Zoë's Balance
Thursday, April 27, 2006

POST BDM - if you haven't seen the movie, you should not read this. Period. I'm betting most people reading fanfic have seen everything, but I have to be careful. Zoë mourns her loss, and River has some unlooked-for insight. Pretty short. My first attempt at writing in the 'verse!


Zoë was a strong woman. She had seen more than her share of pain, more pain than most would see in their lifetime. She had been cut open and stitched up, been knocked around and battered, frozen, burned, bruised, starved, and shot at. She could take anything the ‘verse could throw her way. She wasn’t sure she could take this. There was a hole inside her. A hole she had never realized could even exist. A hole that had opened for, and been filled by, her husband. Her Wash. For years he had been her comfort and her release. Steadying her, making her smile. Faithful, exuberant, steady, sweet, funny, maddening Wash. Even when they fought, even when he royally pissed her off, he was her love. When something troubled her, she could lay a hand on his shoulder and her balance would return. Her balance was gone. He was gone. Taken from her by those bu hui wang ba dan duh biao-tze excuses for fong luh creatures she couldn’t bear to think of as human. Those… things created by the Alliance in a misguided attempt to control humanity. To make people better and safer and... less human. They succeeded on the less human part. Just the opposite of what they had intended, but still they had made people less human. Made them Reavers. Ni ta ma da tien-shia suo-yo de ren doh. They all deserved to die. It didn’t help that River had slaughtered most or all of the Reavers. Didn’t matter that they had all struck a blow against the Alliance Zoë hated now more than ever. Didn’t matter. Her balance was gone. Hoban. He insisted on being called Wash, even by her. At least most of the time. Hoban. My Hoban. My Wash. My bao bei. The only one who could have comforted her, brought back her balance, had been taken from her. The anger was always there, waiting right under the grief. Everyone watched her. They were worried. She had always been stoic. She didn’t let herself react overmuch to anything. It was easier that way. There were only two people on the ship who knew how she was suffering. The Captain knew her well enough to read the torment in her face. He also knew enough to keep his gorram mouth well shut. She was his right hand, and his right hand she would remain. He knew that, and left her alone. But River… The girl hadn’t stopped following her. Zoë could be sure she was alone, polishing her gun, drinking or brooding. She’d look up and there would be River, still and silent as stone. Just watching her. It was unnerving, and it always made her grief well up. “What the guay do you want, River?” she finally snapped one late night in the kitchen. “Lost.” “You ain’t lost. You know this ship better’n anyone, ‘ceptin the Captain.” “Yes. But you are lost.” Zoë gave her a look that was scarier than the darkest scowl in the Black. The girl didn’t even flinch. With an almost-inaudible growl, Zoë went back to cleaning her already-shining gun. “Not lost.” Zoë stood, nearly slamming her gun down in her anger. “Make up your gorram mind!” River perched on a corner of the table, delicately placing a plastic dinosaur in front of the seething widow. Zoë could only stare at it. She couldn’t breath. “Not lost.” “He is lost, River. Nothing left but memories and plastic.” Her voice was dead. Her balance was gone. She tried to grip the toy, but her arms were locked in grief and rage. “True. Memories not lost. Not tainted. Not worn away.” Zoë looked up from the tiny plastic model. Her face was crumpling. She sucked in her breath and bit the inside of her lip. “He didn’t leave you.” Zoë’s nails dug into her palms. She wouldn’t punch the girl. Wouldn’t. River couldn’t help herself. Even the stability she had recently gained didn’t mean she was healed. Her brain would never be quite right. She wouldn’t punch her. “He didn’t leave you,” River insisted. “There was nothing he or you or anyone could have done to stop what happened.” Zoë clenched her teeth around the tirade she longed to throw at River. “He didn’t abandon you, Zoë. He loved you. He was loyal to you. Truly would have done anything for you. You still have that. It wasn’t taken away. It remained true to the end. Never took it back, never undid it. He never left you.” “Not much of a distinction, River.” “It is!” Zoë was startled by her vehemence. “Do you know why? Because you will always know that Wash loved you til the day he died! He didn’t tell you he loved you and would always be with you and then renege on it later! He truly meant what he said to you and that is a rare gift!” “What would you know about it?!” “I feel everything, remember?” Zoë stopped. Everything in her stopped. Everything. River felt everything. Not just from inside herself, but outside, too. Everything. “When someone reneges on a promise, that’s betrayal,” River said quietly. “but when someone sticks by you, through anything and everything, that’s love. Think how much worse it would be to have your trust ripped away by betrayal.” He would never betray me. “Exactly.” Zoë sat, staring again at the plastic dinosaur in front of her. “People die. It hurts when they die. It is worse when they betray you. When they betray you, the good memories mean nothing. When they die, the memories are still there, pure as the day they were forged. He’s not lost.” She wandered out with a dancer’s grace. Not lost. Zoë closed her eyes. She still didn’t feel right. She still grieved, she was still angry. But she felt better. Against all expectation, talking had made her feel better. River understood. Felt everything. It was nice to be understood. Comforting. Some of her balance coming back, Zoë thought maybe she could get some sleep.


Thursday, April 27, 2006 6:56 AM


Damn....this was some angsty shit right here....but really good angsty shit;)

Trust River to be the one who helps Zoe. Mal would be the next choice, but he's just as battered and he never was in that type of relationship (at least admitted to canonically).


Thursday, April 27, 2006 12:30 PM


Loved River finding a way to restore some of Zoe's balance. Beautiful. Ali d :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, April 28, 2006 4:21 PM


that was really good, what else is there to say?

Sunday, May 14, 2006 7:38 AM


That has literally brought me to tears. I'm all choked up here! Your take on Zoe's pain and rage seems spot on to me. She's tore up plenty, but with River's help maybe she really will fly true.

Sunday, May 14, 2006 7:49 AM


Oh, thank you! I'm glad everyone likes it!

Sunday, July 2, 2006 4:58 AM


damn right we like it!!!


Wednesday, January 24, 2007 5:42 PM


F***ing A. That was amazing.

And having experienced death of someone I loved and a betrayal by someone I loved, I can tell you the betrayal was harder to deal with.


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Just Something About Him
Wash. Zoë. Their first several months together and how they fall in love.

In Earnest
A quick look at Mal's possible feelings for River and his confusion over Inara. Set during the movie.

Zoë's Balance
POST BDM - if you haven't seen the movie, you should not read this. Period. I'm betting most people reading fanfic have seen everything, but I have to be careful.
Zoë mourns her loss, and River has some unlooked-for insight. Pretty short. My first attempt at writing in the 'verse!