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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Post-BDM. Zoe has left Serenity and makes the journey to Wash's home world.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1165 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
When Zoe had waved Wash’s family using the address she found in his papers, to inform them of his death, she had been ashamed of how relieved she had been that Hatch and not Biddie had appeared on the screen.
It wasn’t that Biddie hated her, as Mal had said. But Mal was aware of the formidable opposition that Wash’s mother had put up to his marriage to Zoe. Wash, too, had joked with her that the only place she had a hope of escaping from Biddie’s overwhelming presence was in the Black.
‘Mother-in-law’ was a term entirely inadequate to explain the light in which Biddie saw her relationship to Zoe: only ‘queen’, or perhaps ‘High-Empress-Of-The-Entire-Verse’ came close. Not that she had any interest in political power or the importance that arose from wealth. It was about love: being the one who loved the most and who received the most love, not just in return but as her due, as the giver and sustainer of the Washburne family’s life.
She had been well-enough disposed towards Zoe as a person; found her, when she and Wash visited before their marriage, to be respectful, honorable, practical, hard-working. It was her work that she took issue with: the danger of it, to be precise. Zoe hadn’t tried to refute it – how could she? – but had relied on the fact that Wash was an adult capable of making his own decisions as the single most potent answer to Biddie’s objections.
Only now Biddie had been proved right, that Wash marrying Zoe would be the death of him.
Zoe turned over these thoughts, and countless others, all beginning and ending with Wash, during the long journey from Pity to the small apartment where her husband had been born. All the time, from one transit station to the next, struggling to make herself comfortable on skeletal, metal passenger seating amid the litter and the crying kids and the worn-down Rim-worlders, she sighed inwardly with a long outward breath of relief. No more Serenity. No more Kaylee, hovering around her with impotent concern; no more Simon awkwardly trying to check that she was eating and sleeping; no more Jayne, clumsily avoiding her; no more Inara, always managing to find the right words even as her own relationship died before her; no more Mal. No more Mal.
Not that these things were all they had to offer; just that she wanted nothing. Nothing but to be alone. Alone, just her, and her memories of Wash.
It surprised her, that she was making this journey. She had never travelled so far, in one direction. And without really knowing what she would find at her destination. But that was all right. It was just her. Alone, with Wash, from one shuttle to the next, staring out of windows at a Black that wasn’t different but felt different, guarding her luggage, thinking about him. Nobody knew her. And it was – beautiful.
Hatch had said: “It’ll do you good.” And so like Wash had he sounded then, that she would have done anything he’d suggested. It was Hatch who had waved her back, shortly after she had broken the news, to make the invite; but he had repeated many times that it came from both of them, from him andBiddie. It was Hatch who had said they needed a burial, something, any of Wash’s things that she could bring; but it was what they both wanted, he andBiddie, and Biddie would have told her herself, he had said, if she could come to the screen.
She had felt a connection, then, with Biddie, when she had gone through Wash’s things, wondering what would mean the most to her, what would go even the tiniest way to assuage the loss of her only son. She took a dinosaur for Hatch, and went back for another just before leaving Serenity, when she imagined Wash telling her that one would be lonely without the other. But for Biddie: a shirt, of course, well-worn and perhaps still smelling a little of him; his piloting credentials, and the photo he had of himself and his parents together, standing on the balcony of their apartment with the city’s orange-hued smog behind them. She held on to these things – along with the items she was keeping for herself – in a bag slung across her middle, and made sure always to give the very clear message: don’t even think about it.
From Pity to Warminger. Warminger to the transit station off of Harlay. Harlay TS to some Alliance platform called TP603. Long delay at the next changeover on Gangun. Endless shitty food out of plastic boxes. Gangun to Avra TS. More delays at Ernest.
Now just the unbearable restlessness of the last few hours and the desperate desire to shower in the tiny unit that Wash had called a vertical sink.
Hatch was there to meet her with Wash’s two older sisters, Barley and May. They simultaneously lunged at her luggage and buried her in a grief-stricken hug. It was several days back that Zoe had stopped finding travelling alone beautiful and now, having the need for contact with people who had known and loved Wash met overwhelmed her. She was glad for the almost-cover as she buried her head against Hatch’s shoulder, one arm around May’s shoulders, the other around Barley’s waist.
