What Zoe Hears
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In the Transmutations-verse. Follows 'What Mal Knows.' Zoe's POV of things.


Title: What Zoe Hears Author: GoddessofBirth Pairings: Rayne, Zoe/Wash, implied Sylee, Minara Rating: PG-13 for slight Zoe/Wash naughtiness

A/N: Follows 'What Mal Knows' in the Transmutations-verse

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The day cycle begins again. 'Come on, Lambkins, you have to eat.'

You roll out of the bed you used to share with Wash. You sit for a moment, trying to grab the last remnants of your dream, but all you can recall is chasing after a dinosaur wielding baby with cornrows flowing down to his shoulders. And then, that too is gone. Sighing, you stand and walk to the mirror.

Since Miranda, three emotions have cycled repetitively through you. First, despair whenever you think on Wash's death, second, an unreasonable anger at Wash for dying and leaving you alone, and finally to round things out, crushing guilt for blaming him for what couldn't be prevented. For a while there, you had tried on hating River as well, but your ingrained sense of fair play refused to let you believe anything other than the truth – wasn't no one to blame except the Alliance.

You pull the sink down and splash water on your face. You stare at your reflection, doing your best to remember why you should head to the mess instead of crawling back into bed.

'You need to keep up those curves I like so much, Wifey.'

Oh. Right. You dress and stride down the corridor, Wash ambling along beside you.

'Are we doing Crime today? Of course, if Simon's cooking, then crime has already been done.'

You walk past Kaylee, barely noticing her cheery 'Mornin' Zo!'

'Uh, Wifey, we like Kaylee, remember?'

You continue down the corridor and suddenly Inara rounds the corner and slams straight into you. The cup she has in her hands flips completely horizontal and you think it's a good thing it's already empty.

Inara straightens back up. 'Oh, Zoe! I wasn't looking were I was going.' That seemed a bit out of character for the always graceful former companion. You look at her more closely and realize her eyes are lookin' a bit wild. It was somewhat unsettlin'.

'Zoe, can you go to the infirmary?' She starts to step around you, but you stop her.

'Is the Cap'n, okay?' You'd thought the infection was almost out of his system, but you'd seen wounds on the battlefield take a sudden turn for the worse. The concern feels...odd. You realize it's been some time since you've felt anything other than your personal Holy Trinity of emotions.

'What? Mal? Oh...he's fine...well, annoying...but fine...planning madcap adventures...' And then she babbles on for a few seconds more before seeming to remember her original train of thought.

'Jayne wants to talk to us.' Then without any further explanation, she heads off in the direction she came from.

'Honeycakes? She does know that's the opposite direction from the infirmary, right?'

You head back to the room that used to house your marriage.

'So, Jayne has words. Could be funny. Could be scary. OR, it could be scarily funny.'

You strap your gun belt around your waist, load a gun and slip it into the holster. You weren't going anywhere near a 'Jayne Talk' without being appropriately armed. You figure he'd finally gotten that better deal, and you didn't know if that meant just leavin' the ship or whether it involved opening the airlocks to let your enemies on board.

You remember with crystal clarity Mal pullin' you aside after the heist on Ariel, asking you to help him keep an eye on Jayne because he had sold crew to Alliance. Mal'd ordered you to shoot first and not wait to ask questions and you hadn't hesitated answerin' 'Yes, Cap'n' to that.

You'd known Jayne was motivated solely by money, known he wasn't over burdened with morals, but to sell a child to the government that you'd given blood and thousands of others had given lives tryin' to fight had severed any loyalty from you he might have built up. It twisted your guts in ways that hadn't happened since you'd seen fire rain down on Serenity Valley. You'd never try an' harm him on purpose, due to Mal's rules, but you wouldn't cry when he left and you wouldn't mourn when he died.

'He did save you on Mr. Universe's moon, lambie toes. Shouldn't we feel a bit partial to him for that?'

Husband should know you well enough that you didn't particularly consider that a kindness.

