PG, 1000 words
Wash, Kaylee, Zoe
Summary: The stars shine bright when you can't sleep.
Notes: My first Firefly fic, hurray! Spoilers through the film abound. Concrit more than welcome.
Wash likes flying at night. Zoe laughs at him for it - after all, ain't much to tell night from day here in the black of space - but she doesn't say anything on the nights he can't sleep and she feels him slipping out of their bed to pad softly up to the bridge. He just enjoys the quiet hum of it all, where the little noises of Serenity seem finer tuned, better amplified. The glow of the monitors are friendly no matter what the time, and sometimes he'll tweak the trajectory, just a little, back and forth, back and forth, maybe even humming the notes of some half-remembered waltz to himself.
Mal would probably understand, though chances are he'd only say something about getting rest where there's opportunity, could be all manner of trouble just around the corner. That's true enough, but still from time to time Wash finds himself up here, watching over the ship, though really there's isn't much need, so he just looks up at the stars as they fly amongst them.
Kaylee isn't much fond of sleeping 'til she's sure Serenity's all ready for the night without her. She does a last round, after the others have gone down to the bunks, listening to the soft whirrs and whistles of the engines. Sometimes they're lullabies, and the ship's already snoozing soundly. Sometimes she needs a mite of persuasion, a little soothing to get her on her way, so Kaylee sits with her a while, until she's sure Serenity's happy to keep flying. And when she's all done, sometimes she'll head up to the bridge, maybe with a mug of something warming, or a plate of anything left on the table, and she'll sit by Wash and talk a while.
A lot of the time, it's just engine talk, sharing their differing stories on how their ship's being doing that day. A murmur in the navigation, after all, might not have shown up one bit in the engine room. Other times, they mostly sit in a comfy kind of silence, just enjoying the feeling of movement as Serenity sails on through the night. But when Kaylee's wanting to talk about other things, Wash is happy to listen.
"Wash," she groans, curled up in a chair and looking at him imploringly, "did I do something terrible in my last life? He doesn't want to even look at me."
"Kaylee, Kaylee, Kaylee." Wash smiles, patting her arm. "Our young doctor friend there hasn't got eyes for anything at all 'sides his sister. He'll come around, you just wait."
"D'you think so?"
"I know so. How could he resist your charms forever?"
Kaylee colours and smiles, pleased. "You're a true gentleman, anyone ever tell you that?"
Wash laughs. "If only my mother could hear you now! She always reckoned I was bound for no good at all."
"No!" Kaylee shakes her head vigorously. "You're a good man, Hoban Washburne."
Wash grimaces. "Please don't ever call me that again."
"You sure? Hoban's a lovely name!"
Wash begins on a long diatribe showing precisely how it really isn't, but Kaylee holds up a hand to hush him.
"Oh," she says quietly, frowning. "Can you hear that?"
There's a rumbling in the works, and both of them do their best to work out just what Serenity's being finicky about tonight. It turns out to be something to do with the coolant system, which is a slow task for Kaylee, though not one that she overly minds doing, as it lets her take a peek right into the core of things.
And all the while, Kaylee doesn't forget Wash's words, the way he always seems to have a sunny sort of a thing to say when she's feeling gloomy, both that night and any other night, and the kindness is cheering in the face of Simon's cold stone walls that sometimes seem to threaten to shut her out forever.
Kaylee's not much fond of sleeping a lot of the time these days. And that's for a whole variety of reasons, most of which she's not thinking about just now, because that ain't appropriate. She sits at the fore of the ship, staring out at the stars and doing her utmost to keep her grief manageable, in spite of all that's been. There's an awful silence that eats at her, a gaping maw where Wash should be. He should be sitting right here, in one of those stupid shirts with his toy dinosaurs and piloting talents and endless hope. If Kaylee thinks on it too much, if she dwells and lets her mourning consume her, she worries that she might stop breathing with the horror of it all.
She wants to talk to him about the way Serenity's been favouring her right side lately and she's not quite sure why. She wants to tell Wash that it all worked out just fine with Simon, in the end, that eventually he learned how to notice just what was right in front of him. He would've been pleased, she knows, and it breaks her heart every time she thinks about it.
And when Zoe can't sleep either, when she softly pads up to where Kaylee's sat, Kaylee silently vacates Wash's chair -- she wonders if she can ever think of it as someone else's seat -- and Zoe sits for a spell. They neither of them say anything, but Kaylee thinks that might be all right. Because on the days when Zoe's spent the night up here, there seems to be a slight softening in her shoulders, just a hint that maybe she's doing a little better than the day before.
So Kaylee continues to sit up here, watching the stars shine bright in front of her, and feeling Serenity's movement beneath her feet. She sits, and thinks, and half the time could cry, and all the while, Kaylee just misses her friend.