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edgechick816 organized wifesoup: a Zoe/Wash ficathon. I was assigned capnzoe, who requested Zoe being comforted, and "maybe a scuffle or two for her affection."

Title: Fiddle You Must
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Firefly
Ship: Zoe/Wash
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: And broken laugh, and a thousand memories, and not a single regret.
Notes: Spoilers through Serenity



I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle -
And broken laugh


It's a quiet flight, straight on to Persephone. It takes some doing, but Zoe finally manages to unwrap herself from Wash. She kisses him, twice, then swears she'll get him some tea.

"Are you sure?" Wash grins at her, tugs at the bottom button of her shirt. "We could keep going."

Zoe tucks her shirt in, slaps his hand away. "I'm thirsty, too."

Wash mock-wipes his brow, and she kisses him a third time.

*


The tea leaves are third-rate, and it takes them a while to brew to a decent strength. While she waits, Zoe picks at a can's torn label and tries not to grin too wide.

There's a metal echo, Mal tromping down the corridor. A minute and a half later, he appears in the doorway, fiddling with an transmitter beacon. She clears her throat, and his stride stutters.

"Sir," she says.

He watches her for a moment, jaw working sideways. Then he starts fiddling with the beacon again, twisting one of the wires around another. Thus occupied, he says, "Zoe," and settles at the table.

Zoe pours a cup of tea, walks to the table. The steam leaves a trail as she slides the cup across the table.

His fingers pause again, then he sets the beacon down. "Thanks," he says, and swigs a gulp like whiskey.

She goes back to the counter, pours two more cups. She sips her own, and waits.

"So," Mal says. "You and, uh. Him." His fingers encircle the cup, and he twists it against the tabletop.

Zoe raises an eyebrow. "Yes."

"Oh." Mal stares into his mug, at the shreds of leaves floating in the liquid. "Seems like we ought to, you know--"

"Talk." Zoe sets the cups down, sits across from Mal. "About our feelings, sir?"

Mal coughs, then smirks. "Then maybe we can have a pillow fight." He still doesn't look up. "You know."

"Of course, sir." Zoe smiles, picks up the cups and walks to the hatchway.

"Zoe," he says, and she stops. Turns back, and he's still facing away from her.

"Sir?"

His hands flex against the table. He swivels in his seat, then meets her eyes.

The mugs are hot in Zoe's hands, and he still isn't saying anything. She tilts her head.

"Mal," she says, and he flinches and turns away.

"Nothing," he says to the beacon on the table. "Nothing at all."

Zoe waits a second longer, then steps out, walks back to the bridge.

And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.


After every job, it's the same thing. The particulars might change, but the theme is constant.

Jayne leers at Zoe from across the hangar bay, and she rolls her eyes.

"Again," Wash says, with a weary sigh, "married."

Jayne grunts. "Married ain't dead, little man."

Zoe straightens, slides the panel closed. "Who said anything about little?" she remarks.

Jayne sputters, and over his shoulder, Wash mouths I love you.

*


Sometimes, however, things get a little more complicated. For example, when one job calls for a woman, a fancy dress, and a dead eye.

Kaylee doesn't have the weapons skill, and Mal doesn't have the curves. Inara's already known to the target, so she lends something black and slinky to Zoe, instead.

The dress is long, form-fitting, and cut low, front and back. Inara ties the ribbon, a delicate weaving around Zoe's neck. "It looks better on you," she says to Zoe.

"It's open to debate." Zoe smiles, ties her hair back with another ribbon. "I won't disagree, though." Inara laughs, and together, they finagle her shoes on.

*


The rest of the prep doesn't take very long; a pistol strapped against Zoe's thigh, a knife hidden in her bodice. Kaylee makes several admiring coos, and Mal emits the requisite wolf whistle.

They run down the job as usual, Mal laying out the specs to everybody's skeptical eyes.

After the third time Jayne gets distracted in her cleavage, however, Zoe holds up her hand. "Captain?"

Mal gestures a go-ahead, and Zoe smiles. Turns on her stiletto heel and slams her fist into Jayne's chin.

"Damn, woman," Jayne moans from the floor.

"Thank you, Zoe," Mal says, and continues with the plan.

a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drought:
They looked to me


After Serenity lifts off of Haven, Zoe stands in the middle of their bedroom, her dress rippling around her legs like fog.

There is a checklist of things she needs to do, a constant threnody in the back of her mind. Fold and pack and stow. Mourn and memorialize. Move on.

If she takes that final step, however, it will mean she's begun the process. It will mean he's really gone, and she's really alone.

Their bed is large and empty. She's stripped it of its sheets. She might burn then, when next they're planetside.

"Zoe?" Inara's voice, drifting up from the corridor, the outside. Then steps, ringing hollow against the metal. "Zoe."

Inara's hand on Zoe's shoulder, warm and firm.

"I--" Zoe starts to say, then bites off the next word, can't.

Then Inara is helping Zoe out of the dress, handing her a shirt and trousers, boots and holster.

