BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

SARAHETC

Laid Bare
Monday, June 23, 2003

Ever wonder what happened to that ambulance? A little bridge between Ariel and War Stories.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3972    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Author’s note: Thanks to Philomel for an out-of-this-world beta. She makes everything shinier.

Spoilers: Are we still doing these? Ariel and War Stories

Disclaimer: Firefly belongs to people not me. Intended for fun not profit.

Feedback: Yes, please. If you'd like, email me personally. The address is in my profile.

Quick and Dirty Chinglish: ling ren exin: disgusting Shangdi: God xiongxian jiating funu: nasty housewife

***

Laid Bare “If we was to actually end up on a naked beach, what would you do? You couldn’t lie out there.”

“Says who? I’m just as good a layer as anybody. It’s a well-known fact. In flight school, I minored in laying.”

Zoe pinched him for that joke

“You’re just,” she hesitated. “Just pasty is all.”

“Pasty? Pasty?” He let her giggle at his mock hurt.

She stroked his arm and favored him with a mildly reproachful look. He winced a little, sighed and rubbed the top of his head.

“Yeah, well, there would be some kind of laying.” He opened his eyes wide for emphasis, then grinned and enjoyed her laughter. “Look how well I’m laying here!” He was on a roll and he knew it. “Here, look at this.” He twisted away from her and lay flat on his back. “I can lay here plain like this. I can lie on my side, like this.” He turned away from her again. “I can lie on my other side, even on my belly.” And as he said it, the pillow muffled his voice.

Zoe watched his back shake lightly with laughter before tapping him on the shoulder. He turned his face toward hers.

“Yes, dear. You’re an excellent layer. It’s a damn shame we’re nowhere near a beach.”

“Thanks for saying.”

They smiled at one another for a moment before Zoe eventually rolled her neck and pulled her hair out from under her shoulders, while Wash continued to lie on his belly, watching her.

“What did you make of that airlock alarm this afternoon?” Wash’s voice was not quite sleep and a little too casual.

“Get the light, dear. I’m sleepy.”

“What did you think?”

And in response, Zoe sighed and set her jaw.

“I won’t be ignored in my own bed.” He started to sulk, a little boy denied.

She rolled her face toward him, furrowing her brow as if to say You have, you will, you are. “I’m thinking some kind of sunblock cream. Some kind of heavy duty sunblock. Unless it’s a beach on a planet with a thin sky. Then I’m thinking some kind of tent.”

“Zoe, that’s not what I asked.”

“It’s what I said.”

They lay there in silence for a few moments, the atmosphere thickening around them, building an invisible but opaque wall between them. Wash twisted back onto this right side, facing his wife, propped up on an elbow.

“Ain’t no reason to open and shut the airlock two minutes out of atmo like that.”

“Well, I didn’t do it.” Zoe looked at him pointedly before also turning to lie on her right side. She rearranged her hair again and leaned back into her husband’s body.

“Hey, Zo. Not in the habit of keeping things from you so you don’t from me, okay?” Zoe neither spoke nor moved, but Wash sighed.

“Couple more seconds and we woulda had problems breaking atmo. Extenders ain’t made to take that kinda stress.” Zoe remained silent and still. “Of course, I’m a tremendous pilot, so I could have corrected for it. Just give her a little more power and really pull up on her. I was on a Paragon once and practically the same thing happened. Of course, with no extenders, I was fair certain the entire bay was going to rip off and space us all…”

Zoe cut him off, “You’re rambling, dear.”

“Because you’re not paying attention to me.”

“I told you, I don’t know anything.”

“You do. You do know something.” Wash yanked his pillow down and leaned his elbow on the top edge of the bed, resting his head in his hand. He raised his eyebrows and sucked his teeth sarcastically, baiting her. “And I think you’re lying about it, which is…”

Zoe cut him off again. “Jien ta de guay.” She sounded baffled and exasperated.

“Hey, at least I’m talkin’.”

“In the end, the door shut and the ship is fine and Jayne wasn’t at dinner and that’s all we need to know.”

“You’re not curious?”

“Don’t matter if I am.”

“I think it does.”

“You’re welcome to think that.”

“I will.”

“Good.”

“Good.”

They stayed like that, silent, for a moment. And just as Wash thought his wife was about to fall asleep, he spoke up.

