Wish I was Somebody Else, 16/26
Friday, March 2, 2007

A hero comes home.


Sorry for the long wait. RL has been a bit of a blizzard lately; I have been snowed under.

16. A Beautiful Woman Who Can Kill Me With Her Pinky

Wash hesitated in the corridor outside his and Zoe’s bunk. He drew a deep breath, released it, and pushed open the door.

“Zoe?” he said, stepping onto the ladder and peering down.

He could hear her moving around, but couldn’t see her, and she didn’t answer him. He’d have to chance the ladder. Which he wasn’t sure he could do, even if he had been sure it was a good idea. Jayne’s potent ‘medicine’ had put a little distance between him and the pain, but it had also made walking, let alone climbing down ladders, chancier. Half expecting to fall gracelessly into a heap, and half expecting to be dragged from the ladder and beaten to a pulp, Wash climbed down with exaggerated care.

Zoe was standing at the sink, wiping her face. As he stepped off the ladder, she turned to face him. Her expression was one he couldn’t judge, because it was one he’d never seen. Had she been anyone else, he’d have said she looked . . . lost. But that couldn’t be right. Zoe couldn’t look lost.

“Jayne told me what happened,” he said. “Although, I think I probably got a skewed version of events. One where Jayne saved everybody, with a little help from . . . River? Who I’m given to understand is flying the ship, now?”

“Was it the version where I buried you at the end?”

“Yeah,” he said hoarsely.

“And did it include finding out that you – at least, as far as we knew at first – had betrayed all of us to the Alliance?”

Wash nodded – barely, because each movement was a new, not-fun experience. “And then getting to Haven just in time to find me dead. Again,” he added softly.

Tears welled up in her eyes, and it hurt him worse to see that than the shrapnel throbbing in his back -- going to have to have Simon take care of that. Worse than the pain in his head. Worse, even, than when Zoe had hit him.

“I’m sorry,” he said. He gathered her into his arms, and she came willingly, ignoring the blood and the dust and the fact that he probably didn’t smell any too good. “Can you forgive me?”

She nodded, her face buried against his shoulder. Then she raised her head; gray rock dust had rubbed off on her face, her eyelashes, her hair. Her eyes were dry again, although she still looked a little lost. She touched the swollen bruise on his cheekbone. “Forgive me?” she asked.

He nodded.

“Not just for this,” she said. When he frowned, she said, “That Alliance guy . . . I didn’t know he wasn’t you.”

Wash took a minute to process that, working through the fog of pain and alcohol, but he finally figured out exactly what Zoe was asking forgiveness for. “Oh,” he said. Gorram imposter had a lot to answer for – crashing Wash’s ship, screwing Wash’s wife. “Well. I guess . . . I guess I’ll just have to kill him. Oh, no, wait, he’s already dead. Right?”

“Would have been dead a lot sooner, if I’d known.” “Well. Then. I guess that’s done with.” Actually, it wasn’t quite done with. Wash knew it would bug him. But it wasn’t Zoe’s fault, and it wasn’t fair to hold it against her, and he determined not to. Somehow. Maybe kill some Alliance guys, next opportunity that presented. Or something.

“There’s more,” she said, and Wash gave her a pained look.

“How much more?” he asked plaintively. Was this some sort of awful cosmic balancing out of the fact that she’d had to see him dead, twice?

“I gave Jayne all our money,” Zoe said.

“You what? Zoe!” Wash stepped away from her, which turned out to be unwise. He put a hand on the ladder to steady himself.

“To pay him. For finding you.”

“But . . . that was a lot of money! We been saving that since . . . since . . .”

“Since the last time I had to spend everything we had to bring you home. From Niska’s,” she reminded him.

Wash winced, and his jaw tightened. “Since then. Right.”

“You got to quit getting yourself snatched, husband; we can’t afford it,” she scolded gently. “Not if you ever want to retire, and give up this life of crime.”

“I suppose your pretty Alliance flyboy collected my share from that last job?” he said, his voice slightly edged with bitterness. Got to watch that.

“Not so pretty,” she teased. “Remember, he looked just like you.”

Wash couldn’t decide immediately how to respond to that; even in his muddied mental state, he knew there were places he was better off not going – especially now, with his brain working only sluggishly and his strength fading by the moment. So he only stared at her until a movement in their bunk caught his eye. He turned his head to see This Cat padding softly toward them.

“You brought my cat?” he asked.

Zoe’s expression changed, subtly. She suddenly looked more like herself than she had since he’d returned to the ship – a serious veneer hiding her amusement. “Yeah.”

“I’m surprised Mal allowed that,” Wash said.

“Well,” Zoe said, “Normally, I don’t think he would have, but under the circumstances . . .”

Wash looked at her, afraid she’d get upset again. Instead, she smiled – conspiratorially, as though it had been their plan all along to trick Mal into allowing an animal aboard the ship. Seeing her smile at last was like finally seeing the stars. Wash grinned. And kissed her.

