Over and Over and Over
Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Moments of Zoe, in the spaces of War Stories.


Note: A story that I hope fills in some of the silences of War Stories, Zoe's perspective.

Thanks: To Philomel, the fastest, most ruthless beta in the west.

Feedback: Please. Really let me have it.


Over and Over and Over

It’s late and it's dark. I can’t sleep and neither can he. Neither of us can sleep, but I can’t reach him to comfort him--can’t reach out to comfort Mal, neither. Both of them need me, but I can’t figure out how I'm going to be there for either of them. Comfort one in the day and one at night? Hold one while he cries and hold the other, ever so metaphorically, while he doesn’t?

It’s the night crying that makes it real. There’s a bond between them now, even though they don’t talk about. It’s a new one and I kind of understand it. But I know I’m not a part of it. I’m not a part of it and I’m not shut out. And it’s like having to choose over and over and over again.

The choice wasn’t hard, not at all. Wash would’ve broken and Mal would have stayed whole. Choose that way and keep on fixing it. But then Wash planned to fix it too. And I was stunned. And I keep having to make the choice, knowing now that the same one would be hard.

He’s different now and in some ways that scares me. Never thought he was weak, ever. Couldn’t be with a man who was weak. But I knew that Mal was empty enough inside to withstand Niska. I think I knew that maybe every minute Wash spent in there he would get a little emptier, too. I can’t even think about that.

I love the both of them over and over.

What I know in my soul is this: Wash is always waiting. He promised and I promised back. Mal understood; Wash is understanding. Mal wants me perfect and whole or at least pretending and maybe he doesn’t need me.

Wash gives me room to grow and get beyond. Wash lets me be vulnerable and afraid. And he needs me.

I choose to live this way. I choose Wash.

It was the understanding that broke my heart. Understanding exactly what happened, although I've never been tortured like that. I've come close, though, and I understand that it could have, would have, should have been me. I also understand, totally, that Wash wants to keep it and bear it away from me, concerned that it would be too familiar. But I just want to shake him, and I have to stop myself, because in spite of the rest, that is something he still doesn't understand. His life is my life. But I know that it's partly my fault, I've never let him understand all of me. A small, dark voice deep inside of me wonders shamefully if he is doing it out of spite—keeping his own war story hidden inside of him, like I keep all of mine? But what could I tell him about the blood and the stink and the crazy that would make any difference, that would do anything but drive us further apart? And how would any of it now help him to let it out or let it go or make him go back to being my sweet, laughing husband?

I hated it, later, almost hated him—ready to fight again, before I was, dressed for battle quicker than me. Hands reaching for one of my weapons, and it nearly broke my heart. How could he keep me in the sky if he was also trying to shoot me out of it? But maybe this was what he needed to stay whole, and how could I deny him? Thinking on it, I hated myself, then too, but didn't tell him any of it, only snapped at him to follow my lead.

I don’t have the words to tell him any of this. My body’s not a comfort. Jumped up and left when I just put a hand on his shoulder in the night. And I don’t want to make love to a stranger, anyway.

I ache with these feelings that I don’t have words for. Just want to shoot. Kill. Nobody left though. He flew us right away from anybody else I could kill. How’m I supposed to tell him that without him, I don’t exist? That I would evaporate or implode? He fills me up and makes me whole and if he’s broken, I’m fractured.

I've never let him know that, even when he's begged. When he pleaded with me to keep the two of us sacred—something separate out here in the black. How could I have told him that we were as far apart at that point as we could get?

He called me lambie-toes.

And I should have taken heed--one of the worst in his arsenal of terms of endearment, I knew he saved that one, it was his code for me to take him serious. But I never knew how to step around that argument, and I hardly ever saw it coming. And now, later, when I really, truly understand, I can't figure out how to apologize.

Tomorrow I’ll do for him. Make it up to him. I just don't know how. But I will.

It’s all we got.


“Come with me, dear.” I tell him and tug on his shoulder. He looks at me confused and uncertain. Do I look like I have something up my sleeve?

I practically drag him to the mess, where I’ve spent the morning attempting to cook. If he needs reassurance, this is me, going out of my way. He sits without being told and I see him grinning a little. I can’t help but smile back at him. He nods appreciatively a little and I hope this stuff tastes good. I tasted it a little, but we don’t have any salt just now so there’s not much I could do to make it taste too much better. When I take him the bowl he says, “Mmm, wife soup.”