“Zoe?”

“Yes?”

“Do we have any of this double super secret sunblock?”

“Not yet. But I reckon we’ll be so rich from the take today that we’ll be able to buy plenty.” She moved against him, no longer tense or anxious, enjoying the warmth of his body and the consistent feeling of home he was to her. He kissed her head and then her shoulder. “We’ll just have to remember to smear it on you good and frequent.”

“Will you do the smearing?”

“Oh yes.” She reached back, her arm over her shoulder, to stroke his face. She sighed sleepily.

“I had an idea, Zo’.” He held her wrist and kissed the heel of her hand before placing her arm back on her side.

“Is it about going to sleep? I would be all in favor of that idea.”

“It’s about the medicine. I got to thinking we could sell it straight to the docs where we’re going. Cut out the middle and get extra cash.”

Zoe made an inarticulate but disapproving sound.

“I figure that that way the medicine gets where it needs to go and we get a nice extra helping of money. Money to buy fruit to eat on the beach.” “That’s nice dear.” She snuggled her cheek into the pillow.

He waited a moment, growing increasingly frustrated. He felt hung, knew that she wasn’t going to listen to him and knew she’d accuse him of being tetchy if he argued anymore. He reached to the light pad next to the bed and turned the lamps down very low, but lay back and away from her, letting sheets settle between their bodies. He laced his fingers behind his head and sighed loudly.

He stayed awake in the dark long after she was deeply asleep.

***

“You have too much time alone up here. Too much time with these dinosaurs.”

“That ain’t the point and you know it.”

“The point is we don’t deviate from the plan.”

“Unless we get a better plan and I think I got a better plan.”

Zoe folded her arms across her chest and ignored Wash’s hand, hot on the sensitive place above her knee.

“I’ll ask him. Okay?”

“Well, yeah.” Wash’s eyes flashed, but he pursed his lips around the remark. He opened his mouth to add another when Kaylee’s voice piped over the comm.

“Wash? You got a sec to help me?”

He and Zoe stared at one another for a moment longer. The comm. crackled again. “Wash? You there?”

Without breaking eye contact Wash rose from his seat and reached for the handset.

“On my way Kaylee.” He let it click off and replaced the handset, still looking at his wife very seriously. “Thank you, Zoe.”

When she didn’t respond, he left without saying anything.

***

“Whatcha need, Kaylee?” Wash leaned into the engine room half hoping he could troubleshoot from the door and leave as quickly as he came. Kaylee, facing away from the door, had the majority of her upper body in the engine casing.

“Hey Wash!” Kaylee’s voice was muffled and sunny but distracted. “The mag on the force regulator for the core is sticking. Can you get down here and pull the belt back and see if you can see a way to fix it without us having to go dark?”

Wash stared at her a moment before sighing, “Yeah.” He dragged himself to her, squatted, and began pawing through her toolbox.

“Got ion pliers down there already.”

Wash looked at her uncomprehending for a few moments. The smile eased off her face.

“Yeah. That’d be what to use, huh?”

“Yeah. Somethin’ on your mind, Wash? I got a good ear.”

“I know, Kaylee.” He eased himself forward onto his knees, crawled past her and reached for the pliers under the engine. He turned it slowly, exposing the force regulator casing. He pulled the belt in front of it aside and winced at what he saw inside.

For her part, Kaylee was silent, watching his face. She’d learned that Wash was a help in the engine, often knowing and understanding much more than he let on.

“Can we remove this whole belt?”

“Sure. Just takes two of us is all, cos it’s heavy. If you’ll help…”

“Sure, Kaylee.” Wash cut her off and turned to look for a screwdriver behind him. She rocked forward over her feet and knelt beside him, knee to knee and shoulder to shoulder. He worked on the connection on one side and she the other.

He waited until all the bolts on her side were out and in her pocket before removing the last and his side and bearing most of the weight of the belt and its casing. They set it behind them, next to the press regulator, where it settled to the deck with a meaty thud.

“See, this is where it’s all gunked up. The feeds are crossed from that mag poundin’ em every time we take a hard turn.”

He looked at her sharply but she smiled at him. “What if I just take the course changes real mellow?” He tried smiling back at her but didn’t quite make it.

She smirked back him. “Less work for me. But come first time we need to run and you can’t pull hard starboard, I’m not going to back you up.”