“Mal told me to take all the time I need, settling back in,” he murmured into her hair.

“Good,” she said, brushing her lips across his bruised cheek. “Start here.”


Zoe guided Wash to their bunk, and made him sit. Objectively, she knew he looked awful – his hair, his eyebrows and eyelashes, and his clothes were matted with dried blood and covered in gray rock dust, and his face where she’d hit him didn’t look too good either. Subjectively, though, she didn’t care. Blood could be cleaned up, and bruises healed. To see those blue eyes again, bloodshot and bleary as they were; to hear his voice, slightly slurred with exhaustion and, judging by the smell, drink; to feel his arms around her – once she’d got past that rage, that blind and terrible fury that had threatened to consume her both times when she’d looked at him and believed him dead – How could you do this to me; how could you die and leave me here! -- she had wanted only to hold him, to hear him, to feel his chest rise and fall and know that he was with her again.

But he was sorely in need of cleaning up. Not to mention a good night’s rest. She meant to see that he got both, and woe betide anyone who suggested otherwise – including Wash himself. Zoe unzipped the ruined coverall down to his waist, and sat next to him on the bed to carefully peel it off.

That was when she saw his back.

“Oh, Wash,” she breathed, and a lump rose in her throat. “Honey . . . your back!”

“You knew that already,” he said.

“No, baby,” she touched his skin gently between his shoulder blades, in a place where it wasn’t torn and bloody. “I mean . . . what happened?”

“The mine exploded,” he said. “But Toupin said I probably cut my head when I fell.”

Zoe punched the intercom. “Simon,” she said, “Come to my bunk with your med kit. Please!”

“On my way,” Simon said, and in moments he was there, swearing softly when he saw what Zoe had seen. “Why didn’t you say something?”

Wash looked at him. “I dunno.”

Simon recoiled. “How much have you had to drink?”

“Ask Jayne,” Wash suggested.

Simon frowned at the injector he’d grabbed from his bag, adjusting its dials. He also grabbed a tube from the bag, and handed it to Zoe. “Use this,” he said. “It’s a topical anesthetic. I don’t think I’d better give him too much in the way of systemic painkillers, since I don’t know how much he’s had to drink.”

Zoe nodded. She uncapped the tube and began rubbing the cream on Wash’s back – or what was left of Wash’s back, anyway. He looked like he’d been flogged.

Simon reached above the bunk and flipped on a reading lamp, turning it so that it pointed at Wash’s back. “I’d really rather do this in the med bay,” he said, frowning at the inadequate light.

“Could take a while to get him up that ladder,” Zoe said.

Simon sighed. “All right. Wash –“ he stopped again, and looked at Zoe. “This could seriously ruin your sheets.”

Zoe laughed; trust Simon to care about that detail. “I don’t care about the sheets,” she assured him.

Simon shrugged. “Wash, I want you to lie on your stomach,” he said. With Zoe’s help, he eased the pilot onto the bed and began assessing the damage. “You got lucky,” he said. “These seem to be mostly flesh wounds; I don’t think there’s any organ damage. Still. It’s going to take a while to clean this up.”

Wash didn’t answer; between Jayne’s drink and Simon’s drugs and the topical anesthetic taking the edge off the pain, and pillows, he had lapsed into either a very deep sleep, or unconsciousness.

Simon went to work on Wash’s back, digging out piece after piece of rock and jagged metal. Zoe efficiently stripped her husband out of his shoes and the remains of the tattered prison coverall.

“Well, it’s definitely Wash,” Simon observed dryly. To Zoe’s inquiring look, he said with a nod of his head, “Boxers.”

Zoe grinned. “Toldja so.”


Friday, March 2, 2007 1:13 PM


I am glad to see another chapter at last, sorry that real life has been getting in the way. Loved this and relieved to see Wash finally getting the medical treatment he needs. Aw, and Wash and Zoe forgive each other. Lovely, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, March 2, 2007 6:48 PM


YAY I've been waiting for this!! It was amazing!! Can't wait for more...

Saturday, March 3, 2007 10:11 AM


Oh...thank God Wash passed out or fell asleep. Can't imagine the fun he would have been experiencing if he was awake while Simon was excavating and irrigating his wounds:(

Still...I hope Zoe and Wash continue their conversations and expression of honest emotion about Wash's supposed death and Zoe's inability to recognize the change. Like the flight suit "Wash" wears in "Serenity"...never really thought it somethinig Wash would wear or wear without some sort of alteration;)


Friday, March 9, 2007 11:41 AM


Awww... Cuteness.
I'm glad Wash fell asleep too, it would not be fun to have large pieces of rock and metal dug out of your back, or to have them in there in the first place.

Is there more? I'm enjoying this so much. :)


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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.