And I can’t stand it. I can’t stand it how much I love him. Sweet and pale and trusting. The bruises are fading fast but each one is still like a punch in the gut.

“I musta done good.”

“Yes, dear. You done good.” Was that all he wanted to know? How come I never told him that? So I kiss his cheek and I’m thinking about kissing other parts of him when Mal comes in, looking stiff but somewhat more cheerful.

“Did you tell her?” I turn my head too quick to get around my hair and it makes my neck feel electric.

“Tell her what?”

“Your husband has demanded that we sleep together.”

And now my neck’s not the only thing that feels electric.

“Really?” And it’s the only thing I can think of to say. I know better than to look stunned.

“What? Mal, come on.” Something strange here. Something they haven’t told me.

“He seems to think it would get all this burning sexual tension out in the open—you know, make a fair fight for your womanly affections.”

“No, that was the torture talking. Remember? The torture?” And the tone in his voice concerns me. I will Mal not to break down what I’ve built up. Not this time.

And then Mal is holding me and brushing at my hair and I’m even more confused. He’s put my hands on his body and I’m concerned cos he still feels a little feverish.

“I know it’s a difficult mission,” Mal is flicking at my hair. Flick flick. “But you and I,” he shrugs some and then I feel his fingers tapping me. This is surreal. “Have to get it on.”

Never was one to question Mal. So, I’ll play along here.

“I understand. We have no choice.” I look at him and at his lips cos I think he wants me to try to kiss him. I have to work very hard at not laughing. He’s puckered up at me and I’m trying to figure a way to make my head go forward and backward at the same time.

Jayne’s there. Forget him.

And then my husband grabs me. And he gives me the eye. What happened to his sense of humor?

“We’ll be in our bunk,” his hand is like a vise on my elbow, which is distressing, but he pops me on the behind and I can’t help but laugh a little.


“That back there was your idea of funny?” He looks hurt again and it makes my chest feel heavy.

“I think it’s more your idea of funny, if you’d let yourself laugh at it.”

He stands there for a minute, across the bed, one hand fisted on his hip, the other dragging back and forth across the back of his neck. He doesn’t know it, but he fills up the room. With him in here, it’s brighter and more like home to me than any place I’ve known. I can see our not-so-clean clothes in a stack on the floor, mingled. My whole life’s wrapped up in his. I’m leaning against the desk because he’s pacing the whole other side of our bunk.

Most of all things I don’t understand this insecurity. I get it, I can’t avoid it, but I don’t understand it.

He looks at me, face like quicksilver. If anybody in this ‘verse could laugh and cry at the exact same time, it would be my husband.

“You didn’t know?”


“Do you want to?” And he looks like maybe he’s going to relax and it does me good. I have to think on it, though.

I nod. He paces.

“I told you Mal kept me sane.” I nod again. “But I was going there at the end. Angry wasn’t working anymore.”

I fight the tingling in my nose. God help me I don’t want to cry.

“He said,” and I watch him struggle with it. “I said that it’s the guys you never slept with problem. Hell, Zo’, I don’t know why I said it. I wasn’t thinking right.”

I have to give him that one. But he’s looking at me harsh now and everything in me wants to forgive him. I ain’t even sure he’s done wrong but if it’s forgiveness he wants, I’ll give it a million times over.

“He said that when we got back on Serenity he was going to take you into his bed. All I could think was that I was sorry for what I said. I was sorry.”

His voice hitches and then he just kind of sinks by the bed and I never moved so fast in my life as I do right then to get to him.

And I hold him and he holds me and we both cry.

“I can’t live without you. If you want him you can have him as long as you’re still here for me too.”

“Shhh,” I tell him. “That’ll never happen.”

He looks up at me and he’s so broken and so hopeful.

“It’s not like that. It never was and it never will be.” I’ll say it if he’ll believe it.

“Zoe, Zoe,” and his face is on my breast and I’ve never felt a body sob so hard. If he doesn’t die of grief, I might.

And after a bit, I feel him relax some. Eventually he breathes easy again. We sit there for I don’t know how long.

He rolls his neck around some and I lean back to get a good look at him. And I recognize my husband again. I see him recognize me.