"--seems to think he can buzz past the nearest Alliance station and point and laugh," Inara is saying.

Zoe finishes buttoning her shirt. Her lips won't let her smile.

"You tackle him, and I'll convince River to steer towards Ezra." Inara touches her on the wrist. "Sound good?"

Zoe clears her throat. "It's a plan."

And together, they make it down the stairwell.


###

A/N: Title, summary, and excerpts adapted from Edgar Lee Masters' Fiddler Jones:
The earth keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
What so you see, a harvest of clover?
Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
The wind's in the corn; you rub your hands
For beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drought;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off, to "Toor-a-Loor."
How could I till my forty acres
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by cows and robins
And the creak of a wind-mill - only these?
And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle -
And broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret.

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Comments

( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
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musesfool
Jul. 6th, 2006 04:58 am (UTC)
*sniffles*

Sad and lovely.
moodfic
Jul. 19th, 2006 06:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
elly427
Jul. 6th, 2006 05:07 am (UTC)
I just finished watching Firefly this weekend and I just rewatched Serenity. Damn, woman, now I am all teary. This is at turns sweet and lovely and heart breaking.
moodfic
Jul. 19th, 2006 06:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
honey_wheeler
Jul. 6th, 2006 06:31 am (UTC)
Now that was just unfair. And AWFUL. Awful, as in really lovely and sad and awesome, I mean. That kind of awful.
moodfic
Jul. 19th, 2006 06:58 pm (UTC)
*g* Thank you!
raincitygirl
Jul. 6th, 2006 06:34 am (UTC)
Oh, this is lovely.
moodfic
Jul. 19th, 2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
liminalliz
Jul. 6th, 2006 12:17 pm (UTC)
*WAILS*

As ever, BRILLIANT.
moodfic
Jul. 19th, 2006 07:03 pm (UTC)
*blush* Thank you!
jennidarockstar
Jul. 6th, 2006 01:20 pm (UTC)
Aww so good, and so wonderfully in character.
I love that I can read Firefly/Serenity fic now, since I've finally watched them :)
moodfic
Jul. 19th, 2006 07:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And I'm glad you're caught up now. *g*
sabaceanbabe
Jul. 6th, 2006 01:33 pm (UTC)
The whole thing is excellent, but this:

After every job, it's the same thing. The particulars might change, but the theme is constant.

Jayne leers at Zoe from across the hangar bay, and she rolls her eyes.

"Again," Wash says, with a weary sigh, "married."

Jayne grunts. "Married ain't dead, little man."

Zoe straightens, slides the panel closed. "Who said anything about little?" she remarks.

Jayne sputters, and over his shoulder, Wash mouths I love you.

This was perfect.
moodfic
Jul. 19th, 2006 07:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
brynnmck
Jul. 6th, 2006 04:23 pm (UTC)
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.

YOU MADE ME CRY AT WORK.

I just... I love this. All the little moments, Zoe and Mal not talking about it, Zoe and the slinky dress, Zoe punching Jayne, and of course the end, with Inara comforting Zoe. That just feels very right to me, because Mal won't say anything, and Kaylee might try, but she and Zoe are on such different levels, and I think Inara is the only one who might be able to help her. Plus I am a sucker for that part of Inara's personality, her healing/nurturing side. Funny and sweet and incredibly sad.
moodfic
Jul. 19th, 2006 07:13 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry! Except not! *g*

I'm thrilled you liked it. Thank you!
neongreenleaf
Jul. 6th, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
This is awesome. You made me laugh hysterical, then took it away with the sad, emotional ending.

Go you!
moodfic
Jul. 19th, 2006 07:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
moodfic
Jul. 19th, 2006 07:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
sarahetc
Jul. 8th, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC)
It's so sad and so sweet all at the same time, Zoe's perfect snatches of memory. It makes me smile and grimace and ache.
moodfic
Jul. 19th, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
themis
Jul. 19th, 2006 12:34 am (UTC)
Wonderful blend of humor and sadness. Poor Wash.
moodfic
Jul. 19th, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it!
angel_a
Aug. 31st, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC)
Ohhh I am at work and people are wondering why I am sniffling. That was awesomely good!! The interaction between Mal and Zoe when she gets together with Wash. *sigh* And I can sooo see Zoe punching Jayne for looking at her cleavage. LOL Funny and sad...so whedoneque. Thank you!!
moodfic
Sep. 5th, 2006 10:42 pm (UTC)
*blushes* Thank you for the compliments.
hobbit_feet
Sep. 2nd, 2006 05:55 am (UTC)
*sniff*

My heart just crumpled when I realized that Zoe got to wear her slinky dress after Wash died. So much crumpling.
moodfic
Sep. 5th, 2006 10:44 pm (UTC)
*meep*

Thank you for the comment!
barely_bean
Sep. 2nd, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC)
*cries*

They're just so lovely. This made me mourn Wash all over again.
moodfic
Sep. 5th, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
Oh! Thank you for the comment.
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( 37 comments — Leave a comment )

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