“Well, I don’t always pull starboard.”

“Yes, you do.”

“No I don’t.” He was grinning at her now, putting himself in her place for a minute.

“Do so.”

“Do not!”

“Wash, I got a track a mile wide in the starboard pin lock from where you hit it so hard.”

“Yeah, well, not all of us are as talented as you, Kaylee.”

She laughed and elbowed him.

“Next time we make landfall, you can buy me a replacement shaft.”

His eyebrows jumped and they both laughed easily at the innuendo of it. And thinking on that easiness, Wash’s smile drifted away again.

“Somebody kick your puppy?” Kaylee asked it as he eased his arm into the regulator, bypassing the mag and the wires to make sure the critical parts were okay.

“No.”

“Somebody sic your wife on you?” Kaylee was unsure how to get to the subject and so plowed ahead.

“Yes.” Wash’s face was grim with concentration. He was shoulder deep in the engine, his jaw pressed against the housing. He glowered into the middle distance. “Front mag or back?”

“Front,” Kaylee said.

There was a low chunk sound and Wash pulled the mag back through the outer casing. Kaylee set to work on it. He took one of her rags and mopped ineffectively at the grease and dust on his arm.

“I’m still listening, Wash.” Kaylee’s work was quick and confident. Wash found himself wishing he could think about Kaylee’s very smart hands rather than his very diffident wife.

“Wish I had anything good to talk about.”

They worked that way for the better part of the morning. If Kaylee held a hand out, Wash was ready with the tool. She kept up a pleasant enough banter, mostly about mechanics, and Wash found he only had to make approving noises every once in a while.

“Kaylee?” Mal’s voice rang down the hall. The clomp of his boots on the grating followed. “Kaylee, you seen Wash?”

“Right here, Mal.” Wash looked up at him from the floor, one arm covered in grease practically to the neck.

“Been lookin’ all over for you.”

“Yeah, Mal?” Wash stood and listlessly scrubbed more at his arm. “I’ve been here all morning. Something wrong?”

“Not as such. Actually glad I caught you and Kaylee in the same spot. And I’m gonna go ahead and assume that that big chunk of metal is okay to be there and not in the engine?”

“‘S’fine, Cap’n.” Kaylee grinned and stood next to Wash. She tugged the rag out of his hands. “Mine. Whatcha need?”

Mal looked back and forth between them for a moment before proceeding. Wash looked as glum as Mal had ever seen, but Kaylee appeared just as sunny as any other day.

“Wanted to tell the two of you that I was about to sell that fine ambulance you built. The buyer we got on Blackcliff has a use for it and is willing to give good platinum. Though you two should get an extra cut.”

Kaylee’s split into a blinding smile and she threw her arms around Mal. Wash grinned and rubbed his head with his clean hand.

“How much we talkin’, Mal?”

“How much, Cap’n?” Kaylee echoed him.

“A goodly enough sum to help us have some right luxurious downtime after we make the final drop on Ezra. Thought you’d be especially pleased to hear that, Wash.”

“Yeah, Mal. I am.” Wash smiled genuinely at the captain.

“Well, I’ll leave you two to fixing whatever it is that you’re fixing. We still on a good course, Wash?”

“Far as I know.”

“Anything else I should know about?” Mal looked between his mechanic and his pilot and was briefly grateful for them both. “Okay, then. You treat this ship good, Miss Kaylee.”

“Always do, Cap’n.” She had returned to the mag on the floor. Wash followed the captain halfway to the door.

“Zoe have a talk with you today, Mal?” They paused, Mal straddling the threshold and Wash standing with one foot on the bottom step. Wash looked worn and drawn and Mal would have been concerned had he not seen Kaylee looking pleased as punch and working on some large chunk of the engine he didn’t understand. He figured that that meant that whatever was bothering Wash was personal and he had long ago promised himself to stay the hell out of that nest of rattlers.

“Had a couple. Something on your mind?”

Wash relaxed hard and fast. Even the air around him relaxed. Mal was curious at it, but reminded himself not to press.

“No, sir, Captain. Just wondering how I’m going to degrease enough to get a grip on that belt.”

***

Wash clanged down the ladder into his bunk unmindful of much of anything. He was already unlacing his boots before Zoe spoke.

