The Heart of Her
Sunday, January 26, 2003

Wash proposes.


Note: Scathing criticism, welcome. Thanks to Philomel for a helluva beta.

Rated: NC-17 for a little romantic smut

Spoilers: Out of Gas

Disclaimer: Firefly belongs to people not me. Intended for fun, not profit.


The Heart of Her

“He really will kill you, you know.” Zoë purred as Wash traced delicate designs on her belly and thighs. Wash merely sighed in response, pulling her closer to him. “And if he doesn’t, I will.” She opened her eyes to look into his, which were half-closed, almost dreaming.

“I’m dead either way.” Wash slipped his hand between her legs.

“Yes,” Zoë lifted herself to him.

“Yes, what?” Wash was teasing her, wondering if she would notice to what extent he had calculated their positions to this point. His eyes were wide open, drilling into her now, but hers were smoothly shut with only a tiny furrow between her brows to reveal anything of what she felt.

“Yes, whatever.” Her right arm shot across her body and she grabbed his upper arm. Her fingers dug into his skin. She whimpered softly.

“Yes I better enjoy every second of this cos the minute I hump it, as it were, I’m dead?”

“Not like that, dear,” Zoë sucked in her breath.

“Not like what?”

“Not like,” she arched her back, forcing his hand. “There, like that.”



“So, I was dead. I was dying.”

“There needs to be less talking.” Zoë clutched at more tender parts.

“Okay.” He acquiesced. Their bodies found each other and he made love to her for a short eternity. He clutched at her, struggling to bring her even closer to him. The lights dimmed and the stars passed and, for a time, they were a single soul in Serenity.

“Zoë!” Wash cried out. Her nails dug into his back and she bucked beneath him. “Ancient gods,” he shuddered and clutched her while they both lay panting. Zoë finally moved, half pushing Wash off of her, half sliding out from under him.

“I think you’re bleeding.” She rolled onto her side, holding the red tips of her fingers in front of his eyes. Wash twisted onto his back, moaning in protestation. “Didn’t think you’d kill me tonight.”

“Nah. Wouldn’t kill you tonight. I’ll wait until I’m tired of you.”

“Hey!” He rolled toward her, frowning deeply. “Now I’m back to being dead? I can’t do that to you anymore if I’m dead.”

“Can’t do it to nobody else, neither.”

“When did this become not happy?” Wash grimaced as Zoë wiped her fingers on the edge of the sheet.

“Didn’t know it had. I’m real happy.”

“I’m real,” he faltered. “Me too.”

“You ain’t happy?”

“Zoë, I’m happy. Just don’t like talking about this.”

“Talking about what?”

“Talking about how I’m going to be, in no uncertain terms, killed by somebody on this ship. Evidently, my days are numbered.”

“I plan to keep you around for a good, long while, Wash.”

“Yeah?” It gave him reason to smile again. He watched her face, smooth and untroubled. Her chest rose and fell slowly. He pulled sheets and blankets up over the two of them and slid an arm under her neck.

“Yeah.” She turned again, so that her back was to his front and let him spoon her. She perfunctorily smoothed her hair out behind her so that it didn’t get pulled. And while he was admiring it, she fell asleep. He kissed her shoulder and settled down next to her, tired but not sleepy.

She’s keeping me, he thought. In the past few weeks, he’d let himself hope that she would. And at the same time he’d worried that she would. Zoë was forcing him to consider an uneasy truce with commitment.

Married was a state he’d never considered and now he started to think he was looking at it, dead on. He’d woken up that morning, next to her, knowing that he would fall asleep with her that evening. He’d worked all day, solidly, stealing glances whenever he could. She’d take to coming onto the bridge at odd times and standing behind him, most times with her hand on his shoulder. At one point, he’d tried to turn and pull her down onto his lap but she would had had none of it. Her eyes had flashed from side to side. “Not proper,” she’d mumbled. So he’d just continued around, three hundred and sixty degrees, back to the console and his readouts. But her hand remained there, whether comforting or burning him he did not know.

He’d gotten himself out of a few proposals before—even a few he should really have accepted, what with there were probably going to be kids involved. Couldn’t stay in one place though, too long, and couldn’t find a woman who could pick up and go. Couldn’t find a woman who could understand the land crazy. The feeling it was to look at the sky and then look at the dirt and then go pack your bag.

He’d signed onto Serenity because he had heard that Captain Malcolm Reynolds never stayed in port when he didn’t have to. Fly in, get work, do it and take off. It wasn’t the most lucrative position he’d been offered, but it seemed to come with a guarantee of constant travel. And that was more important.