'Maybe not, but I do.'

You head back toward the infirmary and as you pass the shower room, you hear River giggling to herself. You frown. The girl ain't had one of her fits in a couple months, now, so you suppose it must be time. You briefly contemplate checkin' on her, but decide against it. You'd try to remember to mention it to Simon.

You reach the infirmary and see that only Kaylee has made it there ahead of you. You eye Mal.

'Sir, you know what this is about?'

'Nope, I'm flyin' blind as you are.' He looks vaguely worried, probably as concerned as you as to Jayne's purpose.

You set yourself down in a chair and tip your head back -

And you and Wash are on Harvest, visiting the hot springs. They're out in the middle of nowhere, and Wash has talked you into leavin' off your suit and soaking as bare as God made you. He's sitting on the ledge, clothes still on, sayin' that while everyone wants to see you naked, no one wants to see him. He trails his hands across your shoulders, tracing a line in the water. His reserve will only last a few more minutes and then he'll join you. Some may not see it to look at him, but your man knows more about lovin' than anyone you'd ever met. The things that man could do to your body...

This would be the last vacation you would take together. He'd always pushed for more, but you'd been worried about leavin' Mal, resistant to askin' for more time off. So stupid...

Wash kisses your neck. 'You should let that go, Zo. You know I never held that against you, right?' He's suddenly in the water with you, running his hands down your back.

You move to straddle his lap. 'Should've listened, should have told Mal he had to give us more shore leave. Should have put us first.'

He nips your neck right where it meets your shoulder and moans low when you grind up against him.

'And I should have jumped on the baby-making train with you, but we can't change that now, can we? I vote we stop the regretting and move on to the happy parts of this memory.'

The moon is shining down, casting shadows across his skin and the air is thick with just a hint of cool around you. And just when things were movin' to the interestin' side, Wash suddenly stops and cocks his head to the side.

'Sorry, Wifey, but I think this might be important.'

-And the moon is gone, replaced by the harsh and sterile lights of the infirmary. You watch in utter horror as Jayne and River reach for each other's hand and Jayne stakes his claim. Suddenly, River's laughter in the shower room made a horrifying sense.

'Well, I did not see that coming. Shall we assume in the future that 'knife wound across the chest,' is just Jaynespeak for 'Let's go a-courtin'?'

You pay no attention to Kaylee's bai chi talk. The girl is in love with the idea of love, and has no idea of the events of the past. Her opinion means little – only two people's will. You wait for Simon to step in with his protective anger, but he stays silent. You look at him, hard, and see the absence of shock.

'The plot thickens. Kind of like that soup River rubbed in my hair.'

'Doc, you know 'bout this?'

'Ah...yes. Just since last night.' He seems almost apologetic.

You feel the disbelief creepin' up on you that not only did he know about this, but he doesn't seem to mind it.

And then you hear Jayne spoutin' off that he loves River. You want to laugh at the ridiculousness of it, but it's stuck in your throat, trapped by long disuse. Does Jayne think you're stupid? And was Simon actually buyin' this go se?

You know Jayne has an angle, he always does, you just can't quite see it yet. Truth is, he's riskin' an awful lot comin' out in public. Mal would be as like to space him as just kick him off at the next port. And that's when you realize Mal hadn't had his say. You feel a bit of relief, knowing Mal would set this right.

You turn to the man you've trusted your life to more times than you can count.

'Sir? You have somethin' you'd like to contribute?'

And then you're right back in some alternate 'verse, because Mal is suddenly smilin' and revealin' he'd known all along, acting like it was the best joke he'd heard in ages.

You're furious and without realizing it, your hand has started grippin' your gun.

'Whoa, sweetie, let's take a deep breath.'

You carefully ask Mal another question. 'Sir, I'm wondering, if you knew what Jayne was up to, why you didn't put a stop to it?'

He's laughing.

