Wish I Was Somebody Else, THE END
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This Cat gets her big scene.


26. Wife Soup, or, We Gotta Go to the Crappy Town Where I'm A Hero

“River,” Mal said. “We should go.”

“Not yet,” River said.

“River. Ain’t nothing here. And Polyphemus may come back.”

River thought there was something there, but Mal was a knowing sort too, even if he only knew things subconsciously; even if he hadn’t had those barriers stripped out of his brain the way that River had. So she activated the thrusters, preparing to turn the ship about.

A light blinked on the console – incoming comm.

River smiled, and opened the channel.

Wash’s voice flooded the bridge. “You guys weren’t planning to leave without me, were you?”

Inara and Kaylee cried out with relief; Simon and Jayne shared a look of surprise.

Mal said, “Wash? Where are you?”

“Down here on the surface, under a ledge,” Wash said. “I didn’t see you until you moved. Wait there, I’ll come to you.”

They saw one of Lemon’s shuttles lift from the surface of the moon – her port shuttle, Mal noted. Same one of Serenity’s shuttles that Mal had destroyed, to cover their tracks at the lawforce station. Well, he thought with a certain satisfaction. That worked out pretty well, I guess.

His crew were standing around the bridge, slapping themselves on the back and celebrating. He pushed into the middle of the knot of them, and shoved them apart. “What are you all standing around here laughing like a pack of hyenas for?” he scolded. “Somebody go find Zoe!”

“Right.” “Of course.” “Sure, Cap’n.” and they dispersed, each one hoping to be the one who brought Zoe the good news.

Mal, who didn’t really want to be the one who found Zoe, went to the port shuttle lock to welcome his pilot home.


Everybody was glad to see Wash – well, Jayne seemed a bit discomfited, but he shook Wash’s hand and said he must have done some mighty fine flying to get away from that destroyer, but everybody else seemed unreservedly happy – except Zoe, who was nowhere to be found.

She wasn’t in their bunk, on the bridge, in the common area, even in the showers or the deepest recesses of the engine room.

Gorramit, Wash thought. There aren’t that many places on this boat to hide! Frustrated, he made his way to the bridge and picked up the intercom. Broadcasting to every possible corner of the ship, he asked, “Do I have a wife on this boat, or was that whole marriage thing just a figment of my imagination?”


Zoe jumped so suddenly at the sound of Wash’s voice that This Cat dug her claws into Zoe’s leg in protest. Zoe petted the creature, offering a silent apology, and sat breathing deeply until she had stopped trembling and recovered her self-control.

She came out of Book’s room quietly, wanting the coast to be clear. Wash was probably on the bridge, and that was a difficult place to get to without being seen. Zoe slipped past the med bay while Simon’s back was turned, stepped lightly up the back stairs, and approached the dining room cautiously. She heard men’s voices arguing as she approached.

Jayne was saying, “We never shoulda let him back on this boat.”

“That’s not your decision,” Mal snapped.

“How long was he gone? Two hours? Two and a half?” Jayne demanded. “Didn’t take that long for the Alliance to replace him last time. How do you know they ain’t up to the same tricks? ‘Cause if you believe they wouldn’t try that twice, I got some nice real estate on Miranda I’d like to sell you.”

Zoe drew close enough to hear, but stayed out of sight.

“You ought to at least make Simon test him,” Jayne said.

“No.” Mal flatly refused the suggestion.

“Why the hell not?”

“Because,” Mal said. “If he is a double, I don’t mean to tip him off that we know. If he is a double, I mean to use him to visit my vengeance upon the Alliance. And that’s going to take a little bit of cunning, which is something that I guess is beyond you,” Mal said.

Zoe slipped back down the steps, to come toward the bridge from below.


She came up the steps in Serenity’s nose, onto the bridge. River was there, in the pilot’s chair; Wash was lounging against the copilot’s console with his back to her.

“Do I have a husband on this boat, or was that whole marriage thing just a figment of my imagination?” she said.

“There you are!” Wash said, smiling, opening his arms to her. “Where were you?”

But Zoe took a step away from him. “How did you escape?” she asked. “How is it you’re not dead, or captured?”

Wash preened. “You’re the first person to ask me that!” he said. “And let me tell you! I had a real bad moment, there, when neither of those shuttles would fly. But the one shuttle had a little bit of juice, and I thought if I could just get a chance to work with it, I might be able to get it going. So I climbed out onto the hull, and pulled the manual release on that one so that would float free when the Alliance released the ship. And after I’d got it loose, I climbed onto the destroyer’s hull.”

“Very clever,” River said admiringly. “They’d never be able to sort your life readings from their own personnel.”