Then there was Zoë. He’d taken the job because of her. Taken the job because of the view he’d had as he followed her up the stairs to the bridge, right before she and Mal had shown him the controls to an ancient Firefly.

He could recall lying under the console, his fingers practically tingling with the out and out power above him, so carefully concealed in tormented wiring and gears. Remembered his days at flight school when he and his mentor, Lubbock, had taken a run in an old ship almost just like this one. Lubbock had zoomed them straight up, out of atmo at what on any other ship would’ve been five g’s. But the Firefly took the hit, and fanned the energy out. Her fuel was low at the end, but Lubbock had told him then and made him internalize it: she wasn’t a flashy ship, didn’t look powerful from the outside. But there was power deep in her, and deep longing and what she needed more than purpose was a pilot who respected that. And he had. So, when Reynolds had left him to explore the console, he knew exactly what to look for and how. Knew that, running his hands over the buttons and levers and dials, that each one had something to say and needed to say it to him. And he knew he would listen.

He pushed Serenity harder than he should have, those first few weeks as Mal’s new pilot. He’d befriended the mechanic straight off and got his hands dirty inside the engine. He was eager to show what he could do and to prove that no one else could do it.

Zoë turned over in her sleep and he stopped daydreaming, realizing then that his arm was asleep and slid it out from under her. He laced his fingers behind his head and turned to stare out the small hatch at the stars. He was flying. Serenity was flying.

Zoë slid an arm over his belly. He was in Serenity with Zoë and he thought that he had never loved anyone or anything like he had loved her. He sighed and tried to ignore the familiar feelings, like land crazy. Except these were deeper and more discomfiting.


“Baby. Wash. Wake up.” Zoë gently shook his shoulder. “Time to get going. You’ve slept late.”

Wash rolled into her touch and tried to take a deep breath. He willed his eyes open. He looked at her, confused. She was already dressed, her hair pulled back, ready to go.

“What huh?”

“You’ve slept late. Get up. Get cleaned up.” She patted him but he still looked confused. “Fly the ship.” She stood.

“Oh. M’kay.” He sat up and rubbed his head. She climbed the ladder, pulled the door shut. He looked around his quarters and there was no trace of her. She had spent the night here instead of the usual other way around, but had left nothing of herself behind.

He rose and dressed and winced as the fabric of his shirt brushed the new scratches on his back. He scowled at himself in the mirror, grabbed his flight vest and headed up the ladder. He hit the deck above his quarters, dragged the vest on and walked up to the bridge. Mal and Zoë were waiting for him but his chair was empty.

“Mornin’,” Mal look at him, expressionless. “Right kind of you to join us.” Wash scowled again, nodded and sat. He couldn’t keep his eyes away from the nav sats. They were still on course.

“I’ll be in the cargo bay, sir.” Zoë turned and left.

“Late night?” Mal crossed his arms.

“No.” Wash tapped the cortex, looking for nothing.

“Had to send Zoë to wake you up. Figured she’d be best.”


“Y’all fight? Not that it’s any of my business.”

“It’s not.” Wash immediately regretted his sharp tone. He reached up and gripped his trusty stegosaurus just to give his hands something to do. “Sorry, Mal. No fight. Just laid awake a long while thinking.”

“Oh. Well. Well, like to make it to Freemont sometime today. Talked to Kaylee. She said it could be done.”

“Sure.” Wash set his dinosaur back down and started to rechart their course.

“Okay.” Mal set a hand on top of the console, but Wash didn’t look up. Mal turned to leave, mumbling to himself. “Never figured him for the moody type.”

With new coordinates ready, Wash turned the ship and opened up the throttle. He felt Serenity move around him, humming in a new key, pleased. She wants to run today, he thought. And I’ll run with her.

He thought about Lubbock some more and their runs on that Firefly. He’d been the one who told Wash that a pilot was no good unless he knew his ship inside and out. Knew her down to the smallest cog and tiniest screw. Knew every way to wire her, rewire her, and unwire her. When he’d first taken control of that ‘Fly, he’d been surprised at the responsiveness. She was unwieldy and had a bad damping field, but she listened to him. And later that afternoon, after they’d landed and taken a break, he’d gotten inside her and found her grav thrust and field boot. Found that they were worn and neglected. He improvised replacements and when they took her up the next day, she purred for him.