'You mean 'sides it bein' funnier than spit watchin' the two a them try to scatter like bugs ev'rytime I walked in on 'em? Well, I really ain't got no leg to stand on as far as the 'no romancin' crew' rule, do I? 'Sides, River's goin' on 20 now, means she's legal on every planet from Core to Rim. So, really it ain't any of my business.'

And then you're feeling a betrayal so deep and sharp that it cuts through every bit of numbness and hurt you've been livin' with the last year. Mal hadn't given a gorram hell that you and Wash had been legal adults. He'd tried everything short of throwing one of you off of Serenity to keep you from bein' together. There'd been months of hidin' everything you'd felt for one another. It'd finally taken you threatenin' to leave to force Mal to grudgingly accept you and Wash. And then you'd had to go through the whole thing again when you'd decided to get married.

You'd stood unwaveringly by Mal's side even when he was being stupider than hell. You' d followed him to hell and back and sacrificed a husband in the process, and now he was practically slayin' the shepherd's fatted calf for the man who had not only proved he couldn't be trusted time and time again, but had actually sold off crew. You need to get out of this room now you realize, or you wouldn't be held accountable for what you did next.

You must have said somethin', because suddenly Mal's lookin' at you like he just realized how close to the edge you were. His eyes turn serious and then pleadin' and it's enough to make you pause.

'You mean why am I letting our money lovin' merc carry on behind ev'rybody's back with our barely legal, sort of sane, highly trained assassin?'

'That'd be the one.' You can tell he's searchin' for the right words to use.

'First off, Jayne ain't a merc. He's crew.'

You get what he's sayin', and lookin' at Jayne and River, you know he's lookin' on her like your mister looked on you, but you can't help seeing, overlaid on top of it all, the look in Mal's eye when he told you that man had sold a mentally traumatized child like a dog to the highest bidder. You'd a given your shootin' arm for a child with Wash, and Jayne had tried to throw the one under the ship's protection out for garbage. The same child-woman he was now actin' like he had every right to touch.

“Secondly, after Miranda...Zo...I know you've been shut up, maybe haven't had time to see...”

You stiffen, daring him to go there, and you know he sees, 'cause he stops and changes tactics.

' Zo, take a look at all of us. Don't none of us seem so obvious at first glance. Kaylee and Simon...wouldn't nobody from Core to Rim understand why a gifted Osiris surgeon would ever take up with a Rim Rat.'

'Oh, we did have a good time making fun of Simon and his feet. Them getting together has ruined half my material!'

'And me and 'Nara...An Alliance loyal Companion holdin' hands with a mean ole browncoat...that shouldn't be happenin' anywhere in the 'verse, but it does.'

'That does seem to upset the natural order of things, doesn't it, Lambkins?'

'And out of all of us, Zoe, you outta be the one to understand most what it means to be in a relationship that don't make no lick of sense from the outside but makes perfect sense from the inside. Just cause ya can't comprehend, don't make it not true. '

'We do know a little something about that, sweetcakes.

You recall one night, early in yours and Wash's marriage, when you and he'd run across some old war buddies while eatin' dinner. One of them had followed you when you'd gone to visit the facilities, cornered you and ran his hand up your side, promisin' to take care of you in ways 'that pretty flyboy couldn't.' You'd left him in that dirty hall, his hand pinned to the wall with your knife.

You listen as Mal continues.

'After what happened to Wash, I regret more'n anything the time you lost 'cause I was being a hun dan 'bout you two.'

'You know, I think that's the first time he's ever apologized.'

It is.

'I ain't plannin' on havin' any more regrettin' over River and Jayne just 'cause they might be kinda creepifyin.''

'I hate to say this, wifey, because you know I dislike agreeing with Mal on principle, but I think he may have a point. Besides, you've seen things, too.'

You've done no such thing.

'Uh, uh, remember the ballet thingy majigies?'

And suddenly you recall comin' into the mess a couple of week ago and seein' Jayne mendin' the soles in River's ballet shoes. It'd been a strange sight, seein' a man whose main occupation was destruction, working diligently to patch somethin' up.