“Tough day, dear?”

He turned to see her kneeling between the bed and her desk, struggling to scrub her back. He hurried his boots and socks of, rolled haphazardly over the bed, and fell onto the floor behind her.

“Let me help you with that, lambchop.”

“Thank you, dear.” She handed him the sponge and he set about caressing her back with it, planting kisses on the tops of her shoulders for good measure. “Tough day?”

“Not so much. Hard work. You talk to Mal?”

“What kind of hard work?” She felt him pause along some of her scars and tried her best not to stiffen against his touch.

“Mag was torqued. You didn’t get a chance to ask Mal about my idea?”

“Torqued?”

“Sticking. Half-jammed sideways actually. Force regulator would slow and clip every rotation. Not good for the wear.” He dropped the sponge back in the small basin of water and moved damp hands around to cup her breasts. “This is very much not what I want to talk about.” He shoved the thought of his own less than clean body to the back of his mind and proceeded to kiss her neck and jaw.

“What would you like to talk about?” She let him push her forward.

“Nothin’, lambchop.” He cupped her ass and pulled it up, toward him, stretching her back. He ran a hand down her spine, tugging lightly on her hair.

She felt him spread her legs with a knee and then his fingers inside her, stroking and warming her. She heard the slick of the zipper on his flight suit and felt his skin pressed against hers. And then he was inside her and she was glad of it and glad of him.

And neither of them worried about questions the other wouldn’t answer.

***

“Kaylee, you gonna be able to repaint that shuttle tomorrow?” Mal looked to the other end of the dining table where Kaylee sat with her back to the corridor. “Don’t want it to be tacky when we hand it over.”

“Sure cap, could use help, though.” Kaylee looked to Simon and all but pointed to him with her chopsticks.

“Jayne? Wash?”

“Ah, Mal,” Jayne said quickly, looking between Mal and Kaylee. “Got a lot of plans.”

“Do you now?” Mal was incredulous. He took a breath to order Jayne to help when Wash piped up.

“I got it, Jayne. Painted it once, can paint it again.” Wash shoveled rice into his mouth with one hand and very obviously rubbed Zoe’s thigh with the other. Jayne gave him a grateful leer.

“Thanks Wash. Gray should be fine.”

“Gray’s all we got, Mal.” He grinned and looked to Kaylee who laughed and jabbed her chopsticks at him some. The two of them stopped to laugh at their own joke and nobody asked to be let in on it. Zoe smirked and River focused narrowly on Wash for several minutes but everyone else finished their meal with minimal but pleasant conversation.

“We on course, still?”

“Blackcliff by morning, Susano tomorrow evening.” Wash nodded enthusiastically and grinned. “Doing better than you thought, Mal. Properly functioning force regulator makes a big difference.”

“Helluva big difference,” Kaylee echoed and beamed. Mal grinned back at her and looked genuinely happy for a moment.

“It will be a hell of a thing,” said River suddenly, focusing on a spot on the table just above her empty plate. Then she looked at Mal. “When the time comes, you’ll ignore the tangle. Maybe it’s for the best.”

Everyone paused and looked at one another. Simon stiffened slightly.

“River,” he began, setting a hand on her shoulder. He leaned in to murmur in her ear.

“I hear Blackcliff is a remarkable planet, Captain.” Book spoke a little too loudly, but provided a necessary measure of tension relief. “Perfectly equal land to water ratio. A paradise.”

“Close as the Alliance could come to it.” Mal tucked into the last of his dinner.

“Alliance don’t know Eden.” Zoe muttered it under her breath, so only Wash and Kaylee heard her, and Kaylee didn’t understand.

*** “That may be the grayest ambulance I’ve ever seen.” Jayne sat on his weight bench, polishing Vera’s barrel and leering at Kaylee. “You’re turnin’ it into a hearse.”

“It’s not an ambulance, Jayne. Never was.” Kaylee, mouth and nose covered by a mask, sprayed paint on the vehicle and looked to Wash, all blue eyes and white mask and crazy hair, enthusiastically painting the other side.

“Well, technically it was. But I prefer to think of it as a getaway car.”

“Shiny, Wash. We do get away from a lot of things, don’t we?” Kaylee heard him laugh on the other side of the now defunct ambulance and did her best to ignore Jayne.

“Little man sure got away.”