They raced high and low, spinned and climbed, put her through her paces. He played at how tight he could take a turn and how quickly he could stop her at a hover. You got a feel for this ship, Lubbock had said. Wash hadn’t replied then; didn’t know where his instructor was going. Got a feel for her, he’d said. Nothin’ else will be good enough now.

And he had been right. Since he’d left flight school, not head of the class, but with more hours under his belt than any of his cohorts, he’d flown just about every ship there was to fly. Small and short range. Huge for long voyages. He’d been cooling his heels, though, when he heard of the Firefly that needed a pilot. He’d made some inquiries, starting discreetly but losing his cool as he learned more and more. Paid off a couple sources, even, to find out more about the ship and its crew.

He heard they were Independents, not on the run but none too friendly with the Alliance. That was fine by him. Better than the other way around. Small crew, but good. Needed a pilot before they could get serious. Reynolds wanted someone else to do the flying so he could coordinate the work.

Wash let it be known that he wanted to meet Malcolm Reynolds and talk about his ship. He put on one of his favorite shirts, one he knew gave people the wrong impression of him and went out looking. He found Reynolds in a tavern.

“You Captain Reynolds?” He asked, tossing some platinum down on the bar, enough for Reynolds’ drink and one of his own.

“Might be.”

“Heard you’re lookin’ for a pilot.”

“Could be.”

“Well,” Wash leaned against the bar but didn’t take a seat. “I’m a pilot. Best there is here or anywhere else in the ‘verse.”

“That so?”

“Yes it is.”

“Does the best pilot in this verse have a name?”

“Wash.” He was pleased when Reynolds paused and swallowed slowly. Nothing quite as nice as a reputation that preceded you.

“Then I got a ship you might like to take a look at.” Mal slid off the barstool and walked out. Wash tipped the bartender with another platinum.

They had walked to the ship together, not hurrying and not conversing. The bay door was open, no cargo to speak of, and Wash found himself struggling not to gasp, not to run into the ship.

“This is Serenity,” Mal had said. “Hear you know your way around a Firefly.”

“Sure.” Wash let himself be led into the ship. Serenity. She was cold but he could feel her potential.

“This here’s Zoë, first mate.” Wash stared and tried not to gape as Reynolds pointed to his second in command, striding up from the common area behind the cargo bay. He had been taken aback: she was tall, dark and gorgeous. And armed to the teeth. Wash extended his hand but she didn’t accept it. She raised an eyebrow at him. Wash grinned. Always a little more fun when they played hard to get. “Got a mechanic around here too, somewhere. Where is he, Zoë?”

“Don’t know, sir. He left right after you did. Haven’t heard from him since.”

“Right. Well, Wash, you’ll be wanting to see the bridge. This way.” Mal turned and began to ascend the stairs. Wash gestured for Zoë to go ahead of him. She did, and he smiled at the view.

On the bridge, he swung himself under the console without asking. He couldn’t resist. “She’s a good ship,” Mal had said. “Nothin’ flashy but she’s got it where it counts.” “Yeah,” Wash agreed, touching circuits. He wanted to scream and dance, overwhelmed with joy. A Firefly! But play it cool, he though. Lay chilly and shiny. Get a good deal out of Captain Reynolds and then get attached to the ship. “Yeah. This is all very do-able.” He swung himself up and out and moved toward the pilot’s chair. Reynolds’ face had enough hope in it to reassure him. “Shouldn’t be a problem at all. A few modifications, get some real maneuverability out of this boat. You’d be surprised.” Wash grinned.

“So, you’ll take the job then?” Reynolds was eager but Wash could see that his first mate was not.

Wash looked Zoë up and down, noticing qualities that didn’t fall under the strictest requirements for first mate.

“Might do, might do. Think I’m starting to get a feel here.” He let himself pull the arms of the pilot’s chair down and twist it a little.

“Good. Well, take your time. Make yourself at home. Just uh, fiddle with the dials, there. We’ll be nearby.” Mal and Zoë walked away. He raised a hand in acknowledgement. He could hear them talking behind him, but their words didn’t matter. What mattered was that he had his hands on a Firefly. Looked above him to the comm and to his left at the cortex, it’s logo twisting. Looked to his right at the rear video, ran his hand along the bars of the throttle. He heard Captain Reynolds walk back up onto the bridge.

“Well, Wash, seems we got some negotiatin’ to do. What you got on this rock needs to be wrapped up?”

“Not a thing, Captain. You give me twelve percent and a bunk, I’ll fly you anywhere you want to go.”

