BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

NAUTICALGAL

Knotted
Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Shortly after War Stories, Zoe catches Wash looking at job listings on the Cortex. Is he planning to leave -- without telling her? Without *her*?


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2481    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Title: Knotted Author: nauticalgal Pairings: Zoe/Wash Rating: PG Timeline/Spoilers: Shortly after War Stories Disclaimer: Not my toys, but fun to play with Note: Written for the Zoe/Wash ficathon on livejournal. stormkpr requested either a fic shortly after War Stories or Our Mrs. Reynolds, or a fic in which either Wash or Zoe feels insecure, and is comforted by the other. So naturally, I thought I'd go for the trifecta. Shortly after War Stories, and there's plenty of insecurity to go around:

Zoe walked up the steps from the foredeck corridor onto Serenity's bridge, a still-warm plate in one hand and a mug of fresh coffee in the other. Wash hated it when he had to work right through meals, but it was part of his job description sometimes, and she tried to smooth that over for him by bringing him something to eat, and keeping him company. Especially now, when the demons were still fresh.

He was looking at something on the Cortex when she came into the cramped space, but cleared the screen quickly when he heard her footsteps.

Not quite quickly enough.

"Hey, bao bei," he said, turning to greet her, and she forced a smile and handed him the plate and cup. He smiled back and said, "Thanks."

Zoe settled herself against the pilot's console. Wash set his mug up above his instruments, and picked up the fork from his plate. He pushed the food around, frowning at it. "I see it's our very best five-star fare, tonight," he observed unhappily.

"It was my night to cook," she reminded him, and he winced. He hadn't mean't to insult her. Still.

"Um, like I said," he amended, changing his tone, "five star fare!" He scooped up a mouthful, "Wow! This has to be the best meal I've had all week!" Zoe's expression didn't change, and he gave it up. He laid the fork down and put a hand on her leg, smiling hopefully. Contrite. Convincingly sincere.

Zoe tossed her head at the blank screen. "More job listings?" she asked, and saw her husband wince again. Did he think she didn't know? It wasn't the first time she'd caught him looking at job listings on the Cortex -- and not telling her. Since she'd ransomed him from the sadistic Adelai Niska just two weeks ago, she'd caught him at it at least three times. All three times, he'd cleared the screen quickly, and pretended there'd been nothing to see.

And each time, Zoe had wondered why? Why would Wash be looking for a job, but not talking about it to her?

Why he'd be looking, well, that was not a hard one to conjure. Niska had wounded him, tortured him, and despite their occupation, that wasn't normally part of Wash's job description. Wasn't normally part of any of their job descriptions, hers included. But the possibility of it did kind of go with the territory, when they made evil people angry at them the way they had done Niska, and that was a territory where Wash didn't like to live. Wash was smart, funny, sweet, even courageous in his way, but he was no soldier, and he hadn't walked away from Niska's torture chamber without bruises way deeper than his skin. She could see a territory that included treatment like that being one he wouldn't want to live in anymore.

But what she couldn't figure was why he wouldn't tell her about it.

Unless he wasn't planning on telling her at all. Just leaving, walking away, to a berth that paid better and didn't expect so much. A berth with no familiar faces to remind him of what he considered to be his own shameful weakness -- never mind that if he looked weak, it was only by contrast with Mal's own superhuman, lunatic strength of will, which was not a fair comparison at all.

A berth, in short, without Zoe. She had to assume that, since he hadn't discussed it with her. Since he was hiding it from her.

Wash was planning to go, and he wasn't planning for Zoe to go with him.

A lump rose unexpectedly in her throat. She hadn't put it to herself in those bald terms until that moment. She was surprised by how much it hurt.

Wash was staring into his plate, pushing the food around again with disinterest. He shrugged. "Just . . . you know. Looking."

"You never looked before." At least, not that she knew of.

He still wouldn't look at her. "It ever occur to you that there are people who go their whole lives without having to spend their last dime on ransom money? People who never have to think 'Hey, you know, I wonder if that sadistic bastard I crossed last month is out to break my fingers one at a time'?" He looked up, out at the stars, that drawn and painful look on his face that he got every time he thought about Niska, now. "I could be one of those people. Sometimes I think I might like very much to be one of those people."

Zoe didn't know what to say to that, right off. It was a point, she had to give him that. "What about the other times?" she asked, before realizing that maybe she didn't want to know the answer.

Wash drew a deep breath. He looked down at the plate in his hands, blinking as though he hadn't expected to find it there, and laid it up on the console next to the coffee. Then, at last, he looked at her, and reached out to take her hand. He tugged on it lightly, and out of habit, out of need, she let him pull her onto his lap, and wrap her in his arms. "The other times, I think I could be the man I am when I'm with you," he said, resting his head against her shoulder.

Zoe tangled her fingers in his hair, and kissed the top of his head. Is that enough? she wondered.

