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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
An AU in which Zoe sacrifices her life for Wash... and he must learn to move on.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1240 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
"What are we callin' this?" Mal asked, poking his plate with his fork.
"We're calling it spaghetti," Kate replied. "Are you going to eat it, or are you waiting for it to eat you?"
Mal looked up. Everyone had cleaned their plates and left, except Wash, who was pushing sauce-covered balls of protein around his plate, and Hannah, who was picking her nose in earnest. "Ain't talkin' 'bout the food," he said crinkling his nose, "though I admit I weren't sure."
Kate sighed. "What were you talking about then?"
Mal frowned. "This whole... thing. With the kissin' an' dancin', an' the sexin', an' the whole new hairdo -"
"It's not a thing," Kate replied. "There's no... thing."
"Clearly there is, or we wouldn't be having this very engaging conversation," Wash said dryly. He reached over to pull his daughter's finger out of her nose. "Not at the dinner table, and use a tissue when you do," he told her.
"Your hair looks nice," Mal said grudgingly. "'Nara told me to say somethin' nice to ya, 'fore I start gettin' on ya about the whole... thing."
"Thank you," Kate said tersely. "But there is no 'thing'." She continued putting the dirty dishes into the dishwasher Kaylee'd begged for - and gotten - nearly the minute she found out she was pregnant. There was no sound but the clatter of dishes for a few moments.
"Well," Wash said. "As rewarding as this chat has been, I'm gonna take the munchkin and get her cleaned up for bed."
"Thanks, Wash," Kate said, giving him a brilliant smile as he left. "Okay, Mal, I can just hear the gears in your head going. Let me have it."
"Ain't that simple," Mal began. "I don't rightly know where to start."
"You and Zoe were friends," she said. "Close friends. Best friends. War buddies, and beyond. I understand that. You feel like I'm taking something that's rightfully hers, and I understand that, too." Kate continued. "Is there anything more to it than that?"
"The showers," Mal said, matter-of-factly. "Can't go around sexin' in the showers all night and day."
Kate snorted. "That's what put a bee in your bonnet? If you knew half the places Kaylee and Simon -"
"That's more'n enough of that conversation right there," Mal said. "Your point's been made."
"River's really flexible, I bet she and Jayne-"
"Inara seems like she could be real inventive," Kate grinned. "We could all start competing, to see who's -"
"Enough, woman," Mal growled. "I'll finish my supper in my bunk."
"You ready for the job, Papa Tam? We're gettin' closer to New Vegas every minute." Kaylee asked Simon. "I know you didn't much like gettin' squeezed into all them pretties, but..."
"I did enjoy the aftermath," he admitted. "I don't know, though. I did make a frighteningly good-looking woman; Mother and Father would be so proud," he said dryly.
Kaylee laughed, snorting a little and causing them both to fall into a fit of laughter.
Kaylee's stomach grumbled, and she stopped laughing a moment. "Allie an' Derry are still hungry. Let's go see if I can't guilt Kate into makin' somethin' yummy for a snack."
"Sounds like you had a productive talk," Inara laughed. "You're terrible, you know that, right?"
"I couldn't help myself," Kate frowned, frustrated. "I had every intention of having a serious conversation, but he's so easy to wind up that it's just an unfair temptation."
"And you're feeling slightly giddy from this morning," Inara added for her. "And it's just so much fun to get his goat when you're in a good mood and he's grouching around about something."
Kate grinned. "This morning was..."
"Ooh, details?" Kaylee asked, dragging Simon along. "I want details. I also want food, so if you're feelin' like you could maybe fix us a snack, Katie..."
Simon held his hands up defensively. "Us means Kaylee and Alleyne and Derrial. I don't fit into this particular us."
Kate scowled. "Kaywinnet Lee Tam, you know damn well where I hide the cookies."
Kaylee clapped her hands like a delighted child. "You don't have to tell me twice," she grinned. "Now, details."
Simon winced. "Not too many details, please. I do have to look Wash in the face, you know."
Kate looked thoughtful. "Let me run a theory by you, guys." She chewed on her lip. "Never mind. I... it needs revision."
