll cure up in the black just fine, long as she don’t need to hit planetside for at least 24 hours.”

Her gaze turned to Bester. “Any reason we’d need to?”

“What?” Bester said, just now entering the conversation. Wash rolled his eyes. “Uh, no, shouldn’t need to. I’ve got her goin’ just fine now. No problems. It’s shiny.”

“Uh huh,” Zoë said, she looked back to Wash. “You got anything left to do before we take off?”

“Fuses?” Wash responded, trying to think if there was anything else needed taken care of before they left atmo and solid ground.

“You two get ready for take off, I’ll go inform the Captain.”

“We in a hurry?”

“Not a big one, just, best we leave soon, avoid anymore trouble.”

With that she headed back out to where Mal was waiting, and the others moved up the ramp and into the ship.

Wash reached down under the console to retrieve the resin stegosaurus, and held it up, looking into the tiny molded face.

“'Bout time you pulled me out of there,” he said for the toy, “Damned uncomfortable.” He retrieved the triceratops next, who had toppled a bit further back.

“Where’s our bananas?” the triceratops asked as Wash set him down on the console. He was always all about the food.

“Sorry, they were needed to serve a higher purpose.”

“I’ve still got plenty to eat,” the tyrannosaurus growled as he joined them by the resin tree that Wash’d placed next to the left sensor screen, as if it were an oasis of water.

“Some scientists believe that the three to five inch long teeth of the Tyrannosaurus rex have roots which are too short to support a meat-tearing, bone-crunching diet.” The stegosaurus liked to mess with the rex’s head.

The rex was gearing up for a biting reply (literally), when another toy appeared under Wash’s nose. The brachiosaurus.

“I thought you were replacing fuses?” Zoë said, and Wash turned to her, his eyes wide. His fingers brushed over hers as he pulled the toy from her hand, and their tips tingled slightly from the contact.

“Just setting things to rights,” he said, as he carefully set the brachiosaurus with the others. She looked, for a moment, like she wanted to say something, her gaze drifting over the little scene he had set up. He wondered if she’d ever ask him about the dinosaurs. He wondered if he’d tell her. Finally, she leaned against the console, crossed her arms over her chest and looked at him with all the warmth of a commanding officer.

“You’re an excellent pilot, Wash,” she said, and once again he was surprised by her compliment, “You’re an important part of this crew. Reliable and trustworthy, haven’t caused any trouble.”

“Um, thanks?” he responded, not sure where this was going.

“I’d hate it if you to felt you needed to leave over any misunderstanding I may have caused between the two of us.”

Ah, so that’s where it was going. He felt his stomach tighten a bit. He had been expecting something like this, and yet somehow he still wasn’t prepared for it. What was he supposed to say? “No, no of course not, that’d just be silly.” The words fell from his lips as he looked away, and leaned in toward the fuse panel. He didn’t regret it. He wanted more, and not just the sex, but more of her. Whatever that meant, he wasn’t sure, he only knew he couldn’t get enough of just being in the same room with her. He looked up, his blue eyes connecting with her dark ones, and settled for saying one more thing. “I’m not going anywhere.”

She looked back at him for a long moment, then nodded, “Cap’n’s ready to take off, soon as you’re ready.”

He smiled slightly and looked away, “I’ll be just a minute.”

Zoë walked away, moving toward the door, she had a day to be getting on with. It was nice to have that business out of the way. They didn’t need to be losing a good pilot just because she had an itch that needed scratched. She would just put back into place the walls she’d set against him originally. This wouldn’t be a problem. She turned as she reached the door and looked back for a long moment. He was turning one of his dinosaurs just so.

No… this wouldn’t be a problem at all.

The End... at least, you know, until I write a sequel. :)


Friday, September 16, 2005 8:24 AM


aaw, i always love the washburne prequels...this has been great from day one


Tuesday, September 20, 2005 6:47 PM


This is a bit off topic, but reptiles don't have chewing teeth. Teeth and jaws adapted for chewing is a mammalian trait (also seen in extinct synapsids, but they're the reptile/mammal link). So, a tyrranosaurus' lack of chewing teeth wouldn't indicate a diet of trees.

But the story was good.

Friday, October 14, 2005 6:26 PM


Don't make us beg for more!! Pleeeeease! The stories are so well written and it would be a shame to stop here!


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