“Sure rescued you.”

“I didn’t need rescuin’. Was doin’ just fine without you.”

“That’s not what Simon said, Jayne.” Kaylee’s voice was muffled through her mask, but playful.

“What’d Simon say, Kaylee?” Wash tried to paint his way to where he could see her through the ship’s windshield.

“Not too much. And don’t really like to think about what he did say. Said he had to knock a man unconscious. Kneeled right on his neck.” Kaylee’s eyes were wide. She slowed her side to side paint spray to look at Wash.

“Hell, I snapped the neck on the purple-belly was on me.” Jayne moved toward them from his weight bench perch.

Kaylee looked at him, half stricken but half grinning under her mask. Wash bent to get the ship’s trim and rolled his eyes.

“That’s ling ren exin, Jayne.”

“Made a great noise too. Crunk.”

Shangdi!” Wash shouted it on Kaylee’s behalf.

“You ever killed anybody, Wash?” Jayne shouted back over the ship.

Wash ignored him and Jayne leered at Kaylee until she changed the subject.

“I was worried about you all, though, when the captain come over the radio and said to look for trouble.”

“Good thing we had you on our side, little Kaylee.” Jayne made to lean against the wet paint.

“Jayne!” Kaylee shoved him as hard as she could and succeeded in changing his momentum but not much else. Jayne feigned hurt and Kaylee made to punch him. “You mess this paint job up, you’ll have to fix it.”

“You gonna make me, little Kaylee?”

“Sure am. Wash, too. Right, Wash?”

“Sure. Right after the swearing stops and I get my beautiful bride to have a heart to heart talk with him.”

“You talk a big piece, little man.” Jayne strutted around the ship as if marking territory. Wash glowered briefly over his shoulder and wished he were on the bridge where he was in charge.

“Well,” Wash fought the urge to turn the sprayer on Jayne. “I do what I can. Besides, you seem to have snapped up all the necks.” He laughed at his own joke after he heard Kaylee’s muffled guffaw.

“You’re lucky I snapped ‘em. I bet the likes of you wouldn’t take to quick to a prison.”

“Yeah, Jayne, cos I was the one who got snatched by the feds.” Wash stopped and pulled his mask down around his neck to make sure Jayne heard every word.

“You don’t know nothin’. You’re just a glorified chauffeur.”

“Jayne!” Kaylee stopped painting. Wash continued smoothly sweeping the sprayer from side to side, nearly more stunned at the word choice than at the insult.

“Fair enough. You just remember that the next time you rut it up and I’ll remember to override the last minute hatch shut.”

Shenme?” Kaylee stopped painting abruptly. Jayne looked dumbstruck. Wash grinned widely at him, but his eyes were flat and cold. He backed out of the cargo bay and waved Vera momentarily at them but it presented no threat.

Wash raised his eyebrows at Kaylee and grinned, this time with genuine humor, and promptly went back to painting. Kaylee stood for another moment, looking at Wash and trying to figure out what they knew that she didn’t, before shrugging and going back to painting herself.

They painted in a silence that was stiff at first but grew easier as the afternoon passed. Simon came and went and River came and went, both making small talk, though Simon’s was far more pointed and coherent. River discussed the evils of getting sand in one’s boots and just how difficult it was to play long range darts. Kaylee tried to make conversation, but Wash only smiled warmly and nodded even though the majority of River’s short speeches were directed at him.

After rigging makeshift scaffolding, they were able to finish the paint job before dinner. Wash ducked away from the table early with the familiar and worn phrase “nav sats” and Kaylee took her hard work as an opportunity to loiter near the infirmary in search of analgesics.

Later, as Kaylee headed back to her bunk for the night, she climbed a few steps up to the bridge to pass on Simon’s compliments about the shuttle, but found Wash and Zoe staring at one another, not speaking. She tiptoed her way backward and went to bed.

*** “Did you talk to Mal about my idea?”

“Oh honey. I meant to but then Jayne interrupted us.”

“Did you talk to Mal about my idea?”

“Sweetheart. I meant to but then Kaylee interrupted us to ask about fuel cells.

“Tomorrow I think I’ll just go ahead and talk to Mal.”

“Dearheart. Don’t, please. Tomorrow’s drop is with that hwun dan Jones. Won’t get him to listen to anything.”