“I love you.” The timbre of his voice is like crystal right before it shatters.

“I love you.” I do. How could I not? He is the most right thing that’s ever been in my life.

“That was a little funny back there.” A glint of mischief I recognize. I welcome.


”I’ll get him back,” he says and all his smart-ass confidence is there, totally restored. I savor the grin and the tilt of his head. Then he kisses me and I savor that too.

He lays me down and I let him. And in our haste to get rid of clothes he rolls me over and one of his dinos jabs me in the rib. And I kind of mumble cos I can’t remember what they’re all called, but this one has the big platey-things all up and down its back. He sees me and laughs. And I laugh.

And he’s inside me and we make perfect laughing love.

And I love him over and over and over.


Tuesday, February 25, 2003 6:14 PM


Ah, this story made me smile after those tragic posts earlier! Your fic's a little heartbreaking, but oh so very sweet at the same time. Makes me want to reach out and hug Wash, except that might make my Simon jealous. Great characterization, you wrote Zoë seamlessly. Keep writing.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003 11:02 PM


Dang! Does Wash hit Zoe? Crap! Aaaauugh!!
This was really great Sarah. It's interesting how Zoe is apparently explaining things to us about how she felt and why. I wish I hadn't read this yet though. As pathetic as it may seem to you and probably many others here at fireflyfans, I haven't seen all of the episodes yet. (I am watching them in order, as I attain them.) And I definitely haven't seen the episode that this is about. I guess I should have read the very first line more closely. I didn't understand this one line you wrote though: "I said that it’s the guys you never slept with problem."

Wednesday, February 26, 2003 3:54 AM


I wish I could really let you have it, but I can't find anything wrong with it. It's beautiful, and authentic, which is one of the best things to say to a fanfic writer.

Maniac, when you watch War Stories, you will understand that line.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003 6:36 AM



Loved it. Great job capturing the characters, and beautifully written. :)

Wednesday, February 26, 2003 10:24 AM


I guess I am just a little confused having not seen this episode yet. Don't blame yourself though, Sarah, it is my fault for not reading what you wrote close enough. You were very clear.
About Wash and Zoe... I had thought there was some tension between them (Wash and Zoe) that (may) have due to him hitting her. "The bruises are fading fast" I also got the impression that perhaps due to that abuse, Zoe was contemplating leaving Wash for Mal. I didn't like Mal at that point because he came in saying essentially that Wash had told him to sleep with Zoe. But it seems it was good-natured joking between the crew after all. I am relieved. I will watch this episode soon.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003 10:49 AM


i'm sitting here at work, sneakin' a peek, trying to take a mental break. and i'm almost about to get teary-eyed here!
thanks for a really good read.
this was some kind of nice.
back to work i go...

Wednesday, February 26, 2003 7:57 PM


yay Sarah! Don't be concerned. I think you made it work. Zoe's voice worked, and as always, you write wash amazingly. I was all saddened by this... and then i read the dino part and i just giggled a little. :D You had the right mix of emotions.

Wash Wash Wash Wash

Thursday, February 27, 2003 6:25 PM


Very sensual, very well written.

I'll be in my bunk!

Saturday, March 1, 2003 2:07 PM


Very nice followup to War Stories. What you write is very believable. I've read several other of your fan fics and I appreciate how you stay true to the characters as they appear on the show. I look forward to your next story!

Monday, March 17, 2003 10:10 AM



stay true, sarahetc

Tuesday, September 7, 2004 11:02 PM


Ooh that was beauuuuutiful! You write Zoe so well!

Hehe Maniac, you really haven't seen that eppy if you think Wash would ever hit Zoe - she would kick his a s s!!

Friday, December 3, 2004 1:08 AM


"Take me, sir," Zoe said earnestly, "Take me hard."

Or something like that; one of the best scenes and you left out the best part!!

Keep flyin'

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 11:48 AM


Awww. That was pulling at my heart strings it was so damn good. I love how you get Zoe's prospective on everything, and how her and Wash are such a part of each other. The washing lying tangled together so like them, brilliant imagry.

But what caught me most was, "If he doesn’t die of grief, I might." *sniffs* War Stories could have done with that extra bit at the end... would have made it my extra EXTRA fav ep then! :) Good job!


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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