“So nothing on this planet you can’t leave behind?”

“Nothing on any planet I can’t leave behind.”

“That so? Well, I reckon then that you’re welcome on board. Twelve percent now. We’ll refigure if we take on additional crew.”

“Twelve percent firm.” Wash sat back in the chair and crossed one leg, ankle to knee.


“I’m the best there is,” he grinned. Snapped the gum he was chewing. Enjoyed the dissonance of his shirt.

“Twelve percent,” Mal repeated with finality. “Give you a day to get your things together and then we’re off.”

“Won’t take more’n an hour.” Wash stood. Mal stood and extended his hand. They shook on the deal. Wash left the ship elated and returned with his gear even more so. He caught Zoë’s eye on the way back in. Watched her shut the hatch behind him. He had smiled at her, as genuinely as he knew how. She hadn’t smiled back.


“Wash. Chow’s on.” Zoë set a hand on his shoulder. He started. “You been up here all day?”

“Yeah.” He looked up at her, surprised. He reached up and took her hands. “Zoë baby?” She looked back at him, concerned, but didn’t say anything. “Zoë, I love you.” He tugged lightly, trying to get her on his level. She looked over her shoulder before sliding down onto his lap.

“I love you too,” she touched his cheek and his hair. He thought he might cry and tried not to. “What is it?”

“Just thinking all day.” He forced a smile and ran his hand up the back of her shirt. She leaned into his touch and then leaned down to kiss him.

“About what?” She kept her forehead against his.

“About Serenity. About how much I love this ship.” He leaned in to kiss her neck. Kissed down to her collarbones, smelling the leather of her necklace and her own warm summer scent. “About how much I love you.” “I love you, too.” She nudged his chin with her shoulder so that he looked up at her and kissed him long and deep. When she finally pulled away his eyes were glossy but untroubled. “Let’s eat.”


“Got to have you now, baby.” Wash undressed as Zoë brushed her teeth. She was stripped to her drawers.

“Minute,” Zoë mumbled around her toothbrush. He walked up behind her, grabbed her by the hips and pulled her back into him, letting his body make the point for him. Zoë spat. “Minute,” she said again, cupping her hand under the tap.

“Now. Not taking no for an answer.” She grinned as she slid the vanity back into the wall. She turned and shoved him back onto her bunk. He fell willing and naked.

“Don’t recall saying nothing about no.” She slid her panties off with deliberate slowness, enjoying watching him ache. She climbed onto him and his face relaxed as he took her waist and steered her onto him. And then he moved inside her. She moaned and arched her back and eventually cried out. “Wash!”

Deep inside his most secret heart, he felt right. Felt his love surround him and his ship coast easily through the black. Serenity. All was right.

“I love you. I love you.” Zoë fell forward onto him. He enjoyed the feel of her chest heaving next to his and her hair tickling his neck.

“Love you too, baby. So much I can’t stand it.” They lay that way for awhile, until he pulled her with him, tucking them both under the covers of her bed. “Forever love.”

He reached over her to switch off the bedside lamp. She sighed and snuggled toward him. They dozed a little while.

“I get your whole life.” Her speech was sleepy but clear in its own way.

“My whole life?” He propped himself up on an elbow and looked down at her, jarred. He’d come to his own conclusions during the day and didn’t want her taking them from him. Sex, yes, he knew. And he knew that he was considering commitment. For the first time. For something that bigger than and beyond him.

He knew that Zoë knew commitment—her whole life was committed on Serenity. On his ship. Not actually his ship, but really his ship. He didn’t hold the papers to her, but he knew what to say and what to do. How to cheer her up and calm her down. How to take a bad day and make it right, make it good. He knew her secret heart.

“Your whole life. What did you think this was?”

“Zoë, I don’t know. I thought that this was great and I love you.” He tried to think of a way to take control of the conversation but couldn’t. He could only feel the ship beneath them, humming, rocketing through the black.

“Didn’t just say it to bed me?”

He used every faculty he had to shove the automatic joke down.

“Didn’t,” he let himself smile secretly at what he might have said, but pulled her closer to him.

“Did it for good and noble reasons?”

“Yes, but let’s not forget that what we have here is really good.” He’d pat himself on the back if she wouldn’t.

“So good it’s forever.”

Wash hesitated. He wanted to stop the conversation and make it his own.

“So good I never want to spend another day not knowing you’ll be waiting for me when it’s over,” she continued.

“I’ll wait for you,” he reassured her.