Over the next few days, Wash grew more and more agitated. Zoe remained implacable, even when he did his best to push every button he knew. At one point, he stormed three quarters of the way up the ladder from their bunk wearing only his shorts and one sock before Zoe convinced him to turn around. He’d cursed himself, later, for that, as he lay there with his chin against her shoulder, face down, gasping for breath with her trying to stretch her way out from beneath him.

But the drops went well. And as the stacks of money got larger and larger he had less and less of an argument to make. Even after refitting a good portion of the engine and stocking up on food that didn’t click when it hit the plate he had a hard time convincing Zoe that they needed yet more money.

They had been pushing hard doing at least one drop per day for nearly two weeks with no down time. The ship was usually quiet and mostly dark, and Wash spent most of his time on the bridge at the helm. He'd taken to programming new coordinates and a new flight plan each time they landed and Mal and Zoe trooped off the ship, goods in tow. He often programmed two or three different courses into the nav sats to streamline the take off process, which had been smooth and getting smoother. The most excitement they had had on ship their whole course of drug drops was when Kaylee ran up the fore stairs, onto the bridge, down through the crew quarters hall, through the mess and into the engine room hollering, “Grav thrust! Grav thrust! Grav thrust!” Wash did three diagnostics, two of them just to pass the time, and could find nothing wrong.

As the time passed, more and more money was distributed each night at the dinner table. Wash often accepted his cut and Zoe’s at the same time, taking a small and bitter pleasure in his charge of their money—even though it went right into the safe they kept together. But as the drugs dwindled and piles of cash grew, he thought more and more about how much Zoe’s disregard chapped him.

Jayne hadn’t accompanied Mal and Zoe on the dealings of late. He had made ready for the first and the captain had stopped him abruptly and ordered him to a series of mundane chores—busywork, mostly. It seemed to Wash that each time there was some busywork for Jayne to do while Mal and Zoe tromped off the ship. To Wash’s supreme chagrin, it also seemed that there had been more than one instance where Mal and Zoe had come back long after scheduled rendezvous, often laughing and more than a little furtive. He’d had to radio them several times to remind them of the schedule and the flight plan. Several times Zoe had answered back and dismissed him, voice full of mirth.

The more money Serenity’s crew earned, the quieter they became.

***

“I’m sorry, honey, I just never got the chance.”

“You’ve done nothing but traipse around half the ‘verse in the man’s back pocket for the last two weeks. How again is it that you didn’t get a chance?”

“Just didn’t, Wash.”

“Just didn’t. And when the two of you were sitting in a bar on Susano with the xiongxian jiating funu who bought the ambulance I built you didn’t think of it then? Too many good times and too much good drinking? I wish I knew, cos I was here plotting fifty-five gorram courses just in case the two of you showed up under fire.”

“Slipped my mind. I’m sorry.” Her apology was emphatic enough and she reached to touch his cheek, but he jerked his head away.

“Happens more and more lately. Except Mal never actually seems to slip your mind.”

“That’s unfair, Wash.”

“Hey, baby, I know from unfair. I’m real clear on it. Unfair is when your wife’s closer to her boss than she is you.”

“Can’t unknow him, Wash. And I’m not having this argument again.”

“I know. You’re gonna leave me here with the black and the stick and go talk to Mal again about the budget and the duty roster and that time all those guts rained down on your platoon and you thought it was a great day cos it meant extra protein.”

Zoe stood and stiffened. “Never promised you anything else Wash.”

“No, you didn’t. Just my fault for thinking that someday I might make you happier than your war stories.”

“If you can’t understand….” She took a breath, but stopped short and left.

Wash swiveled and tried to throw his stegosaurus after her, but missed.

*** “Next stop, Ezra,” Wash remarked, looking up from the console. He grimaced and turned to lay his head on Zoe’s lap.

He had made a peace offering of a small bag of tangerines and a polished bone clip for her hair and she’d forgiven him in short order. They’d then spent the whole afternoon and evening in their bed, peeling fruit for one another and talking about everything except the war and Serenity. He learned more about some of her colorful failures in various kitchens and she’d listened to him tell stories about pranks played on friends in flight school.

“It won’t be bad, Wash, I promise. We’ve worked everything out. Bolles meets us in the desert. We make the drop and get out.”

