Not to Know
Friday, December 2, 2005

River gives Wash some insight. *WARNING SERENITY SPOILERS*


Rinnypj had this plot bunny. Part of the plot bunny was me writing it... :p She wrote River's words though. :)

Wash had been faced with a lot of difficult decisions in his life. Plenty of them. Some of them small but important, some huge, some life changing, some death defying. He had flown Serenity in places he shouldn’t, made her do things she couldn’t. He did everything in his power to ensure their survival.

Part of him realized Mal was trying to do the same. The rest of him just wanted to grab Zoë and run like hell.

Only Zoë would never leave Mal.

This was a simple fact he’d come to live with over the years. Not as ungrudgingly as he’d like. He wanted for Zoë’s sake not to care so much about her attachment to another man, but he never could quite come to terms with it. He considered himself lucky she understood it and put up with him. But even though he’d seen her face the captain down, question him in front of everyone, he still knew she wouldn’t abandon him.

Which, he thought as he dug into Serenity’s metal hide, tearing her open in a way that felt like a deep betrayal of everything he believed, meant he got to do his job. He got to fly this ship through with all his skill to make sure Zoë came out the other side of this insanity.

“Sorry, bao bei,” Wash said smoothing his hand on the hull, “I promise to fix it up as good as new when all this is over.”

“Not you,” River said, startling Wash so that he dropped his tool and it skittered down Serenity’s side to land with a thump on the ground. He looked up to see her balancing like some ethereal being on the top of the ship.

“What are you doing, River? You should get down, this isn’t a safe place to play.” He said looking down at what he had been doing. “I’ve torn up the hull, you could cut your feet.”

"Not you," she repeated, drifting into a standstill as she gazed at him, her dark eyes penetrating. Only her hair and dress fluttered in the breeze. "Don't want it to be you."

Wash frowned. “You don’t want me to fix up the ship when we’re done?”

She continued to stare at him for long, disconcerting moments. "Can't." Her eyes shown with tears, "Can't. You'll fall."

“Okay,” he said slowly, “Well, I promise to be careful alright. Now will you please get down, I’d feel a lot better if you were on the ground.” He started to get down himself, looking to retrieve his cutter. A sob from her brought him up short. “I know, I know it’s bad.” He looked down at his empty hands. “You want to stay up here and cry, then I won’t tell. Just, maybe, sit down and it won’t make me so nervous.”

"Wish Jayne would fall." Her watery voice drifted to him on the wind.

Wash frowned again, then instinctively looked for Jayne. He was near the aft section bolting on a piece of the other ship. “I don’t know, he might come in handy later. Not that it’ll matter against Reavers.” He turned back to River. “What is all this business about falling?” he asked suddenly, and when she looked back at him with her wide knowing eyes he felt a chill run all they way down his spine. He started looking around for something to do, but he didn’t have another cutter.

"He thinks he'll fall. Doesn't know it, wants to go like a hero," she started taking slow, dainty steps closer to Wash. "Can't it be him?”

Wash swallowed convulsively. “We all just want to get through this, River. No one cares about being a hero. Hero’s are just people in stories.” He pulled out a screwdriver, desperate for distraction from those haunting eyes, and rammed it against Serenity’s hull. It only left a small scratch.

"He wants to fall fighting. But he won’t." She knelt beside him, her cool fingers smoothing over his hand, fisted around the screw driver. "But he won’t. He'll fall in his sleep, old and wise and warm." She released a shuddering breath, her brown eyes pleading with him, "Can't it be him?"

"River," Wash started, and his fist tightened beneath hers. "I'll shove him off right now if you want, just please go be creepy someplace else. I have too much to think about already." He didn't look up at her.

"You'll fall," she insisted, "Don't want it to be you." Her fingers glided the muscles of his arm, watching them go taut. A tear slipped down her cheek, splashing on his hand.

Wash took a deep breath. He wanted in part to shove her off, get his cutter and get this mess over with. He didn't want to think about what falling meant, though he already had a feeling. "Zoe?" he asked simply. If he wasn't gonna make it, he had to know she would.

"Broken." She touched his brow, tracing the worry lines, "So many pieces. Can't get them all back."

"She won't stay here, even if I asked her... and would that even be safe?" he said this more to him self then to River. Why was she here saying this to him? Did she want him to freak out? How was that going to help anybody?

"Can't go. Won't stay," she leaned forward, brushing a kiss over his cheek, another tear falling from her too lucid eyes. "Wanted you to have the choice."

Wash watched as she scaled down Serenity’s side with grace and agility that looked effortless. He turned back to the screwdriver in his hand and tossed it back in the bag. He climbed down, searching the ground for his cutter. He picked it up, trying not to think about River’s words. It was bad enough going into a situation without knowing how you’d survive it, he didn’t need to go in knowing he wouldn’t. He looked up and saw his wife climbing down from Serenity’s bow, looking harried and drawn. He made his way toward her, and when she saw him, she held his gaze and waited for him.

“You almost finished?” she asked.

“Not much left,” he said, “I just…” he looked into dark eyes for a long moment, then stepped in and pulled her tightly to him. He kissed her, hard at first then softer, his lips grazing gently over hers. “I just needed to do that,” he said quietly when he’d pulled away. “And tell you, I love you.”

Worry knitted Zoë’s brow for a moment and she brought her hand up to his face. “I love you too, baby,” she said. “Don’t worry, we’ll get through this.” He gave a slight nod. Her eyes drifted over him, and she opened her mouth to say something else.

“I best get back to work ‘fore Mal sees me slacking.” He said hurriedly, and then kissed her once more before turning around and heading back to his job.

He’d been faced with plenty of difficult decisions in his life. Whether or not to stay with Zoë had never been one of them.


Friday, December 2, 2005 10:10 AM



I so forgot about this. But it's good. Really good. I love that Wash wavered but made the right decision.

He was scared, but he did it anyway. That's who Wash really is.

Friday, December 2, 2005 10:26 AM


i read a lot of fanfics but only rarely comment on them. When i do it's b/c the story moved me so forcefully that i can't help but let the author know. This was excellence from begining to end. i will look for your name on stories to come.


Friday, December 2, 2005 10:35 AM


Hello, angst! Very well written angst, but... man.

Think I'll go watch some cartoons now.

Friday, December 2, 2005 11:19 AM


ow. that actually hurt, i'm talking, real, physical pain here...


Friday, December 2, 2005 12:19 PM


Brilliant but oh my, it hurts. Losing Wash was like having a limb amputated without anaesthetic. Having River telling Wash in her own creepy way that he wasn't going to make it was like having a knife twisted in my heart. Well done but sad, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, December 2, 2005 7:39 PM


I need a band-aid on my heart. Does Simon have any of those in the infirmary?

Friday, December 2, 2005 8:15 PM


i can't believe how much i'm mourning a fictional character hehe. very creative and well done. i especially love the last line.


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