"It would have been you," he said softly, and a chill went down Zoe's spine. That was the thing she had feared the most -- that there would be something in this not just to drive him away, but to drive him away from her. And here it was, those five small words, pressed up in the spaces between them like a knot, all tangled; like clothes they couldn't shed, something to keep them forever apart. It would have been her, if they hadn't fought; if she'd insisted on going -- it would have been her in Niska's torture chamber, and Zoe knew she would far rather have taken those wounds herself than to see them inflicted on her lover. What if Wash felt the same way? What if the risk of it was too much for him to take?

"It wasn't me," she protested, and tears welled up in her eyes. She forced them back angrily. "Wash, it wasn't me."

"Not this time," he said. But what about next time? And the time after that? He didn't need to say it.

"Then I'd --" she swallowed. That damn lump. "I'd need you. My cavalry." She leaned away, enough to look in his eyes. "Every soldier knows you can't win without cavalry."

He laughed in spite of himself, a small chuckle in spite of the knot, and it loosened. She felt it loosen. "I thought you would go without me," she said. "I was afraid you would just leave. Go be that other guy, the one who never has to worry about ransom or torture."

"You wouldn't come with me," he said.

Zoe closed her eyes. Opened them; caught his gaze. "That life has its price, too, you know."

"I know." He did know. It was why he'd rejected that life in the first place. The price of that life was guilt; culpability. Neither of them was guilty for what Niska did. But everything the Alliance did, just like Niska or worse? To live in that world meant to be responsible in every act of it. To live your life in peace and prosperity, on the backs of other people just like you.

Out here, they could refuse that. Out here, they could return the medicine. Even if the price was a dangerous enemy. Or at least they could try.

He pressed her close as the lights dimmed into the ship's evening, and the knot fell away; the invisible garment dissolved like air. She kissed his hair, and he lifted his face to hers, while she kissed his forehead, his eyelids, his cheeks, his lips, and he kissed her too, until all the things that separated them fell away, and the only tangles left were his fingers in her hair, his arms around her, his skin and her skin, and the knots of impossible promises that bound them together in this territory where they lived. Like when she promised, past the lump in her throat, that she would always come back.

Like when he promised, his lips against her ear, that he would never leave.

COMMENTS

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 4:10 AM

GIRLFAN


Beautiful piece.

I love the utter delicacy of the tension, and the whispers of philosophical questions and deeper meaning that can only be answered by how we choose to live our lives.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 8:00 AM

TAMSIBLING


I don't often read Wash/Zoe, but I absolutely adored this. I think you captured a very interesting and truthsome moment that could have taken place within the 'verse.

Shiny!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 12:56 PM

AMDOBELL


Utterly awesome! I adored every single line, it was so true to how I could imagine Wash feeling and Zoe reacting. Just love how you also brought them full circle and back to Serenity. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, January 12, 2007 1:56 PM

TONYAHUQT03


That was really good. I got a little lump in my throat.

Friday, January 12, 2007 5:29 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Definitely a wonderful piece of work, nauticalgal! Really gotta give you props for realistically dealing with Wash going through some moments of contemplation about a life not on Serenity:)

BEB

Friday, January 12, 2007 5:41 PM

NAUTICALGAL


Thanks, everyone! Fanfic writers work for comments, and I consider myself well paid for this piece!

Monday, January 15, 2007 2:50 AM

JETFLAIR


Wow, that was a wonderful story! I like reading about Wash and how his more sensitive nature would have dealt with the aftermath of his visit with Niska, and you did it beautifully. I loved the exploration of their relationship and even their lives.

Favorite bits:

It would have been her, if they hadn't fought; if she'd insisted on going -- it would have been her in Niska's torture chamber, and Zoe knew she would far rather have taken those wounds herself than to see them inflicted on her lover. What if Wash felt the same way? What if the risk of it was too much for him to take?


"It wasn't me," she protested, and tears welled up in her eyes. She forced them back angrily. "Wash, it wasn't me."


"Not this time," he said. But what about next time? And the time after that? He didn't need to say it.


"Then I'd --" she swallowed. That damn lump. "I'd need you. My cavalry." She leaned away, enough to look in his eyes. "Every soldier knows you can't win without cavalry."



POST YOUR COMMENTS

You must log in to post comments.

YOUR OPTIONS

OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR

The Four Winds, Epilogue
The end...or maybe just another beginning.

The Four Winds, Chapter 25
The rest of the crew return home.

The Four Winds, Chapter 24
Me and Elwood, we're puttin' the band back together.

The Four Winds, Chapter 23
Inara investigates matters; Mal discovers that the impossible has been done in his absence.

The Four Winds, Chapter 22
River needs Mal to solve her problem; Mal is forced to provide information to the Alliance.

The Four Winds, Chapter 21
When Mal tries to recover the cargo, will he lose more than he stands to gain?

The Four Winds, Chapter 20
Mal makes changes to his plan; River puts her plan into action; Inara decides on a plan of her own; Wash finds something he'd lost.

The Four Winds, Chapter 19
Simon gets an alias; Mal gets a look at his client; Wash gets a shock.

The Four Winds, Chapter 18
Our Heroes - and Our Villains - try to figure a way out of the mess they're in.

The Four Winds, Chapter 17
River finds out what's really going on; Simon and Zoe fall into the wrong hands.