Commuters bumped into them as they hurried past. It was rush hour and that meant another, final, trying journey home, through the auto traffic and smog.
Hatch told her how Biddie had made three kinds of rice, two pies, a ham, a chicken, frankfurters, potato salad, plum dumplings and crispy duck, and Zoe imagined very well the heat of the apartment, the windows, firmly closed against the smog and the shuttle traffic, holding in the steam and odour of the cooking, the plastic covered cushions in the lounge creakily giving way as they all sat down, holding their plates, to eat…
There would be, it seemed from the menu, a lot of eating before the talking began.
Hatch, Barley and May kept the conversation going during dinner: Zoe’s journey mainly, and news about their world. Even in her anxiety about what was to come, Zoe planned a trip out of the city. Somewhere with a tree; somewhere where a tall person could stretch.
Then Barley and May adjourned to the kitchen, to clear up, and Zoe was left alone, in an armchair, with Hatch, and Biddie, on the couch. And Biddie sighed; before she said anything, Biddie sighed, and welled up, several times. Hatch, sitting between Zoe and Biddie, patted her hand and said: “Now, now, Biddie,” whenever it seemed that her emotions had got the better of her.
In the end it was as Zoe had thought: Biddie’s first request was for Zoe to tell her what had happened. And there was no way in Hell she was going to do that. She had decided, during her journey, on the version she was prepared to tell. That there had been an accident. Landing during a routine job. They’d crashed, and Wash had taken the brunt of it, and been killed outright. And – this was the hard part – there’d been no authorities to speak of on that world, so they’d not been able to get a proper death certificate or record of burial and such.
The Operative would have done that for them, she knew, when they were on Meridian. But she just hadn’t thought it would be necessary.
And that – the lack of any official documenting of Wash’s death – that lit the touch paper of Biddie’s still-angry grief.
“Now, that’s just not right!” she cried, looking from Zoe to Hatch and back again.
“Now, now, Biddie,” said Hatch, while Zoe nodded and said: “I let you down.”
Biddie took a deep breath. “Well. I daresay you did your best. But it’s just not right: Hoban, gone forever, and nothing to mark his passing, no papers, no – no body!”
“I mean to say, couldn’t you have brought us his body?”
“Now, now Biddie,” said Hatch firmly, and Biddie flared at him and told him not to ‘now, now’ her.
But Zoe welcomed it. She welcomed anything that Biddie might say as justifiable chastisement: for her guilt, for her violence, for her failure to have her husband’s child. Any answer that she gave was not for her sake, to defend herself, but for Biddie’s, whose loss was innocent, unprovoked.
“It was too far,” she said quietly.
“Well, but wasn’t that the problem? You were always so far away! And now he’s gone – he’ll never come back! And nothing left of him at all. No child!”
“Biddie!” said Hatch, almost angrily, and Biddie flared again.
“I will say what I have to say, Eberhardt Washburne!” She looked at Zoe, suddenly sorrowful: “I will have my say, once, and then I’ll never talk about it again.”
Zoe said nothing, but her eyes filled with tears. And, her grief opening up further with gratitude for Zoe’s response, Biddie started to talk about Wash: about his birth, the day he left home, and everything in between.
“Not to Zoe, Biddie darling,” Hatch reproached gently, soon after Biddie had begun. “She was his wife.”
But he was silenced, also, by a look from Zoe, telling him that this was what she had come for.
Monday, November 23, 2009 2:19 PM
Monday, November 23, 2009 8:40 PM
Tuesday, November 24, 2009 8:46 AM
Tuesday, November 24, 2009 12:35 PM
Tuesday, November 24, 2009 1:39 PM
Wednesday, November 25, 2009 8:00 AM
Wednesday, November 25, 2009 11:36 AM
Thursday, November 26, 2009 5:01 AM
Thursday, November 26, 2009 6:19 AM
Thursday, November 26, 2009 10:31 AM
Monday, December 28, 2009 8:51 PM
Monday, March 29, 2010 9:41 AM
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