Zoë snuggled toward him, shivering slightly. Wash wrapped an arm around her and pulled her toward him. He held her, stroking her hair.

“Will you marry me, Zoë?”

“Shiny.” She flipped in his arms so that he spooned her. He set his chin down on the crown of her head.


“Mmhmm.” He felt her scalp muscles move as she smiled.

“Baby. I’m serious.” He held her shoulder and twisted her so that she rolled back to him. “Will you marry me?” He tried to smile.

“Yes.” She nodded and wrapped her arms around him. He clutched her and relaxed for what felt like the first time in his whole life. He felt the pitch of the ship’s voice change slightly. It resolved and locked into place.

He wanted to laugh out loud, to slam on the comm and announce it to the whole ship. That he held her heart. But he didn’t move. He looked down at Zoë, dozing again, happy and peaceful.

He felt Serenity’s heart beat in time with his own. She knows, he thought. He appreciated her blessing.


Sunday, January 26, 2003 2:44 PM


That is so good!

Sunday, January 26, 2003 7:12 PM


Love the backstory you created for Wash individually and for them as a couple. Great job! Keep writing and posting please and I'll keep reading. :) ~Eleri

Sunday, January 26, 2003 7:42 PM


Dear sweet Jesus... I just had an eyegasm from reading this. Especially Wash's feelings for Serenity; I kill for a good fic featuring anyone's feelings towards that faithful old boat. Mostly we get Kaylee's, which is fine and good, but it's shiny to see it from Wash's perspective as well. Love the backstory, love the proposal, love the whole ruttin thing.

Monday, January 27, 2003 8:19 AM


looked and saw another entry from sarahetc. pulled it up without a single thought and was once again not disappointed. far from it.

looking forward to the next!

Tuesday, January 28, 2003 1:05 PM


oh, lordy-lordy-lord.
"eyegasm"? great word.
i'm sittin' here at work and will be smiling to myself for the rest of the 2 hours i'm bound to this desk.
thank you for a really nice story!

Thursday, January 30, 2003 9:39 AM


good work keep'em coming

Wednesday, February 5, 2003 11:27 PM


WOW, ok I gotta say you were absolutely awesome in the way you stayed so true to the characters. I am a big Wash fan and this piece was just heavenly!

"He clutched her and relaxed for what felt like the first time in his whole life. He felt the pitch of the ship’s voice change slightly. It resolved and locked into place."

That was an awesome line! OK I could quote the entire story, but I think you get the point. I loved it, thanks so much!

Saturday, January 3, 2004 9:39 PM


That was brill, really. Aboslutely amazing. You've got a talent, here. I applaud you.

- Gwendydd

Friday, March 26, 2004 6:41 PM


Yay! Wonderful, beautiful, shiny! I love the back story; you really have their voices...and I'm sure that that was just the way it was! Thank you!

Wednesday, April 7, 2004 10:42 AM


we needed this.

Friday, December 3, 2004 12:42 AM


Captain's so gonna freak.

It's interesting that you're tying Wash to Serenity the way that Kaylee obviously is. Your conversations between Wash and Zoe are definitely keepers.

Keep flyin'

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 8:35 AM



love "eyegasm" - shiny word :o)

Friday, October 14, 2005 5:15 PM


That was a great story.

Friday, October 21, 2005 7:59 AM


Mmm, I'm going back over all the W/Z fic I can find. I can't believe I haven't commented before! (I wonder if you still get these?)

Anyhow, your stuff is excellent.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 9:02 PM


All I can say is Awwwwww!

Saturday, November 26, 2011 6:41 PM


ok zoe and wash dynamc award goes tooooo................ you my friend congratz :)


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Red Rocket, White Candle
I ain't sayin' there's any peace to be had, but if there is, Wash will find it in the Western sky.

Married and Madly in Love
In the aftermath of Saffron, Wash and Zoe talk marriage, stars, and geese.

Consistent Resurrection
A short history of Zoe.

First Mate
Wash is injured-- physically, and by Zoe's reluctance to make him her first priority.

Laid Bare
Ever wonder what happened to that ambulance? A little bridge between Ariel and War Stories.

Natural Talent
Kaylee and Wash? It could have happened, but it didn't.

Over and Over and Over
Moments of Zoe, in the spaces of War Stories.

Extreme Unction
The living heart of Serenity bleeds to death. A volley at Succatash.

The Heart of Her
Wash proposes.

Mood to Burn Bridges
Mal's original edict on shipboard romances