'And what about the whole food thing?'

True, you do remember seein' Jayne puttin' food from his plate on to River's. Wasn't like Jayne to willingly share anything of his.

Unbidden, scene after scene of River and Jayne, and Jayne and River, and Jayne and the crew is flippin' through your head, things you'd seen, but not seen. Mal'd had the right of it – if you'd been lookin', you would of known about the two of them a long time ago. You'd missed what was right in front of you.

Suddenly you're seein' yourself in a mirror, seein' what you have become in the months since your heart died. And you know that if Wash were alive, really alive and not just livin' between the memories of your mind, he'd be horrified at what you were.

'Time to wake up, Lambie Toes.'

And you know he's right.

So you do the only thing you can. You do your best to smile at Mal.

'Reckon I do understand, Sir. Best be gettin' breakfast goin'.'

And as you turn to go, you look at Jayne, lettin' him see that while you don't understand, you're willin' to try. He gives you an almost imperceptible nod, and you know he gets that while the bridge ain't crossed yet, both of you've got one foot on either side.

You head toward the mess, thinkin' that if you get there before Simon, you may be able to avert disaster and save the crew from his next culinary attempts.

And that, Wifey, is why I fell in love with you. Now, do you think we can convince the rest of the dinosaurs to move into This Land?


Thursday, July 22, 2010 2:17 AM


A truly excellent companion piece. You've conveyed Zoe's pain very well, and weaving her feelings in with the previous piece brings it into focus. She needs to heal, and if that's with Wash commenting in the background, that's fine. I just want the smile to be genuine.

Thank you so much for this.

Thursday, July 22, 2010 7:51 AM


Jane0904 has said it better than I ever could. Wow. Just Wow.

Thursday, July 22, 2010 8:21 PM


It's mighty interesting to see a version of post-BDM Zoe who isn't a fan of Rayne that's based in real concerns...not age or education or "innocence", but Jayne's track record while serving onboard Serenity.

It feels...right? see Zoe almost snapping in her fury over Mal being apparently ok with a mercenary proven to be solely focused on his self-interest wanting to have a relationship with the target of his traitorous behaviour. She's grieving, she's lost and she can't fathom such a pairing...even if her relationship with Wash started off on shaky ground as well (don't she was of the opinion to sell Wash off as a method of dealing with an annoyance when they first were crew together, but...;D)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 9:02 PM


wow amazong trully inspireing i love it soo much :) props to you totallhy i do like that mal actuuuualy appolagized (shoked face) :D i loiked it alot i hope you can make one where she is pregnate :) and she is in labor and mal is right next to her like the husband shold be and he is freaking out( but instead zoe is calm and is very "sir do u need to lie down ?) welllll anywhow i loveddddddddddd ittt :0 <3 thx browncoats unite !!!!!!!!!!!


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What Zoe Hears
In the Transmutations-verse. Follows 'What Mal Knows.' Zoe's POV of things.

What Mal Knows
Follows 'Transmutations.' The 'revelation' so to speak. Mal POV

Transmutations Part 3 of 3: Desire and the Path to Serenity
River weighs in.

Transmutations Pt 2 of 3: Thinkin' and Needin'
Jayne's side of the story.

Transmutations Pt 1 of 3: Wants
Simon reflects on the wants of the various members of the crew and makes a startling discovery. Simon, River, Jayne NOT S/R/J

Facing the Warrior Woman. Follows 'Reconciliation'; last in the Dross-verse series.

A brother and sister reunite. Fourth in the Dross-verse Series. Follows 'Remorse.'

Apologies, Captain Reynolds' style. Follows 'In the Shadow of the Valley' and 'Out of the Shadow of the Valley.'

Out of the Shadow of the Valley
A captain reflects on his mistakes and the loss of his family. Follows 'In the Shadow of the Valley.'

In the Shadow of the Valley
The girl only looked back once.