And,” Wash added proudly, “They didn’t blow me to bits when they blew up the Lemon. Anyway, so I’m clinging to the underside of Polyphemus’ hull and thinking, ‘It’s like Odysseus and the gorram sheep.’ Because, remember, when they were in the cyclops’s cave –“

“We know the story of Odysseus and the Cyclops,” River and Zoe said in impatient unison.

“Anyway . . . then they let the Lemon drift, and they blew it to bits,” Wash continued, slightly ruffled by their interruption of his thrillin’ heroics. “I figured they were probably about to leave at that point, so I kicked free and made for the shuttle. No air, of course, but I had the suit, and I even had it running, kinda, by the time you and Mal came back to get me.”

He was clearly pleased with himself. And, Zoe had to admit, it sounded like a very clever plan – one that just might have worked. Still, when he moved toward her, she moved away, stopping behind the pilot’s chair.

“What’s wrong?” Wash asked, suddenly concerned.

“How do I know you’re you?” Zoe asked. To hell with Mal’s notions of vengeance and cunning; she was determined to know. “You were there, the Alliance was there . . . how do I know they’re not playing the same tricks all over again?”

Wash’s face fell. “If you’re going to insist on a DNA test every time I’m out of your sight for five minutes, that could get pretty awkward.”

They stood staring at each other in silence. This Cat padded softly onto the bridge and jumped onto the edge of the copilot’s console, where she mrrrowwed plaintively for Wash’s attention. He reached over and scratched her gently under the chin. “At least somebody is glad to see me,” he said sadly.

“The cat,” River said.

“This Cat,” Wash corrected.

“Odysseus had a dog,” River said.

Wash and Zoe looked at her, and then at each other. Each knew the other’s thoughts as clearly as River did: is this crazy talk?

“Odysseus’ dog recognized him when he came home, even though he was in disguise,” River said patiently.

“I’m not in disguise,” Wash insisted. “It’s me, right here, in the flesh, no tricks!”

River gave him an are-you-really-this-thick look, and explained: “They can change your face. They can change your voice, and your scars, and your gorram brain if they need to. But no power in the ‘verse could make an imposter smell like you to your cat.”

“That right?” Wash said. This Cat pressed her head into his palm, purring happily.

Zoe eyed This Cat thoughtfully. Then she stepped over and picked This Cat up in both hands, cradling the feline against her chest. “That makes you a very special cat indeed,” she said. She turned to leave the bridge. “Do you know what I’m going to do for you? I’m going to make you some soup.” Her bootheels clanked in the corridor, heading for the kitchen.

“The cat gets soup?” Wash said.

“This Cat,” River corrected merrily.

“Hey! I’m the one who outflew an Alliance destroyer in a crap boat! And came up with a truly classic escape plan right on the spur of the moment!” He followed his women off the bridge, still protesting. “So how come the cat gets soup? I mean, she was born with that sense of smell, it’s not like she did anything special to get it . . .”

Mal came up onto the bridge from belowdecks as Wash’s voice faded aft. He looked at River. “Everything ship shape up here?”

“You bet, Captain,” she said. “Everything’s just like it ought to be.”


Wednesday, April 18, 2007 9:14 AM


Aww...I like that ending. It sums up the events but leavs plenty of room for the imagination. *hee*

Great job! You're a really good writer. I enjoyed this series SO much.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 12:49 PM


The sequel is in the works; I am up to ch. 5.

and Thanks :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 2:24 PM


Hey, now we know who the REAL hero of this fic is - This Cat!!!! I want his autograph, or should that be Paw Print? This was very good, just so glad they got Wash back and in one piece. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 4:48 PM


Awww!!! That was sooooo goood! Thank God Wash was okay and everything was so funny and amazing and...I'm sad it's over. :D

Saturday, April 21, 2007 11:43 AM


Well now...guess This Cat is gonna be seen as the 9th BDH now, since River's point is quite valid;)

And I have to give you definitely props for making Wash a damn clever SOB during parts of this series, especially the climax with the "Polyphemus" chasing the "Lemon" ;D


Sunday, April 22, 2007 2:20 AM


Thanks BEB and everyone who enjoyed this piece. As for Wash being clever -- he's not a gunslinger, but that doesn't mean he's stupid!

Monday, April 23, 2007 5:13 PM


This entire story was awesome. Thank you so much for a couple of great evenings. You right everyone really well. The plot was exciting and there were lots of funny parts. What more can I ask for. Maybe More??????

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 5:39 PM


Another truly awesome story. The best thing is that it really works! It all makes sense! You don't have to stretch things much to come up with this, and it can be logical. Thanks for such a great story, and helping me believe that Wash is alive!

Saturday, May 21, 2011 6:13 PM


Chekov's cat. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015 5:47 PM


Again, hi I ALSO made this account just to say woah this is amazing and wonderful. I'm so glad I found this.


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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.