Kaylee eyed her cousin skeptically between bites of oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookie. "You ain't havin' doubts already," she frowned. "Gorramit, Katie, y'all took forever to get as far as you have, now ain't the time to start back-pedallin'."
Inara agreed. "You've been dancing around eachother for weeks now. Not as long as these two -" she was indicating Simon and Kaylee.
"- or Inara and Mal," Simon interrupted, with a pointed look.
"But still, the two of you should know better than anyone else not to waste valuable time worrying and rethinking when you could be with the one you love," Inara continued.
Kate looked up at her. "Love?" she asked softly. "Is that what it is, really? Or is it convenience?" She frowned. "I need to go pick up Hannah's room," she said by way of excuse, leaving Kaylee, Simon and Inara staring at her back as she left.
Simon blinked, then looked to his wife and the former Companion for an explanation. "What was that?"
"Jayne," River called, "where are you?" They were playing; she could feel him getting closer, and giggled when he swooped her up into his arms.
"You ain't foolin' me," he laughed. "I know you can tell just where I am."
River pouted. "It's more fun this way."
"I ain't arguin' that point," Jayne said. "But it ain't exactly a fair game. You can always tell where I am, an' you always know the last place I'm gonna look for ya. It ain't that you're cheatin', you just can't help winnin'." He paused, a thoughtful look on his face, which was a foreign concept to most on the ship except River. "How long we gonna be at New Vegas?" he asked, and River grinned.
"Long enough to make a killing. Of the monetary variety," she added, to be clear.
"Hannah-banana," Wash said calmly. "It's seriously jammie time. Daddy is not kidding this time, sweetie."
Hannah blinked innocently up at her father. "No, dada," she said in a pleading tone. "No bed."
Wash could feel his resolve collapsing as he looked down into those puppy-dog eyes. "Hannah -"
"Hannah Bianca Fr - Washburne, are you giving your father a hard time?" Kate asked, with that no-nonsense look only mothers can fully manage.
Hannah shook her head solemnly. "No, mama."
Kate raised her eyebrow. "Then why aren't you in those jammies yet?"
Hannah paused. "Kitty, mama."
Wash snorted. Was she blaming the kitten, who was playing in the corner, for her lack of pyjamas, or was she simply trying to distract her mother from the issue at hand?
"Pyjamas, Hannah," Kate countered, and the little girl pouted, but allowed her mother to help her into her night clothes. Wash was impressed.
Hannah crawled under the blankets and allowed her parents to kiss her goodnight and tuck her in. Wash told her a bedtime story - complete with voices, as she would expect no less from him - and they turned out the light and closed the door.
"How did you do that?" Wash marvelled. "She was being really stubborn - and I mean really stubborn. And you were all 'I am Mother, heed my word,' and boom, pyjamas."
Kate looked up at Wash. "What are we calling this?"
He furrowed his brow. "Huh?"
"I can't answer Mal if I don't know the answer myself," Kate continued. "So, what are we calling this? Friends with benefits, or co-parents with sex on the side, or a one-time thing - well, two times, actually - or what?"
Wash opened his mouth to speak, but realized he didn't know the answer.
"Wash," Kate asked, "would you still want me if I wasn't the only single woman on Serenity?"
He wanted to reassure her, wanted to tell her yes, of course he would, she was beautiful, the mother of his child, so special, but found he couldn't.
"That's what I was afraid of," she said sadly. "Goodnight, Wash."
"Why can't you just leave well enough alone?" Inara demanded. "Isn't anyone allowed to be happy?"
Mal was floored. "Where's this comin' from?"
"Kate and Wash deserve a little happiness, just like the rest of us," Inara continued ranting. "But you just couldn't leave it alone, could you?"
"I'm sick, Mal," Inara blurted out suddenly.
Mal's eyes widened. "You need me to get the Doc?"
"No, Mal," she said softly. "I'm dying."
"You're bein' philosophical, right? Like, we're all dyin' from the day we're born," he suggested.
When Inara's eyes met his, they were filled with tears and the answer he was praying to a God he'd long since lost faith in wasn't true.
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