“Remember what happened last time we landed on that planet?” He leaned back in his chair but kept a hand firmly on her leg.

“What about it?”

“Oh, you know, the guts in the engine intake!”

“What about it?” She grinned at him thinly, amused but nonplussed.

“I don’t want you to be the next person goes through an engine around here.”

“That’ll never happen.”

“It’s too much trouble. Too much could go wrong.” He leaned around her to check the cortex screen, half hidden by her holster.

“Nothing will go wrong. We’ve met our quota on crisis. Everything will be shiny, I promise.”

“Then the naked beach?”

Kaylee bounded up the fore stairs of the bridge. Wash half expected to hear her shouting about another engine part.

“Apples! Real apples! Jayne bought ‘em.” Kaylee hardly broke stride on her way through to the mess.

Wash and Zoe grinned widely at one another.

“Yes, dear,” Zoe said. “Then the naked beach. Gotta grab the last manifest, then I’ll meet you in there for an apple.

“We’ll have a parking orbit real soon,” Wash said, standing. He watched Zoe walk a short way before turning back to the console. “Good plan,” he told himself. “Goes smooth. Rich and prosperous.”

COMMENTS

Monday, June 23, 2003 5:58 PM

KAYTHRYN


Damn that was good jie jie. Never really liked many fics that took place between episodes, because they just seemed to be nothing more than the script and a few added thoughts, but this was so far above that. Your Wash and Zoë were awesome. I could see every little bit. Also loved how you gave us new information like when you told us about what they did with that ambulance. Also I loved the joking with Wash, Jayne, an Kaylee. That would be great in a FF episode. Also (last “also”) look at you Sarah, getting’ a little smut in there! Whoo hoo!

Monday, June 23, 2003 6:10 PM

ARCHER


Very good. Excellent Zoe, very appropriate dialogue, and brilliant the way he shut Jayne up.

It also closes up a plot hole I'd wondered about, being as how the bay door couldn't have been open without Wash getting some sort of light up front, as long as the system is working properly.

Oh, and gush gush gush.

Monday, June 23, 2003 6:30 PM

LJC


ooooooooh. Gorgeous "missing scene" fic! I love how you get inside Wash's head, and the Wash/Zoe tension just builds. Also love the Wash and Kaylee stuff bigly. You're so good with the geek stuff!

Monday, June 23, 2003 9:48 PM

DEFENDER82


I loved this it really got into the yynamic of Wash's growing disenchantment with Zoe's connection to Mal. I also liked how you made Wash not only not afraid of Jayne but able to take him on and back him down. Just all around good characterization. It's fun to see others flesh out the characters we love.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003 4:32 PM

MAGUINAN


Assorted, ego-inflating gushing...

All kidding aside, you really are good at this. You keep us flyin'.

Friday, June 27, 2003 3:52 PM

BAMADAVE


That was awesome Sarah. You really capture the voices of all the characters. Bonus points for the technical stuff in the engine room. I have no idea what they were talking about, but it sure sounded right. That bit about the airlock was inspired. My only negative thought, where was Inara?

Saturday, July 5, 2003 10:45 PM

SERGEANTX


<Insert much overdue gushing here>

Pretty much forgot I was reading fanfic. You need to do your next one in script form and send it to ME.

Sunday, July 6, 2003 5:41 AM

CHANNAIN


you're the best!

Wednesday, July 9, 2003 6:32 AM

CHANNAIN


had to think about it a bit, to determine which parts I liked best. I'm thinking that there can never be too many in-quarters scenes with Wash and Zoe, moments when you can see how in love they are, when they're not arguing over her loyalty to Mal. I'm also wondering where Sarahetc learned her Serenity engine 101, and is there a manual somewhere.

Favorite line: “I’m thinking some kind of sunblock cream. Some kind of heavy duty sunblock. Unless it’s a beach on a planet with a thin sky. Then I’m thinking some kind of tent.”

I'm thinking Wash has to be of Norwegian descent with no skin pigment whatsoever, just like the rest of us Norskies.

I'm thinking Sarahetc should put some serious thought into putting together a Firefly Writer's Guide.

Friday, December 3, 2004 1:41 AM

CASTIRONJACK


A lot of work went into this, very neat very packaged.

Need that Firefly Engineering Manual.

Keep flyin'


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